SketchUp Pro is a powerful 3D modeling software that’s ideal for design professionals who need to do everything from basic 3D modeling to 3D rendering. It’s especially handy for architects and those designing furniture, homes, offices, and just about anything else. But as is the case with many other CAD programs, SketchUp Pro laptops tend to have some serious hardware requirements. Luckily, there are some things you can do to find a great laptop that will run SketchUp Pro just fine. In this post, I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned about finding the best laptops for SketchUp Pro over the years. This way, you’ll have all the information you need at your fingertips!
First things first – let’s go over why you might need to have a laptop that runs SketchUp Pro in the first place. If you’re just getting started with 3D modeling software, it might be more convenient to work on your home computer and bring your designs into a shop like Autodesk once they’re done. But if you plan on doing heavy SketchUp Pro work as part of your career – having it on a laptop might be something you want to look into. The only real downside is that SketchUp Pro laptops tend to be very expensive; still, it can make sense if you need something portable to take around your projects on-site or are generally interested in working with 3D designs on the go.
- SketchUp Pro is a powerful 3D modeling software
- SketchUp Pro laptops tend to have some serious hardware requirements
- you can do pretty much anything from basic 3D modeling to 3D rendering with SketchUp Pro
- if you plan on doing heavy SketchUp Pro work as part of your career, having it on a laptop might be something you want to look into
Requirements for a SketchUp Pro laptop
Major What’s the best processor for SketchUp Pro?
It’s hard to overestimate the significance of a processor in a professional laptop. It dictates the overall performance, and every other component is balanced around the CPU to show its full prowess.
The most common processor line is Intel Core. Intel is often superior in single-core performance and is a good option all-around. Nowadays, AMD is as relevant as ever with its Ryzen CPUs. They’re not as widespread as Intel in laptops, but AMD CPUs trend towards more cores, offering a better bang for the buck for multi-threaded work. Sadly, AMD is as relevant as ever with its Ryzen CPUs. That means it only utilizes one core at a time – all other cores are idle during rendering or modeling operations.
Since SketchUp doesn’t utilize many cores – it’s advantageous to go for the highest clock speed possible (e.g., i7-10700H). Higher clock speeds also mean higher temperatures, so I’d recommend getting a laptop with either passive cooling or an efficient design that disperses heat efficiently (e.g., Ryzen 9). Note that Ryzen 9 processors are not available in many configurations yet, so don’t worry if you can’t find one on your favorite store online!
For best performance without breaking the bank – I’d go for i5-10500H with an overclockable graphics card like Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti or RTX 2060 Ti that delivers both high rendering speeds and high gaming performance. For SketchUp Pro specifically – that’s my recommendation for best budget laptop!
- high performance is necessary for 3D modeling/rendering tasks
- Core i5/Ryzen 5 are a good start for CAD work
- Core i7/Ryzen 7 are needed for high FPS on high graphics settings (for gaming)
- Core i9/Ryzen 9 are a tad excessive for gaming, but could be used for CAD work with a proper cooling system (like in Razer Blade)
- recommended processors: i5-10500H with GTX 1050 Ti or RTX 2060 Ti (for best budget laptop) and i7-10700H with GTX 1050 Ti or RTX 2060 Ti (for best overall performance)
Major My graphics card recommendations for SketchUp Pro
Minimum graphics (under $1000)
I know, it sounds bonkers – getting a laptop under $1k for SketchUp. If you cut enough corners – you can get a cheap notebook for SketchUp. That could be done by either going for integrated Intel/AMD graphics (far from ideal) or an entry-level dedicated GPU, such as GTX 1650. You might see a few more crashes for your liking, and using the much slower “Software OpenGL” option can become a necessity. But that’s fine for small assemblies. I’m not recommending a cheap laptop for SketchUp, but it’s an option for a very tight budget.
Recommended consumer graphics ($1000 – $2000)
If you can’t go over $2000 – just go for a integrated Intel/AMD graphics. End of discussion. This includes most students, part-time freelancers, and hobbyists. Non-workstation cards are mainly acceptable for general assemblies with basic parts. You’ll miss out on some great features, such as RealView, but even then, there are some workarounds to enable RealView on a non-certified graphics card (look up RealHack). If you’re looking to spend less than $2000, I recommend these cards: RTX 3060, RTX 3070, RTX 2070, RTX 2060, RX 5600M, GTX 1660 Ti, GTX 1650
Recommended professional graphics ($2000+)
If you’ll be working full-time or your part-time gig justifies getting a $2000 – $4000+ laptop – a certified Quadro/FirePro chip might be exactly what you need. As an alternative, you could either go for a high-end consumer card (RTX 3070/3080). I’d prefer to get the latest gen workstation cards that start with an ‘A’ in their model name (e.g., A5000). These chips are significantly faster than previous-gen Quadro cards.
- any laptop under $1000 is too slow for SketchUp Pro (if you can get one)
- $1000 – $2000 laptops are fine for general assemblies with basic parts (like RealView)
- $2000+ laptops are recommended for professional work with complex assemblies (e.g., RealView and new ‘A’ series Quadro/FirePro cards)
Major Picking a good memory
Minimum (8 GB)
For SketchUp Pro, 8 GB is the bare minimum. This is only true if you’re a hobbyist and never use it for more than a few hours a day. If you’re a professional user and always work on complex projects that require heavy computation – then 8 GB will most likely be insufficient. You can upgrade to 16 GB in this case, which would make you more comfortable in the future when your demands for memory grow with the complexity of your projects.
