The 8 Best Laptops For AutoCAD 2023 (Latest Software Update)

As you’ve probably found out by now finding the best laptop for AutoCAD is quite confusing.

Some people on reddit or quora claim that laptops with integrated graphics cards will run AutoCAD just fine.

And then you have review sites & AutoDesk telling you to only buy laptops with ‘workstation’ graphics. 

Having worked with AutoCAD since my undergrad years for different types of projects (the robot you see on my profile & circuit plans in 2D) I can understand the confusion.

The reason for that is…

There’s not one size fit all.

What’s the best laptop for AutoCAD will depend on what you do with AutoCAD. 

For example someone whose work relies on 3D viewport for objects of the size / # polygons shown below (house planning, mechanical design) will only need a laptop that has a dedicated GPU with 4GB vRAM or even 2GB vRAM such as the 3050Ti, 1650GTX or 1050Ti they sell for ~700 dollars.

Note despite the high number of parts of the motorcyle. Viewport only uses a fraction of the total 4GB vRAM GPU power.

Whereas someone who works with 2D designs such as plans and maps (anything in 2D) only has to find a laptop with a recent CPU and ditch the graphics card altogether which reduces the price to ~450 dollars.

Note that the integrated GPU only uses 20% of its total power for a 2D plan with no need of the dGPU (i’ve disabled it to show you the iGPU can do it just fine).

What about workstation laptops? 

Workstation laptops are no different than regular laptops except for the GPU which is supposedly designed for CAD software. That’s true to some extent but for most people will not find workstation GPUs (FirePro , Quadro) useful unless they’re working with very realistic representation of objects of thousands of parts in a LOD between 400 and 500. I’ll explain why and more details in the last section.

Before we go over the best laptops for AutoCAD, I want to talk about what hardware AutoCAD finds useful (you can check the benchmarks at the end of this post too) so you can see you are getting the best bang for your buck in this post.

Best Laptop Specs For AutoCAD

As we’ve discussed the hardware you need will depend on the size of the models you’re working with. AutoDesk’s hardware requirements aren’t really very helpful so to make it easy I’ve summarized everything in the following table:

 AutoCAD* Small ~ 300 parts Medium ~ 500-1000 Large  +1000
GPU  

2GB-4GB vRAM dGPU

4GB vRAM +6GB vRAM dGPU
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 8GB RAM 16GB 32-64GB

*Remember if you’re only working with 2D AutoCAD (maps, countours, circuit design,etc) on AutoCAD. You can ditch the graphics card altogether and focus on CPU only.

a) Small : 90% of the people reading this will fall into this category (Civil engineers, Architects, mechanical engineers especially students).
b) Medium: Some will work with mechanical objects which fall into this category.
c) Large: if you work with a company that designs machinery for very large scale events or buildings on multiple sheets, you need at least 6GB vRAM if you’re going to split up the design into several files (work with many people) . If not, you’re going to need as much GPU power as you can get (focus on vRAM).

CPU

Drawing/Drafting/Viewport:  AutoCAD isn’t multi-threaded. How fast you can draw and draft will depend on how fast your CPU clock speed is and NOT how many CORES it has. This means you should pick the CPU with the highest ‘clock-speed performance’. Below is a summary:

Core i7 11800H>Core i7 11375H=AMD Ryzen 7 5800H=Core i5 12500H>AMD Ryzen 7 4800H>AMD Ryzen 5 5600H>Core i5 11300H>AMD Ryzen 5 4600H> Core i5 9300H>AMD Ryzen 5 3550H = Core i5 8300H

Rendering: although multiple cores make rendering faster, most CPUs (above) have at least 6 cores and that’s enough to make rendering as fast as 8-10 cores for small & medium projects.

GPU

TL;DR: Mostly helps with viewport More vRAM = Better. 

Viewport: Although the CPU is ALSO used for viewport. The addition of a dedicated GPU, more specific. vRAM, will massively improve viewport performance for 3D objects w/ +100 parts or polygons. About 99% of CAD users should get a smooth viewport with 4GB vRAM (Most models take ~1-2GB vRAM). 

Rendering: AutoCAD will sparingly use the GPU for rendering,  #CPU cores is way more important. For third party renderers (3DS Max & Lumion) CUDA cores on NVIDIA GPUs will speed up rendering significantly.

RAM
8GB: Enough for small models. There’s about 3GB left (after Windows & AutoCAD is open). More can help with rendering but not for viewport or drafting/drawing.

16GB: Minimum for those working with AutoCAD on a daily basis. This will speed up rendering too.
32GB-64GB: Only useful for those with extremely large models.

