5 Best Desktops For Architects: Reviews For Students & Pros

Whether you are a professional architect or just a student of this profession, you need a powerful computer that can handle all the graphics, drawings and animations.

The hardware configuration that you choose for your computer would depend a lot upon the complexities of the projects that you work on.

While you can always get a laptop, if you have an office, then desktops are generally a better option. Why? they tend to be more powerful within the same price range.

Thus, in this article we will have a look at some of the best desktops for architecture professionals and students.

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Features To Consider 

The features that you need in a desktop for architecture depends upon the software the you will use.

Each software has a different set of requirements and we will review them below.

Some of the famous architectural software include:

  • AutoCad
  • Revit
  • 3D Studio Max
  • Google Sketchup
  • Microstation

These software generally stipulate the type of hardware that they need. We have summarized them as follows.

1. AutoDesk AutoCad

  • Processor: 2.5-2.9 GHz Min | 3+ GHz Recommended
  • RAM: 8 GB Min | 16 GB Recommended
  • Graphics: minimum of 128 MB VRAM

2. AutoDesk Revit

AutoDesk Revit details a more comprehensive list of system requirements

  • Singe or Multi Core Intel Pentium, Intel Xeon, Intel i or AMD equivalent (can use up to 16 cores) – Highest affordable speed recommended
  • RAM: 4 GB
  • Graphics: 24 Bit DirectX 11 Capable with Shader Model 3
Mid Range
  • Singe or Multi Core Intel Pentium, Intel Xeon, Intel i or AMD equivalent (can use up to 16 cores) – Highest affordable speed recommended
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • Graphics: DirectX 11 Capable with Shader Model 5
High End
  • Singe or Multi Core Intel Pentium, Intel Xeon, Intel i or AMD equivalent (can use up to 16 cores) – Highest affordable speed recommended
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • Graphics: DirectX 11 Capable with Shader Model 5
  • Storage: SSD or 10,000+ RPM HDD

You Can Read More About: Revit system requirements here.

3. AutoDesk 3Ds Max

3DS max suggests the following as the minimum requirements

  • Processor: Latest Intel Core i5 or Higher recommended
  • RAM: 8 GB minimum
  • Graphics: DirectX11 compatible video card

You can read up more about the system requirements for 3ds Max here

4. Google SketchUp

  • Processor: 1 GHz minimum | 2 GHz Recommended
  • RAM: 4 GB minimum | 8 GB+ Recommended
  • Graphics: 512 MB memory with support for OpenGL 3.0

Learn More About: Sketchup Requirements Here.

The Key Take Away

The system requirements as stipulated by the software manufacturers are quite ambiguous especially when checking out the exact required CPU and the Video Card.

Basically, the requirements do not talk about the amount of Cores needed on a processor or the Teraflops of power needed from a GPU.

They don’t even mention the amount of Cuda Cores or the AMD stream processors required from the GPU.

So What Kind of Desktops are We Going to Suggest?

There is rarely any task more complex and demanding in the commercial tech field than designing, simulation and rendering.

Architects deal with very complex projects and as an Electrical Engineer who uses AutoCad Electrical from time to time, I know that even a complex 2D drawings takes a toll on my Intel Core i7 processor and the NVIDIA GTX 1050Ti GPU.

You can only imagine the type of power you will need to design highly complex 3D designs.

You can get an idea about the processor and its relative performance in Autocad from this chart by Tom’s Hardware

Autocad Processor Benchmark

Source: Tomshardware

As such, in this article, we will talk about the minimum viable desktop as well as the best desktop for architecture.

List of The Best Desktops for Architecture

We believe that you will find your best desktop for architecture from the list below. If not, then you should at least get a strong idea about what to expect and look for in the market.

  1. 1
    HP Pavilion – Minimum Viable Option
  2. 2
    Dell Inspiron i5787 – Excellent for Beginners
  3. 3
    Dell XPS 8930-740BLK – Viable for Small Firms
  4. 4
    Alienware Aurora R7 – Capable of Working on Fairly Complex Project
  5. 5
    HP Omen 880-191 – High Performance Desktop for Very Complex Projects

Let us look at the suggested desktops in brief.

