We’re back with our annual round-up of top laptops and mobile workstations for architects and designers, and this year, picking the right machine for you is more crucial than ever.

With countless architects now working from home, a computer with high level capabilities is essential in order to stay efficient and continue to deliver high quality drawings and renderings for clients.

Thankfully, the options for architects and designers are better than ever. High powered processors, amazing graphics cards and large amounts of storage space now come as standard on most laptops by the major brands, and there are good choices for a wide range of price points – only thing that may cause some issues is low inventory but as always – we are here to help you with that.

Without further ado, browse our top picks for 2022, and select a laptop that will supercharge your creative workflow this year:

Premium Laptops for Architects

Lenovo ThinkPad P73

Lenovo ThinkPad P73

Best Lenovo Laptop for Architects

Lenovo is brand with a great reputation for providing great power for a reasonable price, making it a favorite among creative professionals in recent years. The most powerful model in Lenovo’s ThinkPad series is the P73, which boasts an Intel Core i7-9750H 2.60GHz processor and NVIDIA Quadro P620 graphics, enabling real-time 3D and VR rendering speeds. The huge, 17-inch screen is also a sight to behold: the P73 incorporates a Full HD, 300-nit display, allowing your designs to be viewed in all their technicolor glory.

HP ZBook Studio G5

HP ZBook Studio G5

Best Mobile Workstation for Architects

The ZBook series has long been a frontrunner when it comes to mobile workstations, and the ZBook Studio model is touted by HP as the “world’s most powerful workstation of its size.” The G5 model is one of the most capable machines. Ideal for architects and rendering professionals that prioritize power, its Intel Core i9 processor and NVIDIA Quadro RTX Graphics can comfortably handle the modeling and visualization needs of even the most demanding projects. Add in HP’s signature DreamColor display, and a number of other refinements made to this popular model, and you have a mobile workstation that is hard to beat.

Asus ROG Zephyrus

Asus ROG Zephyrus Laptop

Best Gaming Laptop for Architects

Gaming laptops — those machines designed specifically for the demanding power and graphic requirements of today’s video games — are also a great option for architects looking for a laptop with top specifications at a reasonable price point. While there are many good gaming laptops out there, the Asus ROG Zephyrus is among the most reputable, and claims to be “the world’s most powerful 14-inch”. An 8-core AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS CPU and GeForce RTX 2060 GPU helps design professionals multitask at high speed. Its 14-inch display keeps it compact, and the laptop weighs just 3.64lbs, light for a machine of this power and capability

MSI GS66 Stealth

MSI GS66 Stealth

Best MSI Laptop for Architects

The MSI GS66 Stealth takes the award for the best-looking laptop for architects this year. Sporting a low profile, matte black design, the Stealth is true to its name, blending in beautifully with your home or office set up. The qualities of this laptop extend beyond its aesthetics, though. Like the Asus ROG, the MSI GS66 Stealth is a high-performance gaming laptop, with specs to match — its Intel Core i9 processor, 32GB of RAM, 1TB SSD storage and NVIDIA GeForce RTX SUPER Series graphics places it alongside the most capable mobile workstations on the market.

Apple MacBook Pro 16in

Apple MacBook Pro 16-Inch

Best Apple Laptop for Architects

The debate around whether Apple laptops and computers are a fit for architects and designers has raged on for years, but for those that love Mac products, the Apple MacBook Pro 16-Inch is an irresistible choice. The laptop possesses all the aesthetic qualities you’d expect from an Apple computer, and the extra inch in display size makes this model ideal for visual designers. Inside, the specs are also outstanding, with up to 8TB in storage space and 11 hours of battery life making this the most spacious and long-lasting MacBook to date. Throw in Parallels (enabling you to run Windows programs like Revit on the MacBook), and you have all the software you need, housed in the hardware you love.

Samsung Notebook 9 Pro

Samsung Notebook 9 Pro

Best Samsung Laptop for Architects

Competing with the Microsoft Surface Book and the Dell Inspiron in the 2-in-1, laptop/tablet hybrid market, Samsung’s Notebook 9 Pro sports a flippable touchscreen and a stylus for sketching on the go. For architects that like Samsung products, the Notebook 9 Pro is arguably the company’s best laptop to date, combining solid specs (Intel Core i7 processor, Intel UHD Graphics 620 and up to 2TB SSD storage space) with a lightweight, slender chassis.

Affordable Laptops for Architects

Lenovo Legion 5 Gen6

Lenovo Legion 5 Gen6

Best Laptop for Architects Under $1000

Lenovo’s budget-gaming model, the Legion 5 Gen 6, also possesses a surprising amount of power given its affordable price point. Fitted with a 11th generation Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB RAM and NVidia GeForce GTX1650 4GB, the Legion is capable of handling the vast majority of commonly used architecture and graphic design software. The 15.6-inch, full HD, LED-backlit display is also of a good quality, giving architects and architecture students all they need in a monitor without breaking the bank. Overall, the Legion is a great choice for fans of Lenovo that don’t need to do intensive VR or video production work.

