Computer For Architecture Rendering And 3D Modeling

Best Computer for Architecture Rendering and 3D Modeling

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Not just any computer can handle 3D processing, especially because 3D modeling and rendering software is undoubtedly quite intensive. These two tasks use computing power quite differently, meaning having the best or latest 3D programs probably won't cut it without the appropriate hardware to run it. To help you narrow down to your best computer for architecture rendering and 3D modeling, let's break down each of these two tasks.

3D Modeling and Rendering

Modeling is the foundation of 3D design. It's used to draw 3D shapes and adapt them into models to represent a particular object or showcase graphics. Essentially, this could be thought of as a virtual skeleton of objects as they appear in the real world. 3D modeling is heavily used in architecture, real estate, home decor and several other industries to develop prototypes that bring ideas to life.

On the other hand, rendering uses data from 3D modeling and tweaks it further using the relevant software. 3D rendering programs allow the user to add detailed design enhancement and specifications, like camera position and orientation, backgrounds or realistic lighting settings. This creates a smoother presentation since models normally have several color varieties and finishing options. As you would expect, it requires more processing power to render models quickly and effectively.

3D modeling entails a constant interaction between the computer and software. The task is mostly run on one core of the processor, meaning you need a processor with the highest single-core performance. Conversely, rendering uses all the cores to their maximum capacities; thus, the more cores you have, the more efficient your workflow becomes.

CPU vs. GPU Rendering

There are two well-known rendering methods in 3D software:

CPU Rendering: Uses the processor.

  • Constantly uses all CPU cores, hence able to handle more complex tasks.
  • Slower than GPU rendering, but performance is more stable.
  • Has larger memory and is more precise.

Pro Tip: Go for a CPU with the most cores possible. However, this means the PC consumes more power and produces more heat, which might affect the computer's efficiency.

GPU Rendering: Uses the Graphics Card.

  • Produces more detailed 3D images and better results, better suited to intense graphic rendering.
  • GPU render engines run much faster than CPU rendering in most cases.
  • Takes some workload off the CPU, allowing the CPU to run smoothly.
  • Is evolving much faster.

Now let's walk through our top picks for the best computer for architectural rendering and modeling: 

Best PC Computer For Architecture Rendering

1. HP ENVY Desktop Computer

HP ENVY Desktop Computer, Intel Core i7-10700, 16 GB...
  • YOUR CREATIVE SIDEKICK: Render, edit, game and stream better than...
  • FAST PROCESSOR: 10th Generation Intel Core i7-10700 Processor,...
  • MEMORY: 16 GB DDR4-2933 SDRAM memory (2 x 8 GB) (upgradable to 32...
  • INTERNAL STORAGE: 1 TB 7200RPM SATA hard drive & 512 GB PCIe NVMe...
  • CONNECTIVITY: Realtek Wi-Fi 5 (1x1) and Bluetooth 4.2 Combo,...

For productivity maximizers trying to find an everyday desktop PC that can handle their 3D modeling and rendering, the HP Envy Desktop computer is an excellent choice. This proficient daily driver offers outstanding productivity performance, thanks to the (base model) 6-core Intel Core i5 processor with an Intel UHD 630 graphics card GPU and 12GB of DDR4-2666 memory. The HP Envy performs exceptionally well and reliably for multimedia tasks.

Envy's chassis comes in the same standard boxy shape, but HP has popped up the exterior in Nightfall Black with rounded corners and a ribbed front. The size is also great for expandability if you plan on adding more memory or more powerful GPUs later on. It has 2.5- and 3.5- inch drive bays, plus two M.2 slots for expansion. However, it only has one full-length PCIe x16 slot, which already comes occupied if you buy the Envy with a discrete GPU.

This PC has eight USB Type-A ports, HDMI and VGA video outputs, Gigabit Ethernet jack, 3.5mm audio outputs as well as a microphone input. The rear USB ports are limited to 2.0 speeds, and the front USB ports allow the faster 3.1. Unfortunately, the Envy has only one USB Type-C port.

The package includes basic peripherals, a mouse and a keyboard. They're available in both wired and wireless options. Although both are well-built, the keyboard gets a bit uncomfortable for extended sessions. But if you won't be typing a lot, it'll more than get the job done in terms of productivity. HP backs this desktop with a one-year limited hardware warranty, plus 90 days of phone support.


