I’m a bit dizzy…

My new notebook arrived yesterday, but I didn’t really have a lot of time to play with it. It arrived pretty late in the day, I had work to do after it showed up, updating new machines usually takes hours, and I had to get to bed early.

It’s a midrange Dell XPS 15 with a second-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a nVidia GeForce GT540M GPU with 2 whole gigs of video memory all to itself.

To stay under budget, I only maxed out the components that I couldn’t upgrade myself later on (the GPU and video RAM). It ships with 4GB of RAM, I plan to upgrade that to 8GB when we’re a bit more financially healthy. The processor is also upgradable, and the cheapest Core i5 option was still a huge improvement over what I had in my old workstation, so I didn’t max that out either.
Anyway, I’ve been loading my work software on it for the past hour or two, and I couldn’t resist the temptation to see how it handled. On my old notebook, rendering stuff took a pretty long time. Only one tile (a 128×128 square portion of the rendered image) is processed at a time. The new notebook renders four tiles simultaneously (2 cores x 2 execution threads each), and it powered through a 2400×1800 box art render in 1 minute and 19 seconds. It’s just nuts, and it left me feeling a little light-headed and dizzy.
It also handles much larger textures during realtime rendering–4096x4096px using the default Intel HD Graphics 3000, and up to 16384x16384px if the GeForce GT540M is used instead. That’s really good, because it means I can work on large paper models at full print resolution. Really large ones.
What little I’ve seen so far impresses me. Compared to my old desktop workstation, the new notebook is a monster.

11 thoughts on “I’m a bit dizzy…

  1. John C. Morrison

    Ohhhhh nice! Does this mean we will see that gigantic transport you were working on in the near furture (or even not so near furture)?

  2. Christopher Roe

    Not likely. I'm too busy with paying work at the moment to spend any time on free paper models. I don't see work resuming on the Pinzgauer for another 2 months minimum, and even then, it'd probably take another couple of months to finish in my spare time.

    When the programming gig is over with, I'm going right into paid paper model design again at WWG, but it'll be 100% WWG stuff and have nothing to do with my own paper projects.

  3. John C. Morrison

    Well the possibility of 4 months compared to none at all is still the near future 😉

  4. Anonymous

    Hmmm. It seems something bad happened. The May 12th entries (Mr. Counterfeit), and some comments were lost.

    What gives?

  5. Christopher Roe

    Yeah. Blogger had technical issues with some sort of update and they had to roll things back to a previous stable version. 30 hours of content were taken offline while they worked on the issue.

    Looks like they're back up now!

  6. Anonymous

    Now you've done it.
    I went to the dell site just to check out your system.
    Now I'm thinking about the Dell XPS 8300 Desktop.

    -Tom.

  7. Christopher Roe

    Make sure you read reviews and stuff from several places first. Dell, like Gateway, is a bit of a crapshoot sometimes when it comes to quality and reliability. Sometimes finding the good machines is a bit like picking corn out of a mess of turds while blindfolded, and ending up with a lemon computer is a pretty frustrating experience.

    In general, stay away from the really cheap stuff, since you usually get what you pay for unless you're really lucky. The midrange stuff is a safer bet, but do shop around for reviews first, because quality/reliability are variable even in the good midrange lines.

    The expensive stuff isn't always better. Sometimes it's just overpriced boutique stuff like the Alienware machines, or it's aimed at a completely different market segment entirely, like businesses.

    In fact, when it comes to desktops, you can frequently find a better deal at the local computer shop for a machine of similar performance and specs. The only reasons I went with a Dell XPS 15 were because I needed a better notebook, I had a credit line with Dell, the special price was low enough to pay off in less than 12 months without killing me, and the XPS 15 I configured happened to be more than good enough for the job.

    If I needed a desktop, though, I'd be more likely to either build one myself or buy an equivalent system from the local computer shop.

  8. Tommygun

    I guess I have been buying Dell for so long I feel safer with them.
    The XPS 8300 did get an Editors Choice at PC magazine, but noted it's not necessarily the cheapest choice.
    Though the price difference between the brand names isn't huge.
    I don't know any local shops well enough to buy from them, but maybe I should look into it.

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