2-in-1 and external GPU, or laptop and tablet?

NecroJoe

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My girlfriend is an interior designer. She works in Autodesk Revit, Enscape 3D, and Photoshop and Illustrator.

For her workflow, in addition to working at her desk and while remote, she wants to include the function of a tablet, to be able to mark-up floorplan PDFs while on site walks, while holding the device with one hand and using a stylus.

Which solution do you think you'd prefer?

1) Laptop and tablet
  • Cons
    • having to keep two devices charged.
    • When travelling, it's more cumbersome to just carry and switch between two devices.
    • If she tries to just bring her tablet, there may be times where she would want to be able to actually work on the files, so she'd likely probably end up bringing the laptop everywhere anyway.
  • Pros
    • When she is travelling, her full laptop power is available to her.
    • A laptop with a spare M.2 slot and ram slot for cheap upgrades is way more commonly found than on a 2-in-1.
2) 2-in-1 and an external GPU
  • Cons
    • Rare to find a 2-in-1 with built-in dedicated graphics better than a 1650 (ideally would have 2070 or better), which she would absolutely want to have while working at home, but then would have low performance while remote
    • With an external GPU, higher performance is cheaper for the GPU, but maybe not when factoring in the enclosure.
    • A 2-in-1 is typically more expensive than a normal laptop + an plenty adequate android tablet.
  • Pros
    • The external GPU would also act as a hub, which is pretty nice to have anyway so there's only 1 or two cables to deal with when plugging/unplugging
    • GPU upgrades are easier and cheaper
I've asked for advice in a couple architect/designer forums, and people keep recommending a mac (Revit has to run in Bootcamp or similar...no native MacOS support) and an iPad. Not only is it the most expensive option of all, we both just don't like working on macs or iAnything...our brains just don't work the same way as their OSs think they should. 🤣


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Bootcamp is not a thing anymore since Macs aren't using intel chips anymore. They've moved on to homegrown stuff, but in the process they broke compatibility for those few Mac users that actually ran Windows.
A quick google tells me you can get a version of Parallels Desktop that emulates x86 on an Apple Silicon Mac, but I don't like the word emulation. It stinks of performance overhead and bugs.

And even if Macs still ran x86 Windows natively, you really shouldn't buy a Mac if you plan on using Windows daily. Even on older Intel Macs (which do run Windows flawlessly) you're stuck with a keyboard layout that isn't quite right, etc.

To answer your question, I have no idea what to buy in the PC/Windows realm that isn't shit :ROFLMAO: My work-issued Dell spins up its fans every time it needs to work a little bit and about twice a week it doesn't recognize my external monitors when I plug it in at my desk in the morning. Oh and the battery runs out after a few short hours of doing mostly nothing. My M1 MacBook Air would still have 80% left or whatever.
 
Maybe a gaming tablet that can attach a keyboard?

Intel i7 12700h
16GB LPDDR5
Nvidia RTX 3050


So, I don't generally care for that form factor, just because it's not easy to use on one's lap, but I realized that even though I looked on Asus's website, that when I clicked on the "tablet and 2-in-one" button, it was only showing me "for work" devices and never showed me any of the ROG stuff. So it does seem like there are 2-in-1s that would be powerful enough (looking for desktop 3060, so probably 3070 or 3070ti mobile which do exist).

Knowing that, I do think the 2-in-1 is the winning scenario. The Asus ROG X16 is currently in the lead (only because the 13" only has a mobile 3050).
 
Should look at the Dell Precision series. Some have extra M2 slots and graphic options.

This guy bought a base spec, then put three M2 1TB and 128GB RAM in his:

View: https://twitter.com/Scott_Helme/status/1471092324797194244

The Precision seem like really nice devices.

Unfortunately, my one absolute requirement for the 2-in-1 is a dedicated GPU that's at least a RTX 3070 or Quadro 4000 with 6gb VRAM.

And the more I look, the more it seems that the Asus ROG Flow X16 is my only option. Which...it seems like it's a great unit (some apparent early unit hinge issues aside)...it's just so "gamer". I don't mind that, but it's for an interior designer, and appearances are a bit important...that's the only reason for hesitation. That, and the 2023 models aren't out yet...

Any other 2-in-1, even ones marketed/reviewed as "gaming", just have integrated graphics, or MAYBE a 3050 (I may be misremembering this ine)...at least that's all I've been able to find.
 
If the RTX 3050 Ti is powerful enough for your needs, maybe look at the MSI convertible laptops. They look less "gamer".


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And the more I look, the more it seems that the Asus ROG Flow X16 is my only option. Which...it seems like it's a great unit (some apparent early unit hinge issues aside)...it's just so "gamer". I don't mind that, but it's for an interior designer, and appearances are a bit important...that's the only reason for hesitation. That, and the 2023 models aren't out yet...
I know what you mean here, I always found it hilarious that the Bad Obsession guys had an ASUS monster gaming machine in the workshop, getting covered in dust.

Bracketry Award - Judging the 2020 IQCS Semi-Finals.mp4_snapshot_05.42.440.jpg


The Precision mobile range is available with an 8GB RTX 4000 GPU. Edit: Looks like 2-in-1s aren't though.

As another option, we have basically stopped buying Precision laptops at work and just provide a Precision desktop and a lightweight Latitude for connecting to the desktop remotely. Revit is perfectly capable of using the desktop GPU while in an RDP session, I'm not about Enscape but I think it works fine too. We have people using it anyway.
 
