Top 5 Best Laptops For Architecture 2020:
- Gigabyte AERO 15-W9-RT4P
- MSI GS65 Stealth-432
- HP Pavilion 14” HD Touchscreen Laptop
- HP Pavilion x360 2-in-1 14″ FHD Touchscreen Laptop
- New Apple MacBook Pro
Architecture is a profession that requires a lot of patience, precision, and hard work. The circumstances were even harder only a couple of decades ago when architects were forever split between their offices and worksites and had to produce all the designs and calculations manually.
These days the things are admittedly more convenient. First and foremost, the architecture apps and tools have automated or at least streamlined a lot of the tiresome footwork. Second – modern laptops have torn down the walls between the offices and worksites and now allow the industry professionals to finish even the most demanding projects on-the-go.
But, that puts a lot of pressure on the device that is going to be used to deliver the necessary level of performance and productivity.
Let’s take a look then at some of the most popular laptops currently on the market and try to find the best laptop for architecture that meets these essential requirements.
5 Best Laptops For Architecture In 2020: Detailed Reviews
1. Gigabyte AERO 15-W9-RT4P – Best Laptop Overall
Although Gigabyte requires no introduction in the world of tech, they never quite managed to position themselves as the leading brand in the industry. However, judging by AERO 15-W9-RT4P, the future of the Taiwanese giant looks extremely shiny.
To put it simply, the device packs all the components necessary for seamless architectural experience no matter whether you are working from the comfort of your office or making last-minute adjustments on the worksite.
The specs are genuinely great – you get your Intel Core i7-8750H processor, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GDDR6 6GB GPU, and as much as 16GB of DDR4 RAM. All of them provide punchy performance no matter what kind of tool (or tools) you are using at the moment. The laptop didn’t even hitch when we started rendering complex 3D models.
We would also like to point out that you also get a per-key backlit keyboard that is incredibly easy to use as well as a solid 512GB SSD that will store your projects. Throw into the equation some incredibly thin bezels, excellent audio output, and reasonable battery life of 8 hours, and you will get very few things left to be desired.
But there are some.
Our biggest gripe is the 15-inch screen that produces only the Full HD resolution. Sure, the device implements IPS anti-glare technology but, at this price point, we would like to get something far crispier.
That doesn’t change the fact this is one truly exceptional purchase.
- Great specs
- Fast performance
- Ergonomic backlit keyboard
- Excellent rendering capabilities
- Low-res screen
2. MSI GS65 Stealth-432 – Best Premium Laptop
As we saw from the previous review, Gigabyte left very few things to competitors to improve upon and put a more competent product on the market. MSI had a great chance to hit a home run here and fill in the blanks left by the Taiwanese company, but, unfortunately, they succeeded in this task only partially.
We are, of course, talking about the fact that this unit once again uses the Full HD resolution for its 15.6-inch screen. In the previous case, that was something we could look away from. This time, though, we are paying a much higher price, and we demand more.
Fortunately enough, the 1TB SSD does provide a lot more storage space, so you won’t have to worry about stacking your device with projects and multimedia files.
The rest of the components are excellent as well. Intel Core i7-9750h processor makes laptop fast and reliable, 32GB of DDR4 RAM offer endless multitasking possibilities, and NVIDIA GeForce RTX2070 (8GB DDR6) makes rendering a breeze.
Even if you want to take a break from the job and give a try to some of the latest-gen games, they will be able to run without any twitch.
Also, the keyboard is RGB per-key backlit, glass touchpad supports more than 10 useful gestures, and the battery holds enough juice of solid 8 hours of work.
What are the drawbacks besides the low-res screen? Well, we felt the audio output was simply not loud enough. Still, nothing a good headset can solve.
- Excellent gaming-grade specs
- Compact design
- Massive RAM count
- Smooth performance
- Low-res display
- Sub-par audio output
3. HP Pavilion 14” HD Touchscreen Laptop – Best Affordable Laptop
When you see a professional laptop decorated with such an affordable price tag, you know the manufacturer had to leave some important things behind to reach this price segment.
We are happy to report that, this time, good people from HP have made all the right choices. Sure, there are some things we would like to see improved. Still, all the essentials are there – AMD Ryzen 3 3200U Processor, AMD Radeon Vega 3 Graphics, and 16GB of DDR4 RAM are more than enough for running regular architectural apps without major slowdowns.
And the best thing about this product is that you do get other great things moving past these solid foundations. For instance, the device packs as much as 1366 x 768 pixels on its 14-inch screen, which creates one incredibly satisfying pixel density. HD audio output and HD webcam are not bad, either.
All these things create one incredibly gratifying value proposition, you should definitely take into consideration if you are operating on a tight budget.
What are the drawbacks?
Well, let’s start with the fact that in spite of high pixel density, the monitor scores only 14 inches, which can cause some eye strain after a couple of hours of continuous use. The AMD processor is capable enough to run any app you might throw in its way, but with only two cores on disposal, multitasking and more complex operations may lag the device into hell.
