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Laptop for work, games, and VR?

MosBenMosBen Tacoma, WARegistered User regular
I just started a new job, and with that I'll probably need to buy a laptop to use when I work remotely. I have a gaming PC that I built in 2013, with the exception of the GTX 1070 that I got last year. Ideally what I'd like to do is replace the desktop with an ultraportable laptop that I would use for work and then take the GTX 1070 and put it into an external graphics enclosure so I could play games and use my Oculus Rift.

Right now it seems like the best option are a Razer Blade Stealth paired with a Razer Core, or an XPS 13 paired with some other enclosure. I'm concerned about some of the negative reviews I've read about Razer's build quality and support, but it has a USB A port on the laptop, and the Rift sensors don't seem to like being plugged into an enclosure. The XPS seems to be slightly better liked, and Dell seems to be better liked as a company, but it only has a USB C on the laptop, and I'm not sure if the Rift sensors would like going through a dongle. Also, if I went with the XPS there's not an obvious external GPU enclosure to go with.

Thoughts or advice?

Posts

  • SynthesisSynthesis Honda Today! Registered User regular
    edited April 2018
    Only because I have some limited experience with it, I've seen "more than passable" VR via a laptop provided by a Windows Mixed Reality headset (pretty sure it was a Samsung Odyssey) paired with a Microsoft Surface Book 2--a two-in-one laptop technically, with an i7 and a Nvidia GTX 1060.

    I have to assume that a Dell XPS with the same hardware specifications as a Surface Book 2 15", not being a two-in-one, would be at least somewhat cheaper, if not substantially so. However, the W.M.R. headsets have two notable advantages when it comes to working with laptops: they have technically less demanding requirements (of course, if you're playing a high-requirement game, that ceases to matter) and they require less hardware ports/accessories than either the Rift or Vive (hence the whole laptop setup I encountered). You need Bluetooth, 1 USB 3.0, and one HDMI port (I think the Rift needs two USB ports at least). Since you already have the Rift, however, I guess that is mostly of theoretical interest--get a Rift-compatible USB hub if necessary.

    A Dell XPS should be fully capable of VR (at that point, you'll be limited more by the inherent flaws and limitations of VR than the hardware powering it), but it won't be ultraportable. The Surface Book 2 is ultraportable, or pretty much as ultraportable as any 15" laptop on the market (considering it's a two-in-one), but it's really expensive to say the least. I really have no hands-on experience with external graphics expansion hardware (though so far, they've all been eyesores in terms of how the actual hardware looks, if that matters), so I can't comment much on that, but I don't see why it wouldn't be viable (with its own limitations). Your cheapest route would be an XPS, and just accepting that it is kind of a big laptop--from what I've seen, the combined cost of a laptop and external graphics pretty much approaches the Surface Book 2, but maybe there are some good deals out there.

    Hope this was helpful.

    EDIT: Sorry, XPS, not XPS 13. I don't think the XPS 13's come with a discreet GTX 1060.

    Synthesis on
    Orca wrote: »
    Synthesis wrote:
    Isn't "Your sarcasm makes me wet," the highest compliment an Abh can pay a human?

    Only if said Abh is a member of the nobility.
  • MosBenMosBen Tacoma, WARegistered User regular
    Yeah, I've wondered about going for a larger laptop with a built in graphics card, but there are a couple factors that have me leaning against it. First and foremost is that as much as I'd like to just throw some money at a beefy gaming laptop, the responsible part of my brain says that this really needs to be a laptop that primarily does work things well. That means it needs to be thin, light, have good battery life, and have good noise and thermals. I'm really intrigued by the Surface Book, but the problem is that it doesn't have Thuderbolt 3, which means that it can't use an external graphics enclosure.

    You're right about the Windows MR headsets requiring far fewer ports, and that's pretty awesome, but like you said, I already have a Rift and I'm not looking to get any other VR headsets in this generation. I'm just assuming that whatever comes in the second generation of VR headsets will be wireless, or at least require far fewer ports. It'd still be nice to use the Rift that I own in the meantime though.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

  • SynthesisSynthesis Honda Today! Registered User regular
    In terms of graphics enclosures, there's really no reason for a Surface Book to have Thunderbolt--they come with (for laptops) high-end discreet GPUs that will honestly give you better results for the cost and power requirements than an external GPU paired with a device that light.

    (there are other reasons, probably, just not that particular one)

    If portability is important to you, an enclosure might be the best route--but to be honest, I haven't heard much about about enclosure-based gaming laptops work with VR. Considering how sensitive VR can be to things like "not quite perfect" USB ports or HDMI out, I imagine those might be issues.

