Thursday , 27 October 2016

What is the best laptop for architecture students? 2016/2017

Post Updated September 2016

If you would like to download our mini guide to purchasing a laptop for your architecture studies, click on the link below.

Click Here to Download The Guide

I need a laptop for my architecture studies!

Buying a laptop for your studies and future career can be a bit of a minefield. The main thing to consider is the system requirements of the software that you will be using. The software can range from cad packages, photoshop and image editing, rendering tools – you will become a master of many! I have put together a list of system requirements for the most commonly used software for architecture students. There are many more applications that you may use, but generally they have similar requirements. If you are going to be using something specific not listed below, be sure to check out the system requirements for that software before making a purchase.
You need to be aware that a lot of the software required for your architecture studies and beyond is very resource intensive, and as such you will most certainly need a laptop above and beyond the kind of laptop most other students would require.

I would also like to mention that I have had situations where I have gone to a shop for advice, as to which laptop to buy, and the sales assistant didn’t fully understand the requirements of some of the architectural software that we use. As a result I was advised to purchase a sub standard specification computer. This meant I need to upgrade pretty quickly as the machine just wasn’t up to the job. So, lesson learnt. It is really important to do your research if you want to make a one off investment that will last – and give you as little headaches as possible!

What will you use the laptop for?

If you know what software you will be using you can check out all the system requirements of that software to make sure you buy a laptop that is up to the challenge. If not sure, go with a higher specification, that way you cover all bases, rather than realising later that you wish you had invested in a slightly better laptop. Alternatively, get a laptop that you can upgrade later. You can see all the system requirements further along in this article.

Which operating system?

The operating system manages all the software and hardware of the computer, including files, memory and any connected devices. Often the choice of operating system is quite divisive, and people have their favourites. I know I certainly do. Lets have a look at the options.


Windows is most definitely the historical favourite of most architectural offices, certainly in the UK. Although many companies are shifting over to the more design driven OS X, Windows operating systems are still very widely in use. One major advantage Windows is more software has been designed for Windows than any other system. This includes Revit. Autodesk Revit is yet to be released on the Mac operating system (at time of writing). Another advantage of Windows computers is that they tend to be much more reasonably priced, and there is a huge range to choose from. Most universities and colleges have some form of IT department sometimes a dedicated architectural one. These are often more focused around the windows based system. This means that if you have a windows laptop and need a bit of help, I’m sure they will be happy to do so.


Apple are well known for their beautiful designs and excellent quality. Their operating system OS X boasts the same. It is easy to use, and comes with a great array of apps straight out of the box making it a really pleasure to use. One issue, I mentioned previously is that Revit is not currently available on OS X. What does this actually mean? Well, for now, you can run a parallels program to run Windows alongside OS X, and install Revit on Windows. Check out these options if you are considering doing this.

Parallels: this software has come on leaps and bounds since I first started using it and it makes working on Windows and the Mac super simple and a real joy to switch between the different programs.

Another option is VMWare Fusion 8 which does a similar job to Parallels.

If you don’t want to buy a parallels software, you can actually run Windows directly off the Mac using Bootcamp. This is really useful, however, it is more difficult to switch between the two, and you essentially have to shut down the machine as you go from OS X to Windows. You can read more about BootCamp here:

MacBooks come with the latest technology, and have powerful processors, great graphics, and they look good – all this can come at a hefty price! Many universities and colleges actually suggest their students do not purchase a Macbook for their studies – it is worth checking with your institution to see if they have any specific recommendations. Personally I used a Mac throughout my studies, but I didn’t use Revit, or any programs that required Windows. If you can stick to AutoCAD, ArchiCad, Sketchup, Photoshop, V-Ray, and the like – you can get through with a Mac just fine – but just make sure you know your options. Technical support – some universities have some form of IT support, which often doesn’t stretch to anything Apple. This can be frustrating, so if you thinking of getting a Mac and aren’t an Apple nerd, and you think you may require assistance at times, make sure your university offers Mac support.

Chrome OS

In case you thought I had missed it there is also the Chrome operating system developed of course by Google for their very own Chromebooks. The Chromebook doesn’t support Adobe, so no photoshop. Sadly, they are in no way powerful enough for serious architectural work!

Is size and weight of laptop important?

Are you mainly working on your laptop in one place, or will you be carrying it around with you wherever you go? Consider this when choosing your laptop, it you want a large screen, remember that usually comes with extra weight. If you will be only working on the laptop in your room/study, then a larger heavier laptop may not be a problem. Laptop screen sizes can range from about 11 to 17 inches. A larger screen is ideal for drafting work, image editing, 3D modelling but just remember to consider the balance between screen size, weight and power consumption. Working on many of the drafting applications like CAD, ArchiCAD etc, they tend to have numerous toolbars and palettes, which take up a large amount of screen space.


This is a quick overview of the minimum specification recommended, as set out by the system requirements below.

Operating System:

Windows 7 or higher
Mac – OS X 10.10 or later


Intel Core i5 – preferably i7 processor
AMD equivalent
2.6 GHz or higher


8Gb minimum, with the option to upgrade, or 16Gb if you can afford it

Hard Drive (free disk space): 

500 Gb + with a speed of at least 7,200rpm

Graphics Card:

At least 1GB of discrete/dedicated memory


The more pixels you have, the sharper your screen will look. Try and go for a higher pixel count of 1600×900 or 1920×1080 – given the amount of graphic work you will be doing, its worth splashing out on a laptop with a good display.


I sometimes find that the software requirements are the bare minimum, and wherever possible I would go higher spec than recommended. I have made mistakes with past purchases where the laptop just isn’t powerful enough and it constantly crashing/freezing. So with that in mind – here are our recommendations in no particular order:

Dell Latitude 14 7000 Series 14 inch Ultrabook

Dell Latitude Key Features:

  • Processor: Intel Core i7
  • Memory: 8GB
  • Hard Drive: 256GB
  • Size: 14 inch
  • Graphics: Integrated 🙁

Dell Latitude 14 7000 Series 14 inch Ultrabook – click here to buy


 Lenovo ThinkPad W540 15.6 inch Laptop

Lenovo Thinkpad W540 Key Features:

  • Processor: Intel Core i7
  • Memory: 8GB
  • Hard Drive: 500GB
  • Size: 15.6 inch
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4600

Lenovo ThinkPad W540 15.6 inch Laptop – click here to buy


Lenovo Thinkpad P50 – 15.6inch

Key Features:
  • Memory: 16GB
  • Hard Drive: 128 GB SSD & 500GB HDD
  • Size: 15.6 inch
  • Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro M1000M 2GB

Very customisable options with regard to hard drive capacity – pretty impressive!