- Excellent price
- Solid specs
- Good audio output
- Crips image
- Small-ish screen
- Processor use more power
4. HP Pavilion x360 2-in-1 14″ FHD Touchscreen Laptop – Best Laptop with Touchscreen
We are always happy when we get our hands on some of these foldable transformer devices. They are simply a joy to use. And this one is no exception. But, does this excessive convenience come at a price?
The answer is yes, but not the monetary price we would be more than willing to pay. In this case, we are talking about a slight downgrade in specs. So, what do we have under the hood?
Well, 10th Gen Intel Core i5-1035G1 processor, 256GB of SSD, and beautiful 14-inch multi-touch 1920 x 1080 display are definitely the right place to start. Yeah, the latter diagonal may be small but the foldable screen as well and touch input more than compensate for this problem.
Oh yeah, we forgot to say – the keyboard is well-spaced, easy to use, backlit and features your good old numeric pad so you should be able to get a high level of productivity in all circumstances.
Where this device lacks is sheer horsepower necessary for complex architectural projects. Don’t get us wrong, of course – 8GB DDR4 RAM will get you to the finish line. However, you will need to wait a bit longer to finish the job. The same can be said about the Intel UHD Graphics that is serviceable but doesn’t deliver the necessary punch for fast processing.
The best way to sum this product then would be your secondary unit – a neat piece of tech that allows you to wrap things up rather than perform the dirty work.
- Affordable price
- Convenient form factor
- Great screen
- Good keyboard
- Slightly underpowered for complex tasks
5. New Apple MacBook Pro – Best Apple MacBook
Apple’s MacBook series was always comprised of excellent, well-tuned devices sold at some pretty sweet prices. Of course, the level of productivity you got from them was on par with the best competitors from the Windows camp had to offer.
This description fits the latest iteration of Apple MacBook Pro like a well-tailored glove.
What else can we say about the incredibly punchy 9th generation Intel Core i7 Processor (six cores), up to 64GB of memory that make multitasking problems a thing of the past, and up to 8TB of SSD (probably the best we’ve seen in the notebook range)?
This beautiful story is rounded up by the excellent AMD Radeon Pro 5000M series graphics card, six-speaker audio system and spacious Retina display with the resolution that may be lacking some sharpness but still provides a bright and clear image.
However, the device is not without a couple of flaws. For example, the touchpad feels very sloppy, and we recommend you use the mouse. That, on the other hand, is the problem in itself since Apple accessories are scarce and often expensive.
Finally, we can’t ignore the fact that the laptop heats up rather fast. Pushing it to the limit for a couple of hours will turn the bottom surface in a burner.
So, the latest iteration from the MacBook series is not exactly perfect, but it does offer excellent unprecedented performance for all users of Apple’s ecosystem. Just be sure to use the external cooler.
- Great performance
- Exceptional storage
- Bright Retina display
- Polished OS
- Heats up very fast
- Sloppy touchpad
Things You Should Consider While Choosing The Best Laptop For Architecture
So, these were our top five contenders for the title of the best laptop for architecture you can currently find in the stores. But which one of them is the best? We have our own opinion on the matter (you can find it further down below).
Will the device provide satisfactory performance in your case? That depends entirely on your personal and professional needs.
So, take a look at this short buying guide that will help you identify the features and specs you need the most and maybe even find a better match than the one we suggested for you.
Here are the things you should consider while buying a laptop for architects, designers, and other creative professionals.
The contemporary laptop market is pretty competitive and surprisingly diverse when it comes to the choice of available platforms for casual users. However, most of the robust tools you are going to use throughout your career can be found only on the two most relevant competitors:
- Windows – Microsoft’s flagship OS has a lot of good things going on – it’s very user friendly, supports arguably the widest array of apps and tools, and can be found on very affordable devices. Still, the platform is a bit clunky, so it requires more muscles to run smoothly.
- Mac – Apple’s Mac devices are, generally speaking, better tuned, and better equipped to handle demanding tasks than their Windows-powered counterparts. However, in the tradition of Apple products, this cutting-edge performance usually comes at a steep price.
And now, let’s take a quick look at a couple of multi-platform tools you will most likely use in the following years with their specific system requirements. This breakdown will make the latter considerations far easier.
|AutoCAD||3+ GHz processor, 16 GB RAM, 1080p display, 1GB GPU||Comprehensive and efficient||Steep learning curve|
|3DS Max||8-core i9 9900KS running at 5.0GHz, 1GB GPU, 32GB of RAM||AutoCAD support, 3D modeling||Too complex for beginners|
|Civil 3D||3+ GHz processor, 16GB of RAM, 1080p display, 4GB GPU||Versatile interface, 3D modeling||Not very stable|
|CATIA||Intel i3 3rd Gen CPU, 4GB RAM, AMD Radeon HD 8600M GPU (2GB DDR3)||Great model complexity, lightweight||Expensive|
|Chief Architect||Newer generation, multi-core processor, 4GB of RAM, 1GB GPU||Efficient, easy to use||Expensive|
|Rhino 3||Newer generation multi-core processor, 8GB of RAM, 1GB GPU||Comprehensive options, third-party support||BIM functionality|
|Sketchup||2+ GHz processor, 8+ GB RAM, 1GB GPU||Easy to learn, free plan option||No built-in rendering|
|Revit||Newer generation multi-core processor, 8GB of RAM, 1280 x 1024 display, 4GB GPU||Efficient, smart object connectivity||Overlap with AutoCAD commands|
2. Central Processing Unit (Processor)
As the name suggests, the Central Processing Unit (CPU) is the component that tackles all the calculations involved with running software – we can call it the brain of your laptop. Keeping that in mind, architecture software tools like CAD, SketchUp, and My Virtual Home tend to put quite a pressure on your configuration.
