Best Laptop for Architecture Students

If you’re studying architecture in college, or plan on doing so in the future, you’ll know a good laptop is essential.

Having a laptop that is fast, efficient, and well equipped to handle multiple tasks and software is the most important thing to consider. 

However, we also understand that the purse strings can be tight when you’re a college student, so affordability may also be a factor weighing on your decision. 

Battery life and durability will also be significant features to consider, as architecture is longer than your average college degree, and therefore you want something that will perform well for at least the first two to three years of your course.

Finding the perfect laptop for you can be challenging due to the saturation of the market, and the constant new models of laptops being churned out by the big names. 

However, we’ve compiled a list of laptops that are well-suited to architecture students, and we’ve also put together a Buyer’s Guide containing all of the aspects you need to consider before committing to a purchase. 

First up, let’s have a quick look at what an architecture student needs in a laptop.

Here is a rough guide of the minimum requirements a laptop needs to run architecture software like ArchCAD, Revit, Vectorworks, Sketchup, V-Ray, Studio Max, and other 2d or 3D modeling applications.

  • Intel i5 processor
  • 8 GB of RAM
  • At least 2 Gigabytes of GPU VRAM
  • A full HD screen of minimum 15 inches’ size
  • At least 512 GB of storage space

OUR TOP PICK

Microsoft Surface Book 2 HNM-00001 Laptop (Windows 10, Intel i7-8650U, 13.5' Screen, Storage: 512 GB, RAM: 16 GB) Silver

The Microsoft Surface Book 2 is widely used by architects. It’s powered by an Intel i7 8th generation processor so it handles multiple operations with ease and efficiency.

The detachable pixelsense touch screen is perfect for viewing your architecture programs and software, thanks to the high resolution of 3000×2000 pixels which provides crystal clear images and vivid colors.

The display of the surface book surpasses that of even Apple MacBooks, and the enhanced graphics are powered by a dedicated NVidia graphics chip with 2 GB VRAM.

The handy detachable touchscreen is great for when you want to use your laptop as a tablet, and weighing just 3.6 pounds, it’s easy to transport between classes or to your favorite coffee spot to meet clients.

It also has an impressive battery life of 17 hours, and is Microsoft’s fastest surface book yet, offering 2x more power than its predecessors. 

Pros

  • 1.9GHz (Up To 4.2GHz) Intel Quad-Core i7-8650U
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 GPU (2GB GDDR5)
  • 16GB of RAM | 512GB SSD
  • 3000 x 2000 PixelSense Display
  • The fastest Surface Book yet, with 2x more power
  • Versatile design - detachable screen which is also a touchscreen
  • 17-hour battery life 
  • Lightweight design weighs just 3.6 pounds

Cons

  • 13.5" screen due to the compact design; so you may wish for a larger screen when using design programs. 

EDITORS CHOICE

Lenovo ThinkPad P71 17.3'' Mobile Workstation Laptop (Intel i7 Quad Core Processor, 16GB RAM, 500GB HDD + 128GB SSD, 17.3 inch FHD 1920x1080 Display, NVIDIA Quadro M620M, Win 10 Pro)

If our first option was a little on the small side for you; the Lenovo ThinkPad offers a sizable 17.3” screen which is perfect for design programs and displaying your sketches.

This laptop is highly durable: the ThinkPad has a scratch-proof, matte-finish body, making it perfect for withstanding the wear and tear of college life. 

The full numeric keyboard is also a great touch, as this makes it easy to use to feed in the dimensions of your designs.

The laptop is powered by a high-end kaby lake i7 processor and 16 GB RAM which is capable of handling Revit, Vectorworks, and other architecture design applications. 

The high speed 128GB SSD means the laptop boots up quickly and provides fast file access and speedy downloads.

The 500GB SATA HDD stores all of your files securely. The FHD screen is perfect for architects as it’s powered by the latest IPS technology for better viewing angles.

The only drawback of this laptop is that due to the widescreen it’s a little heftier than others, weighing in at 7.3 pounds. 

