One laptop to rule them all? Or maybe just cope a little bit?

Hey Team,
I am a high school media teacher - I want to use adobe premiere pro, animate, illustrator, photoshop like a Boss and be able to export and create without issues -something the current machines I have access to struggle with- so I am looking to upgrade and buy a new laptop for destroying these types of projects without breaking a sweat.

I don’t know if I am stretching too far but I would also like to play around with some film making/ really basic game design in UE5 if I can.

I was going to consider a new M1 14” MacBook Pro but I see that Nanite and Lumin are not supported and again I don’t know if I am stretching but I want to try to do it all - albeit at a derp level maybe

I am a 50 year old professional so can’t really see myself carrying around an Alienware or similar gaming laptop. (Maybe would consider a Razer Blade but apparently run hotter than the sun)

So………. do you think a new Dell XPS 15 would do it? - let me know guys if you have any ideas - I know I know midlife crisis etc, but if you can help me out before I make any silly mistakes I would really appreciate it.

11th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-11800H (24MB Cache, up to 4.6 GHz, 8 cores)

Operating System

Windows 11 Home, English

Video Card

NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 3050 Ti 4GB GDDR6 [45W]


15.6" UHD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflecitve 500-Nit Display

Hard Drive

1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe Solid State Drive

32GB DDR4 3200MHz, 2x16GB

I’ve only recently begun full time development on a laptop due to unstable power where I live, but so far it’s performing better than my i9-7900X 1080ti desktop rig that I used for years prior. That said it’s an Alienware X17 and I haven’t tackled UE5 just yet but I’ve found that my UE4 projects run far smoother and with a noticeable FPS boost. Games as well.

Is there a reason in particular that you’re avoiding an Alienware, such as the size or gamer association? They come in 15 and 17 inches, the X17 is quite thin despite being the thicker of the two IIRC. And as far as looks go, aside from the alien head on the hood it reminds me somewhat of a macbook. Some of their other designs are a bit more out there such as the M15/17 or other older variants.

Whatever you end up going with though, make sure it has proper TDP. Some manufacturers will display the same card, but it will perform lower than it could because the thermal design power (TDP) is lower than you might find elsewhere. So two different manufacturers could be selling 3080 laptops but one would be much stronger than the other.

Generally if you can’t find that information on the product page it’s safe to assume it’s on the low end. Alienware did not have that issue, so I would assume by extension Dell’s other products might fall into that as well but you’d still want to double check. =)

Oh alienware is all good- it’s just the whole rgb styling etc might be a bit over the top for someone like me- (old high school teacher) not wanting to seem like I’m having a mid life crisis
Cheers for the info - Dell chat rep says it’s all good for xps 15 and ue5 (he apparently looked it up) - but probably would say that anyway?
Thanks for the reply

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Hello! Coming from an education background myself, I completely feel your pain of wanting something easy to carry that doesn’t also seem to be trying too hard, lol! I would argue the best possible time to get into game design would be now with UE5 as it does a great job of mitigating some long term pain points, especially for beginners, such as lighting and optimization.

Dell has served me very well in the past, it would only get a little hot with multiple projects open (as I’m sure most computers would, in fairness) so it by all accounts should be a pretty good pick. Comparing the specs you listed to the recommended specs for UE5 found here, you should be set.

If for whatever reason the Dell doesn’t seem like a good fit I also highly recommend Lenovo. It’s pretty budget friendly and has been serving me well when I’m away from my desktop.

Cheers and happy experimenting!

Dell’s a good brand and the laptop you’re looking at would work great. The GPU isn’t bad but if you can afford a better graphics card that would be good–the laptop screen resolution is high (4K) and running 3D graphics intensive software like Unreal Engine will be quite taxing on that GPU, especially since it has only 4GB of vram.

Ok so a couple of further questions then?
How important is more ram vs the graphics card? - so razer blade can come with GTX3070 (8gb) comes with 16 GB of RAM -is this enough for creating content in ue5?

Is it more important to have a better graphics card, QHD display or RAM?

Thanks team please keep the replies coming maybe I am getting somewhere…
The Dell XPS does not come with a better graphics card than the 3050 so if graphics card is more important than the 32gb of ram then I will be looking more toward razer and Alienware (both have better Graphics cards but is seems difficult to find 32GB or above models) edit - that is without selling one of my children to pay for it- Razer makes a studio edition but that really is out of my price range.
Thanks again - let me know

I highly suggest Rog Zephyrus G15, It has great performance and It doesn’t embarrass you when you pull it out in the public.

… I understand this isn’t for everyone.
I’d just build a custom portable case for a full fledged desktop.

Yes, it will be the size of luggage, definitely not a laptop. But it would handle anything you throw at it for the next 5 to 10 years. (And you can upgrade as you go without issues)

When compared to a laptop the life expectancy of which is maybe 4 years.

Using a liquid cooler on the CPU you’ll avoid almost all possible damage during transport.
However both the CPU and the GPU have to be bound together by the case to avoid damage.

For the screen, I’d snap the cheapest 4k screen I can find that meets the weight limits I want.
(You might have to put the case up on a desk, so you want to keep it as light weight as possible).
Sub 20lbs. Is ideal. And hard to reach.

The other (I don’t care about weight, its on wheels) solution would be a custom Vesa mount arm and keyboard setup.
However, good luck doing that and getting it in and out of a car. It’s around 60lbs at a minimum.

In all cases, power has to be external.