Storage
256GB: AutoCAD Files only take 100MB on average and the largest ones will take up 4GB. Assuming you install only AutoCAD & Windows, 256GB will turn into 200GB space left for all of your projects. Most students and autocad users should be fine with this much.
512GB: If you’re going to install other CAD software or games AND you work with AutoCAD on a daily basis (thus you accumulate project files), this is a minimum. 


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. Newst HP Victus

Best Laptop for AutoCAD

  Intel Core i5-12450H (4 Cores)

  8GB RAM

   GeForce GTX 1650 4GB vRAM

  512GB PCIe SSD

  15” FHD 1080p IPS

  5lbs

  4 hours

  GPU Performance (4GB vRAM)

I’m not going to list the lowest tier laptops (2GB vRAM) in this post because they can cost as much as the mid-tier (4GB vRAM) laptops.

I believe this is a good thing for everyone who came across this post because 4GB vRAM will be ‘more than enough’ for AutoCAD students & undergrads ( you can see  here it’s actually better than what most engineering schools recommend )  while at the same time meeting the exact requirements for nearly all professional CAD engineers working as freelancers or at an actual rather small company who deals with 3D buildings or models of the size shown below:

 

2GB vRAM GPUs:

If you cannot pay 600 or 700 dollars for a 1650GTX oe 3050Ti laptop, then I advice you to buy a 2GB vRAM ONLY under the condition that you are either a student OR you KNOW for sure all the models you’ll be working with will stay around the size shown above.

AutoCAD isn’t really as hardware demanding as people believe. I’ve seen it run flawlessly on an old Radeon 4000 (very old desktop GPU) for models of the scale shown above.

I’ve also used AutoCAD 5 years with an HP laptop that had a 2GB vRAM 940MX and viewport NEVER gave lag. Again be sure that your models do not grow in the size of 500-1000 parts! Otherwise you will have some lag with viewport.

Name GPU CPU Storage RAM Price
ZenBook 14 MX450 Ryzen 5500U 256GB 8GB 529
ZenBook 14 MX450 Ryzen 5500U 256GB 8GB 599
ZenBook 14 MX450 Ryzen 5500U 256GB 8GB 539
ZenBook MX350 Ryzen 4500U 256GB 8GB 550
ZenBook MX350 Ryzen 4500U 256GB 8GB 555

CPU: Core i5-12450H (4 Cores , 4.4GHz)

You can find better CPUs with a 1650GTX but they’ll raise the price significantly. However, even this CPU is crazy crazy fast for what most AutoCAD users work with. There’s no chance you will ever face a loading bar due to lack of CPU power with ANY CPU above 4GHz.

The only real disadvantage here will be the # cores for rendering, 4 cores isn’t going to make things painfully slow but you can get 6 cores from slightly more expensive laptops (we’ll go over) which reduces rendering times significantly (say if something takes 5 min, a 6 core CPU will do it in 3).

GPU: 1650GTX vs High Tier GPUs

You may not be too impressed with a 1650GTX because you’ve probably read on some forums most CAD users, even the pros, have a 6GB vRAM GPU but like I said, it’s an individual thing and I can tell you most of those CAD users have never come across a model that needs 6GB vRAM to use viewport.

In fact, if you have ANY computer right now that has a dedicated GPU, you can open AutoCAD and the task manager like I did and do the test with the typical or the biggest model you’ll think you’ll work with then use viewport and monitor GPU usage. You’ll notice GPU almost NEVER bottlenecking..

We’ll list a 6GB vRAM laptop (the most powerful there is with the best specs/money ratio) if you still are not convinced.

Q: What about going for a 6GB vRAM just in case AutoDesk starts to add ‘GPU’ accelerated effects? Or just to be future-proof for upcoming updates?

It’s been about 20 years since AutoCAD’s been released (maybe even more) and there hasn’t been any mention of adding video instruction sets (GPU usage for drawing/drafting) to AutoCAD. You may see rather significant gains when rendering with future updates if you go for a better GPU but actuallly (I discuss this in the last section) , GPU rendering does not use vRAM. It uses CUDA cores. 

Again, if you know you’re going to face extremely large and complex models, then yes by all means go for a 6GB or 8GB vRAM. Just remember it’s not going to help for the kind of projects most people work with.

Alternatives:

This is not the only good deal with a 1650GTX, there are plenty of slightly cheaper models. Some might  ditch the 120Hz display (which is useless for AutoCAD) and some may come with a slightly older CPU (this is also not a bad trade-off).

