The Best Laptop for AutoCAD and Other 3D Modeling Work

Best Laptop for AutoCAD

Whether it’s AutoCAD, 3D Max, Revit, Adobe 3D modeling or Solidworks. The laptop you choose requires high-end specifications. There’s a ton of great portable PCs out there all vying for your attention. But which machine offers the most bang for your buck and can help you get the job done efficiently and effectively? The best laptop for AutoCAD, of course! In this guide we’ll help you answer your most burning questions and show you our top 5 favorite laptops for AutoCAD. We’ll also let you in on the secrets to choosing the very best. Sound good? Let’s get started.

IN A HURRY?  HERE’S OUR TOP PICKS…

RAMCPUGraphics
1.Asus Chromebook C20216GBIntel Quad-Core i7-8705GDedicated AMD Mad Radeon RX Vega M GL / 4GB vRAMCheck
2.Dell Precision M554016GBIntel Hexa-Core i7-9850Dedicated NVIDIA Quadro T2000 / 4GB vRAMCheck
3.Lenovo ThinkPad P7316GB Intel OptaneIntel Hexa-Core i7-9750H Dedicated NVIDIA Quadro P620 / 2GB vRAM Check
4.Razer Blade 1516GBIntel Hexa-Core i7-10750H Dedicated NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 / 6GB vRAMCheck
5.Lenovo ThinkPad P5332GBIntel Hexa-Core i7-9750H Dedicated NVIDIA Quadro T1000 / 4GB vRAMCheck

Best Laptop for AutoCAD Review

1. Acer Aspire 7

Acer Aspire 7 Laptop, 15.6" Full HD, 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8705G, AMD Radeon RX Vega M GL, 16GB DDR4, 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD, A715-73G-75BW
  • 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8705G 4-Core Processor (Up to 4. 1GHz)
  • Mad Radeon RX Vega M GL with 4 GB of second generation high bandwidth Memory (HBM2)
  • 15. 6" Full HD (1920 x 1080) widescreen LED-backlit IPS display
  • 16GB DDR4 Onboard Memory & 512GB PC NV Me SSD
  • 802. 11AC Wi-Fi | Backlit keyboard | USB 3. 1 Type C Gen 1 port | fingerprint reader | Windows 10 Home

Last update on 2021-11-16 at 17:16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The beefier version of the Aspire 5 is a solid choice for AutoCAD.  The Acer Aspire 7 is our top choice for being a laptop built for getting things done.

BUILD:  It’s not the slickest looking machine around.  But with its metal chassis mixed with a plastic lid and base, it looks and feels pricier than it is.  And even as big as it is, it’s still a travel-friendly monster. 

DISPLAY:  The 15.6-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) display is LED-backlit with IPS for wide viewing angles.  You’ll find the colors and contrast pleasing to look at, but it’s not especially bright.

SPECS:  This is the A715-73G-75BW configuration which comes with an 8th generation Whisky Lake Intel Quad-Core i7-8705G CPU, 16GB DDR4 RAM, 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD and dedicated AMD Mad Radeon RX Vega M GL graphics with 4GB of vRAM.

KEYBOARD:  The backlit keyboard feels soft to use with a pleasant pop on re-bound.  The precision touchpad is on the soft side too with smooth and responsive performance.  And off to the right under the keys is a fingerprint reader for secure login.

PORTS:  When it comes to I/O ports, you get one USB 3.1 Type C Gen 1 port, two USB Type-A ports, a USB 2.0 port, HDMI, Ethernet, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

BATTERY LIFE:  With all this system has going for it when it comes to power and performance.  You should expect a battery runtime of around 6-hours before you’ll need to plug into a power outlet.

