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Wednesday, March 4, 2020

My Revit Laptop - Balancing Performance, Portability, and Price

If I am being honest, this is a post that I have been avoiding for many years.

Why?  Because I know there are going to be lots and lots of opinions about it.  I also know how fast computer hardware changes and updates.

But, I have decided it's time...  (Maybe my skin has thickened up after 11 years of blogging and YouTube comments... ;)).

At least once a week I get an email, comment, or message that goes something like this, "Jeff, what laptop do you recommend for Revit".

After 12+ years of "Revit-ing" and using countless laptops I think I finally found one that I am willing ad confident in enough to share with you all.

Continue reading to learn about the laptop I use, and why, for Revit (and adjacent software)...

First, let's talk about how I evaluate a solid "Revit laptop".  I know there will be plenty of you who will talk about benchmarking, passmark scores, chipsets, and gigahertz.

Yes, I know these things matter and I am just as much a computer nerd as you are.

But, I always judge a laptop by real-world day-to-day usage.  I don't care what a benchmark tells me, I want to test out a  machine on a few projects doing heavy, real-world, work.  And I would never review a laptop here on the blog unless I actually used it... and used it hard.

Additionally, when it comes to laptops, I believe the perfect laptop will balance performance, portability, and price. 

Okay, so let's talk about my current laptop and my thoughts on it's performance, portability, and price:

For those that would rather watch than read, here is the video review... (Don't forget to Subscribe to my YouTube channel!)...

... And now the text review...

The Laptop:

My current Revit laptop:

Origin EVO16-S

I was introduced to Origin PC by a colleague a few years back.   As someone who has built custom desktops my entire life I had been dying to find a similar experience in laptops.  The amount of customization options and reasonable pricing of Origin's are the closest thing I have experienced to building my own custom gaming desktops.   Also, the customer support has been great.

As-Built Specs:

- Intel Core i7 9750H 6-Core 2.6GHz (4.50GHz TurboBoost)
- FHD 1920 x 1080 16.1" IPS level 144Hz Matte Display
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 8GB GDDR6 Max-Q
- CORSAIR 1TB MP600 Gen4 (OS Hard Drive)
- 1TB Samsung 860 EVO M.2 (Storage Drive)


Performance, to me, is all about how a PC feels when you use it to get your work done.

Why do I define performance that way?  Because the truth of the  matter is we all use are PCs just a bit differently.

With that being said, let's talk about how I use my laptop.

First, obviously, I use Autodesk Revit.  Usually, I will be in 2019 or 2020 these days.  But, occasionally I am working on an old project in 2016, 2017, or 2018 (yeah, I know... but some projects are not worth upgrading, I promise).  When it comes to Revit usage, I will be modeling, navigating, and running Dynamo scripts in models that are wide ranging in sizes.  Literally, from a 100 square foot yoga studio to a 21 story hospital building.

With an i7 and 32GB of RAM you can pretty much handle anything.  If you are building models larger than 21 story hospital buildings then you are in a smaller group of folks who may need to max the heck out of your hardware.   For everyone else, 32GB of RAM and a 6 core i7 can be considered your base line.

As I mentioned before, to me it's all about feel.  On this laptop Revit feels quick and snappy on both the small projects and the large.

Second, I use real-time rendering tools: Lumion, Twinmotion (yup, I've got some new things to show you on this front soon), and Enscape 3D.  The most important piece of hardware for all of these programs is the graphics card.

I don't care what Autodesk "certifies"... If you plan on using Revit alongside any of the three aforementioned real-time rendering programs, you need a gaming graphics card.

Workstation graphics cards will not cut it.

Also, Revit does not need a workstation graphics card.  In fact, Autodesk's recommended system requirements for Revit 2020 now call out a "DirectX 11" graphics card.

I suggest getting the best graphics card offered that you can afford for your system.  For my Origin, that is a Nvidia RTX 2080 (Max Q) with 8GB of video memory.  If are on a budget you can get an RTX 2070 with 8GB of video memory for quite a bit less ($400+ dollars less, actually).

This machine kicks Lumion, Twinmotion, and Enscape 3D butt!  I regularly run scenes in Lumion or Twinmotion that, when saved, use up to 4GB of disk space they have so many models.  The fact that I can run any of these programs on "ultra" graphics settings on a laptop blows my mind.

Twinmotion 2019 Example Scene...

Twinmotion 2019 Example Scene...

I have also tested this machine extensively with Enscape3D and the HTC Vive for virtual reality.  Our usual setup includes hooking up to a 4K television while running the VR headset.  This laptop handles it without a hiccup.

Finally, if you can run Revit, Lumion, Twinmotion, and Enscape 3D efficiently on a laptop you can be confident it will run most anything else with ease.  The other programs I find myself using are the Adobe suite (Photoshop, Premier, inDesign, etc...), Power BI, Navisworks, and so on....

All of these programs feel quick and snappy.

The only other thing I will add to the performance is to make sure you don't sell yourself short on storage space.  Solid state memory is so much cheaper than it used to be.

Don't sell yourself short on OS Hard Drive Space...

For this laptop I decided to go with a 1TB NVMe drive for the operating system and another 1TB solid state for storage.  This is only necessary because I need to keep 5+ versions of Revit on my machine on top of everything else. Either way, it's something to think about as the OS drive can fill up quick!


If I am going to get a laptop, I want it to be portable.  Period.

If I am not going to take it anywhere... I would just get a desktop, right?

My Origin EVO16-s, in my opinion, is the perfect balance between performance and portability.

The fate that I can have hardware specs that will rival most desktops in a laptop that is only 3/4" thick and 4.5 pounds it incredible.

Something else that many people may not think about is the power supply.  Thanks to the MaxQ graphics card and all solid state memory the EVO16-s power supply is compact and lightweight.

I used to carry around a 17" Dell workstation that weighed about 8 pounds without the gigantic power supply.  I then had an older Origin model which weighed around 11 pounds with the power supply.  Both of those machines were also over 1.5" thick.

As someone who regularly throws my laptop into my backpack and travels around with it I can tell you the rest of the crap you have in your bag will weigh more than the laptop and power supply combined...


If you were to ask me a year or two ago what I thought the price of a 4.5 pound, ultra-thin 16" laptop, with an i7, 32 GB of RAM, 2 TB of storage, and an RTX 2080 in it would be I would have said well over $4,000 dollars.


My laptop, as configured, was $3,240.00 (included 2 year warranty and an extra power supply).

On a tighter budget?

If you go for the RTX 2070 (with 8GB of video RAM) and only go for a 1 year warranty, I just spec'd one out for $2,247.00... Plus, they are running a discount right now that would get you almost at $2,000!

Yup.  That's a pretty good deal to me.


So there you have it.  You now know what laptop "The Revit Kid" is using.  I hope this helps those of you who are trying to decide what your next machine will be.

For me, the Origin EVO16-s is the perfect balance of Performance, Portability, and Price.

Now, I know there will be tons of opinions so feel free to comment below.  I look forward to the discussion!

Click here to check out Origin PC and customize your own EVO16-S today.

Links to All of My Gear:

PS. - I thought this would be a good place to fulfill another request I get pretty often about how I make my videos, courses, etc...  Here are some links to all of the hardware and software I use:

** Some of the above links are affiliate links, meaning you don’t pay anything more but I may get a small commission for a sale… Cheers! **