Need a new laptop.

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KarsusTG

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Well it's been a great device, but my P51(sig) needs to be replaced. At about 4 years old, it's really had a good run.

My use case has changed and I rarely use Solidworks anymore and I don't really feel the need for a quadro. I do however use several VM's on a nearly daily basis and I am really feeling the limitations of a quad core cpu. Much of my work has shifted to coding. C, C++, and Java primarily although I am getting more into data science with python.

I have flip flopped continuously between Fedora/CentOS/RHEL and Windows on the P51. I need windows for some of my school stuff (I am going for my masters now) and Linux because being a developer on windows is just painful.

Why this thread is in the linux section is I need a laptop that I can reliably run RHEL 8 or equiv. The problem I am running into is that 99% of the laptops I feel have sufficient cpu horsepower paired with robust cooling solutions are running nvidia graphics with optimus. RHEL 8 and it's derivatives do not support nvidia because they almost universally run wayland. I can get around this by just running a debian distro, but honestly I just don't want to.

I have been considering a Lenovo P1 Gen 2 because you can get it with a 6 core intel and just integrated graphics. I have 2 egpu's I can use so this seems like an ideal machine for me, but I am having trouble squaring $2100 for a machine with no video card and a last generation cpu.

A friend pointed out that there is a new generation alienware 15r3 with a 6 or 8 core intel and amd RX5500m video card which is ~ a gtx 1660 equivalent that can be had for $1900. But it seems like a device I would be hesitant to take into a conference room and I have no idea about it's build quality. It does supposedly have a keyboard that is as good as my lenovo, which is a huge plus.

You guys have any suggestions? Planning on buying in the next two weeks. Budget $2000 +/- $500 for the right machine. 99% work, ~1% gaming/media usage. Pushing 3 4k external monitors.
 

Vermillion

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You could look into System 76 systems.

I've also been very impressed with Dell XPS or Precisions. XPS for work and Precision is personal. Both have been excellent for me.

It's too bad that AMD doesn't get a lot of good solid laptop love. The Ryzen 7 4700U is really damn nice for the price even though it's lacking SMT. Dell does have their G5 with the Ryzen 7 4800H which does have SMT so you're getting 8 cores and 16 threads. Limitation there may be RAM but you can probably buy that separately and upgrade it.
 

KarsusTG

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You could look into System 76 systems.

I've also been very impressed with Dell XPS or Precisions. XPS for work and Precision is personal. Both have been excellent for me.

It's too bad that AMD doesn't get a lot of good solid laptop love. The Ryzen 7 4700U is really damn nice for the price even though it's lacking SMT. Dell does have their G5 with the Ryzen 7 4800H which does have SMT so you're getting 8 cores and 16 threads. Limitation there may be RAM but you can probably buy that separately and upgrade it.

Ya, the 4700U is a great chip, but anything with a U class processor is going to be out. Those things basically croke when you even say the words virtual machine out loud. I have a windows 10 enterprise vm I use for work that chokes when you open it even with that xeon cpu.

Ya, I was looking at the Dell G5 15 Special Edition. Ryzen 7 4800h is supposed to be faster than the Intel 10 series stuff, 8c/16t. Killer nic has always been hit or miss for Linux drivers :/ No Thunderbolt is disappointing but not game breaking. 1080 144hz monitor is kinda meh since I am not / cannot game, but livable. But for $1100 I feel this thing is basically a steal. Build quality is highly suspect though hehe.

I have had great experiences with XPS. I have never used their precision workstations, but I know people that have and swear by them. Supposedly the XPS 17 and Precision 17 is supposed to have come out already so that might be worth waiting for.

I think ultimately I am just going to have to get over the nvidia thing and run a debian based system. I ran MX on my desktop for literally years before it got confiscated for work.
 

DeaconFrost

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I bought a MainGear Vector for $1000 from MicroCenter a few months ago. Intel Core i7-9750H and a 1600 GTX. Two m.2 slots as well, so plenty of options for storage space, multiboot, etc. Mine is running Windows 10 for now, but I've been able to spin up some VMs in VMWare Workstation without any issues. I may end up formatting it completely and installing Linux on it....as soon as I pick a distro.
 