Pros:

  • matte IPS display
  • NVMe SSD
  • backlit keyboard

Cons:

  • poorly positioned power jack
  • dark display

2. Dell Precision M5540

Dell Precision 5540 Mobile Workstation - 15.6" Ultrasharp UHD (3840 x 2160) IGZO4 Touch Display - 2.6Ghz Intel Core i7-9850H 6 Core - 16GB - 512GB SSD - Quadro T2000 4GB GDDR5 - Win10 pro
  • Dell 15.6" Precision 5540 Mobile Workstation - Platinum Silver
  • 15.6 inch Ultrasharp UHD (3840 x 2160) IGZO4 100% Adobe Touch Display, HD Camera
  • 16GB, 2X8G, DDR4 2666MHz - M.2 512GB PCIe NVMe Class 40 Solid State Drive
  • Intel (R) Core (TM) Processor i7-9850H,(6 Core, 12M Cache, 2 .60GHz up to 4.6GHz Turbo, 45W , vPro)
  • Nvidia Quadro T2000 w/4GB GDDR 5 - WINDOWS 10 PRO

Last update on 2021-11-16 at 18:47 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Dell Precision M5540 is one of the best workstations on the market.  And if you’re a fan of the XPS line, you’re going to love the re-design.

BUILD:  Meet the workhorse version of the Dell XPS 15.  If you want a super laptop with less game-ry aesthetics than the competition, this is it.  And the classy aluminum chassis is MIL-STD 810G tested.

DISPLAY:  Everything looks incredibly vivid and bright on the 15.6-inch IGZO4 UHD (3840 x 2160) touchscreen (but we’ll share why we don’t recommend this screen type later).  For security you get an IR camera with Windows Hello, a TPM 2.0 security chip and vPro for remote management.

SPECS:  Workstation-level components consist of a 9th generation Intel Hexa-Core i7-9850 CPU, 16GB DDR4 RAM, 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD and dedicated NVIDIA Quadro T2000 graphics with 4GB GDDR5 vRAM.  And this isn’t even the most powerful version.

KEYBOARD:  The black carbon fiber deck houses a small keyboard that feels relatively comfortable to use with a good amount of backlighting.  But no number pad?  The Clickpad style touchpad is decent with Windows 10 Precision drivers and a nice click.

PORTS:  There’s as many ports as the XPS 15, but a workstation needs more.  You get two USB 3.1 ports, one Thunderbolt 3 port, an SD card slot, an HDMI 2.0 port and headphone jack.

BATTERY LIFE:  All this power is going to take a chunk out of battery performance – You should expect around 5-hours of endurance un-plugged.

Pros:

  • killer performance and graphics
  • slim, compact profile
  • excellent security features

Cons:

  • lackluster battery life

3. Lenovo ThinkPad P73

Lenovo ThinkPad P73 Workstation Laptop (Intel i7-9750H 6-Core, 32GB RAM, 16GB Intel Optane + 2TB SATA SSD, Quadro P620, 17.3" Full HD (1920x1080), Fingerprint, Win 10 Pro) with USB3.0 Hub
  • Intel Core i7-9750H 2.60GHz Processor (9th Gen, upto 4.50 GHz, 12 MB SmartCache, 6-Cores) ; 32GB DDR4 SODIMM RAM
  • NVIDIA Quadro P620 Integrated Graphics
  • 17.3" Full HD (1920x1080) Display; Bluetooth 5.0, Ethernet, 720p HD Webcam, Fingerprint, Backlit Keyboard, Black Color
  • 16GB Intel Optane + 2TB SATA SSD; 3xUSB3.1, 1xHDMI, 1xThunderbolt, 1xType-C USB, SD Reader, 3.5mm Combo Jack., Windows 10 Pro-64, 6-Cell 99 WHr Battery, 1 Year Manufacturer warranty from GreatPriceTech (Professionally upgraded by GreatPriceTech)
  • Includes Portable USB 3.0 Data Hub

Last update on 2021-11-16 at 18:47 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Lenovo ThinkPad P73 stands for the highest level of performance.  As such, it’s a serious alternative to the desktop workstation.  Here’s why…

BUILD:  As a purpose-built laptop designed to handle resource heavy software, it wears MIL-SPEC 810G credentials along with ISV software certifications.  So, the fact that it’s the heaviest laptop on the list at 7.5-pounds is no surprise.

