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    • kingfisherblue
    • By kingfisherblue 29th Sep 17, 1:45 PM
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    kingfisherblue
    Help please - college laptop
    • #1
    • 29th Sep 17, 1:45 PM
    Help please - college laptop 29th Sep 17 at 1:45 PM
    My son is on a BTech level 3 Mecahnical and Design Engineering course. He is eligible for a bursary.

    Under the bursary scheme, he can either have a Dell Chromebook 11 3180, BTX paid for completely, or a Dell Vostro 3568 for 50% of the cost. There are no other options available (although I am trying to speak to the college about this).

    Chromebook:
    http://www.dell.com/uk/business/p/chromebook-11-3180-laptop/pd

    Vostro:
    http://www.dell.com/uk/business/p/vostro-15-3568-laptop/pd

    Dell tell me that neither will support AutoDesk, specifically AutoCad and Fusion 360, which is the software that he is using. Obviously it isn't worth getting something that won't support the software, but Dell have recommended the Precision series, which are considerably more expensive. Is this just marketing, to persuade me to pay more, or are they correct and neither will support AutoDesk? It seems odd for a specialist college to have a choice of two unsuitable laptops (although I realise that they probaly receive a discount).

    We have to decide by next week.

    Any advice is welcome. Thanks for takig the time to read.
Page 1
    • Heedtheadvice
    • By Heedtheadvice 29th Sep 17, 2:08 PM
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    Heedtheadvice
    • #2
    • 29th Sep 17, 2:08 PM
    • #2
    • 29th Sep 17, 2:08 PM
    Firstly I would go for a laptop rather than Chromebook oawing to facility levels

    As far as the laptop is concerned:
    Autodesk say (for latest versions) win 10 requirement is 64bit. Ensure that what you buy is not 32bit. (He might use a student edition at college? Maybe check that?)
    4GB mem (as per base Vostro- currently advertised at £359 by Dell) is minimum, extended memory to 8GB would be advisable. Dell might fit for you.

    Apart from the above and given the limitations of the laptop screen size (resolution fine but overall size a tad small for detailed drawings - buy separate external monitor later?) I do not see what the problem really is. Perhaps ask Dell to clarify why they do not recommend?

    Given the current offer price by Dell is the college offer worthwhile, is it under the £359 ....and can you choose better laptop from Dell for very little extra? Such as extra memory.....
    • grumpycrab
    • By grumpycrab 29th Sep 17, 2:17 PM
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    grumpycrab
    • #3
    • 29th Sep 17, 2:17 PM
    • #3
    • 29th Sep 17, 2:17 PM
    Others will clarify but the minimum graphic requirement for Fusion is 512MB GDDR RAM. In low spec laptops (e.g. without dedicated graphics hardware) this memory is pinched from the main memory and in order to be able to "pinch" 512MB you will needshould be looking for 8GB of main memory.
    Last edited by grumpycrab; 29-09-2017 at 2:38 PM.
    Hi, we’ve had to remove your signature because somebody complained that the information contained within it was too helpful.
    • kingfisherblue
    • By kingfisherblue 29th Sep 17, 3:20 PM
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    kingfisherblue
    • #4
    • 29th Sep 17, 3:20 PM
    • #4
    • 29th Sep 17, 3:20 PM
    Thank you both for your replies. My son does use the student version at college. There is no opotion for any other laptop or to add memory etc. College state a price of £407, of which the bursary pay half and I would pay half. The price on the Dell website is plus VAT, so comes out more expensive.

    I have an old monitor that he can connect to the laptop for a bigger screen - I can't remember the size, but he can also attach to the TV screen (32").

    I'll pass the details over to him so that he can check intot he specs more.

    Thank you both for your replies - much appreciated
    • Johnmcl7
    • By Johnmcl7 29th Sep 17, 3:51 PM
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    Johnmcl7
    • #5
    • 29th Sep 17, 3:51 PM
    • #5
    • 29th Sep 17, 3:51 PM
    I agree with the comments above, the Chromebook is entirely unsuitable for that use and the Vostro is not powerful enough, it only has an integrated graphics card whereas the CAD packages usually need a semi-decent dedicated graphics card. I assume the college has chosen those two machines as they're suitable for light work which will cover most students' uses.

