The 8 Best Laptops For AutoCad in 2022 (Ultimate Hardware Guide)

 

So you’ve been googling what’s best laptop for AutoCAD 

And you came across…

Quora users claiming that most laptops (even those with integrated graphics cards) will run AutoCAD and reviews sites telling you to either get the latest , beefiest and heaviest workstation laptop.

So it may seem like no one knows what the hell they’re talking about.

But there’s a reason why there seems to be so much confusion.

When you talk about 3D Modeling software like AutoCAD, there’s no one size fits all.

Hardware requirements will depend on how heavy(how complex and big ) your models are. 

As you probably fond out, it’s mostly about the video card (GPU).

The truth is…

95% of the people reading this will be okay with any laptop that has an entry level  or mid-range dedicated  graphics card. These sell for about 700$(entry level:1050 or 1650GTX) to 1000$ (mid-range: 2060RTX 3060RTX 1660Ti) . 

Only a very small percentage of you will need to invest more than 1500$ to get one of those so called workstation “Quadros” or “FirePros” GPUs on a laptop.

Another reason behind the confusion is that…

Unless someone’s worked with AutoCAD with different projects of different loads/sizes, it’s going to be really hard to give people advice on what’s good hardware and what’s insuficient hardware.

There are several benchmarks on youtube and they’re not really hard to do really.

If you have access to several computers then try downloading or drawing a 3D object and compare performance when you draw and use viewport. 

If you do this…

You’ll find out a small 3D object in AutoCAD may not even need a dedicated graphics card.

However, a 3D representation of a very realistic industrial object ( w/ ~5000 polygons) will only stop lagging if your laptop either has a recent workstation card or one of the latest consumer “gaming” graphics cards on it

Yes, even in that scenario, you may be okay with a gaming GPU. We’ll explain where workstation GPUs do become useful soon.

Now I don’t work for AutoDesk….

Nor do I spend all day testing models all day long. Very few people do.

However I’ve been using CAD modeling software since my undergraduate years and have kept doing several years after that. Once you join a company and become their CAD engineer, you’ll be exposed to different models of different size  and you’ll come to the conclusion I’ve just told you.

Anyways…

Before we go over the Top 8 Best Laptops For AutoCAD in 2022, let’s quickly talk about the hardware reuiqrements and how they depend on the size/complexity of your projects and where exactly are you right during your CAD engineering career.

We’ll do that as fast as possible and keep the technical details to the last section.

Recommended Hardware Requirements for AutoCAD

To give you an idea of what hardware AutoCAD demands without going into too much detail. I’ve also put up a table a bit down below and divided the requirements you’ll need depending on the size of your projects. 

When reading the following table make sure you also know what I mean by small, medium and large projects and by AutoCAD 3D and AutoCAD 2D. 

AutoCAD 3D

This means AutoCAD Civil 3D, AutoCAD Architecture or just regular AutoCAD for 3D models. If a laptop can run AutoCAD 3D with no lag, it can also run software like SketchUp , Solidworks   , Revit and 3DS Max*. Obviously, you can also run any CAD software in 2D too.

*To run bigger projects with all other software like 3DS max, I’d recommend a laptop with at least a mid range GPU like the GTX 1060/2060RTX/3060RTX/1660Ti.

a) Small projects: these are given to undergrads and are usually done in regular AutoCAD up to a maxium of 300 parts.

b) Medium projects: those taking master classes , taking specialization AutoCAD courses or working for “individual clients” ~ 500 part assemblies are very common and in very rare instances+1000-2000 parts models.

c) Large projects: engineers working for companies involved in collaborative projects.These projects  may include  large 3D drawings with polygons/parts in the ~5000s on multiple sheets.These may have to be split up to into sections due to their large size/time constrains.

*Only a few professional engineers will deal with super large collaborative projects. Most of the time, these guys are given lots of cash by their companies to get workstation computers only. Most people reading this should fall in category a and b.

AutoCAD 2D

Regular AutoCAD can run 2D and 3D models, if you are an electrical/chemical engineer or just making contour maps, you fall into this category. The specs are the same as in the “small projects” column shown below.

Having these specs will also let you to run software like StadPro , MatLab, anything that doesn’t need you to viewport* a model in 3D.

*Viewport means rotating an object in 360.

 AutoCAD 3D* Small Medium Large
GPU Integrated Intel/AMD (2D AutoCAD)

MX450,MX350 MX250,1050GTX,Radeon Pro 555X

960GTX,1050Ti,
1650,Radeon RX 550, Radeon RX 560X,980,1060,
1660Ti,2060, 3060RTX
2070, 3070 RTX 580,RX5500M
NVIDIA Quadro/AMD FirePro
CPU Core i5(8th-11th gen)
Ryzen 5 (3rd-5th gen)
Core i5/Core i7 “H” (8th-11th)
Ryzen 5/Ryzen 7 “H” 3th–5th )
Core i7/Core i9 “HK” “H” (9th-11th)
Ryzen 7th 4th gen (“H” “HX”)
RAM 4GB-8GB 8GB 16-64GB
Storage 128GB+ 256GB SSD or 1TB HDD 256GB SSD+1TB HDD or 512GB SSD
Display 13-15” FHD (1080p) 15” FHD 15-17” FHD

*Table has a focus on 2022 CPU/GPUs. However, you can use old hardware that has similar performance, check table at the end of this post.

CPU
Your first focus should be getting one of the highest clock speeds you can afford.  AutoCAD isn’t multithreaded, which means multiple cores are useless (as far as recent benchmarks go).
Clockspeed is all that matters there. For a list of clockspeeds of modern CPUs on laptops check the last section.

Rendering however is faster with more cores. You should still give clock speed utmost priority because most modern CPUs and have 4-8 cores and going beyond doesn’t decrease rendering times significantly.

