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Laptop Hardware Question

Question asked by Glenn Woodhouse on Sep 8, 2013
Latest reply on Sep 11, 2013 by Jerry Steiger

I am looking for some insight on the suitability of a current mid-range laptop config.  I have read many of the discussions along this theme pointing the requestor to a system along the lines of a Dell Precision Mobile Workstation.  For my purpose and budget this might be a bit overkill.  Here is some background.  I have been mentoring a high school robotics team for the last two years.  We are using the student version ofSolidWorks  2013 and will be upgrading to 2014.  My daughter's $600 Costco Dell Inspiron has served me remarkably well considering what it is.  I start seeing video refresh performance issues when rotating a full model of ~100 parts, otherwise no real complaints on performance.  Rendering/Real View is not a high priority, we have desktops we can do this on when we want to output something pretty.  Here is it's relevant info:


I5-2450M, 2.5 GHz, 2 Core, 4 Threads, 3MB cache


W7 Home Premium 64-bit

750 GB 7200RPM SATA 3Gb/s Hard Drive

Integrated Intel HD Graphics 3000 Video

14" 1366x768 Display


The robotics season is coming up again and my daughter kind of wants her laptop back!  I would like to buy something for <$900 that would perform a bit better than above, but it does not seem like I need a lot more headroom.  For the <$900 price point it looks like I can get the following in a mdeium performance consumer grade laptop:


I7-4700QM, 2.4GHz, Quad Core, 8 Threads, 6MB Cache (there is also an option for a I7-3520M, 2.9GHz, 2 Core, 4 thread, Intel HD Graphics 4000 based machine)


W7 or W8 Home Premium

7200RPM SATA drive

Integrated Intel HD Graphics 4600 Video

15.6" or 17.3" HD Display


Another option I have is for roughly the same amount of money I can by a used Dell M6400 configured as follows:

Core 2 Extreme Quad QX9300, 2.53GHz, 4 Core, No hyperthreading, 12MB Cache


W7 Pro

120 GB SSD

NVIDIA FX3700M Video

17" 1920x1080 Display


So based on my moderate technical tasking of SolidWorks, could I expect a current medium performance consumer grade machine based on the I7-4700QM or I7-3520M as described above to be equal to or better in performance than the above older M6400 config?  Does it really come down to single threaded CPU speed and Intel HD graphics capability (which the old HD 3000 is mostly handling for me today) versus a workstation grade video card?


Is Win7 vs. Win8 a consideration regardin SolidWorks performance?


Your experience and input would be greatly appreciated.


Thanks, Glenn