What is the best laptop for architecture students?

Buying a laptop for your studies can be a bit of a minefield. The main thing to consider is the system requirements of the software that you will be using. The software can range from cad packages, photoshop and image editing, rendering tools – you will become a master of many! I have put together a list of system requirements for the most commonly used software for architecture students.

The minimum spec that we would recommend (based on the system requirements set out below) are as follows:
PC:
Operating System:
Windows 7

Windows 8

Intel® Pentium® 4 or AMD Athlon™ dual-core processor

64-bit Intel or AMD multi core processor

3Ghz or higher

64-bit processor is required. Intel® Core 2 Duo and later
Display:
1,024 x 768 display resolution with true color (1,600 x 1,050 recommended)
RAM: 
4GB as a minimum – 8BG if you can afford it (or using 3DS)
Hard Drive (free disk space): 
6GB free disk space for installation – but get the largest memory you can afford. 500 GB +
Graphics Card:
Display adapter capable of 24-bit color for basic graphics, 256 MB DirectX® 11-capable graphics card with Shader Model 3
Mac:
Operating System:
Apple® Mac® OS® X v10.9.0 or later (Mavericks), OS X v10.8.0 or later (Mountain Lion) with 64-bit Intel processor
Display:
2880 x 1800 with Retina Display recommended
RAM:
4GB as a minimum – 8GB if you can afford it (or using 3DS)
Hard Drive (free disk space):
6GB free disk space for most installations –  get the largest memory you can afford. 500 GB +

I sometimes find that the software requirements are the bare minimum, and wherever possible I would go higher spec than recommended. I have made mistakes with past purchases where the laptop just isn’t powerful enough and it constantly crashing/freezing. So with that in mind – here are our recommendations:

 

 

The bottom line is get the best you can afford. If you are considering going for a mac – just be aware that Revit and 3DS Max are not available on the mac. You can use parallels or boot camp which is fine but just makes things a bit more tricky. I guess it just depends how much of a mac geek you are – in my case having a mac is worth it!

 

For your info I have included all the system requirements at the end of this post – a good reference all in one place.

If you think there is a great laptop out there that we have missed then let us know. We would like to hear your comments on what laptop you use, which laptop works for you or which one hasn’t worked – please feel free to comment below.
The System Requirements:

Autodesk Autocad 2014
PC:

Windows® 8 Standard, Enterprise, or Professional edition, Windows® 7 Enterprise, Ultimate, Professional, or Home Premium edition (compare Windows versions), or Windows XP® Professional or Home edition (SP3 or later) operating system
For Windows 8 and Windows 7: Intel® Pentium® 4 or AMD Athlon™ dual-core processor, 3.0 GHz or higher with SSE2 technology
For Windows XP: Pentium 4 or Athlon dual-core processor, 1.6 GHz or higher with SSE2 technology
2 GB RAM (4 GB recommended)
6 GB free disk space for installation
1,024 x 768 display resolution with true color (1,600 x 1,050 recommended)
Microsoft® Internet Explorer® 7 or later web browser
Install from download or DVD

Mac:

Apple® Mac® OS® X v10.9.0 or later (Mavericks), OS X v10.8.0 or later (Mountain Lion) with 64-bit Intel processor
Apple Mac Pro® 4,1 or later(Mac Pro® 5,1 or later recommended); MacBook® Pro 5,1 or later (MacBook Pro 10,1 with Retina Display or later recommended); iMac® 8.1 or later (iMac 11.1 or later recommended); Mac® mini 3.1 or later (Mac mini 4.1 or later recommended); MacBook Air® 2.1 or later; MacBook® 5.1 or later (MacBook 7.1 or later recommended)
3 GB of RAM (4 GB recommended)
2.5 GB free disk space for download and installation (3 GB recommended)
All graphics cards on supported hardware
1,280 x 800 display with true color (2880 x 1800 with Retina Display recommended)
All Mac OS X supported language operating systems
Apple® Mouse, Apple Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, MacBook® Pro trackpad, or Microsoft-compliant mouse.
Mac OS X-compliant printer

Additional requirements for large datasets, point clouds, and 3D modeling (all configurations):