GPU

Rendering: Truth is …high tier GPUs will make rendering somewhat faster but CPU clock speed + number of cores has a much bigger impact.

Applying effects/modeling/editing does not utilize GPU so much either, that’s a CPU job (higher clock speeds will dramatically make everything work faster).

Viewport performance, however, is highly  GPU dependent and smooth viewport is essential for a fast workflow.

Small projects: Pretty much any “dedicated” GPU will do (2GB vRAM).  Sometimes integrated GPUs provided you have 8GB RAM (not vRAM) and a good CPU. Students/those getting started with AutoCAD 3D.

Medium to Large Size Projects: These will require anything higher than a 960GTX (1050Ti, 1650 are the modern equivalents). Basically 4GB vRAM GPUs.

If you want to be bullet proof get a mid-range GPU like the 3060,2060,1660Ti.These have 6GB vRAM and should be enough for 95% of the people reading this

Large Industry level collaborative projects:  Depending on how big your simulations are: either an 8GB vRAM gaming GPU like the 2080/3080RTX/3070RTX or a Workstation GPU (NVIDIA RTX A5000, AMD FirePro) with more than 8GB vRAM.

Display

Size:
Only students should opt for 13” laptops because these projects can be finished relatively quickly which means no eye strain.  However, 13” for a regular CAD engineer can be detrimental to eye health and a nightmare to work. 15-17” should be okay instead.

Resolution: 1080p nothing less. 

Storage
SSDs all the way. Don’t understimate the power of SSDs! The time it takes to open & save files , launch the software/turn on your PC will be dramatically reduce. This should, little by little, reduce the time it will take to finish a project. They’re universal on laptops as of 2022, only a few budget laptops try to sneak in an HDD(Hard Disk Drives) to cut down manufacturing prices.


Top 8 Best Laptops For AutoCAD in 2022

Finally what you came here for.

This list has 8 laptops of which 5 are for AutoCAD in 3D and the remaining for AutoCAD in 2D. Obviously all of these are great deals or as the popular phrase goes they have “the best bang for your buck”.

Laptops 1-2: Good for students, those starting with AutoCAD.

Laptops 3: Should be good for about 99% of the people reading this including actual CAD engineers.

Laptop 4: Also good for most people but super portable

Laptop 5: Very powerful workstation laptop with the latest workstation GPU. Only for those 1% of engineers who have been given funds by their company to get the latest of the latest for extremely complex projects.


1. MSI – GF63035

Best Budget Laptop for AutoCAD

  Intel Core i5 10200H

  8GB RAM

   GeForce GTX 1650 

  256 PCIe SSD

  15” FHD 1080p IPS

  4.10lbs

  5 hours

 Performance

This year I’m also skipping the “entry level” GPUs MX 450/MX350/940M and continue with a very close to “mid-range”  GPU which should have enough GPU power for about 80% of the people reading this. 

In fact, an even weaker GPU like the MX450 might be better for students and those getting started with AutoCAD (if you can find them cheaper than this one).

Heck I’ve seen AutoCAD run on an old Radeon 4000 (this is a very old and integrated GPU).

Only when parts went above 50, the computer become bottlenecked by CPU & RAM before GPU came into play.

Also because I myself used  AutoCAD 2017 on a HP laptop with a 940MX for several months and it ran absolutely fine. 

A 1650GTX like this laptop has is 2x faster ( and bigger) than both the MX450/940M so it can be a bit too much if your still in engineering school, however, laptops with weaker GPUs are not selling for less these days (go figure).

Laptop GPU Price
ZenBook MX450 680$
ZenBook MX350 633$
HP Pavilion 1050GTX 798$

CPU: Core i5 10200H

As for the CPU, you may have noticed is not a high tier CPU and it doesn’t have the 6-8 cores most of the high tier and latest CPUs have.

However, AutoCAD is still not optimized for “multi-threading” or if you make a table of all CPUs clock speed, they only differ by 500Mhz. The extra clock speed of super high tier CPUs are not going to be useful for small objects/models and even most of the stuff actual engineers encounter.

GPU: 1650GTX vs High Tier GPUs

If you are a student, you’ll only be using 50% of the 1650GTX power for most of your projects. You can check that by pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL. 

If you opt for a 1660Ti/3060/3070RTX which we’ll go over soon and apply that to simple to moderate sized projects, theose GPUs won’t even feel AutoCAD running (probably 10% power usage). So those are more useful for actual some engineers.  

Q: Wait..I want a higher tier GPU because I need something future proof…what if future updates start using more of the GPU than the CPU?

If you check the history of updates, Autodesk isnโ€™t considering adding video card instruction sets to AutoCAD any time soon. AutoCAD has been to use little GPU acceleration and that doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon.

So editing/drafting/making models will not get any quicker with a better GPU at least in the next 10 years.

(Multithreaded operations when drawing are starting to come up (Revit) though so investing on a multicore high clock speed CPU might more of a “future proof” investment).  There’s  only 2D Vector drawing via GPU enabled acceleration along with a few more features.

So whom would I recommend this laptop to?

I would recommend this set up for those engineers getting started with AutoCAD & 3D Modeling students who plan on working with bigger projects in the foreseable future .

Basically anyone  limited to basic drawings & models with a small number of parts (~300 polygons) and also those working independently making models of this size for clients.

You can click here and see for yourself that the specifications of this laptop actually exceed what most engineering schools recommend.

If you find this model out of your budget or you just want another brand because it’s not available in your region, check these out models.  

