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Whether you’re a student looking for a new laptop or a professional looking to replace your old laptop, finding the best laptop for interior design is always challenging with so many powerful and interesting options around.
When you have to run applications like AutoCAD, Revit, Illustrator, and similar ones, you want a laptop that comes with robust hardware, and not something cheap and unreliable.
In a hurry?
Here’s our Editor’s choice:
Dell XPS 15
The laptop you choose is probably going to stay with you for the next 5 years. You are going to work on your 3D models and other stuff on this machine, so make sure you choose the right one. No pressure.
We want you to do what you do best, and don’t waste time researching laptops for interior design. That’s why we’ve done all the research for you saving you a ton of time.
Without further ado, here are the best notebooks for interior design for the year 2020.
Best Laptop For Interior Design (Editor’s Choice) – Dell XPS 15
The Dell XPS 15 is our Editor’s Choice for the best laptop for interior design.
This XPS model is a flagship consumer laptop from Dell, and it comes with all the bells and whistles you would want. The most attention-grabbing feature on this laptop is, by far, the 4K display. You will also find several other good stuff on this laptop when we dissect this below.
Let’s talk about the thing that matters the most, the processor. We have an Intel Core i7 9750H processor handling this laptop. This is a 9th gen processor from Intel, and it comes with 6 physical cores and 12 threads. Without a doubt, this is one of the most powerful processors out there in the market.
This Intel chip comes with a base clock frequency of 2.60GHz and a maximum clock frequency of 4.50GHz. The Intel smart cache memory of 12MB will come in handy for sure. The processor gets a CPUMark benchmark score of 11458 which puts this processor on top with several other high-end chips.
The i7 processor not only does well in benchmarks but also translates that performance into real life. Applications like AutoCAD and Revit run fine without any performance issues. Whether you’re modeling, drafting, or rendering, this processor does a fantastic job. Also, remember that this chip here also has to handle a 4K display as well (more on that later).
The RAM we have here is a 16GB DDR4 one. The memory department does well in complementing the processor and helps in getting a smoother overall performance. This memory comes in handy when you are doing stuff like zooming, panning, and other in-applications actions. You will find this RAM useful while making walkthroughs as well.
The storage on the Dell XPS 15 is made of a 512GB SSD. This solid-state drive is, without a doubt, one of the fastest ones we have available. It doesn’t compare with Apple’s SSD, but it does come quite close. The SSD helps in launching applications in a flash, and you get really low loading times.
If you’re going to deal with bigger files, then this solid-state drive will do you a world of good. It can open them quickly, and you can get on with your projects in a flash. The SSD also improves the performance of the laptop wherever possible.
The keyboard and the trackpad we have on the Dell XPS 15 is one of the best. You get excellent key travel, and typing on this keyboard is such a satisfying experience. It is also backlit which should allow you to work on your models even in a dark room. The trackpad is a Windows Precision trackpad and does well when it comes to everyday use. It gives us a smooth surface, and zooming and panning on this trackpad is a real breeze.
Let’s talk about the display. We have a 15.6″ display that comes with a 4K resolution. This is one of the most color-accurate displays out there, and you’ll see what we mean when you start working on the interior design on this laptop. The resolution on the display is awesome, and you will not a single pixel even when viewed from a closer distance.
The picture quality of the display is simply outstanding. You will love to enjoy watching your favorite movies and tv shows on this Dell XPS 15 display. One of the additional benefits here is that you can stream the 4K versions of them if you have the bandwidth for it.
Since this is a 4K display, you will now have more details on the screen than ever before. We can’t tell how significant this is for modeling. You can zoom in to minute details and enjoy them as you work. For some reason, if you find the elements on your screen smaller, you can always scale the resolution to find the right setup for you.
The graphics card we have here is an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU. This is Turing-architecture based GPU, and it slightly faster when compared to the 1050Ti model. The graphics card comes with a dedicated video memory of 4GB of GDDR5 type. This dedicated memory plays an excellent role in rendering as well as modeling in some cases.
With this GPU in place, you will have a smooth and seamless experience during modeling and rendering processes. Even though we are dealing with a UHD display here, the graphics card does well, and also manages to give you the best modeling and rendering experience.
Overall, the Dell XPS 15 is an extraordinary laptop when it comes to modeling and rendering. We have made this our Editor’s choice Windows is the operating system of choice for more people, and it is also a tad more affordable than the MacBook Pro 16. With an amazing processor, gorgeous display, and a powerful GPU, the Dell XPS 15 is the best laptop for interior design.