So, regardless of the platform you are going to use, we suggest that you don’t go below Intel i5 (6th generation and newer).
Here is the short breakdown of the Intel Core laptop family:
3. Random Access Memory (RAM)
RAM is the temporary memory your laptop uses for rendering and currently opened apps – the more you have it, the more tools you’ll be able to run at the same time. So, your system requirements will largely depend on your multitasking needs.
In any case, however, we recommend that you buy the device that packs at least 8GB of RAM. But, you can easily ramp up this number to 16GB if you are a heavy multitasker or use Windows 10.
4. Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
Modern architecture involves a great deal of 3D rendering with graphically demanding tools like CAD, Vectorworks, and Revit. Since all these apps require a lot of “muscles” to run smoothly (or run at all), in this case, stock integrated GPUs are out of the question.
Instead, you should aim for a laptop that features a graphic card with at least 4GB of VRAM.
5. Virtual Storage
Here, your options will boil down to two major types of storage:
- Hard Disk Drive (HDD) – This is the traditional mechanical option you will find in most of the affordable devices. HDDs are not that fast and reliable, but they do pack a lot of storage for a very affordable price.
- Solid State Drive (SSD) – Faster, slimmer, and more stable than Hard Disk Drives, SSDs have one major flaw – they usually lack enough storage for a wholesome laptop experience.
We have to point out, though, that some laptops on the market utilize both these storage options or hybrid drives that manage to marry the best of both worlds. If you buy one of these units, keep your OS and software on SSD partition and save massive multimedia files and projects for HDD.
6. Screen Size And Resolution
Usually, we like our screens big, bright and shiny. But, in the case of laptops, increasing the size of the screen also increases the weight of the product and destroys its battery life. So, you should keep yourself within the comfortable 15-17 inches boundaries.
But, that doesn’t prevent you from doubling down on the screen resolution. If you are buying a 15-inch screen (or smaller), Full HD resolution (1920 x 1020, also known as 1080p) should allow a couple of headache-free hours behind the desk.
Still, you should always aim for higher pixel density and get yourself a QHD (2560 × 1440) or even a 4K (3840 × 2160) display.
But, just to give you some reference points, we will throw in a short resolution comparison chart.
|Resolution||Horizontal x Vertical||Also Know As|
|720p||1280 x 720||HD, High Definition|
|1080p||1920 x 1080||Full HD, Full High Definition, FHD|
|4K||3840 × 2160||4K, Ultra HD|
|8K||7680 × 4320||None|
7. Ports And Special Features
These things are not essential for completing the architectural projects, but they sure make life a lot easier. So, you want your device to have enough latest-gen USB ports so you can transfer files and attach various peripherals. You also want it to have at least one HDMI port so you can stream the image to a larger screen or a projector.
Special features, on the other hand, cover too many things to count, but we will mention a couple of things you can always get a productivity kick from:
- Backlit keyboard
- Decent (720p) webcam for video conferencing
- Scrolling feature on the tracking pad
Final Thoughts And Recommendations
And we have finally come to the section where we proclaim what is the best laptop for architecture professionals you can currently find on the market. As you can see from the reviews, the competition was very harsh – even when we felt some of the devices were underpowered, they offered something neat to compensate for weaker specs.
But, the final choice is ultimately in your hands. Check the buying guide above, see what features you need the most, and base your decision on these requirements. We will help you with three suggestions of our own.
Best Laptop Overall: Gigabyte AERO 15-W9-RT4P
- This laptop may be outclassed in one area or another by its competitors, but when all is said and done, we can’t argue that AERO 15-W9-RT4P simply makes the best overall package – especially when we take into consideration its more than reasonable price. What’s even better, the flaws we have pointed out are really not that disruptive.
Best Premium Pick: MSI GS65 Stealth-432
- MSI’s contender is stacked with powerful components. But, it also costs a couple of thousands of dollars more than our roundup winner, so we had to give it the honorary title of the premium pick. Still, if you have enough money to spend, you won’t regret this purchase.
Best Affordable Laptop: HP Pavilion 14” HD Touchscreen Laptop
- Finally, we have HP Pavilion 14” that offers just enough juice to keep your essential tools running without significant slowdowns. At this price point, that is more than enough. If you can live with this and perform the bulk of the work on your desktop PC, this is a great auxiliary laptop for quick on-the-go adjustments.