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Desktop or Mobile Workstations for Graphics and Animation Pros?

Desktop or Mobile Workstations for Graphics and Animation Pros?

by June 22, 2021 0 comments

Laptops are becoming increasingly powerful and available even for the most demanding professions, like graphics and animation pros. One question that naturally comes to mind is whether they can replace their desktop counterparts?

Though laptops still have the advantage of portability and don’t require a separate UPS for power backup, desktops are still preferred due to their price performance and upgradability. Here’s why.

Graphics Workstations are More Upgradable

Graphics and animation professionals need to work on high-end applications that are very demanding. Moreover, as these applications get updated to newer versions, or the files they create become more complex, their resource requirements in terms of RAM, CPU, GPU, or storage really shoot up.

In such a scenario, desktop workstations are a better option because they’re far more upgradable than mobile workstations. You can upgrade many of their components to the latest technology. You can plug-in a more powerful graphics card for instance, which is not possible in mobile workstations. Plus, they typically have more RAM slots than mobile workstations allowing you to upgrade as you need more performance form the machine.

More upgradability therefore extends the life of desktop workstations, which is very limited in case of their mobile counterparts. Moreover, desktops will have more bays for plugging-in storage devices like HDDs and SSDs to expand storage capacity.

Performance

Desktop workstations’ performance is far better than mobile workstations in for instance, rendering jobs, which usually take many hours. Mobile workstations can slow down due to heating issues, but not desktop workstations. Moreover, the CPUs and GPUs used in laptops run slower than their counterparts in graphics workstations.

So if you’re really into serious graphics, animation, and video editing work, then nothing beats the desktop workstation. It will give you the required performance and stability. Plus, desktop workstations have more configuration options.

Screen Real Estate

One big reason to go for a desktop workstation is that you get a bigger screen, which is a key requirement for most graphics and animation professionals. Moreover, graphics professionals can add more large screens in addition to the main one. You don’t have this luxury in mobile workstations.

Mobility

This obviously goes in favor of mobile workstations. If your work requires you to travel and give demos to clients, then you can’t really do that with a desktop workstation. Mobile workstations on the other hand, offer portability that even the smallest of desktops don’t have.

Form Factor

This is another advantage that mobile workstations have over their desktop counterparts. If you work in a very cramped space, then you’re better off with a mobile workstation. Desktops on other hand, require much more space for the tower, monitor, keyboard, mouse, UPS, etc. Plus, they need more air-cooling as they generate more heat due to their larger size.

Cost

While there’s a wide variety of mobile and desktop workstations available in the market, the desktops can be much more expensive than the notebooks. That’s because the desktops are power horses meant for really high-end work. Let’s understand this with an example.

The HP Z Book Studio G7 Mobile Workstation comes with an Intel Core i9 series CPU, 32 GB RAM, 2 TB PCIe NVMe SSD, Intel UHG graphics as well as an nVidia Qudro RTX 5000 with 16 GB dedicated video RAM.

On the other hand, the HP Workstation Z4 G4 Tower comes with an Intel Xeon W processor, 192 GB RAM (6x more than the Studio G7 mobile workstation), 2 TB SATA SSD, and nVidia Quadro RTX 8000 with 48 GB video memory (3x more than the Studio G7 mobile workstation).

These aren’t the only configurations that the products are available in. You can configure them as per your requirement and budget.

Do however, note the vast difference that’s possible in the desktop and laptop. Such high-end configurations are only possible in the desktop machines and not laptops. So whether you need to run 3D CAD, do rendering, or simulation applications, running them all would be a breeze on the desktop. It’s great for engineering, visualization and Machine Learning. The mobile workstations are not meant to handle compute and graphics intensive tasks of that level.

If you’re serious about running compute intensive applications for engineering, visualization, or even Machine Learning, then going for a graphics workstation is a better bet. However, if your work demands traveling and showing graphics intensive demos to clients, then a mobile workstation is a good option. The two are completely different needs and you can’t swap a mobile workstation with a desktop for the same.

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