Ideally, getting a laptop is almost as simple as walking up to the store to pick up your most preferred model. But if you need a dedicated portable computer system for Computer Aided Designs and 3D modeling, there are some important factors you have to consider before you make your choice.
Some heavy software programs like Solidworks, Auto CAD, etc., require a quality laptop with a good set of configuration to perform optimally. Every professional architect prefers to execute their tasks using this type of powerful laptop. And if you have found yourself in that position or you are nearing the stage where you will be doing a lot of CAD operations and 3D modeling tasks, you may want to get a laptop with the necessary specifications and features needed to make those operations buttery smooth and seamless.
As we proceed with this article, we will highlight the best laptops in the market that are most suitable for these tasks and briefly discuss what makes them stand out from the rest.
As a professional architect, you will find yourself in need of highly-demanding programs to execute your design operations. And as such, you will need a computer system that is up to the task. More importantly, the portability of a laptop computer makes it ideal for you, as you can move from one place to another and continue with your tasks on-the-go. But how exactly do you know which laptop is most appropriate for your heavy-duty programs and design works? Find out below:
Best Laptops for CAD works
While considering the best laptops for CAD work, your budget will play a prominent role. The most suitable workstation-like laptop required to carry out your most-demanding CAD works may be very expensive. Based on our research, they are estimated to fall between $600 to $3000. However, not everyone can afford to spend such a high amount of money on laptop alone.
This may be very stressful and demanding, and for a busy architect or engineering student, choosing the best laptop for your CAD works can be a daunting task. That is why we have done a background check on the best laptops for CAD works and select the most suitable laptop computers based on their features, specifications, and performance.
1. Dell G5 5590
- CPU: 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750h (12MB Cache, up to 4. 5 GHz, 6 Cores)
- RAM: 16GB DDR4 2666MHz RAM
- Storage: 1TB SATA
- Display: 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) anti-Glare LED backlight non-touch narrow border IPS
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 with 4GB GDDR5 Graphics
Dell G5 5590 is designed specifically for CAD works. It may be the best choice for beginners and enthusiasts, as it offers the essential features and components needed to kick start your career in CAD and 3D modeling works.
The computer has a storage capacity that is up to 1TB of Hard Disk Drive (HDD) and 128GB of Solid State Drive (SSD). As a result of its massive storage capacity, it can transfer files faster while operating at an average high speed. Its RAM capacity is 16GB, which is sufficient enough to perform most CAD operations.
Besides, you can still upgrade RAM size to 32GB without affecting overall system performance. The computer comes with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX1650 Ti 4GB DDR5 graphics. It comes with a Full HD IPS display, which makes for a decent bright color as well as a vibrant display outdoors.
Dell G5 runs on Windows 10 with a 64-bit operating system. It weighs about 5.9lbs and comes with a battery lifespan that can last up to 8 hours. Since it comes with a high processor, quality graphics, and a sufficient RAM size, the laptop comes off as a perfect option for CAD works, 3D modeling, and other heavy applications.
2. Apple MacBook Pro 16 (Best Mac for CAD)
- CPU: 2.3GHz 8-core 9th-generation Intel Core i9 processor with Turbo Boost up to 4.8GHz
- RAM: 16GB
- Storage:512GB or 1TB SSD
- Display: 16-inch True Tone Retina
- GPU: AMD Radeon Pro
For any architect or 3D designer, the fluidity and impressive user experience of Apple’s macOS are very enticing. And if budget isn’t an issue, getting a high-end MacBook device will count in your favor.
For the Apple MacBook Pro 16, it’s still relatively new. It comes with the best-in-class features, tools, and configurations for enhanced productivity, efficiency, and overall solid performance.
For its high-end model, MacBook Pro 16 features an Intel Core i9 processor out of the box to guarantee optimal performance in every CAD operation and 3D modeling tasks. Similarly, you will enjoy the whopping 1TB SSD and 16GB of RAM that are capable of handling anything that you throw at them. More so, there is a dedicated 8GB of AMD Radeon Pro graphics card that will make all intensive design works smooth and seamless.