 Lenovo P50 Thinkpad – click here to buy


Samsung Notebook 7 Spin 15 inch

Key Features:
  • Processor: Intel Core i7
  • Memory: 12GB
  • Hard Drive: 1TB
  • Size: 15 inch
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 940 MX

Samsung Notebook 7 Spin – click here to buy


Lenovo Y50-70 15.6inch UHD Notebook

Lenovo Y50
Key Features:
  • Processor: Intel Core i7
  • Memory: 16 GB
  • Hard Drive: 1TB + 8BG SSHD
  • Size: 15.6inch
  • Resolution: Up to 3840×2160
  • Graphics: Nvidia GTX 860M

Lenovo Y50-70 15.6inch UHD Notebook – click here to buy


 Dell Inspiron 15 5000 Series

Dell Inspiron 15 5000
Key Features:
  • Processor: Intel Core i7
  • Memory: 8GB
  • Hard Drive: 1TB
  • Size: 15.6 inch
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 4GB Discrete memory

Dell Inspiron 15 5000 Series – click to her to buy


Dell XPS 15 – Full HD Infinity Edge 15.6 inch

dell-xps-15Key Features:
  • Processor: Intel Core i7
  • Memory: 16GB
  • Size: 15.6 inch
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GTX960  2GB

Dell XPS 15 – HD Infinity edge – click here to buy


 Apple Macbook Pro 15 inch Laptop

Apple Macbook Pro

Key Features:

  • Processor: Intel Core i7
  • Memory: 16 GB
  • Hard Drive: 1TB
  • Size: 15.4 inch


ASUS Strix GL702VT 17inch Gaming Laptop

asus-strixKey Features:
  • Processor: Intel Core i7 2.6 GHz
  • Memory: 16 GB
  • Hard Drive: 1 TB
  • Size: 17 inch
  • Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX970M

ASUS Strix – click here to buy


The bottom line is get the best you can afford. If you are considering going for a mac – just be aware that Revit and 3DS Max are not available on the mac (at time of writing). You can use parallels or boot camp which is fine but just makes things a bit more tricky. I guess it just depends how much of a mac geek you are – in my case having a mac is worth it!For your info I have included all the system requirements at the end of this post – a good reference all in one place. If you think there is a great laptop out there that we have missed then let us know. We would like to hear your comments on what laptop you use, which laptop works for you or which one hasn’t worked – please feel free to comment below.

The System Requirements:

Autodesk Autocad 2017

  • Windows® 10, Windows® 8 Standard, Enterprise, or Professional edition, Windows® 7 Enterprise
  • For Windows 8 and Windows 7: Minimum Intel® Pentium® 4 or AMD Athlon™ 64 processor
  • 4 GB RAM (8 GB recommended)
  • 6 GB free disk space for installation
  • 1,360 x 768 display resolution with true color (1,600 x 1,050 recommended)
  • Microsoft® Internet Explorer® 7 or later web browser
  • Install from download or DVD
  • Apple® Mac® OS® X v10.11 or later (El Capitan), OS X v10.10 or later (Yosemite), OS X v10.9 or later (Mavericks)
  • Apple Mac Pro® 4,1 or later (Mac Pro® 6,1 or later recommended); MacBook® Pro 5,1 or later (MacBook Pro 10,1 with Retina Display or later recommended); iMac® 8.1 or later (iMac 11.1 or later recommended); Mac Mini® 3.1 or later (Mac Mini 4.1 or later recommended); MacBook Air® 2.1 or later; MacBook 5.1 or later (MacBook 7.1 or later recommended)
  • 64-bit Intel CPU (Intel Core Duo CPU, 2 GHz or faster, recommended)
  • 3 GB of RAM (4 GB recommended)
  • 3 GB free disk space for download and installation (4 GB recommended)
  • All graphics cards on supported hardware
  • 1,280 x 800 display with true color (2880 x 1800 with Retina Display recommended)
  • All Mac OS X supported language operating systems
  • Apple® Mouse, Apple Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, MacBook® Pro trackpad, or Microsoft-compliant mouse.
  • Mac OS X-compliant printer

Additional requirements for large datasets, point clouds, and 3D modeling (all configurations):

  • Pentium 4 or Athlon processor, 3 GHz or greater, or Intel or AMD dual-core processor, 2 GHz or greater
  • 8 GB RAM or more
  • 6 GB hard disk space available in addition to free space required for installation
  • 1600 x 1,050 true color video display adapter 128 MB or greater, Pixel Shader 3.0 or greater, Microsoft® Direct3D®-capable workstation-class graphics card

Autodesk Revit 2017

For entry level configuration (for advanced level see website)
  • Microsoft® Windows® 7 SP1 64-bit: Windows 7 Enterprise, Ultimate, Professional, or Home PremiumMicrosoft® Windows® 8 64-bit: Windows 8 Enterprise, Pro, or Windows 8Microsoft® Windows® 8.1 64-bit: Windows 8.1 Enterprise, Pro, or Windows 8.1, Windows 10
  • Single- or Multi-Core Intel® Pentium®, Xeon®, or i-Series processor or AMD® equivalent with SSE2 technology. Highest affordable CPU speed rating recommended.
  • Multiple cores for many tasks, up to 16 cores for near-photorealistic rendering operations
  • 8GB RAM
  • Models created in previous versions of Revit products may require more available memory for the one-time upgrade process
  • 5 GB free disk space
  • 1,680 x 1050 with true colour
  • Display adapter capable of 24-bit color for basic graphics, 256 MB DirectX® 11-capable graphics card with Shader Model 3 as recommended by Autodesk
  • Microsoft® Internet Explorer® 7 (or later)
  • MS-Mouse or 3Dconnexion®-compliant device
  • Download or installation from DVD9 or USB key
  • Internet connectivity for license registration and prerequisite component download
Not available on a mac – unless using Boot Camp, parallels or similar.

