What are the best laptops for architecture students? A laptop can be a useful ally for the architecture students and help them a lot in their designing, modelling, drafting, and other assignments.
However, it should be powerful and reliable enough to run all of the architecture tools, apps, and software.
However, not all laptops available in the market today will be useful for architecture students. If you do not have time to research, here are a few recommendations from the experts that will help you in your 2D or 3D modelling applications.
Follow it and go through the buying guide to know the specs and configurations to look for in your laptop.
- Laptops for Architecture Students – Price
- Importance of a Laptop in Architecture and Its Requirements
- Minimum & Recommended System Requirements for Architecture Students
- 5 Best Laptops for Architecture Students 2021:
- Things to Look for Before Buying a Laptop for Architecture Student
- Is the i5 processor good enough for a laptop for architecture students?
- How much RAM is needed in a laptop for architecture students?
- Is the size and weight of a laptop important for architecture students?
- Is the touch screen feature in a laptop helpful for architecture students?
- Which is the better operating system for architecture laptops to have?
Laptops for Architecture Students – Price
Importance of a Laptop in Architecture and Its Requirements
Most of the architecture students do not really have to buy a laptop because the school will have a computer lab with systems that will support all architecture apps and software.
However, it is better to have one of your own, especially in this post Covid-19 scenario where the chances are very high that you will not have access to your school lab. Even classes and exams will be taken online.
Architecture students also need a laptop because it will not be an occasional usage for designing and drawing, which will be even more so in your second year.
All these need a lot of processing power, a long battery life and a strong and reliable graphics card in the laptop for architecture students.
You may still work with a less powerful system but it will be slow in loading bars, transferring files, editing photos, watching videos, and even gaming at your leisure, if you like.
Running architecture software programs on less powerful laptops will also cause some problems in the system if you do it for long-term.
A powerful laptop of good quality will also last longer with less wear and tear and therefore you can rely on it for your entire course study till you become a professional architect and buy a premium laptop for your work.
Yes, you can buy a gaming laptop, if you can afford, and need not worry about the specs because these laptops typically come with the best configurations. However, the powerful parts become hot easily while working very hard.
Minimum & Recommended System Requirements for Architecture Students
Ideally, Windows laptops are best to use by the architecture students for their academic requirements. It is also required to make sure that the system comes with the minimum specs such as a 64-bit Intel or AMD dual core processor, 4 GB of RAM, 250 GB of Hard Drive or higher with preferably 7200 rpm operational speed or an SSD, a dedicated Nvidia Quadro of ATI Fire graphics card with 512 MB video memory, and a 15-inch screen.
This will however help you only in performing your basic computing tasks for your architectural studies. For more advanced tasks you will need to have a laptop that comes with the following recommended system requirements. Such a system will enable you to work on it efficiently throughout your academic session.
Minimum system requirements: 8th generation Intel Core i3 8145U or higher| 8 GB of RAM | 128 GB M.2 SSD or a higher combo storage | Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 or better | 13.5 inches screen | 1280 x 720 pixels resolution
Recommended system requirements: 7th generation Intel Quad Core i5 or higher processor| 16 GB of RAM or higher | 256 GB SSD or larger | NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti or higher | 15.6 inches screen or bigger | 1920 x 1080 pixels screen resolution
5 Best Laptops for Architecture Students 2021:
1. Dell G3 15 3500 – Best Overall
Bottom Line: This is a laptop that the architecture students can use and expect to have the best all-round performance. The faster Intel Core i7 processor of the 10th generation combined with an equally powerful and efficient dedicated Nvidia GeForce GTX graphics chip will suffice all requirements of the college.
- Screen: 15.6 inches
- Storage: 512 GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
- RAM: 16 GB DDR4 SDRAM
- Processor: 10th generation Intel Core i7 10750H
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
- The laptop comes with a dual fan cooling system.
- The keyboard comes with a dedicated numeric keypad.
- The display of the laptops is of high quality.
- The trackpad is located slightly on the left instead at the center below the keyboard.
- The laptop is very heavy weighing nearly 9 pounds.
- There is no optical drive in the system.
This is one of the best laptops that promises an all-round performance whether it is used by architecture students or professional gamers.
