Although until recent years, professionals in the architecture niche used to have to compromise between power and mobility due to bulky but powerful desktop PCs, well today’s laptops are able to deal with intensive, high-demand tasks. As such, architecture students can obtain real-time visualization, as well as installing virtual reality applications.
Now that this compromise has now been diminished by many of nowaday’s market leaders, so much that the word “laptop” is on everybody’s lips, most of the major computer manufacturers have succeeded in producing what they call “work stations” for architecture students.
The term reflects the fact that the graphics are top-end, and the processing power advanced enough to match as a workstation. During this time, these high-performance machines have started to replace the classic PCs, as they are fitted to be go-to hardware for architectural jobs.
As a student, you might be overwhelmed by the multiple models of laptops on the market. Which are the main features you should be looking for? Which are the most popular brands that architecture experts prefer?
Well, this guide includes the 10 top laptops that will offer both great powers, as well as great mobility. Make sure you pay attention to the buying guide, as well as the pros, cons, and personal experience with each of the selected products.
Central Processing Unit (CPU)
One of the central key factors that need to be considered when choosing a laptop as an architecture student is the CPU. The reason for that? Any architecture student will be running CAD and modeling software.
If you want my advice, it is wise to get at least Intel I5 or something above this to avoid any hassle while working for your architecture projects. Selecting the special tools for editing and drafting will work better and smoother once you have a high-end CPU.
Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
When planning an architecture project, high-quality graphics are mandatory. Therefore, having enough graphics memory cards is crucial, especially when working with some applications where details carry a lot of importance.
For instance, there are lots of projects during college when you will be editing and rendering 3D models.
Most of the architecture students will be using hardcore software, such as Rhino or ArchiCad, but also other software that require high-end graphics. Because of that you should have a powerful graphics processor with a memory of at least 2 GB.
If you want to have a glimpse, look at this like that: If you are still making college projects, your graphics processor should be somewhere above 960M range by Nvidia.
Random Access Memory (RAM)
Usual architectural software will be based on a big chunk of the RAM, especially when talking about high-quality renderings and multitasking projects. As such, to consider a laptop to be advanced enough, you should not go with one below 8GB RAM.
When it comes to architectural design files, you might already know that they require significant space.
As mentioned earlier, architectural models and all the other 3D drafts will require a massive amount of disk space. In order to be able to store all of your files, make sure you are using a hard disk with at least 1 TB storage.
Of course, today there are other options in case you run out of space. For example, the external hard drive. You might actually consider this possibility even if you have a great internal storage.
Why? Because one of the main problems with hard disk storage is that the inside of your laptop might not be the safest place to store memory. To avoid physical damage, consider an external hard drive.
Resolution and Screen Size
When you are working with 3D maps and models, or while trying to do a specific design for the interior of a house, a good screen resolution will help you have a large field of view. The wider is the screen space, the less time you will be scrolling up, down and sideways.
Hence, experts recommend a screen size of at least 15 inches, but I would go above that and recommend a 17 inches one. If you have complex projects, you can go with a larger screen as well. Needless to say that there are some creatives who will also use multi-screen monitors to extend their screen resolution.
But considering the level of mobility, yet, without ignoring the importance of details, the screen of the laptop for architecture students should have a screen size between 15 and 17 inches. Consider the FHD resolution as well. Remember that higher resolutions such as Ultra High Definition (UHD), 4K, or 5K are the future.
The operating system is going to manage all the hardware and software of the computer. Here we can talk about all the connected devices, files, and memory. As you might already guess, you will have multiple choices such as Windows, MacOS and Linux. However, in the end you will most probably have to choose between MacOS and Windows.
While it is a matter of preferences, both are well geared so they can handle the challenges of architectural jobs.
While Windows is arguably friendlier for the user, it is more exposed to viruses and other types of malware. On the other hand, Mac has great graphic applications, but it is definitely more expensive.
