Planning to embark on a new career as an architect? Besides the knowledge you’ll need to gain in a college program, you are going to want a high end laptop to run the proper programs.
Computer Assisted Design (CAD) tools are extremely memory, CPU, and graphics-intensive. If you don’t want your renders to take hours, you need a certain degree of hardware specs right out of the box.
We’ve got you covered with a roundup of the five best laptops for architecture available in 2018, whether you are a new student or long time architect.
Picking The Best Laptop For Architecture
The ability to draft with CAD software is a critical skill for any architect, whether you are involved in landscape or building design.
All five of our contenders listed below meet or exceed the recommended requirements for nearly any CAD program.
With that issue out of the way, it’s time to decide what specific features you need. Do you plan to draw freestyle with a stylus, or do you prefer a traditional clamshell design without a touch screen?
In either case, we’ve found all the best architecture laptops to fit any budget for both students and professionals!
In A Hurry? Here’s The Winner From Hours Of Research
Lenovo ThinkPad P51
Why is it better?
In this year, there’s no question that the Lenovo ThinkPad P51 is the single best machine for architects. With a graphics card built for CAD software and absolutely monstrous specs, this model will be your absolute best pick.
It is a very expensive laptop, however! If you don’t have enough cash on hand for such a big investment, the ZBook 15u G5 will be your next best bet.
The Lineup At A Glance
The Contenders For Best Architecture Laptop
1. Microsoft Surface Pro 6 – For Students
Being on a budget isn’t fun, but what’s fun is Microsoft Surface Pro 6 laptop which combines power & versatility into a slim & lightweight design that isn’t only versatile but pretty much all-around laptop for a great price.
- Combined versatility with power
- All-day battery life
- Plenty of storage
- Increased connectivity
- It can get hot during heavy use
Key features & details
2. Lenovo ThinkPad P51 – Best Laptop For Autocad Architecture
Need to the absolute best of the best for architecture programs? This should be your pick, especially since it is future proofed against new CAD software updates down the line.
- Huge amount of storage space
- Very high end specs
- Graphics card specifically meant for CAD
- Very high price
- No touch screen display
Anything labeled as a “mobile workstation” will typically sport the specs necessary for running CAD programs.
If you want the absolute best currently available, that designation easily goes to the ThinkPad P51.
With an i7 processor and a whopping 64GB of RAM, you won’t have any problem running AutoCAD, SolidWorks, Fusion360, etc.
With 2TB of solid state drive space, you won’t be running out of storage capacity anytime soon, either.
Want to know the best part?
The Quadro M1200M graphics card is aimed directly at CAD programs, rather than gaming. It offers a significantly more stable experience for 3D engineering and architectural tools.
3. Dell Inspiron 15 7567 – Best Budget Laptop For Architecture
Need to save money but still get a portable computer capable of running CAD tools for school or work? This should be your best pick at an affordable price.
- Dedicated graphics card
- Solid state drive
- Heavier unit
- Less overall storage space
You can expect to spend above $700 to meet the minimum recommended specs, either as an architecture student or working in a professional firm.
What you are looking for in a budget pick is to still get a dedicated graphics card, but cut down on the other specs. You get a solid state drive here, but only 256GB of storage space.
Keep in mind that 8GB is the bare minimum for the vast majority of CAD programs and architectural tools.
Many developers for programs like Revit have already released their requirements for upcoming 2019 software updates and recommend 16GB instead.
To future proof your purchase, you may want to consider going with a more expensive model.
4. LG Gram – For Landscape
Working on larger projects require a screen that is suitable for landscape use, and LG Gram offers one of the best IPS display with the super-narrow bezel which helps architects focus on the most important things with precision. Other than being packed with powerful components, it’s very lightweight and thin.
- Ultra-lightweight design
- Long lasting battery life
- IPS display with ultra-slim bezel
- Powerful configuration
- Fingerprint ID
- Screen is shiny and reflects light
Key features & details
5. CUK ZBook 15u G5 – Best Laptop For Revit Architecture
Do you absolutely need to be up to speed with the latest version of Revit? This should be your top pick, as it will continue to run Autodesk well into the future.
- Perfect specs for Revit
- Lightweight model
- No touch screen
- High price
The Autodesk Revit support site was recently updated with minimum and recommended specs for 2019 software updates.
In short, your best bet is to go with 16GB of RAM and a 2GB dedicated graphics card.
You get both of those specs with the Zbook 15u, along with a specious solid state drive for storing project data.
While there’s a lot of power packed into this model, it manages to feature a very lightweight design.
If you frequently carry your design station between locations, like from a work site to the office, that’s a huge plus.