DISPLAY:  Workstation laptops with a 15.6-inch display tend to be the trend.  But the 17.3-inch display offers more viewing space.  It’s also bright and colorful with a Full HD resolution backed by IPS technology.

SPECS:  Under the hood is a Coffee Lake Intel Hexa-Core i7-9750H CPU, 16GB Intel Optane RAM, 2TB SATA SSD, and dedicated NVIDIA Quadro P620 graphics.  It’s by no means the most powerful configuration you can get.  But the entry-level workstation components will get the job done.

KEYBOARD:  The backlit keyboard is fantastic to use as nearly all Lenovo keyboards are with adequate travel and a satisfying snap.  If you’re a cursor jockey, you’ll enjoy using the comfortable touchpad and the exclusive TrackPoint controller nestled between the G, H and B keys.  There’s even a fingerprint reader for secure logins.

PORTS:  Connectivity options include three USB 3.1 ports, one Thunderbolt port, one USB Type-C port, HDMI, Ethernet, SD card reader, a portable USB 3.0 data hub, audio/mic jack, and Bluetooth 5.

BATTERY LIFE: The internal 6-cell 99WHr battery is bigger than the ones in many workstation laptops; you can expect a decent runtime of around 7-hours.

Pros:

  • extensive port selection
  • robust chassis
  • upgradable

Cons:

  • gets hot under load

4. Razer Blade 15 “Base Edition”

Razer Blade 15 Base Gaming Laptop 2020: Intel Core i7-10750H 6-Core, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060, 15.6" FHD 1080p 144Hz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, CNC Aluminum, Chroma RGB Lighting, Thunderbolt 3, Black
  • More power: The 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10750H processor provides the ultimate level of performance with up to 5.0 GHz max turbo and 6 cores.
  • Ray-tracing: The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 is powered by the NVIDIA Turing GPU architecture and brings cinematic-quality rendering to the most visually intense games.
  • More frames: Incredible performance paired with the fast 144Hz 15. 6" full HD thin bezel display helps edge out the win.
  • Thin and compact: The CNC aluminum unibody frame houses incredible performance in the most compact footprint possible, while remaining remarkably durable and just 0.78" thin.
  • Ready to connect: Fully loaded with Wi-Fi 6, Gigabit Ethernet, Thunderbolt 3, USB type-A and type-C ports, and HDMI, for a desktop-class experience

Last update on 2021-11-16 at 18:47 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Looking for a highly portable workstation you can use for AutoCAD?  There are a few reasons why the Razer Blade 15 is often imitated.

BUILD:  One of the laptop’s greatest accomplishments is toning down the overtly gamer design clichés for a CNC aluminum chassis focused on straight lines and minimal chrome.  This is the “Base Edition” so the body is a little thicker than the “Advanced Edition”.

DISPLAY:  Since this is the “Base Edition” the refresh rate on the 15.6-inch FHD screen maxes out at 144Hz. There’s an IR camera above the top bezel for Windows Hell facial authentication.

SPECS:  This model features a 10th Gen Intel Hexa-Core i7-10750H CPU which represents a meaningful leap in performance compared to the previous processor.  It lags the Dell XPS 15 and 17, but you also get 16GB RAM, a 512GB SSD and a healthy NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card.

KEYBOARD:  The Chroma RGB laden keyboard is backlit per key in spectacular Razor fashion.  It has a more conventional layout that makes the typing experience enjoyable.  The glass Clickpad is large, responsive and quiet so you don’t disturb your neighbors at work. 

PORTS:  The ports are all here including three USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports, one USB Type-C port, Thunderbolt 3, a full-size SD card slot, Ethernet, HDMI, WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1.

BATTERY LIFE:  The 97Whr battery will net you around 5-hours of work time un-plugged, and less than that for the kind of work you’ll be doing.

