Very frustrated and disappointed! This is how I feel when running AutoCAD or some 3D rendering or modelling on a laptop and it’s slow! I know you can relate to this. I have replaced two laptops before the perfect one I now use. During my frustration period, I looked out for the best laptops for AutoCAD and 3D modelling.

Most of the reviews online, on the best laptops for AutoCAD 3D, weren’t very helpful. This review carefully answers your desire, because I understand perfectly what it means to have a slow laptop for CADs and a fast one.

You’re about to go through the result of several hours of research and testing. I only picked the best workstation in this review. Based on performance, graphics, battery life and portability. All these laptops have great quality in the features above and come on the pricey side. However, if you are under a budget, I reviewed just one laptop (the 7th on this list) that I find as effective yet affordable.

Brace yourself, enjoy the read!

What are the system requirements for AutoCAD 2018?

The starting point for every AutoCAD user is to understand the system requirements and recommendation for a seamless performance. Autodesk has clearly put out the recommended specs your system should have to run AutoCAD without any issues.

These are the recommended laptop specs to run AutoCAD without hassles as Autodesk recommended system requirements for Microsoft Windows and recommended Autodesk requirements for Apple macOS put it.

Operating System

The more recent AutoCAD versions don’t run on old operating systems. Even in operating systems like windows 7&8, there must be some important updates installed. The following operating systems are the most recommended to run AutoCAD for Windows & macOS.

  • Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 (32-bit & 64-bit)
  • Microsoft Windows 8.1 with Update KB2919355 (32-bit & 64-bit)
  • Microsoft Windows 10 (64-bit only) (version 1607 and up recommended)
  • Apple macOS Mojave v10.14 (requires Update 2018.2)
  • High Sierra v10.13 or later
  • Apple macOS Sierra v10.12 or later
  • Mac OS X El Capitan v10.11 or later

CPU Type

The CPU specification matters a lot because rendering and 3D modelling tasks require a whole lot of process. Therefore you need a PC with a fast processor speed. Below is the least CPU spec for the ideal laptops for AutoCAD.

  • 32-bit: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) processor
  • 64-bit: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 64-bit Intel CPU (Intel Core Duo CPU, 2 GHz or faster recommended) [For macOS]

Memory

The CPU memory or RAM for the best laptops for AutoCAD should be, at least, the following.

  • 32-bit: 2 GB (4 GB recommended)
  • 64-bit: 4 GB (8 GB recommended)
  • 3 GB of RAM (4 GB or above recommended) [For macOS]

Display Resolution

The display resolution is one of the biggest deal you should consider in choosing the best laptops for AutoCAD. I believe you will be doing a lot of AutoCAD designs, 3D modelling or other graphics task, therefore you can’t afford to have your laptop low on this.

The following are the recommended display resolution by Autodesk for pleasing graphics.

  • Conventional Displays: 1360 x 768 (1920 x 1080 recommended) with True Color
  • High Resolution & 4K Displays: Resolutions up to 3840 x 2160 supported on Windows 10, 64 bit systems (with capable display card)
  • 1280 x 800 display with true colour (2880 x 1800 with Retina Display recommended) [For macOS]

Display Card

The least specification for the display card of a laptop(windows) should have is the Windows display adapter capable of 1360 x 768 with True Color capabilities and DirectX 9, DirectX 11 compliant card recommended.

Disk Space

AutoCAD requires an installation space of 4 GB on a Windows OS, while a space of 3 GB on a macOS.

Other specifications include:

Browser: Windows Internet Explorer 11 or later for Windows OS, or Apple Safari 5.0 or later for MacOS.

Pointing Device: MS-Mouse compliant, Apple Mouse, Apple Magic Mouse, Magic Trackpad, MacBook Pro trackpad

ToolClips Media Player: Adobe Flash Player v10 or up

.NET Framework: .NET Framework Version 4.6   

Additional Laptop Requirements For 3D Modelling and Heavier Projects

There are also some additional requirements if you’ll be working on Large Data sets projects, Point Clouds, and 3D Modeling tasks. These are quite important for you to note.

Memory: 8 GB RAM or more

Disk Space: 6 GB free hard disk available, not including installation requirements

Display Card: 1920 x 1080 or greater True Color video display adapter; 128 MB VRAM or greater; Pixel Shader 3.0 or greater; Direct3D-capable workstation class graphics card.

It’s simple! These are basic specs that the best laptops for AutoCAD should have! However, this review is for an exceptional experience with AutoCAD. I reviewed the laptops with the best of graphics card, CPU performance & memory, and perfect resolution for running CAD programs.

