In the past, the only software available to them was AutoCAD. However, with advancement in technology, that has changed significantly. Architects now have more powerful software to work with including Rhino, 3ds Max and Revit. Inasmuch as these powerful tools helps them to better solve design problems, it also makes choosing the right laptop more problematic.
The best laptops for architects today need to find the balance between aesthetics, mobility, and power. Finding the right fit is increasingly becoming difficult—especially for architect students. Finding a good laptop at the right price is an additional hurdle architectural students need to overcome. We browsed through a number of reviews and tested a few products ourselves. We are happy to come up with a list of the best laptop for architects that you can trust.
Review of the Best Laptops for Architects
In reality, more power often means more price. However, not every architect need a thousand dollar laptop. There are a few affordable laptops that can handle day-to-day architectural designs. The best laptops for architecture students don’t necessarily have to be overpriced. However, this does not mean that you are free to go for any cheap product. Take a look at our list and find the laptop that fits into your budget and architectural level.
MacBook Pro – Best overall
MacBook Pro has become increasingly popular among architects, except those that use Revit which is not compatible with Mac OS. The latest 16” model has a few improvements that makes it more powerful than its predecessors. Apart from the obvious bigger screen, it runs on the powerful Intel Core i9 with 8 cores and a speed of up to 5 GHz. You can expand the RAM up to 64GB.
The graphics GPU is the AMD Radeon Pro 5000M series which is just as powerful as NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti. You also have the option of 8GB video RAM which can make your rendering up the graphics to 80% faster. The Retina display delivers deep dark and bright whites that help to highlight your work in the best possible way.
The Magic Keyboard makes use of scissor mechanism with 1mm travel which improves responsiveness, comfort and ensures a quieter working experience. With the Touch Bar you can customize powerful shortcuts that will enhance your working speed too. MacBook Pro allows you to work for longer hours when on the field with a battery life of up to 11 hours. Nevertheless, the large weight (4.3 pounds) and price greatly limits how easily you can carry it around as well as who can afford it. Take out these limitations and you have one of the best laptops for architects
- Powerful high-speed processor
- Large storage space and virtual memory
- Retina display which is 2x the resolution of FHD
- Portable aesthetically appealing design
- Touch Bar allows shortcut customization
- High price tag
- Not compatible with Revit
- Large weight may limit frequency of use
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 – Best touchscreen computer for interior design
For architects that fancy touchscreen laptops, Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 should be on the top of your priority lists—and the reason goes beyond the touchscreen. On the outside the laptop looks sleek with a weight of just 3.4 pounds. However, beneath the fancy body lies the powerful AMD Ryzen 7 Microsoft Surface Edition processor which is the fastest you will get in the 15” class.
To complement the portable design and give you the flexibility of working on the field, this laptop comes with a battery that can last up to 11.5 hours. In terms of memory you get to choose between up to 32GB RAM and 1TB SSD. It comes with the AMD Radeon Vega 9 Graphics Microsoft Surface Edition. This offers 15% more GPU performance as well as 10% more processor performance when compared with other AMD mobile processors.
Unfortunately you won’t get Full HD display with the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3. However, it makes up for this with a PixelSense display and omnisonic speakers that are discreetly concealed beneath the keyboard. Also, the price tag can be overwhelming for those on a slim budget. The entire features offered by this laptop makes it the best computer for interior design.
- Keyboard and touchscreen input
- Up to 11.5 hours of battery life
- Large RAM and storage space
- PixelSense display and omnisonic speakers
- Pricey for budget buyers
- Slightly heavy
- Display is not Full HD
Dell Inspiron G5 – Best under $1,000 laptop for technical professionals
With just $1,000 budget, you can get the Dell Inspiron G5. This laptop comes with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with 4GB video memory which offers incredible processing power for your daily architectural needs. The processor is the 8th generation Intel Core i7 with 6 cores and a speed of up to 3.9 GHz. The full keyboard is designed for precision with multiple layers of reinforcement, backlight, and 1.4mm keystrokes.
There are so many other features that comes with the laptop which you will definitely enjoy. One of them is the presence of 128GB SSD and 1 TB HDD. The solid state drive is many times faster than the SATA drive. Therefore, a wise step to take here is to install your architectural software on the SSD while keeping every other thing on the HDD. Following this simple trick will significantly improve your performance.
