Your laptop seems to be doing the crunching just fine, the way I read it - so spend your money on the following:
1) A good 24" screen (or 27-30" if you're rich). A GOOD 24" screen with VA-based or preferrably IPS-based technology. Currently, I'm recommending HP ZR24w for low-cost, and EIZO SX2762W for those who have the money.
2) Keyboard and mouse for your laptop.
3) NAS (Network Array Storage) of at least 2 TB, to be connected to your router at home, thus providing you with a reasonable and easily accessible data storage.
4) VAIO Docking Station. So you don't have to connect all the things (screen, keyboard, mouse, digitizer tablet etc.) every time you turn your laptop into a desktop.
As for graphics card; if you want the best for MAYA (and NOT for gaming), you should go with a NVidia QUADRO-series instead of the traditional GeForce (those are for gamers). The QUADRO have way better hardware accelleration for 3D applications such as MAYA, 3D Studio MAX etc...
As for memory; 8 GB is my recommended minimum. I'm working in 3D Studio MAX and Photoshop, and I can easily use every single byte of my 8 GB system. Hence, my next system will feature 16 GB as I'm tired of waiting for the @$£ swapping...
As for processor, the Intel i7 gives you the best overall price/performance ratio at the moment. I'm an old-timer fan of AMD, so this isn't some Intel-fanboy recommendation. Rather, I miss those days where AMD ruled supreme with their Athlon64 and Athlon X2's, forcing Intel to rebadge shitty architectured processors all the time (all the P4-generations, in short). Only when the Intel Core2Duo was launched, did Intel win the performance crown back from AMD. The P4's were a DISASTER for 3D-graphicians back then, but that's another story.
As for harddisk capacity; go with at least 2 TB. As soon as you make your first FullHD 3D-movie, you want to be able to render in frames, in PNG or BMP format, and also have a bump of each project in RAW, for editing purposes. Do that with a fx. 10 projects, and you'll see how fast your harddisk capacity is used up. Don't be cheap here; 2 TB is vastly cheaper than having to buy 2 pieces of 1 TB disks. My NAS at home features 4 TB, and I expect to double that capacity this year. I'm a photographer, musician and 3D animator - hence, my need for large storage options is pretty urgent. RAW photos from my fullframe 25 MPix cam are ~35 MB each, and each PSD-development reaches 300 MB in average. My musical projects are recorded in 24-bit 96 kHz, causing HUGE files - each around 25-30 MB, and each project features maybe 50 of those files. As for the 3D... well, I'm not doing that much 3D anymore to be honest, but I know how much space that stuff takes up...
IronsocksFeatured By OwnerFeb 27, 2012Hobbyist Digital Artist
I suggest you also consider AMD as well. They have a better power/cost ratio. You will get more for your buck but not necessarily the 'best' performance, but in this case, you don't need to spend all that money on a intel Chip-based system, and nor do you need to spend that much on power for what you say you'll be doing with it.
Not quite, for the money and power draw, AMD doesn't have anything that competes on the same level as the i7. FX8150 offers only marginal performance gain overall over an i5 2500/k while costing more/using more power(8150) while the i7 2600/k, tho costs more performs noticeably better overall in single and multi-threaded programs such as Maya.
Minus the graphics card the one you have looks fairly decent. But if you're going further (which doesn't seem nessesary) then take a look at anything with an i7 processor and some kind of decent up graphics card.
Apple doesn't have a desktop machine. They have a laptop without a keyboard, a mini-ITX box that uses mainly laptop hardware, a workstation, and actual laptop. They have nothing to compete with a standard desktop since none of their machines stick with strictly desktop-level hardware.