Top 7 Mobile Workstation Laptops for AutoCAD

These are the best seven mobile workstation laptop. And every laptop on this list is sleek, portable, and have very beautiful designs.

Each of them is the best laptop for AutoCAD, 3D modelling, and rendering. These laptops are also great for any versions of AutoCAD, including the latest AutoCAD version, 2018.

Microsoft Surface Book 2 – 15″

Microsoft Surface Book 2 15 inch

 

The Microsoft Surface Book 2 is the first on the list for many reasons you’ll see below. I personally love this laptop because it offers all the recommended specs with a lot of flexibility.

The Microsoft Surface Book 2 15” has the following specifications:

CPU: Intel Core i7-8650U processor

Operating System: Windows 10 Pro

RAM: 16GB

Hard Drive: 1 TB PCIe SSD

Display Size: 15”

Highest Available Resolution: 3240 x 2160

Refresh Rate: 71.9 frames per second

Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060

Video Memory: 6GB

Weight: 4.18 pounds
Ports: 3 USB type-C, Microphone/headphone, Surface connect

Pros

  • It has a detachable design and very flexible usage.
  • The laptop stays cool even during heavy usage.
  • It has a very long battery life, and it is the best on the list.
  • It has a bright display and impressive graphics.

Cons

  • It is very expensive.
  • It has no Thunderbolt 3 port

AutoCAD Recommendation Check

Graphics & Display Excellent
CPU Performance Excellent
Battery LifeOutstanding12 hours and 9 minutes

HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 15.6″

HP Spectre x360 2-in-1 15.6 inch

 

The HP Spectre x360 15” has the following specifications:

CPU: Intel Core i7-8650U processor

Operating System: Windows 10 Home

RAM: 16GB

Hard Drive: 512 GB NVMe M.2 PCI-e SSD

Display Size: 15.6”

Highest Available Resolution: 3840 x 2160

Refresh Rate: 165 frames per second

Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce MX150 (2 GB GDDR5 dedicated)

Video Memory: 2GB

Weight: 4.2 pounds
Ports: 3 USB 3.0 & type-C, headphone, Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, SD memory reader

Pros

  • It packs an exceptional 4K Ultra HD display.
  • It comes in a convertible design, giving it a very flexible application.
  • The laptop has a beautiful sleek metal design.
  • The speakers produce quite some sound quality
  • It is great for gaming.

Cons

  • It heats up on heavy usage.

AutoCAD Recommendation Check

Graphics & Display Outstanding
CPU Performance Excellent
Battery LifeVery good8 hours 41 minutes

MSI GS65 Stealth THIN-050 15.6″ Gaming Laptop

MSI GS65 Stealth THIN-050 15.6 inch Gaming Laptop

 

The MSI Stealth Thin-050 has the following specifications:

CPU: 3.9-GHz Intel Core i7-8750H processor

Operating System: Windows 10

RAM: 16GB Upgradable to 32GB

Hard Drive: 512GB M.2 SSD

Display Size: 15.6”

Highest Available Resolution: 1920 x 1080

Refresh Rate: 144 Hertz

Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q CPU

Video Memory: 8GB

Weight: 4.1 Pounds
Ports: 3 USB Ports(3.0), HDMI 2.0, Microphone, Mini DisplayPort, S/PDIF, security lock slot, Thunderbolt 3, Gigabit Ethernet

Pros

  • One of the best CPU performance you can ever come across.
  • It has an exceptional graphics performance.
  • The speakers produce great sound quality.
  • It comes with all the latest and important laptop ports.
  • It is perfect for gaming, in fact, it’s made for gaming
  • Its body design is sleek and beautiful.

Cons

  • It gets hot during heavy use.
  • Not a QHD or 4K screen resolution.
  • The battery life is not as impressive compared to others on this list.

AutoCAD Recommendation Check

Graphics & Display Excellent
CPU Performance Excellent
Battery LifeFair5 hours 40 mins

ASUS ROG Zephyrus M Ultra Slim Gaming Laptop

ASUS ROG Zephyrus M Ultra Slim Gaming Laptop, 15.6 inch

 

The Asus ROG Zephyrus M GM501 has the following specifications:

CPU: 3.9-GHz Intel Core i7-8750H processor

Operating System: Windows 10

RAM: 16GB Upgradable to 32GB

Hard Drive: 256GB NVMe SSD

Display Size: 15.6”

Highest Available Resolution: 1920 x 1080

Refresh Rate: 144 Hertz

Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q CPU

Video Memory: 8GB

Weight: 5.5 pounds
Ports: 4 USB Ports(3.0), HDMI 2.0, Microphone/headphone, Thunderbolt 3

Pros

  • It has a remarkable graphics performance.
  • The design is beautiful and made of metal.
  • The overall CPU performance is exceptional

Cons

  • It has a short battery life.
  • The weight of the laptop is relatively heavier compared to others in this list.
  • It does not have a QHD or 4K screen resolution.

