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The best laptops for architecture students will be able to handle 3d rendering, have a SSD drive, good battery, and be compatible with an active stylus.
During your classes, you will explore the amazing world of 3D modeling. Working on software like AutoCAD, Revit, Vectorworks, and ArchiCAD will be part of your everyday life. You will also cope with graphic design and software like Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.
In fact, exploring the drawing and editing possibilities that a brand-new laptop can offer is thrilling. However, if you are a student, then purchasing a device for your architecture studies can be confusing, and sometimes overwhelming.
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- Related: 9 Best Laptops for AutoCAD (Designers Guide)
- Top Picks – Laptops for Architecture Students
- How to choose the best laptop as an architecture student
- Best Laptops for Architecture students
- 1. Dell Inspiron 14: Best laptop for Overall Architect student work (2-in-1)
- 2. ASUS ProArt StudioBook: Best for professional architects (& students)
- 3. Acer Swift 3: Best Budget Laptop for Architecture student design
- 4. Dell G7: Best laptop for rendering architecture (& learning)
- 5. MSI Creator 15: Best premium architecture laptops for students
- 6. Acer Nitro 5: Best affordable Laptop for architecture students
- 7. MacBook Pro 13-inch: Best Mac Laptop for Architecture design
- 8. MSI GF75: Best lightweight Laptop for Architecture student work
- 9. Microsoft Surface Pro X: Best Windows laptop for Architectural designers
- How we tested and rated the best laptops for architect students
- Should I choose Windows or Mac as an Architecture student?
- Alternative architecture student laptop options
- Laptop accessories required for architecture students
Top Picks – Laptops for Architecture Students
- Dell Inspiron 14: Best laptop for Overall Architect student work (2-in-1)
- ASUS ProArt StudioBook: Best for professional architects (& students)
- Acer Swift 3: Best Budget Laptop for Architecture student design
- Dell G7: Best laptop for rendering architecture (& learning)
- MSI Creator 15: Best premium architecture laptops for students
How to choose the best laptop as an architecture student
To help you choose the best laptop for architecture as a student, we have created a list of tips to follow when buying a laptop with the minimum requirements:
- Rendering is the process where your PC will convert a drawing into the final 3D model. This process is CPU-demanding. For that reason, buying a laptop with a powerful CPU and a dedicated GPU is always the best way to go.
- You should consider a laptop that includes at least 8GB of RAM. This will allow you to easily multi-task and will help with the modeling experience. All architects need more ram because it also helps to quickly manipulate 3D projects.
- Also, a great battery, a big, high-resolution screen, and a fast SSD drive are extremely important for you as a student.
- Drawing with an active stylus is common for architects. Thus, if a laptop offers active stylus support is a great advantage.
- Don’t spend too much. If you will need an extremely powerful computer for a complicated assessment, most colleges offer access to high-end desktops.
Best Laptops for Architecture students
Nowadays, all architects need a good quality laptop. The times when we draw only on paper are way behind us. Likewise, if you are an Architecture student, sooner or later, you need to buy a new laptop for your college needs.
Let’s dive into our list of the top laptops for architecture students.
1. Dell Inspiron 14: Best laptop for Overall Architect student work (2-in-1)
As a 2-in-1 laptop, the Dell Inspiron 14 is extremely flexible as the keyboard flips. That means you can write notes on its touchscreen with an active stylus and use it as a tab for graphic design software like Adobe Illustrator.
Most students agree that having both a laptop and a tablet is great for their college. Well, this device is both a strong laptop and a slim tablet.
This Dell laptop is a pocket-size, performance beast. It includes a powerful AMD Ryzen 5 processor, which easily handles any rendering task and offers a great 3D modeling experience and an architect student.
The CPU is combined with 16GB RAM. That means that Inspiron is perfect for multitasking. Likewise, the fast 512GB SSD is more than enough for your college needs. The only thing the Inspiron doesn’t include is a powerful dedicated GPU.
However, its integrated Radeon graphics are great for graphic design and can also handle simple 3D modeling projects on AutoCAD. Don’t forget that your college probably has high-end PCs for you to use when dealing with large modeling assessments.