Name CPU GPU Display Storage Price
Idepad i3 i5 11300H 1650GTX 60Hz 256GB 648
Lenovo L340 i5 9300H 1650GTX 60Hz 256GB 624
MSI GF63 i5 10300H 1650GTX 60Hz 256GB 599
MSI GF63 i5 9300H 1650GTX 60Hz 256GB 544
MSI GF63 i5 10200H 1650GTX 60Hz 256GB 599
Ideapad 3 R5 5600H 1650GTX 120Hz 256GB 630
MSI GV15 i5 11400H 1650GTX 144Hz 256GB 639
MSI GF63 i5 10300H 1650GTX 60Hz 256GB 564
Lenovo L340 i5 9300H 1650GTX 60Hz 256GB 601

Buy Now


2. Lenovo Ideapad 3

Best Budget Laptop For AutoCAD

  Ryzen 5 5600H

  8GB DDR4

   GeForce GTX 1650

  256GB PCIe NVMe SSD

  15” 120Hz Full HD IPS

  4.96lb

  5 hours

This is a laptop taken straight out of the alternatives table I’ve put up above.

Hardware:  1650GTX + 256GB SSD

It’s got the same GPU & RAM but has half the storage capacity again not a big trade off for most users unless you have hundreds of CAD project files and plan to keep them all on a laptop.

CPU: Ryzen 5 5600H (6 Cores , +4GHz)

The advantage of this model is the CPU, like I said, 2 cores is going to translate to massive gains when rendering. Because this Ryzen 5 5600H has “BETTER” multi-core performance , which means clock speed remains evens across all cores, it can translate to even greater gains. Having this model myself, a 2D realistic view rendering with one of those heavy material finish takes about 1 min TOPS. 

Storage & RAM: Upgradeable

All laptops in this list can have storage and ram upgrades and this one is no exception so if you find yourself short of storage or you think you’re going to need more RAM, this is one of the easiest laptops to upgrade I’ve come across. You can check my tutorials on how to the upgrade on a similar model.

The model that I used to do the upgrade has a 3050Ti instead of the 1650GTX which you are welcomed to buy (it’s only going to make rendering faster with external renderers because there’s a slight increase in CUDA cores with the 3050Ti). The process and steps outlined however should be pretty much the same.

Buy Now


3. 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

  14.4”  2400 x 160

  3.8-4lbs

  8 hours

The problem with budget gaming laptops with a dedicated GPU is that they’re all somewhat heavy and very hard to carry. This may pose a problem if you’re constantly moving from the office to client’s places and it’s even a bigger problem if you are still student. The Surface Series are a line of devices which are the most portable laptops that pack a LOT of power and some models like the Surface Book & Surface Studio even incorporate a dedicated GPU on a 3lb device which you will not find from any other brand.

 Performance

All Surfaces devices can work with 3D models in AutoCAD without problems. However, only those with a dedicated GPU will stop lagging when you use viewport with medium-large models.

The Surface Studio is has a 3050Ti (4GB vRAM) with a Core i7 that matches the performance of the AMD Ryzen 7 5800H (except for the lack of two extra cores) while the Surface Book 3 has a 1660Ti (6GB vRAM) with a similar but older CPU.  Clearly both GPUs have way too much vRAM for most CAD users reading this. I would not even go for the 6GB vRAM Surface Book 3 as I doubt anyone will come across a model that requires 6GB vRAM.

On the other hand, there’s the Surface Pro series, the Surface Pro 9 recently came out but ANY of the older models should handle 3D models in the 50-100 parts range witih no issues. Yes it can handle 3d models despite the lack of dedicated graphics (vRAM) but you have to choose a model with a recent CPU (no older than a 8th gen CPU) and 8GB RAM for this to work. 

Rendering:

Rendering is not adviced with the Surface Models if you’re using Revit or 3DS Max because it takes much longer in such laptops and that can be quite taxxing on the CPU bringing temperatures high for long periods of time. However, AutoCAD renders only take a 1 min or two with a recent CPU so yes you can use all of these models for rendering. If you see the renders taking 20-30 min, then you probably want to use the cloud and avoid rendering withi t.

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.

Buy Now


4. Lenovo Legion 5 Pro

The Best Laptop For AutoCAD engineers 

  AMD Ryzen 7 5800H

  16GB DDR4

   NVIDIA RTX 3060 130W

  512GB PCIe NVMe

  16” QHD 165Hz IPS

  5.4 lbs

  4 hours

If you want something that will be 100% bullet proof for ANYTHING you come across in film making school, you don’t necessarily need to go all out and grab a high tier GPU like the 3080RTX or even the 3080Ti.

As we talked about before, most professionals will be happy with a 3060RTX especially a full wattage 3060RTX (max – 130W) which is significantly faster than the lower-tier 3050Ti and 1650GTX GPUs. 

This laptop has the most powerful dedicated graphics I’d recommend for virtually ALL autocad users reading this.

