Looking ahead to 2017: Workstation Laptops

I’ll be honest: I’m a tech head at heart. So the opportunity to buy new computer equipment is an exciting prospect. All the more so when it stands to vastly increase the efficiency of services on offer.

After working on small and micro budget feature films this past year I have come to appreciate the need for workstations that are both powerful and portable enough to be deployed on set. The catch is that at a certain point portable and powerful become mutually exclusive. Example:

Your phone is portable, but it’s not going to transcode 4k Arri raw footage.

Server farms are powerful but they’re not going to be wheeled onto location.

Laptops are good but they often fall far short of my requirements. But not always. After dismissing Apple’s latest Macbook Pro offerings for being too expensive for what they offer I looked at Scan’s 3XS systems.

3XS MVW-20 Thunderbolt 4K

The 15.6″ 3XS MVW-20 Thunderbolt 4K is my weapon of choice.

Big, heavy, and power hungry. The 3XS is a monster of a laptop that pushes the boundary

I mean the thing sucks up a maximum of 330W for crying out loud (MBP’s are rated for 85W). Which is both obscene and quite frankly… amazing. The reason why is because it houses desktop components, and not the power efficient weaker cousins found in most laptops.

SPECS AND OTHER NERDY STUFF

We’re talking an I7 6700K at 4 GHZ and a 8GB Nvidia 1070 graphics card (throttled down 5-10% but still the same card). I can’t know for sure until I purchase it in the new year but I fancy it’s chances at handling 4k raw workflows.

The downside is that prores (a mainstay of the media industry) encoding is not native to Windows. Thankfully workarounds exist in the form of Assimilate Scratch and FFMPEG encoding software. So don’t worry, every codec flavour will be supported.

Read More: What is ProRes and why is it important?

In addition to the raw power it also includes a UHD 4k screen (the quality of which is a little uncertain) and a thunderbolt 3 port. The latter is quite frankly… vital.

Being able to adjust my setup to each job is a big part of what I do, and the expandability offered by that little port allows me to do just that. So if you need LTO tape backups? No problem. 32TB of high-speed storage? Easy. 10bit capture and playback? That too can be offered in addition to everything just mentioned.

This little (or big as it weighs 3.4KG) laptop will prove to be an exciting new addition in the coming months.

So if you’ve got a production starting in 2017 just let me know your specific requirements and I’ll see what I can do for you.