No matter what stage of your interior design career you’re at - whether you’re just starting out in college, or you’re an established professional - you’ll know that a good laptop is essential.
Interior designers need a laptop that has a large, high-definition display, enough memory and power to load and run 3D-modelling applications, and ideally something portable enough to carry between meetings with clients.
The technological world is forever expanding and evolving, so there’s always a bunch of new laptops on the scene, which can make decision-making difficult.
To make it easier for you, not only have we put together a list of the best laptops for interior design on the market, but we’ve also added a handy buyer’s guide so you know exactly what features to look out for.
First up, what should a laptop for interior design contain?
Here are the key specifications to look out for:
- A multi-core processor (either i7-6300HQ/i7-6500U/i7-5500U/i7-6567U/i5-6200U)
- At least 10GB of free hard disc drive space.
- At least 8GB RAM (DDR3/DDR4)
- Windows 7, 8, or 10, or for Mac, an operating system of at least Mac OS X10.10
- An additional graphics card or a dedicated graphics card with at least 512MB of storage.
- A full HD display (1920x1080p)
With this in mind, let's take a look at our top pick...
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
MacBook Pro comes out on top, mainly for its awe-inspiring 16-inch Retina display - the largest retina display in a Mac notebook - perfect for modeling designs and showing them to clients.
Colors will be shown in their full glory on the MacBook Pro, as the display is lit up by 500 nits of brightness to contrast colors, brighten whites, and deepen blacks. The P3 wide color gamut enables high-definition, true-to-life images and video.
The latest MacBook pro features a newly updated thermal design to accommodate an Intel Core i9 processor with up to 8 cores and 16 threads to keep your applications running quickly even over long periods. This makes it twice as powerful as a quad-core MacBook Pro and perfect for rendering 3D models.
You’ve also got an impressive 64 GB of DDR4 memory to efficiently handle all your multitasking needs, as well as a huge 8TB SSD storage.
If you’re constantly dealing with a flurry of emails you’ll love Apple’s Magic Keyboard, which is designed with a refined scissor mechanism for increased speed and responsiveness and a comfortable, silent typing experience.
- 500 nits of brightness for optimal colors and contrast
- Intel Core i9 processor
- 64 GB of DDR4 memory
- 8TB SSD storage
- Responsive, silent Magic Keyboard
- Touch ID for convenience and identity security
- Six-speaker sound system
- Up to 11 hours of battery life
- The latest MacBook Pro does not come cheap.
The ASUS Tuf may be a gaming laptop, but don’t let that put you off, as it’s gaming features are perfectly suited to handle all of your interior design applications.
It’s equipped with Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 4GB graphics and a Quad-core AMD Ryzen 5 r5-3550h processor to handle all of your media-based needs, as well as 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD to keep multitasking efficient.
The 15.6” 120Hz full HD (1920x1080) IPS-type display provides superior viewing angles and ensures vivid and consistent colors, even when viewing from extreme positions.
The ASUS Tuf is also extremely durable thanks to its military standard construction - as its name suggests - so you won’t need to handle this laptop with care like you might others.
The RGB backlit keyboard is rated for 20-million keystroke durability while the anti-dust cooling system expels harmful dust particles and dirt from the chassis through two dedicated tunnels, acting like the laptop's immune system — preventing build-up in the thermal fins to increase system stability and overall product lifespan.
- Quad-core AMD Ryzen 5 r5-3550h processor
- 15.6” 120Hz full HD (1920x1080) IPS-type display
- Military standard construction
- 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD
- 20-million keystroke durability
- Anti-dust cooling system
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 4GB graphics
- Weighing 4.85lbs it’s not the most portable design
The Microsoft Surface 3 has a 13.5” screen, so it’s perfect if you prefer a more compact laptop.
The Surface 3 is made even more portable and versatile by the fact that it weighs just 2.79 pounds and has a touch-screen with pen input.
It’s equipped with a powerful 10th Generation Intel Core i7 processor and is available in a range of storage capacities depending on your RAM and SSD requirements.
The Surface 3 provides all-day power on the go, with up to 11.5 hours of battery life, plus standby time when you’re away.
It also has super-fast charging and can go from an empty battery to up to 80% in just 1 hour.
