If a laptop is in your future, a quick search will return billions of results in only a few seconds. The world of laptops has become highly specialized, and there are many different types of laptops available. The inspiration for this article came from my 12-year-old daughter, who has dreams of becoming an architect. It is important to get her a laptop that allows her to explore architecture and get her journey off to a good start. The result of these explorations is this list of the top 20 best laptops for architects and architecture students to help you narrow down your choices, too!
Here is a list of the 10 best laptops for architects. I will cover each laptop (and 10 additional laptops) in depth later in the article:
|#1||Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581|
|#2||Lenovo ThinkPad E595|
|#3||HP Pavilion 2020|
|#4||MSI GS66 Stealth 10SFS-032|
|#5||Dell XPS 380|
|#6||Acer Aspire 5|
|#7||Apple MacBook Pro 15″ Z0V10001W|
|#8||Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop|
|#10||DELL XPS 15 inch|
Table of Contents
Specs and Minimum Requirements
The first step in choosing the right laptop for architects is understanding the minimum requirements that the system needs. Laptops are now made with a certain audience in mind. The best laptop for podcasting will not be the best computer for architecture. Let’s take a look at what you should consider when choosing the best laptop to draw house plans.
Software and Rendering
Architects often use programs such as AutoCAD, Vectorworks, Autodesk, and ArchiCAD. These software programs require a lot of resources. When you make a change to the drawing, you have to render it, and this process can take some time. You do not want a slow computer that makes you wait for 30 minutes every time you make a change. Fast computers that are made for architectural applications can render a drawing in five minutes.
Laptops for architecture must be powerful enough for the job, but most people also need to consider their budget especially students. The difficulty is splitting the difference between a budget laptop and one that has enough power. Fortunately, there are many choices available that fall into the budget laptops category.
“As an architect who owns a small business, multi-tasking and the ability to simultaneously run multiple applications including BIM software, AutoCAD, Microsoft Office, cloud backup and sync applications, anti-virus/spam software and accounting software is key. A graphics card that allows the use of multiple monitors at a high speed of performance is plus.” – Emerson Jones, Architect, President and Owner of ArchPrecision Inc.
Size Counts: RAM and Storage
You need to make sure that you have enough storage space and RAM for architectural software. As a student, you might only need about an 8GB RAM, but when you become a professional, you will need at least a 16GB RAM. Getting something that will carry you though into your early days as a professional is probably a good choice if you can afford it.
Speed counts, too, and you will need at least a quad-core processor for rendering unless you render in the cloud. A 6-8 core high-performance processor is optimal. At least 4Ghz is recommended, but some acceptable choices have other technologies, such as a turbo boost, which can mimic a faster processor.
When it comes to storage, at least 256GB SSD is the recommended minimum size for students. When you become an architect, you will need at least 512GB. You might also opt for 256GB and a 1TB HDD storage. Some of the choices on this list have a base storage that you can upgrade later.
Another consideration when choosing the best computer for architectural drawing is the type of drive. Solid state drives (SSD) are typically considered the best for the heavy software programs that are required. Some architects and creatives choose gaming laptops for their fast processors and lightning-fast graphics, which also makes them the best laptop to draw house plans.
Graphics Card and Display
Getting the wrong graphics card or a slow graphics card, can create a poor experience, even if you have the most powerful computer available. If you have a graphics card that is too small, it does not matter how powerful your computer is, you will experience lag.
The same thing goes for your monitor and display. You need to be able to see the drawing in detail, so you need a picture that is crisp and clear. That is why an ultrawide monitor is an excellent investment for this type of work.
Mac vs. PC vs. Surface Book
One of the most common basic questions when choosing the best laptop for architects is whether to choose Mac, PC, or Surface Book. All of these choices have advantages and disadvantages. These choices in many versions, so the choice is more complicated than just Mac, PC, or Surface Book.
One thing to consider is that Macs changed drastically in the mid-2000s when they began using Intel processors. Macs have plenty of standard hardware that comes with them, such as an integrated high-performance graphics cards and built-in webcams. They also have integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
One of the disadvantages of a Mac is that you must use one type of dedicated port, a Thunderbolt 3. With a PC, you still have a wide selection of ports, including HDMI, an SD card slot, and a USB-A port. This makes PCs more compatible and able to integrate with other equipment. PCs also tend to come with more memory than Macs. However, Macs are known for their lightning-fast graphics speed and clarity.
When it comes to operating systems, Mac and PC have been getting closer to each other over time. Now, most software for architects has the cross-platform compatibility to work on both. Macs tend to be thinner and more lightweight, too.
