Are you looking for a powerful laptop for CAD? You’ve reached the right place! Over the course of this article, you will find a list of the 10 best laptops for CAD, which we have manually curated by reviewing each of these laptops in detail along with their pros and cons.
Laptops that can run CAD software need to have a powerful processor, but more importantly, their Graphic Processing Unit (GPU) needs to be even stronger. This is because there’s a lot of visualization that happens when you use designing software and therefore you need to ensure that your Graphics Card is powerful enough to handle that.
Wherever there’s design, there’s CAD software behind that. In this article, we will examine some of the best laptops for CAD and 3D modeling software. CAD has become even more important over the past decade as 3D printing becomes more and more common. 3D printing and Computer-Aided Design go hand-in-hand.
Over the next few sections, we take a closer look at which are some of the best CAD and 3D modeling software out there, as well as which are some of the best laptops for CAD purposes.
Understanding Different CAD Software
Before we head into our main segment, which talks about some of the best performing laptops for CAD and 3D model rendering software, it is essential for one to understand what are the different software options out there. CAD as technology is quite old and has been around since the 1980s. The most popular CAD software out there, AutoCAD, has been around since as early as 1982 and continues to get updates over the years, adding new features and elements as the needs of the times evolve.
While AutoCAD remains the top name in the list, there’s also a number of other CAD software that allow you to edit and create designs.
If you are someone who is just starting out with 3D model rendering, you might want to check out 3D Builder, 3D Crafter, or LeoCAD. If you are looking for 2D CAD software, there are options such as LibreCAD and QCAD which will make things easier for you. If you’re someone who is into sculptures and sculpting, you might want to check out ScultGL.
For more advanced users, who have been using CAD tech for a while and want to create advanced designs, you might want to take a look at AutoCAD (the most popular option out there – available for Windows as well as Mac users). For someone who isn’t willing to pay a ton of money for AutoCAD, there is some free software too, such as FreeCAD, HeeksCAD, and Sculptris. However, you need to know that these ones aren’t going to offer you the level of precision and accuracy that AutoCAD generally does.
Best Laptops for CAD Software In 2021 – Suitable For AutoCAD Desings
Here’s a closer look at the ten best options that there are when it comes to laptops for 3D modeling and CAD-related work. These are not ranked in any particular order but are all pretty good and unique by themselves. We have tried to provide a detailed, in-depth review, as well as a set of pros and cons about each of these laptops so that you get the entire picture:
1. MSI GS65 Stealth-483 – Editor’s Choice
- CPU: Intel Core i7 9750h
- RAM: 16 GB
- Storage: 512GB SSD
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060
- Display: 15.6 inches
- Battery: about 5 hours
MSI is a brand that has gained quite a bit of goodwill over the past decades and has emerged as a company that offers you some really high-tech laptops. The MSI GS65 Stealth is no exception.
The laptop offers you strong specs, and a decent CPU/GPU combination. When you look at all of it together, you get a device that is one of the best laptops for AutoCAD.
First up, it uses the Intel Core i7 9750h, which is the ninth-generation i7 processor from Intel, and quite a powerful device! This processor is powerful enough to handle the heaviest of software out there and AutoCAD runs pretty smoothly on that.
However, having just a good CPU doesn’t qualify a laptop to run CAD and 3D modeling software. It also needs a good memory. The MSI GS65 carries 16 GB of RAM, which is more than enough to run all the latest design software. To add to that, there’s also a storage space of 512GB SSD.
Another major aspect that makes all the difference here is the GPU. This laptop houses an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Graphics Card, which is not only the best choice when it comes to running AutoCAD, but also a great option when it comes to playing games.
With a GPU as powerful as this, you can play any of the latest games on your laptop without any lag or glitch. This GPU also makes the MSI GS65 a good option for 3D modeling and 3D rendering.
Lastly, the laptop is also built pretty well and is a durable device. There are thin bezels on three corners, lots of connectivity options, as well as a backlit keyboard. The glass touchpad used here is also a little larger than what you would find on most other laptops, making it quite convenient to use.
This laptop also remains quite cool while you render your designs on it as it comes with three fans, four exhausts, and seven heat pipes!
