As for prices:
- If you are constantly on the move, a portable laptop with that much GPU power, will be more expensive.
- If you work mostly at an office, you can buy heavier machines which are less expensive.
A faster but easier way to buy a laptop is to look at the size of your projects:
A) If you work on 10 story houses or small buildings ( files in the ~50MB range), you only need to spend 600-700 dollars. (4GB vRAM GPU).
B) If files are in the range of 1GB, that means you are working on very large models for which a 6GB vRAM GPU and a very high clock CPU with lots of RAM is a MUST (900-1300 dollars).
What about workstation GPUs? Workstation laptops for Revit?
I haven’t talked about those for one simple reason:
If we are talking about Revit, 99.9% of people DO NOT NEED A WORKSTATION LAPTOP.
I’d say about 90% of Revit users do not need a 6GB vRAM GPU either (which means no need to spend more than 800 bucks).
Why? The GPU HELPS when using viewport (rotating model in 3D). However, Rendering & Drafting are mostly CPU-tasks.
Thus, you only need a dedicated GPU (2GB or 4GB vRAM) when you deal with large models or if you want faster 3D Viewport.*
*Viewport can also be processed by the CPU’s integrated graphics.
Revit Laptop Requirements
Now I dont want you to think you can buy any laptop for Revit either…so before we get to the best laptops for revit…
Let us be a bit more specific about the hardware you need (you can find more details at the end).
small=3-10 story building / house
Although the 2024 version and recent version of Revit are making some functions more and more multi-threaded.
The large majority of design tasks are not multithreaded. This means more cores on a CPU aren’t going to make things faster when drawing.
That means you should focus on single clock speed over anything else.
What about rendering?
Rendering in draft quality is instantaneous regardless of CPU.
Rendering at higher quality is faster with more CORES but most recent CPUs have 6 cores so they’ll perform more or less the same (take 15 min on average).
Students & small models: Any 8th to 13th gen Intel Core i5 or Ryzen 5 CPU. Ex: Core i5 13420H / Ryzen 5 7535HS. Older generations CPUs ( Ryzen 5 5600H / Core i5 10300H) are OKAY too. They’ll be somewhat slower when rendering but have more or less the same performance when drafting.
Pros / bigger models: A high performance recent “H” CPU (Ex: Core i5 13420H / Ryzen 5 7535HS) is good but a Core i7 or Ryzen 7 is recommended: . Ex: Core i7 12800H / Ryzen 7 6800HS.
A dedicated graphics card, more specifically having enough ‘vRAM‘, is EXTREMELY important if you want HIGH performance and smooth zooming, navigating and rotating a 3D model. The bigger your model, the more ‘vRAM’ you’ll need.
Student or small models: 2-4GB vRAM GPUs like the 1050GTX, AMD Radeon RX 55X (540,550,555,560), MX450 and 1650GTX/3050Ti recommended!
Pros or large models: 4-6GB vRAM: 1050Ti,1650,3050Ti, 1060,1660Ti,AMD Radeon 580, AMD Radeon RX5500M, RTX 2060.
RTX 3060 & RTX 4050 are highly recommended.
8GB-16GB vRAM GPUs like the 4070 and 4090 are overkill for Revit unless you work on very extreme models (design an entire city on Revit).
Warning: Do not spend much money on graphics UNLESS you’re also using third-party GPU renderers. Rendering in Revit is a CPU-task.
8GB: Small to medium models or ~50MB files .
16GB: +700MB files. Also you need 16GB if running several software simultaneously. Ex: Revit+ Sketch Up, PhotoShop, NavisWorks.
32GB: Useful for rendering but there’s little gain going from 16GB to 32-64GB for rendering. 32GB is as much as Revit will use, 64GB will give you very small performance gains when rendering.
No need to buy a laptop with high RAM out of the box, you can always upgrade RAM later if you need faster rendering.
SSDs is a MUST. Solid State Drives will massively increase your workflow by opening/saving files & libraries in seconds.
They’re UNIVERSAL on laptops these days. So you don’t have to look for one, all of them have one.
You’re going to be staring at this thing for how many hours a day? Right. So besides using the 20 / 20 rule.
Be sure you ALSO get a LARGE display (15” minimum) with FHD (highier resolutions are better). A bonus is having a matte finish.
Matte finish displays are rare so consider buying an antiglare screen filter too.
Top 5 Best Laptops For Revit
When you pick a laptop out of this list (there may be more laptops recomendded in the reviews), keep this in mind:
A) All of these laptops have CPUS with sufficient speed to draft and draw models fast. There will be no difference when doing functions and design tasks.
B) However, the main difference will come to VIEWPORT & Rendering. Say if this is your ONLY computer and revit files are in the 500MB-1GB range(large models or due to bad practice) you will need laptop with a laptop with at least 4 GB vRAM.
