Using a laptop for game-dev: 10 months later

Oct 20, 2021 at 05:30 am by nemirc

You may remember my article about the MAINGEAR laptop I bought last December. It has actually become my main system, mainly because I have been traveling a lot, and because I don’t like moving stuff back and forth between computers. I have to say that, while using a laptop as my main computer has its advantages, there are also some disadvantages.

Pretty much the main reason why someone chooses a laptop over a desktop is portability. Since I have been traveling, but I need to continue working, the portability of the laptop has been a big thing. On top of that, my MAINGEAR laptop is thin and very light, so I don’t need to struggle with a heavy laptop and all.

However, that portability comes with a cost. As I had mentioned in my original article, this laptop can get pretty hot. I use a cooling pad, but sometimes it seems it’s not enough. A few weeks ago, I was in a very hot room, no air conditioning, and the laptop kept throwing BSODs at me when things got really hot. I have to say I think the temperature was 50% the room and 50% dirt. I purchased a couple of compressed air cans and blew a lot of air through the computer vents. While I didn’t see lots of dust coming out, keeping the computer clean is definitely a good thing. I also cleaned the cooling pad, since it can blow dust into the computer.

Sometimes, when things get really hot, the surface of the laptop also gets hot, and that makes things a little bit more complicated when working. I think I need to get a new cooling pad, but that will have to wait a little bit, since better cooling pads are more expensive (between $50 to $80).

On desktop computers, specially if you have liquid cooling, that doesn’t (usually) happen because the system is kept cool.

Keep in mind using the laptop as my “main computer” means I run anything on it, be it Unity or UE4, Character Creator and iClone, Maya or Substance Designer. I don’t really hold back. Having said that, I am glad the computer hasn’t really had major issues.

Another issue to keep in mind is storage. This laptop has an 1TB SSD, which is good for starters, but unfortunately, I am beginning to run out of space. Right now, I only have 250 Gb free, and that will go down as I keep working on stuff, since a big chunk of that is projects (my projects folder is 250Gb, and that includes videogame projects, Maya projects and CC3 projects). You can always use an external drive, but mechanical hard drives connected to the USB port can be pretty slow. If I was using a desktop, I know I could just upgrade to a new drive but that’s usually not the case with a laptop.

Of course, there are SSD external drives. I really can’t speak of those because I have never used one, so I don’t know how fast the experience is, considering the transfer rate through USB.

 On the other hand, laptops use less electricity, and that’s good in case you want to save money. In this day and age where prices of different things are going up around the world, it’s a reality you need to save money so maybe a laptop can help with that.

I should clarify this is not a buyer’s remorse article. I am pretty happy with the laptop and the performance, but this is the first time I heavily rely on a laptop for work, and there were a few things I didn’t know about, or didn’t consider. If you’ve never had a laptop as your main system, but you are planning on getting one, this may be useful.

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