Laptop CPU GPU Price
Lenovo Ryzen 5 5600H 1650GTX 667
Evo Core i5 10300H 1650GTX 718
MSI Core i5 9300H 1650GTX 699
HP Core i5 10300H 1650GTX 755
ZenBook Ryzen 5 5500U MX450 680
ZenBook Ryzen 5 4500U MX350 633

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2. Lenovo Ideapad 3

Best Laptop For AutoCAD Engineers & Students

  Ryzen 5 5600H

  8GB DDR4

   GeForce GTX 1650

  256GB PCIe NVMe SSD

  15” 120Hz Full HD IPS

  4.96lb

  5 hours

This is another great deal (taken out of the table I posted above) which also has a 1650GTX.

The only difference is the CPU which has more cores (+2), it will not make viewport or working with AutoCAD faster but rendering will be reduced significantly.

The 144Hz is not going to be very useful unless you’re a gamer though. It’s about the same price as the first laptop, if you find it more to expensive (greater +50$) then just get one of the laptops on the table above instead. 


3. Acer Predator Helios 300

Best Laptop For AutoCAD Engineers

  Core i7-11800H

  16GB-32GB DDR4

   NVIDIA RTX 3060 6GB vRAM

  512GB-1TB PCIe NVMe SSD

  15” full HD 144Hz IPS

  4.10lb

  4 hours

 Performance

This is a model good enough for 95% of working CAD engineers
 
Like I said, working with a model through drawing and adding parts depends mostly on clock speed and this laptop has one of the 5 fastest CPUs available in the market right now (significantly outrun by the Core i9s/Ryzen 9 CPUs only).

RAM wise there won’t be need for any upgrades, 16GB is on point no matter what you do and if the rare ocassion of a project needing more RAM arises, this laptop is easily upgradeable to 32GB or even 64GB . You can buy it with 32GB on board if you want (though its cheaper to upgrade it yourself).
 
 
GPU: 3060RTX (6GB vRAM)

Let’s talk about the graphics card now.

In reality a 960M or a 1650GTX is already sufficient for most users .

However, ~6GB of vRAM GPUs (like a 1660Ti,1060,1070,2060RTX) have the best performance/money ratio for AutoCAD.

What that means is that more vRAM will start giving the software diminishing returns. So these GPUs are kind of like the limit of AutoCAD’s GPU vRAM usage . This has been corroborated by Pudget systems where the viewport performance of a large model was tested under different GPUs (check out this link to see the video). 

I’ll quote  Pudget Systems “…AutoCAD is still very light on VRAM usage, so there is no reason to pay out for a card with lots of VRAM for strictly AutoCAD use.”

So if you get something like a 3070RTX,2080RTX,3080RTX or even a workstation GPU with 16GB vRAM , viewport performance will still have the same performance with models like the one shown on the video. 

For anything that’s not super large but actually a very realistic project viewport performance will not get better if you use GPUs with more vRAM (8GB vRAM).

The 2060RTX/3060RTX will  handle stuff like full prototypes of Cars though with smooth fps on viewport. Should be enough for 95% of you

Higher tier cards may become useful for something that’s super complex: skyscrapper with thousands of parts, city plans, 5000+ parts assemblies basically.

But…but this card isn’t even certified and you’re saying it’s the best for all of us?

Just because this card or any consumer “gaming” GPU hasn’t been certified by Autodesk doesn’t mean it won’t work.

Yes, you’ll occasionally get that pop up error message but most people just ignore these messages, click OK , continue working and save themselves hundreds of dollars .

The only real caveat of opting for a gaming GPU is that you won’t get customer support if something goes wrong.

But I’ve personally never heard ANYONE use customer support for software related problems, the only time you might use customer support is if you get a defective laptop or the hardware just doesn’t work at all with the software.

How about other GPUs aside from the 3060RTX? Will the software be okay with them too? 

Yes, they will all work, if you are  a student or getting started with AutoCAD. Check the table I have posted in the last section for a full list of GPUs and more details. You have tons of options and you can even get away with a 2GB vRAM GPU which will reduce the price significantly.
 
If you are a pro looking trying to get the best laptop GPU for AutoCAD either grab a 2060RTX or a 1660Ti Acer Predator if you can’t afford 3060RTX. They will all work more or less the same.
 
If you think you are in the middle of those two categories, then grab yourself something with 4GB of vRAM (1650GTX GPUs are still best in performance and price as of 2022).

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4. Surface Laptop Studio 

Best 2 in 1 Laptop For AutoCAD

  Core i7 or Core i5 11th gen

  16-32GB RAM

  NVIDIA GTX 3050Ti/Intel Iris Xe Graphics

  256GB-2TB NVMe PCIe SSD

  14.4โ€  2400 x 160

  3.8-4lbs

  8 hours

 Performance

All Surfaces devices can run AutoCAD in 3D no problems.

Depending on the model you choose however, you’ll get a dGPU or an integrated GPU.

Viewport:

Only the Surface Book and the Surface Studio come with a dedicated GPU so they will let you 3D viewport with ease.

The Surface Pro, which is cheaper and which lacks a dGPU, is a good choice if you are going to model/edit/draw without much need of viewport (viewport will still work but it will be very slow with +100 parts).

Rendering:

Rendering should only be done with the Surface Book or the Surface Studio because it’s thicker and has more room for ventilation which means it can tolerate heavy load for hours without compromising the GPU and CPU’s temperatures.

How is this Surface Book/Studio any special from other laptops with the same specs?

It’s very useful if you need to move to construction sites and meetings on a regular basis and you want work on the go.

If you are an engineer and decide to buy the Surface Pro, try to leave the rendering to your desktop back home if you can. This will make sure your Surface device lasts for a really long time, the Surface Book/Studio can tolerate rendering pretty well though.

