What is crucial in a architecture laptop?

architecture-notebookAs an architecture professional or a student, you can use a variety of software packages. Most probably, you’ll be working with Autodesk software suite. It includes well-established applications as AutoCAD Architecture and Revit. There are a few other Building Information Modeling (BIM) programs that you might be using in your company, as ArchiCAD or Vectorworks. But for simplicity’s sake, I’ll focus on Autodesk package as its best known. And anyways, a laptop that works well with these programs is just as good for other BIM packages.

In the 2nd part of this guide, I’ll give 6 best laptops for architecture and why I picked them.


The key to the best laptop for architecture is hardware performance. Everything else is just icing on the cake. If the applications you depend on can’t run smoothly – there’s no point in trying to spend money on other aspects of a laptop. Of course, an expensive powerhouse is not always necessary – in many cases, especially for students, even a mid-range machine can do the trick.

Major Core i7 Processor

The processor is the core of any performance-driven computer. In the past few CPU generations, Intel has expanded its mobile i7 series. Now it includes some processors that in my opinion are closer to other i5s that to their top-of-the-line i7 models. At the end, it means, that unless you’re getting an i7 CPU (or the very best i5 chips) – you’ll be limited in your workflow.

So here are the EXACT models I would insist on when seeking for the best laptops for architecture:

So here are the EXACT models I would insist on when seeking for the best laptops for architecture:

  • [$700-$900] Best i5s: i5-7300HQ, i7-7700HQ
  • [$700-$1200] i7 U-series (for better battery life): i5-7200U, i7-6500U, i7-7500U
  • [$900-$3000+]i7 HQ/HK series (for best performance): i7-6700HQ, i5-7300HQ, i7-7700HQ, i7-7820HK

Major 16GB of RAM

Memory is important for multitasking and for working with large projects. 90% of the time, 8GB is enough for architecture software IF you’re not running many other applications in the background. But when you have other applications running or when you’re working on a large project for hours – having only 8GB will take a toll on overall performance.

Why you should get 16 GB

First, you laptop will start being more liberal with its memory, which is a good thing. You see, when a computer has 8GB, it will be more aggressive when throwing away not-recently-used applications out of its memory. And sometimes, “not-recently-used” can mean just a few minutes. That results in lag when switching between multiple applications or even multiple files/projects in the same app.

But when you have 16GB or more – memory manager will keep everything you’re working on in your super -fast memory instead of throwing it away or moving it to a slower disk storage. That’s why even if right now your 8GB PC is actively using 6-7 GB, if you’d add extra 8GB, it would report using 9-11 GB for the same apps! But this time, it could switch between these tasks that much quicker. And it’s not about the time required to switch – it’s about keeping yourself in a lag-free environment which results in a productive flow-like state.

And second, there are almost no reasons NOT to get more memory. It is very light, it consumes very little power (DDRxL) and it is DIRT-CHEAP. Sometimes you might see a surprisingly steep price difference between 8GB and 16GB (and 24/32 GB) variations of the same laptop. Almost always it’s just a basic attempt by manufacturers to get a 2x-4x return on a basic upgrade. But if you’re getting a large 15″ or 17″ laptop, you can get easily buy additional memory sticks and upgrade it yourself or ask a professional/tech-savvy friend to do it. Smaller laptops are not as forgiving when it comes to upgrades – even basic upgrades might be against their warranty or the memory might simply be non-upgradable.

Minor Storage

Storage size

The requirement for storage is very simple – 500GB or more. Depending on your budget limits, there are a few different ways to reach this amount of storage. But at the end of the day, it should be reached in one way or another.

Storage type

As always, SSDs are preferred to HDDs. The reasons are good and plenty: unmatched speeds, durability, lower power consumption, easier maintenance (HDDs require defragmentation) and superior resistance to external damage.

If you haven’t had a laptop with an SSD, it is the single best upgrade you could do to improve your day-to-day experience when using a laptop.

But as an architect, you do not necessarily need to get an SSD, especially if you’re looking for a laptop at $900 or under. That’s because SSDs primarily speed up your startup times and general initial setup: opening AutoCAD/Revit, all of your projects, web browser and other software (Revit & AutoCAD sometimes take a solid minute to load). But once everything is loaded in the memory – you’re good to go even if you don’t have the fastest storage drive.

Combining storage types

Since you do not absolutely need to get an SSD, there are 4 ways how to reach your storage size target:

  • [cheap] HDD only: cheap, a lot of storage (500GB – 2000GB)
  • 250GB SSD & HDD: is often found with laptops at $1000 mark and above. It is based on the idea of keeping the most performance-sensitive files on the fast SSD. That includes Windows, your architecture software suites, and your (recent) project files. HDD is then used for everything else.
  • 500GB SSD: this setup is similarly priced as the 250GB SSD + HDD setup. It allows keeping ALL your projects and other resources on the super fast SSD. But it might demand a “cleaning session” once you approach the 500GB mark.
  • 500GB+ SSD & HDD: one of the best setups if you’re going for a 15-inch or 17-inch laptop as these have multiple storage slots. Laptops with multiple drives cost at least $1100.
  • (multiple) large SSDs: the best storage setup you could ask for. Unfortunately, there are very few laptops on the market that come with 1000GB and only a few upgraded models come with 2000 GB in SSDs. This excess storage allows setting up backups or enthusiast-level performance through RAID0 setup. This is entirely optional even for high-level architecture professionals with deep pockets.