Considering that you might carry it at school and on the construction site, try to pick the lightest laptops you can afford. The most ideal weight will be around 3 lb laptops. Their graphics card should have enough power for the architecture software.
1. DEL XPS 15
Best Lightweight Laptop for Architecture Students
About the company
Dell Computer is considered to be one of the world’s largest mail-order computer vendors. Founded by Michael Dell in 1984, the company has increased its reputation for delivering great quality PCs and laptops at competitive prices.
Today, we can talk about Dell Technologies (NYSE: DVMT), which is the successor to Dell Computers. The company manufactures, supports, and sells a great range of personal technologies and computers.
Dell is known as one of the best manufacturers when it comes to the computer industry. With a huge range of computers and laptops, the American company is now a collective force of innovative technologies, trusted all over the world. From infrastructure to software devices, Dell is providing one of the most appreciated modern technologies nowadays.
When it comes to different domains where great software is mandatory, Dell is always introducing portfolio advancements designed to simplify and accelerate customers’ high-performance computing and artificial intelligence.
As such, in the architecture field, Dell is offering high-end and powerful laptops.
Why buy the Dell XPS 15?
If you are looking for a high-end, powerful laptop from this brand, the XPS 15 might be the right option for you. Although a little bit expensive, this laptop excels in terms of portability, and it is one of the most lightweight in this niche.
Moreover, the device is able to handle any project during architectural schooling, as well as most of the projects working architects have to deal with.
Now, for you to have an idea, the XPS 15 can achieve 80 frames per second, so it can beat even the 68-fps premium laptop average.
In this case, you might need to revert back to Full HD, using all the display settings. The screen size is 15.6 inches, and the maximum screen resolution is 4K UHD (3840 x 2160).
From the perspective of an architecture student, this Dell XPS 15 laptop has them all: very lightweight, it still uses the 4K Ultra HD display, so you can see every little detail and pixel without even needing to zoom everything on.
Moreover, the laptop has 6 million more pixels than Full HD and 3 million more than the MacBook Pro, which is huge. As such, the accuracy of the images is amazing.
2.New Apple MacBook Pro (13 inches, 8GB RAM, 128GB Storage)
Best Touch Bar for Increased Productivity
About the company
Needless to say, that Apple is one of the most successful companies in the history of the world. Based in Cupertino, CA, Apple is definitely one of the most valuable companies worldwide.
Its gadgets, including Macs, iPods, iPads, and iPhones are the obsession of lots of people and there is no wonder why, as Apple has always responded to the people’s “why” questions.
The company was founded in 1976 by two young hackers, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Nowadays, after 44 years, Apple has an annual revenue totaled of $265 billion dollars.
Speaking of products, the MacBook Pro (unofficially abbreviated as MBP) is actually the line of Macintosh portable computers, which were firstly introduced in 2006. In the MacBook family, the MacBook Pro is a higher-end model, available in 13-inch and 16-inch screen sizes.
Why buy the New Apple MacBook Pro?
The 13-inch MacBook Pro has got the biggest update out of the three MacBook revisions that Apple did out in 2019. Thanks to the updated components and the new Apple Touch Bar, although these upgrades are relatively minor, they are a great change.
The New MacBook Pro of 13 inches is compact, yet offers plenty of oomph, to better suit the needs and expectations of the modern customers.
Furthermore, this model of MacBook Pro has integrated graphics as well. Like the other 2019 MacBook refreshes, the design of this 13-inch MacBook Pro is almost identical, except the Touch Bar, which is not that long.
The thin glass touchscreen stretches along the top of the keyboard, and it has context-sensitive buttons. The new Touch Bar can support third-party apps, which means you can display their own buttons when used.
When it comes to architectural tasks, this MacBook Pro of 13-inch has a gorgeous screen, a thin, lovely design, as well as a great performance.
However, the 2019 refreshes offer only a modest leap since the previous model of MacBook Pro. Apple has a good reputation for building great laptops that will last very long, this is why these small upgrades hardly justify the expensive price. That is unless you have a very old model of MacBook Pro and want a significant upgrade.