Many people like the Surface Book Pro as their favorite for weighty software programs. The attractiveness of the Surface Book Pro is that you can remove the tablet from the keyboard for comfort and portability. The Surface Book Pro has additional ports, and there are rumors that they intend to add a Thunderbolt 3 port in the future. When it comes down to which laptop is the best laptop to draw house plans, 3D models, and other architectural work, these three are well-matched, and it is a matter of personal choice.
The Best Laptops for Architects
With so many choices, it can be difficult to decide which ones are the best laptops for architects. On this list, are a few of my favorites for both students and professionals in every price range. Let’s get started.
|CPU||Intel Core i7 9750H Quad Core Processor (9th Generation), 4.5GHz|
|Storage||1TB PCIe NVMe SSD|
Asus is known for its fast processors and stunning graphics capability. This one runs Windows 10 and has a fast Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card. It comes with a stylus that provides realistic drawing capabilities, which is nice for architects and other creatives.
Check out the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo UX581
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 5 3500U Quad-Core Processor, 2.10 GHz (up to 3.70 GHz)|
|Storage||256GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD|
This laptop is a top-pick for running resource-intensive software, such as Vectorworks or ArchiCAD. It has a large, fast cache, which makes it the best computer for architectural rendering. It features a superfast Nvidia Quadro graphics card, and the screen is high-resolution with a fast refresh rate.
Check out the Lenovo ThinkPad E595
|CPU||CPU: Intel Core i5-8265U, 1.6 GHz base frequency (up to 3.9 GHz)|
The HP Pavilion is the best for student architects for several reasons. It is affordable, with more than enough processing speed for AutoCAD, and you can easily upgrade it. HP is known for its stability and excellent customer support for its products.
Check out the HP Pavilion 2020
|CPU||Core i9-10980HK 2.4, 5.3GHz|
|Storage||1TB NVMe SSD|
The MSI Stealth is known as a gaming system, which means that it has excellent graphics processing capabilities. It is lightweight and has plenty of USB ports for your peripherals. This one would be excellent or for the student and the professional.
Check out the MSI GS66 Stealth 10SFS-032
5. Dell XPS 380
|CPU||Intel Core i7-8565U Processor (8th Generation), 4.6 GHz|
|Storage||256 GB SSD|
This one has a slightly smaller screen size than the other picks on the list, but it makes up for it in speed. It is lightweight, thin, and has an excellent battery life, which makes it good for working remotely. Dell is known for making systems that have the latest features, like a backlit keyboard and fingerprint reader.
Check out the Dell XPS 380
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 3 3200U, 2.6 GHz (up to 3.5 GHz)|
|Storage||128GB PCIe SSD + 500GB HDD|
The Acer Aspire 5 has plenty of ports, and it has an excellent battery life of up to 7 hours. It has more than enough processor speed for common architectural software. It is a lower-priced system, which is perfect for a student budget.
Check out the Acer Aspire 5
|CPU||Quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, 1.4GHz|
Mac’s claim to fame is its realistic graphics capabilities, which makes it the perfect laptop for architecture students. This one has ultrafast storage and up to 10 hours of battery life. One thing that stands out about this one is its accurate, high-quality trackpad.
Check out the Apple MacBook Pro 15″ Z0V10001W
|CPU||Intel Core i5-9300H Processor (9th Generation), up to 4.1 GHz|
|Storage||256GB PCIe NVMe SSD|
The Acer Nitro 5 has the extra perk of Alexa built into the system. This model is feature-rich with many perks, such as extra slots for upgrades and dual cooling fans. It is a gaming system, which means that it can serve dual purposes for student architects.
Check out the Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop
|CPU||Intel Core i7-8550U Quad-Core Processor (8th Generation), 1.8GHz (up to 4.0 GHz)|
Toshiba is a brand that has been in the business of creating systems that are reliable and durable since the early days of computers. This one is a perfect business system, and it is powerful enough to run software for architectural design. One of the things that stands out about this one is that it has a wide range of docking ports and fast, wireless response.
Check out the TOSHIBA Recra
10. DELL XPS 15 inch
|CPU||Intel Core i9-9980HK (9th Generation), 2.6GHz|
|Storage||1TB PCIe Solid State Drive|
Dell is a favorite for students and professionals. This one does not have all of the bells and whistles of the other Dell products on this list, but it has some excellent features and is an excellent, basic machine. This one has ultrafast wireless and cinema-quality graphics.
Check out the DELL XPS 15 inch
Want to get more done? Increase your productivity with an ultrawide monitor.