Recommended (16 GB)
If you’re on a tight budget, 16 GB will be the best bang for your buck. SketchUp Pro has been notorious for its memory requirements since day one. 16 GB will be the best bang for your buck and might even last you for a couple of years, depending on how much time you spend working on it every day. This number also corresponds to $2k laptops, which makes them ideal for professionals who don’t want to upgrade their laptop in 2020-2021 when they buy it new.
Best (32 GB)
32 GB RAM laptops are not something we’ll see in the near future – but if we were to look at them now, they’d cost $3000+. With such steep price tags, 32 GB laptops might not be the best investment unless you know you’ll need that much RAM for whatever reason. That said, it’s never too early to start considering future-proofing your purchase and preparing for a long-term commitment to SketchUp Pro – especially if it’s going to be your main application.
- 8 GB is insufficient for SketchUp Pro, especially if you’re a professional user
- 16 GB is recommended for most people, but might be insufficient for professionals and heavy users in the future
- 32 GB laptops are reserved for professionals who know they’ll need that much memory for their work, or for users who plan on using SketchUp Pro for more than a few hours every day.
Optional requirements for a SketchUp Pro laptop
Optional What’s the best display that will work optimally with SketchUp Pro?
Right resolution for CAD work
SketchUp Pro has little to no requirements for the display. Full HD is good enough, and an even better resolution is not required.
Panel and image quality
Panel type is a key to many display qualities. Here are three types of panels you need to know:
- SketchUp Pro has little to no requirements for the display. [Very common in entry-to-mid-range laptops](a list of entry-to-mid-range laptops). If properly calibrated, then it’s not that bad for non-color-sensitive work.
- IPS/PLS – [better in nearly every aspect, nonetheless quite costly](a list of high refresh rate laptops), especially professional-grade IPS. Common in mid-range and premium laptops.
- OLED – [latest, greatest, and the priciest panel technology](a list of laptops with oled display). Exceptional color accuracy, often paired with HDR. Sometimes found in top-of-the-line models.
Meanwhile, image quality consists of brightness, contrast, and color accuracy. These three observable characteristics can vary a lot from model to model. Panel type can be a decent proxy to gauge these metrics roughly. But it’s always best to judge them in person or by reviews.
Laptop display recommendations for SketchUp Pro
I wouldn’t worry about high color accuracy or high contrast ratio for SketchUp Pro laptops – there are no “magic” display specs for this application. The only two things you should look for are the right resolution (a minimum of FHD) and a screen with an IPS panel (or something very similar).
- there are no special display specs for SketchUp Pro laptops
- the only two things you should look for are the right resolution (a minimum of FHD) and a screen with an IPS panel (or something very similar)
Optional Choosing a storage
SSDs and SketchUp Pro
SketchUp Pro is a modeling software that heavily relies on the speed of your computer. The speed of your storage drive is crucial for SketchUp Pro. And, unfortunately, it’s hard to make a direct comparison between SSDs and HDDs because the two types of drives are designed to be used in different ways.
This is why I recommend choosing an SSD with enough space for your needs. For professionals, I recommend at least 512 GB of storage space. If you need more space, go up to 1 TB or 2 TB. It’s worth noting that 512 GB of storage space. So keep this in mind when deciding on what size of an SSD you’ll need.
Storage isn’t very expensive these days, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about upgrading it before you’re ready to upgrade your computer’s RAM or processor. If you’re considering buying a laptop specifically for SketchUp Pro, go ahead and get one with at least 512 GB SSD – there’s really no point in getting anything less than that for SketchUp Pro usage.
If you have the budget for it, go ahead and get a laptop with 1 TB or 2 TB SSD – it will ensure you have plenty of room for all the models you’ll be creating in SketchUp Pro over the years to come.
5 Best Laptops for SketchUp Pro
Pros and cons
- Competent processor (i5-10500H)
- Solid graphics card (RTX 3060)
- Unremarkable memory amount (8GB)
Pros and cons
- Competent processor (i7-10750H)
- Terrific graphics card (GTX 1660 Ti)
- Heavy (4.8 lbs)
- Great processor (Ryzen 7 5800U)
- First-class graphics card (RTX 3050 Ti)
- Ordinary memory amount (16GB)
- Good processor (i7-10750H)
- Sufficient display (14 IPS Touch)
- Substandard graphics card (GTX 1650)
- Unexceptional memory amount (16GB)
Pros and cons
- Exceptional processor (Ryzen 7 5800H)
- Awesome graphics card (Radeon RX 6600M)
- Weighty (5.1 lbs)
- Colossal 5TB SSD
- High refresh rate display (144Hz)
- Unremarkable processor (i7-11370H)
- Unremarkable memory amount (16GB)
- Fair processor (i5-11260H)
- Competent display (17.3 144Hz IPS G-Sync)
- Garden-variety graphics card (RTX 3050)
Pros and cons
- Excellent processor (i7-11800H)
- Up to scratch display (15.6 144Hz IPS G-Sync)
Pros and cons
- Exceptional graphics card (RTX 3080)
- Up to scratch display (15.6 165Hz IPS)
- Mediocre processor (i7-11800H)
Table of Best Laptops for SketchUp Pro
|MSI GF65 Thin 10UE||$690|
|HP Pavilion 16 PC||$740|
|MSI Alpha 17 AMD||$1490|
|Acer Predator Helios 300||$2070|