Best Mac Laptop For Interior Design – MacBook Pro 16
If macOS is your operating system of choice, then the MacBook Pro 16 is the best laptop for you when it comes to interior design.
The MacBook Pro 16 is Apple’s flagship laptop and it comes with the best of everything. It is also Apple’s most expensive laptop so you will be paying a premium for the Apple experience.
The first thing that you will notice is the gorgeous design of this laptop. Being a 16-inch laptop, this is one of the most graceful devices you can see on the laptop market. It comes with a slim profile and weighs around 4.5lbs which is quite portable.
The display is another amazing aspect of this laptop. We have a 16-inch display that comes with Retina resolution and we have more than 5 million pixels crammed into this display giving us an incredible pixel density. The size of the bezels is also greatly reduced giving us a brilliant viewing experience as well as a much smaller footprint for the laptop.
As far as the color output is concerned, this is one of the most color-accurate displays you will get your hands on. The true tone technology gives us near lifelike colors and you will absolutely enjoy your favorite content on this display. The display also comes with support for P3 color gamut which is much more diverse than the sRGB color gamut.
Though this doesn’t concern the laptop’s ability to do modeling and rendering, the speakers on this display are just amazing. These are the best speakers you will ever get on a laptop, period. They can easily fill a mid-sized room with excellent sound, and you can even throw a party with just this MacBook Pro.
The processor that powers the MacBook Pro 16” is an Intel Core i7 processor that comes with six physical cores and 12 threads. This internship is a powerhouse when it comes to raw processing power, and can run pretty much any application without any hiccups.
With a maximum clock speed of 4.7 GHz, you can run both AutoCAD and Revit smoothly while performing other tasks as well. The overall performance of modeling and rendering applications is impressive and gives you solid user experience.
One of the major concerns with this laptop is design is its thermals. The new thermal design comes with much larger impellers and improved fans that have made the cooling of the laptop much more efficient. The resulting gain in cooling capacity allows the MacBook Pro 16 to deliver much more maximum sustained power.
The laptop comes with 16GB of RAM which is more than enough for a fish and multitasking. This memory allows you to zoom, pan, orbit, and do much more while working on your models. One of the main advantages of having 16 gigs of RAM is that you can do all of this without facing any lag at all.
The laptop comes with 512 GB of Apple’s solid-state drive. When it comes to solid-state drives, Apple produces the best on the entire market. They are super fast and can help in improving the performance of the laptop in many ways. This SSD is also a fast one and helps in opening huge files, larger than 100MB, in such a short time.
The Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro 16 gives your contextual menus when you’re working with interior design applications. With the Touch Bar, you get a nice interface that allows you to scrub faster and gives you better options than the regular function keys.
The graphics card we have on the MacBook Pro is an AMD Radeon 5300M. This AMD Radeon graphics card comes with 6 GB of GDDR6 memory. This is one of AMD’s high-end graphics cards, and it compares with the performance of Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti.
When it comes to rendering, the MacBook Pro 16 does a fantastic job. The render speeds are excellent and you do not get any performance issues even when working on complex projects. Most modeling applications do not depend on the GPU, but if your application does then you will have a very satisfying user experience.
Overall, the MacBook Pro 16 is an excellent laptop that comes with robust hardware. When it comes to interior design, the laptop shines in both modeling as well as rendering, making it the best Apple laptop for interior design.
Best Convertible Laptop For Interior Design – Surface Book 2
The best convertible laptop for interior design is Microsoft Surface Book 2.
Surface Book 2 is a 15-inch laptop that comes with excellent hardware and does a pretty good job of handling heavy applications like AutoCAD and Revit.
One of the best features of the Surface Book 2 is its display. We have a 15-inch screen that comes with Pixel Sense resolution. This display comes close to 4K resolution and presents color accurately. You will enjoy viewing your models and designs on this screen, thanks to the excellent contrast ratio.
The processor that powers the Surface Book 2 is an Intel Core i7 processor that comes with a maximum clock frequency of 4.2 GHz. This processor does a pretty good job when it comes to handling modeling as well as rendering. Applications like AutoCAD and Revit run fine without any hiccups.
One of the reasons why you would want to use this laptop is because you could use it also as a tablet. The tablet mode could come in really handy when you’re outside and you want to make a presentation to some of your clients. You can easily detach the keyboard from the laptop, and use the tablet which is super light weighing just around 2lbs.
