Author Topic: Need new portable workstation with High end i5 or i7.  (Read 6980 times)

Bearblastbeats

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Need new portable workstation with High end i5 or i7.
« on: August 06, 2014, 04:10:27 PM »
I'm in the market for a new lappy for school/work. I will be running intensive CAD software as well as streaming and other... things.

Need a high end i5 but prefer an i7 with at least 8g RAM.

I've exhausted efforts through Newegg and Amazon to no avail and have been overwhelmed in the process.

What I prefer is Lenovo (currently owned) but maybe an ASUS.

I do want to keep it under the $1k mark.

I have my eyes on these for now:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834317887


http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834317542&SortField=0&SummaryType=0&PageSize=10&SelectedRating=-1&VideoOnlyMark=False&IsFeedbackTab=true#scrollFullInfo


http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834317613



carozy

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Re: Need new portable workstation with High end i5 or i7.
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2014, 04:15:32 PM »
Lenovo is having a back to school sale which ends today (8/6).  Some pretty sweet deals at their website right now.  Good luck with your choice!

gimp

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Re: Need new portable workstation with High end i5 or i7.
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2014, 04:28:08 PM »
Does your CAD require Windows? If so, go with Lenovo. I forget the exact model name, but something like the y510p. (I guess I remembered the model.) The i7-4700MQ is a very capable laptop chip. The laptop becomes a pretty decent workstation replacement.

Otherwise, system76 has excellent linux laptops where you don't pay the windows tax you pay to the big guys.

Daley

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Re: Need new portable workstation with High end i5 or i7.
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2014, 04:31:04 PM »
Given you mentioned CAD work and it's clearly going to need to be a solid investment for work first (everything else is gravy)... I'd highly recommend you invest in a good quality refurbished Thinkpad W series laptop, which will be far better built than the consumer grade Lenovos you're looking at. You'll be able to hit those configuration/price points far easier this way, too.

US Micro is a Microsoft authorized refurbisher and a pretty solid company. They have a couple refurbished i7-based Thinkpad W series laptops starting at $540:
http://www.usmicrocorpretail.com/c-12-refurbished-laptops.aspx?section=-74-192-

Bearblastbeats

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Re: Need new portable workstation with High end i5 or i7.
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2014, 05:00:22 PM »
Lenovo is having a back to school sale which ends today (8/6).  Some pretty sweet deals at their website right now.  Good luck with your choice!

From that site, I really like:

W540
http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/thinkpad/w-series/w540/#customize
It is a little big.

Z40
http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/lenovo/z-series/z40/#
Small but manageable.

Y50
http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/lenovo/y-series/y50/#
Pretty decent all around.


neo von retorch

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Re: Need new portable workstation with High end i5 or i7.
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2014, 05:07:07 PM »
I've personally had good luck with Dell computers. Of course, they are so popular, you also hear some bad stories. I've been running a Dell Inspiron 17R SE (7720) for the past 16 months for my full-time job and my primary home system. But it does seem to be discontinued. Here's something similar - http://www.dell.com/us/p/inspiron-15-7537/pd?oc=dncwb1808b&model_id=inspiron-15-7537

Core i7-4510U (up to 3.1Ghz)
8GB
$800 (Under $1k)

They aren't the lightest or the best on battery, but they are powerful mobile workstations. Are there other requirements you have that were not mentioned?

Bearblastbeats

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Re: Need new portable workstation with High end i5 or i7.
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2014, 05:11:54 PM »
I've personally had good luck with Dell computers. Of course, they are so popular, you also hear some bad stories. I've been running a Dell Inspiron 17R SE (7720) for the past 16 months for my full-time job and my primary home system. But it does seem to be discontinued. Here's something similar - http://www.dell.com/us/p/inspiron-15-7537/pd?oc=dncwb1808b&model_id=inspiron-15-7537

Core i7-4510U (up to 3.1Ghz)
8GB
$800 (Under $1k)

They aren't the lightest or the best on battery, but they are powerful mobile workstations. Are there other requirements you have that were not mentioned?

What I'm idealing looking for is something to get me through school but I can hold onto for the next few years. My current PC is a dated thinkpad i use strictly for streaming and downloading. Other than running CAD software for school I rarely do anything else with a computer other than research.


