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  • laptop recommendation


    I am looking for a small (~13 inches) and thin laptop for:
    - scientific computing
    - julia, python, C++ development
    - image and video processing
    - basic desktop task (internet browsing, watching videos...)

    It will run only Linux.
    I would like to have opencl and vulkan support.
    Even though I don't think I will use it much for gaming, I would like something that can run decently games such as X-Plane and Kerbal Space Program on an external monitor (TV).
    I would like to avoid NVidia and since Intel GPU are not very powerful, I am thinking an AMD Ryzen with VEGA graphics might be the best choice.
    I am currently living in Germany and I found this offer:

    Do you have any recommendations?

    Thank you,

  • #2
    1. Well, the Intel GPUs do support OpenCL and Vulkan reference :
    2. But, if you want something that will run nicely 3D games, then I would consider the AMD/Nvidia option with Nvidia preferred due to much better power consumption (at least for now)
    3. The Ryzen CPUs are not as power efficient as I said above
    4. Consider a good business laptop with Thunderbolt 3 + eGPU setup (check
    5. If you want a good combination of features, including a good display, I would consider a refurbished Dell XPS 9570 or even the 9560 (screen is not as good) or perhaps the Yoga 720/730?
    6. Also consider the referenced gaming laptops, but that's more for gaming I guess

    What do you think?
    A recommendations list for the best gaming laptops under $1000 or so, hand picked and updated. Personal recommendations in the comments are welcomed.


    • #3
      wow prices are high in Germany. Any option to order from the USA?


      • #4
        Thank you for your reply.

        Dell XPS 9570 or 9560 have 15 inches screens but I want something smaller approx 13 inches.
        So I guess there is little option with discrete GPU plus I prefer to avoid Nvidia.

        Comparing the yoga 720 processor i7-8550u with the Ryzen 7 2700u found in the laptop I mentioned using
        it seems that the Intel CPU is faster while the integrated GPU (UHD graphics 620) is much slower than the Vega 10 GPU in the Ryzen processor.
        To get closer GPU performance with Intel, I would need to get Iris Pro graphics and there are very few laptops with Iris graphics.

        Can you run X-plane on Intel HD graphics 620? (with low quality settings in 720p? 1080p?)

        I would not buy from the US because if there is a problem with the laptop it will be more difficult to return it.
        I might consider buying from a local Linux laptop vendor to support them (if they have a laptop that suits me, I cannot find one with Ryzen) even though they are generally more expensive. Otherwise if the laptop comes with a windows license (most likely scenario), I will try to get it refunded. Anyone knows if you can get a refund for unused windows license in Germany? I know that in France they have to do it by law but there is a lot of paperwork to be done first and I dread doing it in german.


        • #5
          If you want to do GPU compute and gaming, and want to avoid NVidia, then I suggest to choose Ryzen over Intel iGPUs. However there are not many good Ryzen laptops, and finding a place that sells you the good ones can be difficult.

          The Ideapad 720S-13ARR is constrained by its low TDP and single channel memory, so the performance is a bit sub-par. Also the Lidl offer is too expensive, you can get it much cheaper at other shops.

          If you want an affordable lightweight Ryzen laptop with acceptable performance, there is only the Huawei Matebook D. Unfortunately the Ryzen edition it is not available directly in Germany at this time, but it can be ordered from Amazon Italy (with Italian QWERTY keyboard), or if you live near the border to Poland you can get it e.g. at Komputronik with Polish "programmer's keyboard" layout which is actually US QWERTY.

          The other option would be the expensive HP Elitebook 735 G3, which starts at 1200 EUR.


          • #6
            Thank you for your reply chithanh.

            The Huawei Matebook D comes with Ryzen 2500U (Vega 8) while the Ideapad has a 2700U (Vega 10). Also it is mostly found in Intel version or with 15 inches while I want something smaller (12-14 inches).
            HP Elitebook 735 G3 has Radeon R6 or R7 graphics. I don't know how they compare.