Surface Book 2 also excels when it comes to battery life. With simple video playback, this laptop can last for about 17 hours which is incredible. Having said that, heavy stuff like modeling, drafting, and rendering can eat up battery life like crazy and you may have to charge your laptop long before you anticipated.
The memory department of the Surface Book 2 comes with 16GB of DDR4 RAM. This Ram is pretty good for running applications for 3D modeling and rendering. This memory allows you to pen and zoom in without bringing any lag into the performance of the laptop.
The graphics performance of the Surface Book 2 is due to the dedicated Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card. this is a pretty good graphics card that comes with a dedicated memory of 6 GB that is of GDDR5 type. The graphics card plays an important role when it comes to handling most of the heavy applications. You will also be able to run most of the games on this laptop, and that’s a definite plus.
The storage on the Surface Book 2 is made up of 512 GB solid-state drive. This is a fast solid-state drive, and it does a pretty good job when it comes to opening even huge files that are more than 100MB in size. The solid-state drive is also spacious which means you can play around without any restrictions.
Overall, Microsoft Surface Book 2 is the best convertible laptop for interior design. The detachable keyboard gives you a whole new level of flexibility that you can use if you’re someone who travels a lot. If you’re looking for a convertible laptop that is perfect for modeling and rendering, this is the one.
Best Budget Laptop For Interior Design – Acer Aspire 5
You can run interior design applications even if you don’t have a high-end laptop with you. Your budget will not restrict you to do the things you love.
If you have a tight budget, then the Acer Aspire 5 is an excellent laptop that enables you to do interior design with the help of your favorite applications. It may not give you the smoothest or the fastest performance, but you will be able to get things done so that you can progress.
The Acer Aspire 5 gives you a 15.6-inch display that has full HD resolution. This display is a pretty good one and delivers colors without much deviation. The picture quality is also neat which means you will enjoy modeling and doing walk-throughs on this laptop.
Being a 15.6” inch laptop, this laptop does carry a bit of bulk when compared to the other laptops on the list. It weighs around 4.4 lbs which are not that bad.
An Intel Core i5 processor powers the Acer Aspire 5 laptop, and it comes with a maximum clock speed of 3.7 GHz which is quite powerful. The processor does a pretty good job when it comes to running both modelings as well as rendering applications. You may find a slight lapse in performance when you’re dealing with heavy projects, but if you are a student, you should have a fine experience.
There are only 8GB of RAM in the memory department. This is not a lot of memory when it comes to modeling and rendering, but you will still be able to run most applications without any issues. You may not be able to do stuff like zooming in and panning at the same ease, but you can do it.
You do not have a dedicated graphics card in the Acer Aspire 5. You have to work with the integrated Intel HD graphics card, and it does a fairly decent job as you would expect.
Overall, the Acer Aspire five is truly a budget laptop and is perfect for students who want to pursue interior design. This is a budget laptop and you get a budget performance with it. Our advice is to use this till you save some money, and upgrade to a better laptop to be the best at interior design.
What To Look For In The Best Laptop For Interior Design?
If you’re still reading this post, we can say that you’re not happy with the option we listed, and that’s okay.
You want to find the right laptop for you by yourself, and you applaud you for that.
Before you go and pick a laptop, we want you to have a cheat sheet that gives you the minimum criteria for your interior design laptop. This should help you in finding one that will be perfect for your everyday needs.
Before we dive, here are some software you might end up using if you’re a student (if you’re a professional, feel free to skip this section).
- Revit Architecture
- Adobe Illustrator
- Adobe Photoshop
- SketchUp Pro
- 3Ds Max
The applications listed above are not simple ones you can run with an entry-level laptop. To get the best of these apps, you need a laptop with compelling performance.
If you’re a student who can’t afford a high-end laptop, then we have listed a budget laptop that would serve you for the time being. For all the heavy work, you could use the computers in your lab. But that’s only a temporary solution.
To come out with flying colors, you need a solid laptop. Once you graduate, you want to continue making unique and brilliant interior designs, and that’s only possible if you have a laptop you’re used to. So make sure you pick a laptop that has impressive specs and reliable performance.
Ideally, you want the biggest display you can on your laptop.
But, going for a 17.3-inch laptop is going to add a lot of bulk, and you will not be able to take it anyway even if you want to.
At this point, we would settle for 15” laptops. It gives you a good screen size, and the best ones do not come with a lot of weight to them.
If you are all about portability, you can go with 13.3-inch laptops. But be warned that they are going to have a lot of problems when you want to run some complex apps like AutoCAD or blender.
