February 26, 2021

Finding the right laptop for AutoCAD can be a confusing experience since you’re likely to find all sorts of contradicting answers on the subject from different sources on the internet. However, this article has all the information you need. 

If you don’t want to go through the entire article, just get the MSI GE75 Raider. It easily wins our top recommendation since it has the most processing power of any laptop we’ve seen thus far.

Here is our list of the 7 best laptops for AutoCAD:

Never before has a laptop so thin and light been endowed with such face melting performance. The MSI GS66 Stealth is what happens when you take some of the best hardware currently available and combine it all into a sleek chassis equipped with a 300Hz screen.

While this is primarily a gaming machine based on how it is advertised, we decided to include it in our list of best AutoCAD laptops just because it packs so much performance.

The Core i7-10750H is perfect for multitasking- you can render 3D models in Blender while simultaneously editing videos or photos on the side.

With 6 cores, 12 threads, and an impressive 5GHz turbo boost limit, there are very few things this laptop will have trouble tackling. AutoCAD is largely a single threaded application, as in it doesn’t use multiple cores very often.

But if you are into rendering which happens to be a parallelized workload, those extra threads do come in handy.

The massive 32GB of memory will prove useful in other CAD applications such as SolidWorks, when you have hundreds of components on screen.

And let’s not forget the fact that this laptop has a 2080 Super GPU, the single most powerful graphics solution available for a laptop.

Pros

  • Excellent processor which offers a mix of both fast single core speed and plenty of threads for applications which take advantage of multicore performance
  • 2080 Super graphics from NVIDIA will crush any task you throw at it
  • 32GB of RAM at 2666MHz, up to 64GB supported
  • Super fast NVMe storage
  • Massive battery delivers plenty of runtime even with all these power hungry components
  • Sleek, professional design with per key RGB lit SteelSeries keyboard
  • 15.6” FHD 300Hz display
  • Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type C

Cons

  • The webcam is still just 720p despite all that awesome hardware
  • Keyboard font might be a bit too “gamer” for some folks
  • The laptop can run hot since MSI has upped the processor TDP limits from its default settings

While the GS66 is a lean and mean featherweight focused on cutting down unnecessary bulk, the GE75 is an unapologetic brute with one goal in mind- power.

To that extent, it has the single fastest mobile processor Intel currently sells- the 10th generation Core i9-10980HK, a monstrous 8-core chip with hyperthreading and a 5.3GHz max boost clock.

And since this is MSI, they have jacked up the TDP limits from its default specs meaning that this laptop will sustain higher average clock speeds as long as it has the cooling headroom and an adequate supply of power.

Its massive 17.3” display is ideal for a CAD software user, and the massive 1TB NVMe high speed storage leaves you with plenty of space to store all your work files without the need for a bulky and slow external hard disk drive.

Pros

  • Fastest laptop CPU Intel currently makes
  • Fastest laptop GPU in the world- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super
  • Fastest laptop display in the world at 300Hz and 3ms
  • Ideal combination of speed and storage capacity with a giant 1TB NVMe drive
  • 32GB of 2666MHz DDR4 RAM, upgradable to 64GB

Cons

  • Slightly on the bulky side
  • Very edgy and flashy looks, might not appeal to everyone
  • Sub par battery life

One of the only laptops you’ll find which combines excellent performance with an equally excellent display, the Gigabyte Aero 15 packs a Samsung AMOLED screen.

Basically it means you get incredible, true-to-life colors with true blacks and amazing contrast. Not to mention the fact that there is no ghosting or trailing with fast moving objects like you’d find on an IPS panel.

This is also one of the only two “moderately” priced laptops on our list, alongside the Lenovo P53. Which means college students and small businesses can actually afford it.

Despite its relatively modest price tag, the Aero 15 is built incredibly well with CNC crafted aluminum and packs a full-sized keyboard. It even has a fingerprint sensor and Windows Hello facial recognition.

