Core i7 laptops (and other recent monsters)

HI all, I have been shopping around for a new laptop for designing and showing work in Touch. I need a laptop because I need to work in different locations a lot, so lugging a shuttle is not a good fit.

I’m going to be short of money for the next year or two as I’ve become a full-time student so price matters - however, I’m not above starving myself and family for a few more frames per second (sad, isn’t it?)

So I’m going to start a thread on monster laptops.

I’m biased towards 17" screens at 1920 x 1080 for designing with Touch. I am tempted by the 15" 1920 x 1080 ones appearing now, but I’m concerned that my old eyes might not be able to see the small print in parameter boxes etc. I’ll check some out in a showroom before I make the big decision.

I’m going for core i7 and big graphics card 1GB - Nvidia (ATI and touch are a bit hit and miss)

I’ll add to this thread as I go along. Please pitch in if you have experience of any of these or other candidate machines…

hunting about, I have these so far…

alienware M17x - not core i7 but still a possibility. Dell will no doubt update this from Core2 Duo to i7 but probably not before my shopping window closes (late feb 2010). 17" screen appeals to me but it goes through batteris pretty fast I hear.

Alienware m15x - also tough on batteries but that comes with the territory. can switch between discrete graphics and onboard for writing and surfing in cafes. The alienware machines seem to have solid build and solid keyboards.

alienware m11x - netbook from hell (not released yet, I think) … tube_gdata
apparently specs something like this…
Intel Core 2 U7300 1.3GHz
Nvidia GT335M 1GB VRAM
11.6″, 1355×768 display
2 hours of battery life (maybe more if not using graphics hardware etc)
weighs about 4 lbs.

Toshiba Qosimo X505 screen 18.4" /1920 x 1080 … spx?page=1
good balance of price, power, battery life. very shiny fingerprint-collector exterior. weighs 10.4 pounds (4.7Kg) witout power brick. there’s an x500 too but I can’t see what the difference is.

more coming …

Hi Rod,

I have one of the AW m15x and I’ve been quite pleased with it . . . I considered the Sager, but went with the Dell mostly because they offered and 18 months no interest deal. The Sager seems more portable and has the 280m chip, if I’d had the cash I probably would have gone that route

Good things -

  • Built very solid, runs quiet and cool even with Touch blazing away
  • Screen for me is plenty big, seems more like a 17" than 15.6"
  • Runs solid, have done a few performances running 6 hours straight w/ no crashes
  • 1 GB VRAM is nice on laptop

Could be better -

  • I wish they would offer an m280 GPU
  • I wish someone would make a smaller system, say a true 15" or even 14", with an i7 and 280m. I can live with a smaller screen in return for more portability, especially comfortable use on an airplane
  • Even with an i7, fast disk and 260m the system is 1/2 the speed of a desktop with a quadcore and GTX275.

okay, this isn’t core i7 yet but still a potentially cool touch machine.

Reviewed here: … 4&pageid=1

these reviewers were greatly impressed. the graphics card is a NVIDIA GeForce GT 335M - a 40nm munchkin with 72 CUDA cores, 1GB of DDR3 on a 128-bit memory bus

I am sorely tempted by this. It would be great for designing touch stuff on the move (or on the sofa) and, when you want to surf, you can switch it to an intel graphics card that’s still pretty powerful (touch will crash of course) enough to watch videos and surf the net - and have 6 hour battery life! The way the thing conserves power, I’d guess at over an hour’s heavy touch use and maybe more.

The CPU is Core 2 Duo SU7300 and the bios let you overclock it enough to get about 20% improvement all round for the price of a one degree temperature increase (and less battery life I assume).

I’m leaning towards getting this for on the move and building a cheap(ish) desktop system and overclock it a little for more hardcore use.


Well damn, that looks like just the perfect Touch traveling machine. I really miss my Dell m1210, I got a lot of Touch work done on it because it was the perfect combination of size, power and battery life. Only reason I sold it was because the older chip in it didn’t support some of the new features and only had 256MB.

I’ve taken the m15x on quite a few flights and while it is easier to use than I thought it would be (even in coach), the 1.5 hour battery life is pretty limiting. I’d image the 150w power supply would be too much for the empower outlets, I think they’re rated around 75w.

Is that 1.5 hours running touch?
6 or 9 cell battery?
I’m guessing that a solid state hard drive would increase battery life a little too? (bankruptcy, here I come!)
hmmm… guess not! :frowning: … ,1955.html

the m11x is still tempting me but I’d probably have to make up a desktop machine to balance.
I may still have to go with the m15x for pure power.