We will divide the list into three categories: Entry, Intermediate and Expert Level desktops

5 Best Desktops For Architects Reviewed

Entry Level

These are great for students or beginner architects who want to test the water with the Architectural software.

These are also great for small projects like designing a house etc.

1. HP Pavilion – Minimum Viable Option

HP Pavilion (590-p0050) Desktop Computer with...
  • ACHIEVE MORE - For the hardworking...
  • FAST PROCESSOR - 6 core 8th Generation Intel...
  • Intel Optane MEMORY 16GB - Optane memory...

This is the minimum desktop that you should aim for since it perfectly meets the minimum requirements stipulated by most softwares.

It offers a decent Intel Core i5-8400 hexa core processor with 4.0 GHz clock speed. Therefore as far as the amount of cores and clock speed goes, this is quite excellent.

Furthermore, it offers 8 GB of RAM which is generally the bare minimum suggested RAM for designing projects. The RAM is, however, expandable to a maximum of 32 GB.

Finally, it offers a decent NVIDIA GTX 1050 graphics card. While this is no way near the best graphics card in the market, it is more than ample for running all the required architecture software with ease – granted that you only create low level projects.

Another great aspect about this desktop is that it comes with a keyboard and a mouse as well. Moreover, it sports a very small chassis and therefore would only occupy a small space on your office desk.

All in all, if you came here looking for the cheapest possible option, then we recommend this as the best desktop for architecture.

We highly recommend this for architecture students as well.

Also check out the best computer for small business owners.

2. Dell Inspiron i5787 – Excellent for Beginner Professionals

Dell Inspiron Gaming PC Desktop AMD Ryzen 7...
  • Built for a higher State of gaming
  • Meticulously designed to upgrade your game...
  • Fast, future ready technology
  • Maximize your gaming capacity

Next up we have another entry level desktop that is actually quite great for small level projects such as designing a house or small commercial spaces.

This desktop offers AMD Ryzen 7 2700 processor. In terms of performance, it is almost as powerful as the Intel Core i7-7700 processor from the 7th Intel Generation.

It is slower compared to the newer Intel processors from the 8th and 9th generation though. That has to do with the fact that Ryzen 7 2700 is actually an older series. It has already been superseded by the Ryzen 7 3000 series.

Unfortunately, the latest processors are expensive and therefore, we cannot recommend those for beginners or for those on a tight budget.

One of the best aspect about Ryzen 2 2700 is that it has a whopping 8 cores. AutoCad and other architecture software support multicore processors. Therefore, a higher core count will most certainly make a difference in performance especially in tasks like rendering.

Furthermore it features the AMD Radeon RX 580 graphics card. This is a highly capable processor with performance benchmark as great as the NVIDIA GTX 1060.

Needless to say, if you are a beginner, you would not need anything better than this.

Besides that, it offers a decent 16 GB of RAM and 1 TB of HDD. 16 GB RAM is more than ample and should be good on small – medium level projects for years to come.

On top of that, the 1 TB HDD is not an ordinary slow moving HDD. Instead of 5400 RPM this HDD operates at 7200 RPM.

All in all, if you are looking for a highly capable entry level option, then we think this is the best desktop for architecture.

Intermediate Level

Intermediate level desktops are rather expensive, but are great for small to medium level professional firms.

3. Dell XPS 8930-740BLK – Viable for Small Firms

This is an excellent desktop that has one of the best performance/dollar value. If you require sheer processor power then we highly recommend this.

This desktop offers the Hexa Core Intel Core i7-8700 processor along with 16 GB of RAM and 2 TB of HDD operating at 7200 RPM.

As far as the graphics card goes, it features a respectable NVIDIA GTX 1050Ti.

The star of this desktop is the high performance processor. This an absolute beast for a desktop of this price range.

