Architects: What Is the Best Workstation for You?
Like most things when it comes to information technology, the answer to the issue of what workstation works best for architects depends on the architect. That is, the answer depends on your particular circumstances. Your equipment options depend on how much money you have designated for equipment expenses under your budget. It also depends on the kinds of software you want to run on the workstation and the tasks you plan to undertake on your computer.
The General Rule
When shopping for a computer, you most likely will want to select one that has an i7 processor, 16 or more GB of RAM, and discrete video. The discrete video provides higher graphics performance than a system’s integrated graphics. The graphics perform at a higher level because the video has its own sources for both memory and power. Discrete video is most often a feature of desktop PCs, but laptops and mini-versions of computer towers may also feature discrete video graphic cards.
Specific Design Considerations
If your business can finance the ARCHICAD computer-assisted drafting system, you will find it excellent for BIM and Virtual Building Modeling. ARCHICAD runs great on advanced processors, such as Xeon processors, with multiple cores. If you are not using Xeon processors, ARCHICAD also works great on more traditional hardware.
At the higher end of computers, the iMac Pro has a powerful Xeon processor that fits well with ARCHICAD. If you want something less expensive, you may want to try the iMac 5K.
Different Strokes for Different Folks
When it comes down to it, the question really is what kind of workflows and needs do you contemplate in your work. If your work means you need a laptop small enough and quiet enough to take to meetings, then a business class laptop will suit your needs. If you do not need a computer powerful enough to support BIM software, such as Autodesk’s Revit or AutoCAD for drafting and rendering, then a business class laptop is your answer.
On the other hand, if your employees need Revit or AutoCAD for rendering, they will find it difficult to work efficiently on a business class laptop. Business class laptops are not powerful enough to run those programs.
Questions to Consider Before Buying
Special tools match designer needs. Special tools match the needs for specification writers. The task is to define what special tools each worker needs for the majority of the work day. The questions you should answer before buying include whether you (or your employee):
- Require portability for those meetings?
- Need long battery life?
- Prefer a light-weight laptop?
- Prefer the looks of a particular machine?
- Must have a durable computer?
- Regularly use rendering software, Revit for BIM, or stylus sketching?
- Just want to answer emails and edit PDF files?
When it comes to powerful tools and powerful machines to run them, it may mean that architects in the same firm can share powerful resources. The person who only needs Revit periodically may find a business laptop fine for every day and then share the powerful computer only when needed.
Know Your User
The bottom line is that whoever is buying equipment for the office must understand who they are buying the computer for and how that person will use the new computer. The needs of an architect that is a building designer are different from the tools needed for a construction project manager who monitors the project. Buying for multiple workers with varying skills demands attention to the details of each.
If you are interested in learning more about buying computers for architects, you may enjoy the April 2021 article from itechpost.com entitled “Nvidia Grace CPU Specs Revealed! Processor Built for AI Supercomputing and More.”