I have not covered the hybrid hard drives as they’re fading out from the laptop market. Performance differences between SATA and PCIe interfaces are also irrelevant for architecture.

Major Graphics

A graphics card is important for Autocad, Revit and 3D software in general. And there are 3 options depending on your needs and the amount of money you can spare.

Integrated chips

The cheapest option is to go for an integrated graphics chip. These modules come by default with every laptop as they’re inside the processor. That means some flavor of Intel HD Graphics which are as basic as modern graphics chips get. I advise avoiding laptops that have only integrated graphics unless you’re on a tight budget (under $750). If you cannot go above that – at least get a 6th or 7th generation Intel Core processor. These have slightly better graphics than the older CPUs.

There are some decent integrated chips released in Intel Iris (Pro) line. But these come in a lot more expensive notebooks which have dedicated video modules anyways.

Nvidia GeForce

This is the option I would recommend for most. Nvidia GeForce is a consumer-graded line of GPUs and it can offer enough muscle to drive even the most visually intense applications.

Anything below GTX 950M is barely faster than the free integrated options. Starting with 950M, everything else is very predictable – 960M is better and most often found in laptops starting at $800. Now it is possible to get 1050M at a reasonable price of ~900$, so saving up 100$ can be a great long-term investment in terms of performance.

Nvidia Quadro/AMD FirePro

Quadro and FirePro are known as professional and CAD-certified cards due to their optimized drivers which offer better graphics stability (read as “fewer crashes”), superior OpenGL performance, which is important for some 3D modeling applications, especially when rendering the final versions of your work.

Due to their limited benefits and steep pricing, I would deem these cards unnecessary for most architects and nearly all architecture students. Nevertheless, if you want the absolute best laptop for architecture, Quadro/FirePro cards are the way to go.

In short:

Price range Expected graphics solution
under $800 Intel HD Graphics / Iris Pro
under $1200 Nvidia GTX 1050M
under $1500 Nvidia GTX 1060M
$1500 and above Nvidia GTX 1080M or Nvidia Quadro or AMD FirePro cards

Under $800 – go for a 7th-generation Intel Core processor which has a decent integrated video module. Under $2000 – go for Nvidia GTX 1060/1080

Great additions

What would be nice-to-have?

Optional Good display

A good display could be split into 4 key criteria.


Resolution describes how many pixels are on the screen. In theory, you should prefer getting a higher resolution display to a lower one but due to some awkwardly scaled interfaces in some software for architects, even a Full HD (1920×1080) resolution is fine.

Panel type

In its basic form, panel type identifies a way the sub-pixel array is formed and arranged. The best-known panel type is IPS. On average, IPS panels have better contrast and a lot better viewing angles. That way, the colors are not shifted when looking from a side or from above. It is usually found in premium laptops.


A bright screen is crucial when working outside or near a window on a sunny day. Sadly, this metric is rarely mentioned in laptop spec sheets. But in the recommendation section of this guide, I’ll identify which laptops have good brightness and which do not so you can judge whether they’re right for you. Usually, this type of metric is measured only by 3rd party reviewers with proper tools.

Color accuracy

Good color representation helps out to be certain that your clients are actually seeing the same colors as you’re. Of course, it also depends on the screen they’re viewing it on, but knowing that at least you got your vision right is helpful. This metric is also only found in extensive laptop reviews.

Basic screen metrics guidelines
Satisfactory Great
Resolution 1920×1080 3200×1800
Brightness (avg.) 260 nits 330 nits
Contrast 800:1 1200:1
Adobe sRGB 80% 95%

Best laptops for architecture

MSI GL72 7QF-1057

Best cheap laptop for architecture
i7-7700HQ | 960M | 8GB RAM | 1000 GB HDD | 1920×1080 | 2h

By far the best option if you want a cheap laptop for architecture. It comes with a decent GPU for rendering 3D Models, however its performance is getting very close to recent Intel HD integrated graphics cards so working on larger projects may be sluggish in some scenarios.

Its processor is the star of the show. It comes with a CPU that is usually found in laptops ~$1000 and above. That’s why it’s even more surprising how it even boasts a Full HD IPS panel. I didn’t find precise display benchmarks but my best guess is that it has one of the low-end IPS panels and possibly weak-ish ~240 nit brightness.

Its processor is the star of the show. It comes with a CPU that is usually found in laptops ~$1000 and above, but on the other hand, it lacks IPS, even though it is rare to have IPS in such price range. At least display benchmarks are decent. Contrast is 1:800, but maximum brightness is only 200 nitts. Thankfully the screen itself displays high-quality colors. (95% sRGB & 60% Adobe RGB)

Overall, its processor, decent display, and 1 TB HDD storage make it a great option for anyone who’s an architecture student or not a full-time architect yet.

