The Ultimate Mobile Blender Workstation Contest

NOTE: No computer is being offered as a prize! See below for info on the “contest”.

Now that I have your attention, I need your advice. I’ve searched the web and this forum, but am still a bit unsure exactly how to build the best possible notebook system for using Blender.

I know that the fastest CPU I can afford will speed up rendering, and will probably be getting an Intel Core 2 Duo T7300 (2.0GHz, 4MB L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB). The graphics card will almost certainly be an 256MB NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT, for a fast and reliable real-time display.

My main questions concern the OS and RAM usage. I want this system to help me make the most of the Sculpt tools, increasing the possible polygon count in my models.

I’ve read that Linux will recognize/utilize more memory and hence allows more polys, but have not been able to verify this in my own tests. In any case, this system will dual boot Linux and XP Pro. I’ll most likely be using 4GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM @ 667MHz.

1. Do you recommend XP Pro 64-bit . . . or XP Pro 32-bit with the “/3GB” switch? (considering any other general pros & cons)

2. How do I attain higher poly counts under Linux . . . and are any particular distros preferable in this regard? (32- or 64-bit will be determined by the XP choice)

3. Are any special builds of Blender necessary in connection with the above options?

I would very much appreciate any information and opinions that may be offered.

Now for the so-called “contest”. To encourage participation in this discussion, and give something back to the Blender community, I will . . . sculpt something!

No . . . really.

The person who offers what I deem to be the most helpful response will be able to choose the subject of a sculpting session which will be the basis of a time-lapse and/or tutorial video.

The virtual sculpture can be a bust of him or herself, a favorite character or celebrity, an animal or abstract, etc. The choice of content will be at my discretion, and may possibly be fabricated on a 3D printer as a physical prize. In any case, it hopefully will serve to promote Blender and it’s further development . . . and boost the ego of the winner, if they choose to have their own likeness sculpted before a sizable audience. :slight_smile:

I cannot guarantee the quality of the resulting model, except to say that if a significant increase in mesh detail is achieved, I hope to produce something impressive.

BTW: Anyone starting or participating in any kind of OS flame war may be disqualified.

Thanks for reading this book-sized post. :eek:



HMM… did i read tutorial video somewhere in there? :smiley:

A quick reply:

  1. Stick with XP 32bit for compatibility I would say. For your big render jobs you’ll want to render in linux most likely.

  2. Go for Linux 64bit to utilize your memory the most. You can have 64bit linux and 32bit windows no problem. If you really wanted to you could quadruple boot and have 32 bit linux and windows as well as 64bit versions and then compare the difference :D. You don’t need to determine whether it’ll be 32bit or 64bit linux by your xp choice.

  3. You may want to try and compile blender with sse3 optimizations, though I believe the standard 64 bit version makes use of sse2 already. Someone with more knowledge can correct me if I’m wrong. There’s also other builds available. I personally just use the 64bit Blender from the Fedora repositories (on Fedora 64bit). I might try and compile blender myself one day, but it honestly runs fast enough for the time being.

Well probably not enough for the prize, but that’s not the my motivation for answering :wink:

@ Dan: Thanks for the info! I was not aware that XP 32bit would run on 64bit hardware, and thought that “choice of XP version” would affect “hardware purchased” which would affect “Linux version”. Those tips help me to see my options are more open than I realized . . . so you’re definitely in the running for the ‘prize’. :yes:


Yeh it’s rather the hardware that is 64bit. I think all dual cores are 64bit capable now (and some single cores, such as the AMD sempron 64s or athlon64s). So 32bit applications and OSes run fine on both 32bit and 64bit architectures. Of course, 64bit OSes and apps require 64bit hardware.

The compatibility problem only really rears its head when you want to run 32bit apps on a 64bit OS, though it is fairly easily done. I’m typing this from 32bit Firefox for example. There is a 64bit version of Firefox, but no 64bit version of flash. So for Youtube and other flash content, one needs to run 32bit Firefox. For Linux, you will find that almost all the major applications have 64bit native versions. Not the case with Windows XP 64bit AFAIK.

Anyway, nice to know I’m in the running :eyebrowlift:

If you really wanted to you could quadruple boot
Just what I was going to say. The only thing to watch out for is that you don’t chew up all your Primary Partitions with Linux’s swap partition - I use a single swap partition that all my Linuxes can see and use, no need to give them one each - the trick is to make the swap partition inside an extended partition. That way, you’ve still got 4 primary partitions - one for each OS to boot from.

Another alternative would be to use the Gag boot-manager. This little beast will allow you to boot up to 9 OSs on a single HDD. It does this by keeping a record of all the partitions you have and then changing the partition table at boot so that the one you’ve selected is one of the primary partitions. It’ll work with DOS, Linux, XP, OS/2 & ms V***a, and pretty much anything else you can think of to throw at it.:eyebrowlift:

It’s freeware and open source, so you can check it out/customize it at your discretion. It can be downloaded from here:

with a little more info here:

I’ve just picked up a server with 6 xeons that’ll take up to 8GB of memory:D, so I’ll be giving Gag a bash when time permits. Enjoy!