A good processor is directly related to the amount of Instruction Per Cycle it can handle. The higher the IPC, the better it would perform in CAD software. You can read more about it here.

Revit Benchmarks

Image-Source: Autodesk-Forum

As you can see from the Revit benchmarks above, a higher clock speed and a higher Core count has a direct impact on the performance of the software.

Therefore, while this desktop may not have the highest amount of RAM or the best graphics card out there, it does have one of the best processors.

In the end, if processing power is what you need, then this is the best desktop for architecture and architects. However, if you deal with tons of 3D design, you will also need to consider a better graphics card.

4. Alienware Aurora R7 – Capable of Working on Fairly Complex Project

Alienware Gaming PC Desktop Aurora R7 - 8th...
  • Intel Core i7 8700 (6-Core/12-Thread, 12MB...
  • 16GB 2666MHz DDR4 up to [64GB], Dual Channel...
  • 2TB 7200 RPM [SATA] (HDD) + 32GB Intel Optane...
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 with 8GB GDDR5X

Had there not been the latest Intel 9th generation processors and NVIDIA RTX graphics card, you could have considered this as the best desktop for architecture suitable even for experts.

This is basically a powerful gaming rig. If you aren’t already aware, a powerful gaming rig is synonymous with high performance desktops.

It features not just the Intel Core i7-8700 processor like the Dell XPS 8930-740BLK above, it also offers one of the top end graphics card, the NVIDIA GTX 1080.

While the GTX 1080 does not hold the crown anymore (its held by the RTX 2080Ti now), it still shines among the high performance desktop range.

Your medium level enterprise dealing with 3D animations and complex 3D and 2D drawings would face no issue with a hardware like this.

Besides that, it also includes 16 GB of RAM as well as 2 TB of HDD with 7200 RPM. It is a shame that this desktop does not include an SSD since that would have been just grand.

However, you will rarely find the combination of a high end Core i7 and a powerful graphics card at this price.

Expert Level

These desktops are well beyond the capacity of an average architecture student or a novice architect.

These desktops can be used for rendering and creating large and complex designs, commercial enterprises as well as industrial complexes.

They offer the best of the best and nothing less.

5. HP Omen 880-191 – High Performance Desktop for Very Complex Projects

OMEN by HP Gaming Desktop Computer, Intel...
  • Hyper-realistic Graphics: nvidia(r)...
  • Cutting-edge gaming performance: geared with...
  • Lightning Fast Processor: 9th Generation...
  • HP OMEN command center: easily turn up your...

This desktop is marketed as a gaming desktop, however, it is nothing less than a beast for complex architectural projects as well.

It sports the Intel Core i7-9700K processor. This is an octa core processor which is unprecedented for Intel in their i7 series.

It has a base speed of 3.60 GHz and a maximum Turbo frequency of 4.90 GHz and if you provide sufficient cooling, you can even overclock this processor all the way to 5.0 GHz base speed easily.

Besides the exceptional processor, this desktop also harbors the crown jewel of graphics card i.e the NVIDIA RTX 2080Ti. The only thing more powerful than this an NVIDIA TITAN RTX – which is almost twice as expensive as the RTX 2080Ti with a marginal overall improvement.

You can check out the current GPU rankings here.

Besides the all powerful processor and graphics card, this desktop not only features a fast 2 TB HDD but also 512 GB of SSD storage.

SSD is a must for workstation grade desktops.

The only relative drawback of this desktop is that despite its all powerful core hardware, it only offers 16 GB of RAM. We would recommend you upgrade it to 32 GB considering the levels of CAD this desktop is intended to perform.

In the end, this is an expensive desktop, however, if you design complex projects then you need the absolute best.


Here we looked at the best desktops for architecture. We looked at options that are suitable for students as well as for large professional enterprises.

The key thing to remember here is that the right desktop for you depends upon the complexity of projects that you are involved with.

If you are just designing a house or a small commercial space, you can simply go with the entry level desktops.

However, once you start designing medium to highly complex projects, you will certainly need a powerful machine.