C) If you are using this laptop for relatively smaller projects with files in the range of ~50MB. If that’s the case, a laptop with a Core i5 or Ryzen 5 CPU that has 2-4GB vRAM will be more than enough.
If you want to render things as fast as possible, pick with a Core i7 or Ryzen 7.
1. HP Victus
Best Budget Laptop For Revit
Core i5 13420H
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 3050Ti 4GB vRAM
512GB PCIe NVMe
15” Full HD IPS 144Hz refresh rates
Most of the people who came across my post are likely to be either architects, civil engineers and interior designers working for a small firm with a small team of 3D CAD engineers.
If that’s the case for you, this IS the ideal laptop. Just about the right balance of performance and cost while at the same time giving you a little of extra power in case you join a bigger company to work on very large projects.
When you work in a small firm as one of the 3D CAD engineers rendering 3D houses & building for clients you’ll be limited to 20-40 floor buildings, houses, schools.
Those type of models can run on integrated graphcis (much cheaper on this laptop), however, once you get very detailed inside each of these floors, that’s where you’ll struggle to viewport and walkthrough it UNLESS you have a 4GB vRAM like this model.
This 4GB vRAM isn’t ideal if you’re working say on a full hospital campus that’s like 100 sq miles. Most people NEVER have to work on such models….so you will be fine with laptops like this model with 4GB vRAM GPUs (you might even be okay with 2GB vRAM GPUs) and you’ll be able to have lagless viewport (3D rotation, panning, zooming, etc).
GPU: 3050Ti vRAM
The 3050Ti is not the most recent 4GB vRAM GPU (that’ll be the 2050). However, it’s still the best bang for your buck GPU, it outperforms both the 1650GTX and the 2050 RTX despite having the same 4GB vRAM. Why? It has more CUDA cores and higher clock speeds (in each CUDA core) and this is slightly accelerates 3D viewport especially as model’s complexity and sizes get bigger.
If you are a student though (in either of the three careers pointed out),
4GB vRAM is KIND of OVERKILL. However, knowing the fact that 2GB vRAM GPUs are ONLY 100 dollars less expensive, you might as well buy this laptop and use it after you graduate and start working at a small firm. Note that I don’t recommend buying this laptop if you are in your first or second year because it isn’t likely to last you 5 years. It’s better to buy this during your 3rd or 4th year so you can use at work later.
vRAY: I said the 3050Ti has more CUDA cores than any other 4GB vRAM GPU and that’s also helpful for third party GPU-renderers like vRAY. The difference in performance between say a 1650GTX and a 3050Ti for these renderers is SIGNIFICANT so if you know you’re going to use them (maybe 3DS Max too for more high quality walkthroughs) then this is a MUST. If not, then you can save yourself 50-80 bucks by buying a laptop with a 1650GTX.
CPU: Core i5 13260H
Now the problem with MOST laptops that have a 1650GTX is that although they are cheaper, they RARELY , if ever, have the most recent CPU (as of 2023).
The fact that you’re paying an extra 80-100 dollars for a laptop like this not only gets you more speed with viewport but also SIGNIFICANTLY CPU CLOCK PERFORMANCE. If you compare the clock speeds between a Core i5 11300H and a Core i5 13260H, the difference goes beyond clock speed (~0.4GHz or 400Mhz) , the CORES on the Core i5 13260H are more efficient and by that I mean they are able to hit speeds closer to the advertised number (4.8GHz) than a Core i5 11300H (4.4GHz). This means rendering is WAY faster too
What about Ryzen?
If you find laptops with a 4GB vRAM GPU (1650GTX), I advice you to go for Ryzen CPUs.
the 5th generation (6th generation are out but again they’re so costly right now you could buy another laptop with extra money) because not only do they have 2 extra cores (this means much faster rendering) but also they have better multi-core performance (this means each core runs at almost the same clock speed ACROSS all cores which isn’t always the case with Intel).
RAM & Storage: 8GB RAM DDR4 vs 8GB RAM DDR5
This laptop doesn’t have 5th generation RAM. Most laptops actually don’t and while that may make a significant difference in performance compared to 8GB RAM DDR4. You’ll get a much higher performance boost if you upgrade your laptop to have 16GB RAM instead.
Whatever RAM you have, upgrading to 16GB will make a difference in RENDERING and VIEWPORT too. Though you may need a performance boost in viewport (since you already have a dGPU) it’s an useful tip if you decide to buy a laptop with no dedicated GPU that’s a lot cheaper.
As for storage, 512GB should be plenty unless you work for a year on the same company and start saving every single project on your laptop. If that’s the case, then you can always upgrade storage to 1TB. I’ve written a tutorial in this link how to upgrade Storage , although it’s done with a different laptop, the process is the same.
The Best Laptop For Revit 2024
Ryzen 7 6800H
NVIDIA RTX 3060 6GB vRAM 140W
1TB PCIe NVMe
15” full W QHD
If you want the best performance with Revit in a laptop, you need a 6GB vRAM GPU and a Ryzen 7 or Core i7 CPU of the latest generation.