  GPU: 3060RTX 6GB vRAM 130W ~

This laptop is more expensive than your average 3060RTX laptop mostly for two reasons:

  • Wattage runs at 130W. Most will run at 105W and some (under 900 dollars) will run at 85W. Less power means slower ‘CUDA’ cores which ISN’t bad for viewport purposes. In theory you could grab a 85W 3060RTX and it will still handle the same models this one can because both will have 6GB vRAM. However, rendering with external renders like Lumion or 3DS Max will take longer with a lower wattage 3060RTX. So it’s totally up to you.
  • Display is QHD 16”: Unlike most 3060RTX laptops that are cheaper than this one, the resolution here is much higher and the display is slightly bigger. This means more space for viewport and for navigating through a model as well as more space to put interface bars all over the place.
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 5800H vs Core i7 11800H

While it’s true the Core i7 11800H is ‘faster’ that only applies to single-clock speed performance and to be fair we are already in workstation clock speeds (~4.5GHz) any increase in clock speeds beyond this will have minimal impact even on large models when drawing and drafting. I advice you to grab the AMD Ryzen 7 5800H model of the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro because it’s cheaper and it’s actually got ‘better’ multi-core performance , meaning rendering will be faster AND viewport will also be slightly faster (I have posted picture of autocad multi-core usage when doing these two tasks in the last section).

 

What about the 3080 8GB vRAM Model? Any advantage? 

Pudget systems has benchmarks GPUs with different vRAM on a very complex model with about 1000 parts as shown in the video linked in the first link. It ran absolutely fine with a 4GB vRAM , e ven a 2GB vRAM GPU still had lagless viewport. So why would you want to buy an 8GB vRAM if you work with those kind of projects, there may be a small fps gain when using viewport but nothing you’ll eye will really notice and much less improve your workflow as 4GB and 6GB vRAM will give you plenty of speed. You can check the benchmarks on this link.

Now if you think you’re going to work with something super complex like skycrapper building with LOD in the 400-500, or city plans in 3D, objects with 5000 mechanical parts, then yes 8GB vRAM might make viewport smoother but I dare to say even those kind of projects will still run absolutely fine with a 6GB vRAM dGPU . I would instead try to up the CPU to maybe a Core i9 or a Core i7 with more clock speed performance.


5. MSI CreatorPro Z16P

Best Workstation Laptop for AutoCAD

  Core i9-12900H 4.9GHz

  64GB DDR5 RAM

   NVIDIA Quadro RTX A5500 16GB

  1TB NVMe SSD

  16” 164Hz FHD Touch 

  6.36lb

  1 hours

Obviously if you have a lot of money to spare, having a workstation GPU is not going to hurt you. Although you probably will never put the GPU power to good use with AutoCAD, you might find it useful if you are hard pressed to unlock special functions like Real View Graphics or run models with literally thousands of parts and would rather avoid any artifacts or errors that may come across (most which you would just click OK and be fine with gaming GPUs).

 Performance

 
As for performance gains, you will probably never see any performance gains with AutoCAD. Workstation GPUs  do have some usefulness but mostly for other CAD software like SolidWorks & CATIA which are more specialized in simulating the actual physics & mechanics of every part in the design and that’s exactly where workstation GPUs excel at. 
 
Now this particular GPU I chose is very different from all the rest of workstation GPUs available (you can see the compelte list in the last section) because it has far more vRAM than any consumer grade GPU or workstation GPU.
 
On the other hand, if you choose say a RTX A3000, it’s not going to perform any different (save for less artifacting) than a gaming GPU with the same amount of vRAM.  There are several channels on youtube comparing performance of similar in power (vRAM) gaming vs workstation GPUs as shown in the video below and the conclusion is still the same:
 
 

Let’s say your company has already tried laptops with gaming consumer GPUs (with 8GB vRAM) and the latest CPU on each and everyone’s still facing errors, lag when viewport (which I find very unlikely unless you’ve got really old harwdare) then yes it’s definitely a good reason to buy workstation laptops.

Lastly, another good reason to buy workstation laptops is their size, their ridiculously heavy and thick which means there’s a good ventilation system to keep your laptop running for years to come.

 For whatever reason , if you are serious about getting a workstation laptop (perhaps you have no choice and the company has told you to buy them due to the ‘additional’ Autodesk support), be sure to check this table so you can have an idea what each workstation GPU is equal to in terms of consumer gaming GPUs found on laptops. It is important because workstation GPUs are usually overpriced due to the lack of knowledge of their actual power and also most people assume there are no workstation GPUs with more vRAM than what gaming GPUs offer (workstation GPUs can have 16GB).
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
RTX A5500 ~3080Ti     16GB
RTX A6000 ????? Soon to be released

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


3 Best Laptops for AutoCAD in 2D

The following laptops are not necessarily ONLY going to run AutoCAD LT & AutoCAD Electrical. They can run regular AutoCAD and will run 2D models with zero issues. They can also run 3D models and viewport will be lagless as long as models stay below 50-100 parts. Thus they’re mostly for civil engineers, electrical engineers, etc, or any designing models in 2D.