- Powerful CPU/GPU combination can run all 3D modeling software
- Well-designed laptop with large touchpad and thin bezels
- Easy to upgrade the specs when needed
- Does not heat up even while rendering large files
- Very durable
- The sound quality is pretty impressive
- Well-spaced keyboard
- Battery life could have been improved
2. Acer Predator Helios 300 – Best Overall
- CPU: Intel Core i7 10750H
- RAM: 16 GB
- Storage: 512GB SSD
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop GPU
- Display: 15.6 inch
- Battery: Up to 6 hours
As we’ve mentioned above, sometimes gaming laptops prove to be a good solution when it comes to the best laptops for AutoCAD and other CAD apps. This is because the three main things that you need for CAD processes, a powerful CPU, GPU, and RAM are all present in these laptops because even games need these three elements to be powerful. In fact, this is perhaps the laptop with the most powerful Graphics Card on our list here.
Let us straight-up talk about the GPU since we’ve hyped it so much. This laptop comes with the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop GPU, which is even more powerful compared to the Nvidia RTX 2070 and RTX 2080 (which are top-end GPUs in their own right). What makes this GPU special is that it comes with 6 GB of dedicated GDDR6 VRAM, NVIDIA DLSS, NVIDIA Dynamic Boost 2.0, NVIDIA GPU Boost. Thanks to this GPU, you will never have to wait for a long time while the laptop finishes the 3D rendering process.
Moving on to the CPU, this laptop makes use of the Intel Core i7 10750H, which is currently Intel’s top-of-the-line processor in the i7 series, and one that gives you the maximum possible power. Using this CPU ensures that you can not only run AutoCAD but any other CAD program that you want without having to worry about your PC slowing down. This is a very powerful processor that doesn’t heat up too much, even upon prolonged usage.
The laptop features a large 15.6-inch display, which ensures that you get the most accurate of colors and a clear visual. The display is an important aspect of CAD laptops because you need to get all the lighting right for the 3D models to be accurate. Besides this, the Acer Predator Helios 300 comes with 16 GB of RAM and 512GB SSD storage. The laptop comes with a 4-zone RGB backlit keyboard and supports the latest WiFi and Ethernet standards, and runs on the Windows 10 Home OS. All in all, this is a total package for anyone looking for the best performing laptops for CAD and 3D modeling.
- The most powerful GPU that a laptop can get
- Latest generation Intel i7 processor
- Very bright and clear display – perfect for 3D modeling
- Good laptop for all your gaming needs as well
- Ideal laptop for CAD
- Follows the latest Wi Fi and Ethernet standards
- The backlit keyboard gives it a really cool look
- Heats up upon prolonged usage
3. 2020 Apple MacBook Air – Known For Trust & Reliability
- CPU: Apple M1
- RAM: 8 GB
- Storage: 256GB SSD
- GPU: Apple 8-Core GPU
- Display: 13.3 inches
- Battery: Up to 18 hours
While a majority of the AutoCAD users tend to use this software on Windows OS, there are a large number of non-Windows users too, who might want to use it on platforms such as the macOS. The best laptop for CAD for Mac users is perhaps the 2020 Apple MacBook Air. While one can always get the more powerful MacBook Pro as well, the Air version of the MacBook also gets the job done pretty well – and in fact over-delivers. However, if you’ve got the budget you might as well go for the Pro, but the Air is more pocket-friendly.
At just under $1000, this laptop is the perfect option for someone who wants a high-quality product but doesn’t want to spend a bomb on it. The laptop is powered by Apple’s A1 chip, which is a pretty impressive CPU – and allows you to run AutoCAD and other design software without any trouble. There’s an 8GB RAM assisting the CPU. Don’t be disappointed by the low RAM, because it just about gets the job done, though you might not be able to multitask on it.
The MacBook Air 2020 features 256 GB SSD storage, with a 512GB SSD variant being available as well. What also makes the MacBook Air a good option for 3D modeling and 3D model desigining is the fact that it comes with a 13.3-inch retina display – which is the best in the business. There’s absolutely no competition that Apple faces when it comes to its visual output. People working on 3D designs need to have a good look at what they are creating – and this laptop helps you get the perfect visuals.
Besides all this, another impressive feature of the MacBook Air is that it comes with incredible 18-hour battery life. Even when you are performing 3D model rendering tasks, the battery life won’t drain much and you’ll still get a pretty long performance. Lastly, MacBooks are a brand by themselves and over the years, have proven to be one of the strongest performers out there – always a good purchase decision.
