To run a program like Autodesk Revit, you need a powerful machine that can keep up with its demands. However, Revit also has some unusual aspects which affect your hardware choices. In light of that, we’ve analyzed the current market situation and found the best laptop for Revit.
Revit is Autodesk’s high-end software for building information modeling. Architects, engineers, and other professionals in the AEC industries nowadays use it to create precise 3D models and always stay up to date on construction projects. As Revit is designed to be an all-encompassing solution that contains all the features one might need, it’s no wonder that running the program requires the most advanced of machines.
Before we reveal the best laptop for Revit, there are a few things you should know.
Important Notes Before Buying a Laptop
Students and those who work on small projects might be able to get by with an older laptop. Because Revit is demanding on hardware, and as a result of time pressures in a professional context, users will benefit from higher-end computers.
Revit requires Windows 10 (64 bit). We highly recommend Windows Professional, although gaming laptops are likely to have Windows Home preinstalled. If you are using OS X, you will need to run it in Boot Camp, or VM software (such as Parallels). We recommend the following for other hardware.
The central processing unit (CPU) is a key component with Revit. However, unlike many applications, few functions in Revit utilize multi-threading. As a result, you should focus primarily on clock speed rather than the number of cores.
This can be a challenge in laptops, which usually emphasize energy efficiency and cooling overclock speed. AMD has good options with the Ryzen Threadripper, Ryzen 9 and Ryzen 5 series. For Intel chips, 11th generation or “Tiger Lake” chips look promising, as they are specifically designed with higher clock speeds and fewer cores. As they are just starting to become available, most laptops will currently have 10th generation chips. You can determine the generation by the digits after “i7” or “i5”, e.g. the Core i7-1065G7 is 10th generation, and Core i7-1185G7 is 11th generation.
Because of this emphasis on clock speeds, some gaming laptops may be a good fit for Revit.
Revit is often highly demanding in terms of RAM, and this can pose another challenge for laptop users. We recommend 32GB or 64GB of RAM, with 16 GB being the minimum. In some cases, you may want to install additional RAM after purchase.
Graphics Card and Display
Revit does not rely heavily on graphics processing, thus the graphics card options are less important. This means that most graphics cards work well, including ones used for gaming. If you plan to use other programs that rely heavily on graphics processing, you should use higher-end graphics cards from NVIDIA or AMD.
For best performance, we recommend Solid State drives (SSD), with a minimum of 512 GB of space. SATA drives can also work, but will not perform as well.
In addition to these general principles, you can objectively test the performance of a laptop by running RFO Benchmark. This is an application that uses a script to run a series of tests (such as opening and closing a specific test model or creating sections), which is created and maintained by Revit Forum. You can test your own computers, or check some of the threads for benchmarks on laptops that you’re considering. Please note that the forums can get a bit wonky, and some users have made esoteric modifications to their computers to eke out a slightly better result.
Revit Forum: RFO Benchmark
Top Selections of Laptops for Revit
If you require an advanced machine that can run demanding programs like Revit but also want the option of portability, one of these laptops might be a good choice for you.
Here are our contenders for the title of the best laptop for Revit:
Lenovo ThinkPad P17
The ThinkPad P-series laptops could all easily be featured here, but we chose P17 in particular due to its notable size (17″). Designers, creators, engineers, and others will benefit from the large screen.
As is the case with most Lenovo laptops, the ThinkPad P17 is customizable, including Intel CPUs such as the i5, i7, i9, and even Xeon processors. You can order it with an FHD or UHD display as well. For most Revit power users who need portability, I recommend a 10th Gen i7 CPU, 32 GB of RAM, and a 500GB SSD.
- Great value for the price
- Useful function keys
- Anti-glare display
- Great battery life
- The bulkiest and heaviest laptop on the list (3.5kg)
Acer Predator Helios 300
With the 10th gen 5.0GHz turbo i7 Hexa-core processor, this powerful laptop is hard to beat. It’s a significant improvement over the Acer Aspire E. The Predator Helios 300 is a gaming laptop, but its powerful specs and solid price tag can attract users of any kind, which is apparent by its Amazon ratings.
Furthermore, it has a 240Hz IPS panel display, and is available with either a 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch full HD IPS panel, along with 32GB of DDR4 RAM, and up to 2 TB of SSD storage.
- Good price for the specifications
- Plenty of storage
- Solid cooling system
- Battery life is not best-in-class (around 6 hours)
If you don’t mind carrying a slightly larger laptop bag than usual, but do not want something as heavy as a full desktop replacement, the Asus Tuf’s impressive 17.3 inches of screen real estate will do wonders for your productivity.
The models with an Intel i7-8750H CPU come with up to 32GB of DDR4 memory, a 256GB SSD, and a 1TB hard drive. As far as the graphics card is concerned, the Asus Tuf uses the NVIDIA GTX 1060 with 8GB of GDDR5 VRAM. This card was the turning point for NVIDIA GPUs, having twice the performance of the GTX 960m, which it replaced.
For connectivity, you have a headphone/mic combo jack, two full-size USB-A ports, an Ethernet jack, and a full-size HDMI out. As it was designed for gamers, you get some extra features like a 144 Hz refresh rate IPS display and an RGB backlit keyboard. Despite its gaming background, the Asus Tuf could be considered the best laptop for Revit.
- Large display
- Great value for the price
- High refresh rate
- Excellent thermal performance
- Speakers are subpar
- A bit bulky
- Short battery life
Dell Inspiron 15 7000
This recent addition to Dell’s Inspiron series has shown great promise thus far. Aside from the excellent CPU (10th gen i7, 6-cores), graphics (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650), and 1TB of NVMe PCIe SSD storage, it has adaptive thermals that maintain its temperature at all times. According to Dell, the Inspiron 15 7000 won’t lag, no matter if it’s -40° or 65°C.
