Laptop recommendations (August 2021)

Dear students! Please read recommendations below and then do your own research. You can email us at  help.arch<_at_> with a list of models you are considering (preferably with links to their description) and we will reply with comments and suggestions.

We recommend gaming class laptops for our program. You can consider Dell Gaming Laptops, Dell Alienware Laptops, Lenovo Gaming Laptops, HP Gaming Laptops. Choose a particular 15” or 17” model and customize it according to your budget and the following recommendations:

  • Intel Core i7-10870H or better processor
  • 16 GB memory or more
  • 500 GB or bigger SSD
  • Dedicated non-Intel video card (NVidia or AMD) with at least 4 GB of video memory 

Comments on some particular laptop models

Please be aware that as of August 2021 many laptop configurations are on delay from big manufacturers and it takes weeks to receive them. Make sure your are ordering a laptop which can be delivered within reasonable time.

  • Dell New G15 Gaming Laptop - some configurations (for example, this one) make good and affordable choices.  Please consider adding expended warranty (3 or 4 years) and accidental damage protection.

  • Dell XPS 15 laptops with NVidia video card - some configurations (like this one) make good choice. Please consider adding expended warranty (3 or 4 years) and accidental damage protection.

  • Dell Alienware - powerful laptops with very expensive extended warranty.

  • Microsoft Surface Pro & Surface Book - we have seen many Surface Pro & Surface Book laptops with cooling issues, that's why we do not recommend Microsoft Surface laptops.

  • Razer Blade - powerful, but very expensive laptops with questionable support in Canada.

  • Apple MacBook Pro with Intel processor and AMD video card - these laptops are suitable for the program, but we recommend to stay with Apple only if you have a very strong preference towards this platform.

Note that Dell’s weekly discounts can be up to 40% off. Weekly discounts start on Monday and are valid until Friday morning – 6:00 am. They are available here:

When you buy a laptop from one of the top brands, consider purchasing a 3-Year extended warranty (for some models this is the default option). The Accidental Damage Protection option provides comprehensive coverage.

Other reputable manufacturers such as ASUS, Acer, MSI, and Gigabyte offer laptops that can be cheaper than major brands. However, their warranty and support services may not be as good; the length of the warranty is usually for 1 year only. There are many similar gaming-class laptops with specifications that are suitable for architectural design work. You can find one with a good discount at online computer stores such as , and

We would recommend buying a Windows PC laptop, but If you prefer MacBooks, remember that only Intel-based Mac computers with a dedicated (non-Intel) video card and 15” or bigger screen will meet your needs. For example, the modern MacBook Pro 16” is a good choice (though significantly more expensive than similar laptops from other brands).

Important!!! M1 chip based Mac computers are not suitable for our program as they cannot run many required software systems, including Autodesk Revit. 

To run Microsoft Windows applications on a Mac, you will need a valid, licensed copy of Windows 10 (x64) Professional or Home edition (free for Architectural Science students). Please note that if you wish to run Windows on your Mac as a virtual machine, you will also need to purchase Parallels software separately.
If you choose MacBook Pro, consider purchasing their “AppleCare Protection Plan” to extend your warranty period (up to 3 years). You can purchase Apple devices with a discount at Apple for Higher Education page. Also, you will get the discount if you show your Ryerson student card at any Apple store.

Recommended laptop specifications:

Performance related



Main Parameters


Processor /


Processor Brand & Model

Go to to compare the performance of high-end mobile processors.



  • Processors with CPU mark above 15,000
  • Both Intel and AMD Ryzen are good choices

Not acceptable:

  • Intel Core i5, i3, Atom, Celeron series

Memory /



      As architectural related software systems process a lot of information, the amount of memory determines speed of operations. Basically having more memory is better.

Recommended:  16 GB or more


Not acceptable: 8 GB or less


       Is it possible to add more memory in the future?

Prefer a laptop with a free memory slot to to add more RAM in the future.

Video Card /

Graphics Card /

Graphics Controller 



How fast is the video card in performing graphics operations?

We recommend video cards with Average 3D Mark above 7,000:

OpenGL and DirectX support:

        Graphic applications are built on two “foundations”: OpenGL and DirectX. OpenGL is more oriented to professional applications; DirectX is more oriented to games. Not all  video cards support OpenGL.

Recommended: Choose a laptop with a graphics card that supports OpenGL. Laptops with 2 video cards, one of which supports OpenGL are good.

Go to to further compare performance of particular graphics cards. Enable “Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit” benchmark test to see performance in OpenGL graphics (higher value means higher performance).

Not acceptable: Laptops with one video card which is Intel video cards. 

Type of video memory:

       There are 2 technologies. Cheaper graphics cards share memory space with the computer’s main memory (RAM); discrete/professional graphics cards have their own dedicated memory.

Choose a laptop with dedicated video memory. If graphics memory is described as “shared” or “dynamically allocated”, then the laptop won’t make a good choice.


      The Graphics Card market is a dedicated market and the lead manufacturers usually offer better products

Look for NVidia or ATI/AMD-based video cards. Avoid laptops which have only Intel video cards - Enscape software does not work on Intel video cards.

Here are minimum hardware requirements for Enscape software:

Size of Video Memory:

      Generally, the larger the video memory, the faster the graphics processing  speed


Recommended: 4 GB or more

Storage / SSD


      How much data you can store on your SSD

500 GB or more. Disk sizes of 250 GB may be adequate during your first year, but you will find it to be too small in the upper years. 



       Solid State Drive (SSD) technology is significantly  faster than Hard Drives (HDD).

Solid State Drive (SSD) provides a very short boot up time, they are on average 10+ times faster than a regular (spinning disk) hard drive.

It is still OK to buy a laptop with HDD if you are on budget.

Operating System 



The OS is a set of programs that your computer uses to perform basic functions, such as start-up, running applications, and controlling components and peripherals on your computer. 


A 64-bit OS will effectively manage more than 2 GB of RAM.


  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit


  • Windows 10 Home Edition 64-bit



  • Mac OS X on an Intel-based Mac computer (you will need to install Windows as a second OS)

Not acceptable:

  • Linux, iOS, Android, Chrome OS




Main Parameters




Screen size


17” (but heavy), 15”

Not a good choice: 13” or less

Screen Type:

       Technology of screen matrix


- Matte screen (usually IPS panel)

Not recommended for persons with vision-related problems:

- Glass/glossy screens in bright lightning conditions



Most powerful laptops can be quite heavy; they can weigh more than 8 lb. Manufacturers often label such laptops as “Mobile Desktops” or “Mobile Workstations”. It may be challenging and inconvenient to carry a heavy laptop when commuting to/from school. Lightweight laptops (ultrabooks) are more expensive than laptops with the same performance that are not optimized for weight.


Additional Warranty:

       Many laptop manufacturers offer various upgrades/extensions to their standard warranty


Purchase “3 year extended warranty” if the standard warranty on your laptop is 1 year.

If you think that over time your laptop might incur accidental physical damage (i.e. cracks from drops or liquid spill), we recommend purchasing “Accidental damage warranty” coverage as well.


Laptop reviews and various performance ratings are available here:

CPU, Video and other performance ratings are available here: (easier to read) (more detailed, but harder to read)

Applies to:

  • > Our recommendations
Article ID: KB000139
Modified Date: 8/16/2021 1:59:04 PM
Version: 1.0