Old Computer Died
Well, my awesome Dell M4400 died 2 weeks ago. I loved that computer until….tear….she had a catastrophic hard drive failure, and it was time to spec out a new machine. The good news was that I could tell it was about to happen. The hard drive kept “click-click-clicking” (not a good sign), and so I was able to get all my data off, and took the appropriate steps to ensure that nothing would be lost before the day of doom.
Which brand? Which Model?
I decided to go with a Dell again, this time around. We here at Prism have had success with some other vendors, but we mainly run HP and Dell laptops, and I loved my M4400, so I figured Dell would be a good place to start.
I went with the new model Dell M4600 Laptop. This is a lovely looking machine, and as you can see from the image above it came with a 10-key (number pad) in the smaller 15.6″ screen model. In previous versions of this laptop, Dell only offered this 10-key on the bigger 17.3″ screen model, and with all the traveling I do for presentations, I always try to go with the smaller model. So the 10-key was a big plus!
Central Processing Unit (CPU)
Next I chose the processor. I went with a Quad-core. SolidWorks modeling itself is very linear by nature, so having multiple processors or multiple cores isn’t going help much with building a single part model. However, there are many areas of SolidWorks and general computing which will certainly take advantage of these multiple cores. Within SolidWorks, the loading of large assemblies is an important area which benefits from multiple cores. Simulation and photo-renderings will also utilize the multi-core processor to cut down on the total time required. Like most users, I am running not only SolidWorks but am running MS Outlook, Internet Explorer, MS word, and a number of other programs simultaneously. Having a multi-core processor will help split the load and make each of these programs run faster, even when working on a complex surface model (which would likely take advantage of only one single core). Beyond this, I discovered that the dual core option that was offered only supported up to 8 GB of RAM. This was an important discovery, and something to consider if you are planning on expanding the amount of RAM in the system, sometime in the future. So I went with the Intel Core i7-2860Q (Quad Core 2.50 GHz with an 8M cache). This is a screaming chip and so far, I’m happy with this choice.
RAM (How much, and what speed?)
As far as RAM goes, I went with the faster (and slightly more expensive) DDR3-1600MHz. This machine is an investment, and I wanted to make sure I get at least two or three years of quality production-level work out of it, so I decided to go with the faster RAM. I went with 8GB for now, but I imagine I will be bumping this up to 16GB sometime in early 2013. I could have gone to 16GB right away, but I have been running with 8GB for the past year and have yet to exhaust all 8GB, even when opening larger assemblies. So I am confident that 8GB will be sufficient.
Lastly, I considered the graphics card. Again I was looking at this purchase as a long-term investment, so again I went with the higher-end choice. Nvida Quadro 2000M with 2GB of onboard video RAM. Again, I am hoping to configure a laptop here which will last me for the next 2-3 years, so the investment is worth it.
And that brings me to the conclusion of this debacle: Sure there are some other things I had to decide upon when configuring this laptop, but these are the key factors: Operating System (Win7 Pro-64bit), CPU, RAM (speed and amount), and Graphics Card. I wanted to blog about this new machine to help those who are considering making a similar purchase, by taking you through my thought process.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post below.
I have been running this machine for about a week and so far, I am VERY pleased.
Take care everyone and happy New Year!