Best PC Workstation Laptops for MLA Program

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums TECHNOLOGY Best PC Workstation Laptops for MLA Program

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    Michal Laszczuk


    I am going to begin my Master of Landscape Architecture at the University of Guelph this Fall and right now I am in the process of buying a new PC workstation laptop for the program. I have been looking at lists of some of the best workstations which include,

    The Dell Precision Series (M2800, M3800, M4800, M4600)

    The Lenovo Thinkpad W550s (and other Thinkpad laptops)

    The HP ZBook 15 G2 

    Fujitsu Celsius H730

    I was wondering if people would know what is generally regarded as the best PC workstation laptop for Landscape Architects, or rather, which PC brand people usually buy. I feel like I should get either a Dell or Lenovo but its really hard to find out what is regarded as the best in the field. 

    Thank you so much for your help and time with this, it is greatly appreciated! 


    Robert Anderson

    Not sure if you feel like windows machines are a requirement; however you might want to consider a MacBook Pro. While it is true they are more expensive it has been my personal experience that the software generally is less expensive and your Mac will last you well through your master program and beyond. During the same five years that I’ve been using my MacBook Pro my wife has gone through four windows machines.

    Michal Laszczuk


    Thank you so much for your input! It is good to know that you have had a better experience with durability with your Mac (In terms of build quality I feel like Macs are unparalleled). Do you experience any problems with running programs like AutoCAD, Rhino, or ArcGIS with a Mac? I heard from some that the programs run better on a PC (ArcGIS, for example, cannot actually run from a Mac itself but has to be run through an online server or through a mirror).

    Again, thank you very much for your advice! 

    Alexander Taft

    I agree with Robert, a Mac will serve you well and has the support of techs at any apple store. You can run parallels to switch over to windows for those programs that are specifically made to run windows. That being said a Dell would be a good PC option. They also have good support, look for a machine with a decent graphic card, as much memory as possible and a top of the line processor if you want something that is also going to be more durable a Solid state hard drive should be on the list of things to include.



    I couldn’t know from your LAND 8 Profile what your Undergraduate degree was…Was in an LA degree?

    Because, if your Undergraduate degree was in “Landscape Architecture”, IMO, my advise would to search for an entry level LA position…..for the “experience”, rather than go for a MLA degree.

    I know that the University of Guelph has a great LA Program…..if your Undergraduate degree is in anything other than Landscape Architecture and you really wish to be an LA, that sounds like a good plan.

    Personally, I just believe that 2 to 3 years of “experience with an LA firm” is worth more than an MLA degree.  LA firms won’t offer you a higher paying job if you have both an Undergraduate degree in LA and an MLA degree.  Same is true if you have a 5 yr. LA degree rather than a 4 yr. LA degree. I may be wrong here, but, I believe that entry level LAs now are getting starting salaries between $35k & $45k.

    And, I had recommended in a BLOG I authored….that recent LA graduates searching for an entry level job really do the “research” on the location of various LA firms (which U.S. States & Cities they are located in). Some States (like New York & California) have very high cost of living situations & high state taxes…on top of U.S. Federal Taxes.  LA firms in those states don’t pay LAs more, just because their cost of living is high and state taxes are high.  There are MANY locations throughout the U.S. (if that’s where you look) that have reasonable cost of living & zero state income taxes…….but, during my LA career, I looked at everything before I accepted an LA position…, what the city was like, demographics, cost of living, social activities….just everything I could possibly learn about the city/state.

    Sorry….can’t help you with your question about the Laptop you’re searching for.

    Good Luck!


    Walter Norris Bone

    Most any laptop with a good graphics card will suffice.  Nowadays, touch screen capabilities with a pen seems to be the trend.  Actually drawing and sketching on your laptop.

    Unfortunately, the industry lacks a complete understanding of size requirements.  We are limited to 10-12″, then jumps to 23″ and higher.  Why not make a laptop with sketching capabilities in the 15-17″ range.  For me, the 10-12″ is too small and uncomfortable to sketch on and the larger ones need a push cart to carry, lol.

    Here is a sample one of my staff did on his Microsoft Surface Pro (still too small for me).


    Walter…..NICE sketch!  During my LA design career, I have never learned to transition to ANY computer generated drawings…..still doing every drawing “by hand”.

    I would like to make (1) suggestion to you concerning your “computer sketch”, if you don’t mind.  Because my Dad & 1st wife were both professional “Graphic Designers”, I learned a ton about what makes great graphics work well.  I have learned that when you show “shadows”, drawings always look BEST, if the shadows for trees & all vertical objects……are shown to the “bottom right” @ a 45 degree angle…regardless of the true angle of the sun.  It’s just a “visual” graphics technique that I learned many years ago.  Just a suggestion.


    A non-workstation laptop is really no different than a workstation laptop with similar specs. Students, or professionals who intend to just use a laptop for personal use can opt to buy a non-workstation computer and save a ton of money. Unless you are getting into Vray or complex modeling, generally an i5 with a dedicated graphics card such as gtx1060 (1060m for laptop) with more than 8gb of ram should serve you well. A dedicated graphics card is a must, otherwise you’re just paying for a fancy emailing machine. Mac vs PC is non-sense now, it’s just psychological.

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