General Category > Hardware

New Build options - mobility vs. utility


Hi all,
I'm an architect, new to the forum and coming back to Corona after many years of using other products for the in-house visuals or not doing any at all. Now due to reorganisation I want to start doing some of the work personally in my office and I am in a need to build a PC. I am really struggling to make a final decision because of several details and I think you guys will be able to help me a lot here. It is very imporant to stress out that we are not professional 3D artists and archviz is a part of the design process we do and endgame images are mainly produced for our own comfort and pleasure. We do mostly interiors and small residential projects, so no master plans, huge exteriors nor complicated videos.  I was almost settled on building a SFF station, as I have to move a lot between 2-3 different work places and I was thinking of geting an AIO cooled Ryzen 9 7950X/ i9-14900,  with a RTX 4070Ti Super / 4080 Super in a small 10-11 liter case which i will be able to move around, but when I did some reasearch, reading here and in the benchmark result page I saw that the mobile version of the I9's is only around 15-20% behind the regular one. As I don't need the full factor GPU at any cost ( not gona use F-storm anymore ) I ran in the option of getting a nice mobile station like the Razor blade 18 or the '24 Lenovo legions or Asus G16 Zephyrus all having 13900 HX or the new generation of Intels mobile chips. Big + of this scenario is that in the first option I will have to get a laptop anyway, to have the option to work while travelling, and that would biuld up the cost. Also moving a 10-11kg station here and there is not the most comfortable thing and I am afraid it may damage the thing or lead to issues in the long run. As mobility is very important for me what would you recomend, as I hope most of you run in the need to work on a mobile station from time to time and would know the real picture there. In both cases I have a stationary server/library which will host files and other stuff. Sorry for the long topic and looking forward to hearing your opinion.

James Vella:
Just my 2c, I've been using laptops exclusively for the past 6 years and these days you can get some pretty powerful options. If mobility is important to you then just get a laptop. I use an Asus ROG Strix Scar 17", the top end Lonovo's are great too. Get a minimum of 16" since the extra room/airflow helps when rendering. While I do prefer the larger 17" when on an aeroplane they are just too large and I end up just reading a book since its a bother. On long train rides its fine. I would love a Zephyrus but the issue is they max 48GB + soldered ram and not great for Corona, you really need a minimum of 64GB.

When I'm in my office everything just plugs in via usb-c to a dock, monitor, keyboard, mouse etc like a normal workstation. Then when I hit the road for a few months at a time I just unplug the laptop and take it with me, best of both worlds to be honest.

In regards to your questions about hardware specific, the CPU's aren't that slow on a laptop, the GPU is definitely a bit slower but if you are rendering with Corona then its not that noticeable for the trade off of mobility. Ive worked months on end doing rendering projects and I dont even consider the need for a workstation these days, I'm happy to stay mobile for the time being. If you do lots of rendering then sure buy some render node workstations for the office and you can even remotely que your jobs to render finals on them while you are mobile. Lots of options depending on your needs.

Hey there, many times I had similar dilemma :- ) The best answer really changes through years.`

(I try to be impartial in my answer below, but I want to note that I receive few free laptops from Intel here and there. But I built plenty of other computers myself, from SFFPCs to big server-builds, so I can compare stuff from experience.)

5 years ago I think, laptops were really weak (although there were few desktop Ryzen in ECO mode (65W) put into few Clevo chassis), so I built portable SFFPC with Cerberus-X and put 18-core i9 into it, was still bit weaker than my 32-core Threadripper at that time, but so much more powerful than any laptop on market. This was quite heavy SFFPC and it wasn't easy to lug around. The really small SFFPC were impractical in shape and only supported ITX boards, which mean 2x32GB ram limit, too little. Nowadays, 2x48GB ram is plenty for ITX boards and mainstream laptops since 96 is quite bit closer to 128 than 64GB was.

2 years ago, Intel came with HX chips, effectively desktop CPUs in laptop. Shortly after, AMD came with their own HX, which is lot more energy efficient :- ). But there are few laptops with it only, mainly Lenovo Legion series. I have 12950HX Dell Precision 16, 13950HX MSI Titan GT77, and will probably get Razer Blade 18 14950HX at some point.

My observations:
- These laptops are really powerful, the CPU chips themselves are absolutely identical to desktops. But that depends on chassis and how much they can supply power and cooling. For example, the Dell Precision is rather thick and heavy workstation (not the XPS-body style, the big-body version), but has rather weak cooling, so it's like 40perc. weaker than my MSI Titan.
- They are very loud if you set them to desktop performance. As in, people will be angry at you in office :- ). You can put on noise-cancelling headphones on. But you can just keep swapping between performance profiles and keep the laptop reasonably silent for most work, and set it on maximum only when you need it.

My MSI Titan, is big, ugly, plastic and loud. But it's otherwise absolutely identical in performance to 13900K, or 7950X, etc.. Engineering marvel. So the only time it would make sense for me to build SFFPC, is to build mini-Threadripper. Because mainstream CPUs don't outperform HX-series in big-body laptops like the Titan.
Medium-body laptops like Razer Blade are slighly more compromise, but they are more portable and easier on eyes (nice metal chassis, clean design, better display calibration from factory,..).

Unfortunately, all laptops of this sort are now like 4000-5000 Euro if you also want high-vram GPU before you even upgrade ram to 2x48GB.

Asus Strix and Lenovo Legion are most reasonably priced and have best performance/price value. Lenovo has better quality control. MSI and Razer are really expensive, with MSI Titan-series you get desktop performance (it's like the only laptop with 350W power delivery, insane thing), with Razer you get the only Macbook style body.

