GPU isn't that important since it will only be used for geometry in the viewport. The CPU is important. Cache is going to help but you reall need high IPC and as many cores as possible (kind of like folding). Quadro might be better for more stable drivers and better CUDA support in case he'll use CAD siftware capable of GPU accelerations.
In short, get a CPU with as much and efficient threads as possible (Ivy 4/8 or Sandy 6/12) with highest clocks as possible and an entry level Quadro. SLI is pointless unless he games.
OK, so I do need to look at the i7 Extreme 3900 series CPU's. Or would you offer a suggestion? I actually discovered the same thing you just told me on the GPU. I'm snowed in so I've been researching this stuff. Any reccomendations would be greatly appreciated. Money is not really an issue, but at the same time I don't want to go overboard with excessive and unnecessary overkill. I'm waiting to see what his current machine has in it. It may be a simple matter of adding/replacing RAM or even just a thorough cleaning along with replacing the TIM due to excessive temps causing his shut downs. I haven't worked on a lot of laptops, but I find that the above are usually culprits when enexpected shut downs are an issue. I've replaced bad RAM sticks in two machines, along with cleaned them out and both times the owner's claimed they worked better and faster than when they were new.