The full HD screen displays images at 144 Hz refresh rate making it one of the best laptops for gaming as well as for graphics intensive tasks.
The advanced thermal design of the system along with the innovative dual-fan cooling system keeps the system cool under pressure.
The narrow bezel at the two sides of the screen provides more real estate and better viewing from the sides.
The 6 GB discrete Nvidia GeForce graphics card is powerful enough and its GDDR6 feature ensures better, faster and clearer graphics.
Apart from heightening your gaming experience by making it more immersive, the system also allows easy typing with its well-designed and full-size keyboard.
As for enhancing your listening pleasure, the dual speakers with Nahimic Sound Center feature will do the needful.
2. HP ZBook 17 G5 – Runner Up
Bottom Line: The large screen of this laptop, the strategically set speakers of good quality, and the Windows 10 Pro operating system will allow the architecture students to complete their tasks capably. However, in spite of its six prevailing cores, the 8th generation of the Intel i7 CPU makes it a runner up.
- Screen: 17.6 inches
- Storage: 256 GB SSD
- RAM: 8 GB DDR4 SDRAM
- Processor: 8th generation Intel Hexa-Core i7 8750H
- OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
- GPU: NVIDIA Quadro P1000
- The full-size keyboard comes with a dedicated numeric keypad.
- The location of speakers on top of the keyboard produces clear sound.
- The screen is large and good.
- The 7-pound plus weight makes this laptop less portable.
- The bezel all around the screen is quite thick.
- The position of the trackpad is a bit awkward, shifted much to the left.
This is a device that will perform as good as a desktop but at the same time will provide you with the freedom of a laptop. The device is heavy but it is highly durable and very easy and fast to start.
The 8th generation Intel core processor is the latest and comes with six cores operating at a high speed of 2.2 GHz.
This makes it faster in processing data and ensures a relentless performance. You can do all your architectural jobs on this laptop including manipulating data, creating exceptional designs, editing numerous streams of content, and even developing VR content.
The 64-bit architecture of the Windows 10 Pro operating system will allow you to perform your tasks more securely and efficiently.
The large screen will display the images much more clearly with all the minute details, thereby helping you with your designing and drafting jobs.
The full-size keyboard comes with a dedicated numeric keypad as well as proper spacing of the keys to add to your typing comfort.
The system comes with two USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports along with an SD card reader slot as well as other ports and slots including a locking switch.
Adding to the speed and quality of performance of the laptop is the DDR4 SDRAM which operates at 2666 MHz bandwidth and the SSD storage.
3. Microsoft Surface Book 3 – Long Battery Life
Bottom Line: The architecture students can work on this laptop all day long in their college, without having to worry about charging it between classes, and even at home on a single charge due to its 15.5 hours of battery life. It also comes with a notable standby feature to extend the battery life even further.
- Screen: 13.5 inches
- Storage: 256 GB SSD
- RAM: 8 GB DDR4 SDRAM
- Processor: 10th generation Intel Core i5
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- GPU: Intel Iris Plus Graphics
- The laptop comes with a high-resolution touchscreen.
- The system design includes both rear and front camera.
- There is a full-size SD card slot.
- There is no optical drive in the system.
- There are issues with the discrete graphics card that gets continuously disconnected.
- The system is quite heavy weighing more than 6 pounds.
This is one of the most powerful Surface laptops that come with a quad core Intel i5 processor belonging to the 10th generation. This makes the system faster and more accurate.
The two lithium ion batteries will provide you with enough power all day long for up to 15.5 hours to perform all your computing tasks, light or heavy, on this laptop.
Apart from this incredibly high battery life, the improved standby time also extends the battery life keeping it unused when you are away.
You will also get all different types of ports and slots that you need to connect a variety of external devices. These ports include a USB Type A port, a USB Type C port as well as a full-size SD card slot.
You will get to see clearer and sharper images on the high-resolution PixelSense display that comes with a touchscreen feature and Pen input.
This laptop is one of the most versatile laptops that will allow you to use it in different modes such as a tablet and as a portable studio.
With all its features and components, this laptop will allow you to create some intensive graphics and video files for your architecture projects as well as play some high-octane games during your free time. Check out Microsoft Surface Book 3 Review.
