10 Best Laptops for CAD, AutoCAD & 3D Modeling in 2021

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Ideally, getting a laptop is as simple as walking up to the store to pick up your most preferred model. But if you need a laptop for CAD and 3D modeling, there are some important factors you have to consider before you make your choice.

Some heavy software programs like Solidworks, AutoCAD, etc., require a quality laptop with a good set of configurations 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.

Best laptops for AutoCAD, CAD & 3D modeling

1. Lenovo ThinkPad P17

Lenovo ThinkPad P17
CPU: 10th Generation Intel Core i7-10750H Processor (2.60 GHz, up to 5.00 GHz with Turbo Boost, 6 Cores, 12 Threads, 12 MB Cache)
RAM: 32 GB DDR4 2933MHz
Storage: 1TB PCIe SSD
Display: 17.3 FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, anti-glare, 300 nits
GPU: NVIDIA Quadro T2000 4GB
PROS
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • Backlit keyboard with number pad
  • Large display
CONS
  • A bit bulky

Lenovo ThinkPad P17 is perfect for professionals who need a mighty workstation for AutoCAD. In terms of specifications, this laptop comes with a Core i7-10750H processor, which contains six cores and 12 threads.

This processor comes with a comprehensive cooling system, which will enable it to run at peak performance for longer periods. Further, ThinkPad P17 comes preinstalled with 32GB RAM and a 1TB drive, which will help you perform high-end AutoCAD work. 

The device also needs a powerful GPU to optimize performance when using a powerful CPU. Due to this, it contains a high-performance Quadro T2000 GPU, which enhances the overall production. 

Additionally, this GPU features 4GB of VRAM for intense graphics performance. Furthermore, there is a large 17.3-inch Full HD display in the front, with a 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution. 

Further, Lenovo ThinkPad P17 weighs 7.7 pounds, making it a bit heavier than its competitors. However, Lenovo ThinkPad P17 is a high-performance computer that is ideal for AutoCAD. Besides using it for CAD-based applications, this machine can also run software such as Solidworks, Blender, etc.


2. ASUS ROG Strix Scar 15

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2. ASUS ROG Strix Scar 15
CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX Processor (16M Cache, up to 4.6 GHz)
RAM: 16GB DDR4 3200MHz
Storage: 1TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
Display: 300Hz 3ms 15.6 Full HD 1920x1080 IPS-Type
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 8GB GDDR6
PROS
  • Intelligent cooling system
  • Bluetooth 5.1
  • IPS display
CONS
  • Pricey

Asus ROG Strix G15 uses a Ryzen 9 5900HX processor that will help you easily perform high-end tasks. ROG Strix 15 also features an RTX 3080 GPU to handle graphics performance with 16GB of VRAM. 

Additional video memory allows it to handle heavy workloads without lagging. Further, the laptop provides an HD display with a faster refresh rate of 300 Hz on its 15.6-inch screen. 

With a fantastic screen-to-body ratio and color accuracy, it’s an excellent option for creators. This laptop displays clear and vivid colors, featuring 100% sRGB coverage. With 1TB storage and 16GB RAM, this laptop performs effectively. 

Because this device comes with a lot of internal storage and RAM, it is an excellent choice for storing enormous amounts of data. A 3200MHz frequency is sufficient for the memory department to operate. 

The laptop also has an SSD with 512GB of storage, making it a speedy laptop for reading and writing files. Additionally, it also has an Opti-mechanical keyboard, but many people dislike the ticking noise it causes.


3. Apple MacBook Pro M1

Apple MacBook Pro M1
CPU: Apple M1 Pro chip; 10-core CPU with 8 performance cores and 2 efficiency cores
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 512GB or 1TB SSD
Display: 16.2-inch (diagonal) mini-LED backlit display
GPU: Apple 16-core GPU
PROS
  • Supports graphic intensive apps
  • High-end performance
  • Touch ID
  • Long battery life
CONS
  • Small screen size

Apple MacBook Pro M1 is our next laptop on the list. For moderate to high-level workflows, Apple MacBook Pro M1 is more than enough. A 13-inch display that features a resolution of 2560 x 2560 pixels comes standard with the laptop. 