It’s also equipped with multitasking USB-C and USB-A ports, an interactive touchscreen, enhanced Studio Mics, and wake on voice and password-free Windows Hello sign-in.
- Super lightweight, portable design
- Quick charging - reach 80% in 1 hour
- 10th Generator Intel Core i7 processor
- Multiple storage capacities available
- 11.5-hour battery life
- Multitasking USB-C and USB-A ports
- Enhanced studio mics
- Interactive touchscreen
- Password-free sign in
- 13.5” screen may make design applications harder to use
The HP Pavilion 15 has the power of a PC wrapped up in a lightweight design.
It’s equipped with an 11th Generation Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor, which delivers instant responsiveness and best-in-class connectivity.
You can also enjoy up to 15x faster performance than a traditional hard drive with 512 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD storage and excellent multitasking thanks to 16 GB of RAM.
Intel’s Iris Xe Graphics provides a new level of graphics performance with crisp, enhanced visuals, and in combination with the large screen-to-body ratio, and a 15.6-inch Full HD micro-edged screen you’ll be able to view and share your designs in optimal quality.
The 178 degree wide viewing angles and 1920 x 1080 resolution also means you can view your designs in all their glory.
The thin, lightweight design of this laptop is great for working on the go, while HP Fast Charge enables you to charge your battery from 0 to 50% in just 45 minutes.
- 11th Generation Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor
- 512 SSD storage and 16 GB of RAM
- Iris Xe Graphics for high definition, crystal-clear graphics
- 1920 x 1080 resolution 15.6-inch Full HD micro-edged screen
- 178-degree viewing angles
- HP fast charge allows you to go from 0 to 50% charge in approximately 45 minutes
- HP 1 year limited hardware warranty
- Lightweight, portable design
- Battery life is about 8 hours
The Acer Aspire 5 is a budget-friendly option, perfect for college students or anyone who doesn’t want to break the bank, but still wants something high-quality that performs well.
The Aspire 5 features a powerful 10th Gen Intel Core i5 processor and NVIDIA GeForce MX350 graphics making it ideal for supporting a media-heavy lifestyle.
It features 8GB DDR4 memory and a 512GB NVMe SSD to handle your basic multitasking needs.
The standout feature of this laptop is its lightweight design: weighing just 3.97 lbs, it’s the perfect companion for the designer who is always on the go.
Despite its portability, you still get the benefits of a full 15.6” IPS display with a narrow-bezel design, Acer Color Intelligence, and Acer BlueLightShield technologies for an enhanced visual appearance and eye protection.
It also has a HD webcam and two built-in microphones with Acer voice purification to ensure all communications and meetings are crystal clear.
- 10th Gen Intel Core i5 processor and NVIDIA GeForce MX350
- 8GB DDR4 Memory and a 512GB NVMe SSD
- Super lightweight design - 3.97 lbs
- full 15.6” IPS display with narrow-bezel design
- HD webcam and two built-in microphones
- Backlit keyboard
- 8-hour battery life could be better
Best Laptop for Interior Design Buying Guide
Computer jargon can be a little confusing, so here’s a breakdown of the most important - and most frequently used - laptop terminology:
- Central Processing Unit (CPU) - this is the brain of the computer that responds to and processes the basic instructions that run the computer. The CPU performs the basic arithmetic, logic, and I/O operations, and also allocates commands for other chips and components in the computer.
- Clock speed - this is the speed at which a CPU can execute instructions, and it’s measured in hertz. A processor with a 3.7 GHz clock speed is capable of processing 3.7 billion instructions a second. Clock speed is one of the best indicators of performance in games and workload functions.
- Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) - this is the powerhouse behind graphics applications and video rendering. GPUs are specifically designed to accelerate computer graphics workloads and come in two types: integrated and discrete.
- Solid-state drive (SSD) - the SSD replaces traditional mechanical hard disks with flash-based memory which is significantly faster. This speeds up your computer as SSDs have a low read-access time and fast throughputs. This is the computer’s long-term memory.
- Random Access Memory (RAM) - this is the computer's short-term memory that allows your files, Netflix streams, and design applications to run.
