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CaptainVG

Do I need a Laptop or a PC?

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I'm now a junior game designer and I currently have a HP Pavilion dv6 Laptop which is not powerful enough to run something like Valkyria Chronicles.

 

I want to get a PC so that not only can I play games with high specs but also do other things like learning game engines.

 

My parents are arguing that Laptops are better than Desktops in the sense that they think that Laptops are cheaper and easier to use comparing to a desktop which isn't portable. I want a desktop because even if its true that Laptops are just as good as a desktop, The fact that desktops have more processing power than laptops further proves that the latter simply isn't ideal for not just gaming but also for trying out various software. 

 

Now that I'm a junior game designer, I want to know whether game designers need a powerful PC or are just fine with some inferior laptop if they are to do work even outside of just playing games? If they do need a powerful PC, do game companies offer them such PC's or is it something that a game designer has to use his/her cash to just get it by him/herself?

 

On top of this, I would also like to know what various softwares do game designers use for their work. Currently, I'm just using word and powerpoint during work but I have a feeling that I will probably have to start using other types of software sooner or later.

Edited by Cap'n VG

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Desktops are indisputably more powerful than laptops at any given price point. Miniaturization costs money and power restrictions cost performance. On the flip side there are many capable and reasonably priced laptops out there with plenty of power, more than enough to get work done. You should work on identifying your actual needs and software requirements first, as well as your needs for laptop size, battery life, performance, etc. For the time being, it doesn't sound like you need anything outside the realm of readily available thousand dollar laptops, like an Inspiron 15" 7000 series, Lenovo Y50, etc.

 

Don't get hung up on what professionals do. When you're paid a couple hundred dollars a day, it's worthwhile for a company to spend a day or two worth of your salary to maximize your productivity. It's not unusual for pro developers to have desktop PCs that cost $3000+. It's rare to provide high spec laptops simply because most of the heavy lifting is generally done in the office.

 

Are you a student? I would not recommend not having a laptop if so.

Edited by Promit

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Desktops are indisputably more powerful than laptops at any given price point. Miniaturization costs money and power restrictions cost performance. On the flip side there are many capable and reasonably priced laptops out there with plenty of power, more than enough to get work done. You should work on identifying your actual needs and software requirements first, as well as your needs for laptop size, battery life, performance, etc. For the time being, it doesn't sound like you need anything outside the realm of readily available thousand dollar laptops, like an Inspiron 15" 7000 series, Lenovo Y50, etc.

 

Don't get hung up on what professionals do. When you're paid a couple hundred dollars a day, it's worthwhile for a company to spend a day or two worth of your salary to maximize your productivity. It's not unusual for pro developers to have desktop PCs that cost $3000+. It's rare to provide high spec laptops simply because most of the heavy lifting is generally done in the office.

 

Are you a student? I would not recommend not having a laptop if so.

 

I am a junior game designer and I'm no longer a student and I got a job. Then for running such game engines like Unity 3D or Unreal Engine or Havok engine and playing games with high specs, Laptops can do such things?

 

Many of the staff when I ask them about the power differences, they always tell me that a Desktop is always the best to have and a Laptop will easily burst when dealing with games of such power especially 3D games. One of my friends had a powerful laptop that just got busted within 2 years and its all because of the coding that caused it.

 

Currently I don't use software that requires much of raw power. But I have a feeling that sooner or later I would need such power to work on various softwares such as game engines and its for that reason that I feel that I need a desktop in the long run.

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I have the older pavilion dv6 and for unreal engine it crawls.

I would say a desktop is definitely the way forward unless you really need to move around with your pc.

I got a mid range pc and upgraded it with lots of ram and a reasonable graphics card for much less than even the low end laptops so it's definitely worth looking into that route.

Besides if you're now working it's your choice on hardware right, not your parents... That is, unless they're offering to pay.

Even if they are, you're the expert and it's your field. Convince them :)

Good luck!

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Laptops are neither better nor more affordable than desktops, for very obvious reasons. Laptops must, for their intended purpose, be portable (limits on weight and size) and be able to operate without AC power for considerable time (longer is better). That means that all components as well as the complete design must favour low power consumption and a small form factor over performance and extensibility. That doesn't mean you cannot build a laptop nearly as powerful as a desktop (and a lot of people nowadays use a laptop as desktop even when they have no real need of the portability). It also doesn't mean you cannot modify or extend a laptop. But compared to a desktop, it is rather a "semi-closed" architecture. Plug in bigger RAM or a bigger SSD, no problem, although the RAM will probably cost you a bit more money. Replace the graphics card or the network adapter? Well, good luck with that. Add a second disk or a BD writer after the fact? For almost everything that isn't USB or the like, the answer is: Forget it. This can be a problem, or a complete non-issue, it just depends on what you do and need. If you do not need the laptop's ability to be, well... mobile, then a desktop makes more sense. You get more for the same money, and it is much easier to extend, maintain, and repair. With that being said, a lot of people in an enterprise environment do what is clearly "desktop work" on a laptop every day on the premise that a few consultants actually need a laptop for travelling or on projects. But it's less trouble fot IT to just buy 25,000 identical laptops, and give a laptop to everybody (which "just works" anyway).