Sure going beyond that will get you performance gains but nothing that will be significant enough (actually very minimal if any gains) to justify the price increase.
GPU: 3060RTX (6GB vRAM) 140W
3060RTX 140W vs All other 6GB vRAM GPUs:
When you choose a laptop with a 6GB vRAM GPU it may be worthwhile to look for “GPU wattage“. This concept is not just important for gaming but also for viewport and sometimes rendering.
While the vRAM found in GPUs is where your 3D model is stored for FAST 3D manipulation, the CUDA cores in a GPU help render the image (as it rotates in 3D), these CUDA cores are like ltitle CPUs, they do all the image processing. Thus the most CUDA cores or the “FASTER” these CUDA cores you have, the faster the viewport performance. Thus it makes sense to pick the 3060RTX GPU with the fastest clock speeds and which one is that? The one with the highest wattage, in other words, the one that can use more POWER to hit higher clock speeds.
This spec isn’t listed though most of the time so if you want to get best bang for your buck, you need to research a specific model on either the official site or google to find the wattage. Now for viewport purposes, the performance may be significant or not, depending on the model you’re working with (larger models will see higher performance gains).
4GB vRAM vs 6GB vRAM GPUs: Large models
We’ve worked mostly with 4GB vRAM GPUs for Revit and it’s never really given us any issues with viewport. However, there was ONE time where a 6GB vRAM came in handy and that was when we were working with a file in the range of 2GB which was the design of a residential building in a block. The model included all houses around the block but the residential building had VERY detailed walkthroughs with plugins to add objects and such.
The viewport fps (frames per second) with the 4GB vRAM was around 40fps and the 60fps for the 6GB vRAM GPU, this difference is significant….and results in a slight increase in workflow speed. The difference and benefits get bigger with bigger models of course.
So only buy this laptop if you either you’re working with files that big (2GB) or you KNOW you’re going to move into files that big in the future (no more than 5 years though as these laptops don’t tend to last that long if used for drafting & rendering everyday). If that’s not the case, then just use a 4GB vRAM GPU.
CPU: Ryzen 7 6800H & Core i7 12800H
Usually , but not always, laptops with 6GB vRAM GPUs come with either a Ryzen 7 or Core i7. While the Core i7, depending on the generation, may have higher clock speeds and render things faster (assuming they have the same # of cores as the Ryzen 7), the performance different aren’t that significant.
In other words, either of these CPUs will do fine if you want the HIGHEST performance gain when drafting & rendering.
Now, if you compare them to Core i5 or Ryzen 5 CPUs (which some cheaper laptops with a 3060RTX may have), the performance is SIGNIFICANT.
It doesn’t really make sense to buy a laptop just for the 6GB vRAM GPU if you have a relatively slower CPU. Revit is MOSTLY CPU-dependent, even things like viewport STILL rely on the CPU.
As for rendering with Core i7 or Ryzen 7 CPUs (11th, 12th or 13th for Intel and 5th, 6th and 7th for Ryzen) a high quality render will take anywhere from 15-20 min depending on the CPU as opposed to 30-45 min with Core i5 CPUs.
You can corroborate this by heading over to the last section. You can see how long it usually takes to render with similar CPUs.
Best Cheap Laptop For Revit 2024
AMD Ryzen 5 7530U
Radeon Vega 7
512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
15” FHD TN Anti-Glare
Windows 11 HOME
This year I’m also going to talk about laptops with no dedicated graphics (much cheaper) for Revit. To many, it may not make sense to buy a laptop with no graphics card (actually the CPU has integrated graphics so it does have graphics card), but the perfomance of laptops with no ‘dedicated’ graphics card is still OK if you work with small models like houses and small buildings. .
If you choose a laptop with a recent CPU (5th+ Ryzen or 11th+ Intel), everything else will be fast enough to be productive. Viewport will however be slightly slow (~25fps).
GPU: Integrated Intel Xe or Vega 7
This is because the integrated GPUs on Ryzen CPUs (Radeon Vega) or Intel (Intel Xe) do not have dedicated vRAM, it’s only limited to around 512MB. However, given that this is a laptop for small models and buildings, slow viewport performance is not a dealbreaker for your workflow, the problem starts when models get larger and larger.
Now there’s a solution to the issue BEFORE you decide to buy a laptop with dedicated graphics:
And that is to add more RAM. Extra RAM can act as ‘vRAM’ for the integrated graphics, it’s not suddenly going to turn into a 8GB vRAM GPU but since the CPU takes the vast majority of RAM , having extra RAM means the integrated GPU is free to take as much as it needs.
It won’t take all of it of course but it definitely helps. You’ll see a performance boost comparable to 2GB vRAM GPUs for small models.
CPU: Core i5/Ryzen 5 vs Core i3/Ryzen 3
If you don’t follow my tip on integrated graphics, you will have a MASSIVE performance drop and regret buying a laptop for Revit, while everything will work OKAY, viewport will be too slow for your to be productive.