View on Amazon


Best laptop for architecture under $1000
i7-6700HQ | 960M 2GB | 16GB RAM | 1000 GB HDD | 15.6″ IPS Matte 1920×1080 | 3h

I recommend this particular Asus ROG for a wide range of purposes because it’s a very good laptop if you don’t need strong battery life.

As one might correctly guess, it is designed for gaming. But gaming laptops often are the best substitutes for a much more expensive workstation-type laptop.

This Asus model passes all the performance tests with flying colors. Its processor (i7 6700HQ), graphics card (GeForce 960M) and memory (16GB) are all above-average and they would have no trouble handling architecture software. And unlike many cheaper gaming laptops, it has a good display: 300 nits, 1100:1 contrast and 80% Adobe sRGB coverage.

View on Amazon

MSI GP62M Leopard Pro-406

Mid-range gaming laptop suitable for architects
i7-7700HQ | 1060 | 16GB RAM | 250 GB SSD | 1920×1080 IPS | 3.5h

This ASUS ROG laptop is very similar to the MSI above. The only significant differences are double the size of RAM and a powerful 1060M GPU. If you need great performance and you’re OK with short battery life and an average screen (260 nitts, 500:1, ~100% sRGB 75% Adobe RGB) – MSI GE62 Apache Pro is a no-brainer. The only drawback is that there’s no additional HDD storage. 250 GB SSD for the long run won’t be enough. You’ll either need to buy external USB HDD or install a new one on SATA 3 connection.

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ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW (Signature Edition)

Best ultrabook for architects
i7-6700HQ | 960M 2GB | 16GB RAM | 500 GB SSD (PCIe) | 15.6″ Touch IPS 3840×2160 | 5h 40min

If you’d trade ASUS ROG performance for 2 extra hours of battery runtime (on Wi-Fi), a lighter frame with IPS/Touchscreen and a 4K display – you’d have this Asus ZenBook Pro.

Out of this list, this Asus laptop is the easiest one to carry around – it offers decent battery life of 5 hours 40 minutes and it’s thinner and lighter than other 15.6″ notebooks. Of course, do not expect for the battery to last long if you’re using heavyweight architecture software.

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Lenovo Thinkpad P50

Not expensive laptop with Quadro graphicsLenovo Thinkpad P50 - best laptop for AutoCAD
Xeon E3-1505M | Quadro M2000M | 16GB RAM | 250 GB SSD (PCIe) | 1920×1080 IPS | 8h 30min

Lenovo Thinkpad P50 is one of the cheapest laptops with a CAD-certified video card. I would consider it a great option if you absolutely need a Quadro card but you don’t need an expensive higher-range model.

This Lenovo Thinkpad P50 has a reliable Xeon E3-1505M i7-6700HQ processor which ensures that while working on a project PC doesn’t suddenly crash. It rocks Nvidia Quadro M2000M, 16 GB of RAM and 256 GB SSD for Windows and most important architecture applications. A drawback of this laptop is it lacks additional HDD, so once again you’ll have to either install HDD on SATA III or buy external USB storage device.

I would suggest upgrading its storage up to 500 GB SSD and/or additional 2 TB HDD. For heavy multitaskers, there’s an option to upgrade up to 32GB of RAM which would round out workstation as the absolute best laptop for architecture.

Due to its huge 9-cell battery, it can last around 8.5 hours. This Lenovo workstation also comes with a solid list of ports:

  • HDMI
  • DisplayPort
  • USB 3.1 Type C
  • 4x USB 3.0

It is one of the best-reviewed workstations with a good keyboard for extended work sessions.

Its display is of average quality though it comes with an IPS panel:

  • brightness: 260 nits (~average)
  • contrast: 750:1 (average)
  • color gamut: 58% sRGB (~decent)
View on Amazon

Dell Precision M5510

Best laptop for architecture under $2000
i7-6820HK | Quadro M1000M 2GB | 8GB RAM | 500 GB SSD (PCIe) | 1920×1080 IPS | 5h

The last laptop in this list switches things up with a high-end Intel i7-6820HK processor and Nvidia Quadro M1000M.

Due to its compact and lightweight design and performant specifications, battery lifetime got slightly sacrificed, but for the better cause as it weighs less than 1 kg of similar types of laptops ( HP’s ZBook 15, Lenovo’s ThinkPad W541 or Toshiba’s Tecra W50). This Dell workstation also comes with a solid list of ports:

USB 3.1 Type C (Thunderbolt interface)
2x USB 3.0
It is one of the best-reviewed workstations with a good keyboard for extended work sessions.

I would suggest upgrading its RAM capacity up to 16 GB as 8 may not be enough if you’re a heavy multitasker.This would round out the workstation as the absolute best laptop for architecture.

Its display quality shines comparing to previously mentioned laptops. 1000:1 Contrast, ~390 nitts brightness and color gamut – 100%. If you’re looking for a performant and near-perfect quality display, this is the best pick you can get for architecture.

