Does professionals actually buy expensive laptop such as XPS17?

I’ve been using desktop with i7 4790K(4Core 8Thread) + GTX980 for several years in architectural school and in small company mainly using Rhinoceros and occasional Vray or Octane.
Some employers didn’t offered PC to me, so in that case I used my laptop and remote software to access the desktop resources.

Now I’m moving to US for my Masters degree in architecture and planning to purchase a good one that would last about 3 years.
I was expecting the laptop to replace my desktop which should have good performance in both CPU and GPU.
Intel 8 Core CPU and RTX seemed good combination and my final choices are XPS15/17 or RazerBlade15 but they are very pricey.
Considering added 3 years of accidental damage support, they are over 3000 dollars and I was wondering if any professionals in architecture ever buy such laptops.
It could be investment but I was curious if it’s waste of money.

3000 for a laptop to do professional work is actually on the lower end of cost.

Also the specs of the RTX cards on those thin XPS are not that great compared to thicker but way better Precision laptops, which you can also buy at that same price from the Dell outlet store.

Just for perspective: how much will you be spending in your Masters degree in the US, once you include tuition, fees, housing, travel… ? And what will your return on that investment be, if you have to wait on a computer that is slow, or you are limiting your work to what you can model/render with it?


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no one ever said “darn I spent too much and this computer is too fast.”

I buy the biggest nastiest machines I can find then use them for 5-6 years. The ROI on hardware is insane… typically one job will more than pay for a machine in total. and the rest is in the black.

the time wasted for a garbage machine is way more costly than buying well to start with.


Yes, its kind of ridiculous to even care about how much to invest on laptop considering the total cost of attendance is about 100K…
But since I have never tried using such laptops, I thought if it is unreal trying to work on laptops other than desktop…
Well, it seems to worth the investments considering your advises.
I would still look for other options.

Best regards.

Wow, this is an insane amount of money! I wouldn’t agree that a student needs a laptop for $3000+, but if you spend that much money, take the best you can :slight_smile:

FWIW, you should consider the ROI on thy degree. Not the laptop.

Also $3K laptops are only barely good enough for complex work. Here’s the bill of my current laptop bought last summer, before I added the 3 year damage coverage:

It’s been a terrific tool and paid itself very quickly.

I always say: if you can afford to work from a desktop (meaning you can afford to leave a computer in one place), don’t get a laptop. If you cannot afford to work on a desktop, you can’t afford to be frugal on a laptop.

Most of our team is using $5-6K desktops (self-built, equivalent to $10K assembled desktops) that smoke my laptop in terms of performance.

I think you should get the best computer you can get for your situation. Also all ‘thin pro laptops’ are total bullshit. They are pretty, they are not very good for complex work. Please note my comment: ‘complex work’, for ‘light work’ anything goes this days.



BTW, that price I showed you is after I emailed them because the quoted price in their website was close to $11k. I emailed them and said that was crazy for a laptop, and they had to bring the price down. Always ask for discounts. Always.

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Wow I didn’t know I could bargain with dell. We don’t have dell outlet store in our country so it seems I could get much better deal on US.
Besides, I have heard from former graduate I could pay off the cost in about 3 years which I actually don’t believe that much and am not sure that would still be applicable considering current situation…
Anyway, thanks for your advice!

Take a quick look at I’ve got their max 17 on the short list as soon as my next commission comes in. 8 core 16 thread Intel plus your choice of Nvida RTX cards up to the 2080 max Q.

The only screen option is high deg at 1920 x 1080 but that’s not too bad on a 17.3" screen. Magnesium body and lid keeps this neat laptop under five pounds in weight with a cost of around $1800.

For the most part Flamingo is my renderer though I might upgrade if Flamingo doesn’t come out with a more recent release. It’s core conscious making this laptop a good investment.

Here’s a rendering sample of a design running at 45 knots in CFD created virtual water.


I spent around 2500 € in a dell laptop around 2 years ago(precission 5530, i7 8850H) and around 1500 € 13 years ago…(A xps that last me 10 years of hard working with some upgrades, a ssd and more ram) The last is thinner and weight less but in terms of performance I think is not better than the older one, I think it can’t handle the temperature… If I were you, If you want performance you need a a desktop or a heavy laptop, it’s impossible to have a thin, light, powerfull laptop…

Ideally one would have a proper work station at office or home or both, and a laptop for occasional work, travel, meetings, etc.

I have had an ASUS ROG G751 for 5 years now. It has been worth it, but I am now considering settling and building a proper desktop work station and having a laptop mainly to display work.