- Very impressive 18-hour battery capacity
- Doesn’t cost too much compared to other laptops on the list
- Powerful Apple M1 CPU/GPU
- Retina display is great for 3D modeling
- Does not heat up
- Excellent customer service
- Durable and long-lasting laptop
- Only 8 GB of RAM
4. MSI Prestige 15 A10SC-010 – The Beast
- CPU: Intel Core i7-10710U
- RAM: 32 GB
- Storage: 1 TB SSD
- GPU: NVidia GeForce GTX 1650 (max-q)4g GDDR5
- Display: 15.6 inch
- Battery: Up to 16 hours
We are back with yet another MSI laptop on our list. This is the MSI Prestige 15, which is a visual delight as well as a powerhouse. This is an award-winning laptop that has been featured by many prominent publications as one of the best laptops in recent years.
Not only does it house some really impressive specifications, it also comes with a rather classy design.
Powered by an Intel Core i7-10710U, which is among Intel’s latest 10th generation models, you will never run out of processing power! This is a performance-oriented laptop and to drive this point home, it comes with 32 GB of RAM as well.
This is twice as much as we’d recommend for running AutoCAD smoothly. If that wasn’t enough, the MSI Prestige 15 also features 1 TB SSD storage as well.
The GPU that is used by this laptop is the NVidia GeForce GTX 1650 (max-q)4g GDDR5. This is a GPU that can be used for all your basic gaming purposes too, but here the primary use is for 3D modeling and 3D model rendering.
The GPU is just good enough to run all your CAD needs without burdening your RAM. The battery output here is also pretty good – lasting up to 16 hours. We believe that this will be impacted when you run CAD software, but that shouldn’t make too much of a difference and it will still be miles ahead of what some other alternatives offer.
Having just a good GPU won’t do, you also need a good display where you can see the 3D models that you are creating come to life. This laptop is fully equipped for that with the help of a 15.6-inch display, which operates at an HD 4K (3840*2160) resolution. The bezels on the sides are also quite thin. There are plenty of connectivity options, including two Thunderbolt ports. The laptop is also quite thin and lightweight, which is another added advantage.
This isn’t really a ‘gaming’ laptop even though it has a lot of good specs that gamers can benefit from. However, this is a laptop for power users so we can’t say that it’s limited to AutoCAD only. Yeah, one could use it for even FL Studio Music production purpose, or may be for machine learning programs that need plenty of resources to operate.
It is meant for people who often require a high-power solution for running heavy-duty software. This is exactly what makes it a good fit for AutoCAD and one of the best laptops for CAD and 3D modeling programs.
- Excellent 4K display
- Long-lasting battery life
- Powerful CPU/GPU combination
- Twice the required RAM
- Very large storage space
- Good for basic gaming as well
- Uses the latest 10th generation Intel processor with turbo boost
- May heat up upon prolonged usage
- Battery to be impacted upon using CAD software
5. Dell G5 15 Gaming Laptop – Best Laptop For CAD
- CPU: 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H
- RAM: 16 GB
- Storage: 256 GB SSD + 1 TB SATA
- GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650
- Display: 15.6 inch
- Battery: Up to 10 hours when not gaming
While Dell owns Alienware, which is a subsidiary company of theirs, they have always maintained this distinction that all personal-use and business-use laptops go to Dell, and all their gaming laptops go to Alienware.
This is what makes this laptop such an exception, as this is a gaming laptop under the Dell brand. The Dell G5 15 is a pretty good laptop, but an even better laptop when it comes to AutoCAD and 3D modeling.
The laptop runs on a 9th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, the 9750H. This is an ideal processor for running AutoCAD. To make things even better, this laptop from Dell also features 16 GB RAM, which is what one ideally needs to run AutoCAD on windows.
Besides that, you also get a dual storage setup featuring 256 GB SSD + 1 TB SATA storage. This gives you speed as well as storage.
Another thing that this laptop really gets going for all your CAD needs is the NVidia GeForce GTX 1650 Graphics Card – something that we’ve seen in other gaming laptops in this list such as the Acer Predator Helios 300.
This is a very power-packed GPU and it allows you to not just play all your favorite games, but also makes sure that you can run all the best 3D model rendering programs that you may need to. Also, this is considered as a laptop for photoshop because of its visual excellence.