Pentium 4 or Athlon processor, 3 GHz or greater, or Intel or AMD dual-core processor, 2 GHz or greater
4 GB RAM or more
6 GB hard disk space available in addition to free space required for installation
1,280 x 1,024 true color video display adapter 128 MB or greater, Pixel Shader 3.0 or greater, Microsoft® Direct3D®-capable workstation-class graphics card

Autodesk Revit
PC:

Windows® 7 32-bit Enterprise, Ultimate, Professional, or Home Premium edition operating system[1]
Single- or multi-core Intel® Pentium®, Intel® Xeon®, or i-Series processor or AMD equivalent with SSE2 technology (highest affordable CPU speed rating recommended)
Multiple cores for many tasks, up to 16 cores for near-photorealistic rendering operations
4 GB RAM (Usually sufficient for a typical editing session for a single model up to approximately 100 MB on disk. This estimate is based on internal testing and customer reports. Individual models will vary in their use of computer resources and performance characteristics.)
Models created in previous versions of Revit products may require more available memory for the one-time upgrade process
/3GB RAM switch not recommended. Revit software and system stability can be affected by memory conflicts with video drivers when the /3GB switch is active.
5 GB free disk space
1,280 x 1,024 monitor with true color
Display adapter capable of 24-bit color for basic graphics, 256 MB DirectX® 11-capable graphics card with Shader Model 3 as recommended by Autodesk
Microsoft® Internet Explorer® 7 (or later)
MS-Mouse or 3Dconnexion®-compliant device
Download or installation from DVD9 or USB key
Internet connectivity for license registration and prerequisite component download

Mac:
Not available on a mac – unless using Boot Camp, parallels or similar.
Running Revit products on a Mac
* Learn more about using Autodesk Revit software with Boot Camp®, part of Mac OS® X that enables you to install and run Microsoft Windows (and Windows-based applications) on a Mac® computer or with Parallels Desktop, a system utility available from Parallels, Inc. that allows you to run applications in each operating system without restarting your computer.
Autodesk 3DS Max
PC:
3ds Max 2014 is supported on the following 64-bit operating systems and at a minimum requires a system with the following 64-bit specifications:

Windows® 8 or Windows® 7 64-bit Professional operating system
64-bit Intel or AMD multi core processor
4 GB RAM minimum (8 GB recommended)
4.5 GB free disk space for installation
3-button mouse
Latest version of Microsoft® Internet Explorer®, Apple® Safari®, or Mozilla® Firefox® web browser
Refer to the Recommended Hardware Wizard for a complete list of recommended systems and graphics cards

Autodesk is not responsible for errors or failures of Autodesk software arising from the installation of updates, extensions or new releases issued by third-party hardware or software vendors for the qualified software or hardware identified in this document (or for any other third party software or hardware that you may use in connection with Autodesk products).

Mac:
Not available on a mac – unless using Boot Camp, parallels or similar.

Adobe Photoshop (Creative Cloud)
PC:
Intel® Pentium® 4 or AMD Athlon® 64 processor (2 GHz or faster)
Microsoft® Windows® 7 with Service Pack 1, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 *
1 GB of RAM
2.5 GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on removable flash storage devices)
1024 x 768 display (1280 x 800 recommended) with OpenGL® 2.0, 16-bit color, and 512 MB of VRAM (1 GB recommended)**
Internet connection and registration are necessary for required software activation, membership validation, and access to online services.†
Mac:
Multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support
Mac OS X v10.7, v10.8, or v10.9
1 GB of RAM
3.2 GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on a volume that uses a case-sensitive file system or on removable flash storage devices)
1024 x 768 display (1280 x 800 recommended) with OpenGL 2.0, 16-bit color, and 512 MB of VRAM (1 GB recommended)**
Internet connection and registration are necessary for required software activation, membership validation, and access to online services.†
Adobe Photoshop (CS6)
PC:
Intel® Pentium® 4 or AMD Athlon® 64 processor
Microsoft® Windows® XP with Service Pack 3 orMicrosoft Windows 7 with Service Pack 1. Adobe® Creative Suite® 5.5 and CS6 applications also support Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. See the CS6 FAQ for more information about Windows 8 support.*
1 GB of RAM
1 GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on removable flash storage devices)
1024 x 768 display (1280 x 800 recommended) with 16-bit color and 512 MB (1 GB recommended) of VRAM
OpenGL 2.0–capable system
DVD-ROM drive
This software doesn’t operate without activation. Broadband Internet connection and registration are required for software activation, validation of subscriptions, and access to online services.† Phone activation is not available.
Mac:
Multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support
Mac OS X v10.6.8 or v10.7. Adobe Creative Suite 3, 4, 5, CS5.5, and CS6 applications support Mac OS X v10.8 or v10.9 when installed on Intel-based systems.**
1 GB of RAM
2 GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on a volume that uses a case-sensitive file system or on removable flash storage devices)
1024 x 768 display (1280 x 800 recommended) with 16-bit color and 512 MB (1 GB recommended) of VRAM
OpenGL 2.0–capable system
DVD-ROM drive
This software doesn’t operate without activation. Broadband Internet connection and registration are required for software activation, validation of subscriptions, and access to online services.† Phone activation is not available.