So please make SURE you pick either a : 5th, 6th or 7th gen Ryzen 5 CPU (they all have the same graphics) or a 10th, 11th , 12th or 13th gen Intel Core i5 CPU. Although latest generations may have more ‘recent’ graphics, they aren’t that faster than previous generations (13th vs 10th) or in the case of Ryzens they’re still the same integrated graphics. What makes a big difference though is the CPU itself, the clock speed and #cores, do help somewhat make viewport faster (drafting and drawing and even rendering will be fast for small models regardless of CPU as long as the CPU is recent).
As for the much cheaper Core i3 and Ryzen 3 laptops: DO NOT BUY THEM! Yes they’re cheaper and even though the CPUs are recent, they’ll have MUCH weaker integrated graphics (even if they have the same name). You will also lose rendering and drafting speed with their lower clock speed / low core count CPUs.
It’s not just the clock speed and better integraded graphics, these two CPUs also have more efficient cores (hit advertised clock speeds much more often) and have more cache memory. All of these results in an increased workflow with Revit.
How to improve viewport performance despite slow-hardware?
If you buy a laptop like this one and find yourself working with bigger models that suddenly are too slow to viewport, there’s a few things you can do to speed up your workflow. The most important thing is to have good practice design. What I mean by this is that if you’re working on small-medium models and they suddenly weigh around 200MB, then it is likely you’re using too many functions and unncessary parts, shades and so on. You can either split the file and work on the split files separately (for faster viewport) or purge the whole file.
11th Gen Core i5/Core i7
NVIDIA RTX 3050Ti 4GB vRAM
256GB-1TB NVMe PCIe SSD
14.4” 2400 x 1600
The Surface Laptop Studio shown here and the next “workstation” laptop are both well above 1000 dollars so if you’re budget is out of that range, just choose a laptop from the above or check the guide at the end of the post to look for one yourself.
The reason for the high price of the Surface Laptop Studio is not due to the CPU & GPU but due to the portability (thin and lightweight despite the high performance hardware) & drawing feature (basically, you can use it like a sketchbok to draw your models too). Note that the following video uses the Surface Book (released 6 years ago), however, what’s shown still applies to the Surface Laptop Studio:
Surface Series: Pro, Book & Studio
You aren’t limited to the Surface Laptop Studio if you want to draw your models.
The Surface Pro 9 also has that feature and its much cheaper and 1lb lighter which makes it extremely useful for those that need to presentations of their work while being on the move. Of course this comes at the expensive of being less power, more specifically, the Surface Pro 9 doesn’t have dedicated graphics, it will have the same performance discussed as the third laptop on this list.
On the other hand, both the Surface Book 3 and Surface Laptop Studio 2, are 1lb heavier but both have either a 4GB or 6GB vRAM GPU. The newest Surface Laptop Studio model will have a 13th gen CPU & the 4050 RTX which has the same vRAM as the 3060RTX or 1660Ti found on the Surface Book 3.
GPU: 3050Ti / 4050 RTX / 1660Ti
If you WANT the drawing feature of a tablet on top of the dedicated GPU, the choice comes down to the three GPUs shown above. I’d suggest though you wait a few months (if budget is not an issue) and get the 4050RTX, if you’re really nitty picky about performance and you REALLY need the 6GB vRAM for REALLY large models.
If you are on a budget and need to work on large models, you can opt for the Surface Book 3 which has 6GB vRAM (same amount as the upcoming Surface Laptop studio 2).
If you are working with what most users of Revit work with….then you’ll be fine with the Laptop Studio and its 4GB vRAM shown here.
RAM & Storage
Please note whatever you choose, it cannot be upgraded AFTER purchase. In theory it is possible but the laptop is so compact and glued together, it’s very very RISKY to do the upgrade yourself.
So get a model with as much RAM & Storage as you think you’re going to need. Ideally, you want a model with 16GB RAM….for maximum performance with large models. If working with small models, 8GB RAM and any storage will do. Storage isn’t an issue, you can always save projects in the cloud.
How about the Surface Pro 9?
Like I said, it will have the same performance as the third laptop on the list. You can also go for OLDER Surface Pro models if you have a low budget and would love the drawing feature. However, be sure to get a Core i5 regardless of the version you choose (Up to Surface Pro 6 is OKAY) AND 8GB RAM (Surface Pro models that are older may come with 4GB) . Do that and you’ll have FAST performance with small buildings and regular houses (basically models >4000 sq feet). You should have no lag whatsoever when viewporting even if you go for the older models mentioned.
The model above is the most recent one but older models sell for about 500 dollars!