HP 15 Laptop

HP 15 Laptop

Best Laptop for Architects Under $800

When it comes to getting the best ‘bang for your buck’, the HP 15 laptop is difficult to beat. With an Intel Core i5 processor and 16GB of RAM, this machine can compete with premium laptops that sport a much higher price, and it can cope with the majority of tasks that architects and designers undertake. It’s also compact, weighing under 5 pounds, and sports a high definition WLED-backlit touchscreen display, ideal for presenting projects and working on design-oriented programs with a stylus of your choice.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3

Lenovo IdeaPad 3

Best Laptop for Architects Under $600

Lenovo’s IdeaPad 3 is another example of a budget laptop that provides incredible value for money when it comes to processing power. While you shouldn’t expect it to match the Lenovo ThinkPad P73 in terms of performance, the IdeaPad 3 can cope with a wide range of architectural design tasks, thanks to its Intel 10th Gen Dual-Core i3-1005G1 processor. Combined with 12GB of RAM and a mammoth 1TB in storage space, the IdeaPad 3 makes a great entry level laptop for students and young professionals for just under $600.

What’s important in a laptop for architects?

Certain key factors should be considered when looking for the best laptop for your individual needs. Whether you are an architecture student, young architect or experienced practitioner, the following specs are worth investigating for each option:

Overall specifications: “Any new laptop or workstation should consider the system requirements for the software that architects use”
For architects that regularly use Revit, we recommend minimum system specs of 32GB of RAM, 250GB of free disk space at any given time, 8GB of video memory on the dedicated graphics card that is DirectX 11 or greater, and a multi core processor within last 2 generations.
For students and light use of AutoCAD programs, you could start with 8GB of RAM, 80GB of free space at any given time, and 4GB of video memory on the graphics card that is DirectX 11 or greater, and a multi core processor within last 4 generations.

GPU (Graphics Processing Unit): You may be using hardcore graphic software like Rhino, 3ds Max, ArchiCAD, Revit or Vectorworks, all of which require a formidable graphics card. Thus, the ideal laptop for architect will have at least an 8GB vRAM GPU for smooth processing. We highly recommend GPUs from Nvidia like RTX 3060TI, A2000 or higher

RAM: Architectural software will account for a big chunk of your RAM, particularly when multitasking and producing high quality renderings. Therefore, a computer with minimum of 32GB of RAM is preferable, though 8GB is sufficient for the majority of purposes but won’t be easy to work with any multitasking or 3D programs

HDD vs. SSD vs. Hybrid Drive: Architectural design files often require significant space, so the higher the storage, the better off you are. SSD (Solid State Drive) is faster and more reliable than a mechanical hard drive and you can get 1TB drive for under $250. If this is still out of budget, we recommend getting a hybrid drive. You can install the OS and architecture software in SSD and all other files in HDD for optimum performance.

Screen Size and Resolution: Given the necessary attention to detail, a laptop with a screen size between 15 and 17 inches is typically recognized as being essential for architectural rendering. However, if portability is a priority, 13.3- and 14-inch displays are sufficient for most everyday architectural design tasks. A display with FHD (full high definition) resolution should be enough for the work involved; however, higher resolutions such as UHD (ultra-high definition), 4K or 5K prepare you for the future. If you still need more screen space, one of the portable USB3 powered screens can give you extra 15″ of space for your menus or programs

Other Considerations

Mac vs. Windows: In terms of hardware and operating system, it all comes down to your personal preference. High-end Apple and PC laptops are well geared to handle the challenges offered by the job. Windows 10/11 is arguably more user friendly as it supports a wide array of software but is exposed to more viruses than Mac. The MacBook Pro in particular is well perceived by professionals as being great for graphic applications but is considered by many to be overpriced. That said, Apple makes our list this year, thanks to improvements to Parallels, which allows Windows software to be run on Mac.

Gaming laptops: A growing trend within the architecture and design professions is the adoption of gaming laptops, thanks to their powerful specifications. Built to handle incredibly detailed graphics and demanding streaming requirements, the processing power of gaming laptops make them ideal for BIM and architectural visualization tasks, and often cost less than top-of-the-range mobile workstations. There may be needed couple tweaks like driver adjustment, but we say, “If your kids are fighting me for your system (they are gamers), then you know you are golden!”

Ports and peripherals: “For peripherals,” says Marty Amadeo, Owner at MK-Drafting, “my favorite mouse is the Logitech G602 – I program canned email responses on the programmable buttons, but you could probably do CAD macros as well. I also bought monitor arms this year, and I am really enjoying them.” Consider how many USB ports, ethernet ports and other specialist ports you might need; this will vary depending on your preference for wired or wireless peripheral such as computer mice, touch pads and external hard drives.

Got your own view on which is the best laptop for architects and architecture students or not sure what to choose?

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