4. Asus VivoBook F512FA – Value for Money
Bottom Line: This lightweight laptop will provide a higher value for money to the architectural students allowing them to complete their projects and daily assignments in the best way possible in a timely fashion. The i3 processor, the RAM, storage, decent battery and screen, all will offer better user experience.
- Screen: 15.6 inches
- Storage: 128 GB M.2 SSD
- RAM: 8 GB DDR4 SDRAM
- Processor: Intel Core i3 8145U
- OS: Windows 10 in S mode
- GPU: Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620
- The system is light in weight and extremely portable.
- There are lots of ports in the system providing more connectivity options.
- The ultra-slim bezel around the screen provides 88% body to screen ratio.
- The speakers have very little definition and are weak.
- The storage of the system is quite low at 128 GB only.
- The TFT panel lacks proper viewing angles and the monitor is calibrated poorly as well.
This laptop comes with all features and capabilities to keep the architecture students productive all day long.
The life of the high-quality lithium polymer battery is not only good but it also comes with Asus fast-charge feature that enables it to regain 60% of its total charge in just 49 minutes. Your laptop will therefore never slow you down.
The full HD display is also unique as it comes with a four-way Nano Edge bezel. This ultra-slim 5.7 mm bezel provides a screen to body ratio as high as 88%.
The Intel Core i3 processor comes with two cores and 4 MB cache but can operate at a high base clock frequency of up to 3.9 GHz.
This makes it a faster laptop which is further enhanced by the DDR4 SDRAM and the M.2 SSD.
Though the system comes with Windows 10 operating system in S mode, it allows switching it to Windows 10 home and uses all its beneficial features for a faster and more efficient operation.
The ergonomic backlit chiclet keyboard not only allows easy and comfortable typing with its unique ergo-lift design but also comes with a fingerprint sensor that is activated through Windows Hello to allow a faster and safer login.
Apart from the Bluetooth 4.1, the laptop provides extensive connectivity options with all the ports you need.
The list of ports and slots include USB Type C port, USB 3.1 Type A port, USB 2.0 port, HDMI output, as well as a microSD card reader.
You will have no hassles in connecting all your required displays, peripherals, and projectors according to your need.
5. Acer Nitro 5 – Large and Fast Combo Storage
Bottom Line: The sufficiently large and fast combo storage of this laptop will allow the architecture students to store a lot of files in the device itself irrespective of the size. It will offer a fast SSD-like performance and will add to the ability and functionality of the Intel Quad Core i5 CPU and dedicated GPU.
- Screen: 15.6 inches
- Storage: 256 GB SSD plus 1 TB HDD combo
- RAM: 16 GB DDR4 SDRAM
- Processor: 7th generation Intel Quad Core i5 7300HQ
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
- The speakers of the system are good and powerful.
- The red backlit keyboard looks stunning and allows convenient typing.
- The system comes with plenty of storage.
- Nearing 6 pounds in weight, this laptop is quite heavier than others.
- The cooling system is not very good in spite of dual fans as the system gets hot under load.
- There is a backlight bleed in the corners of the screen which does not have a high brightness.
The 7th generation Intel Quad Core i5 processor operating at a high speed of up to 3.5 GHz makes this incredibly designed laptop for architecture students fast in both data processing and transfer.
The dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics card of 4 GB GDDR5 VRAM type produces clearer images pretty fast which is displayed on the full HD IPS widescreen.
There is plenty of storage in the system. The vast HDD allows storing all your larger project files and the SSD with fair enough storage ensures faster boot up of the system and apps you need to use for your architectural work.
The battery life, though only 7 hours, will be enough to meet all your needs in school.
The system operates quietly and its features, hardware components, and connectivity options that includes USB Type C port, one of which is for charging, allows you to perform all your architectural tasks easily and even play some new games at higher settings at more than 60 fps.
The build and quality of this system is good, making it durable. The keyboard looks awesome with its red backlight and is good enough to allow comfortable typing. The touchpad is big and is responsive enough to gestures as well.
You can expect a great sound output from the good quality speakers which are powerful enough but do not damage the audio quality, thanks to the Acer True Harmony and Dolby Audio Premium Sound technology. Check out Acer Nitro 5 Review.
Things to Look for Before Buying a Laptop for Architecture Student
Since all architecture programs, tools and software are more or less the same, the needs of a laptop for architecture students is also the same, no matter which part of the world you reside in.
