Originally Posted by tweak_hp
no one else has any opinions? (maybe i need to start a new thread?)
Hey Tweak, I'm an ID student as well. I found that for me, these were priorities:
as an ID student you're probably used to no sleep and working overnights at school, going home for showers. I find that it's great to get away from school from time to time and take my work with me to cafe's / friends houses. Plus at my school security is on people's minds and it's great to have a light laptop to throw in your bag and take with you easily and hassle free and not have to leave it behind when you go to another class or something.
2) cpu vs. memory
since I do most sketching by hand anyways, photoshop/illustrator/rhino or alias come later on in the process for me, and the ability to run multiple programs at once outweighs the ability to run them all as fast as possible. It'll be well worth your money to spend it on memory (at least a gig) more than processor speed.
My laptop has 64MB of video ram, I'd say that's the bare minimum, I'd wish I'd gotten a laptop with more. I don't know what kind of modelling you're doing in Rhino, but I've done some fairly complex ones and I've found Rhino chunk around sometimes. Not that it's unusable (far from it), but it's just not as nice as some friends of mine who have 128MB. Make sure you get at least a 9600 ATI as it supports the lastest graphics stuff from microsoft and is still part of the "newer" generation of cards. Spring for more if you got the cash as you can't necessarily upgrade the graphics processor like you can the CPU.
4) Screen resolution
I got a 1400x1050 (sxga+) screen. I wouldn't get anything less and with my eyesight, I wouldn't get anything more either. If you're used to squinting at screens, get the UXGA screens (1600x1200), but really, go to the store and see for yourself the resolution of screens. Also, running a high resolution screen at resolutions less than the "optimal" native resolution looks pretty crappy, and I've found is unacceptable for doing precise graphics work.
For programs like photoshop/illustrator/rhino or alias or UG, the more resolution the better off you are, but working on a laptop for hours on end, sometimes days on end, can get tiresome if the resolution is just too damn high.
5) Hard Drive
I got a fast one so programs load faster and everything from windows swapping to web browsers reading from cache is faster. I hear that 5400rpm is just fine though so if you're strapped for cash, the 7200rpm one maybe out of reach.
6) Make sure you get a burner of some kind, dvd or cd.
7) battery life
I've found that having great battery life is really convienent, but not necessarily the killer of a laptop. Most of the time at school I'm near an outlet because other people with laptops need power too, so outlets are not far and few between. However, it is nice to be able to do other things outside of school work with a laptop, like sit outside in the shade or something (don't know if you do that). Or, if you're in a lecture hall and you're sitting in the middle with no outlets and the lecture is 2 or 3 hours long, it's nice to have a quiet laptop that'll run the whole time on battery. My last Bio class I'll ever have to take was like that.
Anyway, hope this helps. Here's what I ended up getting in February of this year:
1.7Ghz Banias Pentium-M (dothan was not out yet)
15.1" SXGA+ 1400x1050
64MB ATI 9600
60GB 7200rpm Hitachi 8MB cache HD
1 GB DDR333 ram (2 512 DIMMS)
DVD/CDRW cdrom burner
WindowsXP Professional (do not get home edition)
My setup for me works great for ID.