KarsusTG

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I bought a MainGear Vector for $1000 from MicroCenter a few months ago. Intel Core i7-9750H and a 1600 GTX. Two m.2 slots as well, so plenty of options for storage space, multiboot, etc. Mine is running Windows 10 for now, but I've been able to spin up some VMs in VMWare Workstation without any issues. I may end up formatting it completely and installing Linux on it....as soon as I pick a distro.

The GTX is my primary problem. Nvidia is just being a s**thead about the drivers which is a real problem for the community.

I also find the cooling on the super thin laptops suspect. How does that one hold up to multi hour compute loads?
 

cybereality

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I also find the cooling on the super thin laptops suspect. How does that one hold up to multi hour compute loads?
I have a thin gaming laptop and it holds up well. Definitely gamed on it for maybe 1 or 2 hours at a time with no problem.

The one I have is the MSI GS65 Stealth THIN. It was kind of steep though in terms of price, but had great performance when I got it like a year and a half ago.

I would not recommend that laptop for Linux, though. I have Kubuntu on it now, and I sort of works but there as some problems (wifi not connecting unless you toggle airplane mode, Optimus issues, and some other small annoyances).

My main mistake was getting a laptop with Optimus. I did this for the battery life gains, but Optimus is a nightmare on Linux. I mean, it is theoretically supported but it just doesn't work well.
 

CraigHB

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Yeah I don't like Optimus much either, would much rather have a laptop with a discrete GPU that does not have to support an integrated one at the same time. Is that even an option now?

I have a laptop with a GTX 1060 and i7-8750h. The dual GPU thing gives me trouble when using an external monitor. I'll take the power hit for a single dedicated GPU. I mean it would be fine if I could shut off the Intel graphics in the BIOS, but that's not an option.

Anyway that's Intel's idea of progress to add a GPU to every CPU. They way things are going for them they should be putting that die space to better use. In fact both makers should be putting all the chipset functions on the CPU die/board instead. Think of all the motherboard headaches we could avoid, new CPU new chipset by default.
 

DeaconFrost

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I also find the cooling on the super thin laptops suspect. How does that one hold up to multi hour compute loads?
At first, it seemed very loud, but I realized I was only comparing them to business-line Dell Latitudes. It isn't quiet, but it isn't obnoxious. I'd put it in line with other gaming laptops I've compared it to since. I have no complaints about it, other than Maingear didn't have the driver website online when I bought it. That was fixed soon after. It comes with a management utility to control fans, RGBs, etc.
 

KarsusTG

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Yeah I don't like Optimus much either, would much rather have a laptop with a discrete GPU that does not have to support an integrated one at the same time. Is that even an option now?

I have a laptop with a GTX 1060 and i7-8750h. The dual GPU thing gives me trouble when using an external monitor. I'll take the power hit for a single dedicated GPU. I mean it would be fine if I could shut off the Intel graphics in the BIOS, but that's not an option.

Anyway that's Intel's idea of progress to add a GPU to every CPU. They way things are going for them they should be putting that die space to better use. In fact both makers should be putting all the chipset functions on the CPU die/board instead. Think of all the motherboard headaches we could avoid, new CPU new chipset by default.

Ya, my current laptop is the Lenovo P51, but it is configured where you have Hybrid or Descrite only. You cannot turn the nvidia card off and just use the iris pro. To make matters worse, the display panel is wired directly to the nvidia card so you could not use the eGPU for the built in screen.

At first, it seemed very loud, but I realized I was only comparing them to business-line Dell Latitudes. It isn't quiet, but it isn't obnoxious. I'd put it in line with other gaming laptops I've compared it to since. I have no complaints about it, other than Maingear didn't have the driver website online when I bought it. That was fixed soon after. It comes with a management utility to control fans, RGBs, etc.

