Long before architects used computers to design buildings, they used their hands. Plans were drawn up by hand, using pencil and ink.
Luckily, their productivity has increased dramatically with the advent of modern computers. But for decades, architects were confounded in their cubicle as they were required to use their bulky, expensive desktop computers.
Today, the modern architect, while still utilizing their firm’s office from time to time, is able to spend more time working from home. This can lead to increased efficiency, as well as a better quality of life.
The best laptops for architects today will far outperform the powerful desktop they used 10 years ago. Or even five years ago.
Are you an architect or designer looking to maximize your time working from home? Keep reading to discover what the top laptops for architects are, and why you need to invest in the perfect one.
Why Architects Need the Best Laptop
In 2021, it’s estimated that 18% of the workforce works remotely full-time. More than half of the global workforce works from home at least once a month.
Most remote workers say that working from home boosts their productivity and saves them money and time for not having to commute. Businesses are also saving a lot of money when their employees work remotely part-time or full-time.
The trend towards remote work continues to grow, especially for companies whose work revolves around a computer. Thanks to communication apps and productivity tools, it’s just as easy to remain connected to your team from your living room as it is from the neighboring cubicle.
Many remote workers don’t require fancy computers. In fact, a large number use their personal laptops for convenience.
But for architects, it’s not that simple. Design software is robust and requires specialized computers to run it efficiently. Luckily, today’s laptops are more powerful than ever, making it easy for architects and designers to work remotely, whether at their home, a vacation house, or a coworking space.
Important Laptop Features for Architects
So what do laptops for architects need to have to ensure success?
For starters, it needs to be able to handle resource-intensive, heavy-duty design software. You want a computer that can launch the software and render projects in minutes, not hours.
You need a powerful processor in order to make this happen. You also need a large amount of storage space and RAM.
Designers need crisp, high-definition screens capable of showing the most minute details; ideally 4K. A quality graphics card is important for high-quality colors and visuals.
Good laptops for architects also tend to be bigger and heavier. Sorry, as a designer, you can’t get by with the lightest setup. To house the powerful hardware you need, it’s going to weigh a few extra pounds.
And a wider laptop, such as 17 or even 20 inches, will make for easier work sessions.
A long-lasting battery is great, but don’t expect it when running design software. Plan to be plugged in at all times. Luckily, this is easy to do at home, at the airport, or at a coffee shop.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best laptop for professional architects, as well as alternatives depending on your budget and specific needs.
- Lenovo ThinkPad Mobile Workstation
Lenovo offers multiple laptops in their ThinkPad lineup that is perfectly suited to architects and designers. They come in 14-inch, 15-inch, or 17-inch screen sizes.
All of the ThinkPad mobile workstations are ISV certified. They are also equipped with VR compatibility which is a first for Lenovo workstations.
You can expect blazing-fast graphics, top-notch security, and powerful processors.
Looking for the best workstation laptop for architects by Lenovo? The ThinkPad P17 Workstation is your best bet.
At 17.3 inches wide, you’ll have plenty of working space. The powerful Intel Xeon processor comes with 2.80 GHz and up to 5.10 GHz with Turbo Boost. It’s got 6 Cores, 12 Threads, and a 12 MB Cache.
With a 1 TB PCIe SSD hard drive and 128 GB of memory, your programs and files will stay secure.
The NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 graphics card is top of the line. It’s the most robust out of any graphics card in a mobile workstation.
It even comes with a fingerprint reader for convenience. The Windows or Linux operating system will have you working smoothly from anywhere.
Lenovo offers some of the highest-quality workstations for architects and designers. They have towers if you are looking to build out a permanent home office, and plenty of laptop workstations.
Visit Lenovo.com, where you can build your own workstation. You can often find deals and even earn Lenovo rewards for future purchases.
- Dell Precision 7750 Workstation
Looking for the most power a mobile workstation can provide? Look no further than the Dell Precision 7750 Workstation.
Starting under $2,000, you can build out your workstation by choosing between 8 and 64 GB of memory. You can also choose between the Intel Core i5 processor or the six-core Intel Xeon processor.
The NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 is the same graphics card present in the Lenovo workstation mentioned above. Its performance cannot be beaten in a mobile workstation, making for crisp, clear visuals.
A 17-inch screen will allow you to see without straining your eyes, though the keyboard is a bit small compared to the size of the computer.
But functions such as pinch-to-zoom or swiping between programs make up for it.
While slimmer than previous models, this computer is still heavy. It’s great for use in a home office, but it’s not convenient to lug around on a daily basis.
The Dell Precision workstations are sleek, enjoyable to use, and powerful enough to run the most heavy-duty software programs you have.
- Toshiba Satellite E55T-A5320 Ultrabook
Are you looking for a more budget-friendly laptop for architecture and design? Maybe you are a student and aren’t yet working full-time.
If so, a workstation for less than $1,000 is ideal. The Toshiba Satellite Ultrabook fits the bill.
It’s affordable, yet robust enough to run design software efficiently. this unassuming laptop looks more like a regular consumer-grade laptop than an architectural workstation. But don’t let looks deceive you.
With a CPU that can boost up to 2.6 GHz, you can run many design programs on this computer. However, you are limited by only 4GB of RAM, which isn’t ideal for full-time, heavy-duty work.
There also isn’t a separate graphics card. Instead, it relies on Intel’s mobile graphics. Plus, it’s only got a 15.6-inch display. This makes it unsuitable for the most advanced software programs, or even things like gaming.
The touchscreen display is very convenient as it can be used for drawings, maps, and other helpful functions. For a budget-friendly option, this computer may be able to work for you without breaking the bank.
Accessories to Improve Your Workstation
So you’ve ordered your laptop and you are ready to set up your mobile workstation. Whether you are working from a dedicated home office or will be moving from location to location, there are a handful of accessories you’re going to want with you.
Let’s face it; even with a 17 or 20-inch monitor on your laptop, it will never be enough screen space. If you are working from home, get a dedicated external monitor, or even 2.
Extra screens will boost your productivity by not having to was time scrolling back and forth. Easily display everything you need to at the same time to get the job done quicker.
If you plan to work on the go, you can get a portable monitor. These typically hook up to your computer via USB. But they are sleek and thin enough to fit in your backpack or mount directly onto your laptop.
These are a must-have for the traveling designer, those looking to get some work done while on vacation, or those popping from one coffee shop to the next.
External Hard Drive
No matter how much storage space your computer has, it will never be enough. You’re going to need an external hard drive sooner or later. You might as well start using it now to store non-essential files and programs so you never find yourself in a pinch later on.
A Bluetooth mouse makes working from a laptop more enjoyable. While a track-pad is convenient for the useful features it allows, it’s not everyone’s cup-of-tea when it comes to repetitive tasks associated with design work.
Get a wireless, USB rechargeable mouse for frustration-free working.
Along with a mouse, a portable, Bluetooth keyboard can also make for a more enjoyable workday. At times where you need to type a lot, it’s more efficient to use a dedicated keyboard, rather than the compact keyboard on your laptop.
Don’t forget the car charger. You always want to make sure you are fully charged. This can be on the way to a coffee shop, a meeting, or the airport. Keep your battery topped off so you are ready at a moment’s notice.
Choosing Between the Best Laptops for Architects
With many options to choose from, it can be difficult to choose between the best laptops for architects. Luckily we live in a day where there is so much variety, as you’ll be able to find a computer perfect for your specific needs.
If you use one or two specific programs, find out what the specific needs are and shop around based on that. Then determine other personal factors, such as computer width, trackpad size, weight, and so forth.
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