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  1. #1
    Revit Arch. Wishlist Mgr. Wes Macaulay's Avatar
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    *** Updated October 2010 with input from iru69 ***

    There are a large number of laptops manufacturers out there and I'm sure some of you are wondering what to drop the bucks on.

    As with desktops, the principles are the same: ensure the CPU, video card, and memory requirements are up to par.

    Most people buying notebooks at retail levels will be getting Windows 7. Driver support for Windows 7 is good, but some older devices (like printers) may not be supported under Win 7 64-bit. For 64-bit users, getting more than 4GB of RAM can be a pricey exercise as most laptops only have two RAM bays. Revit 64bit is slightly faster than Revit 32bit in benchmark tests, but the main impetus for 64-bit is the extra memory Revit can address -- and those benefits are more compelling when you have more than 4GB of RAM. Win 7 Professional is required for those wishing to connect their laptops to their corporate networks if you are using Windows Server.

    Core i7 and i5 processors lead the pack, with Turbo Boost technology and hyperthreading. Core i3, Core 2 Duo and AMD processors are secondary choices. Revit 2011 will, during rendering, use as many CPUs as your hardware possesses. Revit 2010 is limited to 4 threads.

    Video/Graphics Card
    In Revit 2011, most video cards made by nVidia or ATI/AMD, be it consumer or workstation-type hardware, will work with Revit 2011. There is a list of cards that Autodesk has tested, but it doesn't cover all the cards that are out there. I have heard rumours that future versions of Revit will use even more video resources than it does now, so the list of tested cards may become more important at that time.

    Be aware of what monitor connections you may want to plug your laptop into - be it DVI, DisplayPort, VGA, etc.

    Revit (and AutoCAD) 2011 and up are now using DirectX video acceleration, so the video card needs to be compatible with DirectX 9. Since Windows 7 supports DX11, getting DX9 support is not a problem on newer laptops.

    Intel Integrated Graphics should be avoided, as this hardware is not fully compatible with Revit and may prevent you from being able to enjoy the newer features of Revit's video features, such as ambient occlusion or the Realistic display mode. nVidia and ATI integrated graphics are better than the Intel Integrated, though not as good as dedicated (or discrete) video hardware.

    What kind of video hardware you actually get, as long as you're not getting integrated graphics, matters less with respect to Revit and more about what else you may want out of your hardware (such as CUDA graphics to use in rendering engines like Octane).


    Whether you choose the increasingly unavoidable glossy finish or another finish, you need to choose a resolution higher than 1024x768 -- it's just not enough for CAD. 1440x900 is a better minimum, and with the Ribbon resolutions of 1600 pixels and higher are recommended.

    Most laptops only have 2 RAM slots, and some models only ship with 4GB of RAM maximum. With the advent of 64-bit, 6GB and 8GB are possible, but it will cost you.

    Hard Drive
    Hard drive performance has improved a lot on laptops in recent years, so consider SATA drives with higher RPMs (e.g. 7200) which provide better performance for opening and saving large files.

    SSDs offer much faster read/write times than magnetic drives, so programs load faster. SSDs of course have no moving parts, and while they do eventually wear out, their lifespan is greater than a hard drive. Windows 7 provides better support for SSD technology, so SSDs are best if you're on Win7.

    Not all laptops come with Gigabit network cards; if your files are always large and your office is Gigabit wired, consider getting a laptop with this capability. If you plan to network wirelessly, 802.11N is the new standard and the fastest wireless network standard.

    Known Winners
    There are several new laptop models that are being used in our area and work well with Revit.

    Reliability / Failure Rate
    Check this link -- ASUS is the winner here!

    Dell's value is hard to beat, and provide exceptional value. The Latitude series are attractive but aren't generally available with CAD-capable video cards.

    • the new Studio laptops (they have backlit keyboards -- cool!)
    • all Precision models
    • all XPS models

    The MacBook Pro models combine Apple's design chops (and a backlit keyboard for those late night work sessions in your back yard) with phenomenal performance. They now run Windows either virtualized within OS X using Parallels or Fusion, or via dual boot using Boot Camp. The MacBook Pro uses the nVidia GeForce video cards.

    The US and Canadian sites offer different models, many of which would run Revit well. Simply pick a model with the CPU and video card specs recommended above.

    Sony sells a wide line of laptops, all of which boast great styling. You can readily find a model with the specs needed to run Revit. Sony laptops also tend to be more expensive than other brands.

    Other brands
    There are of course other makers of laptops such as Acer, Asus, and others that may also work well provided you meet or exceed the specs listed.

    If you have bought a laptop recently, post your results in this forum with your laptop specs and tell us what you like/dislike about your laptop. Please don't post if your laptop is no longer available, unless you think your post still applies to new models.
    Last edited by Wes Macaulay; 2011-01-12 at 09:09 PM.

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