Graphisoft Archicad
PC:
Windows® 8 (64-bit)
Windows® 7 (64-bit)
Windows® Vista (64-bit)*
Note: 32-bit operating systems are not supported.
64-bit processor is required. Intel® Core 2 Duo and later.
4 GB RAM is required, 8 GB RAM or more is recommended for complex models.
5 GB free disk space required for a full installation of ArchiCAD.
Additional 10 GB hard disk space required per project for work with complex models and 3D visualisation.
Resolution of 1024 x 768 is required. Resolution of 1280 x 1024 or higher is recommended.
OpenGL 2.0 compatible graphics card with on-board memory of 256 MB is required, 512 MB or more is recommended to fully exploit hardware acceleration capabilities.

Mac:
Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion
Mac OS X 10.7 Lion
Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard*
Note: ArchiCAD 17 is the last version of ArchiCAD to support Mac OS X 10.6
64-bit processor is required. Intel® Core 2 Duo and later.
4 GB RAM is required, 8 GB RAM or more is recommended for complex models.
5 GB free disk space required for a full installation of ArchiCAD.
Additional 10 GB hard disk space required per project for work with complex models and 3D visualisation.
Resolution of 1024 x 768 is required. Resolution of 1280 x 1024 or higher is recommended.
OpenGL 2.0 compatible graphics card with on-board memory of 256 MB is required, 512 MB or more is recommended to fully exploit hardware acceleration capabilities.

Sketchup
PC:

Software

SketchUp will run on 64bit versions of Windows, but it will run as a 32bit application

Microsoft® Internet Explorer 8.0 or higher.

SketchUp Pro requires .NET Framework version 4.0. For more information about the .NET framework, click here.

Recommended hardware

2+ GHz processor.
2+ GB RAM.
500 MB of available hard-disk space.
3D class Video Card with 512+ MB of memory or higher. Please ensure that the video card driver supports OpenGL version 1.5 or higher and up to date.
SketchUp’s performance relies heavily the graphics card driver and it’s ability to support OpenGL 1.5 or higher. Historically, people have seen problems with Intel based cards with SketchUp. We don’t recommend using these graphics cards with SketchUp at this time.
3 button, scroll-wheel mouse.
Some SketchUp features require an active internet connection

Mac:
Recommended hardware

2.1+ GHz Intel™ processor.
2 GB RAM.
500 MB of available hard-disk space.
3D class Video Card with 512+ MB of memory or higher. Please ensure that the video card driver supports OpenGL version 1.5 or higher and up to date.
3 button, scroll-wheel mouse.
Some SketchUp features require an active internet connection.

V-Ray:
PC:

1 GHz processor
1 GB RAM minimum, 2-3 GB or more recommended
16 GB of total hard disk space
300 MB of available disk space

Mac:

2.1+ GHz Intel™ processor. Power PC is not supported
1 GB RAM minimum, 2-3 GB or more recommended
300 MB of available disk space

 

via firstinarchitecture.co.uk