3.Microsoft Surface Book
About the company
Microsoft Corporation is an American technology company, which has the main headquarters in Redmond, Washington. With revenue of 125.8 billion USD in 2019, Microsoft supports invention, licensing of goods and services related to computing, as well as manufacturing.
First registered in New Mexico in 1976, its founders were two childhood friends, Bill Gates and Paul Allen.
Microsoft is one of the largest developers of personal computer software, known for the Windows operating system, the Microsoft Office family, as well as the Visual Studio IDE.
Why should you buy the product Microsoft Surface Book?
With a 2-in-1 detachable design, this Microsoft Surface laptop can be used both as a laptop and a tablet. When you are doing architectural plans and projects, you can detach the screen and use it as a clipboard with an included Surface Pen.
This little tool feels like an actual pan and offers a true writing experience. As such, you can use it to enjoy art apps, sign documents, or mark up some architectural presentations.
Moreover, you can also rotate the screen and attach it to the dock to take full advantage of the tactile keyboard.
With a 16GB of RAM, the Surface Book allows you to multitask efficiently and quickly.
The screen is calibrated so it can offer a true-life color, low glare, and high contrast. The display is a touchscreen, so the user can utilize the multi-touch gestures that come with the Windows 10 Pro.
For those of you who are fans of laptops that can transform into tablets, this is one of the best models in the market. The laptop might not have the latest, yet heavy-duty specs, but it still does a great job.
Now, for the architectural projects, the display is great, especially if you use the Microsoft Surface pen for drawing and shading.
The pressure sensor has great pinpoint accuracy, as such any stray lines or mistakes will be instantly erased by the software. There will be no lag at all while moving the pen across the screen.
4.Acer Aspire 5
About the company
Acer Inc., known by most of you as simply Acer, is a Taiwanese multinational hardware and electronics corporation. Based in Xizhi, New Taipei City, Taiwan, the company is specialized in advanced electronics technology and hardware.
Most of you have most probably already met their products such as the Acer desktop PCs, laptop PCs, servers, tablets, as well as storage devices, displays, even smartphones, and peripherals.
In 2015, Acer was the sixth-largest personal computer in the world, and there is no surprise as the Acer computers have one of the most performant processors and technology.
Currently, in addition to the core IT product business, Acer has also a new business entity, which is focused on integrating platforms and cloud services. Acer started developing smartphones and other wearable devices, while also adding to them their IT applications.
Why buy the Acer Aspire 5?
When you are just a student, it’s crystal clear you will look for a budget-friendly laptop worth its salt. Luckily, the Acer Aspire 5 puts all your money toward very good internal components, and less on visual things such as an ultrabright high-rez touchscreen.
For instance, the Acer Aspire 5 is very similar to a more premium laptop, such as one from Lenovo, which has almost the same configuration but it is still half of the price of the premium one.
Moreover, an advantage of this laptop is that you can pop its bottom and add more memory or increase its storage just on your own.
Now, the touchpad of Windows Precision works very nicely as well, and you get a fingerprint reader too.
Speaking in terms of quality and price, the Acer Aspire 5 is only a 15.6 inch thin and light laptop, that is capable of delivering more performance for less money than other models.
This kind of laptop is comfortable to use, especially for typical work, school, and home tasks. Obviously, you can go out on upgrades, but that will also increase the cost.
However, in a nutshell, the processor is good enough, the screen offers great resolution, which is very important when it comes to architectural projects, and the laptop is thin and lightweight enough to be easily carried to school, even on the site.
5.MSI GV62 8RD-034 15.6"
Best for Gaming
About the company
Micro-Star International Co., known as MSI, is actually a Taiwanese multinational information technology corporation, which has the main headquarter in New Taipei City, Taiwan.
The company designs, develops, and then provides computer hardware, as well as other related services and products. Here we need to include desktops, laptops, motherboards, all-in-one PCs, industrial computers, PC peripherals, and other servers.