6. HP Laptop 14

Cheap Best Laptop For AutoCAD LT 2023 and AutoCAD in 2D

  AMD Ryzen 5 5500U

  8GB DDR4

   Radeon Vega 7

  256GB PCIe NVMe SSD

  14” FHD TN Anti-Glare

  3.24 lbs

  7 hours

    Windows 10 HOME

If you want to have smootoh performance with ANY CAD software for 2D models and small 3D models, you need to make sure you have one of the latest integrated GPUs and those come by default with the latest generation CPUs. For Intel, we are currently in the 12th gen but 11th gen CPUs are much cheaper and just as fast for 2D CAD models, the same can be said about 5th generation Ryzen CPUs.

The Ryzen 7 and Core i7s however are way too expensive and they don’t really return any more gains than the Core i5/Ryzen 5. The Ryzen 3/Core i3 models are way cheaper but they definitely will not be able to handle 3D models (they will handle of all your work in 2D though). 

The model I’m listing here is not a Ryzen 3/Core i3 but you are welcomed to choose those if you know for sure you’ll be stuck with 2D Cad Models.


7. Surface Pro 9

Best 2 in 1 Laptop For AutoCAD 2D 

  12th gen I7-2640M

  8-16GB RAM DDR5

  ‎Intel Iris Xe Graphics

  1TB SSD

  13” IPS 2736×1824

  1.9lb and above

  +11 hours

The Surface Pro is the only line of the Surface series that you can customize the hardware to the point of making it as cheap as 600 dollars. I would advice you though to keep the same idea when choosing a Surface Pro : Core i5 + 8GB RAM for reasons explained above. This may bump up the price to 800 (maybe more on newer models – the surface 9 only has a core i7 CPU) but it’s going to be worth all the extra cash, you’re not going to find the same power in such a portable machine.

The CPU found on  those 600 dollar models (usually older CPUs) will work just fine for purely 2D cad models, the problem with those is the lack of RAM, they’re usually limited to 4GB and that’s a very limiting factor for performance especially with recent versions of Windows which will take up most of it. 


8. Lenovo Business Pro 5

Best Lenovo Laptop For AutoCAD in 2D

  AMD Ryzen 5 3500U

  12GB DDR4 

   Intel HD

  256GB SSD

  17.3″ HD

  5.56lb

  7 hours

This is probably my favorite laptop of the entire list and if I had to work with mostly 2D plans and only sparingly rely on viewport for 3D objects, this would be my top choice. It only sells for about 600 dollars but I think it’s worth about 800 if not more and I would go as far as paying 850 dolalrs for this model for two reasons:

  • 16” Display: 1 inch make not seem like a big difference but when you consider that this measurement is taken diagonally, it adds a LOT of screen space to your workspace area. You can fit an extra 3-4 tool bars with tons of actions at the top and the sides (making it about 12) or you can just enjoy the extra canvas for your 2D model.
  • QHD: I cannot stress this enough. I have never in my 15 years of buying computers for my company seen a QHD resolution screen under 650 dollars on a laptop, in fact, I have not even seen it on laptops around 1000 dollars and this is the main reason why I would pay this much money for this laptop.
  • Ryzen 5 5600H: This is not a CPU you find on laptops without dedicated graphics. This is perfect for ultra fast rendering with AutoCAD (4 cores / 8 threads) and has +4GHz too. 
  • 512GB: You are NOT going to need to upgrade storage with this model. Surprisingly it already comes with 512GB although you can upgrade it to have another SSD of your choice.

I’m still baffled how you can find this much hardware goodness under 600 dollars, it’s probably fluke but hopefully and the price might be changed to around 800 soon but hopefully it doesn’t.

If you’re buying this for a bunch of electrical or civil engineers working with 2D plans or maps, I would really just buy a dozen it’s only going to help the company really especially the extra screen space.


Buying The Best Laptop For AutoCAD – Hardware Guide

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 and draw.

As you probably know there are two specs on a CPU: clock speed and # cores, there’s also cache size but that’s sort of irrelevant for laptops because there isn’t much CPU variety as in desktops. 

Because the speed of your workflow is based on how fast you can use tools, draw and rotate. We’ll check the performance of CPU in each of these instances so we can draw conclusions on whether to focus on clock speed or # cores when shopping for a laptop or desktop.

 Drawing & Design: Single Core 

When it comes to drawing and drafting as you can see above although the software is apparently somewhat ‘multi-core’ when doing this, all the processing is still done by a single core. What’s interesting is that it’s not even one core but more like HALF a Core (only one thread is used – each core has two threads).

