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Looking for an amazing laptop for Unreal Engine 4 Development, I found mine!

Note
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!

Reasoning
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.

MSI
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.

Gigabyte
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.

ASUS
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 :wink:
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

Are you moving a lot and need a portable machine or why does someone want to work on a laptop when it comes to game development or animation etc? I can understand to make music on an apple machine, because its cool, but graphical stuff?

Seems like a pretty good deal for a laptop, when I saw this thread it was a bit of a ‘here we go’ moment (I am certainly a desktop, PC master race person) but it looks like a good buy.

Congrats on your new machine =]

That laptop is looking pretty sweet. Thanks for the research and the recommendation. Congrats!

A few use case scenarios include taking it to class, using it for demos, needing to create stuff “in the field”.

Edit: My desktop is roughly 75lbs and is mounted in a rack… I wont ever feel like removing it again as putting it on the rack was an exercise in explicit language :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m thinking of getting a laptop just because I think my wife isn’t too happy with the amount of time I spend in my study coding, so this thread is food for thought. :slight_smile:

Thanks for all the great responses, I am glad if this thread is useful for anyone.

As for the question of why, it is simple:
I have an amazing desktop ( GPU upgrade is in the works ), but I tend to be over at other developer’s places often to do work ( it is nice to work around other people ). I also tend to be very tired after a full day at work, and the idea of sitting at another desk at home is not always appealing, so I like to lounge on the couch or in bed with the TV on, having a killer laptop means I can continue on my work in a more comfortable physical location :slight_smile:

Working on a laptop of this caliber and size doesn’t really feel that much different then working on a desktop, especially from a performance perspective ( in this case that laptop is a bit faster ). Sure when I am on the couch I may not have my mouse hooked up, but I can live without. Working on a laptop isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s mine, Earl Grey, Hot.

I forgot to mention in my post, or perhaps, request as well…

How does the laptop work with using the Rift? There seems to be some issues with different types of high-end laptops that cause the DK2 to go on the frits… and this also seems like a decent laptop to do various things I’d want to use it for, as long as the VR stuff is good to go on it. I don’t expect it to be perfect by any stretch, but it should at least be able to run stuff so I can test.

Notebooks that use NVIDIA Optimus messes with the Rift. This Asus ROG G751JY does not have Optimus, which is good.

http://rog.asus.com/forum/showthread.php?52651-G751JY-Does-Not-Have-Optimus

This thread goes into more detail, though not from the Rift’s perspective, you can find a few here on the UE4 forums.

I ran some tests as a friend was also interested in my laptop results under Unreal Engine 4:

1920x1080 screen, standard UE4 stock interface ( main game view is not full screen, but the Editor is )

Top Down Template: 200+ fps
3rd Person: 200+ fps

I will add more tests as time permits.

I ran some more tests, this time being on battery power only.

Top Down Template: 100+ fps
3rd Person: 100+ fps

I wasn’t on a pure powersavings setup, but I was able to work for almost 3 hours. I think I could squeeze a bit more out of it with better powersaving settings.
I do know that hand setting the maxfps setting to the minimum you need will definitely boost your on battery time.

I got the more powerful G751JY-T7116H and at the time when I bought it, it cost $2450.00 and now I’m not sure what happened, I got it directly from Amazon and the cheapest one I can find now is $2800.00…

But if anyone is looking, I’d still keep an eye out to see if there are any other offers flying around.

Great machine though and that 980M really is a power house.

Ah yea, the UK version, the US version of that G751JY-T7116H was $2800, and for about real world 5% CPU increase, and 32GB RAM ( I got mine to 32GB using exact same mem as was installed, cost me $100 ) and a 512GB SSD over the 256GB. To me it just wasn’t worth the extra $$$ overall. Congrats on the notebook though, it is amazing!

Is your SSD an M.2? It took me ages to find the actual specs of these. But I “think” the higher end ROG’s like yours and mine have M.2’s in them so quite a hefty disk speed as well.

I don’t blame you, if it wasn’t on offer or whatever it was. I wouldn’t of paid that amount for it :)…

On a small lightmapped scene in UE4 I’m getting 120FPS. Couldn’t be happier with it…

Yea my SSD is M.2 and is silly fast. I am super impressed with the system as a whole. Sad that my desktop pales in comparison ( GTX680 x 2 ).