With this laptop, you get a 15.6-inch display, along with an anti-glare screen. Furthermore, the laptop also has a dual-fan cooling system with an advanced thermal design. This ensures that it does not heat up, even with the CPU and GPU running to their core efficiency.
Lastly, one more thing that really has us impressed here is the long-lasting battery output. Considering that this is a gaming laptop, a 10-hour batterylife is really good. However, the battery does drain quite quickly when you are rendering CAD files or playing a game – so better keep that charger nearby.
- Dual storage system – SDD + SATA storage
- Powerful CPU/GPU combination
- A good heat dissipation system
- The anti-glare full HD screen shows clear visuals even in bright conditions
- Great laptop for CAD-based 2D and 3D rendering
- Speakers are pretty loud
- Good for basic gaming as well
- Works smoothly as a CAD Laptop
- Battery drains rather quickly when rendering 3D models
6. ASUS ROG Strix G15 (2021) – Best Laptops For CAD Software
- CPU: AMD Ryzen R7-5800H
- RAM: 16 GB
- Storage: 1 TB SSD
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti
- Display: 15.6 inch
- Battery: 5 to 6 hours
When one hears about the ‘ROG’ series of laptops from ASUS, they just know that it is their gaming laptops that are being referred.
This is the latest of the lot – the 2021 ROG Strix G15, which features some really high-end specs in terms of the GPU/CPU combination, as well as powerful RAM and storage.
Instead of choosing the traditional Intel processors, the laptop has gone with AMD’s latest and the most powerful Ryzen R7 processor, which is very similar to a 9th or 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor. Besides that, the GPU that has been chosen here is the NVidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti, which is Nvidia’s most powerful offering to date.
Not only is this the perfect laptop to run any PC game in 2021, but this is also very well suited for 3D model rendering and for rendering large video files too, thanks largely to the very impressive graphics card that is used here by ASUS. Aiding the CPU/GPU are a 16 GB RAM and 1 TB SSD storage.
You also get a 15.6-inch display, which offers a Full HD 1920×1080 resolution as well as a 300 Hz refresh rate, making it an ideal device for gaming. Given that the laptop uses a very power-intensive CPU and GPU combination, one might wonder if it heats up.
The answer is a surprising ‘No’. This CAD Laptop doesn’t really heat up, thanks to a ROG Intelligent Cooling thermal system that is present in the device. It ensures all the heat flows out and the laptop remains pretty cool.
Battery, as you might expect from a CAD laptop, is quite poor. If you’re not gaming or rendering large files, you can get about 5 to 6 hours out of it.
However, we recommend you keep it plugged in while gaming/rendering because battery capacity tends to drain away rather rapidly here.
- Large SSD storage space with Efficient RAM
- Very powerful GPU – great for gaming as well as 3D modeling
- Top-of-the-line AMD CPU
- An intelligent cooling system makes sure the laptop does not heat up
- Full HD display allows you to view all your rendered designs properly
- Uses the latest Wi Fi standards
- Good for 2D and 3D rendering
- Has to be plugged in while gaming, as the battery is quite unreliable when performing processor-intensive tasks
7. Lenovo Flex 5 – Quality Speaks It All
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 4500U
- RAM: 16 GB
- Storage: 256 GB
- GPU: AMD Radeon Graphics
- Display: 14 inches
- Battery: Up to 10 hours
Lenovo is among the biggest and the most trusted laptop makers all over the world, and their Flex series of devices are also quite popular. The Lenovo Flex 5 gives you a combination of power, flexibility, and creativity all packed in one device.
This is also among the best laptops for CAD purposes. What is really interesting here is the kind of form factor that it brings to you. In the past, we’ve seen most CAD laptops being rather bulky and clunky. This one, however, is just 0.82″ in thickness!
The Lenovo Flex 5, as the name indicates, is a laptop that can be moved around quite a bit. You can completely move its 14-inch touchscreen display over the keyboard and use it as a tablet.
It comes with a digital pen included in the package, allowing you to draw and sketch on it rather comfortably. The laptop is an absolute delight for people in the creative business.
Coming to the specifications now, it features an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U Processor, and also comes with AMD Radeon Graphics built into it.
The GPU isn’t really that powerful but just about right enough to run AutoCAD and other lower-end CAD tools. When it comes to 2-in-1 devices, you usually get integrated GPUs and not a dedicated Graphics Card, and this is not an exception. Thankfully, accompanying the CPU and GPU is 16 GB of RAM. This large memory makes sure that the most power-intensive of software can run on this laptop.