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5. MSI WS66 11UK

Best Workstation Laptop for AutoCAD 3D Modeling and Rendering

  Core i9-11980HK

  32GB GB RAM

  NVIDIA RTX A5000 16GB vRAM

  1TB PCIe SSD

  17” Full HD 144Hz IPS 

  6.39 lbs

   2 hours

 Performance

This laptop has a certified GPU. Buy it if…:
 
– Your company is providing the big bucks
– You still can’t convince the old IT guy in the building about how consumer GPUs are ok
– The old IT guy’s still ranting  about getting Quadros
– You are working with industry level projects with thousands of parts (probably working with them collaboratively)
– You need to unlock special features like “Real View Graphics”.
 
I think workstation laptops due hold a strong niche in the 3D modeling business but mostly for large physical simulations as in SolidWorks. This is because Workstation GPUs are better and more accurate doing calculations and doing all that workload faster and efficiently.
 
So workstation GPUs will make viewport work faster they will handle huge 3D files slighly faster too and you will definitely come across less “artifacting”.

However, for AutoCAD, when you compare it with a consumer GPU with the same caliber say a 3080RTX vs RTX A3000 (both with the same vRAM). These differences will be minimal. It’s only in those instances where you have super huge models that lag with the highest vRAM avialable on gaming GPUs, that you will find workstation GPUs useful.

All things said,  they are better than consumer grade GPUs and of course you want these over gaming GPUs, however, I’m not sure if the performande difference justifies the price.

If you’ve been unhappy with your 8GB vRAM gaming GPU’s performance in AutoCAD, then YES, it’s worth it. Go ahead buy a dozen for your company.

If you’re company has a big budget, go ahead too. These are bigger/thicker have way more room for temperature control and it’ll last you much longer.

However, if we are talking about moderate to fairly large projects, the difference in performance with gaming GPUs is minimal as you can see in the video. You’d be better off with the Acer Helios 300 or any 6GB vRAM GPU laptop instead.
 

You can find several benchmark tests on that channel comparing workstation GPUs to consumer GPUs.
 

If you dead serious about workstation GPUs, make sure to check this table before checking other workstation laptops so you can have an idea of what the performance of what you’re buying is going to be. 

Workstation GPU Consumer Equivalent Cores/Shaders Clock Speed vRAM
RTX 3000 2070RTX+ 1280 1380 6GB
RTX 4000 2070/2080 2560 1560 8GB
RTX 5000 2080RTX+++ 3072 1350 16GB
RTX A2000 ~3050Ti 2560 1200 4GB
RTX A3000 ~3060RTX 4096 1560 6GB
RTX A4000 ~3070RTX 5120  1560  8GB
RTX A5000 ~3080RTX 6144 1695   16GB

+ means slightly faster
+++ significantly faster
~ equal or approximate equal

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3 Best Laptops for AutoCAD in 2D

AutoCAD in 2D not only means AutoCAD Electrical & AutoCAD LT but pretty much any engineering work that doesn’t use viewport (3D models).

Generally speaking any modern laptop would do fine for all of that, just make sure to get something like an Intel Core i5/Ryzen 5, 8GB of RAM and an SSD on it.  You will never face any issues with lag or working through large blueprints in any Computer Aided Design software in 2D.


6. Lenovo Ideapad 3

Cheap Laptop For AutoCAD LT 2018 and AutoCAD in 2D

  AMD Ryzen 3 3200U

  4GB DDR4

   Radeon Vega 3

  128GB PCIe NVMe SSD

  14” HD TN Display

  3.97 lbs

  7 hours

    Windows 10 HOME

Models in AutoCAD 2D only care about RAM and CPU’s clock speed, there’s no need to invest on a dedicated GPU. You don’t even have to look at what kind of integrated GPU you’re getting.

This is an AMD CPU but it’s not one of the ARM/mobile chips you find on 200-300 laptops or older models, the Ryzen line has proven to equal or better than their Intel equivalents and as of 2022 it offers the best value for your money, it has about the same computing power as its 11th gen Core i3 rival BUT usually at a cheaper price. 

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7. Surface Pro 7

Best 2 in 1 Laptop For AutoCAD 2D 

  Core m3 , Core i5, Core i7

  4GB-16GB RAM

  Intel HD/Iris

  128GB-1TB PCIe NVMe SSD

  12” IPS 2736×1824

  1.7lb and above

  +11 hours

The Surface Pro is a great option if you’re looking for something that’s ultra portable. For AutoCAD 2D, you don’t need to grab the more expensive and heavy Surface Book nor the Surface Studio because you won’t need a graphics card.

The Surface Pro has plenty of juice for any AutoCAD model in 2D and can even run some 3D models provided they stay below 100 parts.

There are several versions and several configurations of the Surface Pro, they will all run AutoCAD just fine as long as you get one with a Core i5 CPU and 8GB of RAM (they all have an SSD).

If you try to save a few bucks by buying the model with the m3 processor and 4GB of RAM, you might STILL be okay too but you’ll definitely won’t be able to run 3D models.

However if you seriously think you’ll also be working with 3D models as much as 2D models,  then you should consider the Surface Book or the Surface Studio.

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8. Newest Lenovo Premium PC

Best Lenovo Laptop For AutoCAD in 2D

  AMD Ryzen 5 3500U

  12GB DDR4 

   Intel HD

  256GB SSD

  17.3″ HD

  5.56lb

  7 hours

Hardware wise, the last model in our AutoCAD 2D list is no different than the previous two models.

However, it has the best display. 17” is not just going to give you more workspace to get a better view of your work but also more space to access toolbars without having to access drop-down menues.  Obviously, it’s also going to make it easy on the eyes if you work for long hours with no breaks. 

The best part of the display is the fact that it has a FHD resolution under 600$, which is quite rare as most laptops with 17” below 600 dollars only have HD+ resolution (which defeats the whole purpose of the extra screen space as a 15” display with FHD will fit in the same size of objects and interface tools).

