PC Laptop Recommendations for Landscape Architecture

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums TECHNOLOGY PC Laptop Recommendations for Landscape Architecture

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    Lucy Wang

    The battery on my fossil of a laptop stopped working so I figure it’s time to get a new laptop. I know that laptops are in no way a replacement for desktops but I really value its offered mobility. I’m still a student so I’ll also have access to desktops in computer labs.

    That being said, I don’t know anything about buying computers (hence, my laptop fossil). I only have a hunch of what I should be looking for…(a good graphics card? big screen??) and was hoping to get recommendations on what you currently use or computer jargon (ram type, memory bits, etc.) and numbers I should look for when I buy a laptop.

    My price range is anywhere from $600 to $1000. I am not interested in getting a Mac and have been discouraged from buying a Dell. I’ll be running Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketchup pro and possibly CAD if I can get my hands on it. I don’t game so I don’t need a laptop that’s overkill. Also, I don’t really care for pretty and sleek, as I’m more concerned with price and performance.


    Cliff See

    hi, what is wrong with Dell..? my dell laptop is 5 years old, it has treated me very kind… i use acad, pshop and sketchup on this…
    However it is time for a new one, i will go for another Dell. Just make sure you get lots of RAM…. its quiet too, so good luck on your choice! -Cliff

    Roland Beinert

    Students here at the University of Idaho are required to have a laptop and the department has a set of requirements, which might be helpful: http://www.caa.uidaho.edu/computerpolicy/htm/hardware.htm .
    I just printed out that page and brought it with me to the store. There are also a few laptop magazines with lots of reviews that were helpful to me. And the reviews on the cnet website are always helpful when you’re buying electronics.
    I ended up with a Sony Vaio and am quite happy with it.

    Lucy Wang

    Thanks Roland! I was actually looking into Sony Vaio as well– do you have the NW series by any chance?

    Alessio Russo

    I bought a Dell laptop (6GB RAM, Intel Core i5, windows 7) and it is a fantastic machine!!!


    I also own(ed) a Dell for five years–Inspiron 8600. It worked fantastically and still does. My girlfriends Sony went bye-bye a few years ago.


    My last IT guy claimed Fujitsu’s are the best for reliability and performance. And a sales guy at a local Fry’s Electronics claimed the same thing. I’d go for something with an Intel i5 processor for speed and a good graphics/video card. A lot of graphics programs list cards they recommend on their websites.

    Roland Beinert

    It’s the FW series. I chose it because it fit all the requirements of the LA department and was $200 cheaper than the other computers the salesman showed me. I think I looked at the NW series, but the college requires a larger screen size. I’m sure you don’t face any weird restrictions like that, though.
    Before that I had a Toshiba that lasted me about 4 years. I was very satisfied with it, too. It never froze up the entire time I used it. I just needed something more powerful for the newer software.
    I’m sure Dell does have some decent models. I’d base your choice more on good reviews and price than brand name. Most brands have some good models and some bad models.

    Frank Varro

    OK, First, brand wise, I would look at Toshiba, Gateway, AlienWare, and HP. My Fiance’ has a Toshiba Laptop, and the things are built like tanks. HPs are also very well built. Gateway and Alienware are good proformance machines, although their good builds might be a tad out of your price range (1200 and up or so). I wouldn’t go Sony, as you seem to pay an extra 20% for equivalent stats, but with a chrome “VIAO” printed on the top.

    The tough thing is, you are looking to run photoshop, CAD, and Sketchup. That means you are looking for a gaming machine. For the most part those programs and games use the same type of graphic intensive hardware. I got a top of the line Gatewat 5 years ago and the thing is now starting to get really iffy. But because I bought a machine with the best graphics card you could get in a laptop, a single stick of RAM (So I could doubt the ram later by adding an additional stick), and a decent processor, it has worked for me for 5 years of intense graphics work. This will cost you though, as I ended up spending around $2,500 for mine.

    The thing to note as well is that if you have student loans, often you can get a loan for a new computer, as it is a school expense. My school had a cap at $2,500 for a laptop, and I used every ounce of it. I haven’t paid it off yet, but I cannot tell you the amount of things I have been able to do graphically with my laptop that the school CAD/Photoshop lab computers could never do.

    For a brief primer on what to look for in a PC for LA use, check my blog. Its from last year, but the description of hardware function is still the same.


    Also, for a bit of reference, I am now about to BUILD a desktop, and I’m going to spend around $1,500 on it. That will get me a laptop that would cost around $3,000 retail, but that will render something in 3D Studio Max in around 15 mins, that would take my current laptop around 20 HOURS)

    Tim Zhang

    i use a sony vaio vgn-fw, got it for like a grand. Everything works well, screen is HD, lighter than other 17 inches

    Josh Burwell

    Hey Lucy,
    did you a laptop yet? I recently got the viao ec 17 inch. love it, does everything the macbook pro does for a thousand less. love the big screen too. i have autocad,photoshop, illustrator and indesign, sketchup and it runs them better that the second year studio computers. good luck, see you in the fall.

    Lucy Wang

    Hey Josh!

    I’m still looking, though admittedly not very hard. I looked at the VAIO EC, which looks like a really good laptop. The biggest thing stopping me from getting something like that is the weight….I wanted something with a dedicated graphics card that was also lightweight (< 5 pounds) but of course those get really expensive. I’ll probably have to compromise before the end of the summer though.

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