In terms of display, Dell Inspiron G5 offer IPS FHD display. Whenever the need for bigger and better clarity arises, you can use the HDMI 2.0 port to project it to a 4K output. One of the major drawbacks of this laptop is the huge weight of up to 6.28 pounds. This is definitely not a weight you will like to carry with you every single day. However, it is still one of the best at $1,000 budget.
- Comes with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
- Dual storage (SSD and HDD)
- Precision keyboard with multiple layers of reinforcement
- Newer processor with high speed
- Extreme weight limits flexible use
- Slightly expensive
Asus S5 – Best laptop for architecture
The NVIDIA GeForce 150MX graphics card with 2GB dedicated memory may not be as powerful as that of the Dell Inspiron G5 but it still has enough power to run your favorite architecture software—whichever that may be. Thanks to the inclusion of 8th generation Intel Core i7 with a speed of up to 4.0 GHz, this laptop can handle day-to-day architectural tasks without freezing.
Asus S5 offers Full HD Wide View display. However, with the HDMI output, you can expand your viewing option whenever it becomes necessary. Like most of the mid-range laptops, Asus S5 offers dual 256GB SSD and 1TB HDD storage. Installing your architectural software on the SSD can make it to run considerably faster. Working on this laptop is also very flexible, thanks to the ergonomic backlit keyboard.
Asus S5 makes use of a fast-charge technology that gives you 60% capacity in just 49 minutes. This comes handy when you are in haste. It is only slightly heavy at 3.7 pounds and definitely one of the best architecture laptop for those on a mid-range budget.
- Comes with NVIDIA GeForce 150MX graphics
- Boasts of hybrid 256GB SSD and 1TB HDD storage
- Up to 60% battery life in 49 minutes
- High processor speed
- Many reviewers complain about durability
- Pricey for budget buyers
- Slightly heavy
LG Gram – Best lightweight
Imaginations of architects sometimes flow better when they are on the field. Features like size, weight, and battery life are vital in this regards. LG Gram laptop ticks all these boxes in a way that no other laptop will. The think, sleek, and portable design will grab your attention. However, its ultra-lightweight (2.2 pounds) will make you to fall in love with it. Combine this with a battery that can last up to 23.5 hours and you have the best lightweight laptop for architects.
The pair of a backlit keyboard and a touchpad that supports up to four-finger gestures allow you to complete your tasks faster irrespective of the quality of light of your environment. LG Gram runs on the 8th generation Intel Core i5 and offer a Full HD IPS display that support a broad color gamut. This delivers a lifelike picture quality that give enormous clarity to your design.
This laptop was built using premium Nano carbon magnesium which is than the shell of regular laptops. The combination of tough material and lightweight allows the LG Gram to tolerate impacts and falls better. This laptop makes use of Intel HD Graphics 620. Therefore, it is likely that powerful architectural software will run with lags.
- Extremely lightweight
- Up to 23.5 hours of battery life
- Premium Nano carbon magnesium full body
- Built-in DTS Headphone: X processing with 11.1 audio channels
- Pricey for budget buyers
- Processor speed is disappointing
- Advanced architecture software may run with lags
Lenovo ThinkPad P71 – Best mobile workstation
There are lots of mobile workstations out there but only a few can stand side-by-side with the Lenovo ThinkPad P71. It comes with the 7th generation Intel Core i7 with a speed of up to 3.8 GHz plus NVIDIA Quadro M620M which has 2GB dedicated video RAM. Inasmuch as these may not be the latest in the series but it is enough to run all the latest architecture software without a hitch.
This product gives you the option of choosing between 8GB + 1TB HDD + 512 SSD and 64GB RAM + 4TB SSD. The choice you make will affect the price. When it comes to display, you will get Full HD Matte IPS display. Other important features worth mentioning here which will affect your performance are the ThinkPad Precision Backlit Keyboard with NumberPad and Fingerprint reader.
Lenovo ThinkPad P71 has 2 integrated speakers and microphones which may come handy if you other plans for your laptop. Also, it has an expansion slot that makes it easy to upgrade your memory. The battery life is just about 6 hours which is not really impressive. However, the major obstacle with this laptop is dealing with its massive 7.3 pounds weight. You will probably be condemned to work only in your home.
