best laptop for running autocad

Computer-aided design represents big business - its used in industries across the board, primarily for architectural design, but also in fields as diverse as aerospace and prosthetics.  

Whatever your industry though, if you don’t have the right equipment to do the job, you're in trouble.

If you’ve already decided on a laptop rather than a desktop, we commend you on your choice - the smaller components of a laptop mean it needs less power to make them work than if you were using a desktop. 

And rest assured - you can run AutoCAD on a laptop. 

We have carefully reviewed the top laptops for AutoCAD, doing all the hard work for you, but to ensure we’re doing right by you, why not read our buying guide complete with answers to your frequently asked questions at the bottom.

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Best Laptop For Running Autocad - Reviews

This one is a best seller with good reason!  It’s powered by an 8th generation Intel CPU, with a staggering 6-core processor for up to 4.1GHz of power.

In addition to its amazing CPU, its other USP is its graphics card - the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060.

And as if 2 USP’s weren’t enough, there’s also the high bandwidth RAM interface (Double Data Rate 4 Synchronous Dynamic Random-Access Memory, or DDR4 SDRAM for short) - which basically means it’s a lot faster than normal RAM.

You may be wondering with all this power, can this laptop stay cool and not overheat?  Not to worry, this product comes with custom engineered cooling, thanks to its AeroBlade 3D fans.

The laptop also comes with a 256GB hard drive, which you will probably need based on both the size of the AutoCAD installation, and also the data files that it produces.

Despite its relatively modest screen size, the laptop’s widescreen features that 1920 x 1080 resolution that’s so important for your CAD - all in HD, with an LCD display.

It comes with Windows 10 64-bit built in.  It also offers 7 whole hours of battery life - great for saving on electricity.

It can also be purchased with a mouse and headset, if you wanted to double your laptop up for gaming too, or for collaborating with colleagues.

Pros

  • Powerful 4.1GHz CPU
  • Top of the range graphics card 
  • Huge hard disk drive
  • Affordability

Cons

  • No touch-screen facility

(Don’t worry AutoCAD works on MACs too!)

If money were no object, this would be the laptop to go for!  It features a 9th generation 6-Core Intel Core i7 Processor for real performance power, making light work of all design needs.

It brandishes a spectacular RAM of up to 64GB (yes that’s not a typo), making multitasking an absolute breeze.

The laptop also sports an AMD Radeon Pro 5000M series graphics card, delivering the most graphics horsepower ever in a MacBook Pro - over twice as fast than the previous generation base model.  It comes in at 189Gb/s.

It’s storage is phenomenal too - it has up to 8 Terabytes of SSD storage, the most available in any MAC Notebook (or any other notebook).  You can keep whole libraries of designs, drawings and photos to hand.

It also features an incredibly lengthy battery life of up to 11 hours.

Pros

  • Powerful 9th Gen 6-Core Intel CPU
  • Up tp 64Gb of RAM
  • Excellent GPU at 189Gb/s
  • Tremendous storage capability

Cons

  • Premium product at a premium price
  • No touch-screen capacity

If you’re specifically looking for a laptop which can benefit from AutoCAD’s touch screen features - then this is the product you need.  It even adapts from laptop to tablet mode!

Its power is derived from a 10th generation Intel Core Processor - all the power you need.  It also features 8GB of RAM, so you can have all that concurrent work going on at any one time.

What we really like about it is its’ superior screen resolution, which comes in at a whopping 2736 x 1824.  Just what you need for presenting superb quality designs!

It’s versatility in how it can be used, with its’ removable keyboard make it uniquely valuable for use in the hands of a kitchen designer. 

You can also purchase a Microsoft Certified Surface Pen, a stylus specifically designed for use with a Surface Pro.

Pros

  • 10th generation Intel CPU
  • Superior screen resolution
  • Touch screen available - can be used in AutoCAD
  • Converts from laptop to tablet and back again

Cons

  • Cannot be used on the lap with the keyboard in place

Here’s another laptop that ticks on all boxes.  Originally designed as a gaming laptop, it’s great for  AutoCAD. It has a 9th generation Intel Core processor, featuring all the seamless power used by serious PC gamers, along with 8GB of RAM for all your open tabs and multitasking.

It may have the standard 15.6 in display, but with a display resolution of up to 1920 x 1080 pixels, what more do you need?  It also possesses the latest NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 graphics GPU for fast, smooth working.

