A few concise questions about laptops (I know, I know, but I didn't see the exact answers in other posts)

I’m about to buy a new laptop and I’m trying to get an idea of whether the money I’m about to spend will improve Rhino’s performance enough that I feel like it’ll be money well spent.

My primary uses: complex surfacing, SubD, advanced grasshopper, and RhinoCAM. almost zero rendering.

My current mobile workstation’s specs:
Intel Core i7-6820hq 2.70 ghz, 4 Core, 8MB Cache, 2.70GHz to 3.60 GHz
48 GB Ram
Nvidia Quadro M2000M w/4gb GDDR5
UHD Display.

Specs for a mobile workstation I’m thinking of buying:
Intel Core Processor i7-10850H 6 Core, 12MB Cache, 2.70 GHz to 5.10 GHz
64 GB Ram (3200 MHz)
NVIDIA Quadro RTX 4000 w/8GB GDDR6
UHD display

My main question: Can I expect this to provide a radical change in performance, or am I paying a lot of money for a subtle improvement?

(Most of the time when I get bogged down on my current machine it’s because of too many booleans in a grasshopper script, a very large toolpath in RhinoCAM or huge SubD objects. RhinoCAM uses OpenGL, by the way.)

A few other questions:

Is the faster RAM worth it in my application or is that just a waste of money?

Is a better grade of SSD worth it in my application or is that too just a waste of money?

In the configuration for the machine I want to buy above, if there’s a bottleneck somewhere, where is it?

Thanks. I know here are a million hardware post on this forum, I just couldn’t find specific answers to all my questions in any of them.

Hey Max,

You might get a better response if you say what machine this is, so if there is anyone out there with experience of it they can speak knowledgably rather than speculatively. Raw specs don’t mean too much - one machine might perform well, another with the same spec might be thermally throttled whenever you load it up.


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Current machine is an HP zbook G3 15”, three years old, ish.

The one I’m looking at is a Dell Precision 7550 15”

Hi Max, for what you are describing I’d up the CPU to at least an i9, ideally the Xeon. It will help with single-threaded calculations like booleans, meshing, etc.

64GB ram is a bit limited for very large files, if you are also running other programs, but the problems is that the 128G upgrade price in the laptops is ridiculous money. Just make sure you don’t keep Chrome running.

The GPU will be compromised. But again going up here is silly money. I have the RTX5000 and it’s still compromised in heavy scenes. When I’m in the office I ended up hooking up an external GPU and that works really well. A Desktop RTX 2080ti was a huge speed and smoothness increase from the laptop RTX5000. So you can always go eGPU in the future for a lot less than getting the fancy laptop card. More upgradable too. And makes running 2 4K monitors a non-issue. The laptop GPU struggled a lot with that.

I’ve never paid attention to getting the fastest ram. I’d be curious if that’s a factor or not.




Interestingly, I just found that if I want a xeon and the rtx5000 and I get a 17" dell instead of a 15" one, it gets cheaper, and fits my budget. It’s apparently cheaper than the lenovo and HP versions of the same configuration, too. Go figure. Maybe they aren’t selling enough of them?

Also keep in mind that Nvidia just announced their new generation of pro laptop cards, so Dell might be selling those real soon. That might be the reason for some discounts.

Another thing to keep In mind, I don’t know where you are based, but in US Dell also has great deals on their outlet store. We buy most of our precision’s there. We even got a few that were listed as ‘scratched and dented’ and we never saw a single issue with them.


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My private laptop is a 2 year old Dell G5 5590 in its highest specs. I’m not happy with this machine at all. I won’t buy a Dell laptop in the near future. Reason number 1 is its bad thermal management. Apart from the nasty bloatware it comes with and it’s crappy management software.

I wonder who can work dozens of hours a week with that noise involved.

CPU’s haven’t improved very much over the years in terms of single core performance, but modern CPUs support faster instruction sets. Of course a software has to support them, but it’s no that you get large speed gains without these.

(For large Boolean intersections you can open Rhino in multiple instances and run them truly in parallel, supposed you can divide the shape into atomic pieces. )

So if you work most of the time on a desk (with a docking station in place), then rather downgrade the gpu and use a eGPU instead.

I don’t think RAM is that important. They are oversized for most use cases.

If you lower the render-mesh settings , less polygons need to be drawn. So I don’t think you’ll need an high-end graphics card. But this depends on your average project size and if you like to display with realistic shaders.

Noise isn’t that much of a factor for me because I’m usually working either in my home office where I have headphones on to keep the noise of the kids at bay, or at my workshop where I have headphones on to keep the noise of my crew’s power tools at bay, lol.

I’ll check out eGPUs, though, thanks for the advice.

Tom, you have a laptop that’s ill-suited for CAD work. You can buy an equally thin and light laptop from any brand and it will have the same terrible thermal management and performance bottlenecks.

I do all my CAD work in a Dell Precision 7740. I have none of those problems, but it’s a chunky beast.

I also have a Dell Precision 5520 (same form-factor as your 5590), which I use for travel and for non-work stuff. I don’t even have any 3D software installed there, because it just makes no sense for that use IMO, unless you do very light CAD work.


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