If you are someone who wants a lightweight laptop that they can carry around with ease, and also perform some basic 3D modeling tasks on it.
The laptop offers up to 10 hours of battery capacity, and also comes with some unique features such as a camera with a shutter, which makes sure that your privacy is always protected. All in all, a good laptop, especially at the price range it comes in at.
- Can be used as a tablet when needed
- Comes with a digital pen included in the package
- Lightweight and slim
- Decent RAM/Storage offering
- Full HD display
- Not as expensive as some other laptops here
- One of the most portable laptops for running autocad 3d
- Could have featured a better GPU
8. Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop – Laptop For CAD Design
- CPU: Intel core i5 9300H
- RAM: 8 GB
- Storage: 256 GB SSD
- GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX1650 GPU
- Display: 15.6 inch
- Battery: Up to 8 hours when not gaming
This is our second Acer laptop on this list after the Acer Predator Helios 300. Interestingly, this too is a gaming laptop. However, this can’t really be ranked alongside the Predator, given that it comes with slightly toned-down specs.
However, don’t go by the specs – this laptop can run AutoCAD just about right, as it matches all the minimum requirements that are needed to run the software.
First up, the processor that is used here is the Intel i5-9300H, a 9th Gen Intel processor, that offers just the bare minimum processing power that is required for AutoCAD.
Alongside the CPU, what aids this laptop run software like this is 8 GB RAM and 256 GB SSD storage. The laptop doesn’t have the recommended 16GB, but comes with the bare minimum 8 GB – which, when coupled with the powerful GPU, does the job.
Talking of the GPU, it is the core highlight of this ‘gaming laptop’. The Acer Nitro 5 comes out into the markets with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU.
This GPU not only allows you to play all your favorite games but also makes sure that you can perform all your 3D modeling tasks such as running AutoCAD and other similar CAD apps.
Sometimes, laptops with a powerful GPU tend to heat up quite a bit. However, the Acer Nitro 5 makes use of a ‘cool boost’ technology with twin fans, which ensures that the device remains cool at all times.
In addition to all this, the laptop is actually a pretty decent gaming device. It comes with a backlit keyboard, along with the latest Wi Fi 6 standards that make sure there’s no lag that the gamer faces while playing online.
It also comes with Alexa built-in, allowing you to control much of the laptop with just your voice. If you’re a gamer who also happens to need CAD and 3D modeling software side by side at times, this is a good laptop for you. Priced in at under $750, this is priced just right too.
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU is one of the highlights of this laptop
- Supports the latest Wi Fi standards
- Designed really well, along with a backlit keyboard
- Doesn’t heat up too much, thanks to the Acer Twin Boost technology used here
- Very well-spaced keyboard layout
- Best CAD laptop with an i5 processor
- Processor supports turbo boost technology, giving you instant power when needed
- Battery drains rather quickly when running CAD software
9. Dell Precision 7540 Mobile Workstation – Name Of Perfection
- CPU: Intel i5 (9th Gen)
- RAM: 8 GB
- Storage: 256 GB SSD
- GPU: NVIDIA Quadro T1000 4GB GDDR5
- Display: 15.6 inches
- Battery: About 7 to 8 hours
The last two on our list are actually a little different from the eight we’ve seen above. We realize that not everyone working on CAD tools wants to make use of AutoCAD.
There are some users who want to use lighter CAD tools such as the ones that come with their 3D printers, or some web-based CAD apps which are way lighter in comparison to AutoCAD and don’t really need a high processing power or a lot of RAM. This also applies to those people who are working on 2D models.
Dell’s Precision 7540 mobile workstation is a good laptop for you if you are someone who fits into the category we describe in the paragraph above.
This laptop comes with an Intel i5 9400H processor, which is a decent processor for practically everything else, but just meets the bare minimum specs needed to run AutoCAD. Even though, we recommend you use this laptop not to run AutoCAD, but for lighter CAD apps.
This is because the laptop carries only 8GB of RAM, which when coupled with an i5 processor, won’t really do the task for you. There’s a 256GB SSD storage here, which is pretty alright.
The laptop also comes with a decent screen, a 15.6-inch FHD display, along with anti-glare tech which ensures you can view it even when under bright lights with ease. Also, you don’t need to clean laptop’s display freqeuntly as it’s quiet smooth and don’t let dirt to get on it for longer time.
