GPU-less Ultrabook: What's your pick?
Hey everyone. I've been lurking here for a few months now, trying to figure out what my next system should look like. I have a few specific requirements and come up with my own build idea but feel like I should broaden my horizon a bit and figure out what others are thinking. Been going over the build list but seen nothing like it, so I thought I'd ask what you would do under these constraints.
This is what I've decided on as the core requirements:
- Ultrabook with a current-gen i7 CPU but no internal GPU (for battery/temperature/weight reasons); 13 to 15 inch screen
- NVidia RTX GPU (details TBD after the upcoming announcement, but I'll be using the ray-tracing and ML features)
- No external monitor (knowing the performance costs this has, but there simply is no room for one on this desk)
- eGPU enclosure has room for a SSD (for backups) and enough USB for mouse/keyboard/controller (to serve as a quasi-docking station)
The basic idea being that this machine is very portable and quiet and fast enough for mobile dev work but exected to run newer games at higher res only when docked.
Ignoring the budget - what would you go for if you'd put together a brand-new build with no constraints of re-using your existing hardware? I know that a lot of this probably comes down to gut feeling so I'm quite happy with some speculation and less hard data. =D
@dbltnk, I'd strong recommend the LG Gram. I'm using the 17-inch version and honestly prefer it over all the other ultrabooks I have used; ranging from 12-inchers such as Toshiba Portege X20DW and Razer Blade Stealth, to MacBook Pro and many PC counterparts with screen sizes from 13-in to 16-in. The LG Gram is incredibly light and feels like an empty shell demo unit at first but it's so nice to handle. You don't feel like you have to be extra careful picking up and putting down the laptop like the sharp edged MBP. Get one with the Ice Lake CPU. Both the 17-in and 15-in versions have dual M.2 slots and one upgradable RAM slot.
Thanks itsage! That is a notebook that I've completely overlooked so far. Read/watched a few reviews and it looks quite perfect. The massive screen size is great for me since I'm not planning to use an external monitor. Plus great battery power, weight and speakers - nice!
Have you given it a try with regards to games? Some of the reviews mention that the screen tends to be a bit too slow for games. Not actually sure what this even means (assuming vsync to 60 FPS) - especially since the onboard chip will be useless for modern 3D games anyways. What GPU/enclosure are you running it with and how is performance for you?
I'm also a bit worried that it's CPU performance (even with the better i7 versions) is so slow it would affect GPU render performance. In all benchmarks this one seems to come in far behind even machines with the same chip, due to "probably worse cooling". Did you notice any of that, run any benchmarks?
There is one build by @frederiko_cesar on the site but no benchmarks, sadly: https://egpu.io/forums/builds/2020-17-lg-gram-10th4cg-gtx-1660-super-32gbps-tb3-razer-core-x-win10/
@dbltnk, I have the latest version of the LG Gram and I do recommend it, it is not overheating. I am sorry but I have not yet done any benchmarks, but I can tell that the performance is better than mine Dell G5, with an i7 9750H and 1660 TI. More than 10 FPS in some games. And the laptop is ultra light, even being the 17" version.
Thanks for the quick info @frederiko_cesar - much appreciated! That's good to know!
Currently trying to figure out where to actually buy that machine. Seems LG does not have their own store and resellers often sell them in 8 GB / 256 GB versions, which would necessitate some memory and storage upgrades as well. Quite pricey.
Indeed it is expensive, this is the page of the one I exactly got:
Btw, I will update my other post later with images and benchmark.
@dbltnk, If you're in the US, look into Costco. They have the 17-in LG Gram [i7-1065G7, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD] currently on sale for $1,249.
Honestly any sub-4 pound ultralight laptop with the latest 4-core Ice Lake or 6-core U-series processor from Intel will do. You basically trade a bunch of iGPU performance for 2 more cores and higher clock speeds with the latter.
- Core i5-1030G7
- Core i5-1035G7
- Core i5-1038NG7
- Core i5-10210U
- Core i5-10310U
- Core i7-1060G7
- Core i7-1065G7
- Core i7-1068NG7
- Core i7-10510U
- Core i7-10610U
- Core i7-10710U
- Core i7-10810U
There's also a couple great highend 6-core and 8-core H-series options as well past $1000, but those either come with a dGPU or mean waiting for more affordable Tiger Lake CPUs arriving in coming months.
Edit: There's also the option to go with AMD laptops as they currently out-perform Intel models in CPU workloads by a very large margin, but that involves the internal M.2 slot and the four PCIe lanes it offers. This is currently the best solution, but it will be worth it to pick-up a Ryzen 5000 laptop with USB 4.0 support when they arrive next year.
First off: Thaks for all the infos. Much appreciated. I'm still not sure what to settle on since I am a bit afraid that the LG Gram is too weak on the CPU side and this will quickly become a bottleneck. The i7 in there is not significantly faster than the CPU one in my old (but quite beefy) laptop. Digging a bit deeper into the AMD side of things it seems that even their current Ryzen 4000 7nm CPUs are far ahead of Intel's. The main problem here is that I'm not going to be able to jury-rig an M.2 slot into using an eGPU. With my crappy engineering skills this simply looks to shaky for a setup that is intended to reduce clutter and stay mobile.
So it looks like I need to wait for AMD to support either TB3 or USB4 on their Ultrabook chips. But the last article I road suggested that USB4 is "on AMD's roadmap for 2022" ... and that's a bit of a long wait. Anyone got any more recent news of when we can expect AMD notebooks to support eGPUs through one of those standards out-of-the-box?