Pros:

  • sleek design
  • comfortable keyboard and touchpad
  • excellent performance components

Cons:

  • runs hot under load

5. Lenovo ThinkPad P53

Last update on 2021-11-16 at 19:46 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Lenovo ThinkPad P53 obliterates big workflows like a tank – Inside is a performance package that improves on the previous P52.

BUILD:  Make no mistake, this is a chunky mobile workstation.  The chassis passes a dozen MIL-STD tests for durability, so there’s almost no flex in the keyboard deck. 

DISPLAY:  The bezel is rather thick around the 15.6-inc Full HD screen.  It’s bright with a matte finish to help you work in well-lit areas.  An there’s a face recognition camera for secure login.

SPECS:  The laptop is ISV certified with a configuration that includes a stout 9th gen Intel Hexa-Core i7-9750H CPU, 32GB RAM, 1TB SATA SSD, and entry-level NVIDIA Quadro T1000 graphics.  With the kind of software you’ll be using, expect some thermal throttling.

KEYBOARD:  The backlit keyboard is a Lenovo, so it has an exemplary typing feel with a dedicated numeric keypad.  The touchpad is smooth with a set of soft, silent buttons above and below it.  And there’s a fingerprint reader providing an alternative means of login into your laptop.

PORTS:  You won’t be wanting for ports either with two USB 3.1 ports, two Thunderbolt ports, one USB Type-C port, HDMI, an SD card reader, a SIM tray for optional mobile broadband, an audio/mic jack, Wifi 6 and Bluetooth 5.

BATTERY LIFE:  You don’t want to be caught without the AC adapter.  The 2-cell 90WHr battery only has a runtime of about 4-hours.  But it’s a welcome trade-off for such a capable machine.

Pros:

  • plenty of ISV certifications
  • sky high memory and storage ceilings
  • famous ThinkPad keyboard
  • loaded to the gills with ports

Cons:

  • slow SATA hard drive
  • no removable battery
  • short battery life
Laptop
Our Top Choice
Acer Aspire 7 Laptop, 15.6" Full HD, 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8705G, AMD Radeon RX Vega M GL, 16GB DDR4, 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD, A715-73G-75BW
Dell Precision 5540 Mobile Workstation - 15.6" Ultrasharp UHD (3840 x 2160) IGZO4 Touch Display - 2.6Ghz Intel Core i7-9850H 6 Core - 16GB - 512GB SSD - Quadro T2000 4GB GDDR5 - Win10 pro
Lenovo ThinkPad P73 Workstation Laptop (Intel i7-9750H 6-Core, 32GB RAM, 16GB Intel Optane + 2TB SATA SSD, Quadro P620, 17.3" Full HD (1920x1080), Fingerprint, Win 10 Pro) with USB3.0 Hub
Specs
Acer Aspire 7 Laptop, 15.6" Full HD, 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8705G, AMD Radeon RX Vega M GL, 16GB DDR4, 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD, A715-73G-75BW
Dell Precision 5540 Mobile Workstation - 15.6" Ultrasharp UHD (3840 x 2160) IGZO4 Touch Display - 2.6Ghz Intel Core i7-9850H 6 Core - 16GB - 512GB SSD - Quadro T2000 4GB GDDR5 - Win10 pro
Lenovo ThinkPad P73 Workstation Laptop (Intel i7-9750H 6-Core, 32GB RAM, 16GB Intel Optane + 2TB SATA SSD, Quadro P620, 17.3" Full HD (1920x1080), Fingerprint, Win 10 Pro) with USB3.0 Hub
Rating
-
-
Our Top Choice
Laptop
Acer Aspire 7 Laptop, 15.6" Full HD, 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8705G, AMD Radeon RX Vega M GL, 16GB DDR4, 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD, A715-73G-75BW
Specs
Acer Aspire 7 Laptop, 15.6" Full HD, 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8705G, AMD Radeon RX Vega M GL, 16GB DDR4, 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD, A715-73G-75BW
Rating
Customer Reviews
Laptop
Dell Precision 5540 Mobile Workstation - 15.6" Ultrasharp UHD (3840 x 2160) IGZO4 Touch Display - 2.6Ghz Intel Core i7-9850H 6 Core - 16GB - 512GB SSD - Quadro T2000 4GB GDDR5 - Win10 pro
Specs
Dell Precision 5540 Mobile Workstation - 15.6" Ultrasharp UHD (3840 x 2160) IGZO4 Touch Display - 2.6Ghz Intel Core i7-9850H 6 Core - 16GB - 512GB SSD - Quadro T2000 4GB GDDR5 - Win10 pro
Rating
-
Customer Reviews
Laptop
Lenovo ThinkPad P73 Workstation Laptop (Intel i7-9750H 6-Core, 32GB RAM, 16GB Intel Optane + 2TB SATA SSD, Quadro P620, 17.3" Full HD (1920x1080), Fingerprint, Win 10 Pro) with USB3.0 Hub
Specs
Lenovo ThinkPad P73 Workstation Laptop (Intel i7-9750H 6-Core, 32GB RAM, 16GB Intel Optane + 2TB SATA SSD, Quadro P620, 17.3" Full HD (1920x1080), Fingerprint, Win 10 Pro) with USB3.0 Hub
Rating
-
Customer Reviews