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I am a junior game designer and I'm no longer a student and I got a job. Then for running such game engines like Unity 3D or Unreal Engine or Havok engine and playing games with high specs, Laptops can do such things?

Yes. Even an inexpensive modern laptop can handle the development work using those engines.

Because of budget reasons the laptop may not be ideal for the games. You probably won't be able to buy the latest AAA title and crank the settings up to 11. But you will be able to run the programs, play the games, and do the design work that a designer is expected to do.

If the computer cannot play some specific game doesn't really matter much, unless that one specific game is the one you are doing for the job. As long as you can do your job, the equipment is probably adequate. If you cannot do your job effectively then the equipment is inadequate.

Many of the staff when I ask them about the power differences, they always tell me that a Desktop is always the best to have and a Laptop will easily burst when dealing with games of such power especially 3D games. One of my friends had a powerful laptop that just got busted within 2 years and its all because of the coding that caused it.

My guess is abuse, intentional overclocking, or failure to provide adequate ventilation would be how it "just got busted", not coding. The only way I can imagine coding breaking a laptop is if it had a cheap keyboard and the person was an aggressive typist.

Currently I don't use software that requires much of raw power. But I have a feeling that sooner or later I would need such power to work on various softwares such as game engines and its for that reason that I feel that I need a desktop in the long run.

It is quite common to want more than we need. That is part of the human condition.

You currently have a computer that you write meets your needs, but you want something more powerful. I own a small 12-year-old commuter vehicle and would be thrilled if someone were to replace it with a brand new Ferrari (at their expense, not mine). But what I have meets my needs, and fits my budget.

If your needs change and your current computer cannot meet those needs, then by all means require a computer that meets your needs. But be realistic about what your needs are, and understand there is a balance between cost and benefit.

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Yes. Even an inexpensive modern laptop can handle the development work using those engines.

 

They can handle it but, not comfortably.  On my MBP 16GB Unity is fine no problems.  The Unreal Editor however makes it get really hot until the fan roars like a jet engine.  Sure it is running the editor and the FPS second is fine but, I don't find it comfortable enough to work with.

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They can handle it but, not comfortably.  On my MBP 16GB Unity is fine no problems.
We've got a bunch of computers approaching the end of their 5-year duty cycle with 4GB that run Unity-based games just fine.

 

We've had designers and producers on machines less power than what was described but running just fine on AAA games.

 

 

Reading over the original submitters posts we've got this:

 

My parents are arguing that Laptops are better than Desktops in the sense that they think that Laptops are cheaper and easier to use comparing to a desktop which isn't portable. I want a desktop because even if its true that Laptops are just as good as a desktop, The fact that desktops have more processing power than laptops further proves that the latter simply isn't ideal for not just gaming but also for trying out various software. 
 
Now that I'm a junior game designer, I want to know whether game designers need a powerful PC or are just fine with some inferior laptop if they are to do work even outside of just playing games?

...

Then for running such game engines like Unity 3D or Unreal Engine or Havok engine and playing games with high specs, Laptops can do such things?

 

...

Currently I don't use software that requires much of raw power. But I have a feeling that sooner or later I would need such power to work on various softwares such as game engines and its for that reason that I feel that I need a desktop in the long run.

 

The quote from his parents is not wrong.  Commodity laptops generally are cheaper and they are portable.  However, commodity laptops typically have far less powerful parts because of the costs involved, and typically game developer desktop machines and "gaming rigs" are far more powerful than typical commodity hardware. Desktop machines can have components swapped out, the boxes don't take abuse of being portable, and they tend to have a longer service lifetime. 

 

Today's commodity laptops are able to run modern games just fine. They will run game engines just fine. I just spent the last two years at a company where many developers were assigned laptops for their primary development machines. 

 

 

 

And as he wrote, "currently I don't use software that requires much of raw power. But I have a feeling that sooner or later I would need such power ". In other words, "a commodity laptop works just fine for me, but I really want a fancy gaming rig".  Save the money, since hardware depreciates very quickly. If you don't need it now, don't spend the premium costs.

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