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How to Buy The Best Laptop For AutoCAD

This section is basically a guide that will include everything you need to know to get the best bang for your buck hardware for AutoCAD.

  • Although this section may only be useful for those who do not have a reseller of the models I posted above,  if you are in the US and have no problems finding the models I posted above,you can also use read this section to understand how AutoCAD uses specific hardware specs. If this will be be your main tool of work you might as well learn everything you need to know about the software.

AutoCAD Software

AutoCAD is actually a broadterm which encompasses several products fromAutoDesk. Whether they are hardware demanding or not depends on 

AutoCAD
This is the regular & original version of AutoCAD which all of you are familiar with. You can draw/draft models in both 2D and 3D.

Today the software has diverged into several other specialized versions. However, this (original) version is still out and it’s still used today especially in engineering schools. The main reason being because you can draft/work with it regardless of what your field is. 

AutoCAD LT
A less powerful version of the AutoCAD described above,used mainly for 2D objects.

AutoCAD Electrical
Mostly for circuit design. Most circuit blueprints only need a 2D representation so it is a 2D software.

AutoCAD Architecture
In regular AutoCAD you have to draw everything from scratch but this version will give you advanced tools and access to small objects for architecture drafting such doors, walls, windows, etc. This is a 3D software.

AutoCAD Civil 3D
Same as  AutoCAD architecture. However optimized for planning roadways, rivers, landscapes , etc.

*A few points before we move on to the next section:

  • If you buy a laptop for 3D AutoCAD software, it will have obviously no issues with any CAD software in 2D.
  • AutoCAD in 2D doesn’t really need high-tier hardware, even the CPUs found on laptops baove 400$ will work fine. You do not need a dedicated graphics card so that really opens up your options to very low priced machines. The upcoming section applies to AutoCAD in 2D as well but keep what I said in mind.

Recommended Specs For AutoCAD

This section will only talk about AutoCAD (not revit, inventor or any other software out there). Hardware usage and requirements will vary from software to software (Inventor may be more GPU intensive), so keep that in mind. If you want to know more about other CAD software look for my other posts on the site: Revit, Architecture, SolidWorks.

Again let’s start with the most important spec.

CPU

Just like most CAD software, AutoCAD will predominantely use your CPU when you draft/draw.

CPU Base(GHz) Turbo(GHz) Cores(GHz)
i3 8130U 2.2 3.4 2
i3 8145U 2.1 3.9 2
i3 10050G1 1.2 3.4 2
i3 10100U 2.1 4.1 2
i3-1115G4 3 4.1 2
i5 8265U 1.6 4.9 4
i5 8250U 1.6 3.4 4
i5 1115G4 2.4 4.2 4
i7 8550U 1.8 4 4
i7 1165G7 2.8 4.7 4
i5 8300H 2.3 4 4
i5-11300H 2.6 4.4 4
i5 11260H 2.6 4.4 6
i7-11375H 3.3 5 4
i7-11370H 3.3 4.8 4
i7 7700HQ* 2.8 3.8 4
i7 8750H 2.2 4.1 6
i7 9750H 2.6 4.5 6
i7 10750H 2.6 5 8
i9 8950K 2.9 4.8 6
i9 9900K 3.6 5.1 8
i9-11900H 2.5 4.9 8
i9 10890K 2.4 5.3 8
i9-11980HK 3.3 5 8

 

CPU  Base (GHz) Turbo (GHz) Cores(#)
AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX 3.3 4.6 8
AMD Ryzen 9 4800HS 2.2 4.4 8
AMD Ryzen 7 5800H 3.3 4.4 8
AMD Ryzen 7 3750H 2.3 4 4
AMD Ryzen 7 5800U 1.9 4.4 8
AMD Ryzen 7 5700U 1.8 4.3 8
AMD Ryzen 7 3700U 2.3 4 4
AMD Ryzen 5 5600H 3.3 4.2 6
AMD Ryzen 5 3550H 2.1 3.7 4
AMD Ryzen 5 5500U 2.1 4.4 6
AMD Ryzen 5 3500U 2.1 3.7 4
AMD Ryzen 3 5300U 2.6 3.8 4
AMD Ryzen 3 3300U 2.1 3.5 4

Modern CPUs, even those CPUs found on budget laptops (red) below 500$, are still pretty close to 4GHz what was 4 years ago “workstation CPU” clock speed.

You can see how the more recent CPU of each model released 3-4 years ago (they are grouped by the same color) only increase clock speeds by small amounts and instead focus on giving customers more “cores” (which basically acts as “extra” CPUs”).

Number of Cores

Unforunately, AutoCAD products do not take advantage of multicore CPUs.

Most of the effects and tools found in AutoCAD are not multi-threaded: which means you will find little, if any, increased performance with an 8 core CPU over a 4 core CPU.

If you don’t believe this because you’ve read something else on another site, you can easily check for CPU usage with the task manager (CTRL+ALT+DEL). 

ClockSpeed

What’s going to impact the speed of your workflow is clockspeed (measured in Hz in the table). 

If you’re just a student or someone working with small models however, any CPU with ~3.5-4GHz will give you instant speeds when drafting. The faster CPUs +4GHz do become useful when you’re working with larger models and drawings.

Q: But I’ve heard CAD software benefits from multiple cores! 

Some do but not AutoCAD. As far as I know only two: Revit and Inventor. do (only a few features and functions though).  

Now if we talk about rendering, then yes, more cores is always good! 

Q: OK, so what CPU do you recommend?

For AutoCAD in 2D: pretty much any CPU released within the past 4 years will work wonders, that means, any CPU you see in the table above and any generation you find in between (I did not include all 9th generation CPUs) .I would however strongly recommend you get at least a 10th-11th Core i5 CPU or 4-5th gen Ryzen 5 CPU, it’s not only going to be bulletproof for whatever you encounter but will also let you work with ,albeit small, 3D models.