AutoCAD Recommendation Check

Graphics & Display Excellent
CPU Performance Excellent
Battery LifePoor2 hours 47 mins

Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch (2017)

Apple 15 inch MacBook Pro

 

The Apple MacBook Pro15” has the following specifications:

CPU: 2.9GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor

Operating System: macOS Sierra

RAM: 16GB

Hard Drive: 512GB PCIe SSD

Display Size: 15.4”

Highest Available Resolution: 2880 x 1800

Refresh Rate: 76.49 frames per second

Graphics Card: AMD Radeon Pro 560

Video Memory: 4GB

Weight: 4 pounds
Ports: 4 USB Port type-c, Microphone/headphone, Tunderbolt 3

Pros

  • The overall performance is good.
  • Its design is outstanding and exceptionally sleek.
  • It has a beautiful Retina display.
  • The battery life is exceptional.

Cons

  • It has a limited port capacity.
  • It becomes warm during heavy usage.

AutoCAD Recommendation Check

Graphics & Display Very Good
CPU Performance Very Good
Battery LifeExcellent10 hours 59 mins

Dell Precision 5510

Dell XPS9560-7001SLV-PUS 15.6 inch

 

The Dell Precision 5510 has the following specifications:

CPU: Intel Xeon CPU E3-1505M v5 @ 2.8GHz processor

Operating System: Windows 10 Pro

RAM: 8GB upgradable to 16GB

Hard Drive: 512 GB SSD

Display Size: 15.6”

Highest Available Resolution: 3840 x 2160

Refresh Rate: 62.5 frames per second

Graphics Card: Nvidia Quadro M1000M

Video Memory: 2GB

Weight: 4.6 pounds
Ports: 2 USB 3.0, headphone/mic jack, Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, SD memory reader, security lock slot

Pros

  • It has a superfast hard drive. in fact, the fastest on this list. It took 9 seconds to copy mixed files of 4.97GB.
  • The graphics & display gives you a really memorable impression.
  • The graphics card is specifically for 3D applications, so your AutoCAD will work perfectly.
  • It has a very thin and beautiful design.
  • It comes with all the necessary and latest computer ports.

Cons

  • The battery life is not as impressive.

AutoCAD Recommendation Check

Graphics & Display Excellent
CPU Performance Very good
Battery LifeFair 5 hours 34 minutes

Lenovo ThinkPad P51

Lenovo ThinkPad P51 Mobile Workstation

 

The Lenovo ThinkPad P51 15” has the following specifications and it comes in as our most affordable on the list.

CPU: Intel Quad-Core i7-7700HQ

Operating System: Windows 10 Pro

RAM: 16GB Upgradable to 64GB

Hard Drive: 512 GB NVMe PCI-e SSD

Display Size: 15.6”

Highest Available Resolution: 1920 x 1080

Refresh Rate: 228 frames per second

Graphics Card: Nvidia Quadro M1200

Video Memory:

Weight: 5.82 pounds
Ports: 4 USB 3.0 & type-C, headphone/microphone, Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, SD memory reader, Ethernet

Pros

  • It is built for durability.
  • It packs a 4K QHD graphics quality.
  • The overall performance is impressive; it’s made for extreme video editing and 3D modelling.
  • It comes with all the necessary and latest ports, though they are all at the back.

Cons

  • The weight is very bulky.
  • The display is not as bright.
  • Its audio quality isn’t impressive.

AutoCAD Recommendation Check

Graphics & DisplayExcellent
CPU PerformanceExcellent
Battery LifeVery good8 hours 2 minutes

Final Verdict

Awesome, right! Your best laptop for AutoCAD has to be one of these based on whatever trade-off is most convenient for you.

If you want all the best experience and have the cash, the Microsoft surface book 2 is definitely our top pick for the best laptop for AutoCAD.

For less expensive and great experience, any of the other laptops from the second to the last will do well.

Cheers!

Do you think I missed a laptop you’ve used and you know is better? Drop in the comments, we can review it for other readers.

Feel free to share this with your colleagues, family, and friends.

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