But there is a catch, though. For these beet specs, you should expect to cough out nothing less than $2000. While you may probably get a laptop with similar specs for nearly half the price, you will be missing out on the MacBook Pro16 aesthetically appealing form factor and fluid OS.
Notwithstanding, you can get its less expensive variant if you cannot afford to spend up to that amount on a PC. At that point, you will be getting a MacBook Pro 16 that runs on a hex-core Intel Core i7 chip and comes with an enormous 16GB of RAM storage. More importantly, this model also offers a fast 512GB of SSD drive.
Notably, you will be impressed by this lineup’s new unique feature, which is the macOS Mojave. With this feature, you can squeeze the most power out of your battery and enjoy up to 10 hours of uninterrupted usage. On the graphics side of things, the system features a 4GB of AMD Radeon Pro 5300M dedicated graphics memory.
All these ground-breaking specs are stuffed in a chassis that merely weighs 4.3 pounds, which is something that the competition hasn’t really been able to figure out. When you feel like trying something new out of the Windows OS space, the MacBook Pro 16 lineup is a worthy alternative by every standard.
3. Lenovo ThinkPad P53 Workstation Laptop
- CPU: Intel Core i7-9750H 2.60GHz Processor (9th Gen, upto 4.50 GHz, 12 MB SmartCache, 6-Cores)
- RAM: 32GB DDR4 SODIMM RAM
- Storage: 1TB SATA SSD
- Display: 15.6 Full HD (1920x1080)
- GPU: NVIDIA Quadro T1000 Graphics
The Lenovo ThinkPad P53 comes with a long-lasting battery to assist a professional architect in performing complex CAD works. This laptop model falls under the latest edition of Lenovo Thinkpad’s P series from Lenovo. It comes in handy as an excellent tool for architects and graphic designers who deal with a lot of CAD works and 3D designs. Talking about the design of this PC, it has a six-core 2.6GHz Intel i7-9850H Processor alongside a massive 32GB of RAM. Similarly, it also features a 6GB of dedicated graphics memory from NVIDIA, and the specific model you will find on this laptop is the Quadro T1000.
Architects, engineers, and designers who opt for Lenovo Thinkpad P53 will also enjoy the onboard 1TB of SSD drive for their most intensive programs and operations. However, we will implore all buyers looking to get even more storage space to install additional storage components. Notably, the laptop’s battery backup is one advantage that everybody will find useful.
At a single stretch, Lenovo Thinkpad P53 can last up to 13 hours, even while running graphics-intensive programs and other heavy applications. That is exceptionally great, and consequently, Lenovo ThinkPad P53 is one of our most recommended laptops for CAD works, 2D, and 3D modeling.
At a standard 15.6-inch screen size, the laptop has a Full HD IPS with an anti-glare display, which is powered by the built-in Dolby’s vision. The Lenovo ThinkPad P53 operates on the 64-bit version of the Windows 10 Pro Operating System.
Its weight is rated at 5.5lbs. If you are on a tight budget, you can go for the variant with a six-core Core i7 CPU from Intel and Nvidia’s Quadro T1000 for under $1500. You can choose the RAM and internal storage options according to your necessities or upgrade it at a later time.
4. HP ZBook 155u G6 Workstation Notebook
- CPU: 8th Gen. i9-8950HK 2.90 GHz. Hexa-Core (6 Core)
- RAM: 16GB DDR4 SD
- Storage: 256 GB SSD
- Display: 15.6 LCD in-plane Switching (IPS) 1920 x 1080
Thanks to its solid dedicated graphics card from AMD, the HP ZBook 155u G6 will perform optimally during your most intensive CAD and 3D modeling operations. It may even surprise you how HP managed to incorporate the amazing AMD Radeon Pro WX 3200 into such a very lightweight device( less than 4lbs). You will rarely see any other lightweight laptop that matches the mobility and overall performance of this system.