The laptop was ok. It could handle anything I would throw at it. But, on the cons side, it was pretty bulky, big and heavy. It’s touchpad stopped working about 3 years into the purchase. I had to replace the battery twice, and right now it does not work without being plugged in. I will definitely not buy another battery. Internet signal has also been an issue since the cables connecting to the card are close to the lid, so after years of opening and closing those cables become weak.

But in the end it all boils down to your particular situation. It is logical that employers that are barely starting will not be able to offer you an office with a dekstop pc, rather simply a co-working space. In that situation, if the maths add up (what they will pay you vs cost of laptop) it makes sense to invest into a laptop to do heavy work.

Or maybe, given the current global situation, which forced everything and everyone onto virtuality, more and more practices will start accepting employees working remotely. In that case, laptops will be gone for good, forever.

Edit: Also, profesional work is almost impossible without a multi monitor set up.


I’ve worked on 24k € machines + 100k € license onboard. Am I the greatest professional here? :smiley:
I privately only own a 1700€ laptop and I consider this a lot. When I was a student I had a 1000€ desktop and a 500€ Laptop and it really worked for me. Also for rendering and all the neat stuff you do nowadays… Why? Because I was a student and no professional.

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I’m an amateur Rhino modeler, this is why I use the following machine (no rendering; 3d modeling only):
Acer Aspire 7 A717 laptop for about $1000: 17,3" 60Hz IPS screen, Core i5-8300H, Nvidia GTX1050 4 GB, 8 GB DDR4 2133 MHz, 1TB 5400rpm HDD, 240GB Nvme SSD. Works flawlessly when connected to a 4K 43" Sony TV.

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I didn’t even own a computer through University. I even had to get a job at a computer lab so I could have badge access to a secret lab with Silicon Graphics machines and hack my way through Alias self-learning. There was no Youtube, no user groups, nothing. Just pure head banging on the CRT monitors, and a shelf of Encyclopedia-style manuals for Alias and Power Animator.

But anyone today who is spending 7 U$ figures in higher education, and is not going in there with the god dam best hardware they can carry, they are doing it wrong IMO.


Even 14 years ago, when I started studying, the availability of online tutorials was almost equal to zero. I remember the task to construct a simple angle lever in SolidWorks (with structual analysis included).
It was extremly difficult if you never touched CAD. I remember to hardly pass the exam. An 100x faster computer wouldn’t helped me, because the time pressure was not because of computation time, but because of steeper learning curve. Nowadays you got both, more computational power and more sources to learn from. And still students need more power, this really is bizarre.
As a fun fact, I’ve seen many architectural students being great in rendering while doing their master thesis… but now mainly planning bad rooms, shifting toilets in 2d AutoCad, on a 10 year old office pc :stuck_out_tongue: (Of course I exaggerated it a bit)


Imagine what computers were used decades ago to send people to the Space. Now, compare them with the modern hardware monsters that many people use primarily for e-mail, Youtube and Facebook. :slight_smile:


One point missing in this thread is the distinction between a 4000$ “professional” laptop, a 2000$ gamer laptop and 8000$ “mobile workstation”:

The difference between the XPS and a gamer laptop is the silly fantasy acne teenager design of the latter, and that’s it. Empty a spray paint can on it or cover it with stickers if you want to look expensive with suits.

A mobile workstation is something else: it will have a Xeon processor with much larger cache that is of little value for Rhino, but crucial for stuff like FEA and CFD, and a “certified” (not “better”) graphics card with drivers optimised for CATIA etc, but not so much for Rhino.

You can do a lot of modeling on a 500$ used gamer laptop. If your problem is fancy rendering that will take hours to calculate itself anyway, consider doing this particular task on an other machine, like a big dektop at home. You can have it permanently connected to the internet and remote control it over Teamviewer.

My bottom line would be to look something with a good graphics card (dig up the rhino graphics cards benchmarks in the forums), and quite a bit of Ram.

High-resolution screens (4k) are neat for anything CAD since you’ll zoom around a little less !


I should add that my use of a laptop is to travel to a builders site and download required files for his needs. Also, it makes a great presentation tool for animations of one’s work to a small group.

Hi June, I had many laptops from my first Inspiron to many Precisions, specially the last ones did they job pretty well. I used to buy the best specs in CPU and GPU and upgrade the RAM and storage myself. And lasted many years (5+) each.

Right now I have a XPS13 with an Aorus Gaming Box which I don’t use anymore, then I bough a Surface go, and my custom desktop workstation.

My workflow now, is use the XPS or Surface and Google Remote Desktop to log into my desktop. That seems to be the best. Carry those 4kg laptops around is horrible.

Hi all, thank you for all your inputs.
It seems it is more complex than what I have first thought.
I would report what I would buy if I can, but it seems would take some time.
As always, thanks for all your advice.