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Mobile workstation GPU advice

Question asked by Adam Pugh on Oct 10, 2013
Latest reply on Oct 17, 2013 by Jerry Steiger

Hi guys,


This is my first post on these forums and I'm not sure that the topic is in the right area - if it isn't I apologise. I'm in the process of training as a mechanical engineer in the UK, I'll be moving out to the states in 2014 to start an AAS degree. I'm also taking various evening classes in CAD, using both AutoCAD, Inventor and SolidWorks at this stage.


My laptop (a DELL XPS M1710), recently suffered a HDD failure. Instead of pouring more money into what is fundamentally an obsolote set-up I've been looking for a completely new system. I originally intended to get an ultrabook or similar and then build a desktop workstation once I'm settled in the US, however, money's tight so it would be more cost effective to invest more now in a mobile workstation which should give me all of the features I'll need in the long term.


I'm trying to decide upon either AMD FirePro or nVidia Quadro as the basis of the system. I'm unsure at the moment which of SolidWorks or Inventor is more prevalent within the industry in the states, or which has the greater number of seats in CAM workshops. I'll obviously need to firm this up before making a final decision.


Could anyone please offer advice as to which system; FirePro or Quadro would be better for use with SolidWorks? My budget's relatively tight, and I'd like to get the biggest "bang for my buck" so to speak.


Currently I'm looking at either a DELL M4800 or M6800 mobile workstation, both with Haswell quad cores, 16GB RAM and either a FirePro M5100 (M4800 and cheapest), a FirePro M6100 (M6800 approximately 16% more expensive but with greater HDD capacity) or a Quadro K3100M (M6800 - 26% more expensive than the cheapest option, but matching the FirePro M6100 model for HDD capacity). Overall the M6800 17.3" models offer the best value in relation to performance.


I don't expect to working with particularly complex assemblies once I'm fully up and running, however, more performance than I need in the short term should increase the machine's utility in the long run - I hope to have use of this machine as my primary workstation for the next 5 years or more.


If anyone could offer advice I'd be very grateful indeed.