For AutoCAD in 3D:

At least a Core i5/Ryzen 5 from the “H” series:
  –   If you know you’re dealing with very complex and large models, then you may want to step it up and get a recent Ryzen 7/Core i7. I recommend this because clock speeds go well above 4GHz and they also have 6-8 cores which should dramatically reduce the time it takes to render something.

  • If you are on a budget, remember to prioritize clock speed over number of cores when you choose a CPU. It’s far better to finish something quickly and render slowly than having something to work for longer periods of time and render something quickly. This only applies to very complex projects though, you will not notice a difference for most projects once you have 4GHz.
  • If you are running other heavy duty software along with AutoCAD (simultanously), then it may be wise to invest on a more expensive multi core CPU(by heavy duty I mean other 3D software, a high graphics game, video editor, animation software,etc).

Intel HK, HX / AMD HX:

If you’re one of those guys making big bucks already, you’re probably curious about these seemingly super high performance CPUs. These are only found on very heavy workstation laptops and the heaviest/biggest gaming laptops (they need a lot of ventilation to run safely at this super high clock speeds). For most purposes however, these are too damn fast, and may only be useful for those working on a very huge collaboratively project in a company. If you are not one of those people, then you’d probably be wasting cash.

Xeon Processors:

Xeon W-11855M 3.2 4.8 6
Xeon W-10855M 2.8 5.1 6

I bet you’ve also set your eyes on these very “exotic” CPUs. The truth is, these are very powerful but they’re not better than all the other CPUs. They’re actually much weaker than what you would find for the same price. These are mostly useful for servers/banking systems/stock trading because these have ECM (Error correcting memory) which helps in these three instances where minuscule amounts and errors are important. (though this helps rendering a bit, it isn’t significant).

What’s said in the video above applies to AutoCAD too. Let’s quickly go over GPUs so you can easily corroborate what’s said in that video above. You should subscribe to that guy since our website isn’t weekly updated and he’ll bring you the latest benchmarks/news about computer hardware.

GPU

Once you’ve got a recent and decent CPU (~4GHz) all that matters is getting the right GPU for the size/complexity of your models.

Getting the right GPU means saving several hundreds of dollars without comprimising smooth viewport performance.

Integrated GPU

AutoCAD will launc if you get a  cheap integrated graphics card and it will even let you work with 3D models. However viewport is going to be very slow, still very workable if models are small/simple such as these:

So if you are a student, you’ll probably be okay with one. Just be sure to get at least a recent Core i5/Ryzen 5 CPU.

Dedicated Graphics Card (dGPU)

If you are using AutoCAD outside school (even if you’re taking a course somewhere else), your models are probably going to be bigger/have more parts/complex. So you’ll be FORCED to get a dedicated GPU otherwise viewport will be painfully slow and pretty much unusable.

How to Choose a dGPU?

The AutoDesk website is not very helpful here. The list of recommended GPUs is only limited to “workstation GPUs”. and not any of the GPUs we had on our list. 

It’s not like they haven’t tested consumer or “gaming” dGPUs with AutoCAD, you bet they did and even people on youtube making tutorials are using them! It’s probably because they just want to avoid people calling them about errors/glitches with GPUs in general.

Long story short, there’s a big battle between the two different types of GPUs: workstation GPUs and consumer “gaming” GPUs.

a. Workstation Cards

These are “certified” by most CAD software companies, this includes AutoDesk.

‘Supposedly’ they have optimized hardware and drivers to deal with the type of calculations of 3D CAD software.

Is this true?

It is but depending on the kind of project the difference  with consumer GPUs is minimal. These are SUPER useful for industry level projects where the simulation of a product/model becomes very complex. These usually have a very large number of objects/parts* assembled together . The figure below is the simulation of a drawing containing the complete 3D model of a stage of the Tait towers used in very important events.

Certified GPUs have dirvers with improved error correction and much more precision so they become very very useful in these instances. This is very different from gaming, where artifacts/wrong shadings/errors are common and acceptable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Stability

They’re said to be more stable, that is, chances of pop up errors and crashing is less likely to happen. However, do note that, AutoCAD rarely if ever crashes with consumer GPUs though and yes you do sometimes get pop up errors but people just click OK and keep going!

In summary, the extra performance doesn’t justify the price for about 95% of AutoCAD users. It does in those very specific instances mentioned

b. Gaming(Consumer) Cards 

Do not be put off the word “gaming”. Nobody’s said these GPUs were designed for gaming only. Also remember that Video/Photo editors do not use workstation GPUs.

Q: they are not designed for CAD software, why would they work?

They work because the architecture (the blueprints) of “gaming” GPUs and “workstation” GPUs are very very similar save for a few minor differences(it’s really only drivers).

As a matter of fact, the hardware and architecture of both of these GPU types is becoming more and more similar with the newer and newer generations. In a few more years, there will probably not be a need to separate into two types anymore.

And actually, most of the recent GPUs, perform equally good or even better than workstation GPUs if we talk about price vs performance.

Compatibility

 Any compatibility issues you may encounter will probably be because you either:

  • If it’s recent, you haven’t likely installed the software correctly.
  • The GPU you’ve got is too OLD. If it is, probably a quick driver update will do the trick.

Which graphics card should you pick then?

A) For small designs OR for a class in engineering school: 

At least a 2 vRAM GPU:

  • GTX 1050,1050Ti, MX250,MX350,MX450. (Older GPUs like the 940,950,960,980M, 970, 950 are compatible and will work too but you won’t find them today especially on laptops).

B) Engineers w/ Mid-Sized Projects

At least 4GBvRAM GPU: That’s  the actual GPU vRAM size recommended by AutoDesk , you can check it here.

