Rebooting my setup with a new laptop?

Hi there, I’m very new to TD.
I’m working with Max since… 15 years.

I’m trying to explore setups for a new laptop dedicated to visuals.
My i7 mac book will still get everything audio.

I read carefully and I concluded 2 things:

  • I’ll get a Windows system
  • I should get a computer with NVIDIA gpu

My purpose is both playing live and working in studio. I’d prefer a laptop, actually, except if I find a small form factor more powerful machine (that I’d remote control without screen/keyboard eventually)

My main needs are:

  • lot of polygons and meshes
  • particles systems (I know cuda based systems are very powerful)
  • texture processing
  • easy on 4K

I know I’ll need RAM, i7 or even i9, I read about Nvidia Quadro.
But I’m asking myself if I should do i9 and maybe not the most powerful Nvidia Quadro VS i7 and the most powerful Nvidia Quadro, things like that…

I know this kind of thread is eternally never ending, but I’d appreciate some references, or experiences or just ideas.

My budget is around 3k€.

Any ideas, references, would be very appreciated.


For a laptop I’d recommend a Geforce (consumer line) instead of a Quadro (pro line) - in many cases you’ll get the same performance for far less budget. For instance (apart from quadro specific features) a nvidia Geforce 2080 is for many cases roughly equivalent to a quadro rtx 6000. Use that saved quadro money to buy the fastest CPU that fits your budget (at this moment, sept 2020, the latest AMD Ryzen processors will give you the most bang for the buck) , and some NVME SSD drives for your media.

Some more recommended reading:

regarding laptop models, many people on this forum (myself included) are quite happy with a Clevo(Sager) laptop chassis, fitted with the custom components you choose. These are available in many places.
This is a white label brand which is often rebranded by a shop to their own brand.

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Hello @nettoyeur and thanks a lot for linkgs and discussion.
I read a lot from your links.
As I’d also like to use it with Max, and Max doesn’t do CUDA or whatever related to this, I just hope nvidia geforce would behave well with Max too (I don’t see why they wouldn’t, actually)

The idea of new setup makes me questionning myself about workstation (even small form factor, for travelling) with scalability, evolution possible (maybe if I can add more gpu inside of it later etc) VS a laptop. I read about laptop doing eGPU stuff.

This is the obvious constant question of: I buy something new, I want to make it lasting a lot and scalability would be very nice. if I needed more power, I wouldn’t have to change the whole machine. Often, if the machine is power enough, the “if” wouldn’t occur…

I checked Clevo custom setup.

  • Intel i9 10850K 3,6Ghz Max 5,2Ghz - 10 Cores - 20Mo cache - UHD 630 (not the Desktop - Intel i9 10900K 3,7Ghz)
  • Clevo X170SM-G►G-Sync◄ RTX 2070 Super 8Go (not the 2080)
  • Clevo 17.3 Full HD 1920x1080 display
  • Mémoire DDR4 Sodimm 64Go (4x16GO) RAM

3,7k€ that’s BIG but I think the configuration is very powerful too.

I don’t know if I can cut a bit with the card for instance RTX 2070 8Go VS RTX 2070 super 8Go vs RTX 2080 super 8Go ? I’m not sure.

64Go RAM is maybe too much for my use, I really don’t know. If I could scale it up later (would require 2X16Go if I would start from 32Go and save some euros on it)

It is very hard for me to know how size things between gpu, cpu, ram.

From what I read, fastest cpu is required in the choice (vs less cpu and BIGGER GPU) (“The main TouchDesigner thread runs on a single core. Pick the highest clock speed available for your CPU class and price range”, in some of the link you sent).
So i9 most powerful + RTX 2070 8Go would be better than i7 + RTX 2080 super 8Go for instance.

I’m just trying to determine where I can cut the price a bit.

I’d be surprised if you utilize all 64GB and all 10 cores for a TouchDesigner-based machine. You could probably knock 1K off that price.

Or better yet, save the money on RAM and CPU and upgrade to the 2080, you will get more performance for TouchDesigner projects.

Doesn’t sound like a lightweight machine, in fact knowing most 17" Clevos it’s probably a tank. Ask yourself if you really are going mobile with it? Do you want it to be a pain to carry everywhere (don’t forget the 1-2kg power brick!)? If mobility is not a concern, a desktop will make your money go much further with better results.

Hi @ben, thanks very much for your view about it.