Display corners have minimal bezels, and the display itself is anti-glare. This display is particularly notable for its 500 nits brightness which results in high-end color reproduction. With its excellent display, it is an excellent choice for AutoCAD. 

The MacBook uses Apple’s own Apple M1 chip, which utilizes 5nm manufacturing node technology. Moreover, this chip features an 8-core GPU and 16-core CPU for enhanced performance. 

You’ll get up to 512GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. According to the manufacturer, the battery will last for 10-15 hours, and it also has a fast-charging feature.  Based on its overall performance, I believe this might be one of the best AutoCAD laptops for MacOS.


4. Razer Blade 15

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Razer Blade 15
CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10750 up to 5.0 GHz max turbo and 6 cores
RAM: 16GB
Storage: 512GB SSD
Display: 15.6 4K OLED
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 with Max-Q Design
PROS
  • Aluminum chassis
  • High performance
  • 4K OLED display
CONS
  • Average battery life

Razer laptops are known to be highly effective and powerful machines. The Razer Blade 15 is an example of a powerful machine by the Razer brand. With a 4K resolution and good color accuracy, this laptop features an OLED panel. 

It features a 4K OLED display with a resolution of 3840 x 2160p on its 15.6-inch display. Furthermore, the provided panel covers 100% of sRGB colors with high-end visuals. Colors are vivid, and contrast is high on the display. 

Due to these factors, this laptop is better suited for AutoCAD. Besides, the Core i7-10750H processor powers Razer Blade 15, including six cores and 12 threads. The processor can be boosted to 5.0GHz from a base speed of 2.6GHz.

Besides, the laptop has no compromises when it comes to the GPU. With its RTX 2070 GPU, it packs powerful graphics performance. There is 8GB of video RAM available with the GPU, making it adequate for graphics-intensive tasks. The laptop also comes with 16 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD. Overall, we recommend using Razer Blade 15 to run software like AutoCAD.


5. Acer Predator Helios 300

Acer Predator Helios 300
CPU: 11th Generation Intel Core i7-11800H (8 cores and 16 threads)
RAM: 16GB DDR4 3200MHz
Storage: 512GB PCIe Gen 4 SSD
Display: 15.6 Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS LED-backlit
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 (6GB dedicated GDDR6 VRAM)
PROS
  • AeroBlade fans
  • Crisp visual
  • High refresh rate
  • Great for gaming
CONS
  • Noisy fans

Do you want to buy an RTX 3060 laptop at a budget-friendly cost for your AutoCAD work? If so, then you should buy the Predator Helios 300. Like most laptops on this list, the Acer Predator Helios 300 also has a wider 15.6 inches display. 

A touchscreen display panel with LED-backlighting and 144Hz refresh rate with 3ms response time are present on this device. With a high brightness of 300 nits, the display has an HD resolution. In this laptop, Acer has used a Core i7-11800H processor, which delivers powerful processing. 

Further, the processor also contains 16 threads and eight cores.  Processors like this one run at 2.3GHz as a base speed and reach 4.6GHz at their maximum speed. The RTX 3060 GPU on the laptop offers 6GB VRAM for excellent graphics performance.

The laptop also features 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD, which support faster performance. However, Predator Helios 300 also provides additional slots to upgrade the RAM and storage when needed.  Further, there is also support for Wi-Fi 6 and RGB Backlit keyboard. 

It includes an AeroBlade Fan to help keep your computer cool during extended gaming. Despite this, you might still observe the heating effect during extended gameplay. In general, this is a good value under $1500 that includes a combination of high-end hardware and power-efficient design.


