Need advice about buying a laptop that runs graphics programs

9 replies
Found 21st Sep 2006
I'm looking to buy a laptop for around the £400-500 mark.

Most laptops in this range have a CPU of 1.7Ghz Intel.

Is this CPU powerful enough to run graphics and CAD programs? (2 at the same time)

I'm considering this laptop as I've found it 2nd hand.


Everything about it is great (RAM can be upgraded to 2GB) EXCEPT that the CPU is only 1.7GHz. I've never worked on a PC or laptop with less than 3GHz CPU........so will I be able to tell the difference? If yes, in what way??


I've just been asking advice - on my CAD programs' forum - about what I would need to run my CAD program (minimum spec) and here it is......

Laptop should have:
1) ATI or Nvidia dedicated graphics....at least 128MB (no integrated graphics), and 64MB is just rubbish.
2) Direct X 9.0c (I'm not certain what this is!!)
3) at least 1GB RAM
4) AMD Athlon 64 bit, but they didn't tell me what speed......and AMD better than Intel? And what is an AMD Athlon version of an Intel Pentium 4 3.2Ghz CPU?? e.g. Is an AMD Athlon 3400+ the same as an Intel 3.2Ghz? Not sure how to make comparisons.....
5) They said that the CPU's 'FLops are a better indication of speed than Mhz'.....what does that mean?



Welcome to the forums dodgem, You would struggle to find any Dell laptop new in your price range that has the specs your asking for.
A dell would need to be core 2 duo cpu'd and 128Meg graphics carded too, looking at £900 ish!

My advice is to take a look on [url]www.pcnextday.co.uk[/url] they have a £500 laptop with really good specs that won a recent computer shopper laptop test.

If you're looking for a notebook that runs graphics intensive program, then the budget in you hand is surely not enough. You need to look for one that has separate graphics chipset .. as MikeT said, one with at least 128MB just for the graphics itself.. avoid one with the intergrated one (most if not all notebooks which cost less than £500 use intergrated graphics chipset).

Certainly .. you need at least 1GB RAM too .. and load of HD space.

Checking the link given by currychops .. this non-branded notebook by pcnextday most probably suitable for your budget:



"PLEASE NOTE: There is currently a 3 weeks waiting period for delivery on this product due to the large volume of orders we are receiving."

what graphics program are you running? and oes it need a better spec that the cad recommendations.i run autocad and navisworks and i have 2GB of ram and mine is still very slow at times.

Original Poster

Hi lanofdan

I run 3D Microstation (more powerul 3D Cad prgram than Autocad as it also renders high quality images). I've got Autocad as well, tho I rarely use it.

I also use, all the usual Adobe Programs....Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign.

OK, here are the specs of my CURRENT desktop PC:
Intel 3.2Ghz, 2GB RAM, 200HDD.....the only thing rubbish is the graphics card which is ATI Radeon X300SE 128MB. It's fairly fast, and is only let down by the graphics card, but I haven't had a chance to change it yet.

I need to buy a laptop to be about as fast as my current desktop PC.

I'm just wondering if the CPU really matters on a laptop? Can I get away with a 1.7GHz CPU, for the programs I run??

Cheers for you advice

I had a mesh laptop running on 3.2 P4 with HT, 2gig of ram and a 256mb Radeon mobility something or other 9700 I think, and the cad software I was using still ran very slow and the images would jerk when panning etc, I was using solid edge and rhino 3d


i used to use microstation too! but i prefer AutoCad for 3D. but thats a another big argument! that i wont be getting into!

2GB of ram is the most you will need, as windows 32bit will only every use 2GB of ram per application. if you had windows 64bit edition and your application allowed it then you could have more RAM. but from my experience the chance of the application allowing it at the moment are minimal.

and a 256 graphics card obviously would be better. above all i would get 256 graphics card and 2 GB ram. and get the best CPU you can/ afford.

also within Autocad there are settings for graphics acceleration, so if you lower the quality of any rendering displays then it will speed it up no end. might be worth looking into those type of settings in microstation, especially if you are using a seperate program to do the rendering.

hope this helps.

can some one advise how good the laptop is from the shop above, seems like a good deal, i have just bought an acer with a duo core 1gb ram, 100 gb hd same price as the one above

however it is not branded can anyone advise me what i should do

Original Poster

Autocad does my head in. I think microstation is an excellent flexible and easy 3D program to use :thumbsup: .......and the fact that you can render to a really high quality make it a great stand alone 3D and technical draughting program (3D max is just rubbish for anything technical). I have no comments about AUTOCAD as it just scares me :shock:

I haven't tried Rhino, (although my University is trying to encourage students to use it). It's difficult enough trying to 'master' one program, without starting up another.

I spent half a year learning Maya......now that is a great program :thumbsup: ...but it is VAST!! And only neccessary if you're pursuing animation or gaming design.

I need a laptop for just 4 months, for a job, so I'm now thinking of just borrowing my sisters. It's a Compaq Presario R3000, 2.8GHz, with ATi Radeon 9000 graphics card (integrated 64MB/128MB not sure which yet). It has no RAM (well, 256MB, which is almost nothing), so now I'm trying to find out if it will upgrade to 2GB......

Apparently the Radeon 9000 graphics card can be configured in the BIOS to use 16, 32, 64, or 128MB of memory.....I've never been into the bios, and I don't know how to check what the laptop is currently set to. Can anyone tell me how to check what it's currently set to and how I can change the settings?

Also, is it easy to install RAM in laptops? How do I prevent damage to the RAM? I have short circuited and killed off RAM before :-(

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