The next important thing in selecting the display is the resolution.
We recommend going with a full HD display as a minimum. A 1080 p display will give you the best bang for the buck, and will also show excellent details of whatever you are working on.
You can also upgrade to a quad HD display as it will give you more pixels, and as a result, you can see what you do in much more detail.
Whatever be the case, we strictly forbid you from getting a laptop with just an HD display. This resolution is not great for interior design, and popular apps like AutoCAD do not work well with this resolution.
When selecting the display, make sure it has an IPS panel. Having an IPS panel will make a world of difference to your display. It will give you an excellent contrast ratio, vibrant colors, amazing viewing angles that you will not get in TN or VA panels.
Also, if you are going to work in bridegrooms, it would be helpful to have a laptop that has a matte display. This Matt display will reduce the reflections you get on the screen so that you will not be distracted when you’re working on your designs.
There are two different aspects we have to take into account when picking a processor.
What will you be doing the most? Modeling or rendering?
The selection of a processor for modeling can be a bit low on power but for rendering, you need the absolute best processor out there to get the best experience.
There’s a good chance that you might end up doing both, so it is better to pick a laptop that has a good processor and can handle both modeling as well as rendering.
Whether you are a student or professional, it is better to start with a quad-core processor that has a good base clock frequency. Most high-end Intel processors have at least four cores and come with a clock speed in upwards of 2GHz.
These processors will be more than fine and should give you a solid performance. But if you’re going to work on complex projects, then we recommend going with hexa core processors as they are a bit more powerful, and can be handy when working on something much more resource hungry.
At any cost, avoid dual-core processors as they are completely useless when it comes to dealing with interior design. You will have an abysmal experience that could frustrate you to the core.
Whether you are going with an Intel Core i5 or i7 or i9 processor, it does not matter. The only thing that matters is that the processor has at least four physical cores and a decent base clock frequency. You can also go with an AMD processor that can produce the same performance.
Also, getting a quad-core or a hexa core processor from the seventh or sixth generation of Intel processors might outdate your laptop soon. An 8th gen or a 9th gen processor would be a better fit for a laptop you are buying in 2020.
Both modeling and rendering our absolute monster is when it comes to consuming memory.
The more complex your project is going to get, then the more memory you will require to have a smooth and lag-free experience.
If you don’t have enough memory, then you will struggle during walk-throughs and the overall experience might embarrass you a bit.
If you are just a student who is starting, then we recommend going with 16GB of RAM. In most cases, you will be fine with just 8GB, and you can use the computers in your lab to get the heavy stuff done. But 16GB will give you complete freedom to work on projects at your leisure which will help you to learn a lot more.
If you are a professional, then you have to start at a minimum of 16 GB of memory. If working on big and complex projects as a part of your everyday routine, then 32 GB of memory is the minimum we will go with.
Most users, even with the most complex projects, will be perfectly fine with 32 GB of memory. We are saying this because some people might feel like 64 GB of memory will give them a better experience. This is not necessarily true, at least for most people. So we would not waste money on that extra RAM and work on some other aspect of your laptop instead.
When it comes to modern-day storage, the type of storage you have on your laptop is much more important than the amount of storage itself.
The simple reason for this is that you can always upgrade your storage capacity, but the type of storage decides the performance you get.
When you are using applications like AutoCAD or Revit, Having good and fast storage is just as important as a powerful processor. With both these applications, you will be dealing with huge libraries that are filled with textures, diagrams, lightings, and surfaces which need to be loaded when you launch the application.
To achieve optimum performance when running these applications, having a solid-state drive on your laptop is probably the only way.
A solid-state drive is the go-to choice of storage in most modern laptops. They are expensive when compared with the traditional mechanical hard drives, but they are worth every single penny.
Solid-state drives, the best ones at least, are 17 times faster than traditional hard drive discs. This is a difference in speed that would make or break your entire interior design experience.
Even if you get an SSD with the lowest speed, you would still have a storage that is multiple times faster than a traditional mechanical hard drive.
How much storage do you need on your laptop?
This is a question only you can answer. As a minimum, we recommend going with at least 256 GB of storage as this might give you enough space to play with and also brings you an upgraded speed and come back to the 128 GB SSD.
This improvement in speed is because of the fact that high-capacity SSDs will come with much better speeds. So if you’re going for a 512 GB SSD, it will have better speeds and performance when compared to a 256 GB SSD.
If you are on a strict budget, and can’t afford a machine with a solid-state drive, then there is a solution for it. You can get a hybrid storage drive on your laptop.