Running Revit products on a Mac

Learn more about using Autodesk Revit software with Boot Camp®, part of Mac OS® X that enables you to install and run Microsoft Windows (and Windows-based applications) on a Mac® computer or with Parallels Desktop, a system utility available from Parallels, Inc. that allows you to run applications in each operating system without restarting your computer.

Autodesk 3DS Max 2017


3ds Max 2016 is supported on the following 64-bit operating systems and at a minimum requires a system with the following 64-bit specifications:

  • Microsoft® Windows® 7 (SP1), Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, Windows 10 Professional operating system
  • 64-bit Intel or AMD multi core processor
  • 4 GB RAM minimum (8 GB recommended)
  • 6 GB free disk space for installation
  • 3-button mouse
  • Latest version of Microsoft® Internet Explorer®, Apple® Safari®, or Mozilla® Firefox® web browser
  • Refer to 3ds Max Certified Hardware for a detailed list of recommended systems and graphics cards
Autodesk is not responsible for errors or failures of Autodesk software arising from the installation of updates, extensions or new releases issued by third-party hardware or software vendors for the qualified software or hardware identified in this document (or for any other third party software or hardware that you may use in connection with Autodesk products).
Not available on a mac – unless using Boot Camp, parallels or similar.

Adobe Photoshop (Creative Cloud)


Intel® Pentium® 4 or AMD Athlon® 64 processor (2 GHz or faster) Microsoft® Windows® 7 with Service Pack 1, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 *, 1 GB of RAM 2.5 GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on removable flash storage devices) 1024 x 768 display (1280 x 800 recommended) with OpenGL® 2.0, 16-bit color, and 512 MB of VRAM (1 GB recommended)** Internet connection and registration are necessary for required software activation, membership validation, and access to online services.†


Multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support Mac OS X v10.7, v10.8, or v10.9 1 GB of RAM 3.2 GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on a volume that uses a case-sensitive file system or on removable flash storage devices) 1024 x 768 display (1280 x 800 recommended) with OpenGL 2.0, 16-bit color, and 512 MB of VRAM (1 GB recommended)** Internet connection and registration are necessary for required software activation, membership validation, and access to online services.†

Adobe Photoshop (CS6)


Intel® Pentium® 4 or AMD Athlon® 64 processor Microsoft® Windows® XP with Service Pack 3 orMicrosoft Windows 7 with Service Pack 1. Adobe® Creative Suite® 5.5 and CS6 applications also support Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. See the CS6 FAQ for more information about Windows 8 support.* 1 GB of RAM 1 GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on removable flash storage devices) 1024 x 768 display (1280 x 800 recommended) with 16-bit color and 512 MB (1 GB recommended) of VRAM OpenGL 2.0–capable system DVD-ROM drive This software doesn’t operate without activation. Broadband Internet connection and registration are required for software activation, validation of subscriptions, and access to online services.† Phone activation is not available.


Multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support Mac OS X v10.6.8 or v10.7. Adobe Creative Suite 3, 4, 5, CS5.5, and CS6 applications support Mac OS X v10.8 or v10.9 when installed on Intel-based systems.** 1 GB of RAM 2 GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on a volume that uses a case-sensitive file system or on removable flash storage devices) 1024 x 768 display (1280 x 800 recommended) with 16-bit color and 512 MB (1 GB recommended) of VRAM OpenGL 2.0–capable system DVD-ROM drive This software doesn’t operate without activation. Broadband Internet connection and registration are required for software activation, validation of subscriptions, and access to online services.† Phone activation is not available.

Graphisoft Archicad 20

Windows® 10 (64-bit)
Windows® 8.1 (64-bit)
Windows® 8 (64-bit) Windows® 7 (64-bit) Windows® Vista (64-bit)*
Note: 32-bit operating systems are not supported.
64-bit processor with 4 or more cores.
8 GB RAM is required, 16 GB RAM or more is recommended for complex models.

5 GB free disk space required for a full installation of ArchiCAD.

Additional 10 GB hard disk space required per project for work with complex models and 3D visualisation.
Resolution of 1440 x 900 is recommended.
OpenGL 2.0 compatible graphics card with on-board memory of 1024 MB is recommended to fully exploit hardware acceleration capabilities.
Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite
Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks
Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion

Note: ArchiCAD 17 is the last version of ArchiCAD to support Mac OS X 10.6

64-bit processor with 4 or more cores.
8 GB RAM is required, 16 GB RAM or more is recommended for complex models.

5 GB free disk space required for a full installation of ArchiCAD.

Additional 10 GB hard disk space required per project for work with complex models and 3D visualisation.
Resolution of 1440 x 900 is recommended.
OpenGL 2.0 compatible graphics card with on-board memory of 1024 MB is recommended to fully exploit hardware acceleration capabilities.

Sketchup Make & Pro 2016

 Windows 10, Windows 8 and Windows 7
  • Microsoft® Internet Explorer 9.0 or higher.
  • SketchUp Pro requires .NET Framework version 4.0. For more information about the .NET framework, click here.

Recommended hardware

  • 2+ GHz processor.
  • 8+ GB RAM.
  • 500 MB of available hard-disk space.
  • 3D class Video Card with 1GB of memory or higher. Please ensure that the video card driver supports OpenGL version 2.0 or higher and up to date.
  • SketchUp’s performance relies heavily the graphics card driver and it’s ability to support OpenGL 2.0 or higher. Historically, people have seen problems with Intel based cards with SketchUp. We don’t recommend using these graphics cards with SketchUp at this time.
  • 3 button, scroll-wheel mouse.
  • Some SketchUp features require an active internet connection

Mac OS X 10.11 (El Capitan), 10.10 (Yosemite) and 10.9 (Mavericks) Recommended hardware

  • 2.1+ GHz Intel™ processor.
  • 8 GB RAM.
  • 500 MB of available hard-disk space.
  • 3D class Video Card with 1GB of memory or higher. Please ensure that the video card driver supports OpenGL version 1.5 or higher and up to date.
  • 3 button, scroll-wheel mouse.
  • Some SketchUp features require an active internet connection.