But is the cooling system robust enough for actual workloads? For example, I modified the chromium OS as part of a project I was working on and had to build it 8 or 9 times to get working bug free***. It took 3-4 hours each time to build. All cores at 100% for 4 hours straight sometimes several times a day. Would you feel comfortable with that on your machine without worrying about board deformation and such? Gaming is relatively light by comparison. My buddy has a brand new macbook pro, and the machine overheats and shuts down before it finishes. Every single time! I need a laptop that can do this safely, preferably with a non nvidia card.

I am seriously just considering building a desktop.
 

jeremyshaw

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As something to test on your current laptop, to gauge feasibility:

Microsoft and Nvidia are planning to support Nvidia GPU accelerated Linux tools within WSL2 natively (and some plans for GUI apps, as well).
https://news.developer.nvidia.com/m...preview-for-gpu-acceleration-support-for-wsl/
https://devblogs.microsoft.com/directx/directx-heart-linux/
https://devblogs.microsoft.com/commandline/the-windows-subsystem-for-linux-build-2020-summary/

Most of my workspace is a combination of WSL1 and VirtualBox, at the moment. Looking to migrate it all to WSL2.
 

CraigHB

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I also find the cooling on the super thin laptops suspect. How does that one hold up to multi hour compute loads?

I have a 17" Acer Aspire with i7-8750h and GTX 1060 that's not much thicker than that one. The cooling system seems pretty decent, gets loud under heavy load though. I retired my old desktop and used only my laptop for a couple years. I was doing a lot of video encoding on my laptop which puts the CPU at 100% all core. The cooling system seemed to handle it no problem for hours on end, no heat coming up through the keyboard. Though I have not loaded the machine that heavily with games which can load both GPU and CPU. I just play a few older titles here and there.
 

KarsusTG

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As something to test on your current laptop, to gauge feasibility:

Microsoft and Nvidia are planning to support Nvidia GPU accelerated Linux tools within WSL2 natively (and some plans for GUI apps, as well).
https://news.developer.nvidia.com/m...preview-for-gpu-acceleration-support-for-wsl/
https://devblogs.microsoft.com/directx/directx-heart-linux/
https://devblogs.microsoft.com/commandline/the-windows-subsystem-for-linux-build-2020-summary/

Most of my workspace is a combination of WSL1 and VirtualBox, at the moment. Looking to migrate it all to WSL2.

Ya, but 30-70% performance loss to use WSL2 over bare metal, you might as well stick with vm's.

I am really torn on WSL. It is really cool and Microsoft has made real strides, but I have this sinking pit in my gut just screaming "It's a trap!" Combine that with the problem of being a developer on windows is like working on a construction crew, but your foreman comes up to you several times a week and stabs you with a screwdriver then smacks you in the face with a hammer just because he can. It is just painful and I don't know how you do it. The risk from bunk updates forced upon you alone is basically worth ditching windows over if you need it for your living.

Of course, linux is really only free if you don't value your time so there is that too.

I have a 17" Acer Aspire with i7-8750h and GTX 1060 that's not much thicker than that one. The cooling system seems pretty decent, gets loud under heavy load though. I retired my old desktop and used only my laptop for a couple years. I was doing a lot of video encoding on my laptop which puts the CPU at 100% all core. The cooling system seemed to handle it no problem for hours on end, no heat coming up through the keyboard. Though I have not loaded the machine that heavily with games which can load both GPU and CPU. I just play a few older titles here and there.

Ya, I think I am just being overly cautious. If I don't find something I like by the weekend I think I am just going to buy the P1 Gen 2 and be done with it. I have several eGPU's when I need them so keeping the base simple seems like the easiest answer.
 

DeaconFrost

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I am seriously just considering building a desktop.
I can only say how mine has performed in gaming and running a few VMs. If your workload is that intensive, I wouldn't waste any time thinking about running it on a laptop. I also wouldn't judge based on a Macbook Pro. I have to support a handful of them for a few people who still haven't figured out that they are just over-priced toys, and they frequently overheat under minimal work loads. Apple's hardware support can't hold a candle to Dell's. But that's off topic. If you need something for a workload far more intense than gaming, I'd be looking at building a Xeon workstation or something equivalent.
 

jeremyshaw

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Ya, but 30-70% performance loss to use WSL2 over bare metal, you might as well stick with vm's.

