Below is an opinion piece, my thoughts and findings based on my journey to find an amazing laptop for Unreal Engine 4 development. While I have included an Amazon link, you can find this laptop at many other locations. As these are just my opinions, feel free to disagree, or have your favorite laptop, all I ask is keep your replies civil, in particular we do not need to hear “Go buy a desktop, they are cheaper, faster, whatever”, these responses do not belong in this thread. Thanks in advance!
I had seen quite a few different threads requesting people’s opinions on laptops for Unreal Engine 4 development, so I figured I would share my findings.
I had been using the Apple MacBook Pro Retina 15" ( Late 2013 model ) which has a really nice i7 CPU, 16GB Ram, and the NVIDIA GTX 750m. Under OS X this machine was miserable to work on, in the Top Down template, I would barely achieve 30 FPS. Using BootCamp, I installed Windows 8.1 Pro, and got my framerate up to 38 FPS. The MacBook Pro would run very hot both under OS X and Windows ( I ran mac fan control under windows ). In the end, this just wasn’t a very good machine to work on, mainly due to the GPU. I had another friend with a PC notebook using the NVIDIA GTX 750m, and his FPS was even lower then mine ( his CPU was weaker ). Something had to be done, hence I started to research different laptops.
Knowing NVIDIA just released their mobile 900 series GPUs I really only focused on systems that used the NVIDIA GTX 980m or 970m GPUs. In fact during my research, I found very little in the way price breaks for machines using the NVIDIA GTX 880m GPUs, quickly ending looking at anything lower then the previously mentioned mobile 900 series GPUs. I looked at ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte and Alienware.
Though the MSI GT80 Titan with it’s mechanical keyboard and NVIDIA GTX 980m SLI was tempting, the $3300 starting price was not. Many of the MSI laptops didn’t use IPS screens, which caused me concern. Overall there were a number of other reasons that I won’t go into that made me decide to skip MSI.
They just came out with a new machine with the NVIDIA GTX 980m, though it had a max memory footprint of 16GB, which was a non option for me. While the system did have a 3k screen option, I avoided it as I didn’t want to waste GPU resources driving that monitor, especially as I have a 27" monitor if I needed a larger resolution then 1920x1080.
I decided on Asus after talking to many other users, having a chance to see a few models ( not the exact same one )
I bought the ASUS ROG G751JY-DH1. It has the following:
i7Intel Core i7-4710HQ 2.5GHz (Turbo up to 3.5GHz)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M 4GB
24 GB DDR3
1 TB 7200 rpm Hard Drive, 256 GB Solid-State Drive (PCIEG2)
17.3-inch Full HD IPS screen, Windows 8.1, Blu-ray Writer
There is still one more ram slot which I plan to add 1 more 8GB chip, to a max of 32GB. One may ask why so much memory, I saywhy not
In reality, I was running out of memory all the time on my Desktop, which has 16GB. I would run Unreal Engine 4, Visual Studio, Chrome, iTunes, and standard drivers. I would usually run out of memory the instant I tried to build my lightmaps, as Lightmass / Swarm would eat another 4GB of memory. I like the idea of a bit more room for my development apps to live in, hence the maxed out memory.
Running tests between my wife’s desktop which has a full desktop NVIDIA GTX 970, at the same resolution is almost exactly the same speed in both Unreal Engine 4, as well as Diablo 3, and a few other games we tested today. My Desktop has NVIDIA GTX 680 X 2 ( which we know means nothing in Unreal Engine 4’s Editor ) is slower by a fair margin, but still PLENTY fast for the game I am developing.
After spending the day setting up this new laptop, and working in Unreal Engine 4, I have to say I am SUPER impressed. The performance of the laptop is amazing. The screen is IPS, and very vibrant. The screen runs at 75Hz and is rated to run at 100Hz, which is insane. The weight of the system is the only point of pause. I knew what I was getting into when I ordered this machine, but nothing could really prepare you for the reality of the size of the machine, with a 17.3" 1920x1080 screen, what would one expect. I was tempted to call the computer “Shield_Helicarrier” as my MacBook Pro Retina 15" could literally land on it. In all this is an amazing machine, simply outstanding for Unreal Engine 4 development.
I have included a link below of the exact machine I bought, via Amazon for $2269:
ASUS ROG G751JY-DH1