  • Intel Pentium IV or compatible processor with SSE3 support
  • 4 GB RAM minimum, 8 GB or more recommended
  • 16 GB of total hard disk space
  • 300 MB of available disk space


  • 2.1+ GHz Intel™ processor. Power PC is not supported
  • 4 GB RAM minimum, 8 GB or more recommended
  • 300 MB of available disk space

What does this all mean?

Components of the laptop – understand exactly what you are looking for, and what you are buying.
Here I wanted to break down each aspect of the laptop so you know what you are looking for and why. The process of buying a new laptop, and parting with a good amount of cash can be a stressful one, and you want to make the most informed decision you can. Read on, and I’ll explain the components as best I can.



Screen resolution is all about picture quality, it is measured in pixels (horizontal x vertical).
  • HD: 1366 x 768 resolution is standard on general laptops. Good for browsing the internet, e-mail and basic computing tasks.
  • HD+: 1600 x 900 resolution is great for casual gaming and watching DVD movies.
  • Full HD: 1920 x 1080 resolution allows you to watch Blu-ray movies and play video games without losing any level of detail.
  • Retina display: 2304 x 1440, 2560 x 1600 and 2880 x 1800 resolutions are found in Apple’s 12″, 13.3″ and 15.6″ laptop displays, respectively.
  • QHD (Quad HD) and QHD+: With 2560 x 1440 and 3200 x 1800 resolutions, respectively, the extremely high pixel density creates crisp detail and sharp text, ideal for professional photo and graphics work as well as high-def movies and games.
  • 4K Ultra HD: 3840 x 2160 resolution boasts four times the pixels of Full HD, creating rich colors and images for viewing and editing incredibly lifelike images and graphics.

Type of display

LED backlighting can display bright colours well without draining battery life. If you choose a laptop with a glossy screen you will find it generally will present richer colours and darker blacks, while a matte screen will reduce the glare, particularly if you like to work outdoors, or your workstation is near a window.


The processor is the brain of the computer. A powerful processor will make your laptop run faster, and will save you a lot of headaches which you wait for apps to load, or struggle to orbit a 3d model with shadows turned on!
Intel and AMD are the main manufacturers of processors. Let’s look at Intel first:

Intel Processors:

The Intel is at the heart of every modern MacBook and many Windows laptops. The most prevalent is the Core series.
Core i7: The top of the range processor from Intel, and the processor of choice really for high-demand software like 3D modelling, rendering and similar tasks carried out by architecture students.
Core i5: The middle grade processor, and more commonly seen in most general laptops. It is pretty powerful, but could struggle if you have multiple programs open, that are all high demand.
Core i3: Entry level, and probably not powerful enough to consider for an architecture student.
Core M: Ok for internet browsing and email checking, but not powerful enough for what we are looking for!
In short – we are really aiming for the Core i7 if your budget permits.

AMD Processors:

AMD have a FX and A-Series.
FX: This is the top of the range from AMD and sits around the Core i7 Core i5 area. Totally up to the requirements of an architecture student, great for heavy multitasking.
A10: Good graphics performance, still up to the challenge.
A8: Still holding in there with some good graphics performance but really I would aim for the FX or A10 if you are going for the AMD processor.
A6 & A4: Although still great processors they would not be suitable for managing the types of programs an architecture student would be using.


RAM is the computers memory. The more it has, the more programs your laptop can deal with at any one time without slowing it down.
On average, most programs in the architecture field look for a recommended requirement of 8GB. Where possible aim for this, or even more.

Storage – The Hard Drive

There are two types of hard drive. HDDs (Hard Disk Drives) are the most common and can store large amounts of data. These are the standard types of hard drive you will generally find on most laptops. They come in two different speeds, 5400rpm or 7200rpm. I would go for the 7200rpm for your needs.
The other type, the Solid State Drive (SSD), is super fast and consumes less power meaning your battery will last longer. They are also smaller in size and weight, and have a negligible heat production and noiseless operation.
The drawback is that they have a smaller capacity, so they aren’t always able to store the mountains of work that you will be doing at college or uni and beyond!!
You will find some laptops offer a multi hard drive, featuring a SSD for housing the operating system and applications meaning faster start up, and an HDD for general data storage.

If you would like to download our mini guide to purchasing a laptop for your architecture studies, click on the link below.

Click Here to Download The Guide

The guide features a comparison chart with all recommended system requirements for all the different softwares
All of the information in this article in one useful pdf!
On signing up for the download you will gain access to my newsletter – full of useful tips, news, downloads and more. You can unsubscribe from this at any time.
DividerPlease don’t ask my advice on specific laptops – I have recommended the above laptops based on their specification and how it compares to the system requirements of most softwares that you may be using. Please do further research, read reviews and ask for professional advice before purchasing a new laptop. I am not an expert, and this post is based on my opinion from my experiences using various laptops. I am not a laptop sales person!

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  1. Will all apple laptops support autocad,Photoshop and other architecture softwares???

    • Hi, I use an apple macbook pro and at the moment I am running Autocad, ArchiCAD and Adobe Creative Suite which includes InDesign, Photoshop etc. Generally there are no major compatibility issues. As a student it is possible to get student versions of most of the autodesk products which is really good.
      I don’t think that Revit is currently available on the Mac – could be wrong. There is the option of running Parallels on the mac, allowing you to run windows and any windows software on your mac. Personally I try to avoid this but it is an option.
      I would recommend the mac – but then I’m a bit Apple crazy! 🙂

      • Hey, Just wondering what sort of configuration you have on your Pro. I’m looking into getting one myself and running AutoCAD and possibly Boot Camp for Revit.
        Its nice to hear that its working for people out there because I would really prefer the reliability of a Mac over anything else.

        • Hi, my macbook pro is 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7, with 8GB memory. I think there is the facility to upgrade the memory to 16GB which I have considered doing. As I mentioned in previous comment, I run quite a lot of software on it (but don’t use bootcamp or parallels). Every now and again it experiences glitches – usually when I have loads of applications open and am trying to render. Sketch Up has probably caused me most problems or Cad when working on a corrupt file. I think the same can be said with any computer in that respect though.
          Boot camp works well, but the only negative is having to essentially shut down the machine and reboot each time you want to switch between the two operating systems. So for example, you are using revit in windows but have photoshop in mac, so you will have to reboot as you work between the two. That’s up to you whether you can be bothered with that!
          I would recommend the 15inch if you can afford it as the 13inch is a bit small, particularly for cad work and 3d (in my opinion). I have just had a look on the apple store and it appears the 15inch comes with 16GB memory as standard which is good. Anyways, hope my ramblings have helped a bit! Good luck with your decision!