6. ASUS ROG Zephyrus G15

ASUS ROG Zephyrus G15
CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS 8 Core - 16 Thread Processor, 3.0 GHz (Max Turbo Frequency 4.6 GHz)
RAM: 16 GB DDR4 3200MHz
Storage: 1 TB M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD
Display: 15.6 Matte QHD 165Hz 3ms IPS-Level, 300-nits
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070, 8 GB GDDR6
PROS
  • High-end performance
  • HD webcam
  • Anti-glare screen
CONS
  • Biometric scanner is not accurate

There is no shortage of screen size when it comes to the Asus ROG Zephyrus G15. The 15.6-inch screen offers quite impressive visuals. Having a resolution of 2560×1440 pixels, this QHD display panel is of high definition. 

A 165Hz refresh rate and an IPS display are the characteristics of this display. The laptop has a Ryzen 9 5900H processor, one of the most powerful processors available today. With its eight cores and 16 threads, it can perform high-level processing.

A GeForce RTX 3070 is installed on the laptop, which offers 8GB video memory. There is a max clock speed of 4.6GHz on this processor, while the clock speed is 3.1GHz. Despite its performance, this laptop has 16GB of RAM, usually present in high-performance laptops. 

This RAM has a frequency of 3200MHz and is made up of DDR4 technology. Moreover, the laptop has been equipped with a PCIe SSD that offers 1TB of storage space. 

The overall specifications make it an impressive laptop, and it could be a good option if the budget permits. Otherwise, you can find much better options for a lower cost from this list.


7. Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3

Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5000 H-Series
RAM: 8GB 3200 MHz DDR4
Storage: 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD
Display: 15.6 FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS
GPU: GeForce GTX 1650
PROS
  • Privacy shutter for the camera
  • Ultra-responsive
  • Easy upgradability
  • High-quality build
CONS
  • Low storage

On the list next is an IdeaPad laptop from Lenovo. As far as AutoCAD 2D and 3D work go, the IdeaPad 3 is an ideal machine. AutoCAD and other CAD applications should run smoothly on the laptop’s hardware. 

There is a 15.6-inch display with Full HD resolution 1920 x 1080 pixels on the IdeaPad Gaming 3. The screen is decently bright at 250 nits, and it has an anti-glare coating to restrict undesired reflections of light. It offers a 120Hz of refresh rate, which is average for a display. 

Further, there are six cores in the laptop’s Ryzen 5 5600H processor, supporting multi-threading through 12 threads. At its base speed, the processor runs at 3.3GHz, but it can reach up to 4.2GHz at its maximum.

This laptop features GeForce GTX 1650 graphics processors with 4GB of VRAM. It also offers 8GB RAM that runs faster than the average laptop. 

Furthermore, the internal storage is 256GB of SSD, which might be less storage for many users. In general, Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 is one of the most economical options for doing AutoCAD work.


8. ASUS ROG Strix G17

ASUS ROG Strix G17
CPU: 5th Gen AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX Processor (16M Cache, up to 4.5 GHz)
RAM: 16GB DDR4 3200MHz
Storage: 1TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
Display: 300Hz 3ms 17.3 Full HD 1920x1080 IPS-Type
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 8GB GDDR6 with ROG Boost
PROS
  • Grizzly metal compound
  • Great cooling system
  • Ultrafast Wi-Fi 6
  • IPS-type display
CONS
  • No webcam

ASUS ROG Strix G17 is another powerful laptop that you can choose for your AutoCAD work. As compared to other laptops, ASUS ROG Strix G17 has the greatest amount of power available. 

In terms of performance, this laptop’s specifications enable it to run AutoCAD 3D at high speed, making 2D work seem effortless. Further, it has a resolution of 1920 x 1080p and a display size of 17.3 inches. 

This laptop has an anti-glare screen with an IPS type. With over 100% sRGB coverage, this laptop maintains excellent color accuracy. It also offers a high refresh rate of 300 Hz and a response time of 3ms. 

Despite these specifications appealing to gamers, a display with good color accuracy is suitable for AutoCAD users. It comes with a Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU with an octa-core process with 16 threads to enable hyperthreading. 3.3GHz is the clock speed of this processor, and it can speed up to 4.6GHz if needed. 

