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 2020, whether you are a new student or long time architect.
The Lineup At A Glance
Best Laptops For Architecture In 2020
Microsoft Surface Pro 6 – 2in1 Laptop For Architects
Microsoft Surface Pro 6 is a laptop that offers ultimate versatility that it looks like a tablet that can be used in 3 different modes.
Nevertheless, Microsoft managed very well to work with limited space by placing one of the most powerful components inside and still keeping it lightweight.
This laptop offers a long-lasting battery life that can last up to 13.5 hours, depending on the usage.
But what’s important is that you will never have to carry your charger around and look for power outlets, even if you’re doing heavy architecture work.
Even though this laptop might be enough for most architects, not every individual is the same and that’s why Microsoft enabled users to personalize Surface Pro 6 with a choice of additional accessories.
They have to be purchased separately, but they’re worth every dollar since they increase productivity and speed up the use of the laptop. We highly recommend users to opt-in for Microsoft Platinum Cover which increases the portability and security.
Hardware Specifications for Microsoft Surface Pro 6
CPU: Intel Core i5| Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 (i5)| RAM: 8GB RAM | Screen: 12.3-Inch 2736×1824 display| Storage: 128GB SSD| Operating System: Windows 10| Battery Life: up to 13.5 hours | Weight: 1.7 lbs
Lenovo P52s – Best Choice For Autocad Architecture
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 P52s.
With an i7 processor and a whopping 64GB of RAM, you won’t have any problem running AutoCAD, SolidWorks, Fusion360, etc.
With 1TB of solid-state drive space, you won’t be running out of storage capacity anytime soon, either.
The Quadro P500 graphics card is aimed directly at CAD programs, rather than gaming. It offers a significantly more stable experience for 3D engineering and architectural tools.
Hardware Specifications for Lenovo ThinkPad P52s
CPU: Intel Core i7 8550U| Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro P500| RAM: 32GB RAM | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD IPS display| Storage: 1TB SSD| Operating System: Windows 10| Battery Life: up to 8 hours | Weight battery life: 4.3 lbs
Dell Inspiron 15 – Best Budget Laptop
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 recommend 16Gb of RAM but if you want to start somewhere with your limited budget then this machine is the most viable choice.
Hardware Specifications for Dell Inspiron 15
CPU: Intel Core i5-7300HQ| Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti| RAM: 8GB RAM | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD IPS display| Storage: 256TB SSD| Operating System: Windows 10| Battery Life: up to 6 hours | Weight battery life: 6.61 lbs
LG Gram – For Landscape Architecture
LG Gram isn’t called gram for no reason. The reason LG named this laptop Gram is because of its lightweight design which still packs the most powerful components on the market a laptop can have.
It’s your ultimate workstation when you’re on a go, and it can even replace 60% of work stations architects use on a daily basis.
There is no better display for a landscape architecture work than super-narrow full HD IPS touchscreen display by LG.
Combine it with the powerful performance and long-lasting battery life – and you will never have to worry about anything else, other than your work or studying.
To keep your precious files secure, you won’t even have to use a password to log into LG Gram, yet instead, you’ll be able to use a fingerprint ID – just like you might use one on your smartphone.
In case your laptop even gets stolen, you’ll never leak any data, project information, or private information.
Of course, you can use a password and have double protection which might be even a better deal.
Hardware Specifications for LG Gram
CPU: Intel Core i7-8565U| Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620| RAM: 16GB RAM | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD IPS Touchscreen display| Storage: 256GB SSD| Operating System: Windows 10| Battery Life: up to 18 hours | Weight battery life: 2.5 lbs
HP ZBook G5 – Best Laptop For Revit Architecture
The Autodesk Revit support site was recently updated with minimum and recommended specs for 2020 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 G5, along with a spacious 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 worksite 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.
Hardware Specifications for HP ZBook G5
CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H| Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro P600| RAM: 16GB RAM | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD IPS Touchscreen display| Storage: 512GB SSD| Operating System: Windows 10| Battery Life: up to 18 hours | Weight battery life: 3.94 lbs
Lenovo Thinkpad P1 – All-around Workstation
If budget is not a problem then go for the best specs out there, In Lenovo P1 you can get powerful specs, great display, and long battery life.
The Lenovo P1 is packed with power in a very thin body, it comes with an Intel Core i7 and 16GB of RAM so multitasking and heavy tasks are not a problem. While the 256GB SSD ensures fast boot and storage for your files.
The NVIDIA Quadro T1000 graphics card ensures that any rendering task will go smoothly and faster at the same time.
Lenovo P1 is equipped with a 15.6-inch HD display to render visually stunning images any architect would want.
The machine is very portable so you can literally bring it anywhere with you.
Hardware Specifications for Lenovo Thinkpad P1
CPU: Intel Core i7-9750H| Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro T1000| RAM: 16GB RAM | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD display| Storage: 256GB SSD| Operating System: Windows 10| Battery Life: up to 5 hours | Weight battery life: 5.99 lbs
Acer Swift 3 – Cheapest Laptop for Architects
Want the best budget-friendly laptop that could suffice architectural software? Look no more, the Acer Swift 3 might be your best choice for this.
It’s cheaper than others but it comes with an IPS display, a dedicated GPU, and a powerful processor.
Acer Swift 3 is fitted with AMD Ryzen 7 processor and AMD Radeon RX 540 graphics to take on any rendering needs, the IPS display gives crisp image quality to ensure that as an architect you have every color right.