      • Hi sir, i’m an architecture student.. And i need to use AutoCAD, revit architecture, and 3ds max softwares.. i’m going to buy a laptop.. With what specifications i go for?? Ram, graphics and all

      • Hello m 1st year student of architecture nd nw m thinking of buying a laptop foh myself but m abit confused dat shud i go for mac or windows… I wanna buy mac nly but in mac which one is best macbook air or macbook pro please can u suggest me d best of mac to buy me one.

    • Just thought – you asked ‘will ALL apple laptops support….’ yes they will to an extent, but you need to be aware that the macbook air for example has limited memory and you would need to compare the system requirements of the software you will be using to the spec of the laptop you are looking at. I would suggest if you can afford it and are planning on going down the apple route that you go for the pro to ensure a better performance. I know people that use auto cad on a macbook air but only for minor work…

    • YES, Also ArchiCAD has always been dual platform working on both Mac and PC so your friends and you can work on the same project at the same time even if they have a different platform, it is the first 3D object based software starting in 1983 and was partially funded by Steve Jobs has more functionality than Revit which was developed by two ex-ArchiCAd guys and was bought by AutoDesk because they could not come up with it themselves.

  2. Are the alienware laptops suitable for architecture students?

    • Hi. I’m not too familiar with alienware, however, having read a bit about them I have found numerous opinions….
      Some say they are overpriced and bulky, and you can get a similar spec for a better price. If you are particularly keen on the alienware brand some owners report that they perform well, and can handle the demands of graphics heavy software like cad/3ds max etc which you would expect. A lot of it comes down to personal preference… as long as you get the best spec you can afford that corresponds with the system requirements of the software you will be using you should be ok.

  3. i m still new to architecture and i m not really a geek in technologies but i do wiling to learn…i would like to know is it highly recommended to get a mac book pro instead of a windows running laptop? i do want to buy a mac book but through my research, i find out that a windows version laptop is more recommended for running AutoCAD…why is it so? and i m fully aware that a mac book display is better than most of the laptops out there but i m more used to windows laptop…is it complicated to use a mac book? and what about printing? we all know that architecture students need to print a lot of projects and stuffs…

    • Hi, from what you have said I would probably suggest you stay with Windows. Autocad runs well on both windows and mac, however, it is relatively new on a mac and for some people who have switched over from using windows to mac, they have found that Autocad is just not quite as good on a Mac. However, I would imagine many people don’t even notice the difference. I use the mac version and it is totally fine for my needs. Printing is also not a problem from a mac. If you are more comfortable with windows I would stay with that, you will get much better value for money when purchasing a new laptop, and will be able to afford a more powerful machine. One thing to consider is whether the computers you will use at uni are macs or windows, as sometimes it helps to be using the same. Good luck.

  4. Hello there! thank you for this detailed post. I’m really interested in the Lenovo Y50 UHD (Resolution 4k); however, I’m worried about the 4k. Will programs such as Autocad, Rhino, and Photoshop work properly with that 4k display? Or do I have to change in the resolution settings? I don’t understand much about this part of the laptop. Please advise.
    Thank you!

  5. Will AutoCad run well on lenovo Y50…i am a civil student
    Please reply soon
    Thank you

  6. I’m interested in the Alienware 13

    My budget is kinda low and I really need to now if this could run autoCAD :/

    • Hi Dereck, I think AutoCAD would run on this laptop – it meets all of the basic requirements. However, if you are going to be carrying out complex 3D work and rendering in AutoCAD it may struggle at times. Obviously if you are restricted by your budget, you have to go for the best you can afford and I would think this is a pretty good bet. Best of luck 🙂

  7. Hi there! Got to know a lot from this post. I am an architecture student planning to buy a new laptop. Well im confused which one to go for, macbook or a windows laptop. Autocad, Revit, 3dsmax , photoshop, sketchup are the softwares im gonna be using.
    Also wanted to know. If incase i buy a macbook and use parallels(split windows), does that hamper the speed of the system or any drawbacks to that? And is it really feasible? Cause i do a lot of work on 3dsmax.
    Waiting for your reply!
    Thanks 🙂

    • Hi! From what you have said, I think a windows laptop would be more suitable, particularly as you use a lot of 3dsmax. MacBooks are great, but for the extra cost, and having to use parallels which isn’t ideal, you could get a really good performance windows laptop for the same price. If 3dsmax wasn’t in the picture I would personally go for a mac, but I guess it comes down to how much you want a mac! Using parallels works fine, but it is going to have an effect on your laptop, it has to in order to run two operating systems at the same time (having said that I haven’t used it in a good few years, so things could have improved). Sorry for my muddled response, you are in a tricky situation! I think the windows direction would be best….. Good luck with your decision!! 🙂

  8. Hi, i am a professional architect, i need a super fast laptop for my drawings, can you please recommend a laptop for autocad. $3000 is my budget.

  9. Thanks a lot 🙂

  10. Hey, I am still in school but I am looking for a laptop to start architecture. I will be studying in a year and I need to know what the best option for a laptop is?

    • Hi, I would get the best laptop you can afford, based on the details and suggestions in the post above. Seeing as you are studying in a year you almost need to ‘future proof’ your laptop, so if you buy the best spec you can that will help. Best of luck. 🙂

  11. Baldev singh gill

    Does xps13 (2015) can run these softwares?

  12. Hi! I’m a landscape architecture student. I’m not really good in choosing laptops and still confused about the stuff but I’ve been researching about it. Is the gaming laptop good for me? even i not really a gamer hahaha. I found this Asus ROG GL552 and it has IntelCore i7, 2TB storage. If this is not a good laptop…..can you recommend me something? please i need your help. Im really into Asus but if its not that good i can handle changes as long as its a good laptop that will last for years. PLEASE HELP!

