Laptop for Architecture School?


Hi again.

Next year I will be attending Carleton for their BAS program, and I think I need a different computer.  I have a MacBook Pro (2017, i5), and I haven't been crazy about the performance of software such as AutoCad.  For one of my classes, half of the elements on my drawing deleted the day I had to submit, so I am skeptical if it will be good enough for next year.  Any advice for a better computer, or is a MacBook good enough as I will be using one computer throughout all my years of University.  I love how my Mac is lightweight and has a good battery.  I'm also a sucker for a great trackpad.  Thanks!!

Jun 16, 19 4:10 pm
Non Sequitur

Which path are you in at Carleton's BAS?

I'd keep the MBpro for in-studio work and spend the money on a tower you can keep either at home or chained to your locker.  Also, if you're only starting the degree... don't spend too much cash until you know the workload and softwares.

A good array of pencils and (yellow) trace paper will get you much farther in those first few years at carleton since better computers don't help you design any better.

Jun 16, 19 4:33 pm

I'm going into Urbanism. Thanks for the advice again!

Non Sequitur

You won't need a power-house machine for that. Keep the MBpro and wait a few years.


Many students have MBPro's and their main struggles are (1) Rhino on Mac doesn't run as well as on PC, and (2) Your tech classes will be using Revit which doesn't run on MacOS.

You'll be mainly hand drawing/modelling in 1st year. The exception is multimedia where you'll cover the Adobe suite. It'll be in your interest to work in the computer labs as you can ask the people beside you questions.

By 2nd year you'll start laser cutting, 3D printing, rendering and CNCing. The best time to get a laptop would be in between 1st and 2nd year and to select one based on how much horsepower you'll need relative to the kind of work you want to do.

Jun 16, 19 5:28 pm

Honestly, ditch the Macbook and get a middle of the line laptop with a decent graphic card, processing power, and speed for school work. I've been using a middle tier ($800-$1000) Toshiba laptop which lasted me all through undergrad and graduate school. That is 6+ years of constant computing and heavy abuse through school and work and I'm still using it till this day with little to no problems at all. 

You don't need a fancy laptop, you just need a decent and reliable one that will get by. Contrary to popular belief, fancy laptops do not produce better work, despite what most students think. Concerned about rendering time? Yeah right... as if milliseconds is going to make the world of difference on bad design and graphics. You can produce amazing renderings with simple native graphics and photoshop magic that will beat those cheesy "realistic" renders that rendering farms produce for real estate brochures.

Majority of the software used in arch school work much more efficeintly on PC. If 90%+ of students are using PC instead of Mac, there's a good reason why. Especially when you're computer breaks down, or you run into software compatibility issues, the professors DO NOT give one dam if you will make the deadline or not - that's on you. However if budget is tight, then use your Macbook with a Windows parallel for your software needs. 

If all else fails, trace paper, decent drafting pencil, graphite/ pastel, and felt tip pen will do just fine.

Jun 17, 19 2:58 am

I got a MBP when I started arch school and it was the best decision for me. Although autocad and rhino don't run as smoothly and revit requires windows through bootcamp which isn't ideal for a lot of people, I wouldn't change having my mbp.

I used rhino for mac with illustrator and indesign for almost 90% of my design work done in the computer. (thank you smart trackpad) I have bootcamp that runs revit, autocad, sketchup and regular rhino if i need it (all free through my school), but it was usually much easier to just use my school's computer lab in those cases. (Rendering was the only really large process computer work and since rendering software is expensive I always used my schools lab regardless of computer type) Adobe suite was the most used tool I had in school and IMO works way better on the MacBook. 

In school its more about learning how to design and present your work and process. Yes architects will tell you that the fastest and most heavy duty computer pc will be the best, and in an office setting yes that is the case, but honestly in school the projects all remained pretty conceptual and schematic so having the basics and being able to quickly mesh it out on illustrator was the better option for me. I really think it comes down to personal preference honestly.

But regardless, if you have a suitable computer already definitely don't go out and buy one until you start school and realize you want a better one. Nor buy any recommended software until you get there and actually need it. I personally would have no use for a tower PC that everyone loves to recommend and I am now graduated and work at a firm preparing for a masters. 

You may have another issue when it came to your previous project if it is persistent then I would consider doing a reinstall of autocad for mac. Unless you were working with a huge file, I can't imagine why it would just delete lines. 

Jun 19, 19 2:46 pm

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