As the mid-range variant of the previously mentioned HP ZBook 15 G6, HP ZBook 15u G6 may not be as powerful as its bigger sibling, but has what it takes to deliver a great result. It is a good deal while offering a quad-core Core i7-8565U chip from Intel, an 8GB of RAM storage, and 256GB of SSD drive.
5. Lenovo ThinkPad P73
- CPU: 2.8 GHz Intel Xeon E-2276M Six-Core
- RAM: 16GB of DDR4
- Storage: 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD
- Display: 17.3 1920 x 1080 IPS
- GPU: NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 (16GB)
Lenovo ThinkPad P73 mobile workstation is another decent option that will appeal to very architect looking to get the most performance from their laptop. Lenovo ThinkPad P73 Pro is powered by the Xeon E-2276M processor from Intel and comes with a high-performing 16GB of RAM storage. On the storage side of things, there is a whopping 512GB of SSD drive available for your heavy and demanding software programs and applications.
Additionally, Lenovo ThinkPad P73 Pro comes with several graphics-enhancing features that will help handle your most demanding CAD works and 3D modeling tasks. Users will also enjoy Nvidia’s 16GB Quadro RTX 5000 dedicated graphics memory. The PC comes with a 17.3-inch UHD 4K display with a 3810 x 2160 resolution.
6. Acer Aspire 5
- CPU: B07XJRGKKD
- RAM: 8GB DDR4
- Storage: 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
- Display: 15.6 Full HD (1920 x 1080) widescreen LED-backlit IPS display
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce MX250 with 2 GB of dedicated GDDR5 VRAM
The Aspire series don’t just offer a solid arrangement of design on its laptop. They also offer them at affordable prices to their customers. Acer Aspire 5 is one of the highly-rated laptops from Acer. It is additionally one of the band’s most customer-centric PC with beefy specs and features that will appeal to all architects and designers.
It comes with a 15.6-inch Full HD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, which is splendid and bright. The laptop’s internal components include a tenth-gen Core i5 quad-core CPU from Intel, which works alongside the onboard 8GB of RAM to deliver a decent performance. Users will also enjoy the system’s 512GB of SSD drive that will make for adequate memory when performing multiple computer operations. The laptop is designed with a 2GB of Nvidia GeForce MX250 dedicated graphics.
Furthermore, on account of Acer Aspire 5, the PC makes significantly more hits. So in a perfect world for professional architects, they all need needs to utilize their PC as a device for the proper execution of modeling works and other complex tasks.
When it comes to Acer Aspire 5, both professional architects and an average student can afford it, as it is not as expensive as most laptops with similar specs and configurations. The laptop runs on the 64-bit version of Microsoft’s Windows 10 Home edition has a 9 hours battery life., which should be enough for most CAD and 3D modeling design operations.
7. HP ZBook G5
- CPU: Intel I5-8350u 1.70Ghz Quad Core
- RAM: 8GB
- Storage: 256GB PCIE SSD
- Display: 14 IPS FullHD
- GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 620
HP ZBook G5 laptop is a reliable laptop that comes off as one of the most recommended on our list. It is suitable for carrying out your daily CAD works quickly and efficiently. Speaking about features and specifications, HP ZBook G5 is powered by an incredible Core i7 Quad-core chip from Intel, which works alongside a 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD. Apart from its stunning set of features and specifications, the design of this laptop sets it apart from the rest.
There is an Intel UHD Graphics 620 onboard, so regardless of how enormous your CAD and modeling tasks are, this PC is going to make everything smooth and seamless. It is ideal for running good quality CAD programming and features a 14-inch full HD IPS anti-glare display.
For many users, this is quite on the high cost considering the specs and its most prominent features. The major downside that you are likely to experience is its somewhat bulky weight. At 6lbs, the laptop weighs higher than most of its competitors on the market. Aside from that, it will surely come in handy for your computer-aided designs and 3D works.