    • Hi, Well, I don’t know exactly what software you will use but I imagine it will be similar? If so the laptop you suggested seems to be powerful enough – you just have to match the specifications with the requirements of the different software and read a few reviews. Gaming laptops are good for architecture students in general as they have better graphics cards and tend to be powerful enough to handle the resource draining software that we use. If ASUS is for you then go for it! All I would suggest is that you select the better specification model if you can afford it. Don’t forget, I’m no laptop expert, these are just my suggestions based on my experience, and the information provided by the manufactures and software companies. All the best, Emma

      • Hi! Emma, thanks for the advice. The software we use are the same as architecture. But we usually use autocad, photoshop, sketch-up and lumion. Actually, i only need 17″ or 15″ that has intelcore i7,1TB storage…..can you recommend me something or anything?

        • Hi Gary, You’re welcome. Quite a few of the laptops in the post above fit the criteria you are looking for. Hopefully you will find something suitable there. All the best, Emma

  13. Hai there! Which processor would b better to run all these softwares….

  14. Hello everyone, I recently bought a Toshiba Satellite P50-B-11M, but does not work well with SketchUp.
    When I rotate the image the screen flickers. How is it possible?
    I need your help, thanks!

    • Hi Alessio, That should easily be able to handle sketch up. Do you have any problems with other programs? What kind of file size are you working on in sketch up? Might be worth speaking to the people you bought it from….? Anyone else have any suggestions? Emma

  15. Hi!
    I’m starting my second year of architecture and I really need a new laptop. My main doubt was about the graphic card. I’ve read that the quadro’s cards are the best option for those who use CAD, 3D modeling, etc. I’m thinking of buying the new Lenovo ThinkPad W541 because of its graphic card (Quadro k2100M 2Gb). I’ve seen other workstations with GTX 960, GTX 970, etc. If my only purpose is to work with the laptob(I’m not really interested in gaming) what graphic card is better, a Quadro K2100M 2Gb or, for example, a GTX 960?

    • Hi Nestor, I’m afraid I don’t really have any knowledge of graphics cards – it might be better if you head over to trusty google to get some reviews/tips. Sorry I can’t be of assistance. Emma

  16. can u suggest me that for 3d autocad which one lappi is good….

  17. Hi there….
    Sir actually i am a bit confused between buying a macbook pro or any among those windows laptops..
    I want to buy a macbook pro but will it be comfortable to use it like other windows laptops as most of the students in my college have windows laptops…
    In macbook buying the autocad software costs too much.??
    as already macbook pro 15″ is too costly….
    and buying/using a macbook has got any benefit that windows laptops can’t provide as i have seen windows laptops work too slow and hangs too much while using autocad…

    • Hi, from everything you have said it sounds like you should just get a windows laptop! Get the best specification you can afford and you should have no problems. It sounds like you have a good budget if you were thinking of the macbook, so I would put this to a good windows laptop and you will still have some cash leftover. All the best, Emma

  18. Hi Emma, I am actually an architecture student and now I think I can’t help buying a laptop after five years! I wanna buy macbook pro mf840 and its configuration is core i5 with intel iris 6100 graphics card with 8 gb ram. Then would you plz tell me about its efficiency for our professional working?

  19. And sorry for posting another comment, but the biggest problem is about its 13.3″ display which I don’t know would be proper for working with some of our softwares. But beside this, I believe the colors and resolution in macbooks are the best and worth buying rather than many other laptops.
    Thanks in advance, for your guidance.

    • Hi, yes, the 13″ display is quite small when working in cad based programs. CAD, ArchiCAD, Skp all have quite a lot of toolbars and palettes which quickly use up screen space and leave little room for modelling. I have a 15″ macbook and an 21inch iMac and wherever possible I always use the iMac purely for the added screen space. If you can stretch to a 15″ mac book pro I would suggest doing so. 🙂

  20. Hello, i just wanted to know how’s dell precision M3800?? I use 3ds max, revit , rhino, photoshop.

  21. Hello!
    I wanted to know which computer is better for a freshman architecture student who wants their laptop to last and also be useful for long (preferably until graduation ). The two available options however are the HP – Envy 17.3″ Touch-Screen Laptop – Intel Core i7 – 16GB Memory – 1TB Hard Drive and the Lenovo – Edge 2-in-1 15.6″ Touch-Screen Laptop – Intel Core i7 – 8GB Memory – 1TB Hard Drive. Thank you for your time!!

    • Hi,
      As I have said previously I am no expert – so I would recommend seeking advice from someone with professional IT/PC knowledge. However, from the information you have sent me, I would probably go with the 17″ HP Envy, it has a larger screen and better memory so that is what would sway me. I would suggest reading some reviews about both laptops before making your purchase. All the best, Emma

  22. Hello, I’m a +1 non medical student .I want to do b.arch after +2 .Can you just please recommend me the laptop which I should buy now and even help me in my architectural studies..
    THanks for ur help in advance. ..

  23. thanks for your article, but if we’re talking about the performance of a PC, i mean if i’m rendering something on 3D max or any program that requires a high performance of the PC, considering high temp problems and crushing problems, which is better? macbook pro or one of the notebooks that you have recommended above? or you can give me an answer in general, like the performance of the macbook is better!
    Thank you.

    • Hi Nuri, thanks for your comment. It is hard to say – I think there are very different opinions of what is better. You have your mac fans and you have your pc fans. If you are looking for very high performance 3D rendering capability, I would suggest seeking professional advice for your specific needs. All the best, Emma 🙂

  24. I suggest building your own laptop/pc. You choose which parts you need and which processor you want. Also, you are more likely to get a cheaper laptop/pc depending on your choice.

  25. I was also looking for a Revit compatible laptop and had some good advice on this forum that I used.. Here is the thread Hope this is of help to someone!

  26. Hey,
    can you tell me which laptop would be better
    a laptop with I7 processor and gt graphics card
    or I5 processor with gtx950m graphics card

    • Hi Jenifer, I’m afraid graphics cards are not really my area of expertise – so I would recommend seeking advice from someone with professional IT/PC knowledge to make sure you get an accurate answer. Sorry I can’t be of more assistance. All the best, Emma

  27. Hi, I’m struggling between Macbook Pro 15 (the newest one with 4k and AMD card) and Dell XPS 15 Infinity (the newest with 4k and gtx 960m), which of them do you think will work BEST with Archicad+photoshop+a little gaming?