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I know what you mean here, I always found it hilarious that the Bad Obsession guys had an ASUS monster gaming machine in the workshop, getting covered in dust.
[Q

The check-in counter at the medical center lab near me has 3 workers.

Two of them have shitty $100 Office Depot chairs, mismatched dual monitors, and eWaste-grade peripherals.

One of them has a Secret Lab Titan chair, a curved ultrawide monitor with RGB on the back, a gaming Razer mouse, and a keyboard that has the round chrome-ringed key caps to look like an old-fashioned typewriter, but with a clear chassis that's jam packed with unicorn-vomit-color-cyclng RGB. 🤣

View attachment 3568376

The Precision mobile range is available with an 8GB RTX 4000 GPU. Edit: Looks like 2-in-1s aren't though.

As another option, we have basically stopped buying Precision laptops at work and just provide a Precision desktop and a lightweight Latitude for connecting to the desktop remotely. Revit is perfectly capable of using the desktop GPU while in an RDP session, I'm not about Enscape but I think it works fine too. We have people using it anyway.

The expectation is that she'll likely be working in new or at least empty spaces where she won't have access to wi-fi, and wouldn't want to have to rely on a cellular signal with a hotspot.

The reason we've drawn the 3070 line in the sand is that there are VR functionalities in Enscape 3D, and they have listed, as the minimum, a 3060. Since this would be a mobile version, that would really mean more like a 3070. We're looking to exploit those functions to separate from the local competition who don't offer those services.

Enscape also specifically lists integrated Intel GPU as "incompatible" in it's own box on their "system requirements" chart. Interestingly, 6000 series AMD GPUs as well (which I assume also would include the 7000 series).
 
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VR will certainly use more so that's a good line to draw. We're using M2000s, P2000s and recently started using RTX A1000s with Enscape. Those A1000s are so much more powerful despite their size. All desktop, of course. Lumion is more picky about GPUs.
 
Man, shopping for laptops is super annoying. Most manufacturers' websites won't just let me pick a GPU and then show me everything with it...they are always trying to be "cute" with "Pick how you'll use it: content creator, student, gamer, work", and then depending on which one you pick, it'll leave off a bunch of options in other categories. Or it'll just let you select between "Nvidia GPU" and "Integrated" or something, and then it'll show you something with a 1660 Super right next to a 3080ti.

I think we've given up on the 2-in-1. The cost difference is too high, and it seems like the performance we need isn't common in a 14" and a 16" 2-in-1 is just too big and heavy. I think we're leaning towards an iPad for the tablet functionality, as they also offer a good enough camera/sensor system to do 3D scans.

Anxiously waiting for hopefully a 14" or 15" max laptop with 4070 with two SODIMM slots, two m.2 slots, Thunderbolt, I specifically don't want OLED, at least 350nit brightness 1440p (1600p) 16:10 or 3x4 aspect ratio.

What's annoying is that Enscape isn't compatible with Intel integrated graphics, but also AMD 6000 and 7000 GPUs...so I'm nervous about getting an Intel CPU laptop with a mux switch, because we'd have to turn it off and I've read/watched reviews where it keeps getting turned back on...so that means AMD CPU and Nvidia GPU so my options are narrowed even more.

Hopefully I can find something from...maybe Asus ROG or TUF (though everything I'm seeing to far is all OLED, and I don't want OLED) and Lenovo Legion.

Alienware seems like their software is always a mess, and it seems like only their low-end lines are in my price range with the specs I need, and they run hot (throttling their performance) and loud.

I had a shitty-class Acer laptop like 15 years ago, and it just put a bad taste in my mouth. It was meant to be a budget laptop, and it certainly was in every way. Man, I hated that thing...

I had a Gigabyte motherboard die and take the CPU and RAM with it, so that also put a bad taste in my mouth. That was, like, 20 years ago.

I had a friend who had constant driver issues with an MSI, but that was like 8 years ago.

Because it's for a business, Dell is of course being considered, but all of the Dell we've both used in the past few years have all been loud, and so heavy except for the high-end ($$$) lines.
 
Dell laptops are always loud, even the lower powered ones! My Latitude 7400 sounds like a very small 747 taking off.

Sounds like you're heading into the territory of the old fashioned luggable, like my old Dolch PAC. Maybe something like this :p
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Although, ironically, that thing doesn't seem to have a GPU.

I specifically don't want OLED

everything I'm seeing to far is all OLED, and I don't want OLED)
Why not, may I ask? Longevity? I'm not sure how it would work out on a laptop but this OLED TV I use as a monitor is superb. Yes, it isn't built into a device where it failing would significantly shorten the life of the entire device.
 
Every OLED device I've ever owned has had burn-in, so something specifically used for design work would be impacted by it. I've only had phones and MP3 players, so no laptops, tablets, or TV/monitors. The newest device is my Note9, and it's got it pretty bad. Amusingly it's "backwards" because I use night mode, so my keyboard burn in is like the negative of what most people's would be. 😅

Also, generally when a non-OLED option is offered, it's brighter. I've never owned a laptop with a screen that was bright enough, so this part is just me thinking about hedging the bet and going brighter. Ha!
 
Well, the 4070 laptop reviews started coming in, and...man, what a bust. 😅

Ended up pulling the trigger on this: https://www.lenovo.com/us/en/p/lapt...eries/legion-5-gen-7-(15-inch-amd)/82rd0010us

It's smaller than 16", cheap enough that even if we bought an iPad as well that it's cheaper than a powerful-enough 2-in-1, has user-upgradeable RAM and SSDs, and is from a brand that doesn't immediately make me wince. Satisfied with the $1499 price.
 
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