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10 Laptops for Architecture, Design, and Engineering

I use Building Information Modeling (BIM), which is resource hungry, and a normal office laptop will not do, a Celeron laptop will only pain you with random freezes, slow loading times, renders that take forever and laptops shutting down without warning (thank you for autosave), it’s commonplace for an architect to design draft in  AutoCADRevit or Archicad and use visualization and rendering software like 3DS Max, C4D or Twinmotion in his or her pipeline, same goes with drafters, architectural technologist, engineers, interior designers, and landscapers. 

A powerful laptop is great for photorealism, which also forms part of a modern architectural pipeline, it might seem like the words powerful and laptops don’t belong in the same sentence but laptops are quite impressive at the moment and sometimes even give you the same performance as some desktops.

There is something that needs to be taken into consideration, and that is cost, the equation is, more power equals more money, high-end computers are and will always be expensive, you can get away with an entry-level CAD laptop, it will work just fine but will suffer when you have to run multiple applications on the same time, forget doing small things like listening to music while you render, or having Photoshop, VLC and office running while working on a 10-story building, things will get done but believe me, you might have to take a coffee break now and then, below are 10 of the Best laptops for Architecture, design, and engineering to make things simpler for you.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Laptop.

ProcessorThe processor is one of the most important components you will have to look at when you are shopping for a laptop, there are luckily so many options at the moment, it is common that you will not only have your CAD software open. My advice would be to at least start with a 4 core processor for light cad work or you could go with 6 cores upward for the more intensive workflows,
Graphics CardIt is advisable to be clear on what exactly you want to do, does your workflow include photo-real rendering, or is ray tracing your thing, I personally would start with a GTX 1050, and an RTX 2060 if I want to take the ray tracing route, I know that there are cards that are meant for CAD, I did not mention them because today’s gaming cards are powerful enough to do CAD work
MemoryI worked with 8 gigs for a while and know how frustrating it is, try to start with at least 16 gigs you should know that CAD software is highly data-driven, they perform complex calculations and so need a lot of memory, check the RAM max a laptop before you buy your laptop this will be an advantage if you want to increase it in the future.
StorageThe magic word here is SSD, It not only improves the speed of the laptop but also improves performance and is kinder on your laptop Battery.
DisplayThe most important thing is to get accurate color, IPS displays on your laptop will increase the quality of the final product, you want your client to see what you see at the end of the day.
PortabilityIt is important to look at how portable you want to be, an example is being able to quickly and easily be able to work on-site, display size might not be that important when you want to go this route,

1. MSI WE72 7rj

The MSI we72 7rj is still a good contender for CAD Laptop, it is the type of laptop that will continue being a good companion, you should keep your charger close to you at all times since it loves consuming a lot of energy.  

CPU Intel® Core™ i7 7700HQ processor
Display 17.3” FHD (1920 × 1080)
Memory  32 GB DDR4 memory
Storage 512 GB NVMe M.2 SSD
GPU NVIDIA Quadro M2200 / GDDR5 4 GB
OS Windows 10 Pro
Weight 5.95 lbs

 2. MSI WE63

The one thing I noticed about MSI is, they keep on creating powerful laptops for CAD and 3D it comes with a 6 core processor and the p200 4GD GPU

CPU Intel Core i7-8750H
Display 6” 1920×1080
Memory 16 GB DDR4
Storage 1 TB HDD + 256 GB NVMe SSD
GPU NVIDIA Quadro P2000 4 GB
OS Windows 10 Pro
Weight 05lbs

3. MSI WE73

The W Series is really impressive, from the size to the power, you get great mobility and the ability to do your work on the go.

CPU 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7 8th gen
Display 17.3”
Memory 32 GB DDR4 2400
Storage 1 TB flash memory solid state
GPU NVIDIA Quadro P2000
OS Windows 10 Pro
Weight 5.95 lbs

4. HP ZBOOK 15V G5

HP ZBOOK 15V G5 is a bit on the bulky, it still is a good contender for top cad laptop, and it’s worth having it is a bit cheaper than the laptops mentioned above

CPU Intel Core i7-8750H
Display 6” 1920×1080
Memory 16 GB DDR4
Storage 256 GB NVMe SSD
GPU NVIDIA Quadro P600 4 GB
OS Windows 10 Pro

5. HP Spectre x360

A capable ultrabook, it is a 2 on 1, this alone makes it the ideal tool for the designer on the move, look at it as an office on wheels.

CPU 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7
Display 15.6”
Memory 16 GB DDR4
Storage 512 GB HDD 5400 rpm
OS Windows 10 Pro
Weight 12.3 ounces


One of my favorites, loaded with a RTX GPU its more than capable of being your everyday driver 

CPU Intel Core i7-8750H
Display 6” 1920×1080 @ 144Hz
Memory 16 GB DDR4
Storage 256 GB/512 GB NVMe SSD
GPU NVIDIA RTX 2060 6 GB / RTX 2070 / RTX 2080
OS Windows 10 Pro

7. Apple MacBook Pro 15 Touch Bar

The MacBook traditionally the choice for designers that love the streamlined mac os, there might be people out there that might not like the OS itself but there is one thing I can tell you, the i9 in the MacBook is a beast

CPU Intel Core i9 @ 2.9GHz
Display 4” 2880×1800
Memory 16 GB
Storage 256 GB/512 GB/1 TB NVMe SSD
GPU Radeon Pro 560X / Vega 16 / Vega 20 4 GB
OS macOS
Weight 02lbs

8. Lenovo P52S

The ThinkPad works fine when you are on a lighter workflow but suffers when you are doing heavy workloads, this is contributed to the p500, it is still a great laptop when your primary work is CAD.

CPU 4.1 GHz Intel Core i7
Display 15.6” (1920 × 1080)
Memory 4 GB SRAM DDR4
Storage 1 TB HDD 7200 rpm
GPU  NVIDIA Quadro P1000
OS Windows 10 Pro
Weight 8.9 lbs

9. ASUS VivoBook S

ASUS VivoBook S The king of entry-level, it is a really low-cost mid-range laptop, it is a great starter for students, don’t get me wrong it’s a powerful laptop, it will enable you to play some games and do work due to its i7 processor.

CPU Intel Core i7-8550U
Display 14″ FHD
Memory 8 GB DDR4
Storage 256 GB SSD
OS Windows 10 Pro
Weight 3.2 lbs

10. Microsoft Surface Book 2

One of my favorite portables, it’s a 2 in 1 that can be used with a pen coming out with a 1050 GPU for the 13” and the GTX 1060 for the 15” the biggest bonus of the surface book 2 is the battery time, a whopping 15 hours, the price might be a bit on the high side, but the portability is definitely a selling point

CPU Intel Core i7-8650U
Display Display:15” 3240×2160
Memory 16 GB
Storage 256 GB/512 GB/1 TB NVMe SSD
GPU NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6 GB
OS Windows 10 Pro
Weight 20 lbs

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