This technology buying guide for architects is our short list of must have tech products for architectural firms.
There are so many products when it comes to technology, that we’re often asked if there’s a specific laptop, hard drive, or other technology product we’d recommend for architects. While we don’t feel beholden to any one brand or product, we’ve curated this Architect Tech Buyer’s Guide that lists the technology products for both PC and Mac. We’ve also noted what we like about each product and added information that we feel is useful to know. It’s easy to go on a shopping spree and buy more computer hardware and software than you need, especially if you feel rushed to replace a computer or if you’re eager to set up a new office with the right technology. Here is a consolidated list of must-have technology for architects:
EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE
An external hard drive is a device that you plug into a computer port that gives you more storage space to keep your data; think of it as a big USB or a big thumb drive. Often, your computer’s internal drive, which is nestled firmly inside your computer, does not have enough space to store everything you’d like. Plus, the more you store internally, the slower your computer’s speed.
If your architectural firm plans to use an external hard drive as extra storage – have each architect keep it nearby or plugged in to access files as needed. If you (or your peers) plan to use your external hard drive to create a backup of all your files, then set it to automatically backup and leave it untouched, until you need to restore your files. Regardless of how you choose to use your external hard drive, it’s a good practice to replace it every 4-years.
For Windows, we like the Seagate Expansion Desktop 4TB External Hard Drive, because:
- No need to format, can be used on Windows out of the box
- Setup is straightforward; simply plug in the included power supply and USB cable, and you are ready to go. It is automatically recognized by the Windows® operating system, so there is no software to install and there isn’t anything to configure. Saving files is easy too—just drag-and-drop.
- Fast data transfer speeds with the USB 3.0 interface by connecting to a SuperSpeed USB 3.0 port. USB 3.0 is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 for additional system compatibility.
- Transfer rate of up to 160MB/s
- 4 Terabytes or 4TB of space will allow you store about 1,000 movies and nearly 1-million photos. 4TB is actually enough to hold all the files on most servers
- There is a 16TB Seagate Expansion Desktop option, as well as other sizes. For context, the 16TB option will allow you to store approximately 3,000 movies and 3 million photos
For Macs: G-Technology 4TB G-DRIVE USB 3.0
- There is no need to format, can be used on Macs out of the box. G-DRIVE is plug-and-play on Mac OS
- A high-performance storage solution featuring ultra-fast Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 interfaces in a solid, all-aluminum enclosure
- Transfer rate of up to 195MB/s
- 4TB of space will allow you store about 1,000 movies and nearly 1 million photos. 4TB is actually enough to hold all the files on most servers
- There is a 10TB G-Technology G-DRIVE USB option, as well as other sizes. For context, the 10TB option will allow you to store approximately 2,000 movies and 2 million photos
Flash drives are a quick and easy way for you to take your files with you and open them on a different computer. You could also use a flash drive to back up important documents, renderings, and other files. There are many different flash drives out there to choose from, we like the SanDisk 128GB Extreme PRO USB 3.1 Solid State Flash Drive. Keep in mind, flash drives can last up to 10 years. The more you save and delete files, the more quickly the memory will deteriorate. While their small physical size also makes them convenient to use and carry, they’re also easy to lose. If you rely on your flash drive, you’ll want to designate a place to keep it while on-the-go, as well as at your usual destination.
We like that the SanDisk 128GB Extreme PRO USB 3.1 Solid State Flash Drive is:
- Super-fast with solid state performance – read speeds of up to 420MB/s; write speeds of up to 380MB/s. That’s more than double the speed than standard flash drives.
- Backward-compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports – use between newer or older devices without a problem.
- Compatible with both Windows and Mac. Ready to use out of the box, just plug-and-play!
The unexpected turn of 2020 and a boom in working remotely meant just about everyone was rushing to buy the best webcam camera for Zoom meetings. While most people have a monitor with a built-in webcam, many were looking for ways to better control or present their environments.
The Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920, 1080p Widescreen Video is a great camera that’s compatible with both Windows and Mac.
- Full-HD 1080p video on video conferencing calls on Zoom, Teams, etc.
- Simple plug and play set up and you’re up and running
- Dual-mic stereo audio – two microphones, one on either side of the camera, capture more realistic sound from a broader range of angles—so your voice comes through sounding natural and clear in conference calls
- This webcam also has a superior noise cancellation feature which is great for calls
- Great picture/video quality thanks to its 1080p camera
For a less expensive option, consider the Logitech C270 3MP 1280 x 720pixels USB 2.0 Black Webcam. It’s not high definition but it’s a good quality budget camera that will work with both Windows and Mac. It has a built-in microphone and it’s also plug and play. A great frustration-free, budget, camera.