Pros

  • Plenty of features like Windows Hello, Azure AI, fingerprint sensor, etc.
  • Excellent 4K resolution Samsung AMOLED display, X-Rite Panton certified and individually factory calibrated
  • CNC aluminum construction
  • GTX 1660ti graphics
  • Core i7 9750H processor
  • Thunderbolt 3
  • Intel 760p 512GB SSD

Cons

  • The GTX 1660ti GPU while fast for the price, has 6GB of VRAM and might lag behind in some really complex scenes when compared to higher end GPUs
  • Weird webcam placement, it’s on the display hinge

If you want a 17” 4k IPS display with a 2080 super GPU and 64GB of RAM, this is your laptop right here.

Video editing, audio design, CAD, rendering, animation- this beast will mow through everything with relative ease and you’ll still have some time left over to play games. Which the Omen 17t is very good at, after all this is designed as a gaming machine first and foremost.

The massive 1TB NVMe drive is where you’ll keep your OS and productivity software, it can also store data and files.

But for mass storage, there’s the 2TB HDD. The keyboard is full-size, backlit, has dedicated macro keys, and 4-zone RGB lighting. To top it all off, you get Bang & Olufsen audio.

Pros

  • Tons of memory and storage- 64GB of RAM, 1TB NVMe drive, 2TB HDD
  • Extremely fast processor- Intel Core i9-10885H
  • The fastest laptop GPU money can buy- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super
  • A webcam that isn’t terrible (this is a trend in most Windows laptops irrespective of the price)
  • 4K 17” IPS screen

Cons

  • The 2TB HDD is a 5400rpm model, which means it is slow. Really slow.
  • This laptop is so heavy you could probably use it as an elevator counterweight

The ProArt StudioBook lineup from ASUS is designed with content creators, designers, engineers, etc. in mind.

It merges a sleek design with quality components, tons of functionality, innovative features that boost your productivity, and genuinely fast processing power. The CPU is a 6-core 12 thread Intel Core i7-9750H with a maximum boost lock of 4.5GHz.

There’s a touch zone built into the trackpad with full number pad functionality (can be toggled on or off). This version of the ProArt StudioBook is equipped with a ginormous 2TB NVMe SSD which should take care of all your storage needs.

And you get a Quadro RTX 3000 professional graphics solution instead of a consumer grade GeForce GPU.

Pros

  • 1920 x 1200 (16:10)  WUXGA NanoEdge matte display, 17 inches- more workspace so you can get more stuff done
  • Excellent 6 core processor
  • Quadro RTX 3000 with certified drivers for professional workloads in programs like AutoCAD and Solidworks
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • 2TB NVMe drive
  • 64GB RAM
  • 3-year warranty from CUK
  • Windows 10 Pro

Cons

  • Battery life is mediocre at best
  • It is a shame they don’t have a version of this laptop with AMD’s 4th generation Ryzen chips which are both faster and more power efficient compared to their Intel counterparts

It is a smaller version of the ProArt StudioBook, but this configuration packs a more formidable GPU in the Quadro RTX 5000.

You get a nice 100% Adobe RGB 4k display that has been Panton validated individually at the factory for color accuracy.

This makes it an excellent choice for photo and video editing, as we know a lot of engineers and architects often have to edit photos alongside creating 3D models and renders.

The chassis is premium and has no flex whatsoever, built entirely of magnesium alloy (the laptop weighs just 4.37lbs).

This laptop also has one of the fastest storage solutions on the market, combining two NVMe 1TB PCIe SSDs in Raid 0 configuration for nearly twice the speed of a single drive.

Pros

  • Pantone validated professional grade 4k display with thin bezels
  • 18.9mm low profile magnesium alloy chassis which weighs just 4.37lbs
  • Quadro RTX 5000 pro-grade GPU for AutoCAD, Maya, Solidworks, Premiere Pro, etc. (has 16GB of VRAM)
  • Thunderbolt 3 and Type-C
  • Dual Band Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5
  • Core i7-9750H 6 core hyperthreaded processor

Cons

  • For the price, a higher refresh rate display would have been nice

The Lenovo ThinkPad P53 is a content creation beast for the money, with its Core i7-9750H processor and Quadro T1000 GPU.

It has a massive amount of memory with 64GB of DDR4 at 2666MHz and a 1TB SSD( which is unfortunately just SATA and not NVMe).

The battery is also really large at 90Whr and this guarantees an entire day of usage at college or office, so you don’t have to carry the charger around with you wherever you go.