Now, with that said.
The programs mentioned by the OP aren’t that demanding - they do need/function better on a full battery of ram.
You could potentially get a 3070 or 3060 laptop and expand the ram to the max possible with a sequential kit.
However, I have yet to see 12th gen decent stuff out there. And in terms of the performance 12th gen vs 8th gen of same ghz is night and day…

Yeh I think for the way my work is ( I move rooms all day) a laptop is what I need so I can do some sneaky creation on the fly… I know it’s not ideal to try to use a laptop but a desktop is going to sit idle 80% of the time while I am out working.
To put it in perspective I currently using a 13" hp spectre with 8 gb of ram - so upgrading this for graphic design, producing music, film editing and animation is a no brainer… the original question was can I get a laptop that will also let me create with ue5 - I like the idea of games, but I am not a gamer- I don’t have time! I would like take simple game ideas and use ue5 for film and animation if it’s at all doable.
The only other deal breaker for me I think is getting at least 1 Tb ssd storage- the 256 gb drive on my current machine is always in the red and some of my software hates trying to operate over external ssds
But that’s why I am asking before I do something dumb, instead of being on here asking you why my dumb choices aren’t working! Thanks for your help, keep it up

Apple is taking a big risk with the M1 transition. They’ve done it several times before, with Motorola → PowerPC → Intel transitions, so it may very well work out in the end, but right now an M1 Pro Mac isn’t the right choice for most people, unless you mainly surf the web and develop web pages.

I have run the Unreal Engine on a Dell XPS 15, and it’s OK, but the XPS series doesn’t quite get the highest-end graphics cards (e g, typically xx60 level cards,) so if you get an Alienware or Razer with the high-numbered cards (3070 / 3080 / 3090) that’ll probably be a step up.

16 GB of main system RAM is not enough to do any real content creation, ESPECIALLY when using graphics cards with a lot of RAM – even though the RAM isn’t “shared” when you use a real graphics card (so it’s not as bad as “built in” graphics,) it’s still the case that more graphics card RAM uses more regular system RAM to manage it.

I’d recommend something with a RTX 3070 graphics card, and at least 32 GB of RAM. That system would also do basic Unreal game design reasonably well, and also last for several years – because tech moves slower these days, computers last longer! Also, a 1 TB M.2 drive as the main drive – spinning drives end up being less robust (especially in a laptop) and much much slower.

Razer will release a new generation just a month from now, so you may be able to pick up the previous generation at a discount at that point. Also, the RTX 2070 is enough for media production (and even a 3060 might be, if it’s “computer or rent?” decisions) but don’t skimp on the RAM, and don’t skimp on the 1 TB M.2 drive or bigger. If you’re doing “indie” game development, those components are more important than the absolute top-end GPU.
Sadly it doesn’t seem like you can get a Razer with 32 GB of RAM under $3k, but maybe the Alienware or XPS variants will work? There’s a 17" XPS with 32 GB RAM and a 3060 graphics card. There’s also an Alienware with 32 GB RAM and a RTX 3070, but only 512 GB M.2 drive, but it’s under $2k, which for today is a pretty good price. You’ll want to keep an eye on hard drive usage and swap out something bigger once it gets full, though. (Check that it can be upgraded first!)

The other brands suggested as generally fine, too. Read online reviews to make sure you don’t get a total lemon, and don’t buy from Honest Abe’s Back Yard Emporiom, and you’ll probably do fine!

I paid 1450 usd for an rtx 3070 and ryzen 9 CPU, And really there’s nothing to complain a great product for a great price it sucks for other people tho

Hey @NukleerGandhi what are you telling me here, was this for a desktop machine?

No, It’s a laptop, rog zephyrus g15, bought it from bestbuy at black friday it was 300-350$ off at the time

Forget unreal in general. If it runs on a laptop that’s gravy. But running it consistently on a laptop means getting the laptop to burn.
Or at the very least, reducing the laptop’s life expectancy by 80%.

For the storage.
If the laptop doesn’t include an m.2 slot and at least 1TB m.2, then it’s probably trash or near trash.
A 2tb m.2 with some of the best speed is as low as $300 right now.

I suppose you could always buy a decent m.2 and re-install the OS onto it - which is likely the way I’d go about it anyway.
However good laptop options are rare and expensive currently.
If you are willing to give it a month or so I think you may find bette products - the problem will be avaliablily, like for all other silicon stuff right now…

So what do you guys think about intel’s NUC X15 laptop kit?
Mwave here in Aus is selling them able to be specd into something like what you guys have been recommending but do you think that sticking with razor or Alienware would be a smarter option?
Or is it like MostHost_LA says - it just isn’t really going to work?

The price on that seems about 2 times normal?
I somehow doubt that Aus $ is that far below American $ ?

That said, some ASUS Rog with a 3080 run around $1,999.00 us right now.

ASUS ROG Strix Scar 15 (2021) Gaming Laptop, 15.6" 300Hz IPS Type FHD, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080, AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX, 16GB DDR4, 1TB SSD, Opti-Mechanical Per-Key RGB Keyboard, Windows 10 Home, G533QS-DS96

As mentioned before, you may need to return a few before you get one that doesn’t fall apart. (And it may still fall apart a lot faster than expected when using the engine on it a lot).

Bad quality ROG products have happened to me just recently. A brand new asus screen lasted less than 24h. It seems they are rushing production and pushing out sub-par products compared to the usual standard.
Most reviews of the same item around the same batch all reported very similar issues…

Zen3d is coming in february, if your willing to wait a month or 2.

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Ha, do they outperform intel 12th gen yet? (Probably won’t take much, as a 5950 is already very similar to the best i9 for 12th gen)

We will see.

So as an update… right or wrong I found a guy selling a 2021 razer blade 14 with the 3080 card still in plastic unopened for less than half the ticket price and I bought it
Ended up paying $2150 aud
In the end this worked out as the cheapest option from everything I was looking at.
Hopefully was a wise choice
Thanks all