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I'm here to ask what has been already asked many times. Is a laptop better than a desktop computer?
Usually, people say "According to your need" or "Desktop PCs because they are more powerful and less expensive" ... but looking at my need, would it be the right decision? I'm 19 and graduated this year and after 3 years I have studied 3D (So I'm not new in this field), I decided to get a computer (now I have money unlike 3 years ago) for modelling, sculpting and rendering. I aimed to buy to Asus Roger GL753VE-GC004T (Amazon Italy) (my budget doesn't overcome 1300$). Here is the hardware in a nutshell:

  • CPU: i7 7700HQ 2,8Ghz - 3,8Ghz
  • GPU: 1050 Ti 4GB
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4
  • Display: Full HD 17"

As I said, with the computer I will use Blender, ZBrush, Photoshop and I'm going to start VFX.

In my country (Italy) the field of Computer Graphics 3D is new and it's at a low level unlike abroad where, for instance, in the UK it will be easier to apply for these jobs. I'm not a novice but at an intermediate level, so as soon as I will get the pc, I'm going to spend a lot of time to create advanced stuff. For example how much would an assembled desktop computer be more powerful than the laptop I chose. At first, I wanted to buy the laptop pc because after I will have created many rendering and I will have shared on my portfolio, I would have applied for a job in Italy (for a short time - just to produce something for someone) and abroad (permanently) as in Italy it's difficult.

However this Asus has good features, but what stops me is the GPU, sometimes I think that in the future I will need a more powerful one, but is an assembled desktop worth to lose the mobility with a greater GPU. Does a 1050 Ti live up? Then, I thought that if I will work for someone in Italy (that is probably far from my house), it's not sure I would work for someone that provides the hardware I need to work (because the desktop would stay at home). There are many questions in my head but there is a great confusion in it, I hope you understand! I'm afraid to choose the wrong thing and I want advice from anyone how knows what I'm talking about. Can you help me?

  • Have a look at this review. Oh and the 1050Ti is just a lower-clocked desktop 1050 Ti, so if you would have to plan with at least a 1060 to get significant perfomance boosts. In total I'd maybe expect 10-30% more performance from a desktop PC at the same price-point. – SEJPM Sep 11 '17 at 18:30
  • My question, how big are the models your doing? If your doing 10 story buildings with all the wiring and plumbing the laptop will be painfully slow. If your doing small scale objects it maybe ok. The complexity,number of textures, and level of details will make a big difference. – cybernard Nov 20 '17 at 3:36
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The biggest advantage for a laptop is portability, other than that it has no major upsides especially in the 3D world, and at your budget.

The most important difference is desktops are upgrade able and 99% of laptops are not. Need a faster GPU make sure your power supply can handle it, your case can fit it, and then buy any GPU upgrade. Just buy a desktop(Full Tower) than can fit a 12" long video card(and standard power supply 750w ) and you can plug anything into it.

A laptop has a fixed heat and power budget, and even if you could swap out the GPU you the extra heat and electrical current could burn out circuits. I have seen a few laptops with swap-able graphics, but at prices over $4000 USD.

3D work requires a higher end GPU, and the bigger the project the more GPU you need. Being able to upgrade as you go is a definite advantage.

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883152294 Get a 17" screen to go with it. However, you have a different currency, and etc so I have no idea what your price would be.

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You've done a really good job of shopping your machine. The specs on that computer are good for your budget, and the 1050 Ti has 4GB of texture memory, which isn't bad for graphic design, as you'll be making some rather large textures at times.

The only problem I see is that you have a 1080p display. This is great for personal use and gaming, as the laptop itself will have a smaller display. It will turn into a headache if a client wants 4k graphics or you also do some 2D work (which you will) and someone asks you to design a billboard.

The reason many designers use Mac is largely because the Retina display they have is usually higher resolution and is honestly a fantastic, very clear display that shows tiny flaws in textures you might otherwise miss. That said, I personally hate Macs because they swallow most of their errors into logs only "Apple Geniuses" are permitted to read so that people keep thinking they don't break, compatibility is lower, and they are overpriced. I would never recommend one. What I would recommend is a better display. In a laptop, this will cost you and will be what puts your video card through its paces, but that doesn't mean pay more for an upgraded display on the laptop. What it does mean is buy a monitor.

The modern graphics design market doesn't usually have you work on-site unless you are a full-hire employee, in which case they will supply what you need. If they don't, they probably will be a bad employer to work for full-time. Instead, you'll meet with clients and potential employers and then once you hammer out what they want, you'll go home and put together a very general, unusable sketch-up of what they want to make sure you understand. Then the contract price will be determined based on the amount of work you expect to put into it, usually by the hour or bulk payments at certain steps. Once you are fully paid, you deliver the finished product. Your designs will take hours or days to complete, particularly on your 3D contracts, so the employer won't be hovering over your shoulder and you'll do most of that at home.

For those reasons, I recommend you buy a companion 4k monitor as soon as you can. You still want the laptop as a graphic designer who walks into a meeting and doesn't have the ability to demonstrate something looks like a fool and doesn't get selected for contracts. If you can go as high as $1500 USD or so, you can get a decent video card with a 4k monitor on the laptop, but from experience, I can tell you a secondary monitor with greater resolution is a better way to spend your money.

As a personal note, you will want a desktop at one point, but that's more of a nice-to-have for a graphic designer that only becomes a need once you begin to build your client base. The laptop will go with you everywhere, and even once you're working mostly from the desktop, your ability to demo from your laptop will be how you seal contracts.

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As cybernard says, the only benefit of the laptop is mobility. And I don't see an overwhelming need for you to prioritise mobility over power.

And the downside of laptops is power, cost and maintenance. You get less for your money, and seemingly equivalent components will be less powerful, and you won't be able to upgrade/replace components.

The mobile 1050Ti is unusual in that it is at least as powerful as the desktop version - for some reason it has higher clock speeds. But with the money save with a desktop PC, you could upgrade your card to maybe a 6GB 1060, which is significantly more powerful.

In terms of CPU, a vanilla desktop i7 7700 is approx 20% faster that the 7700HQ. And I would imagine that cheaper/larger disk drives will also benefit you.

Laptops also have a problem with heat - they have a host of heat dissipation problems that desktops don't have, so you may well fine that a) your laptop would get hot and noisy during large jobs, and b) that the sustained hard work will take a much greater toll on longevity.... a laptop will usually be on it's knees long before a desktop equivalent.

So the case for a desktop is overwhelming...unless you feel that mobility is a sufficient offset for all the drawbacks.

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