View on Amazon

MacBooks for Architecture

Buying a MacBook is not ideal. Unlike some other industries, architecture applications sometimes do not have a MacOS version – for example, Revit. Of course, going for dual-boot/Parallels could be an option, but that extra inconvenience should make you think why you’re paying extra for a MacBook just to use Windows. The best MacBook Pro models are viable options for architecture but I would only recommend them if you need a very good battery life and you will not depend on Windows software.

Table of Best Laptops for Architecture

LaptopPrice (approx)
MSI GL72 7QF-1057$740
MSI GP62M Leopard Pro-406$1,200
ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW (Signature Edition)$1,500
Lenovo Thinkpad P50$1,750
Dell Precision M5510$2,000

If you have any additional questions or you’d like that I’d pick a laptop for your specific use-case – leave a comment down below and I’ll get back to you.

70 thoughts on “Best laptop for Architecture: 6 best laptops and how I found them (2017 Autumn Update)

  1. Would you recommend buying the Surface Pro 4 for a first year Architecture student? I am an Apple user and not used to Windows at all but the Surface Pro 4 looks extremely interesting to me due to the touch enabled screen along with the stylus and just as powerful as a laptop.

    1. Surface notebooks are great for students.

      First, let’s get this out of the way – it isn’t a powerful laptop. Even the fastest i7 version is barely faster than mid-range i5 option. Compared to other laptops in the same price range, it’s about 2x slower. But the limited performance is not an issue for many students. Students can take advantage of its strengths – great battery life (realistic 6-7 hours of light work), amazing display (400 cd/m, 1200:1, 95% sRGB coverage), light weight. All of these qualities are important for taking the laptop to classes and once in a while, working outside.

      The reason why I didn’t include it, because it isn’t a great option for a full-time professional, who would need more than 1 USB ports and who needs a faster CPU and GPU. Meanwhile, a student can play to Surface Pro strengths.

  2. i am wondering should I get the Microsoft Surface Book (256 GB, 8 GB RAM, Intel Core i5, NVIDIA GeForce graphics). 13.5inch screen might be too small but the surface seem very useful. Would you recommend?

    1. If you’re a student or portability is your top priority – then it’s a good choice.

      But if 3DMax or Tekla make up a fair share of your work – then you might be better off looking at other options.

      Sadly, the graphics (modeled on 940M) is not much faster than the most basic integrated Intel video chips.

      I can recommend it to students, architects that need a secondary/travel machine and professionals that do not need a high-performance laptop.

      1. Good article but a little out of date now. Surface Book 2 should be considered. As an architect using the surface line in my workflow i find the stylus a critical tool in my daily workflow.

  3. Me too same as the above what about the Surface? Lighter, good processor, detachable screen twists too, stylus, graphics too, what’s not to like for portable?

  4. What lightweight laptop that can handle Revit and Grasshopper would you recommend? The HP ZBook is a great laptop but would be a pain to carry around all the time.

    1. OK, so HP ZBook is 15.6″ and 5.7 lbs. Let’s go down in weight while maintaining (or even surpassing) the ZBook performance while staying under $2000.

      Here are the 5 options I’ve got for you:
      Razer Blade (new) – 14″ 4.25 lbs
      MSI GS63VR Stealth Pro-068 – 15.6″ 4 lbs
      MSI GS40 Phantom-001 – 14″ 3.8 lbs
      VAIO Z Canvas – 12.3″ 3.4 lbs
      ASUS ZenBook UX303UB – 13.3″ 3.2 lbs

      1. Hello!
        I am looking for portability, great performance and design ( I want it all!)
        From the 5 laptops you suggest here above, I am looking at the Vazio Z Canvas because of its design.
        I see it being advertised for graphic artists and not so much for architects….
        Any thoughts of why? And how do you think it performs in with AutoCAD and Revit.
        Will it work as well with a mouse as with the pen? can I connect a bigger screen while working on my desk?

        1. It has a great processor, a lot of RAM and a fast storage which is ideal for graphic work. For some 3D applications, you’ll need a good graphics card which is not present in this model. Vaio Z Canvas has Intel Iris Pro Graphics 5200 which is as good as integrated graphics gets but that might not be enough for large 3D projects.

          It can easily run AutoCAD and Revit though it might hit some limitations in AutoCAD.

          It will work with a mouse just like any other laptop – this is a given. It also has mini DisplayPort and HDMI connection which can be used to connect up to 2 external displays.

    1. If you prefer Dell, there are 3 viable picks:

      – [$1250] Dell Inspiron i7559-7512GRY – good pick for its price. Lack of an SSD is the only major issue.
      – [$1900] Dell Precision M5510 – great workstation. Quadro graphics card, massive 1 TB SSD, unlocked 6820HK CPU, 32 GB RAM (recommended)
      – [$2100] Dell XPS 15 – 9550 – good choice if you want a great display and decently long battery life

  5. What do you think about: https://amzn.com/B01578ZK9A ?

    Is it worth getting it for first year? My budget is 1050 dollars so cannot go for the Apache one.

    1. Yes, it is. It’s practically identical to the ASUS ROG GL552VW-DH74 I’ve recommended on the list. Of course, you’ve linked to the 17.3″ version which might be more difficult to carry around. But since the vast majority of work is still done at home – you might not have any problems with that.