Also Note: I had a Dell inspiron, XPS and a $3k Alienware I built and ended up selling them all.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2014, 05:14:40 PM by Bearblastbeats »

Daley

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Re: Need new portable workstation with High end i5 or i7.
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2014, 05:21:09 PM »
My current PC is a dated thinkpad i use strictly for streaming and downloading. Other than running CAD software for school I rarely do anything else with a computer other than research.

Also Note: I had a Dell inspiron, XPS and a $3k Alienware I built and ended up selling them all.

If you're using a Thinkpad now and given what else you've said, definitely stick with a Thinkpad and just ignore Lenovo's consumer line... it will disappoint you. You might find something usable in the T series, but W is still probably your best choice. All the new Thinkpads have those terrible chicklet keyboards, though... so yet another reason to go with a slighly older refurb. ;)

Bearblastbeats

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Re: Need new portable workstation with High end i5 or i7.
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2014, 05:27:21 PM »
My current PC is a dated thinkpad i use strictly for streaming and downloading. Other than running CAD software for school I rarely do anything else with a computer other than research.

Also Note: I had a Dell inspiron, XPS and a $3k Alienware I built and ended up selling them all.

If you're using a Thinkpad now and given what else you've said, definitely stick with a Thinkpad and just ignore Lenovo's consumer line... it will disappoint you. You might find something usable in the T series, but W is still probably your best choice. All the new Thinkpads have those terrible chicklet keyboards, though... so yet another reason to go with a slighly older refurb. ;)

I do feel as though I will be disappointed  if i stray away from thinkpad. It has been my best, most reliable lappy to date, and I get that special feeling saying I have a Thinkpad.

My only concern now is i5 or i7 and can I deal with a smaller 14". Does size really matter?


THIS:

http://www.amazon.com/Lenovo-ThinkPad-T430s-2355AE6-Notebook/dp/B00LCT4F4A/ref=sr_1_cc_3?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1407367497&sr=1-3-catcorr&keywords=thinkpad

?
« Last Edit: August 06, 2014, 05:28:57 PM by Bearblastbeats »

Beric01

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Re: Need new portable workstation with High end i5 or i7.
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2014, 05:43:42 PM »
I would check out XoticPC.com and look at their Sager/Clevo laptops (they have other brands too). Basically, Clevo supplies most of the major laptop manufacturers, but you can buy direct from them at a fraction of the price. The nice thing about this site is that everything is customizeable.

Daley

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Re: Need new portable workstation with High end i5 or i7.
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2014, 06:00:06 PM »
I do feel as though I will be disappointed  if i stray away from thinkpad. It has been my best, most reliable lappy to date, and I get that special feeling saying I have a Thinkpad.

My only concern now is i5 or i7 and can I deal with a smaller 14". Does size really matter?

The T430 has the chicklet keyboard, check the photos...

You don't need new, honest! There's plenty of refurbs new enough to meet your specs for a fraction of the cost, and it'll be far more environmentally and pocketbook friendly. Again, I'd seriously recommend you check out what US Micro has available.

Bearblastbeats

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Re: Need new portable workstation with High end i5 or i7.
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2014, 06:20:41 PM »
I do feel as though I will be disappointed  if i stray away from thinkpad. It has been my best, most reliable lappy to date, and I get that special feeling saying I have a Thinkpad.

My only concern now is i5 or i7 and can I deal with a smaller 14". Does size really matter?

The T430 has the chicklet keyboard, check the photos...

You don't need new, honest! There's plenty of refurbs new enough to meet your specs for a fraction of the cost, and it'll be far more environmentally and pocketbook friendly. Again, I'd seriously recommend you check out what US Micro has available.


YEA!! this is a killer site! Thank You

chackman17

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Re: Need new portable workstation with High end i5 or i7.
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2014, 05:35:21 AM »
Hi - I'm in a very similar boat as Bearblastbeats. Love the US Micro offerings. Any idea on how many years the refurbs tend to last? I keep my computers about 7 years on average and don't want to do this shopping more than necessary. Thanks!

Daley

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Re: Need new portable workstation with High end i5 or i7.
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2014, 08:02:46 AM »
Hi - I'm in a very similar boat as Bearblastbeats. Love the US Micro offerings. Any idea on how many years the refurbs tend to last? I keep my computers about 7 years on average and don't want to do this shopping more than necessary. Thanks!