Last update on 2021-11-16 at 17:16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Best Laptop for AutoCAD Buyer’s Guide

CAD software is increasingly demanding and completing AutoCAD tasks is resource intensive.  So, the laptop you choose needs to be optimized to get the best performance.  Keep the following in mind and you’re sure to find a suitable laptop for the kind of work you do.

CPU

CAD consumes a lot of processing power.  3D modeling and drafting software are mostly single threaded activities.  But Autodesk is always developing their source code to enable multi-threaded support for more features.  So, if you work with Vray, Maya or Blender you want to prioritize laptops that offer higher a clock speed and multiple cores.

A quad-core or hexa-core laptop that offers hyperthreading will be sufficient for all light to medium CAD workflow.  Simulation software like Ansys and rendering software like Keyshot will benefit from multiple cores.  If your budget is really tight, you might be able to get away with a core i5 CPU or AMD equivalent. 

RAM

CAD also consumes a lot of memory.  The amount of memory you have will dictate the number and size of concurrent programs and datasets you can work with at one time.  How much RAM you can get for your laptop depends on your budget.

Regardless of budget, 8GB should be your ABSOLUTE minimum.  You’ll want 16GB of RAM for 3D CAD work.  More will allow you to work with bigger datasets.  The more memory you have the better.  But only up to a point.  More RAM won’t make the system run any faster.  But it gives you more headroom to work without virtual memory taking over and slowing things down.

STORAGE

Generally, there are two types of hard drives, MHD and SSD.  MHDs are clunky, noisy and slow.  And the moving parts makes them horrifically un-reliable.

SSDs have no moving parts and operate on NAND flash memory.  There are two categories of this storage which are classified by the type of communication BUS used:  SATA and PCIe.  SATA SSDs can read/write at a rate of 600mb/s.  PCIe SSDs read/write at over 2500mb/s.  Take your pick.  But we recommend going for laptops that offer any SSD for CAD work.

GRAPHICS

The demand of CAD work on the GPU is entirely dependent on the program you’re using.  For instance, Autodesk CAD applications rely heavily on the CPU. 

For most CAD applications the graphics card is mostly used for storing texture information in vRAM.  Most Autodesk CAD applications support gaming-specific NVIDIA GeForce and AMD Radeon GPUs and professional-grade NVIDIA Quadro and AMD Radeon Pro WX/FirePro graphics cards.

There are many factors to consider for choosing the best GPU.  But in general, if you’re a professional go with a professional card.  And even if you’re a home user, you’ll still want at least 4GB of vRAM.