See our post: 7 Best Stylus Pens for Touch Screen Laptops
Another great advantage of Inspiron is its vivid, high-resolution 14’’ display. It is small and portable enough to carry it with you everywhere. However, it is also big enough to offer a stunning designing and modeling experience.
Finally, this Dell laptop has all the essentials (like USB 3.1 ports, HDMI, Bluetooth 5.0, and Wifi 6) and an amazing battery that lasts up to 9 hours. Thus, this is one of the most flexible choice for you as an architecture student.
2. ASUS ProArt StudioBook: Best for professional architects (& students)
This ASUS ProArt laptop is simply the best laptop on the list. If you need the most powerful device for architecture models, you will be happy to hear that ASUS has designed this laptop for professionals.
The ProArt includes an Intel i7-9750H CPU, which is one of the most powerful CPUs ever created. Its performance set is completed with 16GB of RAM and the Quadro RTX 3000 GPU.
This set can easily handle huge 3D projects, and you won’t face any problem with rendering any model. As an example, the ProArt is so powerful that it can render a model on 3ds max and allow you to draw or browse at the same time.
Even though a portable device is useful for a student, having a large screen is also desirable. Pro Art has a stunning 17’’ screen and a great battery that lasts up to 8 hours. As a part of its premium design, this laptop is also extremely sleek and light. The only disadvantage of this device is its price, as this is the most expensive laptop on the list.
This is a great choice if you want to make an investment for many years. If you are one of those students who don’t want to compromise on quality or performance, the StudioBook Pro 17 has all you need and much more.
3. Acer Swift 3: Best Budget Laptop for Architecture student design
If you liked the specs of the Dell Inspiron 14 reviewed above, but you want to spend less, the Acer Swift 3 is the best alternative for you. The only disadvantage compared to Dell’s device is that Swift isn’t a 2-in-1 laptop, and thus you won’t be able to use it as a tablet or drawing pad.
Apart from this compromise on flexibility, Acer has managed to create a strong, reliable laptop that can cope with most architecture software. The Swift 3 has a powerful Ryzen 7 CPU, which is stronger than Inspiron’s and allows you to sufficiently run most modeling software. Its 16GB RAM is also more than enough for your college and personal needs.
Swift’s 512GB SSD is fast and meets the requirements. This device is one of the thinnest and lightest laptops on the list. Swift also has a beautiful 14″ screen size and a good battery. As mentioned above, although AMD integrated graphics can easily cope with architecture modeling and editing software, it is not a good choice for large-scale 3D projects or demanding games.
Thus, if gaming is not your priority, the Swift 3 is certainly one of the best budget laptops for architect students on this list.
4. Dell G7: Best laptop for rendering architecture (& learning)
The Dell G7 is an all-rounder, and thus an amazing choice for you as an architect student. It is very powerful, has a high-end graphics card, and comes at a reasonable price.
Performance-wise, the G7 has a fast i5 CPU, which proves to be powerful enough to handle 3D and 2D drawing projects. This CPU is combined with 16GB of RAM and the strong dedicated RTX 2060 GPU which is perfect for both drawing and gaming.
In fact, this set will easily cope with demanding architecture software like 3ds Max, Maya, etc. The device’s amazing 17.3’’ FHD screen is both an advantage and a disadvantage. Although it offers an amazing drawing experience, this is not a flexible or extremely portable laptop.
G7 is the only laptop on the list that includes two hard drives. This will allow installing all the software inside the 256GB SSD while saving your assessments and projects inside the 1TB HDD. G7 also has a great battery and everything else a student needs (Wifi, Bluetooth, etc).
In a few words, Dell G7 is an amazing laptop for an architect student who wants great specs and prefers a big screen for drawing.
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5. MSI Creator 15: Best premium architecture laptops for students
MSI Creator is a successful series of powerful laptops. The latest Creator 15 is one of the strongest, lightweight, and portable devices on the market. Thus, we highly recommend it as the best alternative choice to Acer ProArt.