Intel Core i7-12850HX
64GB DDR5 RAM
NVIDIA Quadro RTX A5500 16GB
17.3” 164Hz FHD Touch
This laptop is OUT of the question for about 90% of Revit Users. I’ve never seen ANYBODY need this much GPU power. Certainly, if you’re using Revit for interior design work, house plans and to render building models, you don’t need this much hardware. This is not 8GB vRAM, this is a 16GB vRAM dGPU!!!! Most people only use 4GB vRAM and some up to 6GB vRAM! Anything more seems USELESS for Revit alone.
Workstations aren’t just about their 16GB vRAM GPUs or “specially designed GPUs” for 3D CAD modeling, they also have the following:
- Bigger / better cooling system : if you pick one of the thick 17 inch models, you’ll automatically get more cooling out of your laptop. This is VERY important with laptops since working with larger models makes CPUs & GPUs heat up a LOT.
- Support up to 64GB or even 128GB: You may be surprised to find out that, it’s actually NOT vRAM that will run out as you work with larger and larger models (in the range of 8 Gigabytes), but rather RAM. Plumb work and mechanical designs of buildings, when very detailed and used in conjuction with other software, can make files as high as 10Gigabytes and this EASILY takes 40-50GB of RAM !!!! In this scenario a WORKSTATION is a MUST as they’re the only ones that TRULY support 64GB (with the exception of some gaming laptops).
- Display: Workstation laptops are HUGE, a bigger display means a higher canvas, combine it with a higher resolution like QHD and your workflow will improve massively since you’ll get a larger view of plans.
What about the GPU? How is it useful to have a workstation GPU over a regular gaming GPU?
Well, it’s not going to come in handy when you work with larger & bigger models 5GB-8GB models (as in the example discussed previously) . Im sure you were told there will be lots of “artifacts” floating around or “hardware errors” or “functions would be restricted” or “visual innacuracies”. All of that may be true but I have never experienced or seen someone experienced such a thing UNLESS they had LOW RAM. If you have enough RAM for very large work (48GB-64GB RAM), you should see NONE of that.
However, I will say this is the case for other 3D CAD software, you may see those errors in other CAD software, just not in Revit.
Workstation laptops: So why are they useful and why are they recommended by Autodesk?
They’re probably doing that in order to make sure you have no errors whatsoever no matter what you do, even though most people will not come across those errors. The only ones that may need that much vRAM and special GPU architecture (Quadro or FirePro) are those working with very very large models (15-20GB models)….for which certainly they should be able to help increase viewport performance and walkthroughs.
However, if that scenario ever comes up, it’s not a ideal to choose a laptop because my guess is that the heating temperatures will be too high and too frequent and this will put your laptop at risk of breaking. If you have to work with those kind of models, then you may want to choose a desktop or a cloud service instead.
Workstation GPU Power & Prices: Buyer Beware!
Now if you need a workstation GPU anyways because you’ve been forced to buy one (or perhaps you’re goign to use software / plugins outside of Revit that explicitly require one) then it’s important for you to distinguish what workstation GPUs are USELESS and OBSELETE from the useful ones and more recent ones.
You don’t want to pay 2k for a 5 year old GPU that cannot perform better than our 700 dollar laptop. Just having a workstation GPU doesn’t automatically make it better than a regular GPU. Please use the following table to get an idea of where each workstation GPU stands compared to regular laptops:
|Workstation GPU||Consumer Equivalent||Cores/Shaders||Clock Speed||vRAM|
What about MacBooks? Which is the best apple laptop for Revit ?
Unfortuantely, Revit, as of 2023, still doesn’t have a Mac version. However, there are a few ways you can get Revit installed on a MacBook as shown in the official site here.
As for what MacBook or what hardware on MacBooks is best for revit, it depends on how you’re going to launch Revit:
- If you’re going to use a MacBook to NATIVELY install Revit, there is a way (although the official site doesn’t mention it). You have to a buy MacBook with an Intel Chip which are the ones released prior to 2020. For example, the 2019 16” MacBook Pro has a Intel Core i9 and a 4GB vRAM GPU (Radeon RX 5500M). You can install Windows on that OSX (natively) through BootCamp and then install Revit. This works fantastic for medium-large models especially if you find a MacBook Pro that has RAM upgraded to 16 or even 32GB !
- If you want to buy the latest M1 & M2 MacBooks, you are limited to using a virtual machine to launch Windows then Launch Revit within it. This massively reduces the amount of resources available to run Revit (because they’re being used to run the VM, OSX and background processes) and also the communication between hardware and software (within the VM) isn’t as fast as it would be if Revit was natively installed. So this is a good option IF your models are very small and limited to houses with no details within.
- If you can access a workstation remotely (be it a desktop or cloud service to launch Revit) you can use any laptop to work on Revit remotely, this includes any MacBook.
How To Buy The Best Laptops For Revit
If you don’t mind overspending on a machine then buy all means do it, save yourself the time and check out the best laptops under 1000.
If you are on a budget and need to buy several machines for your team then its probably a good idea to give this a good read so you buy exactly what you need.