  • Sleek chassis
  • Solid productivity performance
  • Optical drive
  • Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Eight USB Type-A ports


  • Lacks discrete graphics card
  • Limited interior space for expansion
  • Only one Type-C port

2. Dell XPS 8930 Tower Special Edition

Dell XPS 8930 Special Edition Tower Desktop - 9th Gen...
  • 9th Generation Intel i9-9900K at 3.60 GHz Processor (16MB...
  • 64GB DDR4 2666MHz Memory, 1TB Solid State Drive + 2TB 7200 RPM...
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti with 4GB GDDR5, 7 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 2 x...
  • Dell Wireless 802.11a/c + Bluetooth v4.2, Gigabit Ethernet,...
  • 2-Year Warranty by Techno Intelligence, Dell USB Laser Mouse &...

The Dell XPS 8930 was amongst the first PCs to adopt Intel's Coffee Lake Processors. This one features a 3.2 GHz Intel Core i7-8700 processor, giving you computing speeds that are nothing to sneeze at. As such, it performs exceptionally well for all-round productivity and multi-tasking.

The processor plays a significant part in this desktop's exceptional 3D performance. Nevertheless, most of the merit goes to the Nvidia GTX 1070, that's quite capable, especially in HD. When you factor in 16GB memory, 3D modeling and rendering on this PC is super smooth and fluid.

The case offers plenty of room for storage expansion as you see fit. You can use either hard drive or SSD storage or combine them at varying capacities per your needs. Accessing the interior of the case is extremely easy, you simply pull a rear lever to unlock the left panel. However, the space is a little tight due to the size of the case, so you might have to wriggle your way around.


  • Fast all-round performance
  • Compact design
  • Easy-access case with plenty of room for expansion


  • Loud fans
  • The case is a bit tight cramped to work in.

3. 2021 Apple iMac

2021 Apple iMac (24-inch, Apple M1 chip with 8‑core...
  • Immersive 24-inch 4.5K Retina display with P3 wide color gamut...
  • Apple M1 chip delivers powerful performance with 8-core CPU and...
  • Strikingly thin 11.5 mm design in vibrant colors
  • 1080p FaceTime HD camera with M1 ISP for amazing video quality
  • Studio-quality three-mic array for crystal clear calls and voice...
The iMac is widely regarded as the best large-screen AIO (all-in-one) computer in the market. The 2021 model has Apple M1 chip which delivers powerful performance with 8-core CPU and 7-core GPU. All these CPUs support Hyper-Threading, so expect lightning-fast computing performance.

The updated AMD Radeon Pro GPU comes with Apple's latest RDNA processor architecture. With 16GB of video memory, graphical performance is at a whole new level. In order for your computer to be fast throughout your work, it is better to periodically clean the Photoshop scratch disks. As for storage, the base model offers 512GB SSD, but you can go all the way to a whopping 8TB.

It features a 24-inch Retina 4.5K display that's as great as ever. The 5120x2880p native resolution supports 1 billion colors and the whole P3 color gamut. At 500 nits of brightness, the overall visual experience is simply mesmerizing. Plus, you can also opt for a nano-texture glass finish rather than the standard glossy one to minimize glare from ambient lights, but this comes at an extra charge.

The 2021 iMac comes with stylish wireless peripherals. The Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2 are designed as exquisitely as the rest of the PC. Aesthetics notwithstanding, the keyboard has shallow key travel, so it tends to get a bit uncomfortable over long typing sessions.

The 24-inch iMac weighs 9.83 pounds; it doesn't look bulky, not even on smaller desks. However, the stand only tilts forward and back with no height adjustment, making it less flexible. It also features a 1080p camera with M1 ISP for amazing video quality that comes in handy in this new age of virtual meetings and events.


  • Option between glossy 4.5K display or matte "nano-texture"
  • Snappy computing and graphics performance
  • 1080p camera
  • Stylish, minimal design


  • Expensive
  • The keyboard can be uncomfortable.

4. HP Z8 G4 Workstation

HP Z8 G4 Workstation - Xeon Silver 4216-16 GB RAM - 512...
  • Number of processors supported: 2
  • Processor Manufacturer: Intel
  • Processor Type: Xeon silver
  • Processor model: 4216
  • Processor Core: Hexadecane-core (16 core)

Widely regarded as the most powerful workstation globally, the HP Z8 G4 Workstation is a monster of a machine. It can run complex processes with vast amounts of data and execute the most complex simulations on the fly. If you're looking for a powerhouse designed to handle the heaviest modeling and rendering workloads, it doesn't get any better.