Well, if your going to do nine you might as well do 145.

But yeah, its probably best to try out which version of linux/windows you want to use. I would suggest Mac, but given the hardware you’ve posted, your not interested, and I don’t blame you (note that I did switch to a mac recently). Some of the macs I’ve used unfortunately don’t play well with sculpt mode, despite being more than qualified to do so. Not sure what the problem is.

Optimizations definitely help, and I’ve heard the blender is very fast on Gentoo when compiled with the actual kernel your using.

No compromising?

64bit capable OS, and you can pack that little guy with 4gig of ram. Keyboard does suck but its really not so bad.

XP x64 isn’t going to help you because there isn’t a windows x64 build out there - that I know of. (So I could be wrong)

Linux 64 is another way to go. But honestly - applications should be just happy with 32bit addressing… but thats just MHO.

@ Dan: Thanks for the additional info.

@ enhzflep: Thanks . . . I’ll definitely check into that.

@ forTe & MrRage: Yeah, I was real tempted by the Intel Mac (a whole other OS to throw into the mix!). But I recently tried Blender on my brother-in-law’s MacBook Pro. It has specs similar to my future system . . . but Sculpt mode wouldn’t even work (tried Blender 2.44 and even the recently released - but unannounced - 2.45). Besides, with the desired hardware the Mac’s out of my price range. :frowning:


I have xp 64.

As far as I know, using a 64 bit system is only worth it if you want to use more than 4 gigs of ram (say 8 or 16). Windows 32bits has a limit of 3,6GB ram/ (logical software)process (not processor)… if I remember correctly.

Not necessarily . . . see the Pros and cons section of this Wikipedia entry.

Windows 32bits has a limit of 3,6GB ram/ (logical software)process (not processor)… if I remember correctly.
That much is basically true. And since I won’t be getting more than 4GB, I may stick with XP 32bits for the added benefit of fewer compatibility issues.

With the “/3GB” switch, XP will be limited to 1GB for the OS leaving 3GB for processes. How much RAM does Linux generally use for the OS vs. what’s left for processes? And will 64bit Linux benefit me when only 4GB are installed?

Thanks again to all for the help!


Only prob with the macbooks 4gigs of ram is that it costs you $700 for the upgrade from 2gb to 4gb, which is really just a huge markup. Dell laptops were $350 I believe for the same upgrade.

Hey Cire, what size screen are you going for in your laptop, and which vendor will you be getting it from?

Planning on 17" (no less than 15", though). Most likely it will be a Dell, since I have a friend who gets about a 20% discount from them . . . but that arrangement may be limited to Latitudes, so I’m still not positive.


blender will noramly render much faster on Linux, and for some resen it will run more ploys in real-time without lagging

get the biggest you are comfortable carrying, moddaling on a small screen is very counter productive

So I’ve heard . . . trouble is, I haven’t actually seen this in my own tests (which explains question #2 in my first post).

Does anyone have any idea why this might be? In my tests I used Blender 2.43 with different flavors of Ubuntu on the 2nd machine listed in my signature.


ive just been using ubuntu feisty fawn+ the drivers in the repository, gforce go 7200, witch gets about 2* poly count over windows (around 150k polys vs 60/70k windows) without lagging to much. i have absolutely no idea why

If I may…Why do you want a notebook for this?

I’ve got an inexpensive desktop that rules for what 3D art but finding an equivalent laptop version would either kill my wallet or not avalible.

If you need portability might want to consider an inexpensive laptop and sync the rest of your funds into a desktop.

Iv’e got a 4gig, Q6600 rig with a single 24" LCD and GeForce 8800GTX. Costs less than a decent MacBook Pro and has at least 5x more power. A cut down version of this workstation with a 8800GTS and 21" LCD would cost about $500-800 less than my current work station.

I haven’t run the numbers but this rig can push a lot of polygons - close a million right now and probably even more when blends opengl pipeline gets re hulled.

Just a thought.

@ MrRage: Portability and cost are the issues. I can’t afford to upgrade/purchase anything right now (currently saving up for a month-long international trip). I also need high-end graphics capability at work, home and elsewhere (for ‘classroom’ training).

My employer is covering the bulk of the system’s cost, and I will probably throw in a little cash to get exactly what I want. I’ll be able to use it for work and personal projects, and after a year it’s all mine. :eyebrowlift:

So, you’re right. Generally a desktop would be the way to go . . . but not in this situation.


The dell is certainly nice, as for the memory: if you can buy and place it yourself at another place it’s usually waaaaaaayyyy cheaper than buying with a mac at an apple store…