It’s really all about what kind of buildings your company is working with. If it’s a 10-15 story building for a private school, a small medical center or maybe a bunch of offices and the focus is just outside, then you just need a 4GB vRAM dGPU ~700$.
If it’s just a two story house, then you’ll be fine with 2GB vRAM GPU laptops.
If you move onto collaborative bigger projects, like an entire high school campus with highly detailed interior design then viewport will bog down to 1fps unless you have a high tier CPU & GPU with as much vRAM as you can afford.
That’s all assuming, you have another machine to do the rendering. If you want to render on a laptop then the CPU becomes the most important so we’ll start with that.
Revit System Requirements For Laptops
*These recommendations are based on a lecture by AutoDesk University, my past experience and input from several users through our facebook page. They apply to BIM Software including the Revit packages: Revit Structure, Revit Architecture & Revit MEP.
The CPU is way more important than the graphics card but good CPUs usually come in pairs that is good graphics on laptops. On desktops, since you have to build your own, it’s still useful to know the basics so you can maximize the performance/money ratio.
a) Revit Functions
Is Revit Multi-Core?
Yes and No.
Revit started as a single-threaded application (having more cores did not improve performance). Over time more functions and design tasks were given multi-threading but it never got to the point were you had to focus on # cores rather than clock frequency. It is still largely single-threaded however the 2023 version of Revit has added even more multi-threaded tasks they’re still basically things that need to be ‘rendered on the go’ or visuals: calculating walls and pipes intersections, loading all elements in views. AutoDesk lists all the multi-threaded functions for every version of Revit here.
What does that imply for your CPU Choice?
|CPU||Base (GHz)||Turbo (GHz)||Cores(#)|
|AMD Ryzen 9 7940HS||4||5.2||8|
|AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS||3.3||4.9||8|
|AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX||3.3||4.6||8|
|AMD Ryzen 7 7745HX||3.6||5.1||8|
|AMD Ryzen 7 6800HS||3.6||4.7||8|
|AMD Ryzen 7 5800H||3.3||4.4||8|
|AMD Ryzen 7 5800U||1.9||4.4||8|
|AMD Ryzen 7 5700U||1.8||4.3||8|
|AMD Ryzen 5 7535HS||3.3||4.55||6|
|AMD Ryzen 5 6600H||3.3||4.5||6|
|AMD Ryzen 5 5600H||3.3||4.2||6|
|AMD Ryzen 5 7530U||2.0||4.5||8|
|AMD Ryzen 5 5500U||2.1||4.4||6|
|AMD Ryzen 3 7320U
|AMD Ryzen 3 5300U||2.6||3.8||4|
Multi-threaded functions are still a small fraction of all the functions and tools you’ll use and it’ll probably stay like this forever due to the nature of how most of the calculations are carried out (step by step processes). Add that to the fact that most CPUs today have 6 or even 8 cores at a very affordable price, clock frequency or clock speed becomes the single most important spec for BIM modeling software to look after.
How much clock speed?
For a fast workflow, from the list:
~Ryzen 3 or Core i3 if all you do is render how a building/house looks from outside.
~Ryzen 5 or Core i5 f working with small models that are more detailed as you navigate within.
~Ryzen 7 or Core i7 for detailed large buildings.
~Core i9 or Ryzen 9 for very detailed and complex design inside very large buildings: plumbing system, detailed building structure, electrical structure, etc…
Rendering is a multi-core task and it isn’t restricted to revit. Any software that has to do rendering will make good use of multiple cores. The more you have the faster .
Now if you’re doing a simple render on a two story house, most modern CPUs will do it in a minute or two. The more details and the more realistic the product looks, the longer it’ll take .
- If you are a student: You’ll be limited to small buildings. Render with high quality will only take 20 min with one of the recent Intel Core i5 or Ryzen 5 CPUs which have about ~6 cores running at 4GHz. Draft quality might take 1 min.
- If you are a professional, you’ll likely come across bigger AND way more detailed high quality renders. If you don’t want to wait 1-2h, get at least a 6 core CPU though (~600-750 dollar laptops).
- However, I would consider investing on a Core i7 Ryzen 7 (8 cores running at ~5GHz) or use Cloud rendering if you want much faster high quality renders. Draft quality as usual it’s instantaneous.
This means panning, zooming, orbiting, navigating, doing a walkthrough in a 3D model.
Dedicated GPUs vRAM
This will only be smooth and fast once you have a graphics card that has ‘dedicated video RAM’, in other words, you need a dedicated GPU.
This is probably the reason WHY your old rig is lagging, it’s probably got enough RAM and a good CPU but lacks ‘vRAM’ hence you have choppy performance when working in 3D. If you have a desktop, you can just buy a dedicated graphics and add it to your motherboard if you have a laptop this isn’t possible and you must buy a new laptop, when you buy a laptop with graphics keep the following in mind:
2-4GB vRAM GPUs:
Most laptops will have this much. As you can see in the figure, this is a two story house and it’s only taking 1GB vRAM so you can definitely be fine with a 2GB vRAM dGPU (they are found on 600 dollar laptops) but it doesn’t hurt get a bit more headroom and 4GB vRAM will be future proof for smooth viewport with much larger structures (~10-20 story buildings) and it only adds about 50 to 100 dollars to the budget.