Pros

  • 17.3” screen perfect for designing and viewing 
  • Highly durable, scratch-proof, matte body 
  • kaby lake i7 processor and 16 GB RAM handles programs with ease 
  •  128GB SSD and 500GB SATA HDD provides quick file access and download 
  • FHD screen for superior viewing angles

Cons

  • Not the most portable design - weighs 7.3 pounds. 

BEST VALUE

Dell G5587-7866BLK-PUS G5 15 5587 Gaming Laptop 15.6' LED Display, 8th Gen Intel i7 Processor, 16GB Memory, 128GB SSD+1TB HDD, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti, Licorice Black

This gaming laptop from Dell comes with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with 4GB GDDR5 video graphics memory, so not only will your gameplay be clear and vivid, but any architectural programs will be equally detailed.

Equipped with an 8th Generation Intel Core i7 processor, this laptop provides super-quick boot up and is a processing powerhouse.

 The Dual-drive 128GB Solid State Drive (Boot) and 1TB 5400RPM Hard Drive run up to 4x quicker than conventional SATA, so you can load applications and data faster and run your machine more efficiently, which will save you significant battery life. 

In terms of display, the 15.6-inch screen is perfect for viewing your designs, while the IPS FHD display provides clarity and rich color, as well as superior viewing angles.

The screen also features anti-glare panels so you can comfortably view your work in a range of environments.

The quick-charge battery increases by 25% in just 15 minutes, which is highly convenient when you’re always on the go. 

Pros

  • 8th Generation Intel Core i7 processor
  • Drives run up to 4x quicker than conventional SATA
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with 4GB GDDR5 video graphics memory
  • 15.6-inch screen with IPS FHD display
  • Anti-glare panels 
  • Quick-charge battery increases by 25% in 15 minutes

Cons 

  • Again, may not be the most portable, weighing in at 6.28 pounds

RUNNER UP

ASUS VivoBook 15 Thin and Light Laptop, 15.6” FHD Display, Intel i3-1005G1 CPU, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, Backlit Keyboard, Fingerprint, Windows 10 Home in S Mode, Slate Gray, F512JA-AS34

Like we said, money can be tight as a student, so if you’re looking for a budget laptop, it doesn’t mean you have to fully compromise on quality.

The ASUS VivoBook 15 has a 15.6 inch full HD (1920x1080) 4-way NanoEdge bezel display with a stunning 88% screen-to-body ratio, perfect for creating and designing, as well as viewing your work. 

It’s compatible with Google Classroom and comes equipped with the latest 10th Gen Intel Core i3-1005G1 CPU (4M Cache, up to 3.4 GHz), with an 8 GB DDR4 RAM and 128 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD, which isn’t quite up to scratch with the other laptops on our list but will comfortably accommodate your basic needs. 

This laptop has a range of handy features designed to make your experience more convenient and comfortable: such as an ergonomic backlit keyboard for improving typing position and a fingerprint sensor activated via Windows Hello for easy login. 

Weighing just 3.75 pounds, the Vivobook is lightweight and compact so you can carry it in your backpack with ease, it also offers fast charging - reaching 60% in just 49 minutes. 

Pros 

  • 15.6 inch full HD screen with 4-way NanoEdge bezel display
  • 88% screen-to-body ratio
  • ergonomic backlit keyboard
  • fingerprint sensor 
  • Lightweight design weighs just 3.75 pounds 
  • Fast charging - reaches 60% in just 49 minutes.
  • Affordable  

Cons

  • Intel Core i3-1005G1 CPU isn’t as fast as some of the other laptops on our list 

RUNNER UP

2021 Newest Acer Aspire 5 15.6' FHD 1080P Laptop Computer AMD Ryzen 3 3350U(Beat i5-7200u) 8GB RAM 256GB SSD+1TB HDD Backlit KB Fingerprint WiFi 6 Bluetooth HDMI Windows 10 with E.S 32GB USB Card

The Acer Aspire 5 is a mid-range laptop equipped with a 15.6 inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) Widescreen, with an LED-backlit IPS Display and AMD Radeon Vega 3 Mobile Graphics, so it’s not only ideal for your design programs but will provide excellent gameplay too. 