One saving grace of this laptop (or as they put it, “mobile workstation”) from Dell is the fact that it features an NVIDIA Quadro T1000 4GB GDDR5. If you can get some CAD performance out of this laptop, it is solely because of this GPU that holds it all together.
A tad bit overpriced for what it actually delivers- we suspect that the Nvidia Quadro forms a bulk of the price. However, not a bad laptop by any yardstick. We recommend it to you if you’re a regular user who needs a laptop for everyday tasks, and occasional CAD-based tasks, involving lightweight CAD apps.
Also, it’s an ideal laptop pick for medical stream students that requires plenty of lab tests to be done on very timely manner.
- NVIDIA Quadro T1000 is a powerful GPU
- Pretty good screen with an anti-glare display tech
- Decent laptop for daily tasks
- Doesn’t heat up even on prolonged usage
- Decent battery output
- Lots of connectivity options
- Easy to upgrade the specs
- Not really suitable for AutoCAD
10. HP ZBOOK 14U-G5 – One Of The Best Laptops For AutoCAD
- CPU: Intel Core i5 (8th Gen)
- RAM: 8 GB
- Storage: 256 GB SSD
- GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 620
- Display: 15.6 inches
- Battery: About 6 hours
This is actually quite a good laptop for anyone who wants to run CAD programs other than AutoCAD. The HP ZBook 14U-G5 is a laptop that comes with decent specs but just doesn’t have what it takes to run the biggest CAD software of them all.
Nonetheless, if you are running a basic 3D printer’s software, or something that works on 2D design, or a free-to-use web-based CAD app, this laptop would make a great option for you.
People who don’t actually have to use AutoCAD but are ok with other CAD software, and don’t want to spend a lot of money on a high-power laptop can choose to go with this one.
This laptop from HP runs on an 8th Generation Intel Core i5 processor, which is good enough to run most other software. The CPU is aided by 8GB of RAM, along with 256 GB of SSD storage.
This laptop is a good choice for those working on basic 3D printers. The kind of CAD and 3D model rendering programs that you will need to use for them would work really well on this machine.
The ZBook also comes with a ton of other features such as a backlit keyboard, media readers, and a fingerprint scanner. It features a 15.6-inch display, which is good enough to work on CAD tools, allowing you to edit and create designs in peace.
The laptop is quite slim and comes with good heat dissipation as well. It runs on the Windows 10 Pro OS out of the box and features a 3-year warranty from HP – ensuring peace of mind for the first three years of using it.
All in all a good device for some lightweight CAD work, but not something we’d recommend for pro-users.
- Not a bulky device, well-designed
- Doesn’t heat up too much
- Backlit keyboard
- Decent multipurpose laptop for everyday use
- Doesn’t cost too much
- Good after-sales service from HP
- Fingerprint scanner for added security
- Can’t run AutoCAD on this
- Integrated Graphics instead of a dedicated GPU
Buyer’s Guide: How to Buy the Best Laptop for CAD?
Now that you know about the ten best options when it comes to CAD laptops, you must also know how to choose the laptop that will suit your needs the best.
Do go through this list and use it as a checklist to run past the ten options that we have listed above – so that you make the best and the most well-informed choice.
- Software Requirements
You need to know which CAD program you are going to use. If it is a lightweight software such as FreeCAD or something that is browser-based, or meant for basic 3D printing, you won’t really need a very powerful laptop and even something with an i5 processor should do the job.
This also holds true for 2D CAD. Designing and rendering 2D designs takes much lesser time when compared to 3D model rendering.
However, if you are using something that is more heavy-duty such as AutoCAD, you are going to need a laptop that offers a more powerful CPU/GPU/RAM combination.
In the case of AutoCAD, the more power your laptop packs, the better it is for you.
Your processor needs to be very powerful when it comes to running CAD apps. Most of the top-level software requires you to have at least an Intel i7 processor (a sixth or seventh generation works, but a ninth or tenth generation processor is recommended). Intel Core i7 9750H and the 10th Gen Intel Core i7 10750H are the best two options that you’ve got.
However, if you’re using software other than AutoCAD, you can probably make use of an Intel Core i5 processor too.