There are several tasks in AutoCAD (a bit more in AutoCAD 2023 ) that are multithreaded now.  Ex:

  • Threaded Xref regen
  • WHIPTHREAD
  • Publish multi-processing
  • ASM tessellation

That doesn’t mean however your top priority should be focusing on as many cores as possible if you want a fast workflow when drafting.

You aren’t likely to spend a lot of time going through those functions listed in the link and even if you do, they only make use of 3-4 cores at best and do not necessarily make use of all cores evenly (See Graph Above). Most laptops have at least 4 cores now and most desktops CPUS have 6 so you’re going to get as many as AutoCAD will find useful for drafting anyways. 

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

For rendering yes, we’ll get to that.

But for drafting/editing/drawing, none of them really finds more cores as useful as high single clock speed performance.

The focus for super fast workflow when drafting should be single-core clock speed performance aka a fast CPU , #cores is not useful

Viewport: Multi-Core 

Now viewport is an interesting topic when it comes to 3D modeling software.

Most people assume it’s all down to the GPU but that’s not true, it’s actually a CPU task too. Obviously, a CPU will do a much much less efficient job at handling much bigger models than the above but if your models stay around the size , a CPU with 4GHz of clock speed should be no problem. 

Viewport: panning, zooming, orbiting , rotating,etc, is a CPU task that’s somewhat multi-core. Conclusion: focus should be single-clock core speed in the absence of a good dedicated GPU

Rendering: Multi-Core

Rendering is going to be a multi-core task, no matter what kind of software you use, if there’s something to render, more cores will do it faster. Now the question becomes how many cores will AutoCAD find useful for rendering? Well, it makes sense to say that the more you have the better and there’s no limit to it and that’s true…

But…

What if 4 cores already render a model as shown above in less than 5 seconds? Would you spend an additional 300 dollars to make rendering take 2.5 seconds? That’s totally up to you. But if you’re going to work with super large models (with 5000 polygons and maybe even a 3D render of the object) then you probably want to invest on a CPU with as many cores as you can afford because that should take MUCH MUCH longer ~1h on average. Most people don’t do that anyways.

Rendering is a multi-core task. The more cores the better but you won’t see significant gains when rendering if you work with models of the size shown above as it’ll only take a few seconds

Conclusion: Recommended CPUs

Intel CPUs

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

AMD CPUs

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

Slow, Average, Fast, Fast, Very Fast, Extremely Fast

AutoCAD 2D

Pretty much any CPU released within the past 4 years will do. Even those Core i3 and Ryzen 3 in red.I would recommend you get a Core i5 or Ryzen 5 from the tables above because chances are you will also work with small 3D models at some point and even for the model in the picture, these will be plenty fast for rendering & viewport too. 

 

AutoCAD 3D: Small to Medium Models

You could in theory get a Core i3 and Ryzen 3 laptop with an integrated GPU but viewport will be slow and you’ll also have to wait for loading bars when doing a couple of design tasks (mostly those involving rendering and viewport). 

As a bare bone minimum you should aim for a Core i5 or Ryzen 5 (U or G – low voltage ). That should give you a fast workflow. 2D renders will be fast too (take 30 seconds at the most). However, viewport will start to lag (though still fast enough to get the job done) as soon as you work with something like the models in the figures above.

You would have to add a dedicated GPU to the CPU for a very fast workflow we’ll go over that next.

 

AutoCAD 3D : Extremely large Models with +1000 parts

You would nee at least a Core i7 or Ryzen 7from the table above to make design tasks, drafting, fast. You’d want to break the project when it starts to lag though.

Xeon CPUs:

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

The only real advantage they bring to the table is making super high resolution and details render faster and by faster I mean taking 30 seconds as opposed to taking 1:30 half with regular CPUs because they have way way more cores.

As for the ECM feature (Error correcting memory) it is not paramount for AutoCAD. All CPUs will do the same job.

These Xeon CPUS  however are useful for servers/banking systems/stock trading where small fluctuations in calculations can translate to much bigger consequences.

GPU

Integrated GPU: AutoCAD 2D

If you are using AutoCAD for 2D projects as shown below (landscape, maps, circuit design, etc):

Map of a city does not use Viewport and CPU usage is minimal when navigating through it.

You do not need to worry about graphics cards, the ‘integrated GPU’s that come by default with CPUs will do the work. You’d want to make sure to pick a recent CPU so you can get ‘by default’ a recent integrated GPU, though not exactly useful for AutoCAD in 2D , it’ll be useful for small models in 3D or any viewport you may come across in the future. 