Most Thinkpads are pretty rugged little laptops, but there is always a slightly higher risk of lessened lifespan with used (it's a very acceptable risk if you have a return window and you test the hardware immediately). If you take care of the thing and make sure you do a hardware check after purchase using something like Ultimate Boot CD (check the hard drive for errors, run Memtest86+ for five cycles, and run CPUburn overnight to ensure hardware stability), it should tick along for years. My primary laptop is still an X61 from 2008 that I bought refurbished myself, and it's showing no signs of ill health. If you're especially concerned, the great thing about buying used is that they've been on the market for a while. If there's specific flaws to a particular model, you can find out about them in advance before purchase with a little research over at ThinkWiki and Bill Morrow's Thinkpad support community.

Even the vaunted Lenovo turns out turkeys sometimes (like issues with poor BGA soldering on discrete graphics chips), but with the exception of the mechanical bits which can wear out and need to be replaced and consumables like batteries (which is true with any computer), usually it either works or it doesn't. If you're genuinely nervous about lifespan, normally I consider stuff like the tack-on SquareTrade warranties a waste of money, but US Micro offers the coverage on top of the laptops. However, this is why I recommend purchasing refurbished business-class hardware in the first place. It's typically engineered better and more durable than the consumer grade options from the same manufacturer during the same time period, as they can't get away with upsetting customers who buy equipment by the hundreds or possibly even thousands at a time with shoddier builds and planned obsolescence or failure.

All that said, it is important to remember that overall lifespan will be somewhat shorter in your hands as a second owner, but 1) you're reducing the unnecessary demand for the manufacture of new electronics, which slows down the total amount of electronic waste created, and 2) you're saving at least half of the sticker price (or more) from new for a machine that will most likely have far more than half of its lifespan left in it.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2014, 08:09:21 AM by I.P. Daley »

chackman17

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Re: Need new portable workstation with High end i5 or i7.
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2014, 08:39:21 AM »
IPD - thanks for the insight/analysis. --CH

chackman17

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Re: Need new portable workstation with High end i5 or i7.
« Reply #15 on: August 07, 2014, 10:26:07 AM »
Okay - back with a follow-up question: realized that the great refurb Thinkpad T410/510s I found have no built-in webcam. Need that for videoconferencing.

Recommendations for/success with external webcams?

Don't need fabulous quality - just enough for the other folks to know I'm still breathing.

Thanks, CH

Daley

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Re: Need new portable workstation with High end i5 or i7.
« Reply #16 on: August 07, 2014, 11:15:03 AM »
Plenty of cheap USB options for well under $20, even from Logitech.

gimp

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Re: Need new portable workstation with High end i5 or i7.
« Reply #17 on: August 07, 2014, 01:36:52 PM »
Chiclet keyboards do suck. Then again, there's no laptop with a good keyboard. Do yourself a favor and buy a nice keyboard and mouse - generally, I'd go for mechanical for the keyboard and a nice gaming mouse (but one of the simple ones, not the 500 button ones). They'll fit your hands comfortably for half a day of solid work, every day. You won't be using the laptop as a laptop that much when you're doing real work, and you won't be typing that much when you're not. Total cost around $70 for the next 10 years. I figure it's worth it, if only for the increased productivity.

Daley

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Re: Need new portable workstation with High end i5 or i7.
« Reply #18 on: August 07, 2014, 01:46:47 PM »
Chiclet keyboards do suck. Then again, there's no laptop with a good keyboard. Do yourself a favor and buy a nice keyboard and mouse - generally, I'd go for mechanical for the keyboard and a nice gaming mouse (but one of the simple ones, not the 500 button ones). They'll fit your hands comfortably for half a day of solid work, every day. You won't be using the laptop as a laptop that much when you're doing real work, and you won't be typing that much when you're not. Total cost around $70 for the next 10 years. I figure it's worth it, if only for the increased productivity.

Agreed. That said, as a fan of both the Model M and the Thinkpad... the pre-chicklet Thinkpad keyboards are probably some of the most tolerable laptop keyboards I've ever used, but IBM's engineers always did have an astute focus on user input.

It's a shame Lenovo's starting to abandon their roots, and are listening to people who care more about showing off their laptops as status symbols than using them as tools. Ashton Kutcher should not be designing laptops for professionals who use laptops as a tool, and any company who so thoroughly despises the entire concept of a physical button all in the name of visual aesthetics (like Apple does) is not a company that should be emulated for practical system design.

msilenus

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Re: Need new portable workstation with High end i5 or i7.
« Reply #19 on: August 07, 2014, 02:11:56 PM »
This is really cool info, thanks IP.