The ninth-generation Intel Core i5 9300H is quite a decent performing processor for non-AutoCAD software. This is particularly good for 2D modeling and for using some free CAD tools.
Intel Core i3 processors are discouraged because they will heat up pretty quickly and even if you manage to get AutoCAD to run on them, you’ll still end up waiting for a very long time for the 3D model rendering to complete.
The bare minimum we recommend even for non-AutoCAD software is a seventh-gen Intel Core i5 processor.
Unless you are using a 2020 Apple MacBook (which makes use of the Apple M1 processor), you are going to need at least 16 GB of RAM. 3D model rendering is a task that drains a lot of memory and chances are that even with 16 Gigs of RAM, you probably won’t be able to do much while the rendering process is going on.
However, getting a laptop with 32 (or 64 GB) RAM would do wonders – speeding up the rendering process, as well as ensuring that you can multitask at the same time, though we don’t really recommend multitasking while rendering is going on.
However, the larger the RAM is, the better it would assist your processor in the rendering process. Using a Windows laptop with 8GB RAM might slow down or even crash your PC while using CAD programs.
So all in all, a lawyer’s laptop isn’t required to be backed by 16GB RAM as 8GB RAM laptop is more than sufficient looking at their usage frequency and hence they should pick their laptop based on their usage as well.
One of the most important things that you need to keep in mind while using CAD and 3D modeling software is that you need a really good display.
Having a poor-quality display just won’t do the task because a lot of 3D modeling actually involves setting up the right kind of lighting because 3D is all about the way light bounces off an object.
Hence, you need to get all the angles and lighting right – for which you will need a very good quality display.
This is why Apple’s MacBook devices with their Retina display and gaming laptops, which throw a splash of colors at your screen, are preferred by CAD professionals. The best laptop for CAD should ideally feature a big and bright display, which shows all the colors right.
We also recommend getting a laptop with a slightly wider display, about 15.6 inches should be good enough for most users.
Other than the CPU and the RAM, the third most important component of laptops for CAD should be the Graphic Processor. You need to have a top-end GPU to get the best performance. This is because a lot of 3D model rendering work actually happens via the GPU.
The graphics card needs to be top-notch, and this is something that you shouldn’t really compromise with. The larger the dedicated RAM on your GPU, the better it will be.
All the laptops on our list feature powerful NVidia GPUs, with the Nvidia RTX series being the most powerful of the lot.
So, It is best advised to go for laptops that have a proper GPU and not with laptops that offer integrated graphics. These kinds of laptops are probably suitable for 2D designing for web-based tools such as FreeCAD.
You need a minimum of 10GB of storage space to run AutoCAD. However, having just 10 GB of space won’t really do the job. You need large storage space because CAD files, particularly 3D renders and models take up quite a bit of space. You need at least 256 GB of storage space if you’re a regular user of CAD programs.
We also suggest opting for SSD storage instead of regular HDD storage because it can help speed up your boot-up process and also there’s a lesser risk of data corruption here, keeping all your models safe. Getting as much storage space as possible is always recommended.
- Heat Dissipation
Working with 3D modeling and 3D model rendering actually requires quite a bit of processing power from the CPU as well as the GPU fronts. Whenever processing power is utilized, heat is generated.
In some cases, the system might emit more heat, and in other cases, the heat emission is lower. Getting a laptop with the latest generation Intel CPUs ensures that they emit as little heat as possible.
Besides that, we also recommend looking for laptops that have a good heat dissipation system. These include fans, vents, and heat pipes, which make sure that heat does not remain trapped inside your laptop.
If the heat remains trapped inside the laptop and has no space to exit it, it can lead to major damage, as well as fire hazards. Hence, you need to get hold of a laptop with decent heat dissipation mechanics.
However, one thing that you might still want to keep in mind is that while having a good heat dissipation system is a good thing for a laptop for 3D modeling, one must also keep in mind that fans can be quite noisy and they may create a lot of irritation to some people who aren’t used to the noise.
Now, this is a controversial subject. You don’t really need a long-lasting battery capacity in order to run CAD programs. You can always plug in your laptop to the charging port and run AutoCAD, or any other software of your choice and you’ll never have to worry about the battery.
However, the point of this article is to not showcase laptops for CAD. The point here is to showcase the best laptops for CAD – and the best laptops all have a good battery power!
If you opt for a gaming laptop, you are likely to get anywhere between three and a half to five hours of battery, as is the industry standard for gaming laptops.