The laptop provides great storage too, with a huge 512GB disk space, all stored in a state of the art solid state drive.

Recommended by many AutoCAD users.

Pros

  • Fast powerful 9th generation processor
  • 8GB RAM
  • Fantastic storage space, 512GB
  • Great display resolution

Cons

  • Battery life is less than perfect, but this can be controlled by putting the laptop battery into “economy” mode

We’ve got to admit, we love this laptop.  It’s got all the power you need, with a rocking AMD Quad Core processor that goes up to 3.6 GHz.  It’s also got 8GB of RAM for all of your several tab multitasking.

Despite being so slim and light, it has a perfect 15.6 inch screen complete with 1920 x 1080 pixel display. 

The GPU coprocessor is an AMD Radeon Vega 8, which has 8GB of RAM.

And you couldn’t want for more storage - with not only a 128GB solid state drive AND a  1000GB hard disk drive!

Pros

  • Excellent AMD Quad Core CPU, for fast performance
  • 8GB RAM for multitasking
  • Great screen display resolution
  • Great GPU
  • Great storage capacity, over 1000GB

Cons

  • No touch-screen capacity

Best Laptop For Running Autocad - Buyers Guide

Let’s start with a quickfire checklist - we suggest you study these factors carefully before deciding on which laptop to purchase:

  • Has it got a high powered processor (CPU)
  • Has it got good sized memory (RAM)
  • Has it got a good hard disk or solid state drive (HDD or SSD)
  • Has it got a high performance graphics card (GPU)
  • Has it got a big monitor with a good display resolution

N.B. AutoCAD is available on both Windows computers and MACs, but this buying guide will concentrate on Windows.  Since Chromebooks only run on the Google Chrome operating system, we will not be looking at Chromebooks.

CPU

Let’s first look at the CPU.  Processor performance is measured by clock speed in GHz, and it’s a case of the higher the better.  You will need a 2.5 GHz CPU AT THE VERY LEAST, but a 3GHz or higher is recommended.  Intel Pentium remains the dominant brand for CPUs, but these days their competitors can hold their own.

RAM

RAM represents the memory installed on your machine which dictates the number and size of concurrent programs or collections of data you can have open at one time.  You will need 8GB of RAM AT THE VERY LEAST for 2D CAD, similarly you will need 16GB of RAM AT THE VERY LEAST for 3D CAD.

Please note, AutoCAD Map 3D requires an additional 16GB of RAM memory.

Importantly, your RAM must be matched to be compatible with your CPU and you will need to check this on the CPU vendors’ website.

HHD or SSD

These days your work doesn’t have to be saved onto the systems’ hard disk drive, or HDD.

In fact these days a HDD is often considered clunky, slower and less reliable.  Solid state drives, or SSDs are now commercially available, and these do away with all the issues faced by HDDS.  Several of the laptops we have shown have solid state drives.

Most high-end systems now come with an SSD boot drive as standard, and we recommend SSD at least for the boot drive of your CAD laptop.  You will need a MINIMUM of 6.0GB of FREE DISK SPACE.  For large datasets, point clouds and 3D modeling, you will need an additional 6GB of disk space not including installation requirements.

GPU

You may be wondering why so many of our recommended laptops for Autocad make for really good gaming laptops.  That’s because of their graphics card (also known as a display card), or GPU. Your GPU has to be DirectX 11 compliant, and you will need AT LEAST a 1GB GPU with 29GB/s bandwidth, but we recommend getting a laptop with a 4GB GPU with 106GB/s bandwidth. 

Screen

Ideally you would want a laptop with a screen size to rival a desktop screen, in other words a monitor size of at least 23 inches.  However, laptop screen sizes vary from the smallest at 11.6 inches to 17.3 inches at the larger end of the spectrum. It’s handier to have a larger screen when you have several apps or browser pages open, or if you need to visually compare your client’s brief to the final design.

But of course, there’s more to how well you can see a design than size - display resolution is imperative.  Display resolution measures the number of distinct pixels in each dimension, and is quoted as width x height, with the units in pixels.  The higher the numbers, the crisper the picture.  

For conventional displays you will need a display of AT LEAST 1920 x 1080.  It also has to feature True Color (also referred to as 24-bit color).   AutoCAD can also be used with high resolution and 4K displays - this will use resolutions up to 3840 x 2160 and will have to be used in conjunction with a compatible GPU (or display card).

