A carpenter is only as good as his hammer – my gramps used to utter these words whenever we pass by a house or building that is being constructed. Back then I thought he was literally talking about a hammer until I got older and realized that there are more to building houses than driving nails through concrete wall. Back then, a lot of effort had to go through the master plan, and the architect not only should be talented, but be very well versed at “memory math” for him to ensure fast delivery of the masterpiece in his head. Every single angle should be carefully computed manually, and a single error on a page of the blueprint would bring the whole plan back to the drawing board – literally. Thanks to the modern marvels of science there are such programs like AutoCAD that eases the burden of the architect in finishing his work.
What are the key pointers in choosing the best laptop for an architect’s use?
Screen size: This is a must especially for presenting your finished works to colleagues or clients without the hassle of rolling out those blueprints. A 17 inch screen will also help you visualize the project you are working on much better, and definitely give you some perspective on the finer details of your work.
Processing power: Programs such as Auto CAD have minimum processor and video card requirements for it to work flawlessly. Remember not to cheap out on this features, because the processor is the only part of the machine that you would not be able to upgrade.
Storage: References should be readily available in your machine anytime if you wish to make your work faster, not to mention that rendering programs such as AutoCAD or Chief Architect requires a lot of storage space for their raw files.
There you have it folks. And to help you ease the burden in choosing, here are the best laptops for architects and architecture students.
HP ENVY – 17t Touch Laptop
The HP ENVY 17T a laptop that truly fits the bill if you’re looking to invest in a solid machine for heavy program rendering like AutoCAD. The on board Quad Core i7 processor is sufficient in handling all your regular surfing or any standard video rendering that software like AutoCAD may require. It is equipped with an HD camera, dual microphones, super multi DVD burner, i7 quad core processor, and a 5400 RPM 1 TB hard drive and 250 GB SSD drive. One of the great features in this laptop is that you can upgrade its hard drive and can accommodate either the standard HDD or SATA or even both-now that’s flexibility! It also has a full touch screen display.
One oh this laptop’s notable feature is that it is very quiet – even though you are running some heavy rendering programs you really can’t hear the fans buzzing loudly. The onboard camera offers clear and crisp resolution, especially if you’re into blogging or Skype. The upside is that the i7 processor could handle any heavy graphics rendering program such as Envisioneer or AutoCAD. The only downside I saw in the ENVY 17T is the hard drive’s rotational; speed which is 5400 RPM, could have made it at least 7200 RPM for speed and power saving capacity. But overall, this is a great laptop in terms of its flexibility, battery life, and processing speed. A very good laptop for any architecture or engineering students who needs a heavy duty laptop with a speedy processor and huge amount of storage.
Lenovo Y50 4k
Pro: Outstanding screen resolution and flawless video rendering that will surely handle any rendering program you may use.
Con: The brushed aluminum exterior might easily get chipped if not handled properly.
In the world of architecture, speed is both a necessity and an advantage, especially if you are rushing to finish your deadline, or presenting your works to an impatient prospective client. In this sense you will need a machine that is powerful enough for your processing needs, yet handy so that you will be able to bring it anywhere with you. Lenovo had made it clear in the laptop market that they can provide a balance between power and portability. The Y50 4K is their answer to everyone’s opinion that no single laptop can be good for everything. With a brushed metal exterior this clearly gives it a professional look, but hints that it is packing a massive horsepower underneath.
Taking a look on its connectivity, on its left side is 2 USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, and an Ethernet jack. On its right side, an always-on USB port, SD slot, headphones and microphones female jack, and a pinhole Lenovo factory default button. The bottom part of the laptop is still full brushed aluminium and a subwoofer speaker giving this laptop a full range of sound. The keyboard is backlit and is full QWERTY plus the number pad which only proves the flexibility this machine offers. The processing power that this beast offers is a Core i7 with 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD card, with support of NVIDIA GTX-860M 2GB graphics card and a 4K IPS display which is very useful for programs that need high powered resolution for flawless rendering. With all these power that is sure to handle the requirements of even the most demanding architecture software and the portability that goes with you anywhere, the Lenovo Y50 4k is sure to be any architect’s best friend.
MSI WS60 6QJ-025
The WS60 is one of MSI’s workstation with a very minimalist design but packs a powerhouse underneath. With the Intel Xeon as its processor the WS60 is sure to handle any architecture software with ease. Looking on its connectivity, on the left side is a microphone port, a headphone jack, 2 USB 3.0 ports. On the right side is another USB 3.0 port, an SD card slot, HDMI port, Thunderbolt 2, and an Ethernet port. One of the problems I see is with the SD card slot which only holds the SD card halfway through. For storage, this laptop holds a 1024 GB 7200 RPM hard drive which is very good because this enables fast data read and write and saves energy, and a 256GB SSD. The Intel Xeon provides excellent processing power which is handy if you are using heavy rendering programs or even if you will use it on gaming. In a nutshell, with a price tag of over $2000, the WS60 is sure to give you your money’s worth for any rendering tasks you may throw at it.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 4
For the architect who wants to bring along his entire portfolio and does not want the shoulder and back ache caused by carrying that heavy laptop, then the ThinkPad X1 Carbon from Lenovo is a true God-send. Holding the title of being the slimmest Ultrabook available in the market today, the X1 Carbon offers a Core i7 processor, a 16 GB ram, and a 1TB SSD. As for connectivity the X1 Carbon has 3 USB 3.0 port, mini display port and full sized HDMI, 3 USB 3.0 port, a headphones / microphone female jack microSD card slot, and a sim card slot in case you want to use 4G LTE.
One of the great features in this laptop is its anti-glare screen. Unlike its predecessors with which Lenovo just used an non reflective film cover, this anti-glare actually is a matte panel on the screen. And even though the screen is non-gloss it gives you a full SRGB coverage. The keyboard is a standard Thinkpad keyboard which has very nice functionality though if you’re a standard ps2 keyboard user you might constantly be stumbling over the joystick. The only downside I see is with the stiffness of the hinge whereas you won’t be able to open the laptop by lifting the screen with a single hand. Even though with that shiny price tag, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is sure to be the best tool any architect can get in terms of processing speed, storage, screen size and resolution, and its weight – the best investment any true artist can give himself.