But above all these, MSI is known for gaming laptops, which will offer an unrivaled experience when it comes to PC gaming. The MSI laptops are using the latest processors and graphics, so the users will enjoy an over the top gaming experience.
Moreover, MSI is still pumping out not only great gaming laptops but also consumer laptops. Their products are solid, and well-protected of accidental-damage protection. Although these laptops are not only spearheading gaming laptops, the company still kept their bezels super-thin, while also maintaining the MSI’s Ambient Link technology awesome.
Why buy the MSI GV62?
Some people consider the MSI laptop to be a better option than the Acer Aspire E5 we talked about earlier. This GV62 8RD-275 MSI laptop is a budget-friendly gaming and working laptop, that comes with great features that will help users who need great graphics.
The discrete graphics card is one of the advantages, as well as the Intel Core i5 processor. Slightly slower than the other earlier models, its system has still great strengths and very few weaknesses.
The CPU is the 7th generation, and it has more clock speed than most of the medium-budget laptops.
MSI Laptop’s Performance
The New Intel Core i7, paired with 8 GB of RAM will easily handle most of the productivity tasks with ease. In fact, you will easily do some tasks such as video editing, or other demanding media tasks.
For instance, if your daily work included media editing, working with CAD software, or doing some Photoshop, this might be the right machine for you.
Moreover, if your work implies 3D modeling software, this full HD display is everything. Although the display is not the best one in its class, it still scores great on brightness and contrast.
Another drawback I always like to point out is the huge MSI Dragon logo on the back. It goes without saying you’ll make a lot of gaming friends back in the studio or in the workplace. Overall, the display will fit all the needs of an architecture student on the go.
This MSI’s GV62 8RD-275 has all the familiar components and features that make it a true portable, yet performant laptop to manage competitive gaming performance. Due to the fact that utilizes the latest 8th-GEN.
Processor, it has 8 GB of RAM and a discrete 1050Ti graphics, this laptop will deliver one of the slimmest working notebooks at this price.
6.Dell Inspiron 15 5000 5577 Gaming Laptop
Great Memory Storage
About the company
Dell Inc. is an American global company that designs, develops, and manufactures personal computers, as well as many other computer-related products. Nowadays, the company is one of the world’s leading suppliers of PCs, having headquarters in Round Rock, Texas.
When it comes to the Dell PCs, the Dell Computer Company is one of the great success stories of the 20th century. Started in 1984 by the college student Michael Dell, Dell succeeded in becoming a computer giant into the 21st century.
As the corporation always mentioned, its strong motion is to be the most successful computer company in the world at delivering one of the best customer experiences in the market of computers and computer software.
Why buy the Dell Inspiron 15 5000 5577 gaming laptop?
Well, although you are a student at architecture school, a 15.6-inch gaming laptop will offer you enough power and great graphics to do the best projects. As opposed to other insanely powerful and pricey high-end gaming laptops with metal casings, this Dell 5577 offers mid-range gaming experience, at a relatively low price.
You get a great 15.6-inch screen laptop, which for architecture and gaming tasks midsize. But considering its great processor, as well as the lightweight advantage, this Dell Inspiron laptop should be on your buying list.
The sharpness is also quite reasonable, with Full HD 1920×1080-pixel resolution. Moreover, the IPS technology will offer wide viewing angles, as well as touchscreen support where missing. You know how disturbing are the light reflections, but luckily, the display comes with anti-reflective coating.
Have you ever thought about adding some beauty to your desk by only opening your laptop? Well, this stylish notebook does that. In addition, the optional backlit, button-mount keyboard makes the typing process even more comfortable.
If there is anything more to add, is that we applaud Dell for adding a capacious 74 WHr 6-cell battery inside this laptop. This was very wise because of the very powerful components this notebook has that demand great power. Usually, mainstream laptops usually don’t have this.
But despite all these, while playing very graphical games, you can only expect 4 hours of power autonomy, as the gaming will drain the battery life much faster.