A hybrid drive is where you have both the solid-state drive and the hard drive desk. You can choose to go with a 128 GB solid-state drive and a hard drive desk with a much higher capacity. This way, you can get the best of both worlds without having to spend a lot of money.
Battery life and Connectivity
When working on interior designs, you will have a very powerful laptop in your hand. Even if the laptop manufacturer says that it can last for eight hours, complex projects will kill your laptop in a couple of hours.
When it comes to interior designs, you can’t rely on the battery life of your laptop. If you do, then you will learn a very expensive lesson. Always plug your laptop in when you’re working on a serious project.
When it comes to connectivity, it doesn’t hurt to have the latest ports on your laptop. Make sure the laptop comes with at least one USB type C port, one USB 3.0 gen 1 port, an HDMI port, and an audio jack. Having an SD card slot can never hurt as well.
This is the biggest question we get when anyone is searching for a laptop purely for interior design.
Let’s take this section step-by-step.
How well do the integrated graphics cards do?
Most modern laptops come with the Intel UHD graphics card. These graphics cards have improved a lot over time, and can now handle much more then what the predecessors did.
However, there is a limit to how much these integrated graphics cards could handle.
If you’re dealing with small file sizes, let’s say 50MB, you will be fine with the integrated graphics cards as long as you’re working with a quadcore CPU and at least 8 GB of RAM. Make sure you have a disabled hardware acceleration to get the best performance.
Even if you can work with an integrated graphics card, certain things like zooming and rotating or not going to be as smooth as you would get with a dedicated graphics card.
Dedicated graphics cards
If you are going to work on complex models, regardless of whether you are a student or professional, you must have a dedicated graphics card on your laptop.
Having a dedicated graphics card will give you a smooth experience when you are panning, zooming, rotating, orbiting, and doing much more. The overall experience is seamless, and you’ll not get frustrated at any point with a slow system.
When it comes to rendering, certain applications do not use the GPU for rendering. But certain applications do, and the GPU will make a real difference there.
So which is the right graphics card for me?
Most universities, on their requirement page, will recommend an Nvidia Quadro graphics card as the minimum requirement.
The Nvidia Quadro is a workstation graphics card and does well when it comes to handling modeling and rendering. But do you really need one? The answer is no.
Most high-end graphics cards that are meant for gaming will do a pretty good job and it comes to handling modeling and rendering. In some cases, consume great graphics cards might end up outperforming the workstation ones.
Having a dedicated graphics card is absolutely necessary when you’re dealing with a file that is more than 100MB in size.
If you plan to go with a dedicated gaming graphics card, make sure you stick with a 9th generation or a 10th generation graphics card. These are the ones whose model numbers start with a 9 or at 10. Example: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050.
Make sure that you’re going with a high-end graphics card for the best performance. Low in graphics cards are fine as long as you’re dealing with simple projects that don’t deal with a lot of area (<15000 sq. m.)
The latest dedicated graphics card models which belong to a higher and category, like 1070, 1080, 2070, 2080 models, will give you much better performance, but they are more expensive.
Does this mean we should always choose gaming graphics cards over workstation graphics cards?
No. Workstation graphics cards have their advantages.
They are much more comfortable than gaming graphics cards. As a result, you will get fewer bugs and glitches when modeling with applications like AutoCAD and Revit. You also get official support from the application makers which is always nice to have.
This is more of personal preference.
We have seen a lot of successful interior designers with both Windows as well as Mac laptops.
If you are a student, then your universities might prefer a Windows laptop as they are compatible with more modeling applications.
You can however run Windows on a MacBook, with the help of Boot Camp. At this point, as Apple is making a transition to ARM-based MacBooks, you may not be able to do this in the future.
As long as you have an Intel-based MacBook Pro in your hands, you will be able to Boot Camp Windows operating system in it.
This, again, decides the laptop you’re going to get.
Ideally, you want to have the best laptop there is to get the best interior design experience.
But if you’re on a budget, you can always go for a laptop that is not high end, and still have a good experience. Just be sure to follow the tips we presented above so that you can have a laptop that is not as expensive, and delivers a decent performance.
That’s the end of this post, and we are glad you are still with us.
Finding the best laptops for interior design can be a grueling task. But so many laptops out there on the market, selecting that one perfect laptop that suits you is going to be difficult.
We hope this buying guide was of some use to you. If you’re still not able to find the right laptop for your interior design needs, do get in touch with us, and will help you figure this out.