6GB vRAM dGPUs:
As you can see in the figure I have a 6GB vRAM dGPU and it really doesn’t speed up anything compared to my 4GB vRAM dGPU, viewport will be slightly slow when the structure’s complex, big and has a lot of objects in it but nothing that will hinder workflow.
I personally have not found my 6GB vRAM dGPU useful yet but if you know you’re working in much bigger and complex structures and perhaps doing high quality walkthroughs, you MIGHT find it useful but I would try upgrading RAM and adding an SSD before buying a new laptop with better graphics.
Viewport: Quadro vs NVIDIA GeForce
I have used one of those Quadro cards ~5 years ago ( K 2000) and I saw no improvement over the 860GTX (~1050Ti). There was a bit more lag with the GeForce 1050Ti (~20 story building) but a quick hardware usage (task manager) revealed that CPU & RAM were choking before even my dGPU (1050Ti) ran out of ‘GPU Power’ (~50% of usage) so if both machines could have the same CPU & RAM differenes would be minimal.
That was almost 7 years ago now the architecture difference between the consumer gaming cards and workstation gaming cards is minimal so there’s almost no advantage in performance, you will see less artifacting with workstation cards, use some special features and plug-ins but that’s about it.
Workstation GPUs have more vRAM and that might come in handy but Revit doesn’t seem to use more than 6GB vRAM (or even 4GB vRAM) but I have not worked with extremely large models as one would perhaps (a mall) or a large hospital facility (with every building detailed in a single file).
The Renderer in Revit does not use the dedicated GPU.
All the rendering work is done by the CPU. Look at how all the cores are being used and the maximum clock speed frequency is also used.
Integrated GPUs vs Dedicated GPU: Rendering
It will still takes ~20 min for a best quality render (settings shown in figure) whether you’ve got a dedicated GPU or not. So in theory if you want to do the rendering on another laptop or the cloud, you could even settle for a computer that has an integrated GPU (if you don’t mind slightly slow viewport) and as long as your work stays pretty close in size to the above image, there should be no lag with integrated GPUs using viewport.
|Workstation GPU||Consumer Equivalent||Cores/Shaders||Clock Speed||vRAM|
|Pro WX 3200||RX 550||1082||640||4GB|
Ada Workstation GPUs
|Ada GPU|| GPU
|RTX 3500||RTX A4000+||5120||2.25GHz||12GB|
|RTX 3000||RTX A3000++||4608||2.16GHz||8GB|
|RTX 2000||RTX A3000+||3072||2.36GHz||8GB|
The newest workstation laptops will have an Ada RTX GPU which has much faster CUDA Cores (or shaders) due to both the architecture being different as well as the implementation of AI optimized image processing. However, since Revit’s rendering is CPU-based , they are no more useful than other GPUs with the same amount of vRAM.
However, if you’re running 3DS Max (which is pretty common among Revit users) or GPU-based renderers, they can DEFINITELY speed up the rendering processing massively.
C) Hardware Acceleration: Workstation vs Consumer ‘Gaming’ Graphics Cards
As some of you know software like Revit has the option to activate “hardware accelerated graphics” which means “using the GPU to improve performance iwth the software” as shown below:
Any dedicate GPU that has ‘vRAM’ will help improve performance when using viewport we discusse that before.
Now if you mean drafting & doing operations on a model improving ‘drafting’ speed and performance while editing, consumer ‘gaming’ cards CANNOT do anything here because these are floating point operations and consumer gaming cards are designed for 3D Vector operations.
As for workstation GPUs, turning hardware acceleration will also improve viewport and in theory, it should ALSO improve performance when drawing and drafting because these GPUs are specifically designed for floating point operations
However, they don’t help.
You will notice zero performance gains with workstation cards just like you would with gaming cards. The reason why? Well it doesn’t matter. If I have to guess it may be because Revit doesn’t yet know how to make good use of ANY dedicated GPU for floating point operations like drawing, designing, etc.
My experience: Workstation GPUs vs Gaming GPUs
For me it has made practically make zero difference.
For most people I know , both type of graphics card have performed equally well too.
Yes I know, workstation are recommended by AutoDesk but that doesn’t really mean anything.If you ever hear people complaining about their GPU not recognized by AutoDesk Revit, well I had issues with workstation GPUs despite being listed in AutoDesk’s list of compatible GPUs too!
Once you fix the issue, by updating, you will see zero difference. I have compared my 860M desktop with a workstation GPU and saw no difference in visual artifacts, no lag when viewporting, nothing, same performance. Although mileage may vary depending on what you’re doing as some people report ‘artifacting’ and ‘glitches’ but they still use consumer gaming cards, they deal with it, click OK when an error pops up and keep working.