It features a hexadecane-core processor, certainly throwing the clock speed conversation out of the window. The base model comes with decent storage, 512GB SSD but can be upgraded to 48TB. The Graphics Card is equally remarkable, featuring the 3X Nvidia Quadro P6000 for optimal and smooth performance.


  • Incredibly powerful
  • Top-of-the-line specs
  • Quality construction


  • Might be overkill for some users, say, architecture students.

5. Corsair One Pro i180

CORSAIR ONE PRO i180 High-Performance PC,i9-9920X,RTX...
  • Intel Core i9-9920X twelve-core processor, NVIDIA GeForce RTX...
  • Built-in RGB light pipes and powerful CORSAIR iCUE software allow...
  • Patented assisted convection liquid cooling system for higher...
  • Connect up to four 4K HDR displays for multi-monitor...
  • Front I/O panel equipped with two USB ports, a 3.5mm audio jack...

The Corsair One Pro i180 is arguably the sweet spot between size and power. This compact workstation measures only 200 x 172.5 x 380mm, meaning it easily fits on or under the desk. Not only does this computer look quite sleek, but it's also just as reliable and high-performing, guaranteed to redefine your workflow.

It comes with a 12-core Intel Core i9-9920x processor, fully equipped for heavy-duty tasks. It features an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2030 Ti GPU, an exceptional graphics card in its own right. In addition, it has 32GB of Corsair DDR4 memory. On top of it all, it also features a liquid cooling system that keeps the machine running smoothly with minimal noise.


  • Great balance of size and power
  • Solid build and sleek design
  • Quite compact
  • Powerful and reliable


  • Hefty price

Best Laptop Computer For Architecture Rendering

1. Acer Predator Helios 300

Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-54-760S Gaming Laptop |...
  • Extreme Performance: Crush the competition with the impressive...
  • RTX, It's On: The latest NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 (6GB dedicated...
  • Blazing-Fast Display: This 15.6" Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS...
  • Internal Specifications: 16GB DDR4 3200MHz memory (2 DDR4 Slots...
  • Prioritize Your Gameplay: Intel Killer DoubleShot Pro with...

The Predator Helios 300 might be as good as laptops get on paper, packing some exceptionally powerful hardware. It's built for gaming, so you almost know what to expect next. For starters, it features a 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10750H with six cores and a base frequency of 2.60 GHz that delivers solid, robust performance. Combined with its 16 GB RAM, your heavy applications run pretty smoothly.

It comes with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 for maximum graphical performance. More so, it has a 15.6 inches 1920x1080p display with sharp, crisp images that come in quite handy when you need to pay attention to minute details. The 512Gb SSD storage is more than sufficient for most architects or architecture students to store their files.

However, it's worth pointing out that the keys are a bit stiff and resistant. Consequently, the keyboard makes productivity typing somewhat cumbersome. Additionally, the fans can get quite loud, which could be annoying for you and others when you're in public spaces.


  • Great performance
  • Powerful hardware
  • Plenty of configuration options


  • Underwhelming keyboard
  • Loud fans

2. Acer Swift X SFX14-41G-R1 Creator Laptop

Acer Swift X SFX14-41G-R1S6 Creator Laptop | 14" Full...
  • Ultimate Performance. Uncompromised Battery Life: Speed up tasks...
  • RTX, It's On: The latest NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti Laptop GPU...
  • A True Visual Representation: Create your best content on the 14"...
  • Internal Specifications: 16GB LPDDR4X memory (maximum 16GB);...
  • Windows Hello with Fingerprint Reader: Biometric fingerprint...

The powerful Acer Swift X is billed as an ultraportable designed for creative pros. It's a high-performance laptop featuring an 8-core, 16-thread AMD Ryzen 7 5800U CPU that delivers a solid punch for your intensive workload. In addition, it handles heavy content-creation tasks quite smoothly, thanks to the 16GB RAM.

Acer Swift X stands out for the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti GPU that takes graphical performance to the next level. After all, it's partly designed for gaming. And despite having some pretty high-end components, this machine still provides extended battery life for the average user.

The Full HD (1920x1080) 14" display produces bright images with vibrant color and good contrast. However, the smaller size- with a 16:9 aspect ratio- restricts the amount of vertical space at your disposal, so it might feel cramped for creative work at times.


