Laptop screen size opinion - gaming and 3D modelling

elyxandraelyxandra St. Catharines, Ontario Icrontian

A few years ago I bought a 13.5" Surface and I'm finding it really restrictive for 3D modelling and gaming. I'm currently debating if I would be ok with a 15.5" screen or if its worth the cost to upgrade to a 17" screen. I also like touch-screen features, but it's not a deal-breaker.

This one looks good but is a little more than I was planning to pay.

Opinions appreciated!


  • drasnordrasnor Starship Operator Hawthorne, CA Icrontian

    I have had good experiences with both gaming and 3D modeling on 15" laptops. However, I'd offer some specific caveats:

    • Screen resolution counts for a lot. You want a lot of pixels; my 24" desktop display is WUXGA and is pretty OK for CAD work. Most folks prefer taller resolutions for CAD work; your Surface is 3:2 aspect and I wouldn't recommend going wider than 16:10. A workaround to get more usable height on widescreen displays is to set your taskbar to vertical mode on either the left or right side of your display and/or to auto-hide the taskbar.
    • You need to sit a lot closer to a laptop display than a desktop display to take advantage of the increased pixel density on a smaller screen. I use a laptop stand to bring the display up to an ergonomically acceptable height and then pull that to no more than a couple of feet away from my face to be able to have the same effective viewing conditions as a physically larger monitor of equivalent resolution sitting further away. You will want to turn down the display brightness as well to avoid burning out your retinas.
    • Using a laptop stand precludes the use of the built-in keyboard and touchpad.

    I used my Goldtouch Go! stand pretty effectively at the last few EPICs to pwn faces comfortably along with a CODE keyboards 10keyless Cherry MX-Green board and Logitech G502 mouse. I honestly wouldn't recommend that mouse or keyboard; pick something you like that you're happy to pound on for hours at a time.

    You can also just get a dock and a larger display for home office use. I have both 15" and 17" workstation laptops at work; the only difference between them is that the 17" is a lot heavier. My home office docks my work laptop to an ancient Dell 30" WQXGA monitor that would be great if it wasn't actively trying to die on me.

  • edcentricedcentric near Milwaukee, Wisconsin Icrontian

    17"s are nice, but heavy and real power hogs. I would go with a high res 15.5" given the option.
    I presume that your eyesight is pretty good, and that you zoom toggle skills are fast. Even on a pair of 25" CRTs (back when I was doing CAD, I sure miss those 1600 line resolution CRTs) I had to zoom for all detail work. When you are at your desk you can use as large of monitors as you like. And a real keyboard and mouse (or trackball if you are old school CAD).

  • ThraxThrax 🐌 Austin, TX Icrontian

    17" laptops suck. They're heavy. They're big. Their battery sucks. Get a 15.

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