    • Hi Naomi, As I have said previously I am no expert – so I would recommend seeking advice from someone with professional IT/PC knowledge for your more specific needs. Sorry I can’t be of more assistance. All the best, Emma

    • Hi Naomi,Am facing the same problem as either to choose gaming computer which have nice graphics (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980) and high performance but the issue is they overheat and also the battery not last to long….

      For best option,know what type of software you will be working with as you mention above, i will recommend MACBOOK PRO 15”,16 gb RAM,2.8 GHZ Processor speed and intel core i7 .the most important thing is the RAM and PROCESSOR and i think they are on top and the battery last long time

  28. i bought asus gl 552 jx for using 3ds max and revit architecture software but in this laptop 3ds max is not working. pls suggest me what should I do now.

    • I think you need to provide a bit more information! What exactly is not working with your 3DS Max? Does it open? Can you use it at all? Are you using a student or paid for copy? Is Revit working ok? Where did you buy the laptop – can you take it back to the store to ask for their assistance? Are you at Uni or work in an office? Can you get the IT department to check it out for you….?

  29. Hi

    I would like to purchase a lap top for my daughter who will be joining in Architecture this year.

    Price is not a concern. Kindly suggest me which option I should prefer Mac or windows? What configuration should I get it for her?

    • Hi, The Mac or Windows question is a tricky one. The mac does present some problems as not all the software used is compatible with a mac. However, you can use a parallels programme that enables you to run windows on a mac but it is not ideal. I would say, unless your daughter is very keen on apple products I would go with Windows. You can probably get a far better specification for substantially less cost (I know you said price was not an issue) – but also you will find the Windows pc far more compatible. An alternative option would be to find out from the college or university which software they teach, and whether they would recommend a mac or windows computer. If they teach software that is completely compatible with a mac – personally I would go for a Mac. Sorry for my confused response, but a lot of it is personal preference… I hope I have helped a bit! All the best, Emma

  30. Hi! M thinking to buy a new laptop for me, can pl suggest me some top best laptops with fulfilled requirements of an architects. Pl

  31. Hi, in fact I’m a windows laptop user but recently I did make up my mind to purchase a new laptop which is mac book pro, will I not be able to get used with it? Because they said they are quite different in many ways. I am going to study archtecture, so I don’t know whether it will be suitable to purchase a mac? I really don’t know if I use a mac, will it provide the software that I need in my study? If yes, what are they?

    • Hi there Winnie, I think it is down to personal preference. I got through my architecture course using a mac. It was a little frustrating at times with compatibility issues, but they have improved a lot since then. You should find out what software you will be taught during your course and make sure that you can run the software on a mac (i.e., revit isn’t currently available on a mac so you would have to run windows on your mac which is do-able, but a bit of a pain). I have listed in this post what software is available on macs and all the system requirements. Find out what your college/university actually teach on, is it mac or windows based? A mac is quite different from a windows based pc but I;m sure it won’t take you long to get used to it. I have converted many friends and family to macs and they would never go back to a windows based pc now. So, I’m afraid I can’t give you a definitive answer, but I would recommend speaking with your college/uni to find out a bit more from them as to what is used etc. They may even have recommendations. All the best with your studies. Emma

  32. Hi,
    Today i brought a laptop. Dell 15″ note book with windows 10
    Intel core i7-6500U processor
    4M cache up to 3.10GHz
    2GB dedicated graphics
    Is this good for archiCAD revit and 3d max.

    • Hi Indika,
      Sounds good – what is the RAM? 8GB is recommended but 4GB would be ok. Everything else you mentioned seems sufficient for the software you will be using.

  33. Hello..

    So I’m starting architecture school in september, I’m not a computer geek but i really do want to get to grips of all technology, i do however have a macbook air to play about with and i am starting to get used to apple but as a potter about laptop. I understand from the course we are using revit, sketchup and the obvious auto cad. i am willing to spend that little extra but in all honesty i have no idea what to get i am so confused by the apple and windows situation. In all honesty i want to go apple but i understand that Revit is becoming a huge part of architecture life. can you help? many thanks.

    • Hi Alex, good to hear from you. You’re right – it is confusing. I guess it is a bit of a personal choice really. As someone who has only just started to play about with a mac, I would probably suggest you stick with a windows based laptop – you will get more for your money, and it is easier to use with Revit, and if you are learning on windows based machines at architecture school, that will make life a bit easier for you. The beauty is that you will have a macbook air, so you still get to use a mac, but for the serious work you have the windows laptop. Best of both worlds perhaps?! Hope this helps a bit! 🙂

  34. Dear Emma, well I am a foundation student who is going for architecture course next year and I have basically picked out two laptops which are the dell xps 15 (1080p, 8gb ram, 1tb harddrive +32gb ssd) and the asus ux501vw (1080p, 8gb ram, 512ssd). So basically I would want one of these laptops to help me last through the course and if possible give it a 6-7 yrs service,so I would like to ask ur opinion on which should I choose or should I go for some other products? If I should which model should I go? My budget is going to be as high as the dell xps 1080p version. THANK YOU VERY MUCH. Your help will be much appreciated

    • Hi there Raymond. To be honest I can’t really comment on specific brands and models – I would recommend you speak with a Dell/Asus retailer who would direct you to the best model of the two. I am not sure whether either of those laptops will give you 6-7 years service. As far as system requirements are concerned, both models sounds like they have a reasonable performance spec. Best of luck with your decision. Emma

  35. Ajay kumar yadav

    Hey I have lenovo i5 laptop but while I am install revit then activate will come but my friends was run that software in try mode but in my laptop try will not come . What is problem so please solve my problem.

  36. HII, I’m a building student and I’m hoping to get the “hp envy x360”. I really don’t know anything about laptop specs but I just need to know if it’s a good laptop for autoCAD, revit, and the likes.
    The specs for the hp envy 15-U337 x360 (INTEL CORE I7-5500U 2.4GHZ, 16GB RAM, 1TB HDD,
    HD graphics 5500) to be honest I don’t know what they mean so I’m hoping someone could help me out. Thanks.

