New Laptop Hardware Specs-What I Bought & Why

Thanks to everyone on LinkedIN and in other forums that gave me input.

A few caveats: Those who do a specific type of a job would have different requirements. For example: Remote Sensors would have vastly different needs than programmers. I am an individual consultant, so I could be doing any type of work at any level.

Performance is my biggest cost vampire, and for me that directly translates into cost to my clients. My biggest advantage is that I only have to convince myself, not an executive who will be looking at this and translating that into how it impacts group profits, etc. I know there will be those who disagree with my choices, but the long version has some of the rational that is behind them. I have access to a wide variety of different types of GIS and IT professionals, so I heavily factored in their input. Only you can ultimately make your own tradeoffs, so this is offered up as guidance.


  • Dell Precision M6800 -Approx. 5K but with 40% discount, came in right at 3K.
  • 16g memory (2 x 8GB) 1600MHz DDR3L
  • NVIDIA Quadro K4100M w/4GB GDDR5
  • 500GB 5400 rpm Hybrid Hard Drive + 8GB Embedded Flash Cache
  • Windows 7 Professional, English, 64bit (includes Windows 8.1 Pro 64bit License and Media)
  • Intel Core i7-4810MQ Processor (Quad Core 2.80GHz, 3.80GHz Turbo, 6MB 47W, w/HD Graphics 4600)
  • 2nd 2.5 inch 1TB Solid State Hybrid Drive
  • 3 inch UltraSharp FHD (1920×1080) Wide View Anti-Glare LED-backlit with Premium Panel Guarantee
  • Weight: 8lbs. (I travel, but not so often this is a problem. I’m also in shape, and I’d rather have the performance than a light weight machine)
  • Windows 7 Professional



Dell Precision M6800:
Also considered HP ZBook (comparable specs with about 5K price tag & 25% discount). Feedback was hit/miss. You either love it or hate it. Macs just didn’t have a comparable workstation type machine. I love Apple, but alas decided to forgo trying to do something with a Mac because its cool. I can have a cool Mac for my personal use.:) Here is a review on a British site that was useful in evaluating the workstation. It has some nice views of ports and other details.

Memory: 16g memory (2 x 8GB) 1600MHz DDR3L
More is better, but I believe this is sufficient and so its an area where I controlled cost. The memory is upgradeable.

Video Card: NVIDIA Quadro K4100M w/4GB GDDR5
This is a really good vid card. The research I and my main go-to folks did revealed that this was a winner. The next step up on the dell was another $560. Truly, I’d have done it if it were half that cost. Maybe I’ll regret it in years 3-5, maybe not. Without being able to see more of a difference for the money, this was the one thing I made a cost concession on. 4100 is still a rockin’ vid card. Here are some links that were useful in making this decision:

Hard Drives: 500GB 5400 rpm Hybrid Hard Drive + 8GB Embedded Flash Cache/2nd 2.5 inch 1TB Solid State Hybrid Drive
This gets a little complicated, but essentially you can do SSD and a second standard hard drive and manage it yourself for a lot more money, OR you can do a hybrid drive. The hybrid drive is cheaper plus it has the advantage of automatically managing which programs you use most frequently and assigning them as needed to the SSD. If you start to run out of space on one, you can use the other. The hybrid drive is a regular drive with a SSD attached. For those of us who don’t want to be actively managing this aspect whenever we start install/using new software, it’s a nice benefit. There are software out there that will do this for you with the separate configuration, but my intel says they are not where they need to be in their evolution. Sizes of the hard drive were due to what Dell offered but should be sufficient. Price was right for the 2nd hybrid drive, so this was probably a little over what I might need, but it was too good a value to pass up the extra space.

Processor: Intel Core i7-4810MQ Processor (Quad Core 2.80GHz, 3.80GHz Turbo, 6MB 47W, w/HD Graphics 4600)
There was a better processor for more money, but this appeared to be the sweet-spot for price / performance.

Monitor: 17.3 inch UltraSharp FHD(1920×1080) Wide View Anti-Glare LED-backlit with Premium Panel Guarantee.
15″ didn’t have as many options on the machine. I wanted things that I could only get with 17″
Also, Anti-glare (there is a choice). This might be a nice to have for some, but I might be in a clients office and have absolutely no control over where I’m at, if blinds exist, whether or not I can adjust them, etc. Few things more irritating than not being able to see, or squinting because of reflections, etc.

Windows 7 Professional downgrade from windows 8.1:
Ok, this is personal preference. Windows 8.1 is available if I want it. Windows 10 is a free upgrade for windows 8.1 and Windows 7 users.

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