    1. It depends on the specific laptop.

      As you probably already know, Alienware is Dell’s brand of premium gaming of laptops. Most Alienware laptops are capable of handling architecture software but I cannot be sure until I know what laptop you have in mind.

      Some latest Alienware models come without a discrete GPU which is non-ideal for architecture, especially when you consider that Alienware notebooks are more expensive than regular laptops.

      TL;DR, Alienware laptops can handle architecture software but I would need to know what are your specific needs and what Alienware model you have in mind to give you my recommendation :)

  6. Hey guys! So i need a bit of help because i´m not really a specialist or anything of the sort… I´m searching info for the nvidia quadro M2000M to understand if it´s a reliable graphic card for architectural purposes or the Nvidia Geforce 930M. I work mainly with AutoCad 2D and i´m trying to learn and practice a little bit more of 3D rendering (like 3ds MAX), but also sometimes with photoshop, illustrator and corel draw.

    The thing is that the company i work for wants to buy a professional laptop that can still be downgradable for Windows 7.

    Now, why this graphics? Because i need a laptop that´s available in Europe (preferably in Portugal) and is in the mid-range cost (up to 1500/1600€), and was adviced to check out the Lenovo P50 with some costumizations or the Toshiba TECRA Z40-C-103.

    Before all of this “advices” i was looking for a more afordable one like the Asus VivoBook Pro N552VX that comes with an Intel 6th generator processor (i7 6700HQ), an Nvidia Geforce GTX 950M and 16GB RAM DDR4. The problem is that it comes with Windows 10 Home edition and even if i purchase a Windows 7 PRO license, the IT guys that i´ve talked to say that they can´t exactly know if they´ll get all the drivers for the laptop in order for it to run fully.

    i´m lost now! I know this isn´t exactly the purpose of this page or anything…but why not give it a try and see if i can get some advice regarding this situation.

    Thanks for your time or any advice that you can provide.

    Best regards,


    1. Hi, Cláudia.

      NVIDIA Quadro M2000M performance-wise is better than GeForce 930M. M2000M is a good option for AutoCAD whereas 930M is only sufficient for 2D AutoCAD. Don’t get me wrong – it will run AutoCAD and 3DMax but you shouldn’t expect a smooth workflow or quick previews when working with large projects.

      Asus VivoBook Pro N552VX and Lenovo P50 are both solid choices I recommend in various occasions. Now, you can usually downgrade Windows 10 to Windows 7 (or just reinstall with Windows 7 CD/USB).

  7. Hi,

    I would like to know your opinion. I am planning to buy a laptop mainly for architectural visualisation rhino vary photoshop 3dsmax.

    I am thinking about Razer blade, MSI GS63VR 6RF stealth pro and lenovo think pad 50.

    I would appreciate it you could help me with the choice. I can’t decide which way to go.


    1. Hi,

      it depends on which exact models you’re considering.

      For professional work, Lenovo ThinkPad is the most suited candidate but it can be a bit more expensive if you’re targeting a model with a good Quadro GPU, which is where these models shine.

      Razer blade should be preferred only if you need a small and light laptop. And for work with 3D make sure you’re getting a Blade model with dedicated GPU because a lot of cheaper Razer models come only with integrated Intel graphics.

      MSI GS63VR 6RF is probably the best pick if you want a lot of performance for a reasonable price. But it has subpar battery life and it’s a viable option only if you’ll work in an office/at home nearly all of the time.

  8. I just bought MSI GS63VR a few days ago to see how it performs.
    I am not loving it but not hating it so far.
    I just started to study architecture and am not really familiar with windows PC with great graphics.
    Do you think it is a fair game for me to stick to MSI or should I give a try to ASUS ROG and LENOVO P50?
    One of the reason I am not a bit skeptical about MSI is this model does not seem sturdy..
    Please let me know!

    1. If MSI GS63VR is not performing to your expectations, then you probably need a truly high-end professional laptop. In that case, you should target for Lenovo P50 with high-end Intel i7 CPU (or Xeon) and Quadro GPU (preferably M2000M or better – M3000M, M4000M…).

      Asus ROG is similar to the MSI model so likely you’d be left with the same impression as you were when you bought MSI GS63VR.

  9. Hi Zyg,

    thank you for your review.

    I’m urgently needing a computer, I am really interested in Lenovo P50 or P50s.
    The programs that I will mainly use is ***Rhino+ Vray renderer for rhino***, Autocad, Revit, and Adobe (photoshop, illustrator) and maybe, but less prioritise, Maya, Grasshopper and Sketchup in the future.

    Do you think the cheaper alternative of Lenovo P50s will be good enough for running these programmes?

    My main concern is that it has a lower graphic card of NVIDIA M500M 2GB as compared to NVIDIA M1000M from P50, do you think this will affect Rhino usage and V-ray renderer?

    Thank you so much


  10. Hello, Erica!

    Sadly it won’t. In my opinion (and according to benchmarks), M500M is a low-end GPU comparable to 940MX and even some integrated graphics modules. That’s a lot less than needed for your demanding set of applications (especially for using VRay in CUDA/OpenCL modes for faster rendering).

