Best bang for your buck!

This is the first of maybe a few post to come that will be related to hardware for animators, I wanted to do a review of the laptop I recently acquired WHY? because if youre like me, and work in the animation industry you might move around a lot, but also want to do your own stuff on the side, so you basically need a portable powerhouse that can run cg software like maya or blender, but be portable enough that you can just put it on a bag every now and then to move cities, or contries, for the odd freelance or even to take it to work so it can sit by your side so you can watch friends while you work.

I had been studying this possibility for about 6 months to a year now and I think I made the best choice.

So my requirements: need to replace my desktop with a laptop that is powerful for doing animation freelance work and my own projects at home in Maya and Blender 2.8, very performant at VR hence performant at gaming too, as thin and light and possible because I move around, but with some room for upgrade so It can be my main machine for the next 3/4 years, also that I wouldn’t be ashamed of taking it out in public and that felt sturdy for those lazy days when you use it on your lap in bed before it gets too hot.

My budget: Around £2000 considering how long I should keep it and the one I need to replace. Also consider that I had to sell my very powerful desktop at a really low price £790, but it helped making this one not hurt too much.

Coming from having only mac laptops for about 14-15 years, besides the time I was in Canada, when my hard earned iBook (yeah remember those?) got stolen and I urgently needed something to replace it to finish some freelance work so I bought a crappy samsung laptop that I quickly had to replace with one of the first generations of the white plastic mac books (which I loved and I think my grandma uses now)… I have to note my mom still uses the samsung one at home as a stationary laptop aswel, anyways it has been really hard to find something that suits my needs hardware wise but also that feels like a solid laptop.

My current daily driver was an upgraded mid 2012 macbook pro, which though doesn’t meet all the performance needs but does very well all the “home needs”, on the external side feels sturdy, strong, has a nice keyboard feeling the keys are well in the right places and the trackpad is still one of the best if not the best on the market, but for actual freelance and personal work + vr and regular AAA gaming I have a good rig that we bought while I had the studio back in Chile with some upgrades, so it was originally a Dell XPS8700 with Quad Core i7 4770 3.2 + 32 Gb of Vengeance ram, a 480 SSD + a 2tb HDD, an Asus GTX1060 6gb, a ultra wide LG screen, a wacom intuos pro 4… A nice machine but moving around often or wanting to be able to do it with ease means trying to cut the fat, instead of having a laptop and a desktop I want to reduce em both to the one laptop that can fulfill my needs to the maximum and that can last a couple of years without needing to completely change it… and I have the secret hope that when ipadOS 13 comes around my Ipad will become my laptop for home to watch movies and send emails, and that I can leave the new powerlaptop mostly for work, vr and games.

So after a lot of research my 4 options where:

Razer Blade Advanced 2019 – £2,499.99 (razers webstore and amazon uk)

  • Display: 15.6″ Fhd, Anti-Glare Wide View Angle 144Hz
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX2070 Max Q 6G GDDR6
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-8750H 6 Core 2.2 – 4.5GHz
  • Memory: 16GB (8G*2) DDR4 2666MHz 2 Sockets; Max Memory 64GB.
  • Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD.

Razer Blade Base Model Mid-2019 – £1,899.99 (on razer’s webstore)

  • Display: 15.6″ Fhd, Anti-Glare Wide View Angle 144Hz
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX2060 6G GDDR6
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-9750h 6 Core 2.6 – 4.5GHz
  • Memory: 16GB (8G*2) DDR4 2666MHz 2 Sockets; Max Memory 32GB.
  • Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD + 2.5″ bay for secondary drive.

MSI gs65 2019 – £2,550

  • Display: 15.6″ Fhd, Anti-Glare Wide View Angle 240Hz
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX2060 6G GDDR6
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-9750h 2.6 – 4.5GHz
  • Memory: 16GB (8G*2) DDR4 2666MHz 2 Sockets; Max Memory 64GB.
  • Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD + extra nvme slot

XPS 15 9570 2019 – £1,725.00 

  • Display: 15.6″ Fhd, Anti-Glare Wide View Angle 144Hz
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-9750h 2.6 – 4.5GHz
  • Memory: 16GB (8G*2) DDR4 2666MHz 2 Sockets; Max Memory 64GB.
  • Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD + extra nvme slot

So even though similar, the build quality and performance would vary just as much as the prices, the first one to rule out was the XPS because even though most of it would have been enough for VR the GTX 1050 seems to not be enough I havent seen anyone reporting using vr with that so I didnt want to risk it.

Then the MSI was a big one, and I know a friend that has the exact same from last year maxed out and its a sweet laptop besides a few things that personally bother me, the chasis flex is noticable, you can hear the parts cringe a little bit when lifting wich give you that “cheap” sensation even if youre paying top dollar and i tend to jump into bed or couch with laptop in hand and with a mac that has never felt wrong, with a pc most of the time just lifting them off the desk feels like they are gonna break, an other thing that did bother me about that particular laptop was the space between the keyboard and screen I find it a bit distracting, expandability wasnt bad with an extra nvme slot and also ram upgradeability up to 32 gb, problem comes an extra nvme is particularly expensive not to talk about having to dismantle pretty much the entire laptop to get to the ram bay so that’s a no go for me, the minimum upgrades i need to do to my every day maching i should be able to do em effortlesly… and last but not least the keyboard’s font, for fuck sake msi, seriously? the font from spiderman’s trailer in 2001 *its an awesome trailer, and movie*… but in your whole keyboard? for ever?

At the beginning of the year I actually bought the razer blade advanced with a 2070, and I really liked it besides a few things, one of them the single nvme drive with only upt to 512 gb, i mean, its 2019 my hdd requirements if anything havent gone down, they’ve gone up. The biggest reason why I turned it back was because the secondary symbols on the keyboard didnt light up as advertised, then they explained that the full keyboard would only light up on the advanced model for US and Canada… my luck, but anyways, I got my money back. And after some time i realized that i could pretty much take a trip to the US, buy it there and go back to the UK for pretty much less money than getting it in the UK, so that was my plan, until I found the Razer Blade Base model was in the UK store of razer at a discounted price with the 9th gen i7 6 core an RTX2060 fully backlit keyboard (!?) single color but i prefer single color instead of no lights under the symbols 100%, and on top of that a bay for a 2.5″ drive, and nearly £700 cheaper, done.

It hasnt disapointed, it plays vr games smoothly for the most part, blender and maya work like a charm, the screen is bright and beautiful, materials are overall pretty well built, keyboard layout is great besides one key that bothers me every now and then but overall i’m super satisfied, I just added a 35£ XP-pen tablet which is super compact and insanely good (I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality coming from having had at least 5 wacom products), and also I invested in that secondary SSD of 2TB which added exactly the extra space i was needing, so probably I wont be turning it back and waiting a couple of years for next upgrade.

*these links are affiliate links that wont add extra on top of your price but buying through them will encourage us to create more and more content for you!

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