However, a non-gaming laptop should ideally give you about 8 to 10 hours of batterylife. Some, such as the MacBook Air can even go up to as high as 18 hours of battery capacity. However, as long as you’re plugged into a power source, battery is technically irrelevant.
- Cost, Warranty, and Delivery
Last but not least, always check the length of the warranty period that you are getting. Most laptops these days tend to come with about a year or two of warranty.
Try and aim for the maximum possible extent. Other than that, always set a budget before you purchase a laptop because you might end up spending way more than what you had initially planned.
Lastly, when it comes to delivery, you don’t really have to worry too much as Amazon usually sends products on time – and the returns are pretty easy too. However, if you’re buying from another website, particularly if it’s a new website, make sure to check for reviews to ensure it’s not a scam.
Frequently Asked Questions about CAD Laptops
Here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about CAD laptops that we get from our readers. We have put all of these questions and answers under this FAQs section, which will ensure that you get a three-sixty-degree view of these laptops.
1. Which are some of good laptops for AutoCAD software?
It is hard to identify a single laptop as being the ‘best laptop for AutoCAD’, but if one were to choose from this list that we have shared above, we’d probably consider Acer’s Predator Helios 300 and MSI Prestige 15 A10SC-010 as the top two names. If you’re planning on using one for the macOS ecosystem, then there’s obviously the 2020 MacBook Air that you can buy.
However, now that we’ve told you our top 3, we also need to tell you that there is no such formula to decide which is the ‘best laptop’ for anything. It is actually something that depends on a case-to-case basis. If you are a 2D CAD user, the best laptop for your needs may be running an i5 processor, but if you are a 3D CAD user, you need something that is more powerful than that. Do make it a point to go through our buyer’s guide to get a better idea about which laptop will suit your needs better.
2. Intel Core i7 10750h vs Intel Core i7 9750h: which is the better processor for CAD 3D Modeling?
The simple answer is, Intel Core i7 10750h is better than Intel Core i7 9750h, just because of the fact that it is a new-generation processor (10th gen vs 9th gen). However, the difference between the two isn’t really major. Unless you’re someone who really, really, really is into circuits and chip design, you won’t ever even feel the difference in terms of performance. However, newer is indeed better – and hence, we recommend the 10th generation Intel Core i7 10750h over the 9th generation Intel core i7 9750h.
3. What are the minimum specs required to run AutoCAD?
Here, we consider the latest version of AutoCAD (AutoCAD 2022).
You need to meet the following minimum requirements:
- 2.5–2.9 GHz processor
- 8GB RAM (4GB in case of macOS)
- 1920 x 1080 display
- 1 GB GPU with 29 GB/s Bandwidth and DirectX 11 compliant
- 10GB storage space
All the laptops we have shared on our list above comply with these minimum requirements so you get a good experience while working on AutoCAD (or other CAD tools).
4. Where to buy laptops for CAD?
The best place to buy a laptop, in our opinion is on Amazon. You get amazing discounts, and more importantly, an easy return policy. Returning a laptop to a store or a mall might be a complex task and sometimes there are no-return policies that are enforced. However, with Amazon, there is no such problem. Other than that, you can always check out multi-brand stores and standalone shops selling computers to buy them too.
Computer-Aided Design, or CAD, is an important technical aspect of the modern-day designing process. Today, there’s absolutely no professional who will construct anything without a proper CAD model and without spending hours analyzing the design to ensure that there are no design flaws. While this is true for regular architecture, it is even more important for public architecture such as bridges and other similar infrastructural elements.
With 3D printing, the use of CAD programs has increased even more. 3D printers require you to have a 3D model before you can print it. While in some cases 3D model rendering could be done with simpler designs, such as those used by children or students, when it comes to professionals printing 3D models of tools, jewelry, or prosthetic limbs, this becomes even more important and has to be done in a very precise manner.
Hence, it is important that anyone who works in design, engineering, or architecture has a laptop that can support all the latest CAD software. With this list, we hope that we have managed to help you choose the right ones. While there are hundreds of options out there for these laptops, we have prepared a list of the 10 best laptops for CAD that you can buy off Amazon and start using right away. If there are any other laptops that you want to be reviewed, or if there’s one that you are using and you want us to add to the list, feel free to send us a mail or let us know in the comments below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!