11. HP OMEN
|CPU||Intel Core i5-9300H Quad Core Processor (9th Generation), 2.40 GHz (Up to 4.1GHz)|
|Storage||128GB PCIe SSD Boot + 1TB 7200 RPM HDD|
What makes this HP stand out is its large cache. This is perfect for running large software packages, and it is also a top choice as the best computer for architecture rendering. It has a powerful graphics card, high-contrast screen colors, and is affordably priced.
Check out the HP OMEN
|CPU||Intel Core i3 processor (10th Generation), 3.2GHz with TurboBoost|
|Storage||256GB SSD, up to 2 TB|
Of the Mac products on this list, this one stands out as the best Apple laptop for architects, and it is comparable to the MacBook Pro. It is portable, has the best battery life of any on the list, and the 10th generation Intel Core i3 is impressive. This one has it all when it comes to speed, graphics processing capability, and plenty of extra features. The only issue is the small screen size, and that’s why an ultrawide monitor would come in handy.
Check out the Apple MacBook Air
|CPU||Intel Core i7-10750H, 2.6-5.0GHz|
|Storage||512GB NVMe SSD|
This is another MSI that architects need to explore. The base model is enough to run architectural software and to handle gaming, and it is expandable with additional memory slots. It has fast graphics and more than enough power for the student or professional who does not want to wait for rendering.
Check out the MSI GL65 Leopard 10SFK-062
14. Asus Vivobook
|CPU||Intel Core i3-1005G1 CPU (10th Generation), up to 3.4 GHz|
Asus made this list several times, and that is because they know how to build fast systems with excellent graphics capabilities. This one has a large cache, which is necessary for fast rendering. It has plenty of connections and ports, and it is compatible with the latest versions of Google Classroom and other browsers.
Check out the Asus Vivobook
|CPU||Intel Core i7-8750H Processor, 3.9GHZ with TurboBoost|
|Storage||128 GB SSD Boot + 1 TB 5400 RPM [SATA] HDD Storage|
This one is Dell’s version of a gaming laptop, which also makes it an excellent choice for doing any type of creative work. It has an excellent battery life, which means that you can work from anywhere. Overall, the fast processor and clear graphics make it one that had to make the list as a mid-price range option.
Check out the Dell G5587-7866BLK-PUS G5 15 5587 Gaming Laptop
|CPU||Intel Core i7-9750H 6-Core Processor (9th Generation), up to 4. 5 GHz|
|Storage||512GB PCIe NVMe SSD|
Acer specializes in systems for gaming and the need for fast graphics. This one makes the list for its fast display response time and superfast processor. If you are an Acer fan, this is another one that you need to take a look at for architectural design.
Check out the Acer Predator Helios 300
|CPU||Intel Core i7-9750H Processor, up to 4.5GHz|
|Storage||512GB + 512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD|
Yes, it is another Asus, and this one was specially designed for the creative professional. This one has a generous screen (17 inches!) for a lot of space to work, and it is fast. This powerful choice has accurate, Pantone-validated color, which is essential for making the final presentation of your plans.
Check out the ASUS ProArt StudioBook Pro 17
|CPU||10th Gen Laptop (Intel i7-10510U 4-Core), up to 4.90 GHz|
|Storage||1TB PCIe SSD + 1TB HDD|
The HP Envy – 17t (2020) is an excellent choice because of its screen size, computing power, and amazing storage. It is made for creatives and has accurate color rendition. This one has a fast processor, and you can pull up and save larger files quickly.
Check out the HP Envy – 17t (2020)
|CPU||Intel Core i5-7300HQ (7th Generation), 2.5GHz base|
The Dell Inspiron is certainly worth mentioning in the moderately-priced category of laptops for architects and students. It has a crisp, clear full HD display, a fast graphics card, and fast screen refresh time. Many people like this one for its anti-glare screen, and it is an excellent choice as the best computer for architecture rendering.
Check out the Dell Inspiron 15 7567 Laptop
|CPU||Intel Quad Core i7 Processor (8th Generation), 1.8GHz|
This one is by far the best Surface Book for architects. It is a robust system that has up to 13 hours of battery backup. It is a fast system with no lag, and it comes with a stylus.
Check out the Microsoft Surface Book 2
Now, you have an idea of the best laptops for architects. Any one of these would be an excellent choice. They are powerful and fast. As you can see, the best computers for architecture come in a wide range of prices, which means that both students and pros can find something that fits the budget.
You might notice that several brands made the list more than once. That is because many companies are choosing to focus on laptops specifically for creatives. For you, this means that you have plenty of excellent choices, so be sure to check them out if you want to delve into the world of architectural design, or have a budding architect in your own family!