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Thinking of not doing Dell again for biz machine (CAD/3D)

So I’ve had a Dell M2800 (basic spec at the bottom) and it’s been good for the last few years, allowing me to use CAD on-site. For the first year or so, the battery would last 8-10 hours, ideal for building sites without power (well, safe power).

I’ve been a bit frustrated with it over the last 6 months and finally had enough. Worked well with Win7 but Dell don’t care about it being compat’ with Win10. The graphics doesn’t work and it falls back on the iGPU…which isn’t nice with CAD/3D stuff. I’ve wasted hours trying various drivers, from various places and nothing has worked. I found this thread which I had hoped would work for me, but it didn’t :frowning:

So within the next 2-6 months, funds permitting I’m going to buy a replacement. I’d like to get Dell again as generally I was happy, but I wonder if there’s another company that’ll give as good business support. The screen went brown in places twice, and within 2 days I had an engineer sitting next to me fitting a new one - no charge. I asked them about the graphics issue and they didn’t care as my cover was only for hardware only.

So does anyone know if HP or Lenovo or others make a good CAD mobile workstation? It doesn’t have to be crazy powerful, just good enough to work on. CAD/3D seems to like core speed than quantity and my work machine is a 7700K which does a fine job with a slight OC up to 4.9GHz. Sounds pedantic but a keypad on right hand side is really important…be nice if it was on the left, but hey ho, that ain’t happening any time soon.

Budget is probably between £1000-1500 ($1240-1860 inc taxes).


Here’s the spec of the current machine:

i7-4810MQ (2.8GHz, 3.8 turbo)
AMD FirePro W4170M
2 x 4GB 1600MHz DDR3L

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What software? AutoCAD? Revit?

Look at :
lenovo x1 carbon extreme
lenovo p1

You got five years out of it. Not bad all things considered.

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Doesn’t matter which PC maker you choose for a notebook, the combination of the GPU support life-cycle and Windows can be a pain with any desktop replacement system–Dell typically only supports the original OS which shipped with your PC. On average you’ll see a dGPU supported for about 5yrs, I know with my former Quadro based Thinkpad I had to use nVidia’s drivers as Lenovo’s certified drivers were old. Using non-OEM drivers has its own downside(s), some PC makers have custom UI/overlays but thankfully some of that stuff went away on Windows 10.

As far as who makes a good mobile workstation, every OEM has their own flaws or trade-offs in series within their business models. HP has a bunch of trade-offs between their Elitebook vs zBook, Dell has trimmed back their Latitude with CAD/3D friendly GPUs to keep their Precision series as their go-to option. Now as far as Lenovo, they’ve pushed designs into trying to be a mix of Apple and HP while fan noise has been talked about on the Carbon series–I have no idea about current Thinkpads, in the post 7-row era the keyboard layout isn’t good.

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Autocad indeed, and SketchUp :+1:

I don’t have knowledge of CAD, but from my experience with buying Dells, HPs, Lenovos and a few Toshibas and Sony Vaios for developers, business analysts and project managers, the Vaios broke down the fastest, worst laptops ever. Toshibas, let’s say, didn’t age well, they are still doing fine, but are kinda sluggish now (even after hardware and software cleanup). HPs are still doing fine, but had a few issues with micro HDMIs and they didn’t cover replacement (these ports are awful and I knew this would happen from the beginning), but the USB type-C to HDMI works like a champ. Lenovos were ok-ish and hadn’t had experience with their customer support, but I just don’t like their business. As laptops, they have good quality.

In the end, still, nothing compares to Dell Customer Care. I will continue to gladly buy Dell products just for their support.

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Thanks everyone for responding, really appreciate it. :+1::+1::+1:

@Ramiel Thank you for those - I’ve had a look though and they don’t have a dedicated keypad…a real shame as they otherwise look superb!

@lesser When you put it like that, I’ve got my money’s worth eh. I have taken good care of it though as it cost me around £1300, which to me is a lot of money. I’ve never let kids touch it and never lent it out either! So frustrating about the Win10 issue, but I figure I’ll hand it down to my G/F as her laptop is in pieces.

All true stuff @PaintChips , it does seem that Dell used fairly normal drivers, but try as I might, Win10 and this GPU just don’t get along :frowning: It’s a real shame as it’s still a full functioning laptop and I’ve been pleased with it in the past - I’ve got Win7 back on there and the last time it updated, it froze the system and I had to do a restore. I don’t have the time/patience to do that again, so I’ve just got to buy a new laptop.

Thanks for that though, much appreciated. So far I might just get a Dell again, but I don’t think they deserve it as they left me high and dry. I had a look at HP but they seem to be a bit thin and trendy and I’m not looking for that, just function over form as it’s a tool for earning money and not for looking at (in my mind at least!). May be I’ll look at Lenovo though as I trust them. Cheers!

Thanks for chiming in @Biky , I’ve had similar experiences with the others. I guess I’m just stuck with Dell again, it’s a shame but that’s the way it is. I’ve had a look at their current range, I hope they’re as user friendly for hard drive swaps as my M2800. Nice to only have 2 screws to get to it!

Thanks again all, much appreciated :+1:

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Some newer Dells (Latitude though) don’t have a SATA port and 2.5" slot anymore. So look careful what you buy.

As I am a strange guy, I’d personally buy a powerful desktop and a cheap laptop that I can use to RDP into, via a VPN home. I am already doing this and works fine, but it really depends on the taks and requirements for low latency / input lag - I don’t think you require extra fast response time for CAD software though. But if you don’t have a mobile hotspot on the go or WiFi everywhere, it’s not a solution.

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Thanks for that Biky, I like your idea but I think that CAD doesn’t work well with VPN’s, though I could be wrong. I know that Sketchup doesn’t play well with remote connections. But like you say, the network connection is important and I go to some sites where there isn’t even power, let allow a net connection.


@Biky @PaintChips @lesser @Ramiel @Zavar

Hi all,

Just thought I’d give a little update.

So far I’m thinking of this:

HP ZBook 17 FHD Mobile Workstation with Dual Storage & Quadro P2000 graphics - £1870.80.

It has a 17 inch screen which although means it’s a heavier machine, I only have to carry it to site and setup once a day when needed. The extra screen real estate will be handy as well.

At first I thought I’d stick to 4 cores, but there are times when 6 is handy.

I’ve got some other money decisions to make so I might fall back to a 4 core model if needed, which will then bring it down to around £1300-1400. Because of my experience with Dell, I don’t want to use them again and it’s only the quality of support that makes me want to go back. HP seem like they know their stuff though.

Tried fixing the graphics issue on my M2800 and again as GPU drivers were being installed, it froze. As the trade in amount is £40-50, I think it’ll just become my wifes machine with Win10 installed and not using the GPU. She’s not likely to need it as she just browses the web, etc.

Thanks again for your contributions all! :+1:


I can close the thread if you want.

Yes please, though some might want to comment further. Completely up to you :+1:

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