8. MSI WS65 Lightweight Workstation for 3D Modeling and CAD
- CPU: Core i7-9750h 2.6 - 4.5GHz
- RAM: 32GB (16G*2) DDR4 2666MHz
- Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD
- Display: 15.6 FHD (1920*1080), IPS-Level 60Hz 72%NTSC thin Bezel
- GPU: NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 6GB GDDR5
Before you dole out your money on some expensive laptops, you may have to consider a lot of things, including the cost, the specs, the brand, and many others. However, there are a few major brands in the market that you can trust to always deliver top quality and great value for money, and MSI is top on the list.
It is no surprise at all that MSI makes the list, as they have proven to be a quality brand when it comes to making high-end gaming laptops. Speaking of which,the innards of the MSI WS65 notebook scream premium and high quality. The laptop features an Octa-Core Intel i9 processor (2.6 – 4.5 GHz) that goes hand in with a whopping 32GB of RAM to deliver outstanding performance at all times. On the graphics side of things, it comes with a robust dedicated 6GB of Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000 for top-notch graphics tasks a d 3D illustrations. Generally speaking, MSI WS65 is the best workstation PC for CAD work with an impressive list of high-end specs and state-of-the-art hardware components in a compact body.
Amazingly, despite these heavy specs, the laptop comes in a very lightweight chassis that barely weighs 4.1 lbs.
The PC has all it takes to carry out your 3D modeling tasks as well as power through your demanding CAD works and other heavy programs. You can store your big data, files, and documents on the system’s 1TB storage capacity. At the same time, the battery lifespan could last up to 7 hours at a go.
9. Dell Precision 7540
- CPU: Intel Core 9th Generation i5-9400H Processor (Quad Core, Up to 4.30Ghz, 8MB Cache, 45W)
- RAM: 8GB DDR4 2666MHz
- Storage: M.2 256GB PCIe NVMe Class 40 SSD
- Display: 15.6 inch UltraSharp FHD (1920x1080) Anti-Glare IPS 100% sRGB
- GPU: NVIDIA Quadro T1000 4GB GDDR5
No doubt, Dell Precision is a high-end laptop that will come in handy for all your CAD works. However, its price is on the high side. So if you are planning on getting this awesome machine for your design works, you are going to cough out top dollars for it. However, if you consider its superb features, you will understand why it goes for such a high price. The Dell Precision 3530 is a reliable computer system that can very much handle all your graphics related applications, including both 2D and 3D CAD, engineering designs, gaming, and many more.
Undoubtedly, it features a dedicated NVIDIA Quadro P620 graphics processor that makes every graphics-intensive operations a walk in the park. The PC sports a 15-inch full HD display that offers high-quality performance for all users. The brilliant and distinctive screen combined with a ground-breaking graphical capacity of the GPU set the Dell Precision laptop aside from other laptops within its specs range.
Besides, Dell Precision is a genuinely fantastic PC. Its amazing overall performance and outstanding graphics performance makes it one of the ideal PCs for CAD’s SolidWorks program. However, on the off chance that you are on a tight spending plan, at that point, you can opt for the variant that comes with the ninth-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor. This particular model comes with 8GB of RAM, 500 GB of HDD, and 16.6 Full HD anti-glare displays with 1920 by 1080 resolution. It runs on Windows 10 Pro with 64-Bit OS. The battery life lasts up to 8 hours, and the laptop weighs about 4.3lbs.
10. MSI Prestige 15 Workstation
- CPU: i7-10710U 3.4GHz
- RAM: 32GB (16G*2) DDR4 2666MHz
- Storage: 1TB NVMe SSD
- Display: 15.6 UHD (3840*2160), 4K thin Bezel
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX1650 (max-q) 4g GDDR5 4K @ 30Hz
This type of laptop is made affordable for professional architects and students that are looking to get suitable laptop devices for their CAD work and other intensive computing tasks. The MSI Prestige is a marginally less expensive option for the previously mentioned PC (MSI WS65 Lightweight Workstation Notebook). The laptop is designed specifically for CAD works, 2D, and 3D modeling.
Also, it has a GeForce GTX1650 GPU inside. You can go for this type of laptop whenever you are looking for a laptop that can perform as well as the premium MSI series but with less budget.