  • The GTX 960 has 4GB vRAM and is in fact is the most compatible out ot the bunch (it’s been tested & touted as the best by thousand of users online). If you are building a desktop, you will probably find this one super useful and super cheap because it is 5 years old.
  • Recent GPUs: the updated versions of the 960 are the 1060,2060RTX,3060RTX. All of these are substantially faster and have even more vRAM. More economical GPUs are the 1650GTX and 1050Ti, the latter should be cheaper but as of 2022 it isn’t very common on laptops.

C) Engineers w/ Large Projects

  • If budget allows and your machine will be solely devoted to 3D CAD design (maybe SolidWorks too) AND you’ll be working with very large simulations (like the Tout towers) then you can decide to get one of the latest workstation GPUs, especially the ones with more vRAM:
Workstation GPU  GPU
Equivalent
Cores/Shaders Clock Speed vRAM
P500 MX150- 256 1519 2GB
P520 MX150 384 1493 2GB
K2100M GT 750M 576  667 2GB
K3100 765M- 768 706 4GB
P620 MX250/1050 512 1442 4GB
M620M 950M- 512  1018  4GB
M1000M 950M 512 1072 4GB
Pro WX 3200 RX 550  1082 640 4GB
M2000M 950M/960M 640 1197 4GB
M1200 960GTX 640 1150 4GB
P1000 1050GTX 512 1519 4GB
P2000 1050Ti 768 1468 4GB
T2000 1650/1660Ti 1024 1785 4GB
T1000 1650- 768 1455 4GB
RTX 3000 2070RTX+ 1280 1380 6GB
RTX 4000 2070/2080 2560 1560 8GB
RTX 5000 2080RTX+++ 3072 1350 16GB
RTX A2000 ~3050Ti 2560 1200 4GB
RTX A3000 ~3060RTX 4096 1560 6GB
RTX A4000 ~3070RTX 5120  1560  8GB
RTX A5000 ~3080RTX 6144 1695   16GB
  • DO NOT PICK UP A WORKSTATION THAT’S NOT RECENT AND HAS LESS THAN 6GB vRAM.Seriously, what’s the point of paying thousands of dollars if you’re going to get lower performance than a much cheaper gaming GPU? Be very careful when buying those, they can be expensive too.
  • Even if you are working with very hardware demanding simulations, chances are you’ll also be fine with dedicated gaming GPUs. So if you are on a budget don’t be afraid to pick one. Just be sure to pick one with at least 6GB vRAM, 8GBvRAM would be bullet proof but AutoCAD doesn’t seem to benefit much more beyond that.
  • There will be a few errors popping up with gaming cards but you can just click OK and move on.

Q: What about Old GPUs?

Those compatibility issues you may read somewhere are reall about old generation GPUs. Some of them do not work with AutoCAD. The old GPUs that DO work 100% with AutoCAD are:

  • NVIDIA GTX 780, 780 TI.
  • NVIDIA GTX 750: this was in fact a very popular gaming card recommended by engineering departments back in the days.

Q: But I still keep reading about GeForce Cards having issues when running AutoCAD

Almost 95% of the laptops that you buy come with two graphics cards: Integrated + dedicated. Usually to save power, when the dedicated GPU is not needed, the system will use the integrated GPU.  If the system does with AutoCAD, it’s either not going to run or it’s going to be very very slow.

The solution is to force your computer to run the dedicated GPU whenever you launch AutoCAD. A few more solutions are suggested on that link.

Q: Ok, I’m going for a gaming GPU. What are the best ones then?

1) For undergrads and students of autoCAD

GPU Shaders vRAM Speed
MX150 384 2GB-4GB 1532
MX250 384 2GB-4GB 1582
MX 230 256 2-4GB 1519
MX 350 640 2-4GB 1354
MX 450 896 2-4GB 1580
1050 640 2GB-4GB 1493
1050 Ti 768 4GB 1620
1650 1024 4GB 1560
 
  • any of the GPUs with 2GB vRAM listed above should be okay. The first 5 are not gaming GPUs, they’re entry level GPUs for all purposes (if that somehow helps you feel reassured).
  • I’d push my budget a little more to get either the 1050TI/1650GTX. Like I said, they have the vRAM size (4GB) recommended by AutoCAD and you will find them useful for at least a year if you start working on a job that uses AutoCAD.

2) Working engineers

Which dedicated dGPU is good for me?

Name Cores vRAM Speed
1050 Ti 768 4GB 1620
1650 1024 4GB 1560
1060 1280 6GB 1670
1660 Ti 1536 6GB 1590
3050Ti 2560 4GB 1485
2060 1920 6GB 1680
2080 2944 8GB 1710
2070 2304 8GB 1620 
3060 3584 8GB 1780
3070 5888 8GB 1730
3080 8704 10GB 1710
  • If you’re working with small models, houses, floor plans, simulations of very small/simple devices. You will be fine with the first two.
  • On the other hand, if you are a very low budget and you’re working with large models. At least 6GB vRAM.
  • If you can afford it any of the 8GB vRAM GPUs will maximize performance, though not that much, every bit will help if you’re working very large simulations.

RAM

3D CAD  is ridicously memory hungry. They can quickly use up all the memory you have and slow down things to a crawl if you don’t have the proper amount.

8GB: The bare minimum and will probably be okay for small models and students. 

16GB:  A must for those large projects. This is also helpful for faster rendering.

RAM is upgradeable which means that even if you get 8GB to begin with and you find it insufficient you can always upgrade it to 16GB.

Q: What about 32 or 64GB?

Beyond 16GB, the software starts giving you diminishin returns in drafting performance and rendering .32GB will give you slight increments but 64GB will give you almost no benefits. 

Storage

You have two storage options: SSD (Solid State Drives) and HDD (Hard Disk Drives). 