What’s more, it seems as though this new Inspiron was designed for those long hours working from home, as it features a lift-hinge that tilts the keyboard for optimal typing and a 9.5% larger touchpad. It also has an ExpressCharge option that allows you to reach from 0 to 80% battery in just one hour.
Although Dell XPS 15 has slightly more impressive specs, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 is much more affordable. Besides that, it can still brag about its fast response times, shock resistance, and thermal adaptation. Not only does it allow you to do seamless 3D modeling on the go but also helps you do so comfortably.
- Ergonomic and comfortable design
- Durable and can even withstand extreme temperatures
- Fast charging times
- Finally a bigger touchpad
- Doesn’t have a 4K display option
- Some users complain that the keyboard keys are hardly visible in daylight
MSI WS65 9TM
With a performance boost of 45% compared to its i7 predecessor, the MSI WS65 Mobile Workstation is one to watch. Because it utilizes the 9th gen Intel Core i9 eight-core processor and outstanding NVIDIA Quadro RTX 16GB graphics, it allows for incredibly fast and crisp rendering.
This MSI workstation features a Creator Center software that allows you to fine-tune the settings of ISV apps like Revit, AutoCAD, Sketchup, Solid Works, etc. Furthermore, the stunning 15.6-inch 4K ultra HD display with high contrast rates makes working on it a true delight. The design is slender and modern, with thin bezels to ensure a more optimal body-to-screen ratio.
Although it is at a higher price point, it may be a good option for power users or those who intend to use the laptop for a long period of time.
- High-performance, ideal for multitasking
- 4K ultra HD display
- Creator Center software
- Solid battery life
- Military-durable chassis
- By far the most expensive on the list
Asus ZenBook Pro 15
Although we love the Zenbook Duo and its innovative touchscreen design, we opted for the more modest and classic version — the Pro 15. With the option of Intel Core i7-7700HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050, or GTX 1050Ti GDDR5, this laptop can handle all the multitasking involved with BIM.
However, what makes it an excellent laptop for Revit is its 15.6-inch glossy or matte RHD or UHD display with a screen-to-body ratio of 83%. According to Asus, they managed to cram 282 pixels in every inch of the screen to achieve maximum sharpness in their NanoEdge UHD display.
The thin, 18.9mm thin design with subtle bezels and rounded corners looks quite sleek and elegant. Also, the dual-fan cooling system with 3 heat pipes is outstanding, keeping the device cool even when it’s running CPU-hogging programs like Revit.
- Great cooling system
- Stunning NanoEdge UHD 4K display
- Military-grade durability
- Elegant and thin design
- Battery life is below average
- Some users consider the fans to be noisy
Microsoft Surface Book 3
If you need to work on Revit while traveling or in the field, the Surface Book 3 may be a good option.
It is available in 13.5” and 15” displays and has a long battery life (17 hours). The 3rd generation Surface Book has upgraded the processor from an 8th generation to a 10th generation quad-core processor. It also uses the new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 GPU and has the option of 32 GB RAM, 2TB of SSD storage, and Wi-Fi 6.
That makes it significantly faster and therefore more suitable for high-end software like Revit or AutoCAD. What’s more, it’s comfortable and lightweight, which is perfect for those that travel frequently and work on the go.
- Excellent build quality
- Beautiful, crisp IPS display
- Great battery life
- Comfortable keyboard
- Some users claim the touchpad is too small
- On the expensive side
- Lack of Ethernet port
Windows vs. Macs
In terms of hardware and operating system, it all comes down to your personal preference. High-end Apple and PC laptops are well geared to handle the challenges offered by the job.
All of the above computers use Windows 10, and most will include Windows 10 Professional. Windows 10 is arguably more user-friendly as it supports a wide array of software but is exposed to more viruses than Mac. So here’s an option to use Apple OS X.
Apple MacBook Pro
The MacBook Pro supports multiple resolutions, offers four Thunderbolt ports, and a pressure-sensitive trackpad. While Autodesk does offer a version of AutoCAD for Mac OS X and works with BIM 360, Autodesk offers very few applications for the Mac platform.
- 16″ IPS
- Intel i7 7 2.6Ghz
- 16GB DDR4 2666Mhz
- 512GB NVMe SSD
- AMD 4GB GDDR6 Radeon Pro 5300M
- 4.3 lbs
While Revit does not currently have a native Macintosh version, there are still a few options that will allow you to use Revit when working with a Macintosh system:
One option is to use BootCamp, which is the built-in dual boot option; in this case, you set up a separate partition on your Mac and boot into a full Windows environment. Using Bootcamp gives the best performance, but you can’t access your Mac OS environment or programs while it’s running.
The next option is to run Windows 10 using virtualization, such as VMWare Workstation Player or Parallels. Using Parallels runs a virtual machine within the Mac OS, which allows you access to both operating system environments. However, this also means that both operating systems are using the hardware at the same time. If you plan to use virtualization, I recommend considering the higher-end Macbook Pro, which has a 2.3Ghz i9 8-core CPU and configures it with 32gb of RAM.
For design professionals using demanding software on a day-to-day basis, that made for a tough decision — should one opt for a slim model to make trips from the studio to site easier, or a powerful unit to run programs like Revit and 3ds Max, or even Solidworks. Depending on your preferences, many of the laptops listed here offer the best of all worlds when it comes to power, aesthetics, and mobility.
Do you have your own view on which is the best laptop for architects and engineers?
Contact our Microsol Resources Technical Team and email firstname.lastname@example.org.
INDUSTRIES: Architecture, Buildings, Civil Engineering, Civil Infrastructure, Construction, MEP Engineering, Structural Engineering