You may also be concerned about value for money, but we won’t be the first to tell you, premium products tend to come at a premium price, and on an item such as this you can’t afford to get it wrong.

Frequently asked questions

What are the system requirements for autocad?

Operating System

  • Microsoft® Windows® 7 SP1 with Update KB4019990 (32-bit & 64-bit)
  • Microsoft Windows 8.1 with Update KB2919355 (32-bit & 64-bit)
  • Microsoft Windows 10 Anniversary Update (64-bit only) (version 1607 or higher)

Processor

  • Basic: 2.5–2.9 GHz processor
  • Recommended: 3+ GHz processor

Memory

  • Basic: 8 GB
  • Recommended: 16 GB

Display Resolution

  • Conventional Displays: 1920 x 1080 with True Color
  • High Resolution & 4K Displays: Resolutions up to 3840 x 2160 supported on Windows 10, 64 bit systems (with capable display card)

Display Card

  • Basic: 1 GB GPU with 29 GB/s Bandwidth and DirectX 11 compliant
  • Recommended: 4 GB GPU with 106 GB/s Bandwidth and DirectX 11 compliant

Disk Space

  • 6.0 GB

For more details on this, please follow this link: https://knowledge.autodesk.com/support/autocad/learn-explore/caas/sfdcarticles/sfdcarticles/System-requirements-for-AutoCAD-2019-including-Specialized-Toolsets.html

What other hardware do I need to buy?

Most AutoCAD users feel they benefit from having a mouse.  These days they don’t need to be connected by wire, and a good wireless laser mouse can be found at any hardware retailer.

You may also choose to purchase an additional screen - ideal if you’re examining two things at once.  This may give you the advantage you need in terms of display capacity and multitasking. Laptop stands may be something else to consider.

Does AutoCAD need a graphics card?

Although you don’t necessarily always need a dedicated graphics card for AutoCAD, AutoCAD is extremely graphics intensive, and we strongly recommend that you invest in a laptop with a top of the range graphics card.

If you’re planning on designing anything in 3D, a good graphics card is nothing short of essential.

What are AutoCAD’s new specialised Toolsets, and do I need further system requirements to run them?

AutoCAD 2019 comes with some great specialised Toolsets!  They are:

  • AutoCAD Plant 3D
  • AutoCAD Map 3D
  • AutoCAD Architecture
  • AutoCAD Electrical
  • AutoCAD  MEP
  • AutoCAD Mechanical
  • AutoCAD Raster Design

They don’t require a faster CPU, display resolution, or GPU but most of them require extra disk space, going up to 12GB for AutoCAD Electrical and AutoCAD MEP.

Additionally, AutoCAD Plant 3D and AutoCAD Map 3D will only work on 64-bit operating systems.

Where can I find online classes for AutoCAD?

Learning how to use AutoCAD doesn't have to be difficult or expensive.  There are loads of online classes for AutoCAD, but we particularly like Udemy, because you can go at your own pace, learn from industry experts, and find classes specifically taught by video - just what you need for your visual learners doing visual work.  Here’s the link you need:

https://www.udemy.com/topic/autocad/

How can I get Autocad certification?

With Autodesk, you can gain industry recognized credentials in AutoCAD.  The standard certification level is Autodesk Certified User, or you can plump for Autodesk Certified Professional - both of which provide certification in AutoCAD.

Is there now a 2020 version of Autocad?

There is an AutoCAD 2020, with some great new features which include, but aren’t limited to, a quick measure tool, which is faster than the old measure dropdown in the utilities panle, an improved DWG Compare, a blocks palette, improved cloud workflow, and a better user interface.

AutoCAD 2020 has very similar system requirements to AutoCAD 2019, in fact the main difference is simply that the Windows operating system needs to be in 64-bit only, and can’t run on 32-bit.

What are the alternatives to Autocad and how do they measure up?

Despite its massive share in the market, AutoCAD is not the only CAD software available, with Microstation and LibreCAD naming just 2 such examples.  To be fair some of these apps are not without their merit, especially when you factor in cost.

The primary advantage that AutoCAD has over its competitors is the small size of its installation base.  We recommend that you stick with AutoCAD, and if money really is an issue, take advantage of their free trial facility.

Last update on 2020-03-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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