SSD (Solid State Drive)

Due to their falling prices, SSDs are becoming now the mainstream storage devices and are found on nearly every laptop. This is good because SSDs can read and write data crazy fast. If this is your primary drive and you host Windows , AutoCAD and your project files. Everything will launch incredibly fast ( in seconds).

HDD (Hard Disk Drive)

HDDs are still found on some budget laptops. They’re 5-10x slower than SSDs but they do give you x4 storage space for the same price (1TB). That is no reason to get one though, the speed is just plain bad. Be careful when you shop for laptops because some will not clearly list the type of storage they have.

Q: How Much storage do I really need then?

Not Much.

AutoCAD isn’t heavy but the projects can be.

Students: Since you’ll be dealing with a few projects here and there. These should not go over 4GB. If you are studying AutoCAD outside of engineering school, you’ll be having several more projects but these will not go over 1GB each. 2D plans/objects take even less space in which case 128GB will be okay.

  Most laptops come with 256GB storage though and that’s good because you’ll probably be installing other programs on yours.

Professionals:  If you are working for clients or work with several projects at once you will be okay with 256GB.

If you’d like to have a repository of projects on your laptop, then get at least 512GB.

If you want to take advantage of SSDs speed to boost up performance with the software do the following:

  • Have the OS+AutoCAD on a single SSD.
  • Use the other SSD for any projects you’re working on.
  • Use a third (HDD or SSD) if available, to store old projects or any other files.

This set up above will boost performance with the software even more (though slightly). It is far easier to do this on desktops because you have access to 3 or 4 storage slots. Only workstation laptops allow you to get this kind of set up. All gaming laptops will at least get you two storage slots so you can accomplish almost the same set up.

Display

 You’re going to be staring at this thing for a good part of the day so you want it to be as comfortable as possible, this should increase productivity as well.

Size

More space means bigger previews, better viewport and tools that are on click away (through toolbars). 

Unfortunately size translates to more weight.

Display Weight
13” 3lb
15” 4lb-5lb
17” 6lb-10lb

13”:

It’s going to be very annoying if you are a pro working on a project for several hours non-stop but doable.

Undergrad students can safely get a 13” display because these projects don’t take that much time.

15”: This is more suitable for any serious with AutoCAD.

17”: This is nice and my preferred display size but i’d only get one of these if you are moving your laptop from your house to your office.

Resolution

High resolutions will also help you fit in more tools and a bigger part of your interface next to your canvas which again allow you to quickly access commands and tools instead of having to click on menus. This is because images and objects, if reduced in size, are more easily distinguished if more pixels are available.

1080p:  Bare minimum for both AutoCAD in 2D and 3D. You don’t have to specifically look for this much resolution if you’re buying a laptop with a dedicated GPU, they all have at least 1080p.

4k: This used to cause some issues in the past by placing interfaces and tools out of place but this is no longer an issue. Although initially interface tools may too small to distinguish at first you can adjust the size. The only problem with these is their price, they’re very very expensive.

Operating System

Mac OSX

OSX will be fine   if you are an undergrad  student since you’ll be using AutoCAD sparingly (note that not all AutoCAD software is available on a Mac)

However, you can use parallels if you’re using any AutoCAD software in 2D and bootcamp if it’s a 3D software.

Windows

If you are serious with AutoCAD, there’s no other option than using Windows.

Comments

If you have any questions, suggestions, feedback or perhaps any experiences with AutoCAD software with your current machine, please let us know (posting specs would help us tremendously).

 

7 thoughts on “The 8 Best Laptops For AutoCad in 2022 (Ultimate Hardware Guide)

  • November 18, 2017 at 5:03 pm
    Permalink

    Great article! its very useful and accurate about the autodesk or CAD necessities. Well done!

    Reply
  • November 28, 2017 at 2:52 am
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    The ASUS K501UW is sold out everywhere, but a “newer version” is available for under $1000: https://www.amazon.com/VivoBook-i7-7700HQ-Processor-GeForce-keyboard/dp/B071ZL3996/ref=dp_ob_title_ce#HLCXComparisonWidget_feature_div

    What do you think?

    Reply
    • November 28, 2017 at 3:12 am
      Permalink

      Unfortunately you are right the ASUS K501UW is sold out, the culprit being this page obviously ๐Ÿ™‚ .

      But your suggestion is a great alternative the graphics card is upgraded and the CPU is faster too Unfortunately that comes with the drawback of a very low battery life and the upgrades won’t make much of a difference with AutoCAD but it’s nice to have them anyways if you want to use other 3D Modeling programs with it. The specs are overkill for beginners with 3D Modeling software and if you are a student constantly on the move.

      Reply
      • November 30, 2017 at 4:01 pm
        Permalink

        This would be one of the low cost leaders, with a price tag less than $1000. Iโ€™m glad to hear that it is overkill for a beginner… so is there anything new since the article came out that is suitable for a beginner with a proportionally smaller price tag?

        Reply
        • December 3, 2017 at 9:49 pm
          Permalink

          Hey, sorry for taking so long. Honestly the higher the CPU power and graphics card the lower the battery life, so the 7 hour battery life claimed by most manufacturers is probably not true. You’re better off reading reviews on amazon, I bet the battery is about 2-3 hours but who knows. If you really want a long battery life at a low price you have to sacrifice either the CPU or the graphics card, since the graphics card is more essential for autocad just look for laptops with dedicated GPUs and CPU with the U tag on it (they stand for ultra low power). As i wrote in the article, AutoCad doesn’t care if you have 1000 core CPU, it only cares about the clock speed so you should be good with a regular CPU , just make sure you have a dedicated graphics card either from 940MX or 960MX these are the sweet spots and most recommended for beginners or those in a budget. I use the 940MX myself and have no issues with it.

          Reply
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