I am really torn on WSL. It is really cool and Microsoft has made real strides, but I have this sinking pit in my gut just screaming "It's a trap!" Combine that with the problem of being a developer on windows is like working on a construction crew, but your foreman comes up to you several times a week and stabs you with a screwdriver then smacks you in the face with a hammer just because he can. It is just painful and I don't know how you do it. The risk from bunk updates forced upon you alone is basically worth ditching windows over if you need it for your living.

Of course, linux is really only free if you don't value your time so there is that too.



Ya, I think I am just being overly cautious. If I don't find something I like by the weekend I think I am just going to buy the P1 Gen 2 and be done with it. I have several eGPU's when I need them so keeping the base simple seems like the easiest answer.
I don't know about the performance hit but I am definitely within the second group. I used to run Linux on a server for my laptop to ssh into, for specific tools (GPU accelerated). I never really learned much about the terminal environment, beyond a few basic bash scripts I copied. Since WSL1, I've abandoned running a dedicated Linux-only box, even though I've incorporated more and more of the Linux environment and workflow into my daily usage. I've definitely gotten a lot more confident at using the terminal for everything, all thanks to WSL1.

Before this announcement, I already setup an older computer to test a VFIO VM setup, to use a linux host with a Windows guest (GPU accelerated), to run the few games I still care about running, while maintaining the flexibility to run whatever Windows software I could ever want in the future. No messing around with Wine, Proton, etc. I still have my testing rig setup, but I'm holding off for a little while longer to see if WSL2+Nvidia can deliver what I'm looking for (specifically, on a laptop).
 

B00nie

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Ya, my current laptop is the Lenovo P51, but it is configured where you have Hybrid or Descrite only. You cannot turn the nvidia card off and just use the iris pro. To make matters worse, the display panel is wired directly to the nvidia card so you could not use the eGPU for the built in screen.



But is the cooling system robust enough for actual workloads? For example, I modified the chromium OS as part of a project I was working on and had to build it 8 or 9 times to get working bug free***. It took 3-4 hours each time to build. All cores at 100% for 4 hours straight sometimes several times a day. Would you feel comfortable with that on your machine without worrying about board deformation and such? Gaming is relatively light by comparison. My buddy has a brand new macbook pro, and the machine overheats and shuts down before it finishes. Every single time! I need a laptop that can do this safely, preferably with a non nvidia card.

I am seriously just considering building a desktop.
LOL if I were doing 4-hour long builds I would never even dream of getting a laptop for the job. Not only you can easily get 10x performance affordably by building a Xeon based desktop, you can get a cooling solution to match.
 

CraigHB

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I can't say it's 10x, but comparing my desktop to my laptop for encoding at least (3700x versus i7-8750h), the laptop runs 6c/12t around 3GHz all core where the desktop runs 8c/16t around 4GHz all core. So the desktop is around 50% faster and cooler/quieter doing work like that.
 

B00nie

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I can't say it's 10x, but comparing my desktop to my laptop for encoding at least (3700x versus i7-8750h), the laptop runs 6c/12t around 3GHz all core where the desktop runs 8c/16t around 4GHz all core. So the desktop is around 50% faster and cooler/quieter doing work like that.
With a second hand 20 core Xeon it's possible to build an absolute monster workstation with affordable cost.
 

CraigHB

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You can, but then you're getting into the "used parts" potential for headaches. I've bought used parts before and most times it's a good deal, but I've had a few bad deals. Generally I don't buy used parts except for less expensive stuff that's not a big risk. For something that expensive I just wouldn't go there. Would much rather deal with a reputable business providing new parts under warranty. That being the case a 3950x platform would be comparable in performance and within budget.
 

B00nie

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I've done many projects with used parts and they've been all successful. I did have to 'return' a couple of ram sticks off a 144Gb tray but even that was painless. I told the sticks were bad and new ones were shipped free of cost.
 
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