The laptop’s delightful arrangement specifications make it a worthy option on our list. For example, it comes with an up-to-date Intel Core i7 six-center processor combined with a 32GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD. Fortunately, this PC also comes with a thin and lightweight design that makes for an aesthetic appeal.
How to Pick the Best Laptop for CAD?
Usually, CAD operations are very demanding. That is why you need to purchase a laptop with high efficiency, which means you should aim at getting a laptop that comes with a high-quality processor and RAM storage.
To start with, laptops with the latest i7 processors and i5 processors from Intel can serve as a perfect option for architects that wish to take their CAD operations to the next level. More so, buying a computer with a quad-core or hex-core CPU can enhance your CAD operations. However, laptops with dual-core CPUs are not strong enough in handling some heavy applications like CAD and 3D modeling software programs.
Quality laptops for complex CAD works and 3D modeling are usually expensive. But when you pay less attention to the expenses and proceed to purchase a high-quality laptop for your CAD works, you will enjoy working with such a laptop, as CAD software programs will operate at a better efficiency
What are Recommended Laptop Hardware Specs for CAD?
Most times, purchasing a high-quality computer system with beefy specs such as core i9 processor or new six-core Intel i7 and the latest RTX GPU to execute CAD job may work for you. However, most CAD applications may not require these GPUs and CPUs to run their software programs.
For some CAD software like AutoCAD and Solidworks, a laptop system with Nvidia Quadro or AMD Radeon GPU series and Intel Xeon processor lineup will not disappoint at all. More so, these programs are specifically for 3D modeling, rendering work, and CAD designs. So you need to focus your interest on checking the GPU and CPU of laptops before making the purchase. Apart from the GPU and CPU, every professional architect also cross-examines the RAM, display, storage, and other important features.
Truth is, storage will play a significant role in the overall performance of your laptop computer. And as an engineer or architect, you will be dealing with a lot of large files and computer programs, which makes it important to consider the storage size of a computer before you purchase it.
The speed at which every CAD works reads and writes depends on the storage size. The price of most laptops also depends on their storage capacity. We understand that your budget will most likely determine your choice. But you have to purchase a computer with a minimum of 512GB for efficient CAD operations.
Since Computer-Aided Design works are very graphics-intensive, it is only necessary that you purchase a laptop with a powerful dedicated graphics memory that will make your operations smooth and super fast. CAD highly requires the graphical card to execute its work effectively. The graphics cards purchased by an architect have to depend on the type of CAD application in mind.
Most CAD applications require both the gaming card and professional graphics card. Every professional architect should go for a graphics card while home users should go for a gaming card.
For instance, Autodesk CAD applications’ works depend majorly on the system’s CPU capability. While running these programs, your CPU clock speed can be expanded to allow for an efficient performance without depending so much on the GPU.
Similarly, many other CAD applications also utilize the CPU for ascertaining what ought to be shown on the screen.
One of the most important things o consider when buying a laptop for your CAD works is the RAM.Most laptops must have a higher RAM capacity to function accurately, especially when handling CAD works. Almost every CAD software programs require a laptop with at least 8GB of RAM to perform its basic operations.
This implies basic CAD works and 2D modeling can run very well on a laptop with at least 8GB of RAM. While handling more advanced CAD works and 3D modeling, you will need to go for laptops with at least 16GB of RAM. When you are dealing with a complex workload that requires massive storage space, you may go for 32GB or 64GB of RAM. When you purchase a laptop with an equal size of RAM that matches your CAD works, your job will become less complicated with a better result.
You will have to consider the screen of any laptop before buying it. The screen will determine the display of your CAD works. Laptops for CAD work should come with a glare-resistant screen, accurate display color, and a comfortable viewing angle. While purchasing a laptop for CAD works, you can go for a laptop with an IPS display with full HD, or you can select a laptop with 4K resolution. Laptops with this type of screen are suitable for 3D modeling and CAD works.
Summarily, we believe that this guide will be of immense help when you are looking to get the right laptop for your CAD work. We created the list based on the current market trends and our findings. So, the ball is now in your court. You can also make your own findings before deciding on the ideal laptop for your architectural works.