CPU iGPU
i3 1115G4 Intel Xe*
i5  1135G7 Intel Xe
i7 1135G7 Intel Xe
Ryzen 3 5300U RX Vega 6
Ryzen 5 5500U RX Vega 7
Ryzen 7 5700U RX Vega 8

I would avoid the Ryzen 7 and Core i7 CPUs for 2D AutoCAD simply because they’re unnecessarily powerful and too expensive.

Dedicated GPU: 3D AutoCAD

Dedicated GPUs add +200 dollars to the overall cost of a laptop or a desktop. Some graphics can add up to +1000 dollars to the total cost (on laptops) so it’s important to know which of these graphics cards will be enough for what you do, you don’t want to overspend on a graphics card you’ll literally never put to full use.

Below is a summary of all modern graphics cards found on laptops and desktops (desktop specs will be different though).

NVIDIA 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

 

NVIDIA 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

There’s only two instances where they become useful ‘3D Viewport’ an PERHAPS Rendering.

A) Viewport: vRAM

They’re called dedicated because they have their own ‘vRAM’. Dedicated ‘memory’ for graphics. If you have a 3D object and configure AutoCA D to use your ‘dedicated’ graphics card as show below:

AutoCAD using dedicated GPU with 6GB vRAM to orbit a 3D object.

It’ll store your 3D project on vRAM which massively accelerated the speed at which you can interact with the object through viewport. If you are having LAG right now and you have dedicated GPU, you may not really need to upgrade your graphics but rather make sure that AutoCAD is using your dedicated GPU by checking hardware options.

2-4GB vRAM: Viewport for a house or a 3D object with ~100-500 parts as shown in the all the figures will run totally fine with GPUs labeled Red/Blue in the table.

If you are a student, this is definitely going to be the case for you (50-100 parts models) so you don’t have to spend more than 700 bucks on a laptop for AutoCAD. If you are a professional architect, mechanical engineers, 3D engineers (freelance), etc, you will probably be fine with a 4GB vRAM GPU too

6GB vRAM:  Useful for viewport for extremely large models with ~1000 polygons. Sort of like the Tait towers. This is still not too expensive so you can grab a dGPU with this much vRAM to sort of be ‘future-proof’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

B) Rendering: CUDA Cores

As shown in the CPU section, rendering is mostly a CPU task. There will be a slight GPU usage when you render much bigger objects (the CUDA Cores act as additional cores) but it will still be 95% CPU’s job. This is for AutoCAD’s built-in renderer!

Having the latest GPU will not significantly increase rendering times as much as having a better CPU will. Most rendering tasks in AutoCAD take a few minutes TOPs very rarely will they take 30min to 1h.

Rendering with third party software

Now if you use third-party renders such as Lumion or 3DS Max for which GPUs ‘much more useful.

The part that does the rendering FASTER are the CUDA ‘CORES’ found in NVIDIA GPUs, they’re not as efficient as ‘CPU Cores’ but they still speed up performance when rendering because there are hundreds if not thousands of little ‘cores’ inside a GPU.

Thus if you want to render with OTHER SOFTWARE OUTSIDE of AUTOCAD & YOU WANT RENDERING TO BE MUCH FASTER then it is WISE to spend A LOT of MONEY on a dedicated GPU whether it’s for a laptop or desktop. If those two conditions are not MET, you should just settle with 4GB vRAM GPUs.

C) Workstation GPUs

You can probably see why you don’t need any workstation GPUs now:

  • Graphics card are only useful for Viewport. Not for Drafting & Editing.
  • Viewport only uses a small fraction of the GPU total power.
  • Most people work with very small models for which autocad will only use ~1GB vRAM.
  • There is zero issues regarding errors & stability with consumer gaming cards.

Now if the old IT guy in the building has forced you or told you to look for WORKSTATION LAPTOPs or WOrkstation GPUs on desktop or you have so much money you can afford the ‘extra’ stability when using viewport (this is sarcasm btw) then you gotta make sure you use the following table so you are not ripped off:

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

Because most people think having a workstation GPU(any) is better than any consumer GPU for AutoCAD, vendors will put a much higher price tag on these when in reality only a few workstation GPUs are better than the latest consumer GPU.

When are Workstation GPUs useful for AutoCAD? Aren’t they recommended anyways?

They are SUPER useful for those type of projects that need as much vRAM as you can get. Think about the tait towers, which was an project divided into several files and about a team of 10 people working on the combined 3D model. Parts per file was probably around 1000 with a LOD of 500 if not more and when you start using viewport with that much detail.

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

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

Now you probably heard that these workstation GPUs have special ‘drivers’ with improved error correction and they are more precise with floating point operations thus there is no artifacts , wrong shaders.