Laptops are imho much better than SFFPCs since you also get a display with them, so the moment you plug into external 27" monitor in office or elsewhere, you get free side monitor on the laptop itself.
SFFPC really only make sense if you want to maximize GPU performance, so they're really more like niche gaming builds. If you follow the Reddit/r/sffpc, then you know the audience :- ). 90perc. of them are super impractical and barely cost effective against laptop and unless they have 280mm AIO on CPU, the CPU performance is often just as laptop, so it's just the GPU working as intended.

Thank you very much for the clarifications. So far doing my research :
1. MSI are out of the discussion - not my style - designwise
2. Would love to have glossy OLED screen but only options so far that suit me are Asus ProArt Studio book and basically thats it. Asus's mini-leds are also fine.
3. Want 17 or 18 inch, 16 is a compromise i think, nevermind that in 75% of the time i will use it with a monitor.
4. Workstation grade laptops are way too expensive in my side of Europe, so they are also out of the discussion
5. None of the Asus nor Lenovo (excl. Thinkpads) laptops are listed officially to support 96GB Ram - do you have experience with that and is 96 mandatory.
6. Love the Razer blade 18, but the new model is not yet available. Wouldn't get a 16 razer blade - if the 16 inch screen compromise is to be made I would get a Asus ProArt.
7. In the benchmarks the Ryzen 7945HX seems to beat the 13950hx/13980hx, but there are still no benchmarks for the 14900hx. In Cinebench multi core bench the Ryzen is still better.

So to summerise, Available options to get now
1. Asus ProArt Studiobook - Nice looks, excellent display, Ok pricewise
2. Asus ROG Scar 17 with 7945HX 17' 16:9 Aspect - small compromise , again the looks are not the best for me, but
3. Asus ROG Scar 18 2024 with 14900HX 18' 16:10 Aspect - only looks and highest price of all picks would be an issue
4. Asus ROG Zephyrus DOU with 7945HX 16:10 - a bit exotic with the second screen above the keyboard, but good display and package, I dont know if the ram is soldered
5. Lenovo Legions 2024 model - acceptable design, again not clear when they will be available
6. Razer Blade 18 - Wait for the 2024 model and just get it watever the price, especially if as you said is packaged with the 14950HX - really like the looks and everything, excl. the glowing green snakes on the lid. Had a 15 inch model 4 years ago, full of issues, but I think that they managed to solve most of them,
or get the last year 18 inch model , strangely it is not allowed to configure it with 64 or more ram through razer. The new 16 inch 24 model would be the last option, which allows stock 96 ram, but makes you get the worse display and 4TB ssd which is insane.. Would be happy to get a new PC as soon as possible and I'm not really into waiting till the mid/end of 24 for Razer to release the new 18 inch.

Most reviews in youtube are biased, and don't really give the full picture.

What would you recommend ..

Yeah sadly OLED was made in laptop size only as big as 16" 16:10, I have one in the Dell Precision and it's stunning with its seamless glossy cover. 60HZ only, but 450Nits stable for SDR content. Just amazing.
My older Razer Blade Pro 17" have 17" glossy 4K IPS panels, very deep blacks and quite high contrast for IPS (close to 1500:1), but after that, most non-Apple manufacturers stopped with glossy high-dpi panels outside of the few OLED 16" screens. Like Precision or ProArt,etc..

All 18" panels right now are 2560:1600 16:10 IPS panels only except for one 4K one. Few are Mini-Led backlit though, but all are matte. Zero 17"/18" OLEDs on market.

Yep, workstation ones like the Precision have insane cost, esp. the CAMM memory units instead of SODIMM. Couple with fact how poorly they cool, they're just terrible deal.
Not really freelance friendly option.

Razer Blade 18 hasn't actually been finalized yet, they're still deciding what option to use. Intel sent 16" prototypes to ambassadors since that one is using last years 4K/2K (switch) IPS Mini-Led screen.
Previous year B18 had 2560/1600 non mini-led screen and I think they're deciding which display to use.

But since 2023 vs 2024 are perfomance was identical. Same 4xxx nVidia GPU, and Intel 13xx HX vs 14xx HX have no performance difference in practice.
They're the same laptops as last year.

You don't need the glowing snake if you get the silver studio edition of Razer Blade :- ). They're identical today, just different color, looks even more like Macbook now that they have black keyboards on silver body (few years ago Razer Studio used white keyboard, looked gimmicky and was hard to read).

Razer Blade is the only tolerable design in Windows laptops world sadly, it is what it is... It's why I never sold my old Razer, I love my 2022 with glossy 4K 17" 120HZ panel, it's beautiful. My wife Veronika also kept her 2021 15" 4K Glossy OLED. We already use much more powerful laptops for work but there is something about the combination of clean look and beautiful displays that most Windows laptops don't have.
Sadly no Razer Blade 16/18" use OLED or even Glossy finish panels. Maybe in next two years. OLED is getting very strong this year in mainstream 27"/32" monitor space finally, so it will come back to laptops in full force again.
Right now, for some reason, only ultra-books and workstations get OLEDs.

Yup, the Ryzen 7945HX is amazing if you can get it in laptop you like and one that doesn't use soldered memory slot. This has always been AMD laptops issue. Not enough of them on market.

Nothing officially supports 48GB memory SODDIMs on paper, they came to market like last summer. But they should work.

For reviews, Notebookcheck have quite unbiased reviews in that they just publish 20 A4 pages of almost useless data and you can just make your own takeaway :- ).
Laptops are pretty much about making a compromise you will be happy with. They're all pretty damn good today, just ugly and often very expensive. But they all do the job.


[0] Message Index

Go to full version