Yeah 1.5 hours full time Touch with a 9 cell battery. The battery does add a lump on the bottom, but it still fits nicely within my backpack - overall it is much easier to transport than I thought, I don’t really notice the weight difference from the smaller system I used to carry around. An obvious upgrade would be to get a second battery, the higher screen res is really nice, so is the i7. Decisions, decisions . . .

search no more!
Dell Precision M6500 with Core i7:
unbeatable, but maybe expensive.
and 17 inches at 1920x1200 is the portable workstation standard, don’t go any less than that. Yo’ll just live longer that way.

hmmm… I’ll take another look before committing myself to the m15x blingasaursus. I must admit I had really got used to 17" and am afraid I’d need glasses to do 15" at 1920x1200. can’t seem to get it in red though in singapore - I’\ll try tthe oz website

I’ll pass it thru the website and get a quote before blowing my savings (again).


Update to my m15x experience . . . I ended up buying an m11x as the m15x was just too big to haul around and work while traveling a lot.

The m11x is great, it runs about 60% speed of the m15x (even with just a dual core), I get 3 1/2 hours of work out of it using Touch with the CPU overclocked, easily fits on a standard airline tray. It is the perfect traveling Touch machine, great for sketches and prototyping, but not as a main performance machine.

hey teflon, how is the m11x going for you ?

Still good?

Do you think you could still get some light performance out of it?



Hi, yeah, I was able to get reasonably decent performance and it worked great for doing sketches on an airplane, mostly due to long battery life and small size. However, I ended up selling it and upgrading to an m14x, which has been great overall. I’m getting 1/3 or so performance of a GTX 470, which is fine for the small size. Only issue is battery life, which about 1.5 hours using Touch.

All that said, the newer m11x with an i7 would be a pretty nice system for super small size with great battery life, I ended up mostly being CPU bound on the first gen m11x. As a reference I think that the m11x GPU is about 1/2 the speed of the m14x.

Cool. 3 Alienwares huh? So you sold the 15 coz weak battery and was too heavy, then the 11 coz it was too slow… 14 sitting about right? Kellogs Just Right?


A number of Asus laptops have been in use at Derivative over the last year. A variety of models but not many complaints thus far.

Hey guys, I think this thread is a good one for me to chime in.

Just received a brand new Dell Inspiration 17R with no GPU for Christmas. Going to trade it in and I’m not sure where is the best place to put my money.

Thinking of the Alienware M14x. It has Nvidia 555m with 3GB of GPU memory!
For the same price I could go with their XPS 15 which has the Nvidia 540m with 2GB of memory.
Then there is the business model, Dell Precision M4600 which used the Nvidia Quadro 1000M with 2GB of ram.
All models have the i7 2760QM 2.4GHz CPU
For $200 more I can bump that to 2860QM 2.5GHz, which is probably not worth the money.

All advice is very welcome. Two years ago I went back to school and finally finished and now plan to spend a lot of time working with Touch, Houdini and Resolume on this machine. Might have Touch and Abelton Live running together. My guess is the more memory the better, so get the M14x. Want a SSD but I haven’t figured out which brand they put in these models.

Thanks, ~Shawn

I think that bumping up the RAM will always give you more bang for the buck than adding 0.1GHz to your CPU :slight_smile:


Thanks Rod.

Before I got he Dell as a gift, I was looking at the ASUS G53. I love the design of the airflow and it has the option of 1080 resolution screen. But couldn’t understand why it doesn’t have the latest GT 555m GPU with 3GB of ram. It’s like Nvidia is working exclusively with the Alienware.

Update: Returned laptop for full refund at QVC, have a $800 credit and can use it on an ASUS now. Just wish they had the larger RAM GPU like the M11x. ]

Thinking of waiting until their next model release, should be in Jan/Feb?

As a follow up post, I’ve been very happy with the M14x, it handles much more than I expected, I’ve used it in quite a few performances and it has never had an issue. And fits on airline trays with room enough to mouse around. And even supports a BlackMagic USB 3.0 external box !

If I was buying another laptop I’d seriously consider this one, A bit bigger and and double the price, but probably close to 2X graphics performance.

Went to order the M14x but they were charging me for the backpack, which I didn’t select. Not a surprise of Dell. I ordered a small dongle (less that 3" square) and they shipped it in a box large enough for a 24" monitor.

So I withdrew from my order for now. Now I’m not confined to a Dell.
Thinking of the ASUS G53SX:
Problem is, when customizing to match the M14x specs, the prices goes way over the dell. Pro: Alienware has more GPU memory. Pro ASUS: HD screen, second drive.
Any opinions about this important gpu memory spec?

Thinking of waiting until the CES Expo is over in a couple of weeks to see if any new models come out. Maybe I’ll see a price drop. My absolute max I want to spend is $2k. Will be performing with a lot of videos so maybe having the most gpu ram is best? What about computer ram?

I guess it’s apples and oranges. Maybe 2GB of gpu memory at GDDR5 is better than 3GB of gpu memory at GDDR3?

Hey Massta, if you are going to be using a lot of videos, seriously consider an SSD. An SSD could give you a much larger performance boost than the extra GB of GPU RAM. In fact, I think it would be hard to use all 3GB of GPU RAM on video without the use of SSDs or external drives.

Something to consider…