If I were in OP's spot, I'd probably buy this, or maybe look harder for one with an upgraded graphics card:
http://www.usmicrocorpretail.com/p-1390-lenovo-thinkpad-w520-24ghz-core-i7-cdrwdvd-windows-wifi-15-laptop-notebook.aspx

Reason here is loyalty.  I've had a W520 at work for three or four years now.  It's a phenomenal machine.  Very easy to type on.  Display is nice and big.  I've written a ton of code on this beast.  I've loaded games on it from time to time, and the low-end Quadra Mobile graphics card does a passing job.  (Ie: Skyrim on low settings.)  Getting a generation after that should be pretty darn good.  If you can find one with an upgraded Quadra, you should be golden.

It's not super mobile.  The power brick isn't the size and weight of an actual brick, like a high-end Clevo, but it's still pretty big.  You need power though, and with that comes size.

Definitely pay a little extra for an SSD.  The perf gains are enormous, and they don't have any moving parts so they're less susceptible to damage from bumps and drops.  Don't worry about burnout.  I have an SSD that I've been doing dev work on for 5+ years, some of which were on a swap partition.  Wear levelers are good.

Also check out LaptopReview.  Those nerds stay insanely up to date on hardware.

neo von retorch

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Re: Need new portable workstation with High end i5 or i7.
« Reply #20 on: August 07, 2014, 02:27:27 PM »
re: SSD

Absolutely in support of having an SSD. Just be aware that you can purchase a Samsung SSD and install it yourself quite easily. The only requirement is a SATA/USB adapter so you can plug the SSD in through USB, use Samsung's free software to image the drive, and then swap them out. (So you'll need a tiny screwdriver, too!) So if the price of the upgrade is a good amount more than the price to buy the SSD yourself, I'd go that route, personally. (I'm sure most other brands offer similar software for free, too. The software looks for that brand of SSD before letting you clone.)

gimp

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Re: Need new portable workstation with High end i5 or i7.
« Reply #21 on: August 07, 2014, 02:33:25 PM »
It's a shame Lenovo's starting to abandon their roots, and are listening to people who care more about showing off their laptops as status symbols than using them as tools. Ashton Kutcher should not be designing laptops for professionals who use laptops as a tool, and any company who so thoroughly despises the entire concept of a physical button all in the name of visual aesthetics (like Apple does) is not a company that should be emulated for practical system design.

For sure. Definitely agreed. Their consumer line is trying to be very apple-esque. I used the apple-esque ones and I also now have a fully kitted out macbook pro, courtesy of my employer. There's a reason Apple can get away with their designs: because they're phenomenal, both in design and in practice, for the most part. A "pretty ok" emulation of an Apple design is much, much worse than a "mid-line" standard design. You either have to be perfect, or get the fuck out. Lenovo is perfect as far as their business line goes. But their apple emulation is not even "pretty ok", it's definitely missing some really important bits. Just because they use the same touchpad doesn't mean the touchpad actually works well with either Windows or Linux. There's clearly much more to the design than simply using the same components and a similar schematic. For example, you need an absolutely rock-solid power supply for the thing, with the proper decoupling caps, and good electrical isolation, or it acts like a cheap touchscreen, registering phantom key presses and erratically reacting to simple motions. Guess who didn't properly test the damn thing before shipping? It wasn't Apple, that's for sure, because the touchpad works just fine there. The same can be said for various other components, that was just an example that was most infuriating.

That's why people like Apple - they want more than just specs. Yeah, I can work around most issues and/or fix them, and the specs become crucial because of the workloads I run. For people with facebook/internet machines - well, they may as well buy something that they can get fixed by walking into the shiny store, and something that rarely breaks, and work well, and may or may not be a fashion accessory.

DarinC

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Re: Need new portable workstation with High end i5 or i7.
« Reply #22 on: August 07, 2014, 08:41:18 PM »
USmicro looks like they have decent prices. If you can wait, set up topic alerts on a deal site (fatwallet/slickdeals/etc...) and you should be able to get something new with an i5 for ~$300. I bought my wife a 15" Dell Inspiron on clearance from worstbuy for ~$330 or something over a year ago, so you should be able to do better now.