The 16GB DDR4 memory allows you to multitask with ease, while adequate high-bandwidth RAM handles multiple applications and browser tabs efficiently and effectively.

The hard drive is upgraded to 256GB SSD plus 1TB HDD, providing massive storage space for files without compromising on your computer speed.  

The full keyboard with a 10-key numeric keypad allows you to enjoy comfortable and accurate typing when inputting data or writing assignments.

The battery life could be better, and lasts for around 7.5 hours, however, weighing just 4.1 pounds, this laptop offers portability without limiting screen size. 

Pros 

  • 15.6 inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) widescreen#
  • 16GB DDR4 and high-bandwidth RAM 
  • 256GB SSD plus 1TB HDD
  • 10-key numeric keypad
  • Lightweight and portable 

Cons

  • Battery life could be better

Best Laptop for Architecture students Buying Guide

Versatility

Do you want a standard laptop or a hybrid style that can fold or detach into a tablet?

The latter can be handy if you take your work to various locations, as a tablet can be easier to work with if you’re sat outside, for example. 

It can also be useful if you plan on using the laptop for other things, such as video streaming or web browsing.

If you’re a big gamer, you’ll also want to consider a laptop that has a good GPU to optimize your gameplay. 

Price

We know that money isn’t easy to come by when you’re in college, so it’s understandable if you’re feeling like some of the options on this list are way above your budget.

That said, this doesn’t mean that you can’t find a quality laptop that will fulfill most of your needs without breaking your bank.

It just means you’ll probably have to be prepared for something to give; this could be compromising for a slightly lower RAM or older processor, or maybe lousier battery life. 

As long as it fulfills your basic needs in terms of speed, storage, and graphics, it should be fine.

Though if you can afford it, we’d still recommend investing in something that will offer high definition resolution, quick processing, and lightweight portability, and it’ll probably have a more efficient battery life, too, so will last longer generally.

 The good news is that computers are continually growing in sophistication, and as the market becomes increasingly saturated, you can now find many low to mid-end laptops that offer many of the same features as the high-end options, so you’re getting more bang for your buck. 

Useful definitions

Computer jargon can be a little tricky to get your head around if you’re not used to it.

Here are some useful definitions that may come in handy when you're comparing specs:

CPU type 

The CPU (central processing unit) is the powerhouse of the computer, and generally speaking, the more cores a CPU has, the more power.

If the software you use is multithreaded (for example, modern content-creation, editing packages for graphics and video), then the more cores, the better.

For example, certain games require a minimum of four cores. In descriptions of CPUs, they’ll usually write core and thread count like this:  8C/16T, which means 8 cores and 16 threads.

RAM 

RAM stands for random-access memory and is an essential component in PCs, smartphones, and other similar devices.

Without enough RAM storage, your applications could run at a snail’s pace, and it will slow the entire computer down. 

GPU memory (VRAM)

The GPU, known as Graphics Processing Units, or V RAM, is made up of graphic cores that render or stitch together the graphical frames of our games and videos.

Once rendered, the frame stays in the virtual memory of your computer before it comes up on your screen.

The higher the resolution or size of the frame, the bigger GPU memory required. Generally speaking, GPUs nowadays come in 4 GB to 24 GB. 

SSD

SSD stands for "Solid State Drive.” This is a type of hard drive that runs on flash memory rather than spinning discs.

It has no moving parts, and therefore it can read and write information faster, lasting longer than traditional hard drives. 

HDD

This stands for the “hard disk drive”, and the HDD is the main, and usually most substantial, data storage hardware device in a computer.

This is where you’d find the operating system, software titles, and most other files.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best laptop for architecture students?

Any of the laptops in our “best of” list is well-suited to the demands of an architecture degree.

However, the best laptop will tick all the boxes and as a minimum, will have an Intel i5 processor, at least 8 GB of RAM, and 2 Gigabytes of GPU VRAM, a full HD screen that is 15 inches wide, and at least 512 GB of storage space.

However, you’ll also want to consider other factors such as portability and the weight of the laptop, the battery life and versatility, and of course, the budget.

There’s no one go-to laptop that fulfills every one of these aspects, so we suggest you prioritize these features and pick the laptop that is best suited to your needs.

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