7.Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop PC
Popular, Powerful, Affordable
About the company
The Acer company was founded as Multitech in 1976, and then renamed Acer in 1987. If there is something important to know is that Acer is one of the world’s largest vendors of personal computers.
And there is no wonder, as the company makes lots of superior-quality gadgets, such as storage devices, tablets, smartphones, televisions, as well as peripherals.
When it comes to PC computers and laptops, ACER is a leader in the gaming field. For instance, the Predator series is one of the most popular ones, having the biggest sales, more than just laptops under this gaming sub-brand.
While the company still sells Predator-branded accessories, it has so improved the design and internals of the latest Predator Helios laptop, that everybody’s eyes are on this model.
The Helios 300 promises to be a midrange gaming laptop, but this review will tell you if this statement is true or false.
Why buy this laptop?
The Acer Predator Helios 300 has everything you can wish from a powerful laptop to help you accomplish the most graphical projects: it is powerful, popular, yet quite affordable for its main features.
While some might doubt its popularity, well, let us tell you that this Acer Predator Helios 300 has maintained its steady position among the top ten bestselling laptops for a lot of time. And it still ranks great.
Due to the aluminum keyboard deck and display, the notebook looks like a premium one. Although we didn’t enjoy the matte finishes, which let the fingerprints be seen easily. Acer redesigned the notebook with some light blue accents, which will nicely contrast with the black aluminum.
In a nutshell, it would be hard to complain about the Acer Predator Helios 300. The only thing we would like to mention is the battery, which could have been larger and last longer.
Of course, this would change the notebook and make it heavier and bigger too. However, the friendly upgrades, such as top-notch CPU and GPU, as well as the very good price are the main reasons why the Predator Helios 300 is still at the top of the best laptops.
8.Lenovo ThinkPad P53s Workstation Laptop
About the Company
Lenovo is undoubtedly one of the world’s leading personal technology companies, which produces innovative PCs, as well as mobile internet devices. On the fortune 500 lists, Lenovo is the world’s largest PC vendor, as well as the fourth-largest smartphone company.
While Lenovo started as a brand only in 2004, well, the company has a long history behind. In 1984, Legend Holdings was formed in a guardhouse in China. Today, Lenovo is a US$47 billion personal technology company, with more than 57,000 employees, in more than 60 countries.
Lenovo has major research and manufacturing centers in countries all around the world. They produce PCs, smartphones, smart TV, server, workstations, as well as smart connected or infrastructure devices.
The ThinkPad laptops were the first real portable computing products in which the Lenovo industrial design was critical to its function, branding, and form. As an IBM product, the ThinkPad took the sales of the company really high, especially when it came to enterprise sales.
Why buy The ThinkPad P53s?
The ThinkPad P53s is providing the perfect productivity tool that excels in many aspects, from the lightweight body to stunning display, which is very important in graphic design. The performance is really powerful, the audio is also quite amazing, and the battery will last you a lifetime.
Moreover, the laptop has the ISV certification from all the major vendors, so it will ensure you great compatibility with professional software.
A great advantage is that the screen turns into Retina when viewed from a distance greater than 60cm. Usually, from this distance, one’s eye stops differentiating the separate pixels, which is absolutely normal for a laptop.
Luckily, the ThinkPad P53s offers a 15.6” Full HD display, for greater brightness, more refined detail, expanded contrast, as well as vibrant colors.
The notebook is 19 mm thick, which is very thin for a mobile workstation. The overall style is quite classic.
We enjoyed the fact that Lenovo ThinkPad P53s’ display comes with full HD IPS panels, which makes the viewing angels more comfortable, and the contrast ratio really good. Moreover, the backlight does not flicker, which is a huge advantage for someone who works in graphic design.
9.Lenovo ThinkPad P52s Mobile Workstation Ultrabook Laptop
Full HD Workstation
About the Company
There is nothing new that Lenovo’s mobile workstations are known as the ThinkPad W series, although they were never truly independent and could be somehow considered versions of the 15-inch T series with ISV-certified graphics.