Actually, I’m often already traveling with two computers + modular stuff, yes saving weight could be nice… but I don’t know… I’m really considering a machine that could be very powerful… You are right, but it is about weight vs powerful (even if it is not exactly comparable and the vs is a bit childish here)

I currently have an old core i7 2,8 Ghz, 16Go 1,6GHz DDR3, 4 cores… and indeed, maybe “just” a el i7 10700K 5,1Ghz Max - 8 Cores - 16Mo cache would be already MASSIVE. I’m just afraid of lacking power in case of massive mesh/polygons realtime calculations (I know I’m coming/still using Max and I saw some VERY different strategies with TD for handling this, plus big GPU/Nvidia Cuda etc)

In the PCW website, the big money difference is from Clevo X170SM-G►G-Sync◄ RTX 2070 8Go (base: 1989€) vs Clevo X170SM-G►G-Sync◄ RTX 2080 Super 8Go (base: 2769€)

It is the massive cpu + ram VS massive GPU.
Of course, money deciding here, and I can’t do massive cpu + ram + massive GPU.

Since you are moving around, laptop sounds right.
I think the i7 8-core would give you comparable performance to the i9 10-core because SOPs and geometry (the mesh and polygons you refer to) are not multi-threaded in TouchDesigner. So since their clock speeds are almost identical, they will probably be very close in performance (assuming the chassis can even effectively cool the i9!).
Of course if you have other applications that can take advantage of the core count, then go for it. I would still try to stretch for the 2080 over the RAM and CPU in my experiences.

Thanks again.
Actually, this is both rational and irrational to say I want to absolutely go to i9… I know. It is the “just in case”. But indeed, maybe, totally not well sized and big gpu should be the focus.

Actually, it is hard as I’m often using “only” 4K video playing + processing real time, some other times complex geometry (pre calculated BIG meshes etc).
Focusing on every different things I want to do is hard as I could say that I’d need a machine that can handle both very well…

I’m still exploring.

  • CLEVO X170SM-G SÉRIE PRO + i9 etc etc is expensive but very scalable evolutive and monster.
  • Alienware alternative seems a bit less expensive, but less evolutive

I’m curious about i7 vs i9 performance with a huge TD toe, all other characteristics equal and same NVIDIA.

I’m thinking about massive flow of audio signals incoming from a Dante interface, signal analysis, and all what we call “messages” in max (I mean not signals, neither visuals bits on gpu, only pure CPU calculation)

That’s very hard to choose. I’d have to test 100 setups before being reassured and quiet.

I’m trying to find some examples of projects that figures the type of machine used for them.
Some Vincent Houzé pages are helping me.

I recently built a mATX system using the case below and found it much better for my needs than a laptop setup, even with an eGPU enclosure. I have a 2080ti inside but it can be upgraded when needed. The case fits in a carry on bag and is quite portable. I also have a video capture PCIe card (BM Decklink Duo), audio interface card (RME Multiface) via PCI->PCIe riser, and a breakout PCIe board for a second USB-C port.

I traveled with a laptop for years and I’m much happier with this system. The thermal performance and upgrade path alone is worth the larger size and needing to source a monitor onsite. If you are planning to really push the GPU I would recommend you look at something like this.

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Thanks a lot for this mATX approach description.

I just read too.

Quadro. In my case it could be interesting if I use 2 or 3 screens simultaneously. Especially. But rtx can do it too as far as I know, but with less accurate sync etc.

Yeah. That’s very hard choices.
mATX, non laptop would be good for evolutivity a s performance, but the screen keyboard etc. Anyway, that point is very personal choice, and I’d like to keep the thread on performances side too

If I could check some projects done with touchdesigner with I9. 32go ram, rtx2080 super… It would illustrate me the thing…

still on it. still thinking.

indeed, and as you mentioned, atx case based setup can have, for the same price more powered processor, more RAM, rtx 3090 … etc.
same price. indeed, no screen, no keyboard etc.

but the power can be very big.
I’ll need to travel with it (even if the idea pre-rendering all in studio and travel with my only one laptop could be seducing for many project). Traveling means pelican case or something like this.
and remote control for preparing my setup each time in order to avoid the screen traveling too…

gosh. that’s hard to choose.

Will go for i9, massive RAM, rtx 2080.
Need Laptop for traveling and working easily everywhere.

Now hesitating with these Clevo VS some alienware (but these later are not easily upgradable for more RAM or more SSD if required, which I’ll probably require, compared to Clevo).

Started to explore all OPs, by reading, checking tutorials, etc.
I’m deep from Max, since 20 years, teaching and working with it since.
Completely new to TD.
So excited.