    The Precision series is the workstation range from Dell for CAD work and similar but they're overkill for a student, I'd consider something like this:

    http://www.dell.com/en-uk/shop/laptop-and-2-in-1-pcs/inspiron-15-7000-gaming-laptop/spd/inspiron-15-7577-laptop

    From what I can gather, the software should run on the consumer geforce graphics cards. This machine is obviously a lot more expensive than the Vostro but the GTX 1050 graphics card is a decent entry level graphics card.

    It's definitely worth asking for any other recommendations from the college for PCs with suitable performance.

    John
    • AndyPix
    • By AndyPix 29th Sep 17, 4:31 PM
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    AndyPix
    • #6
    • 29th Sep 17, 4:31 PM
    • #6
    • 29th Sep 17, 4:31 PM
    Yep - We had exactly this scenario for one of our travelling engineers.
    We normally provide Dell Latitude's but even the 7470's with better spec than that Vostro would only just about run Autodesk.
    When i say only just run, i mean the software would start but it was woefully slow and pretty much unusable.
    We ended up getting him a Precision 7510 with Nvidia Quadro Graphics card , with 4GB GDDR5 (n16p-q3)


    Which runs like a dream.. however was VERY pricey
    I agree with the above, surely the college should offer something that is fit for task !!?


    I also agree its a great idea to look for recommendations from others doing the same course, or maybe the teachers ..


    Good luck with it
    Running with scissors since 1978
    • kingfisherblue
    • By kingfisherblue 29th Sep 17, 4:33 PM
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    kingfisherblue
    • #7
    • 29th Sep 17, 4:33 PM
    • #7
    • 29th Sep 17, 4:33 PM
    Thank you.

    Unfortunately the college are so far adamant that the choice is from the Chromebook or the Vostro - nothing else. My son has now spoken to his Head of Year to express his concerns about neither being suitable. He has said that he will find out if it is possible to choose another laptop, although my son has already been told that it is not possible.

    I don't have pots of money, and don't want to waste any on a laptop that isn't going to be suitable.
    • kingfisherblue
    • By kingfisherblue 29th Sep 17, 4:39 PM
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    kingfisherblue
    • #8
    • 29th Sep 17, 4:39 PM
    • #8
    • 29th Sep 17, 4:39 PM
    AndyPix, my son wants to be an engineer. He enjoys it, and is keen to do well. I agree that the college should offer something suitable, but it may be down to money. On the other hand, there's no point wasting it on something that won't do what is required. The above laptops may be suitable for some of the students, but not for those needing AutoDesk. It's something that he's really enjoying at the moment, and obviously I want to encourage him. He's actively seeking work experience and future employment at the moment.
    • AlSto
    • By AlSto 29th Sep 17, 5:29 PM
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    AlSto
    • #9
    • 29th Sep 17, 5:29 PM
    • #9
    • 29th Sep 17, 5:29 PM
    Instead of wasting money on the Vostro, perhaps something like this http://mcscom.co.uk/product/dell-inspiron-15-5558-i5-5200u-2-20ghz-8gb-1tb-920m-15-6-fhd-w10h-1yr-rtb-wty-mln298/ for £295 would be better.

    He can pop an SSD in it for a bit more cash.

    May be ok for AutoCAD 2017. Don't know about 2018.
    • neilmcl
    • By neilmcl 29th Sep 17, 5:36 PM
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    neilmcl
    AndyPix, my son wants to be an engineer. He enjoys it, and is keen to do well. I agree that the college should offer something suitable, but it may be down to money. On the other hand, there's no point wasting it on something that won't do what is required. The above laptops may be suitable for some of the students, but not for those needing AutoDesk. It's something that he's really enjoying at the moment, and obviously I want to encourage him. He's actively seeking work experience and future employment at the moment.
    Originally posted by kingfisherblue
    Does he actually need to have access to AutoDesk etc via the laptop or its it really just for day to day stuff and coursework. What do the other students do, surely they're not all running around with top of the range, commercial laptops?

    I would advise speaking to the course head to find out exactly what tools your son is required to have to complete the course.
    Last edited by neilmcl; 29-09-2017 at 5:38 PM.
    • Tarambor
    • By Tarambor 29th Sep 17, 6:47 PM
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    Tarambor
    Dell tell me that neither will support AutoDesk, specifically AutoCad and Fusion 360, which is the software that he is using. Obviously it isn't worth getting something that won't support the software, but Dell have recommended the Precision series, which are considerably more expensive. Is this just marketing, to persuade me to pay more, or are they correct and neither will support AutoDesk? It seems odd for a specialist college to have a choice of two unsuitable laptops (although I realise that they probaly receive a discount).

    We have to decide by next week.