    At the same time, make sure you’re getting at least i7 CPU as some of the models in the Lenovo page you’ve linked come with an i5-6300U. Ideally, you should get an i7 H-series or even a Xeon CPU. But an i7 U-series CPU can still work, especially if you heavily prefer a good battery life.

    Nvidia Quadro cards are “worth it” only if you’re getting M2000M or better. Anything below that basically performs ~3x worse than consumer-level GeForce cards.

    1. Hi Zyg,

      thank you so much for your reply, that helps me a lot.

      If I may ask one more question, I am now considering between dell XPS 15.6″ VS Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming.

      Are you familiar with any of them/ heard any user experience? Do you think they are suitable for running CAD and 3D modelling based apps like rhino +vray?



      Thank you so much

      1. Yes, they should be able to run Rhino without a problem. It has GTX 960M which is alright for 3D work. GTX 1060 would be a lot better but there aren’t many laptops on the market with it yet. If you’re not working with 0.5 million+ polygons, then 960M should be able to keep up.

        I don’t know anyone that used them for this specific purpose, but I know 4 people all pretty happy about their XPS laptops (some even annoyingly recommending me to get one, hah).

  11. Thank you for the article. I am in the market to purchase a laptop and admit that I am as computer illiterate as they come. I am in my second year of an architecture degree and am currently using the Asus 1607? (Intel(R) Core (Tm) i7-3610QM Cpu @2.3 GHz, 8 GB RAM) which I purchased approximately 5 years ago. I am having trouble running Autocad efficiently (3d) and get often crashes in illustrator. My only concern is speed and performance while running multiple programs, (autocad, maya, illustrator, photoshop, rhino). I have read multiple articles and assume that they are all biased because there seems to be a different set of laptops on each list. The one thing that is consistent is the lack of mac products being toted.
    As I said earlier I am only concerned with performance as this computer will only be used for design work and preparing presentations. I also see how you recommend a computer than suggest upgrading a certain item, is there no laptop that is just ready to perform “as is”. My budget is around 2k but my biggest issue is lack on knowledge on the latest and greatest and aside from talking to the service provider at Best Buy (who is likely to sell me something I don’t really need) I have no real trustworthy external insight on what to purchase.
    Thank you

  12. Hello! I’m Deveeka Mutha, an architecture student from India. I want to buy a new laptop. I have been using Dell Inspiron 15R for the past five years and it’s time for me to buy a new one. I use a lot of softwares like autocad, sketchup, Photoshop, coreldraw, rhinoceros, lumion, 3D max, revit, etc. Which laptop would U suggest for me to buy ? I personally liked HP’s Spectre 13 series. Do u think it’s suitable for my usage ? Thank you!

  13. Hi, What would you say about the AORUS X7 DT V6. Is it OK regarding the money it costs? It lacks the Thunderbolt 3 port, but is it essential for architectural visualizations?
    Thank you in advance!

  14. What about the Asus Strix GL502VS? What do you think about that one? It’s a bit costly cause it runs 1070! Will it do it? But I’m afraid about the battery life! Any suggestions?


  15. Hi Zyg,
    I just want to know your opinion cause i mostly use softwares are AutoCad, Sketchup, Revit and 3DsMax.
    Can you help me decide which laptop to choose between ASUS ROG G752VS and ASUS ROG G502VS, and both laptop runs GTX 1070, but I would like to consider also the HP ZBook 15 G3 as you mentioned in the list with Quadro Graphics.

    Thanks you for the review and thank you in advance for your reply!


  16. Hey there! Im actually an interior design student and want the best laptop with over 16gb RAM, and the best graphics card there exists! Light weight and long battery life are leisure features that i want (cause if its the best then I wouldn’t mind carrying a heavier laptop) The Dell xps 15 is really winning my heart and even though its not suggested buy any website or blog, according to what I’ve researched it looks like the best option. I want you to give your opinion on it even tho after reading your previous replies i get a feeling that your not a big fan of the xps. Also i need the laptop to work without wearing out for at least 4 years as the current laptop i have had for nearly a year and a half has already started to trouble me with it mouse pad. Lastly, if there are cheaper options with same features as the xps 15 then please specify.

  17. Hello, thanks for the great article.
    A question! Have you done any comparison between GTX 1060m and Quadro m2000m?
    Is it logical for an architect with lots of rendering and Revitting and all, to consider this GTX new generation vs Quadro older gen?

    1. Thanks!

      Yep, I have.

      First of, note the lack of “m” in GTX 1060 – Nvidia started using nearly the same GPU in desktop and laptop models, which GTX 1060 is a lot way faster than previous-gen “m” GPUs). So, there used to be GTX 960 for desktops and 960M for laptops. Now it’s all the same GPU, which is great for laptop users, as we can get 99% of desktop performance.

      GTX 1060 is a bit faster (~10%) in OpenGL performance (which is Quadro’s strong suit) and A LOT faster (~250%) in DirectX performance, gaming and CUDA computational capabilities.

      Quadro still has some advantages such as better drivers for system stability, higher calculation precision and it unlocks some features in professional software.

