The best laptops for architects are powerful yet portable devices that allow you to work no matter where you are. Architecture design software such as AutoCAD, 3DS Max and SketchUp can be very demanding on hardware, especially if you're a professional architect involved in planning large and complex projects.
This means you'll want a laptop that offers plenty of power to let you run these programs with ease. A multi-core processor and modern graphics card are ideal, as well as plenty of RAM – we recommend at least 8GB, though 16GB or more is preferable.
You'll also want a laptop with a large, high-quality screen so that you can view your work comfortably, while also showing it off to clients. An HDMI port is also useful for hooking up to an external monitor when you're in the office, or for connecting to a projector for presentations.
The best laptops for architects will also look smart and professional, so you can take them out in an office or in front of prospective clients without any embarrassment. While the laptops on this page are ideal for professional architects, they are also great picks for architecture students, or for people who are planning any DIY home renovations and extensions. For more laptop choices, see our guide to the most powerful laptops available. And if you need an additional monitor to use in the office or at home, see our pick of the best monitors for working from home.
The best laptops for architects available now
The new MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) is easily the best laptop for architects money can buy right now. It offers a huge amount of performance thanks to the new M1 Pro or M1 Max chips inside. These two chips are powerful components made by Apple, and both offer excellent results when it comes to working with demanding architectural software.
The 16-inch screen is also the best you'll find on a laptop, and it gives you plenty of space to work with. It'll make your work look its very best, which is important when showing it to clients. Unlike previous MacBooks, the new MacBook Pro also comes with a wide selection of ports, including next-gen Thunderbolt 4 ports and a full size HDMI port as well. It's expensive, but for the price you are getting a stunning laptop that will last you for years.
See our MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) review for more details.
The MacBook Air (M1, 2020) is a more affordable alternative to the ultra-expensive MacBook Pro above. These days, you can get it for around £800 if you search around, and for the price, you're getting a stunningly-built thin and light laptop which offers up excellent performance for the price.
While it's not as powerful as the MacBook Pro, it uses the M1 chip, a lower powered version of the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips in the newer MacBook Pros, and it still offers very impressive results. You should have no trouble loading up your applications and projects on this thing, though it may struggle with complex, highly detailed, 3D renders.
But, it's incredibly thin and light, making it an excellent laptop for architects who want something they can easily carry around with them. Add in a fantastic battery life and relatively low price, and you've got a brilliant laptop that offers plenty of value for money. See our complete MacBook Air (M1, 2020) review for more.
Many architects will want a large screen to work on, and the Dell XPS 17 is a great laptop if that's indeed what you're after. Usually, 17-inch laptops are large and uncomfortable to carry. However, with the XPS 17, Dell has crafted a stunningly thin large screen laptop, and it's impressively light as well.
This means you can carry it around with you, while still benefitting from a much larger screen to comfortably work on. Power-wise, this is a brilliant laptop, featuring up to an Intel Core i9 processor, 64GB of RAM and an Nvidia RTX 3060 GPU. This means that despite its thin size, this is a powerful laptop that can easily handle even the most complex of projects, as well as rendering realistic models of your work.
The LG Gram 17 is another great large-screen laptop for architects. If you prefer having plenty of room to work on, but don't want to hook up an external monitor, then you're going to love the 17-inch screen on the LG Gram 17.
It's also incredibly light, especially considering its size, which makes it an ideal laptop for taking out and about with you. If you do a lot of travelling, you're going to love how lightweight this laptop is – you may not even notice you've got it in your suitcase or bag.
It also offers plenty of power as well, although it doesn't have a discrete graphics card. This means it won't be able to deal with large 3D models, but for most workloads, it'll be more than capable. It's got a smart and attractive design, and the battery life is excellent as well.
The MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) is a brand-new size from Apple, offering a decent bump in screen real estate over the older 13-inch MacBook Pro. Like the 16-inch model, it offers an amazing mini-LED screen that supports 1,600 nits of peak brightness and the P3 wide colour gamut. This means that despite its smaller size, the 14-inch MacBook Pro has a screen that looks just as good as the 16-inch model. This means if you don't want a large screen, but would rather have a more portable laptop, then the 14-inch model is a great choice.
It's also powered by the new M1 Pro and M1 Max Apple chip, the same as the 16-inch model, so you're not missing out on any performance either, making it a brilliant laptop for architects.
Read our full MacBook Pro 14-inch review for more details.
If you love the idea of a MacBook, but prefer using Windows to macOS, then the Surface Laptop 4 is an excellent choice. It's got a similar high-quality build, and gorgeous design, but it's made by Microsoft, which means Windows 11 runs brilliantly on it.
It also has an excellent PixelSense touchscreen that will make your work look its very best, plus an excellent keyboard, powerful specs (including cutting-edge integrated graphics from either Intel or AMD, depending on the configuration you go for) and incredible battery life.
It's a great example of how you don't have to buy a MacBook if you want a sleek and stylish laptop for working on, and as it runs Windows 11, it means all your favourite applications will run without any issue.
See our detailed Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 review for more information.
The Acer ConceptD 7 is another great Windows alternative for architects. It packs some serious firepower with Nvidia RTX graphics. While not the very latest RTX GPUs, the ones you can configure with this laptop remain impressively powerful, and will easily handle your projects, along with any 3D modelling you need to do.
Your work will look fantastic as well, as it has a stunning Pantone-validated 4K IPS display and a cheaper price than Apple's laptops.
This is still an expensive laptop, but the level of power on offer here, combined with Acer's excellent build quality, makes this a fantastic investment for architects looking for a laptop that will last them for years to come.
See our full Acer ConceptD 7 review.
If you want a MacBook Pro, but the 16-inch and the 14-inch models above are too large and expensive, then the MacBook Pro 13-inch model is well worth considering. Despite its age, it comes with Apple's very own M1 chip (rather than an Intel processor), and this allows the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) to provide some seriously impressive performance.
So, even demanding products will run well on this compact laptop. Best of all, the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) boasts a fantastic battery life, making it a brilliant choice for people who want a 13-inch laptop they can rely on, even when they are out and about. While the newer MacBook Pros offer more power, the 13-inch model is a great choice of you're on more of a budget, especially as its price often gets cut in sales.
Read our MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) review for more details.