Now, let’s take some examples, for you to better understand. The ThinkPad W550s was based on the ThinkPad T550. For instance, in 2015, the launch of the new ThinkPad P series has started mixing things up a little, as some devices, such as Lenovo ThinkPad P51 had its individual design.
However, all the rules in this industry have some exceptions, don’t they? So the P5Xs series continued in the tradition of the W series. Now, since 2015, Lenovo has launched three ThinkPad P models that respected the design of the current T series.
The ThinkPad P50s were based on the ThinkPad T560, while the ThinkPad P51s were based on the ThinkPad T570. Speaking of today’s case, the Lenovo ThinkPad P52s is identical now with the ThinkPad T580.
Why Buy this laptop?
The Lenovo ThinkPad P52s is quite powerful, as it is a 15.6-inch durable workstation that can do its job perfectly day by day. Moreover, the computer boasts an 8th-Gen i7 processor, as well as a roomy 1TB of SSD storage and a full upgradable battery.
For the T580, Lenovo made some changes to the port selection, so instead of placing a connector on the bottom base, we now enjoy a docking port on the side.
Both these LCD options have a matter surface and use IPS technology. Moreover, the screen has an even brightness distribution.
If until now we never thought about a workstation laptop that has energy-efficient processors, well, the Lenovo ThinkPad P52s has succeeded in implementing this concept.
Well, this happened due to the Ultra-Low-Voltage processors of Kaby Lake Refresh generation, which made a great leap when it came to performance.
Although this laptop has a CPU performance which is still far off from being able to compete with the 45-Watt Coffee Lake CPUs, well, it still fulfills those little requirements for a mobile workstation.
10.Dell Precision 5530 Laptop
Great for space-constrained workplaces
About the company
As mentioned earlier, Dell is an American multinational computer technology company, which is specialized in selling, repairing, and developing computers and related products and services.
When it comes to the Dell Precision series, well, these are computer workstations especially created for CAD/Architecture/CG professionals, even small-scale business servers.
Last year, Dell’s Precision 5520 has increased customer’s expectations that were ultimately left unfulfilled and made a thin-and-light workstation. With this in mind, the Precision 5530 is actually indistinguishable from the 5520. However, Dell brought some internal changes that you will see down this description.
Actually, the Precision 5530 is only a carbon-copy of the Precision 5520, which is also a copy of Precision 5510. While the design language still reminds elegantly and strikes three years on, the internal improvements are crystal clear.
Why buy the Precision 5530?
Well, as we mentioned before, the Precision 5530 is the successor to Dell’s sleek, powerful and stylish Precision 5520 mobile workstation. Despite all this, this model claims to be lighter and has a thinner design.
Moreover, the new Dell workstation has also some upgraded component options, which include an Intel Core 8th Gen i7-8850H, which will add lots of potential in the performance category.
The laptop is compact, sleek and it weighs just 7.10 pounds. Dell claims that the 5530 is lighter than ever. That being said, you can opt for this touch-screen model, that feels really lightweight and it is easy to carry around, even in a small laptop bag.
If there is one sincere opinion to tell you is that the 5530 lies somewhere in the middle of what Dell’s precision is about.
Therefore, in the lone of mobile workstations, this laptop comes with high-end components and a mid-range activity. Among these components, it is important to mention the 8th Gen i7-8850H, 8 GB DDR4 RAM, 256 GB SSD, NVIDIA Quadro P1000, Windows 10 Pro.
All the above-listed laptops that were mentioned today are meant to function with all the software, programs, and tools that are more than essential for the architecture students. As such, I hope you will easily find the most suitable and reliable laptop to count on.
While the Microsoft Surface is one of the best options for new generations due to the great display and the touchscreen with a helpful Pen, I hope that I have managed to also offer other more professional laptops, such as MacBook Pro.
Make sure you keep in mind also the buying guide criteria, so you will choose the next workstation based on the most important factors.