I have played with Blender for several months now and am preparing to head out to college. Running on a tight budget, I would like to buy a laptop that can handle blender relatively well. Any tips? I'd like to spend as little as possible, but I'd rather spend a little more and have blender run well than regret a purchase. Thanks!
~ M1_Thumb <><
Blender uses OpenGL for *all* its drawing. Laptops often skimp on graphics performance. Try before you buy.
Cooling is another frequent problem with laptops. Rendering speed depends on CPU performance. Long battery life depends on not using the CPU.
How can I try before I buy? As far as I'm aware, most stores won't let you install software on their sales items. I'm thinking i5 is the way to go, but I want to know what level graphics card I'm looking at. Basically, are low end dedicated cards sufficient(depending on card and chipset oc)?
~ M1_Thumb <><
Blender does not need to be installed to run.
The chipset and driver are the keys here. Blender has essentially the same requirements as OpenGL-based games.
It might help to spend a little time googling, especially in the Graphics Compatibiiity thread in News & Chat here.
Most laptops are designed as a portable platform to run apps like email and a browser. You are looking for one configured more like a video workstation.
I've been able to get Blender running well on one of my machines, a fairly old laptop, albeit one with a Radeon9700 card with 128mb of VRAM. Most newer model laptops with a dedicated
graphics card these days would even exceed that spec. Check to make sure. What you don't want to do is buy anything in the Netbook category though... unless it's a netbook that can power a dedicated video card.
The beautiful thing about Blender is that it's actually rather lightweight when it comes to eating system resources, a sign that it's been coded to the highest standards of performance (as well as geekiness), even though the user interface doesn't make it look that way. Other programs look like they spent more time selling you an interface, which while it looks nice and indeed usable, will in absolute certainty benefit from a gazillion optimization passes in its core code.
If the dedicated card on your lappy has at least a couple hundred megs of dedicated memory, you're good to go. Make sure your system also has at least 2-3GB of memory for itself. Since cost is an issue, avoid Apple computers at all costs since any of their offerings will most certainly drive your budget up the roof for very little return.
Also to expand on what stiv said... you can run Blender Portable from a USB stick with full functionality if you wanted, unlike something such as Autodesk 3DS Max. You don't need to run an installer or anything like it; Blender is clean there.
no pix in .sigs please. --moderator