In the world of architecture, finding the best laptop for the job can be challenging. As someone who has been a part of the industry, I know how frustrating it can be to have to work on a machine that can't keep up with your workload. That's why I created this guide to help you navigate your way through the confusing maze of specifications and technical terms to find the best laptops for architects.
Whether you're an architecture student or a professional, the demands placed on your laptop are high. You need a machine that can run complex design software, manage multiple applications at once, and handle rendering and 3D modeling with ease. With so many different brands and models on the market, it can be tough to know where to begin.
The upside of Revit is that it doesn’t require a powerful graphics card and that makes Revit a lot more suitable for laptops. Knowing that I’m going to guide you through the requirements for a good Revit notebook and my picks for the best laptop for Revit.
2018 June 3rd update. Updated CPU, GPU write-ups, replaced all laptops and updated the spreadsheet!
Autodesk makes it very clear that the processor should be #1 priority:
“Highest affordable CPU speed rating recommended.” – Autodesk
Unlike other visual software (AutoCAD, Solidworks etc.), Revit does not need a powerful graphics card for rendering the drawings.
So what do I recommend?
For an entry model under 950$ – a higher-end Intel Core i5 model is a necessity. Anything above that should have a 5th-7th generation “i7” processor. In some rare cases (covered at the end of the guide), there are laptops under $900, that come with a fast i7 H-series CPUs.
Exact models, I am talking about are:
Intel Core i7-7700HQ, i5-8300H, i7-8750H or equivalent for 950$+ models
Intel Core i5-7300HQ, i7-7500U, i5-8250U for anything under 950$
As per usual, 8 GB of RAM should be your starting point and 16 GB is the magic spot where you don’t have to worry about the memory (for the most part).
Right now, 1000$ is a good line to draw for what amount of memory is acceptable. Any laptop under 1000$ can have 8 GB of RAM and anything over that must come with 16 GB on board.
It does not matter much whether memory is DDR3/DDR4.
Solid State Drive
For Point Cloud interactions, it is required to have either a 10,000+ RPM hard drive or a SSD. Since laptops don’t come with HDDs over 7,200 RPM, that leaves us with only 1 option – a Solid State Drive. SSDs have fallen dramatically in price and apart from budget laptops – should be a part of any Revit laptop.
Now you need to draw a line on how much storage you need – 250, 500, 1000 GB? Most likely, something like 250/500 SSD + 1 TB HDD is enough. In that case, your OS, Revit, and projects you’re working on should stay on the SSD while older projects and general media can be moved to a spacious HDD.
There are some well-rounded laptops that don’t come with an installed SSD. In that unfortunate case, I recommend keeping 100$-200$ extra for 250/500 GB SSD (I’ve had the best experience with Samsung drives, but there’s plenty of good brands to choose from).
Minor Requirements for the best laptop for Revit
We’ve got down our 3 major requirements – processor, memory, and storage. Now any leftover budget should go towards making sure it lasts long, it has a great screen to look at and it can perform well when using other professional software apart from Revit.
You’ll be looking at it throughout the day (and once in a while – throughout the night), so we might as well make sure it looks good.
A good screen is essential in 3 simple ways:
it allows working during bright sunlight without straining your eyes
it helps you see your work as it should be seen (as it will be in real life and how your clients will see it)
it makes your work a bit enjoyable
Every screen can be broken down by its resolution, contrast, brightness and color gamut.
When talking about the resolution – go for Full HD (1920×1080). There’s not much reason to go above Full HD, especially when Revit developers do not recommend going above 150% DPI scaling. That simply means, that fonts and buttons in Revit will not scale properly at high resolutions.
Contrast should be 800:1 or more, average brightness should be 280 cd/m or more (which is ~20 cd less than usually advertised maximum brightness). Good contrast and brightness are mostly important when working outside or near a bright window.
Finally, color space/gamut is not usually mentioned with other specifications but some reviewers measure it. In that case, 90%+ sRGB coverage and 60%+ Adobe RGB coverage indicate a wide color space. That means that the screen can produce vivid colors. In some cases, you might need to manually calibrate the screen to minimize its color bias – tendency to be a bit too blue/green or red.