  • Stellar performance
  • Excellent graphics
  • Great battery life


  • Fans can get loud during intensive workloads
  • The display is slightly cramped for creative work.

3. Dell XPS 15

Dell XPS 15 - 15 Inch FHD+, Intel Core i7 10th Gen,...
  • 62% larger touchpad, 5% larger screen, and 5.6% smaller footprint
  • 16:10 FHD+ edge to edge display equipped with DisplayHDR 400 and...
  • Integrated Eyesafe display technology
  • Quad speaker design with Waves Nx audio
  • High-polished diamond-cut sidewalls

The first thing that captures your attention on the Dell XPS 15 is the sleek frosty design; this laptop looks pretty elegant. The base configuration comes with an 11th Gen 6-core Intel Core i5-1140H CPU, which handles architectural software efficiently. Furthermore, the 8GB RAM makes a breeze of multi-tasking so that you can go about your work without any hitches.

The base unit has a 256GB SSD, which is decent storage for all your programs and important files. It also comes with Nvidia's 4GB GeForce RTX 3050 Ti. While this is serious graphical power on paper, this GPU is somewhat limited by the 45-watt maximum power consumption. However, this is only critical if you're considering using the laptop for intensive gaming.

What truly stands out on the Dell XPS is the (optional) cutting-edge 15" OLED screen. It has a 3456x2160 resolution that Dell calls 3.5K. This display produces almost the entire spectrum of sRGB, Adobe RGC as well as DCI-P3 color gamuts at nearly 400 nits of brightness. The visual experience on this laptop is well unmatched. Finally, it's worth pointing out that it only has USB Type C options, and that could prove to be an obstacle.


  • Elegant design
  • Powerful Intel Core H-Series
  • Fairly long battery life


  • Expensive
  • Average GPU options
  • USB-C only could be a snag.

4. HP Zbook Studio G5

HP Zbook Studio G5 15.6" LCD Mobile Workstation - Intel...
  • Processor Manufacturer: Intel
  • Processor Type: Core i9
  • Processor generation: 8th Gen
  • Processor model: i9-8950HK
  • Processor speed: 2.90 GHz

It's no surprise that HP also features first on this sub-category, with the Zbook dominating this area for quite some time. The Zbook Studio is regarded as the most powerful mobile workstation of ts size. And this is indeed a very capable machine, perfectly suited for architects and rendering experts who want sheer power.

It features an Intel Core i9 processor, along with the Nvidia Quadro RTX Graphics card, ensuring that it handles all sorts of modeling and visualization quite comfortably. Moreover, when you consider HP's signature DreamColor Display, it's hard to find a machine that can beat this as the best laptop for architecture rendering.


  • Very powerful
  • DreamColor display
  • Solid construction


  • Quite pricey

5. Asus ROG Zephyrus Laptop

2020 Flagship Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 VR Ready Gaming...
  • 【CUSTOMlZED, Professional Upgraded to】: 16GB RAM | 2TB SSD
  • Equipped With The Most Powerful and Fast AMD 8-Core Ryzen 9...
  • 14" FHD (1920 x 1080) 120Hz Display, Dedicated NVIDIA GeForce RTX...
  • 2 × USB-A 3.2, 1 x USB-C 3.2, 1 x USB-C 3.2 with DisplayPort 1.4...
  • Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit), Backlit Chicklet Keyboard, Up...

Gaming laptops are almost always an appropriate fit for architects. This is because they are specifically built for power and graphics requirements, for starters, and are usually significantly cheaper. As far as such laptops go, the Asus ROG Zephyrus is certainly one of the most reputable and powerful 14-inch laptops available.

It's equipped with an 8-core AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS processor, plus a GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card to allow high-speed multi-tasking. Add the crisp 14-inch display and this becomes a perfect machine for rendering that exceeds its price point. Plus, it only weighs 3.64lbs, pretty light for a laptop with this much power and capability.


  • Reasonably priced
  • Extremely powerful
  • Lightweight


  • Size might deter some users.

6. Dell Inspiron 13 7000

2021 Dell Inspiron 13 7000 2-in-1 13.3" Full HD 1080p...
  • 10th Gen Intel Core i5-10210U quad-core Processor...
  • 8GB System Memory for Advanced Multitasking Substantial...
  • 13.3" Full HD Touch Screen The 1920 x 1080 resolution boasts...
  • 32GB Intel Optane Memory Intel Optane memory works with the PC to...
  • RGB backlit keyboard Allows you to enjoy comfortable and accurate...