When it comes to performance, the MSI Creator hosts a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, the enormous 32GB RAM, and the latest RTX 2070 GPU. Although the RTX 2070 isn’t a workstation GPU (like the RTX 3000), it is the best GPU for personal use. Likewise, this set is extremely powerful, specially created for professionals.
Its main differences with ProArt concern design, portability, and flexibility. The Creator 15 is lighter, slimmer, and thus much more portable. Likewise, if you want to easily carry your laptop with you in your classes or at the library, the Creator is a better choice.
Related: Best Drawing Tablets with Screen Built-in – these allow you to draw directly on the screen of a graphics tablet. Some experts often refer to these as Pen tablets.
Also, MSI has included a touchscreen display, allowing you to draw with an active stylus directly on the screen of your Creator. In a few words, if you don’t need a laptop for enormous 3D models, the MSI Creator 15 offers more features for you as an architecture student.
6. Acer Nitro 5: Best affordable Laptop for architecture students
Keeping in mind that many students spend some time in gaming, it would be a deficiency if we didn’t include a budget gaming laptop in our list. Acer Nitro 5 is an amazing, entry-level gaming laptop that can also handle the software you will use during your studies.
The model comes equipped with a powerful i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a dedicated Nvidia Geforce GTX 1650 GPU. Thus, performance will not be a problem for you as a student, as this build can handle any drawing software (like Illustrator), most of the 3D modeling software (like AutoCAD), and pretty much anything else.
For those of you who are gamers, you won’t have any lags when running demanding games like PUBG in Ultra settings. The Nitro’s 15.6 FHD display is great for its price and its battery allows for many hours of gaming and editing.
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Although this laptop is not ideal for large 3D drafting projects, it is the perfect choice for 2D drawing, simple 3D tasks, and gaming. If those are your high priorities as an architecture student, then Nitro 5 is the best way to go.
7. MacBook Pro 13-inch: Best Mac Laptop for Architecture design
Apple is very well-known for its powerful devices. In fact, as with previous models, the 2020 MacBook Pro is equipped with a very powerful processor, 8GB of RAM and a great graphics card for 3D and 2D drawings.
Although Apple is also very popular for its high prices, the latest MacBook is actually cheaper than other devices on this list.
There are some applications like Revit, that you can only use on Windows. On the other hand, the latest MacBook Pro runs fluidly with most of the architectural software like AutoCAD, ArchiCad, and Photoshop.
Apart from that, the MacBook Pro seamlessly connects to iPhones and iPads. The new apple pencil is also supported by the Pro. It is one of the best active styluses on the market and proves to be extremely useful for beginner and professional architects.
In a few words the MacBook Pro is a great choice for those of you who prefer iOS over windows.
8. MSI GF75: Best lightweight Laptop for Architecture student work
As with Acer’s Nitro 5, MSI GF75 is a great entry-level gaming laptop that has everything an architecture student needs. GF75 is great for architecture, engineering, or archaeology beginners and students who spend some time in gaming and 3D software.
GF75 has exactly the same performance kit as Acer’s Nitro. However, this laptop has some different features. Firstly, the GF75 has a bigger, 512GB SSD, which is twice as big as Nitro’s drive. Also, MSI has included a 17.3’’ IPS display which is noticeably larger than Nitro’s 15.6’’ display.
Alternative: This device also works well as a laptop for Sketchup. As well as creating 3D models, SketchUp is also suitable for large architectural projects, but it differs from AutoCAD in this respect. This is ideal for those looking to create models of buildings, structures, and landscapes. It has an impressive 3D visualization tool as well.
Like Nitro’s battery, the GF75 has great battery autonomy and a futuristic, gaming design with a backlit keyboard. Even though MSI included a 17.3’’ screen, the GF75 weighs a bit less than Nitro (4.7 pounds compared to Nitro’s 5.07).
It becomes obvious that the GF75 is similar to Acer Nitro 5. However, if you need a bigger SSD disk and a big, beautiful screen, spending the extra $100 for the MSI device is a smart thing to do.