  37. Am studying architecture.. Beginning level.. Am thinking of buying Hp elite book corei5 320gb 4gb ram 1gb dedicated graphics… Is this good

    • Hi. I’m afraid I can’t comment on particular laptops – I would suggest you compare the system requirements of the software you are using with your suggested laptop. On first impression, I would be inclined to go for an improved ram – I don’t think 4GB is enough personally. All the best.

  38. Thank you for this article. I’m an interior design student and all I use is autocad(purely 2D like for floorplans), sketch up and vray.
    can the macbook air handle this? i don’t mind a bit of lag as long as my laptop CAN handle it or should I just go pro?
    or is windows pc more favorable?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Mika, If you plan to use sketchup and vray I would personally not recommend the air. I would be more inclined to go for a pro – as it could become frustrating trying to render with the air. It is also good to have the option of upgrading. I recently upgraded my MacBook Pro, a 2012 model, with more RAM and improved hard drive for little cost compared to buying a new one and it works amazingly well, and is now super fast. Best of luck 🙂

  39. Hello!

    I was wondering if having the parallel on mac would slow down the laptop. Which one is the best choice among dell, asus and hp?

    Ps. Im an architecture student

    Thank you!

    • Yes, parallel will inevitably slow the machine down to a certain point. I guess if you are planning to go that way, you may benefit from getting slightly higher spec mac to counter balance the additional load on the machine.

      • hi!

        If i get a 13.3 inch laptop since it is lighter than a 15.5 inch, will the toolbars and pallets hide all the workspace trremendously ?Even if they have the same amount of pixels (1,920 x 1,080) ?

        and thank you for this post. it is really useful !

        thanks again

        • Hi Tina, Its not a problem, its just that going from a large screen to a 13.3 inch could be a little frustrating. If you are working on Revit, or Archicad you tend to have a few toolbars and pallettes that restrict the main modelling window, so on a small laptop that can be annoying. Having said that, its not impossible and you would get used to it. 🙂

    • Hi Ray,
      I cannot comment on specific laptops, however if you check the system requirements of the software you will be using against the proposed laptop, you should get a good idea as to whether the laptop is up to the job. Best of luck. 🙂

  40. hi , thank you for this articale
    i’m an architecture student and i want to buy a laptop asus
    this is the full details about it
    Intel Core i7 intel core i7-6700hq quad core processor.
    SATA-III hard drive.
    Microsoft Windows 10.
    This device can be upgraded to Windows 10 for free.
    Display features:

    15.6 inch screen.
    High definition display.
    Resolution 1920 x 1080 pixels.

    Intel HD Graphics.
    Dedicated graphics card.
    please give me your opinion about it

  41. Hi Emma,
    I have a 12,5 inch screen on my laptop and it matches all the specs above.
    Can I use it or is it a big no no?

    • Hi Abraham, Of course you can use your laptop – screen size is a preference. I think there may be times when you might find it hard as sometimes all the toolbars and pallets get in the way of what you are working on. However, a simple solution is to get a monitor, that you can keep in your room and plug into to have a second screen if you are working on something that requires more screen space. Hope this helps. All the best. Emma

  42. Hello !

    Thanks a lot for this article , it is huge help especially for someone that doesnt know that much about this whole new tech jam .

    I am student architect , and i am looking for a laptop that would run the autocad , 3dmax , sketchup , photoshop .
    the thing is while doing my reasearch looking for a lapotop that would match all the criteria you mentionned above i find several versions of the intel procesor i7 , i7 5500 U , i7 5600U , i7 6700HQ …

    I have no idea what it satnds for and the research i ve done wasnt that helpful ! can you please tell me which one of these versions is – relatively – the best for my needs !

    Thank you so much ! I would appreciate it !

    • Hello, I agree, it is a tricky one. I am no expert so I won’t pretend to know exactly the difference between them. However, I have found this site that gives a comparison which is worth looking at That said, I would probably try and go for the most recent model where possible, to benefit from any new hardware and upgrades to spec. And as always, the best you can afford. All the best, Emma

  43. oww tnx Abt ol of z description above. I realy want it. but it is difficult to get it at our country. so what can I do…?
    now I want to get who sponsored me … I am on find it..
    it is ma wish !

  44. Hi! I am an architecture student and want to buy a laptop on a budget. I intend to use autocad 2016 for 2d design work and 3dsmax for 3d rendering. i am thinking of bying the lenovo yoga 7 10. It has a an intel core i7 with a 16GB ram and a 256 GB ssd. It also has a discrete GPU with a 2gb nvidia geforce 940mx graphics card which is not replaceable. Will the graphics card run 3dmax with the above mentioned system hardware?

    • Hi Mahnoor, I’m afraid I cannot comment on specific laptops, however if you check the system requirements of the software you will be using against the proposed laptop, you should get a good idea as to whether the laptop is up to the job. I am not sure about the graphics card, so I wouldn’t like to say. Best of luck.

  45. Hi, I am looking to buy Lenovo w510 thinkpad, i7 2nd gen, with 8GB RAM, 500GB HDD, 5GB graphics card, Speed 2.60ghz turbo 3.00ghz, 15.6 HD screen. Will this configuration work(this laptop) will it meet the requirements of high end software like CAD, SKETCHUP, V-RAY, PHOTOSHOP, LUMION, 3D MAX, REVIT, ETC..

    • Hi, I’m afraid I cannot comment on specific laptops, however if you check the system requirements of the software you will be using against the proposed laptop, you should get a good idea as to whether the laptop is up to the job. However, it does sound like a pretty high spec laptop.

  46. Hi I’m future student of architecture and I have Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Series 15″ 7548. Could someone tell me if it’s good for these all programs? I’ll be very thankfull 😀

  47. Hi
    I am an architecture student.
    Will Archicad run well on DELL XPS 15 ( Intel Core i7-6700HQ 2.60GHz, 4K UHD InfinityEdge Touchscreen, 32GB, 1TB SSD, nVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 2GB, Windows 10 Home)?
    And which is the best for Archicad? Alienware 15 (with same value) / Dell XPS 15?
    Please reply soon
    Thank you

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