Furthermore, a dedicated GPU, the RTX 3070 GPU, is also present in ASUS ROG Strix G17. In addition to 8GB of video memory, the GPU also has clock speeds of 1.50MHz. It also contains 16GB RAM, which runs at a clock frequency of 2933MHz.


9. Lenovo Legion 5

Lenovo Legion 5
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5800H
RAM: 16GB DDR4
Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD
Display: 15.6 FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti
PROS
  • Long-lasting
  • High VRAM
  • RGB backlight
  • Lightweight compared to other laptops in this class
CONS
  • Low speakers quality

Lenovo Legion 5 is the final recommendation in the list of best laptops for AutoCAD. The laptop displays HD resolution and has a maximum brightness of 300 nits on a 15.6-inch screen. 

Ryzen 7 5800H is the laptop’s processor, which further includes 16 threads and eight cores. In addition to its fixed 3.2GHz clock speed, the processor can be overclocked up to 4.4GHz. 

This laptop has a GeForce RTX 3050Ti card, which renders high-end graphics. It has a 6GB video memory that helps perform AutoCAD work without lagging as a gaming laptop. Featuring 16GB of RAM running at 3200MHz, this system boasts a lot of power. 

Furthermore, it also comes with 512GB of SSD that helps in fast booting. In general, this is one of the best gaming laptops under $1200 because it is both potent and offers excellent color accuracy, making it ideal for AutoCAD work.


10. Gigabyte Aero 15

Gigabyte Aero 15
CPU: 11th Gen Intel Core i7-11800H (2.3GHz, up to 4.6GHz)
RAM: 16GB Memory (64GB Max)
Storage: 1TB SSD
Display: 15.6 Thin Bezel UHD 4K 3840x2160 Samsung AMOLED
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU 8 GB GDDR6
PROS
  • Pantone validated color accuracy​
  • Supports high-end AI rendering
  • Top-notch performance
  • Thin bezel display
CONS
  • Slightly heavy

There are some excellent and heavy specifications in the GIGABYTE AERO 15. It is, therefore, an excellent choice for a professional AutoCAD user. The machine has a large 15.6-inch display, making it suitable for performing AutoCAD tasks like 3D modeling. 

It provides a high-end display that can handle multiple things at once. With the Core i7-11800H processor, this laptop can easily perform heavy-duty processing.

Aside from that, GIGABYTE AERO 15 supports an Nvidia RTX 3070 GPU, which offers 8GB of VRAM. Also, AERO 15 comes with a total of 1TB of SSD and 16GB RAM. 

The laptop is one of the best 4K laptops that you can buy for a reasonable price. It is a good choice if you’re looking for a high-end laptop for your AutoCAD work.


How to choose a laptop for CAD?

While considering the best laptops for CAD work, your budget will play a prominent role. The most suitable desktop replacement laptop required to carry out your most-demanding CAD works may be very expensive. Based on our research, these laptops are estimated to start from $800.

However, not everyone can afford to spend such a high amount of money on laptops alone.

This may be very stressful and demanding, and for an architect or engineering student, choosing a 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 selected the most suitable laptop computers based on their features, specifications, and performance.

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 hardware specs for CAD?

As a professional, 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?

Most times, purchasing a high-quality computer system with beefy specs such as an Intel Coreore i9 processor or new six-core Intel i7 and the latest RTX GPU to execute a 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.

Storage

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.

Graphics

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 a gaming card and a professional graphics card. Every professional architect should go for a graphics card while home users should go for an advanced one.

Similar to the laptops for computer scientists, 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.

RAM

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.

Display

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. Large screen laptops with this type of screen are suitable for 3D modeling and CAD works.

Wrap Up

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.

Alex Berg

Founder, writer, editor-in-chief at LaptopTalks. Starting LaptopTalks is like a dream come true, combining two of his passions – writing and technology. Even in his free time, you can often find him by his gaming laptop playing the latest video games.

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