            In the end I might go for an Intel laptop designed for Linux such as
            I need a powerful CPU more than I need a powerful GPU and the i7 version of this laptop seems to have much better CPU than the Ryzen 2700U.
            Plus it would be supporting Linux hardware provider and will save me the hassle of finding/installing drivers for wifi, bluetooth, sound...
            Unless there is a Linux laptop seller in Europe that proposes Ryzen laptops?

            If I need a powerful GPU later, the eGPU (with a Radeon Vega) solution proposed by switchperson is interesting if they are well supported on Linux. I didn't know about those.


            • #7
              Originally posted by astro View Post
              The Huawei Matebook D comes with Ryzen 2500U (Vega 8) while the Ideapad has a 2700U (Vega 10). Also it is mostly found in Intel version or with 15 inches while I want something smaller (12-14 inches).
              Yes, but due to TDP constraints in the Ideapad, it cannot reach the 2700U's full potential.

              Originally posted by astro View Post
              HP Elitebook 735 G3 has Radeon R6 or R7 graphics.
              Ah sorry, I meant the HP Elitebook 735 G5, not G3.


              • #8
                Sorry for the delay:

                1. The mobile Ryzen parts are great as GPU or CPU separately, but when you stress the system with 3D tasks the TDP limitations will kill the performance really, even in the best systems (25W TDP limitation, not 15W and dual channel memory). The NV MX150 will much faster. Moreover, the power efficiency isn't as good as the latest Intel stuff. So, why? I guess maybe the next generation AMD stuff could be better for mobile.

                2. How about an eGPU solution?


                • #9
                  eGPU is very expensive and you would need some bleeding edge support i.e. may take months for it to work properly or work at all.

                  Indeed the Ryzen APU laptops have some troubles. Would need a laptop designed from the ground up e.g. a 13" laptop with a little bit more thickness and cooling. Meanwhile a laptop designed for cooling an Intel CPU plus an nvidia MX150 GPU (two separate chips) will work well as it's designed to do that and importantly, it exists.

                  The Ideapad 720-something is the worst example there, it was made cheaply and quickly, they take an Intel laptop, make a cheap motherboard with single channel memory (if they sell it with one stick of 4GB or 8GB it will be single channel anyway). It's an also-ran.
                  So, a proper Ryzen 2500U laptop ought to be better than a poor Ryzen 2700U laptop.

                  If size wasn't a concern, a "gaming laptop" would be best as they just solve the cooling issue by throwing copper pipes, heatsinks and fans and vents at it. But they use nvidia GTX 1060, 1070, 1080 GPUs - AMD is weaker at that type of performance per watt.

                  Laptop with Ryzen 5 2600H or Ryzen 7 2800H and no dedicated GPU would be closer to what you're after. The "H" means 35 watts and hence a laptop designed around it. Think older "business" laptops designed around i3 or i5 "M" series. As far as I know laptops using it don't exist yet. Probably a small 13.3" laptop could be designed - modern space saving features like two M.2 storage slots but no support for 2.5" drive nor DVD, thick enough for an RJ45 port and the cooling. It's a matter of design parameters and a hardware vendor going for it after determining there would be enough of a market.

                  Other idea would be to get both a laptop and a desktop. Get a real thin Intel 13" laptop with M.2 storage (a recent development btw is 14" with thin LCD bezels) but you assemble the cheapest possible Ryzen 2400G desktop, headless (can even boot from network or small USB stick), connected with gigabit ethernet to a 802.11ac router and then you do some scientific computer on that controlled from the laptop. (add another GPU later..).
                  Last edited by grok; 22 November 2018, 12:18 AM.


                  • #10
                    Thank you for your advide.

                    In the end I bought an Intel laptop pre-installed with Linux from a German vendor:

                    It works well but of course the integrated GPU is not powerful.

                    I always have my desktop for doing more GPU intensive tasks. Now I need to find how to install an OpenCL driver for the Intel UHD 620 iGPU: the shipped mesa version (from Ubuntu 18.04) does not seem to support it.