The 256GB SSD is big enough to store files, and it also ensures a fast boot for your laptop so you don’t have to wait. This machine is definitely worth every buck.
Hardware Specifications for Acer Swift 3
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 2700U| Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 540| RAM: 16GB RAM | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD IPS display| Storage: 256GB SSD| Operating System: Windows 10| Battery Life: up to 9 hours | Weight battery life: 4.63 lbs
Asus VivoBook S15 – Quick Key Function
This ultra-portable laptop is so powerful that it can run any architectural software yet very slim and lightweight.
The Asus VivoBook S15 comes with a 15.5-inch FHD display, which is great for visuals and entertainment.
Powered by Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB RAM, you won’t have trouble running that architectural software you may use. Backed by 512GB SSD to have a maximum storage efficiency and fast boot.
The Quick Key Function may come in handy as an architect, the screen pad comes with 5.65 touchscreens that could fit many apps and has been optimized to adapt tools for ultimate productivity.
So, if you need that Quick Key feature, this laptop is just perfect for you!
Hardware Specifications for Asus VivoBook S15
CPU: Intel Core i5-10210U| Graphics: Intel UHD graphics| RAM: 8GB RAM | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD NanoEdge bezel display| Storage: 512GB SSD| Operating System: Windows 10| Battery Life: up to 7 hours | Weight battery life: 3.97 lbs
HP Omen – Gaming & Architectural Use
HP Omen is a beast in terms of gaming and you can use this as a workstation as well, its powerful enough to be your all-around machine.
Boasting a Core i5-9300H and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 so you don’t really need to worry about anything, the specs are more than enough and the nice this is that it is below $1000 price tag.
It comes with an IPS display so visuals and color are pretty accurate, while the 128GB SSD ensures fast boot time, the 1TB HDD ensures you have big storage for your raw files and of course, games.
The backlit keyboard comes in handy while working in low light environments, fro someone who prefers working in the dark this is a good feature.
Hardware Specifications for HP Omen
CPU: Intel Core i5-9300H| Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650| RAM: 8GB RAM | Screen: 15.6-inch FHD NanoEdge bezel display| Storage: 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD| Operating System: Windows 10| Battery Life: up to 4 hours | Weight battery life: 5.34 lbs
Microsoft Surface Book 2 – Stylus For Drawing
If you opt to go for a laptop that has a stylus, the best choice is the Microsoft Surface 2. Why? This machine comes with powerful specs and specifically made for layouting and designing.
This portable machine is fitted with Intel Core i7 processor and NVIDIA GTX 1060 graphics card so it could run any architectural software you opt to use. While the 16GB RAM got your back in multitasking and even if you open applications simultaneously it won’t budge.
The stylus is handy for someone who uses design software and it has a detachable screen for more portability.
This sleek and lightweight 15-inch laptop comes with an external hub that supports HDMI and other peripherals if ever you need a bigger display.
Hardware Specifications for Microsoft Surface Book 2
CPU: Intel Core i7| Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060| RAM: 16GB RAM | Screen: 15-inch detachable display| Storage: 256GB SSD| Operating System: Windows 10| Battery Life: up to 7 hours | Weight battery life: 1 lbs
Picking The Best Laptops For Architecture In 2020
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!
High Hardware Requirements
Not any laptop will fit the needs of an architect and that’s something you have to keep in mind when choosing your next laptop for architecture work.
Architects work in various high-demanding visual software that has high hardware requirements.
Therefore, a laptop that combines a powerful processor and a graphics card is a must.
Also, you have to consider that all of the software and projects you’ll be working on require space, so investing in a large SSD is recommended.
For the optimal speed, investing in at least 8 GB of RAM is highly recommended, and we wouldn’t advise you to go lower than that.
Once you are sure that the hardware is good enough to suit your needs, you can then start looking into other aspects of the laptop.
Powerful Graphics Card
As we’ve mentioned earlier, architecture requires the use of high-demanding visual processing software such as AutoCAD.
Therefore, an AMD or NVIDIA graphics card with at least 2 GB of integrated RAM is required.
Once you ensure that your graphics card will be able to handle all of your demanding & processing tasks & work, you should also look into the cooling and fan placement to ensure optimal working temperature.
Some architects might do well with a touchscreen display – but it’s not highly recommended to settle down with a touchscreen display unless you really have to.
Instead, you should shift your focus on the quality of the display. We highly recommend looking out for high-resolution displays, at least 2K displays, ideally 4K displays that are based either on IPS, OLED or AMOLED display types. LCD displays might not offer the quality up to the expectations of an architect.
Size & Resolution
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” laptops 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.
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.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
How powerful does a laptop for architecture needs to be?
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.
Does AutoCAD software uses more CPU or GPU?
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.
Is touch screen ability helpful for architecture students?
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.
Is Mac Good For Architects?
Macs are powerful laptops but most architectural software doesn’t have Mac version so it’s better to opt for Windows-based laptops. While other software runs on Mac majority of architectural software only supported in Windows OS so switching jobs between Mac and Windows laptops are a hassle.
How Much RAM Do I Need For Architecture?
The minimum RAM required for Architecture is at least 8GB and for more power, you can opt for 16GB or higher. Though 8GB will suffice and will be enough, it is in your best interest if you want to future proof your RAM power in case you intend to use your next machine much longer.
Are Gaming Laptops Good For Architecture?
gaming laptops are fitted with powerful and dedicated GPUs so gaming laptop is good for architecture. They also come with IPS display and higher frame rates so it is a great choice for architects since mostly they do some visuals on their work.
Over To You
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 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!