Want to save a little money, or prefer an even smaller and lighter laptop? This same model is available in a 14 inch model with a smaller solid state drive for several hundred dollars less.
Criteria used for evaluation
Size & Resolution
Other than a powerful configuration to run necessary software, we consider the size & resolution to be the most important factor when it comes down to laptops for architecture is size and resolution which will determine the way and level of efficiency the laptop will be used.
We usually don’t recommend going for larger laptops than 15” in case you don’t want to sacrifice the portability and versatility, but in the architecture case – you can go even for 17” laptop if you feel confident.
The larger the laptop’s size is, the better visibility it will offer, and in combination with a great screen – you will be able to get a great resolution too. We recommend going for laptops that can reach 4K resolution since it’s probably going to be useful at times – depending on the type of work you do and the software you use.
While any other profession might require sufficient connectivity, we believe architects and architecture students will need this the most. Other than being able to connect any device you need to your laptop, you’ll also need a laptop that will be able to handle any software you require, which often includes AutoCAD and others.
Being able to connect a very precise mouse, drawing tablet, establish the connectivity with a 3D printer, or connect any other gadget is very important.
We’d highly recommend you to shift your focus on connectivity rather than the size and design of a laptop. This will allow you to find a laptop that features a number of ports and will even include more than other laptops do.
Therefore, a laptop that features plenty of USB ports, HDMI port, card reader, DVD/RW drive, and even a few additional ports is something you should be looking for.
Since you’ll most of the time be working inside software, it’s no secret that architectural software requires a powerful performance since they highly depend on the processing power both CPU and GPU offers.
We highly recommend sticking with Intel processors due to their high processing power and reliability they offer, but opting-in for a high-end AMD processor isn’t a bad idea either. Having a dedicated graphics card inside a laptop will definitely add weight to it, but is highly crucial to have one to increase the processing power.
When you have taken care of the most important components for pure performance – pay attention to RAM and storage. You never want to run out of storage – so having an additional storage drive isn’t a bad idea either.
Lastly, you want to make sure that the operating system your new laptop will be running is as smooth as possible, is up to date and doesn’t cause any problems at all.
Getting a laptop with an average battery life might be a good idea for most people, but when you’re going to use your laptop for high-end processing tasks, you’ll want an adequate battery that can handle such type of work and still provide at least an average battery life.
You want to be able to work on a go wherever you go, even if it means meeting clients, taking your laptop to meetings, doing presentations, or simply studying. Having to carry charging cable and making sure you’re the closest person to the power outlet wherever you go definitely isn’t an ideal situation you want to be in.
Luckily, with the modern technology, you will be able to get a battery that will handle all the work you do and still make sure you don’t have to worry about the charger and power outlets anywhere you go.
Handling the heavy-processing work & tasks aren’t going to be a problem with a powerful laptop – but if you’re lacking memory, that could create some temporary but very bad problems if it happens in a bad time.
Therefore, looking for a laptop that comes with an SSD laptop is a must since that’s how you will get the smoothest and fastest performance for your operating system and all software you use. On the other hand, one of HDD’s with the highest RPM’s level will do well in case you’re on a budget.
But our best recommendation is to get a laptop that utilizes 2 separate SSD drives, or at least go for a laptop that has one SSD and you can always additionally add and use as many SSD drives as you require.
This way you will never run out of space, and yet you’ll have plenty of drives to save your projects, keep them safely secured and have no worries even if your operating system ever crashes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Architecture laptops require pretty powerful high-end laptops that offer a decent configuration.
The reason for that is because modeling software architecture often uses & require depends both on CPU and GPU processing power, and then additionally you’d want the laptop to be maxed out with RAM’s and storage so you never have to wait for a software to open.
AutoCAD software is one of the few software that is commonly used for architecture and it requires both powerful CPU & GPU processing power.
You’re looking at, at least 3+ GHz processor and a dedicated graphics card with at least 256 MB of dedicated memory space.
Also, TrueDisplay technology is recommended if you’re going to work in AutoCAD pretty often.
Touchscreen, unfortunately, doesn’t help a lot and isn’t recommended for specific tasks architecture requires. Touch screen differs from a screen to screen but in most cases, it can’t help much. What could help is a drawing board.
The hours of research prove drawing tablet to be better in 89% cases rather than a combination of a touchscreen display and pen.
Finding The Best Laptop For Architecture Software
Whether you are just starting your architecture journey as a brand new student or have worked for a big firm for years, you are going to need a reliable computer.
All five of our contenders listed above could easily work out as the best laptop for architecture to fit your needs.
Have you found any other models that are tailor made for architecture design? Sound off in the comments below and let us know what we missed!