      Now we’re in a bit of an awkward period when laptop GPU performance has skyrocketed with all new GTX 10xx cards but the Quadro line is not yet refreshed. Right now, GTX is a better pick just because of that.

      In the next 6 months, we should start seeing laptops with Quadro P-series – equivalent to GTX 10xx releases. Then, a card like Quadro P3000 would be equivalent to GTX 1060 in performance and it would have the mentioned professional features.

      Once at least a few laptops with Quadro P are out – I’ll have a take a revise the whole guide with new options.

      I hope that helps!

      1. Hello again! Again thanks for all the time you put into this and helping all of us.
        I thought we should mention BOXX laptops here as well! I wouldn’t talk about them then, but now they released their new series, with Quadro latest generation. It is expensive though! Not sure if I could ever afford one! :)
        I like the slim model, better than their biggger laptops! I also like their Rendr boxes! I kinda dream about all of those products! ;)
        Anyway, I thought I suggest these here to your article and ask if you’ve had any experience with this company and their products and what you think of them.

      2. Wow, you’re a wealth of information that I’ve been needing to make a decision on laptops!

        Now that the new Pascal Quadro cards are out, would you prefer the P3000 with an I7-7700HQ processor, or the M2200 with a Xeon E3-1505MV6 processor?

        Specifically I’m looking at a couple of MSI workstations: the WS63 7RK-297CA and the WS60 7RJ-680CA (Canadian models). Just curious what you think of them!

        Thank you for sharing, and advising!

        1. Hello Graham,

          Not sure if you needed my suggestion Zyg’s, but here is mine! I definitely go for the better graphics between the two CPU you mentioned. As long as it’s quad core, it’s enough! Because I spend more time in 3D softwares like Revit and Sketchup and others, modeling and designing compare to rendering, so I need more graphic processing power. That’s for me!
          Unfortunately I haven’t used any of those hardwares yet, but I can imagine they both should be great. It’s all depends on your specific needs.
          Hope I could have been of any help!

  18. Hi Zyg!

    I am an architectural student and I have been using Macbook Pro for a few years. I would like to purchase a Window laptop mainly for rendering and building models in softwares like 3dmax, rhino and autocad.

    I have been looking at Alienware 17 and MSI ws72. Do you know which one is better?
    Thanks a lot!

  19. Hi, I’m an architect and I’m looking for a laptop to work that is light and not very big. I mainly use programs like autocad 2d, sketchup, revit and photoshop. I would like to know your opinion about the models I am considering:
    – dell precision 5520 (intel xeon / ssd / gpu: frame M1200 / 16gb Ram).
    -Msi ws 63 7rk (intel xeon / ssd + hdd / frame M3000 / 16gb ecc ram).
    -Microsoft Surface Book i7 (Intel i7 / 16gb / ssd / nvidia geforce gtx 965m). As you see I try to find the balance between power and portability.
    If you have any suggestions?
    Thank you very much!!

  20. Hello, Im an interior Architecture student, I’am looking for a light durable laptop. I had the ASUS G551J I’ve been using it for two years so far but I faced a lot of Hardware problems with it. I mainly use Rhino with Vray, autocad, photoshop, illustrator and Indesign. What laptops would you recommend? I have an open budget i don’t want something cheap i want fast, durable, good graphics and if possible light laptops.

    I was looking for
    1) MSI GS73VR (intel core i7-7700 processor, 16GB RAM/ 256GB SSD = 2TB HDD- 17.3″ FHD/NVIDIA GTX 1060) but the problem with this one i think is the weight.

    2) Microsoft Surface Book.
    Which one would you recommend and if you were to suggest another laptop that best suites me what would it be? please provide me with the exact model name i dont really know much about laptops and wont know which one would best suit me. So i would appreciate your help
    waiting for your response

  21. Hey Zig,

    First thanks for the article, very informative

    What do you think of the Lenovo Ideapad 7000 16GB ram, I7 6th generation, Nividia GeForce GTX 950M, 1T HD and 256 SSD, 15.6″ Full HD 1920 x 1080

    I am only concerned with the 950M and Full HD screen resolution?

    My problem is I do not want a laptop that has this gaming design yet I want the gaming laptops features and specs.

    My other option is the Dell Ispiron i7559 GRY which has GTX 960M and a UHD screen resolution?

  22. Hi! Thanks for sharing this information. What do you think about this one?


  23. Hi I’m antes Revit, 3Dsmax and vray user and othee Autodesk sofwares, I’m between this TASUS two laptops and I would like to know what do you think about them..
    1.- Asus ROG Strix GL702VM-DB74 17.3″
    2.-ASUS Gaming ROG GL702VM-DS74 17.3″
    There are two diferences between them, the 6700hq & 7700hq processor and the 256 & 128 ssd.. I don’t know if 128gb ssd would ve enought for Autodesk software..
    What would you suggest me..

  24. Am an architecture student just about entering into a M.arch programme, Thinking of getting an MSI WT73VR 7RM Please help me on the benefits, disadvantages and positives of this MSI brand and any other better alternatives.