1650GTX: This is probably the GPU that will be suficient for most of you (I’d say 90%). They sell for as low as 600 dollars compared to a workstation laptop that sells for 2-3k dollars! You’d be saving about 1400-2400 dollars and still getting the same performance when using viewport! Now if you do render on your machine, you’ll probably be able to do it faster on a workstation laptop not because of the workstation GPU but because it’s usually paired with the latest CPU .
D) When are Workstation GPUs useful then?
As far as I know, workstation GPUs MAY be useful in two instances:
- Large models that need to pack as much vRAM as possible. Think about viewporting a very detailed hospital campus in a single file. Although that’s still doable with an 6GB vRAM dGPU, it’s going to be a lot more smoother with more vRAM. You can still save tons of money and opt for a 16GB vRAM gaming card though.
- Running special plugins Ex: Leica Cloudwork. Some plug-ins will only work with workstation GPU if you dont know any plugin that’s only compatible with workstation GPUs, then you probably don’t need to worry about it.
RAM is just as important as CPU & GPU. I did not go over it sooner because it is very rare to buy the wrong amount of RAM and even if you do buy the wrong amount you can always upgrade RAM on both desktops & laptops.
As a bare minimum you need 8GB RAM , this will work for students. Revit + Windows + large revit files will take most of it but you will still have about 1GB left for any background process.
Rendering: 16GB and Up
Ideally, if you’re going to render on a laptop, you want 16GB as a minimum.
RAM is where all your files are stored to be processed (rendering) so the more you have the more your CPU has to work with. The performance gains after 16GB are less and less. You will see performance gains up to 32GB. After that it’s almost useless. I have 64GB RAM and I still have to wait 20 min for a high quality render of a two floor house.
Viewport: 16GB RAM
For Viewport to be smooth with VERY VERY large models, besides having enough vRAM from a GPU(+6GB vRAM) , you need at least 16GB RAM.
In fact, if you are expiriencing lag with your current rig and you’ve been told it’s due to lack of CPU & GPU power, you might as well try upgrading RAM BEFORE you purchase a new laptop. I’ve seen machines perform x3 faster with 16 GB RAM (most of these only had 4 or 8 to begin with).
– Launching the software
256GB vs 512GB vs 1TB (SSD Space)
SSDs are universal on recent laptops. You aren’t likely to find an HDD so getting an SSD isn’t the problem, the problem at least for 3D modeling software is space:
256GB: The most common space found on laptops and desktops. You can install Windows, Revit and still have about 100GB left (Windows ~50GB + Revit 40GB) , the problem is you never have just revit you’ll also be adding PhotoShop, Navisworks and probably AutoCAD + other software. If you are a student, you are likely to be okay with this much there will be no need for upgrades.
512GB: This is the minimum for someone who’s already working as an engineer. Revit Files can take up to 700MB each . You don’t have to buy a laptop with 512GB (most will charge you way more money for 512GB) , what you can do is buy a separate SSD (~40 bucks) and do the upgrade yourself. I have a tutorial on how to do the SSD Upgrade here.
It isn’t a concern for laptops because there isn’t much variety of displays on laptops, most saves for those laptops that cost 2000 dollars, will have the same specs: same resolution, type of display (matte vs glossy), etc.
I would personally try to find a laptop with a matte display if you have sensitive eyes because they’ll be easier for your eyes as the amount of glares is massively reduced.
IPS vs TN
Most laptops have IPS displays and they’re ideal for the best color accuracy. Most Revit users will see zero difference between these two types of displays though. It’s only going to be a concern for photographers and Photoshop users or anyone who has to ‘print’ work.
The only real thing you have some control over is the resolution. More resolution means more screen space. More screen space means larger canvas and quicker access to interface bars with tools/functions as they’ll be right next to your canvas.
Most laptops have 1080p, FHD (Full HD) resolutions and that’s totally fine for Revit. You would be better off with 2k or 4k displays but the problem is that theyre only found on laptops above 1500 dollars . If you do have that much money, then make sure you choose a UHD (not QHD) display. UHD = 4k resolution.
If you know you are going to work on very large projects on Revit with a low budget. Not all hope is lost, you can also eliminate any lag by optimizing file management. Use worksets, linked files, and a clean family library and you may not even need to find a new laptop or computer. Revit isn’t as hardware demanding as people would like you to believe (at least for more users).
If you have any questions or comments please leave a comment below.
- I am physicist and electrical engineer. My knowledge in computer software and hardware stems for my years spent doing research in optics and photonics devices and running simulations through various programming languages. My goal was to work for the quantum computing research team at IBM but Im now working with Astrophysical Simulations through Python. Most of the science related posts are written by me, the rest have different authors but I edited the final versions to fit the site's format.
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