However, there may be a few exceptions, for example, in a Japanese school where the use of software is less, but, exceptions do not make the rule.
Here are a few specific things to check before you step into the store to buy your laptop as well as in your laptop before you buy it so that it meets with all your needs to study architecture.
It is true that all architecture programs will not require you to use Windows operating system strictly, and this fact does not change whether you believe it or not.
Yes, you can use the Mac operating system as well. This means that you should not restrict your choice to Windows laptops only.
Therefore, choose a laptop with an operating system that you are comfortable in using.
This will not only make your studies much easier but will also save you a lot of time since you will not have to waste time in learning how to use a new operating system.
It is also a good idea to check it out with the IT department of your school because they may have some restrictions and fancy for a particular type of operating system and ask their students to use it to keep everyone on the same page.
This will not only benefit in your studies and to get quick laptop service in case of any faults in it from the service department in your school campus but will also prevent you from violating the policies and principles of your school.
Though the hardware requirements of your laptop for studying architecture will remain the same, you must check on the software use and supporting capability.
Believe it or not, there is a subtle difference in the type of software that you will be using during your course. This will largely depend on the type of concentration you choose, for example, landscape, interior or others.
The most common software that are used by the architecture students are Rhinoceros 3D, Grasshopper, and Revit for modelling, CAD for 2D drawing, Sketchup for creating models with straight shapes, Autodesk Maya for animations, Adobe After effects for multimedia editing, and Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator for rendering and visualization purposes.
Therefore, to be better off, visit the website of your school to check on the type of software they use and then find out whether the type of laptop you choose and its operating system will support running it or not.
The size of the display will play an important role in choosing your laptop for architecture classes.
You may once again need to talk to the IT department of your school as most of the schools usually recommend their students to buy a laptop with at least a 15-inch screen.
However, the bigger the screen size the better, because it will better your overall work enabling you to look at your creations and projects from a much wider angle with a better perspective.
It is also good to go for a laptop with a larger screen size because the architecture toolbars and palettes will take up a major portion of the real estate of the screen itself.
This means that, if you buy a laptop with a smaller screen, you will be left with very little workspace to work on your designs and drafts, which is the most important thing for you to maximize as much as you possibly can.
Ideally, a 15-inch screen size is much better than a 13-inch or 17-inch laptop. It will not be smaller or heavier. This will also not drain out the battery life faster than you expect, a prime necessity for your work in your classes.
It will also be good enough and easier for you to show your work to others when needed.
Ideally, a display with 1080p resolution will suffice the needs of architecture students.
It will be unwise to go berserk over high resolution because there are lots of applications that will not need or even have problems with a screen resolution higher than full HD.
For example, most of the 3D applications are not designed to run well with 4K resolution. The toolbars, the palettes, and everything will seem out of place.
Yes, you can always scale down the resolution of the display to 1080p but where is the wisdom of spending a lot of money for no reason.
Clock speed and cores of the processor
The clock speed of the processor of the laptop should be high enough as that will support 3D Modeling and almost any other architecture software. Ideally, anything more than 6 GHz is required for that matter.
This will take a lot less time in drafting, designing, editing, and modelling because the latency between command and operation will be reduced significantly.
As for the cores, for 3D architectural rendering your laptop will need at least a dual core, if not a quad core processor.
It does not matter whether it is Intel Core i5 or Core i7 but the number of cores should be higher. It will enhance the data processing speed and efficacy.
Specific architecture software and programs such as Adobe, 3D Modeling and others run well in laptops that come with adequate amounts of RAM.
Therefore, choosing a model with higher RAM, if you can afford that is, is better because it will have two distinct benefits.
This will significantly reduce the time for rendering in order to make your laptop able to handle a large number of files in quick time. On the other hand, it will also help you to work on multiple numbers of heavy programs at the same time.
Ideally, 8 GB of RAM is the minimum requirement for a laptop for architecture students but 16 GB or more is recommended.
This will make your laptop futureproof and help you when you use it for rendering and animation, which are common topics during the last two years of your architecture course.
Even if you buy a laptop with low RAM, feel free to upgrade it to 16 GB when you need. Since RAM is cheap, it will not burn your pocket.