    Orca wrote: »
    Synthesis wrote:
    Isn't "Your sarcasm makes me wet," the highest compliment an Abh can pay a human?

    Only if said Abh is a member of the nobility.
  • MosBenMosBen Tacoma, WARegistered User regular
    Unfortunately, I did a little digging and learned that the Surface Book 2 doesn't work with the Rift. It has something to do with how the data is moved between the integrated GPU and the discrete GPU.

  • MosBenMosBen Tacoma, WARegistered User regular
    I wish that they'd do an update with a Thunderbolt 3 port, because I do like the Surface Book.

  • SynthesisSynthesis Honda Today! Registered User regular
    edited April 2018
    MosBen wrote: »
    Unfortunately, I did a little digging and learned that the Surface Book 2 doesn't work with the Rift. It has something to do with how the data is moved between the integrated GPU and the discrete GPU.

    That's super weird. I'd heard some time ago that the Rift's own hardware checks are not as tolerant, so it refuses to work, but I thought that was hearsay. Oh well, that's unfortunate. If I had to bet, I would say the Rift doesn't like the adapters (since the SB2 obviously doesn't have a full HDMI port). If that's true, you might run into this issue on a lot of other laptops potentially (a separate GPU solution could avoid that....assuming it doesn't ahve its own issues).

    (The HTC Vive does work--not necessarily well, but you could say that about the Vive with any laptop.)

    Synthesis on
    Orca wrote: »
    Synthesis wrote:
    Isn't "Your sarcasm makes me wet," the highest compliment an Abh can pay a human?

    Only if said Abh is a member of the nobility.
  • MosBenMosBen Tacoma, WARegistered User regular
    Yeah, unfortunately, though I really like the Rift and still think that it's the right move if someone wants to get into VR in this generation, it needs lots of ports and is finicky about which ones you use. I'm pretty confident that whatever comes next for the Rift and Vive, they're going to be a lot less port needy, will be easier to setup, and will work on a broader swath of machines.

    Bigity
  • MosBenMosBen Tacoma, WARegistered User regular
    So, I ended up getting a Dell XPS, which should be arriving in the next week or so. It was always a strong contender, but then Costco had a $300 off deal on top of a price that was already substantially less than what Dell was selling it for, so I went for it.

    Now I need to figure out what external graphics enclosure I should pick up. The Razer Core only really works with Razer products, so it's out. The HP Omen Accelerator and Mantiz Venus both seem like good options. The Asus Rog Station seems good, but big. I know that people like the Aorus ones, but they come with a graphics card built in, and I have a GTX 1070 that I want to use. So any advice in this area would be great!

  • syndalissyndalis Getting Classy On the WallRegistered User, Loves Apple Products regular
    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1342457-REG/sonnet_gpu_550w_tb3_egfx_breakaway_box_550.html

    Not that you need to buy it from B&H, but the Sonnet box is really damn good (good enough for apple to offer it as part of their devkit for VR apps), is beefy enough to handle pretty demanding GPUs with enough room and airflow to let you fit whatever in there.

    SW-4158-3990-6116
    Let's play Mario Kart or something...
  • SynthesisSynthesis Honda Today! Registered User regular
    B&H is actually a weirdly good place to get this sort of thing (provided they have it). They're extremely competitive with their pricing, offer free shipping (which is pretty fast, at least on the eats coast), and only charge sales tax in two states. I just bought a 2017 Surface Pro from them.

    Orca wrote: »
    Synthesis wrote:
    Isn't "Your sarcasm makes me wet," the highest compliment an Abh can pay a human?

    Only if said Abh is a member of the nobility.
    jjae2123
  • MosBenMosBen Tacoma, WARegistered User regular
    The Sonnet box sounds like a nice piece of kit, but it doesn't have any additional ports, including a network port. Can you use an external GPU and also a docking station with more ports?

  • syndalissyndalis Getting Classy On the WallRegistered User, Loves Apple Products regular
    MosBen wrote: »
    The Sonnet box sounds like a nice piece of kit, but it doesn't have any additional ports, including a network port. Can you use an external GPU and also a docking station with more ports?

    yes you can, would just be two connections instead of one on your laptop.

    SW-4158-3990-6116
    Let's play Mario Kart or something...
  • MosBenMosBen Tacoma, WARegistered User regular
    Awesome. That's good to know. Thanks, man!

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