    Any advice is welcome. Thanks for takig the time to read.
    Originally posted by kingfisherblue
    None of that software will run on the Chromebook period. It will run on the Dell Vostro, it more than meets the minimum specifications. With the Precision it can be configured with a nVidia Quadro CAD orientated graphics card which comes with custom drivers for software like Autocad and when doing 3D modelling and viewing/rotating/zooming said models it would be a lot faster. However for the level of modelling etc that he'll be doing the Vostro will do the job just fine.
    • Gloomendoom
    • By Gloomendoom 29th Sep 17, 7:13 PM
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    Gloomendoom
    I have Autodesk Inventor, a step up from Autocad, on an old Dell XPS desktop with 4Gb ram and it works fine.

    Unless you are working with huge assemblies you can get away with the minimum spec.
    Advice; it rhymes with mice. Advise; it rhymes with wise.
    • neilmcl
    • By neilmcl 29th Sep 17, 7:55 PM
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    neilmcl
    I'm guessing most of his CAD work will be done in the lab rather than at home so the Vostro will probably be fine but it's worth checking.
    • kingfisherblue
    • By kingfisherblue 29th Sep 17, 9:16 PM
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    kingfisherblue
    Neil, only a small number of students will be on the same course. It's not a large college, and not everyone is doing the same. I've no idea what laptops others have, but I do know that my son hasn't been able to access Fusion 360 for a few days now, as there is a fault at college. Even then, he can't always access computers at college as there aren't enough for everyone to use. He's been using AutoDesk and has homework to complete.

    Tarambor, if the Vostro meets the requirements, I don't know why Dell Chat said that it won't support any CAD programmes. Obviously not knowing myself, I trust them to give me the correct information.

    I'm waiting for the college to clarify the situation, but I don't know at this point whether it is a teacher who has decided on these laptops (and whether that teacher deals with AutoDesk), or whether it is the bursar who has decided, perhaps because he has a decent deal with Dell.
    • Heedtheadvice
    • By Heedtheadvice 30th Sep 17, 10:31 AM
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    Heedtheadvice
    Almost certainly it will be a Dell deal with a one size fits all policy for word processing, spreadsheets, browsing and a bit more.....
    ......but not designed for more demanding tasks which cad is.

    Your approach to tutors/heads is a wise move. They can perhaps advise what is the best rather than just acceptable. Much will depend upon the complexity of the cad, how frustrating it might be if slowish response is produced and level of use!
    If you cannot get any flexibility in provision such as extra memory then if needed it could be buy independently - if money is tight dell 'outlet' machines (returns, returns, opened packages etc.) are available at reduced costs and with flexible specs.
    • were
    • By were 1st Oct 17, 12:42 PM
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    were
    Those dell Vostro 15 3000 series screens do not have the greatest resolution @ 1366x768. By the time you put a few toolbars on, the working area could become cramped
    • forgotmyname
    • By forgotmyname 1st Oct 17, 7:00 PM
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    forgotmyname
    Does it need to be a laptop and portable? Build a decent desktop which can be upgraded as needed.

    Just upgraded my desktop due to CAD software and 3D stuff.
    Punctuation, Spelling and Grammar will be used sparingly. Due to rising costs of inflation.

    My contribution to MSE. Other contributions will only be used if they cost me nothing.

    Due to me being a tight git.
    • kingfisherblue
    • By kingfisherblue 2nd Oct 17, 11:00 PM
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    kingfisherblue
    Yes, it needs to be portable so that he can use it at college as well as at home. There are not enough computers at college. Also, a desktop isn't an option available to my son.

    However, his Head of Year is looking into whether a different laptop can be applied for. We're just waiting for an answer.
    • RobertoMoir
    • By RobertoMoir 3rd Oct 17, 12:01 PM
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    RobertoMoir
    I'm an IT manager at a college where we run courses using Autocad / Mechanical Desktop on desktop PCs without any extra dedicated graphics cards. The desktops we use have a similar spec to the Dell Vostro 3568.

    They can be a little slow but they're "good enough". We did add more memory though, is an upgrade to 8Gb of ram an available option with the laptop, or could you add that afterwards? If there's no way to upgrade the RAM then I would avoid the laptop.

    Where Dell are saying something isn't supported, that doesn't mean it definitely won't work. It means they haven't tested that particular combination and cannot guarantee that it will work or that it will work to a particular standard and that if you try it, the risk is yours. This is a "standard phrase" in the IT industry.
    If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything
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