DISPLAY SIZE

While this isn’t quite a go-big-or-go-home scenario, working on a laptop with a big display won’t only be a breath-taking experience.  But a wide screen allows for incredible multi-tasking along with an insane amount of space for modeling and drafting.  However, size often dictates weight which is something to be conscious of especially if you’re a frequent commuter.

RESOLUTION

While we’re on the subject, we don’t recommend a 4K resolution.  For one, it’s not a resolution supported by many programs which often results in very messy looking dialogue boxes and tiny un-readable text.  For another, it sucks a lot of power from the CPU and GPU since there’s 4x the pixels to generate and send to the display.  No, Full HD (1920 x 1080) is more than enough.

Best Laptop for AutoCAD Brands

ACER

This is one of the largest manufacturers in the world and their laptops are extremely popular among budget users.  Acer continues to offer one of the best overall selections around, with mainstream and gaming options catering to every budget.  You get Chromebooks that are available from just $150 as well as 2 in 1s.  But they also produce high-end gaming laptops like the afore mentioned Predator series and premium notebooks.  You get what you pay for, and Acer laptops are usually the best value for the money.  Their most popular line is the E series and Aspire notebooks like the amazing Aspire 7.  Support for their notebooks leaves plenty to be desired, though. 

LENOVO

Thanks to some innovative new features and a wide selection of laptops, Lenovo is one of the best laptop brands.  Their most popular line is the ThinkPad.  And while they don’t offer many Chromebooks, their line of 2 in 1s – like the Yoga and Flex series – is TOTALLY worth checking out.  Prices are reflective of their premium laptop brand status.  But their offerings are ideal for all types of users.  Most recognized for business class laptops that offer extreme performance and a super flexible design, this brand has all but perfected graphics, touchpads, keyboard, display and audio quality.  Their Legion series gaming notebooks competes against the Asus ROG and Acer Predator series.

DELL

This is one of the most consistently forward-thinking laptop brands!  Dell has the slimmest notebooks you could possibly want.  The most popular line is Inspiron.  But the XPS line is a one of the best laptops to buy and gets the notoriety of doing everything surprisingly well with the latest screen resolutions, connections, premium materials, all topped-off with a solid battery life.  The company’s innovation in Ultrabooks yields a wonderful army of ultraportable laptops with powerful specs.  You can even find 2 in 1s and Chromebooks under this moniker with loads of style and hardware.  The after sale and technical support is worthy of so much praise. 

RAZER

Due to their high-performance hardware, it’s likely not surprising that a gaming laptop brand would make the top 10 of many laptop lists.  Razer laptops come with the best graphics on some of the best displays.  The brand’s most popular line is the Blade with the Stealth delivering incredible performance in a sleek design.  Due to a focus on power and performance, Razer is considered one of the top laptop brands in the world.  And perhaps due to this power and performance, they don’t offer any Chromebook or 2-in-1 designs. 

Acer Aspire 7 Laptop, 15.6" Full HD, 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8705G, AMD Radeon RX Vega M GL, 16GB DDR4, 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD, A715-73G-75BW
  • 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8705G 4-Core Processor (Up to 4. 1GHz)
  • Mad Radeon RX Vega M GL with 4 GB of second generation high bandwidth Memory (HBM2)
  • 15. 6" Full HD (1920 x 1080) widescreen LED-backlit IPS display
  • 16GB DDR4 Onboard Memory & 512GB PC NV Me SSD
  • 802. 11AC Wi-Fi | Backlit keyboard | USB 3. 1 Type C Gen 1 port | fingerprint reader | Windows 10 Home

Last update on 2021-11-16 at 17:16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Wrap Up

It used to be that you could get away with doing this kind of work on your desktop in the office.  But what about when it comes time to show it to a client in person?  A laptop makes working on location possible.  Our top choice is the Acer Aspire 7.  It’s a great value, especially if you’re on a tight budget.  But whatever system you choose needs to be powerful.  The Dell Precision M5540 is a more robust MIL-Spec machine that makes our number two choice. And the Lenovo ThinkPad P73 is another MIL-Speced workstation that’s also ISV certified.