Features to Consider
Speed and Power
Like we said at the start of this article, you want a laptop with a RAM of at least 8GB, as this is the short-term memory that handles all of your workloads.
You’ll also want to ensure the graphics card has at least 512MB of storage to ensure your designs and graphics are rendered quickly.
In terms of the CPU, you’ll want a multi-core processor with plenty of speed and power for your interior design applications. Some of the most popular CPUs around at the moment are the Intel 10th Gen Core i7; Intel Core i9 and AMD Ryzen 9.
For any design applications, you’re going to want a screen and display which does your work justice.
Look for a full HD (1920x1080) IPS-type display with color-enhancing technology and superior viewing angles so you can show your designs to your clients in all their glory.
This is down to personal preference, however, a 15.6” display would usually be used by designers as this allows you to comfortably draw and view your designs.
Look for a computer that has a large screen-to-body ratio as this ensures you get a maximized display.
If you want something more compact, something around the 13” mark should offer an option that’s both portable but still easy to view.
This will be an important consideration for most interior designers, especially if you’re constantly on the go or tend to meet your clients outside of the office or at their homes.
A portable laptop should be lightweight, thinly constructed, and compact to ensure you can carry it with ease.
How much importance you place on battery life largely depends on where you intend to use your laptop.
Look for a minimal battery life of 8 hours, but if you spend a lot of time working on the move, an 11-hour battery life will give you more reassurance and flexibility - as we’ve all been in a coffee shop where there’s limited access to the power outlet.
Some modern laptops also feature fast-charging which can also be a useful feature - these contain batteries that charge up super quickly so you spend minimal time plugged in.
If you frequently use your laptop for Zoom or Skype meetings, look for a laptop that has a HD webcam and enhanced built-in microphone so your meetings are ultra-clear both visually and in terms of audio quality.
If you intend to use your laptop for other purposes - such as entertainment or gaming, look for a laptop that has all of the features you need, or that’s an all-rounder.
The good thing about going for a gaming laptop - even if you’re not a heavy gamer - is that it’ll have the speed and power to handle graphics-heavy applications and video rendering.
If you’re going to be carrying your laptop around with you all day you want it to be pretty durable, not only physically, but internally, too.
If you want something bullet-proof, a laptop like the ASUS Tuf has a military standard construction and 20-million keystroke durability.
It also has an anti-dust cooling system that expels harmful dust particles and dirt from the chassis preventing build-up in the thermal fins to increase system stability and overall product lifespan.
Features like these not only protect the physical laptop from damage but are also more likely to keep the internal systems running optimally so you’re less likely to have to splash out for a new laptop before you’d expect to.
Cost is a difficult one because how much you spend on a laptop depends on your budget.
If you can afford to splash out on the latest MacBook then it’s worth the investment, but if you can’t, there’s no reason why you can’t find a cheaper alternative.
There is a myriad of cheaper models on the market today and many of these boast the powerful processors and HD displays of the more expensive models.
The only thing to bear in mind is that cheaper laptops could cost you more in the long run if they break down and you have to pay to fix or replace them.
This is why it’s sometimes worth investing that little bit more in a high-quality laptop that’ll last at least a couple of years, particularly if you intend to use it every day.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the best laptop for interior designers?
As you can see from our “best of” list, the Apple MacBook Pro comes out on top for its impressive brightness and display, enviable storage, and super-powerful processor.
However, if you can’t afford to splash out on the latest MacBook Pro it’s not to say you can’t find a cheaper alternative, and all of the laptops on our list are well-suited for interior design applications.
It also depends on what features you wish to prioritize. For example, some interior designers will want a wide, HD screen, while others prefer something compact and portable.
The main thing is to ensure the processor can handle your applications and to ensure you have enough RAM for daily multitasking.
How do I choose a laptop?
Hopefully, this guide has helped you narrow down your choice, but if you’re still overwhelmed by how many laptops are out there you’re not alone.
You simply can’t read through the spec of every single one, so the easiest way to make a choice quicker is to narrow down the minimal requirements you want the laptop to have.
You can revisit the bullet-points we mentioned at the beginning of the article, but if you’d prefer to make your own list, an easy way to do this is to select one CPU and use this to narrow down your search.
Or focus on a different aspect, like portability or price range.