Usually, the size of the output files from an architectural software is huge. This is because it will contain a lot of images, graphics, animations, texts and videos of high quality.
It is needless to say that all these will use up a lot of the available space of your laptop in quick time.
You may know that there are currently two types of storage available today. The Hard Disk Drive or HDD are the most familiar ones. These drives can store data up to 1 TB or more much more easily.
These costs much less than an SSD storage but, because it comes with a spinning wheel, these are much slower in performance.
These storage types are also more fragile and vulnerable to physical damage as compared to the Solid-State Drives or SSDs.
Ideally, SSD storage is preferred, irrespective of it being costlier than HDDs, because it reduces load times of Revit, AutoCAD, or any other architectural software.
Moreover, it will save a lot of battery life and will not heat up the system as well, making it last longer.
You will be even better off if you choose a laptop that comes with a combination of HDD and an SSD.
You can then store the larger output files in the high capacity hard drives and can install the software and operating system in the SSD to take the benefit of its speed.
Otherwise, if you cannot buy an SSD and HDD combination, always buy a laptop with SSD and use an external hard drive, which is typically required by most architecture schools, to store your projects and other regular files as a back-up.
Then again, you can also save and store all of your files on the Cloud.
For your architecture modelling, drafting, and designing, you will need one of the best graphics cards available on the market today in your laptop. It will help you to be more productive irrespective of the architecture software you have to deal with.
Just make sure that the graphics card supports all architectural software and runs them flawlessly for easier, faster, and better rendering.
The expensive ones will make your laptop heavier, but if you can afford them it will be more advantageous because it will have far less glitches and bugs and it will also help in running complex models.
However, workstation cards will surely be an overkill for architecture students. For them a regular NVIDIA GTX 960M or AMD cards will be more than enough.
Also, check with your school because most architecture schools want at least a 2 GB VRAM and 10th generation cards that are released recently.
Weight and battery life
As for the weight, your laptop should be light and portable. Since you will also need to carry your textbooks and other materials, a slim and light laptop is a good choice, if you can afford. Any laptop model weighing anywhere in between 3 to 5 pounds is ideal.
The battery life should also be good because the architecture software will consume a lot of power pretty fast.
Ideally, a battery life equal to or more than 10 hours is recommended. It will easily last all day long on a single charge.
Though not mandatory, architecture students may also consider using a few accessories with your laptop for your benefit.
Some of the accessories to consider include a larger external monitor for better viewing of your drafting at home, a 2 TB external hard drive for backup, a USB mouse, and a DVI OR VGA adapter for making presentations.
Is the i5 processor good enough for a laptop for architecture students?
Yes, it is recommended that all architecture students use laptops that come with high processing power such as i5 or i7 processor. This is because the architecture applications and software such as AutoCAD needs high processing power to run smoothly. Some of the best laptops available in the market for architecture come with Core i5 processor and higher RAM to deliver better results.
How much RAM is needed in a laptop for architecture students?
For a laptop for architecture students the minimum of RAM required is 4 GB. However, you can use 8 GB of RAM if you want to enhance the performance and operation of the system. If you have more RAM in your laptop it will enhance your working experience as well, whether you are a student of architecture or a professional architect alike.
Is the size and weight of a laptop important for architecture students?
This primarily depends whether you will be working on your laptop in one place or carry it around to different places. If you want a large screen, it will add to the weight and it may be good to use in your home only. Anything between 13 to 15 inches is good otherwise. Remember that for your drafting work, 3D modelling, image editing, and using other architecture software, palettes, and toolbars, a large amount of screen space is required.
Is the touch screen feature in a laptop helpful for architecture students?
Ideally, this has got everything to do with your personal preference and comfort in using the device more than this technology itself. Few users may find a touchscreen very helpful for their architectural jobs while others may prefer using a traditional mouse and keyboard. However, a touch screen can be very useful for a few specific applications.
Which is the better operating system for architecture laptops to have?
In the past, the difference between the two operating systems, Mac OS X and Windows was quite vast. There was a lot of programs and software that worked on Windows operating systems but not on Mac OS. However, that is no longer the case now. Therefore, if you buy an Apple laptop, you can use Mac OS as successfully on any Windows laptop for your architecture needs.