Laptop Upgrade Talk

Late last year / early this year I was about to upgrade my laptop but held off. Since then, prices actually increased. Not only that, pricing became very erratic and irregular. For example, RTX 3050 laptops were being listed for $2,000 plus. Used laptops were also going for ridiculous prices, and prices were more often not appropriate for the specs. It really muddies the waters and you can’t just spend say $1,000, $2,000 and expect to get a laptop reflective of that price level - you have to know your numbers.

I’m someone who lets decisions like these occupy way too much space in my head. But at least that means I do lots of “research” - or more accurately, pay attention to things like prices, benchmarks, etc…

Black Friday / Cyber Monday / Boxing Day/Week (and month???) actually held true to their reputations and prices were generally quite lower. It also affected the used market, but not as much as it should have - at least here in Canada. I have seen a noticeable increase in used laptops for sale at more reasonable prices, which makes me wonder if something big is about to be released. But I couldn’t find any evidence of such on the net.

My plan is to buy a laptop based around either a 4070/4060 preferably (most likely a 4060), but I might settle for a 3070 or even a 3060. This might be a “bridge” upgrade to get me through a couple years until I can decide if I’m a laptop guy or if I want to commit to a desktop setup - the later being better value only after the initial investment in your monitor(s) and other peripherals.

I’m curious to hear everyone’s experiences using laptops in the range listed above.

Hi @keithscadservices,

I have multiple computers, desktop, laptop, mac laptops, etc.

For professional work and my main “workstation” I use a laptop sitting on top of a usb fan cooling pad for increased ventilation (though rarely ever needed)

I run a single usb-c connection out the back of the laptop to a small docking station where my dual monitors, keyboard, mouse dongle, headset, webcam, ethernet, etc. all connect to.

I run a lot of popular DCC apps:
Adobe Suite, Autodesk Suite, Microsoft 365 Suite, SketchUp, Rhino, Blender, Visual Studio, Unreal Engine, Twinmotion, D5, Enscape, etc.

I have yet to bottleneck the laptop or have any issues with overheating or anything like that

It has been great and the added bonus of portability for when I need to travel for work or with my family but most of the time it “lives” on my desk, plugged in.

I do recommend getting the larger screen if offered, 17" for CAD/visual content is much better than 15" in my opinion. And I run a portable dual monitor that plugs in as USB-C as well for when I travel and then just take my same mouse and dongle but use the laptop keyboard.

Would I like a 4070? Sure of course but I have an RTX 3080 Ti Laptop GPU and that with the other specs have chewed through everything I’ve thrown at it so far.

Anything that requires more juice from that I run through GPU farms. But I almost never do that because I don’t need to.

In summary, I love having a laptop and likely won’t change that in the foreseeable future:
That’s my experience for what it’s worth to you.

Specs of the build I have:


Windows 11 Pro
12th Gen Intel(R) Core™ i9-12900H, 2500 Mhz, 14 Core(s), 20 Logical Processor(s)
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Laptop GPU
Installed Physical Memory (RAM) 64.0 GB

Additional GPU:
Intel(R) Iris(R) Xe Graphics
2560 x 1440 x 240 hertz

Thanks Michael!

What’s your best guess on the amount of RAM one would need in the foreseeable future? I’m seeing so many systems with 16GB and even as low as 8GB. it’s kind of annoying given RAM is so cheap these days. Whatever I buy I’m probably going to upgrade the RAM, but many options only allow 32GB max. I’m 50% convinced that’s enough but 50% convinced that it will bite me on larger projects.

Watch out for laptops that have soldered RAM so you are stuck with the config you initially buy. Dell Precision 5680 workstations spring to mind as an example.

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I’m no expert on RAM needs by any means but I can say that when I have many web browser tabs open, music/videos playing, CAD app like Rhino going, and a render plugin like Enscape going I regularly am about about 32% memory use of my 64gb RAM.

A google search result here (McNeel docs recommend 8gb minimum) I’m sure a McNeel dev can weigh in but I imagine you use other programs in addition to Rhino as well.

How much RAM is needed for Rhino?

“We have tested four current PNY NVIDIA Quadro cards with Rhino 6. See and download our full report on these cards here. We recommend 16GB of RAM as a useful practical amount of RAM for professional use with 32GB or 64GB being preferred for more extreme use.”

And Unreal Engine 5 Dev Specs, note the MUCH higher RAM (different app I know… just for comparison)

Unreal Engine 5 Dev System Typ. Specs

The spec below represents a typical system used at Epic (a Lenovo P620 Content Creation Workstation, standard version). This provides a reasonable guideline for developing games with Unreal Engine 5:

  • Operating System: Windows 10 22H2
  • Power Supply: 1000W power supply unit
  • RAM: 128GB DDR4-3200
  • Processor: AMD Ryzen Threadripper Pro 3975WX Processor - 128MB Cache, 3.5 GHz base / 4.2 GHz turbo, 32 Cores / 64 Threads, 280w TDP
  • OS Drive 1 TB M.2 NVMe3 x4 PCI-e SSD
  • DATA Drive 4 TB Raid Array - 2 x 2TB NVMe3 x4 PCI-e SSD in Raid 0
  • GPU: Nvidia RTX 3080 - 10GB
  • NIC 1GBPS on-board + Intel X550-T1 10G PCI-e Ethernet adapter
  • TPM Compliant

to @jeremy5 's point, if the RAM is user serviceable/upgradeable… if you buy a laptop with 32gb ram and think “i’ll add another 32gb stick to get 64gb when I want to upgrade later” just keep in mind you may need to buy two 32gb new sticks because what’s in the laptop may be 16gb(x2) sticks rather than 1 32gb stick across 2 slots or whatever.

Thank-you! I’ve been making sure it states the “max” ram because from what I gather 16GB won’t be enough going into the future. It’s frustrating that they place a bottleneck like that when it’s one of the cheaper components. Good way to waste a 4060 with 8GB soldiered into place.

I like leaving many tabs/windows open. It’s admittedly a bad habit but sometimes it helps with productivity.

Lots of what I’m looking at only allows 32GB max. Deep diving into some of the forums has users claiming they’re able to use 64GB when the manufacturer states 32GB is max. MSI usually goes up to 64GB but many of the other options (Acer for example) have the 32GB limit.

D5 won’t even open on my current laptop. I’m really eager to try it out. Enscape on the other hand performed really really well on my current laptop (well as good as one can hope for, I’m on a GTX 1660). D5 sounds too good to be true so I’m dying to try it out. I was so impressed with Enscape that I would probably eat the cost… assuming that they’ve cleared up the issues they were having with Rhino 8.

The other gotcha is that manufacturers may list a vast range of specs but the options available depend on the channel. Resellers may have access to different specs from the manuf. online shop. If you check out the Dell Outlet you often find refurbished machines with a more attractive feature set than you find in their retail list. It does make finding the right machine far more work than it ought to be…

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