Whether you are an architecture student or a building design professional, having the right equipment and software can make a big difference to your work. We have selected the best laptops for architects, including a variety of price ranges and specifications so you have a wide range of choices. These high quality machines were selected for their performance and function, and all support the technology you need to do your job effectively.
Choosing a laptop for architecture work
As an architect, you know the importance of detail and you need everything to be perfect. You don’t want a machine that will let you down. Your laptop is often the center of your business meetings and pitches: it allows you to present your ideas to your clients, and to show them the possibilities when they engage your skills.
Some key features you need in your laptop are a top-end processor, plenty of storage space, a high quality graphics card and the ability to run all your required software through a compatible operating system. Your laptop should be light enough to be portable, but powerful enough to carry out tasks quickly and smoothly. Set your budget and then take a look at our laptop reviews and buying advice below. We have collated the best laptops for architects across a range of cost brackets, with details on each to help you make an informed choice.
Suggested minimum requirements for an architecture-specific laptop computer:
- 8GB RAM
- 120GB internal memory
- Intel 5 processor
- 1920 x 1080 pixel HD display
- Windows 8
These are the basic specifications that will carry you through most architecture-related tasks, although a machine which exceeds these requirements will serve you far better.
Our top picks: leading laptops for architects
Lenovo ThinkPad P50 Mobile Workstation
- Size: 14.86 x 9.93 x 1.16 inches; 5.9 pounds
- Power: 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7 processor; 16 GB RAM; 628 GB internal drive
- Display: 15.6 inch screen; 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution; NVIDIA Quadro HD graphics
What the ThinkPad lacks in storage space, it makes up for in power and graphic capabilities. A smart and professional laptop, this Lenovo computer is a great pick for architects. It supports Adobe Suite programs and a range of design software, along with Windows 10 apps and extensions. The 2133 MHz memory rate keeps everything running smoothly, even when you have multiple programs open.
One of the lower-priced laptops in our review, the ThinkPad is an ideal budget choice and a great laptop for architecture students. Keep your designs and plans safe, work on your reports and access the web for inspiration and resource materials. The lightweight design make this perfect for the classroom, and it can also serve well for business meetings.
HP ZBook F1M30UT#ABA 15.6-Inch Laptop
- Size: 23.4 x 12 x 3.1 inches; 10 pounds
- Power: 2.6 GHz Core i5-4200M processor; 8 GB RAM; 500 GB internal drive
- Display: 15.6 inch screen; 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution; NVIDIA Quadro graphics
If you are comfortable using Windows 8 and don’t want to make the step up, this HP laptop might be the ideal choice. It comes with W8 as standard although it will also support the upgrade if preferred. A slightly older model, the Zbook makes our list thanks to its advanced NVIDIA Quadro graphics, which give a superior sharpness and color tone to the screen display. It also retails at far cheaper than later comparative models, so if budget counts this is one to consider.
The Zbook contains a 500 GB drive which should hold your work files and designs with room to spare. However, if extra space is needed the laptop supports Cloud syncing and the connecting of external drives. The heaviest model in our review, it contains a hefty processor which provides plenty of power and keeps lag at bay.
Microsoft Surface Book
- Size: 10.9 x 16.5 x 1.9 inches; 3.5 pounds
- Power: 2.4 GHz Core i3-5010U processor; 8 GB RAM; 256 GB internal drive
- Display: 15.6 inch screen; 3000 x 2000 pixel resolution; Intel HD integrated graphics
Flexibility is the big USP with this Microsoft hybrid. It becomes a traditional laptop, a mobile tablet and a clipboard style writing pad with the separate keyboard and screen elements. The touch screen comes with a stylus for accurate, fast drawing and it supports a wide range of apps and programs through the integrative Windows 10 software.
An extensive battery life and light weight make this a good choice for professionals who spend a lot of time on the road. It is a little limited in the power stakes but it still has plenty of kick and should meet most of your needs comfortably. The internal drive can be supported with an external hard drive if you need more room: the computer offers USB 3.0 and 2.0 connectivity so you can attach your drives and create additional storage space.
MSI VR Ready GS73VR Stealth Pro-025
- Size: 16.21 x 11.21 x 0.77 inches; 5.3 pounds
- Power: 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7 processor; 16 GB RAM; 1024 GB internal drive
- Display: 17.3 inch screen; 3840 X 2160 pixel resolution; NVIDIA dedicated graphics
When looking for a work laptop, you might initially overlook this gaming machine from MSI. However, the specs required for high-end gaming are very similar to those a designer or architect needs. High quality graphics, responsive programs, high amounts of storage and a fast central processor are a must when carrying out design work using state of the art software. This VR-ready laptop computer is a top pick for the visually-minded professional.
VR can be extremely useful for architects. You can take clients on virtual tours of your plans, and demonstrate your ideas in tangible 3D. This high-performance computer will comfortably support VR software and accessories so you can bring your plans to life. It provides a great deal of power from the i7 processor and delivers an exceptional amount of internal space. However, it is surprisingly light and portable despite its power, and built into a secure and durable casing: great for the on-the-go professional.
The above models all support leading architecture software and design programs including:
- Adobe Creative Suite
- Adobe Photoshop
Lead image credit: Cameron Degelia via Flickr
Information and prices correct at time of writing; details from Amazon.com