Laptops offer much-needed flexibility in today’s remote workplace. A reliable laptop is key to staying productive. We like the HP Spectre x360 15″ Touch.
Features we like:
- Powerful six-core Intel CPU and NVIDIA graphics
- Equipped with a 10th Gen Intel i7-10750 6 Core, base 2.60GHz up to 5.0 GHz CPU and a 4 GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti
- 16 GB of RAM
- 1 TB of storage, which will allow you store about 250 movies and nearly ¼ of a million photos.
- 4K AMOLED display – The panel features VESA-certified true-black HDR making the display offer richer shades of black, which increases contrast for better visual vibrancy
- A 2-in1 laptop which can be used as a tablet
- Stylus included out of the box
- Webcam Kill Switch that ensures your privacy and a dedicated Mic Mute Key that keeps your private conversations, private
- Luxurious design which features an all-aluminum body, which conducts heat much better than plastic
While a laptop computer is definitely more versatile than a desktop computer, a desktop computer usually offers more dedicated space for more high-powered hardware. It’s often thought that desktop computers outperform laptops. If you’re considering buying a desktop.
We like the HP Z2 Tower G4 Workstation, because:
- It’s equipped with Intel Xeon E-2244G, 3.8 GHz up to 4.8 GHz CPU
- 5 GB NVIDIA Quadro P2200 – Quadro graphics cards are specially designed for 2D & 3D CAD purpose. These are helpful in realistic rendering and other graphics intense workload.
- 16 GB of RAM (upgradeable to 32 GB)
- 512 GB SSD
The part of any PC or Mac you knowingly interact with the most is the monitor, but it’s usually also the part that gets the least amount of consideration when it comes time to purchase or replace. A good monitor should allow you to see what you are doing without making you tilt your head or strain your eyes. For architects, we like the ASUS 23.8” Monitor, which is compatible with both Windows and Mac.
These are our favorite features:
- IPS panel – provides consistent, accurate, color at any viewing angle while minimizing the color shift for a better viewing experience. As you do your own research, keep in mind that an IPS panel tends to be more color accurate than a VA panel.
- Designed with ASUS eye care technology with Blue Light Filter and TUV certified Flicker free to promote less eye fatigue. This may also help with migraine and dry eyes
- Adequate number of ports for today’s use: 1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort, 1x VGA (we recommend this one instead of older ones because most computers now come with a DisplayPort and HDMI and this monitor makes sure you’re up-to-date, while staying versatile)
WIRELESS KEYBOARD AND MOUSE
A good keyboard and mouse are key to productivity; especially for architects who tend to log long hours at their computers, so it’s important to have a reliable combination. We like the Logitech MK270 Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Combo.
- It’s compatible with PC and Mac
- Long battery life: Basic AA and AAA batteries are included with the keyboard and mouse (no need to recharge or wait for a charge. Note: you’ll need to ensure you’re always stocked with batteries)
- Full size keyboard and a precision mouse so you can work comfortably away from your computer
- It uses USB-RF (Radio Frequency), which can be very helpful if you have few USB ports to dedicate to a mouse, if your computer doesn’t support Bluetooth, or if your Bluetooth drivers are acting up.
- Easy storage: Includes a plug and forget receiver that stores inside your mouse for safekeeping
- The 2.4 Gigahertz signal ensures a strong and reliable connection
- Programmable hotkeys mean you can assign buttons to your most used apps to quickly get start your day
If you’re looking for a more advanced mouse… take a look at Logitech MX Master 2S.
- It can be used with Bluetooth USB-RF
- Tracks on virtually any surface, even glass.
- Recharges in 3-minutes – Plug MX Master 2S into your computer with the micro-USB charging cable and in just 3 minutes, it will be charged and ready to power through your entire day. A full charge lasts over 70 days.
- Hyper-efficient scrolling – The speed adaptive scroll wheel auto-shifts from click-to-click to allow a hyper-fast scroll or switch with a click of a button.
WIRED KEYBOARD AND MOUSE
If you prefer a wired keyboard and a wired mouse, you might like the Logitech Desktop MK120 Durable, Comfortable, USB Mouse and keyboard Combo. We like that it’s a good basic wired mouse and keyboard set that works with both PC and Mac.
- Has comfortable low-profile keys and standard keyboard layout with full-size F-keys and number pad
- Sleek and sturdy spill-resistant design
- High-definition optical mouse for smooth, accurate cursor control
- Easy-to-read keys with bold, bright white characters
- Simple wired USB connection (note: if you have a newer PC or Mac you will likely need a USB-C Hub to use this – and other items with USB connections)
We hope this technology buying guide for architects helps to get your architectural firm up and running quickly! If you run into any tech issues along the way, get in touch.