You might get some errors here and there when using viewport and working through a model but this is very very rare and even if it happens, you can just click ‘ACCEPT’ or ‘OK’ or ‘NEXT’ and move on….it won’t stop you from doing your work.

Also, most of the issues people report about ‘gaming’ or consumer cards due to ‘bad shaders’ or ‘slow viewport’ and ‘artifacts’ is again probably because they need AutoCAD to recognize their GPU and either installing drivers or forcing autocad to use the dGPU will fix the issue.

RAM

It is no secret that 3D Cad software is extremely memory demanding. If you fail to get the bare minimum, everything will slow down to a crawl even if you have the best CPU & GPU in the world. 

Drafting & Viewport

8GB: The bare minimum for students. Windows already takes 4GB. Background processes will take up ~1GB…leaving 3GB to AutoCAD. 

16GB:  This is sort of bullet proof for drawing very large & detailed models. More RAM doesn’t seem to help beyond 16GB.

Rendering

Fast renders depend on both a good CPU and RAM. For large & complex models , the more RAM you have the better. You will see benefits up to 32GB. I use 64GB and saw no gains at this point.

Although most people should be fine with 16GB which should get you  ~1min renders with the type of objects you’ve seen in this post.

Storage

As of 2023, there are still two types of storage:

SSD (Solid State Drives) and HDD (Hard Disk Drives). 

SSD (Solid State Drive)

They are now found on nearly every laptop. This is a good thing for all CAD users buying a new laptop because these SSDs will massively improve reading / writing performance with AutoCAD files. This will speed up operating such as:

  • Launching Windows 10 in 5 sec
  • Launching AutoCAD in less than 1 min
  • Saving/Loading Files ~20 sec
  • Importing files ~1 min

HDD (Hard Disk Drive)

They are obselete on modern laptops, only found on under 300 dollar laptops which have weak CPUs for AutoCAD anyways.

If you are buying a laptop to replace a laptop you’ve found too slow for AutoCAD. There’s a big chance that replacing the HDD for an SSD (after upgrading RAM to 16GB) is all you really need since AutoCAD is mostly CPU intensive. 

Q: How Much storage do I need ?

AutoCAD takes about 10GB tops. Your output files are the ones that will take up most of your storage. Some models may only weight ~100MB tops but huge models ~1GB.

Even then 256GB (provided you don’t install games or anything) should be plenty of space. Virtually all laptops in 2023 have 256GB of storage.

If you ever run out of space (unlikely unless you install other CAD software like Revit & Solidworks) then you can just upgrade it on your own. I have a tutorial on how to upgrade storage here.

Best Storage Set Up: Speed Up Performance

You can further increase the performance boost from SSDs by having TWO SSDs on the same laptop (as shown in my upgrade SS tutorial). 

Once you have the TWO SSDs on the same laptop if you do the following you should get an extra performance boost ~8%:

  • Install Windows on ONE SSD
  • Install AutoCAD on the same SSD (where Windows is).
  • Have all your project files on the secondary SSD.
  • Bonus: if you’ve got a workstation laptop or desktop that can support a 3rd HDD or SSD, have all inactive files in that drive.

Display

You get to be most productive when you have enough space to viewport your model with ease and no space restrictions while at the same time having all the interface tool bars you use right on the display without having to access menu bars. You get more screen space by choosing , obviously, a bigger display but resolution plays a role too.

Display Size vs Weight

Unfortunately size translates to more weight. If you are a student, it isn’t wise to grab a 17” or even a 15” display if the laptop itself is too heavy (some laptops have 15” displays and are still lightweight but they are very expensive).

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

13”:

Not a choice if you are a professional because you’ll be dealing with projects all day everyday. It’s doable but just not the best choice. 

A good choice for undergrads and students as projects are only done ocassionally and they don’t take much time either.

15”: Anyone serious with AutoCAD must have this much as the minimum.

17”:  If your laptop has to stay at an office most of the time, you should grab a display with this much space, it’s going to make a huge difference in your workflow.

Resolution

Resolution actually plays a bigger role giving you more screen space. It does so by reducing the size of the interface tools and having more pixels/area to show an image (this means less pixels are wasted on the screen).

1080p: Virtually all laptops have FHD resolution. Some under 450 dollars (which do not have an iGPU thus most useful for 2D projects) dont have this resolution so make sure yours has one too.

QHD & UHD: These are 2k & 4k. Even the 2k resolution (2600x1660p) will massively increase the size of canvas. The UHD is the ultimate resolution for any type of work unfortunately they’re only found on laptops well over 2000 dollars.

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 2023 (Latest Software Update)

  • 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 3:12 am
      Permalink

      Unfortunately you are right the ASUS K501UW is sold out, the culprit being this page obviously 🙂 .

      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. I’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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