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Great_White

which laptop for graphics programming?

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Hello all, I'm planning to buy a recent laptop for mainly my programming tasks (specifically OpenGL and DirectX). I've found two: XPS M1330(or M1530) and Lenovo T61. Which one should I choose ?

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The baseline models of both laptops come with Intel x3100 integrated GPUs. The 1330 offers a GeForce 8400m on the high-end model and the Lenovo offers an nVidia Quadro NVS 140, both 128mb. I think that particular Quadro is the Quadro variant of the 8400m if I'm not mistaken.

The x3100 supports DX10, but its not a huge performer and they tend to not be supported well by many games. The 8400/NVS140 will have much better support and will be a few times faster than the Intel, but are at the lower end of discrete laptop GPUs.

Price difference between lowest and highest end configurations looks to be around $500 for the Dell, but you'll get some CPU, RAM and HDD bumps as well. Didn't see prices for the Lenovo, but they're probably in that range as well.

I've liked both the Dell and Lenovo laptops I've had. Both companies make good kit but Lenovo probably has the edge in terms of manufacturing quality and support since they're primarily marketed at businesses and professionals rather than at consumers like Dell is.

If you can afford the higher-end options, that's the best way to go, if not the X3100 is probably sufficient for experimentation and non-high-end graphics work. For what its worth, Intel has better Linux support for 2D/3D acceleration.

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I heard from some people that XPS M1330 has a loud DVD ejecting/loading sound problem. Lenovo has a better built quality but I'm not sure about the NVS140 chipset. Does it support DirectX10 and Shader Model 4 ?

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watch out

nvidia does not supply drivers for notebook gpus
you have to get them from notebook manufacturer

this might put you in an awkward position

and as far as my research goes so far
there are no windows xp drivers for nvidia 8XXX
mobile gpus and probably never will be

I have not managed to determine the quality of
DX9 support in Vista with a 8XXX gpu - it may be good
does anybody know?

Besides those issues the best spec/price I have found
is the Toshiba X200 - Intel Core Duo, NVidia 8700M and twin hard disks

Otherwise HP 9667ea seems best at its price point

hope that helps

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Quote:
Original post by skytiger

watch out

nvidia does not supply drivers for notebook gpus
you have to get them from notebook manufacturer

this might put you in an awkward position

and as far as my research goes so far
there are no windows xp drivers for nvidia 8XXX
mobile gpus and probably never will be


LaptopVideo2Go

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Do not get anything with an integrated chipset. Their performance is horrible, and they tend to only support a fraction of features supported by D3D9. I don't know what the situation is with D3D10 since the requirements are much stricter for that API, but naturally the performance issue still applies.

For graphics development you'll want something that gives you as much headroom as possible. It's very very difficult to develop something like say...a complex shadowing technique or fancy terrain system when your development system can't render it faster than 15 fps. Usually you'll want to prototype things very quickly without serious optimizations, which is why it's so handy to have a beefy GPU. Unfortunately laptops are at a large disadvantage in this respect, since their GPU's tend to be somewhat gimps for cost and power reasons. They also suffer from the nasty driver situation that skytiger describes.

If you're serious about graphics development, I suggest getting as powerful GPU as you can afford. Integrated most definitely will not cut it, and the 8400 will probably be inconvenient at the very least. I'd recommend at least an 8600 or equivalent, and ideally 8800 series.

Quote:
skytiger
I have not managed to determine the quality of
DX9 support in Vista with a 8XXX gpu - it may be good
does anybody know?


Everything's peachy for me with my 8800 GTS.

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