The keyboard feels crisp and has decent tactile feedback, the trackpad is also clicky and precise. Build quality is solid overall, even though this laptop is made of plastic rather than metal.

And plenty of customer reviews state that it performs very well in running CAD software and 3D modelling programs.

The laptop doesn’t run hot, and it has a very nice cooling system which is fairly quiet. Display colors are well calibrated out of the box, and built-in audio isn’t half bad.

Pros

  • Excellent build quality with a good cooling system
  • Well calibrated display out of the box
  • Low noise performance
  • Great keyboard and trackpad
  • Massive 90Whr
  • 64GB RAM
  • Pro-grade Quadro T1000 graphics

Cons

  • Bulky chassis
  • The SSD is SATA and not NVMe

Speed Matters (CPU and GPU)

Just buy a laptop with the fastest processor and the most RAM that you can afford.

Creating 3D models requires fast single core performance, and the more complex your drawing the more memory it will need.

You won’t need tons of multithreaded performance unless you’re rendering, but these days we have CPUs that provide both single threaded speed as well as plenty of cores for whenever you need it.

The graphics card determines how “smooth” viewport performance will be. Less lag and delay means you can get through your daily workflow with fewer hiccups and get more work done whenever you sit down in front of the laptop. However, a more powerful GPU also consumes more energy and generates higher quantities of heat, resulting in thicker laptops and lower battery life.

A good display results in a better work experience (resolution and size)

A good display is also crucial, we recommend you get one that is 17” or larger. Most laptops are either 14” or 15.6”, but some of the desktop replacement models like the MSI GE75 Raider are designed with pure performance in mind.

A larger screen means you spend less time zooming in and more time doing actual work.

Ideally, you would have a 4k 17 inch display, since pixelation and jaggy edges start becoming an issue with 1080p once you get to larger screen sizes.

But there’s always the option of connecting an external pro-grade 4k display since most high-end laptops come with Type-C display output. Some even have Thunderbolt 3.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Do I need a Quadro GPU for AutoCAD?

A. Not really since Autodesk updates their software quite frequently and makes it so that you can get full functionality with the regular GeForce drivers. Even though their official site only shows Quadro GPUs in the validated section, you can most certainly use GeForce GPUs for AutoCAD. We even recommend GeForce for the average user since it is faster for the same price (plus you can game on the side).

Q. Should I get an ultralight notebook?

A. We believe performance trounces portability when it comes to software like AutoCAD. You would much rather have a platform you can upgrade in the future with more memory and storage. You shouldn’t have to upgrade to an entirely new laptop when you switch to a newer and more demanding software package.

Q. Do I need top of the line hardware for AutoCAD?

A. No, absolutely not! Many of you reading this article are probably college students and you shouldn’t spend top dollar on laptops like the MSI GS66 Stealth or CUK HP Omen 17t. Instead, invest in a middle-tier workstation laptop such as the Lenovo ThinkPad P53 and spend the leftover cash on something like an Apple iPad which will come in handy for taking notes and making sketches.

Conclusion

To those of you who made it to the end of the article, congrats! And if you’re just here for a summary of what to buy, get the MSI GE75 Raider

It has the Intel 10th generation Core i9 10980HK processor, an 8-core 16 thread behemoth of a chip that can turbo up to 5.3GHz thanks to its 65W TDP. This is as close as you can possibly get to an actual desktop CPU inside a mobile platform.

On top of that, the GE75 Raider also packs some insane graphics muscle in the form of a NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super GPU.

The “Super” version of the RTX 2080 is the fastest mobile GPU ever created up until now, and it will have no issues dealing with even the most complicated 3D models/ plans.

Whether you’re an architect, aerospace engineer, planner, designer, student, or hobbyist- the GE75 Raider has enough power to meet and exceed all your AutoCAD demands for at least the next 5 years.

About the author

Saurav Rath

Saurav has been writing about technology for the past 4 years, but has been a fan of all things computer related since he was 7 years old. He is a ghostwriter for multiple sites, and covers everything from PC hardware to chainsaws and mobile game development (yep, the guy has a lot of range). Learn more

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