For architects and designers who prefer to present their work using a digital display, the Dell Inspiron is an excellent choice. It combines great aesthetics with powerful specifications to bring out the best flippable laptop for architecture rendering. If you want a machine that will get your creative juices going, this is certainly a great choice.

It has an Intel Core i5 quad-core processor, with the option of an i7, allowing you to run several programs simultaneously without any problems. The Inspiron 13 also has Intel UHD Graphics On-Processor graphics for the best performance when modeling and rendering, plus 8GB RAM for fluid multitasking. Storage is unlikely to be an issue, with 512GB SSD + 32GB Optane. With a smaller 13.3-inch display, it's also remarkably lightweight and portable.


  • Powerful for the price
  • Lightweight and compact
  • More affordable
  • Seek design


  • Size might not suit some

Factors to Consider in the Best Computer for Architecture Rendering

1. GPU

The Graphics Processing Unit is crucial to the rendering speed. The choice here is quite straightforward; Nvidia is the best option for graphics cards. The company's CUDA graphic rendering offers the best performance for modeling and rendering by quite a margin. Even better, it's available for all their GPUs. AMD graphics cards also have a solid reputation in the game and won't let you down.

We recommend a minimum 2GB RAM GPU, such as from the Nvidia Quadro lineup. These are some of the best Nvidia Graphics Cards you can consider for your computer:

  • RTX 2080
  • RTX 2070
  • RTZ 2060
  • GTX 1080
  • GTX 1070

2. CPU

The importance of the CPU has certainly dipped in the last couple of years, but this unit is still vital for 3D rendering. Intel and AMD are the two well-known brands for high-performance CPUs. We recommend getting at least 16GB RAM CPU -and the higher the clock speed, the better: If your central design model file is more than 1GB, you'll definitely need a 32GB RAM CPU.

If you want solid single-threaded performance from your CPU, go with Intel processors. However, if you want multi-threaded operations, you'd be better off with AMD processors. Some of the high-quality CPUs to consider include.

  • AMD Ryzen 2700X
  • Intel Core i9 9900K
  • Intel Core i7 9700K
  • AMD Ryzen R5 2600

3. RAM

RAM isn't particularly the most critical spec for rendering work, but it still plays a significant role. That being said, 3D rendering software is becoming ever more sophisticated, meaning it requires more RAM. So to ensure that you have smooth operations, we recommend getting at least 16GB of DDR4 RAM and maybe 8GB for students.

The best part is, RAM is easily upgradable. So when you start experiencing laggy performance, you can always slot in more RAM or replace the old units with new, larger ones. After all, RAM is pretty affordable and equally easy to install.

4. Storage

Storage is key since you'll have very large programs and files to store. However, the actual capacity you need varies based on the size of projects and personal work methods. Whatever the case may be, the more storage, the better. You can choose between:

  • Solid State Drive (SSD) is faster and more reliable than HDD, but it's also more expensive.
  • Hard Disk Drive (HDD) offers larger storage for a lower price but isn't as reliable as SSD storage.
  • Hybrid Drive combines the perks of SSD and HDD but is the most expensive option of the three.

5. Operating System

There are arguably two options to consider here: Microsoft Windows and Apple's macOS. Windows is more widely used by architects and architecture students, mostly because it's more user-friendly and available on more computers at a lower cost. This also means it gets more support from IT departments or university compute repair teams.

However, macOS focus on design and usability is just as popular among architects. So as much as it might be more expensive, the system has an oilier reception in the industry, mostly perceived as more professional. But there's also the notable setback that some programs, such as Revit, aren't available on macOS.

6. Desktop or Laptop?

The last question to consider when choosing the best computer for modeling and rendering is whether you prefer a desktop or laptop. A desktop or workstation gives you the advantage of easy customization -you can upgrade your PC as your needs and skill increases. On the other hand, a laptop is obviously more portable if you have to move around.

You'll also need a bigger screen size for modeling and rendering. Some architects even opt for dual screens. So, if you get a laptop, it would be best to consider a base station to connect the machine to a dual-monitor screen. At the same time, you can also explore the idea of using a virtual architecture computer to access your computer remotely and get on with your creative workflow.

One more thing to consider if you opt for a laptop is the battery life. However, most powerhouse laptops are built for high-performance, making them very intense on the battery. Therefore, it would be prudent not to expect prolonged battery life, especially when you're modeling and rendering.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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