My daughter is an animation student and I'm looking for a laptop for her to run maya on. Preferable one that has the least amount of issues, I read the requirements, but is there a specific manufacturer that Maya runs better with? What about the graphic card manufacuter, is one better than the other? and which ever manaufacturer it is should we just get the best model card available? there are better (more expenive) graphics than what's listed on certified list, but should I not get a better one if its not on the list?
Sorry for all the questions, this is not my area of expertice.
There's enough abstraction between the box and the design software that there will generally be little difference from one vendor to another. The differences will be in the specific hardware - processor model and speed, RAM, video card, and to a lesser extend hard drive type and size.
Generally speaking, when looking at hardware you should consider the three "P"s: price, power, and portability. You usually end up getting only two of those e.g. on a laptop you can get something that is cheap and portable but won't have much power; or you can get something that is portable and powerful but will be expensive. Specifically with laptops there will be upper limits on power as they aren't designed for long-term high performance use. In terms of visualization software this means they can be acceptable for learning design and modeling but are not very suited for rendering or day-to-day professional work.
If you are going to fly by the seat of your pants, expect friction burns.
Adopt. Adapt. Overcome. Or be overcome.
A good question will be halfway to a good answer.
except of my workstation I use laptop too. I have very good experinces with HP Elitebook (now HP Zbook). It is mobile workstation. Yes it is expansive but it is certifikated laptop for Maya. I work on it with Adobe production suite too and without problems. I have old model (Intel with Quadcore, Nivida 2700m, 8GB RAM) but it works very good. Ofcourse for rendering of animations in final resolution I use workstation.
i would recommend Dell Precision series laptops, with latest Quadro mobile graphics. i've been using laptops for daily professional work for 5+ years, they're just as functional as workstations so long as you buy the highend workstation class laptop (not a mainstream one). the workstation class laptops usually include a ProSupport contract which is great.
to be honest workstations don't offer that much more power than laptopts. sure you can get dual-cpu rigs etc, but that is a horribly cost inneficient way to get slightly more render power.
a highend laptop is fine for rendering complex imagery or basic animations, student or pro. its pretty much a pc workstation with the advantage of being mobile. once you get into rendering complex animations, ideally you get multiple nodes/PCs as a render farm, or use a remote render service.