In this list I’ve gathered the best laptops for architecture you’ll find online that satisfy all the requirements, give you the specs for your money & as you’ll see are the most popular among buyers online.
I’ve tried to include a laptop for every budget, need & types of projects so whether you are a student or an architect as long as you keep scrolling down and reading the description from each you should find your pick.
1. DELL XPS 15
I am aware this is pretty expensive, the main reason is its portability, more than likely the most lightweight & best windows laptop for architecture that will be able to handle virtually any project during architecture school & most (if not all) projects working architects encounter.
It has pretty much all the specs I’ve mentioned and more.
In fact, the configuration is pretty close to what a workstation near its price offers. The CPU is a six core 8th generation Core i7 which is the latest of the latest as of 2019 processors for laptops (the best workstation out there has around 4.9GHz) , 32GB RAM (this is enough even to model the forbidden city in Beijin).
Display & Design
What you are basically paying here is the design. The display is 15” and QHD. Note that this is also a 4k display model which may give you issues with many of AutoDesk older versions for which you’ll have to revert back to Full HD using display settings, if you have the most recent version (which your school will provide you with) you have nothing to worry about.
2. MacBook Pro
If you are an incoming student, you’re probably yet not aware that Apple Laptops are pretty popular among architects especially students. You’ll see many shiny apples during your lectures especially if your school doesn’t use Revit (it’s not compatible with Macs probably because you still got Maya, Rhino & AutoCAD all capable of running on them).
That is as long as you get the 15” Pro Version as shown here, in fact, any 15” MacBook Pro will be enough for all architecture projects & the model sizes you’ll encounter during school.
The model I’m showing here is the latest but also the most powerful among the Pros. The Clock speed is bit higher than the Dell XPS 13 (3.9GHz) and the RAM is already upgraded to 16GB. Plus you get twice as much storage (512GB) with the fastest reading/writing speeds (PCIe NVMe SSD).
Although it is from AMD (apple still hasn’t incorporated NVIDIA into their models), the Radeon Pro 560 has the same performance as the 1050 GTX or the 960GTX.
Display & Design
As far as I’m aware, their design still remain the best among laptops today. In fact, if you buy a certified refurbished MacBook Pro, it’ll be like buying a new one that will probably last you the entire 4 years you’ll be stuck in architecture school.
Designing/Modeling , especially with 3DS Max or Maya, will look best on their display too: since they have +2k resolution: 2880×1800 and a far more color depth than most laptops. Since the software is written for Mac OSX you won’t have any issues or won’t have to scale it down to 1080p either.
3.Microsoft Surface Book
There’s actually a windows version of the MacBook; that is high quality design & power all packed into a lightweight object: the Surface Book 2.
In fact, there’s currently a trend among architects & students with the Book 2/Pro today. You’ll actually find tons of architects & students talking about the Surface series on reddit , quora and other social media.
Aside from the Surface Book, there isn’t really any other touschscreen laptop to consider.
Let’s not confuse the Surface Pro 4 with the Book 2, the Book is on a whole different new level. It can support an 8th generation quad core processor with 4.2GHz which is the highest you’ll find among laptops.As for RAM, you can also pick whatever suits your budget:8-16GB. The Storage can also go all the way up to a 1TB SSD (PCIe NVMe).
Display & Design
Since you’re parying tons of cash for it, expect the design & display to be top-notch: just as good as any MacBook Pro. The entire chasis is made full of aluminum plus as you probably this can work a real notebook/canvas: you can design/draft/take notes with it too.
The display has a very high resolution (3000×2000) which shouldn’t be a problem with AutoDesk products from 2017 onwards (they’ve been updated to handle higher resolutions).