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FSAE_student November 4, 2011 12:35

Laptop Recommendations
Hello to everyone,

I am a university student working on the aerodynamics for a Formula SAE team. For the CFD analysis I am using Star CCM+ V6 which i have learned enough to run simulations with, but i still consider myself very much a novice. Anyway, the computers that we are attempting to run simulations are too weak and do not have enough memory to eventually run an entire aerodynamic package. As a result, i am looking to buy a personal laptop that i can use to run CFD on for the team and also for university work. I realize the limited abilities of a laptop, but i am pretty much committed to the laptop since i want to be able to take it with me for CFD on the go. With all of that in mind, If someone could please recommend me some models and their specs so that i have a better idea of what i should purchase.

Thank you very much,

abdul099 November 5, 2011 17:20

How much cells will a full model have? Do you use polyhedral meshes or a trimmed mesh? This determines the needed amount of memory, so that's essential for any recommendation.

But I'm not sure if a laptop is a good idea. I think, the model might be too big to run it on a laptop as it has to fit in the memory. And even when it works it will take ages to run a bigger model on a laptop. And also consider cooling issues on laptops when it runs for days without break.

sail November 7, 2011 16:12

very nice laptops are the dell precision serie.

but i concur with abdul099, you pay more to have approx half the speed and the memory.

and the mobility that a laptop provide is lost if it has to be on and running for 2 or 3 days. plus you loose the ability to use it wile it is running.

i would reccomand a good laptop for pre-post porocessing and renting-some time/using university facilities/buy a cheap desktop pc to actually run the case.

at least this is what i'm doing.

GTCo8 January 10, 2012 17:00

As Sail said laptop is not the best option for computing, even powerfull laptop with 16 GB and quad core. Its good for pre and post. I can recommend DELL (most reliable), HP/Compaq or Toshiba. Not bad is Lenovo. I have bad experience with Asus and Acer laptops, can't recommend them.

My friend run small simulation (15-20M cells) and it took on laptops over 60 hours, on desktop for similar price (with twice more RAM and better CPU) it took about ~37 hours.

Fugacity January 11, 2012 10:47

FWIW; I have a Dell Precision M4500 (2.4 i5 M560 w/ 8gb RAM) and it takes about 30 hrs to run a 2M cell simulation in CFDesign.

I would suggest an i7 or Xeon dual CPU desktop w/ at least 16gb of Ram. If you're definitely going the laptop route, I suggest an i-7 with 8-16 gb of Ram. Note: CFDesign only supports 2^n cores, so it would only use 4 cores if you had a 6 core processor - I don't know if Star CCM is the same way, but it's something to research before you buy a system.

The Dell Precision series can be good, but I know more than a couple people who have significant issues with M6500 series laptops to the point that they are un-usable for CFD because the computer will likely blackscreen before the analysis is solved. Personally, I would look at Lenovo or Toshiba high end laptops.

Perhaps an integral option is a new laptop and also get with a CS student to help you utilize the computer lab(s) at school as overnight distributed solvers.

Fugacity February 24, 2012 09:57

Everybody wants a laptop to run CFD... Which is fine, but you should bear in mind that you are fundamentally limiting your performance and paying a premium to do so.

I have a laptop with CFD on it, but simulating anything larger than 2M cells takes 2 days to run 700 iterations and renders my computer useless for anything beyond reading email at a leisurely pace...

Also, I have to say that I find it noble that Joann and FSAE_Student want to buy a personal laptop to support their university work. But, the University should already have the resources in place to support your work - or -easily have the $ to buy a system to support your project.

If the Aerodynamic CFD is your personal side project, I guess it's your choice and financial burden, but if this is a design requirement and something that will be used to judge your performance on these projects, it should be a rather easy case to make to your advisor/dept chair that the University is not providing the the necessary resources to support your education.

/end soapbox

You might want to "take the CFD with you". But, what you really want/need is the capability of viewing the CFD at will. This is easily accomplished by using a fixed workstation as a solver and using Remote Desktop to connect to the workstation to manage the solution remotely.

If you want a laptop to run a full aero CFD solution, you'll probably need 16 gb of ram. Quantity is more important than Quality; You need the RAM to store the mesh, but shelling out for faster high-end ram will not necessarily yield an observable performance boost.

Basically, you're probably looking at ~$2000 as an estimate. CFD is very resource intensive computing, so you might not be able to do much other University Work while the CFD is running...

Dell, HP, and Toshiba laptops are good systems. I also recommend looking at Xi Computers. They seem to be priced competitively compared to Dell and their workstation systems get great performance reviews/benchmarks.

The newer firewire connections are very fast... Does anyone have a feel/experience with how a Macbook Pro booted into Windows/Linux would work running CFD on it's HDD or using an external firewire drive? They only support 8 gb of ram, but I suspect they would run rather well.

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