- Comes with NVIDIA Quadro M620M
- Large memory options to choose from
- ThinkPad Precision Backlit Keyboard with NumberPad
- Integrated dual speakers and microphones
- Expansion slots
- Fingerprint reader
- Extremely heavy
- Graphics card is fairly average
Lenovo Flex 14 – Best laptop for architecture students
One thing is clear, the best laptop for architecture students must be flexible. Lenovo Flex is a 2-in-1 convertible laptop that architecture students can trust for a number of reasons. Firstly, the battery life is up to 8 hours with a rapid charge technology that gives you up to 80% in just one hour. Secondly, it weighs 3.52 pounds which is a fair weight for students to carry around in their backpack.
It runs on the powerful AMD Ryzen R5 while the graphics card is the Radeon Vega 8 Graphics. Which lets you render at an incredible speed. Thanks to the accompanying Active Pen, you can write or draw directly on the screen. For some students, this makes it easier for them to express what they have in mind before attempting to model it with an architecture software.
Lenovo Flex 14 can be used in 4 different modes which lets you to choose the form that is most comfortable for you. Another convenient feature of this laptop is the TrueBlock privacy shutter which physically closes your webcam. For a student, a budget of about $700 is not a tall order, right?
- Convertible 2-in-1 laptop
- Up to 80% of battery life in under 1 hour
- TrueBlock privacy shutter
- Four different modes
- Weight is average
- Battery life could be better
Acer Aspire 5 – Best budget
Not everyone has half of a $1,000 budget and we are aware of this. This is the reason why we found a budget-friendly laptop that can still handle architecture software with relative ease. Acer Aspire 5 comes with the AMD Ryzen 3 with a speed of up to 3.5 GHz. The 128GB SSD storage may be potentially insufficient but the inclusion of SSD rather than HDD will help your software to run faster.
Acer Aspire 5 offers Full HD Widescreen LED backlit IPS display. The graphics card is the Radeon Vega 3 Mobile Graphics. Although not as powerful as newer versions, you should be able to render videos and complete certain modelling tasks. It weighs 3.97 pounds with a battery life of up to 7.5 hours. For those architects that like to work on the go, these are fairly great specs.
Other features that may not be particularly useful for architectural work but which are relevant to your overall computing experience include 802.11ac Wi-Fi featuring 2×2 MIMO technology, HD webcam, True Harmony Technology, dual built-in stereo speakers, and Acer Purified Voice Technology with dual built-in microphones. Acer Aspire 5 clearly shows that budget-friendly doesn’t always mean inferior.
- Highly affordable
- Acer Purified Voice Technology with dual built-in microphones
- Comes with 802.11ac Wi-Fi featuring 2×2 MIMO technology
- HD webcam
- Storage space is potentially insufficient
- Slightly heavy
- Battery life can be better
Asus ZenBook 15 – Best laptop for creative
The innovative ScreenPad 2.0 that replaces the trackpad makes the Asus ZenBook 15 a winner for creatives. App Switcher allows you to move your docked windows between the main screen and the ScreenPad display. Interestingly, Asus is working with third party developers to further optimize the ScreenPad for different apps. Capping up a stunning display is a Full HD 4-way NanoEdge bezel.
When you choose Asus ZenBook 15, you will be working with the 10th generation Intel Core i7 which has a speed of up to 4.9 GHz. the graphics card here is the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q which brings your rendering and modelling to life in no time. Another feature creative will appreciate in this laptop is the large 1TB SSD. With ample space, you can let your creativity run wild and save all the pieces for later comparison.
It has a built-in IR camera for facial recognition. You can also use it to log in with Windows Hello rather than typing your password. Your typing experience will feel more comfortable, thanks to the ErgoLift hinge. Asus ZenBook 15 weighs 3.64 pounds which is fairly light enough to fit into your backpack. However, all these incredible features come at a huge price—but it is totally worth it.
- ScreenPad 2.0 replaces trackpad
- Comes with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
- Large 1TB SSD storage space
- Built-in IR camera for facial recognition
- ErgoLift hinge for more comfortable typing experience
- Pricey for budget buyers
- Weight is average
HP ZBook 15 G5 – Best laptop for chief architect
One of the best laptops that is befitting for a chief architect is the HP ZBook 15—and it’s not a joke. The price alone makes it clear that it is not for everyone. This workstation maxes most of the specs that an architect would be looking for. It runs on the 8th generation Intel Core i9 with a speed of up to 4.8 GHz and 6 cores. It uses the NVIDIA Quadro P1000 graphics card with a 4GB video RAM.