9. Microsoft Surface Pro X: Best Windows laptop for Architectural designers
If you want an ultimately portable and flexible laptop for your college needs, the latest Surface Pro X is exactly that. Microsoft managed to develop an amazing two-in-one laptop. Although there are different versions of Surface Pro, we recommend the one with 16GB of RAM and 256 SSD.
Powered by the latest Microsoft SQ 2 processor, the Pro X can easily cope with 2D and 3D drawing apps. Of course, the Pro X doesn’t include a dedicated GPU, meaning you can’t manipulate GPU-demanding, large 3D models. On the other hand, drawing software like illustrator, editing software like Photoshop, and simple 3D models, will run fluidly.
Apart from that, this device is every student’s dream. It has the perfect size to use it both as a laptop and a tablet and an amazing PixelSense (2880 x 1920) touchscreen display to combine with Microsoft active pen for drawing. Unfortunately, the active pen is not included.
Moreover, Microsoft has included all the essentials you need like USB 3.1 ports, HDMI, Bluetooth 5.0, etc. Thus, if you need a reliable and flexible laptop/tablet for your college, the Pro X is the best way to go.
How we tested and rated the best laptops for architect students
I tested the laptops based on three primary factors: RAM, CPU, and graphics. Seconcary features were considered which were battery and ability to run the apps both architect professionals and architect students require.
First of all, the laptops need to have a good set of basic features to perform tasks that an architect may want to use the laptop for.
Next, I looked at how well they perform in terms of speed and power consumption; these two factors are important for in-depth analysis work such as CAD (computer-aided design) simulations or detailed architectural drawings.
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Finally, I determined their design aesthetics and construction quality; this is important because it would impact if the laptop is aesthetically pleasing or not and also what kind of long term durability it has. We rated those higher that had good ram 16GB or more, fast processor (i-7 or above) and a graphics card that can handle architecture apps.
Should I choose Windows or Mac as an Architecture student?
While MacOS can run architecture apps, windows has the more broad selection. This is why you’ll see most experts using Windows instead of Mac for architecture. However, in recent years, Mac has improved its app compatibility drastically and if you do want a Mac you can do so and run the apps that are windows only by utilizing boot camp or parallels.
Macs will be slightly more costly compared to a windows laptop of similar specs, but the design is intuitive and the interface is very smooth and innovative, which many architecture professionals may value due to their passion for unique design. Keep in mind you may also be editing, using revit, and may want a gaming laptop to be used for architecture since they share much of the same specs needed.
Alternative architecture student laptop options
Some alternatives to mainstream laptops like the Surface Pro or MacBook Pro for architect students are gaming laptops. In fact, these laptops work great as an alternative option because they can handle 3d designing and modeling software quite easily.
Can a gaming laptop be used for architecture?
Yes, gaming laptops work well as a laptop for architects because they have specs such as good ram, fast processor, powerful graphics card option, and expandable memory and storage. They also have good battery life in many cases and these are features that are desired as an architect professional.
Laptop accessories required for architecture students
Besides a laptop, you’ll need some accessories to properly handle tasks your profession demands. For example, you’ll need a drawing tablet or pen tablet that has a screen. If you don’t value a screen you can choose a graphics tablet that will help you draw, design, and build in your architecture applications that you’ll be running on your laptop as a student.
You’ll also want a mouse that has extra buttons, shortcuts and a keyboard that is smooth. The mouse is very important since you’ll be navigating your laptop for a very long period of time. This is also why the battery is important on laptops for architecture students.
In this article, I covered the top laptops for architecture students, their advantages, how we tested them, and provided different alternatives. I also compared the budget choices with the premium picks and how these choices can affect performance when using architecture apps on your laptop.
In most cases architecture students will be connecting a drawing or pen tablet with a screen to your laptop to run architecture focused applications like 3DSMax, Revit, and other autocad applications and design with accuracy and precision. This includes using a stylus as well.
So, what are the best laptop for the drawing and modeling tasks that architecture students require? You’ll want ram over 16GB, a CPU that is intel i-7 or higher (or an AMD equivalent), and a graphics card that is powerful enough to render and perform high CPU-intensive tasks (like the Nvidia Geforce or AMD chips).