  25. I am going to be an architect student this fall. I’m looking for a laptop with a multi-core intel Xeon or I series processor, 64 Bit operating system, Microsoft windows 7, 8 or 8.1, 15″ screen (1,680 x 1,050) minimum, 250 GB Hard Drive or more, 8GB Ram minimum, a DirectX 11 capable graphics card with shader model 3, and 25 GB of free disk space. Can you recommend the laptop that best fits this criteria?? Thank you so much!

  26. Hi there,

    I am looking for a laptop and would appreciate any advice you could provide. I am an architect but this laptop is not my primary work computer. I will use it for architecture intermittently when doing private jobs or updating my portfolio. I use sketchup, autocad, revit and adobe suite primarily. My budget is around 1400 pounds. These are the two im currently looking at:

    Dell Precision M7510
    Intel Core i7 6820HQ Processor
    16gb memory
    Quadro M1000M Graphics (2GB)
    1 TB HDD & 256 GB SSD


    HP Z Book 15 G3
    Intel Core i7 6700HQ Processor
    16gb memory
    nVidia Quadro M2000M (4GB)
    256 SSD

    The Dell is a couple of hundred more expensive

    Any advice much appreciated,

  27. Hello! I’m an architecture student from India. I want to buy a new laptop. I’ll be learning a lot of softwares like autocad, sketchup, Photoshop, coreldraw, rhinoceros, lumion, 3D max, revit, etc. I have a budget of between $1100-$1500 and so far have these laptops in mind ;
    Acer Predator Helios 300
    Lenovo legion y520 {16gb)
    Lenovo legion y720
    Acer Rog series laptops
    Dell XPS 15
    For MSI and HP I don’t really have any idea. Which laptop would you suggest for me to buy ? Thank you

  28. hi , i’m an architecture student and currently lookin for an affordable laptop . portability is also my priority. my friend recommended asus vivobook N580VD or ROG GL553VD. which one would you recommend? thankyou !

  29. Hello!
    I am going to an architect school next year – 2018.
    As I’m not familiar with what I’m learning and what computer is suitable most.
    I hope you are able to give me some good advice about which laptop I should buy.
    Basically I just hope I can use minimumly for 4 years and I’m alright with the pricing. ( as I can work for it this year ^^ )
    I really you can help me out, thank you in advance !!!

  30. Hi, nice to meet you, I am Erin.
    I would love to get your opinion.
    I am an interior architecture student.
    I need a good one steady and fast. Works like a real good PC for rendering.
    No lagging. I love window 7 and currenly on window 8.1 i hate it.
    The laptop i going to purchase are on windows 10 which i havent try but i dislike the edition layout. Would it be good if i down grade it to window 7 after purchasing it?
    I donot have budget.
    Should i go with MSI PE70 or ASUS ROG (the one you recomment in this blog)
    Hope to hear from you soon. Thank you :)

  31. Thanks for the most awesome run down of detailed info. Plus I love that spreadsheet you included in previous article on best bim laptops. I started my own and then came across yours, viola!
    I am looking for best touch-able laptop for bim and adobe. I’m an interior designer so need the auto cad / revit 3d abilities but also like to hand render (on computer, via adobe creative suite) on the 3d images from revit. Sometimes I need to do quick in field sketches so I desire the precision of a stylus drawing component.
    Looking at the Lenovo thinkpad p40 yoga. This looks it’d check all my boxes, but it aint cheap, and wonder about the graphics card. Know of any comparable or have totally different recommendation based on described use? Thanks, love you and all your input!

  32. Hello
    I have a MacBook pro mid 2012
    I7, 8 GB RAM, 750 GB HDD, Intel HD graphics 4000
    I’m a fresh graduate architecture student, i mainly use AutoCAD, sketchup and Vray for sketchup.
    I’m upgrading to 500GB SSD, cause my old HDD isn’t working.
    Do i need to upgrade my RAM as well?
    And what kind of performance should i expect?
    Thank you

  33. Hi Zyg,

    Aren’t touchscreen laptops advisable? I’m eyeing a Lenovo Yoga 720 which has all the great features you’ve mentioned. (i7-7700; 16gb ram; 4gb gtx 1050; 512ssd) Only draw back I see is the limited ssd space which doesn’t bother me that much since I save most of my files in a portable drive.

    What do you think about Lenovo Yoga series?

  34. Thanks for a great article. Super helpful. FWIW, I helped my son get a really good Cyber Monday deal on a Lenovo 15.6″ Legion Y520 Notebook, with 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ Quad-Core, 8GB DDR4 RAM | 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (4GB GDDR5). We can upgrade the RAM to 16 GB later. All in $849 at B&H. He just graduated with an BS in Arch and is working in the field–hopefully this works for him.

  35. I’m looking at a MSI GS60 for basic Revit, AutoCAD, sketchup, and photshop software. It has NVIDIA Geoforce GTX 965M 2GB GDDR5 with an i7 6th gen 6700HQ. 16GB memory with 1TB HDD and 128GB SSD.

  36. hi, I am a second year architecture student. I need a light weight laptop with all the required configuration for architectural software.. would you please recommend me if I should go for a Macbook or Dell or Asus laptop?

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