In terms of storage, you have a massive 2TB SSD plus 2TB HDD to work with. The Full HD anti-glare IPS display with ambient light sensor is impressive too. It has an integrated color calibration system and high Adobe RGB scores that will bring out the accurate colors of your models, just the way you have it in mind. HP ZBook has military-grade chassis which should withstand all the environmental elements.
As a chief architect, people will likely want to snoop around your computer. Thankfully, the fingerprint reader of the HP ZBook protects you with a biometric security layer. Apart from the huge price, other features of this laptop that may be a turn off are the large bezels above and below the screen as well as the large 6 pounds weight. However, if speed, efficiency, and durability are your top priority, HP ZBook will deliver.
- Comes with one of the latest processors
- Massive storage space
- Uses the NVIDIA Quadro P1000 graphics card
- Biometric security
- Full HD display with built-in color calibration
- Extremely expensive
- Large weight may affect use
- Bezels are eyesore
Buying Guide for the Best Laptops for Architects
The experience architects dread is waiting for an hour or more for a simple model to render. Sadly, that same model on a more powerful laptop may take just a few minutes. To avoid this ugly experience, there are key features you need to pay attention to when you are ready to make your purchase. They are as follows:
The best laptop for architecture students should have at least Intel Core i5 or its AMD equivalent. The reason is simply because you will be running very powerful modeling and CAD software. With Intel Core i5 or higher, you can be sure to avoid some foreseeable hassles.
Core architecture software like 3ds Max, Ehino, Revit, or ArchiCAD are graphics card intensive. You need a good graphics card with at least 2GB dedicated GPU for smooth processing of your model. Two graphics card that you can trust are Radeon and NVIDIA.
Architecture software will use up a huge chunk of your RAM. The last thing you will want is for programs to automatically shut down because you are out of RAM. For a smooth multitasking experience, you need at least 8GB RAM. However, always aim for higher.
Screen Size and Resolution
A laptop with a screen size ranging from 14 to 17 inches should give you enough viewing space to see all your details clearly. However, if you are mobile, a 17” laptop may feel too bulky for you to carry around. A Full HD resolution should be enough but 4K display will likely prepare you for whatever that will come in the future.
Files generated from modeling usually require significant space. Thus, you need a laptop with a reasonable storage space. We would recommend a minimum of 256GB. Also, you have to choose between SSD and HDD. The former is faster and more reliable but also more expensive. Thankfully, there are a few laptops that combine the two. When using such laptops, ensure you install your software on the SSD.
Architects on the move need a laptop that will not weigh them down. Laptops that are less than 3 pounds are considered lightweight. However, for most of the powerful laptops with dedicated graphics card, you will notice that their weight often go over 4 pounds.
The growing number of manufactures is significantly driving down the cost of laptops. Whatever your budget may be, you are bound to find a laptop within your range. We tried to capture this price diversity on our list. However, it is good to keep your expectations moderate when dealing with budget laptops.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Which laptop is good for architects?
Architects need a laptop with powerful graphics card and processor to handle CPU intensive architecture software. We have a curated list of laptops that can play this role.
- Is gaming laptop good for architects?
Gaming laptops come with dedicated graphics card (usually NVIDIA GeForce) which makes them suitable for running architectural applications.
- Is Alienware good for architecture?
Architects need a laptop with a decent screen size as well as a GPU with at least 2GB of dedicated memory. The specs of Alienware is many times above this minimum which makes it suitable for architecture.
- How much RAM do I need for architecture?
You will likely be running more than one program at a time. For this reason, you need at least 8GB RAM. However, you will likely get better experience with 16GB RAM.
- Which laptop is best for architects?
The best laptop will depend on a number of factors including the size of the RAM and storage space, the GPU, as well as the processor. From our list we would strongly recommend MacBook Pro for Mac OS users and HP ZBook for Windows users.
An architecture students may not need a very powerful laptop simply because they may be too expensive for them to afford. However, there are quite a few budget laptops that will offer them similar benefits like the high-end architectural laptops. Ideally, the three key features you should pay attention to are the RAM, the processor and the GPU. However, for architecture professionals who use more advanced tools, ticking all the boxes is very important. We know you may wish for us to single one out for you but this is the farthest we can go. The choice is now left for you to make.