The 10 Best Laptops for Engineering Students
|Preview||Title||Display||RAM / Storage||Operating System||Battery Life||Weight||More Info|
|Macbook Pro 16||16"||16GB / 1TB||Mac OS||10 hours||4.3 lbs||Buy Now|
|ASUS ProArt StudioBook Pro 17||17''||32GB / 2TB||Windows 10 Pro||8 hours||5.3 lbs||Buy Now|
|Top||Lenovo Yoga||14"||8GB / 256GB||Windows 10||13 hours||4.4 lbs||Buy Now|
|Acer Predator Triton 500||15.6''||16GB / 512GB||Windows 10 Home||8 hours||4.6 lbs||Buy Now|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Business Workstation||15.6"||32 GB/ 1TB||Windows 10 Pro||8 hours||3.75 lbs||Buy Now|
|Dell XPS7390||13"||8 GB/ 256GB||Windows 10||10 hours||2.7 lbs||Buy Now|
|HP Spectre x360||13.3"||16 GB/ 512GB||Windows 10||8 hours||2.9 lbs||Buy Now|
|Dell G5 15||15.6"||8 GB/ 256GB||Windows 10||8 hours||6.6 lbs||Buy Now|
|Microsoft Surface Pro 7||12.3"||8 GB/ 128GB||Windows 10 Home||10.5 hours||1.1 lbs||Buy Now|
|Apple Macbook Pro M1||13.3"||8 GB/ 256GB||Mac OS||20 hours||3 lbs||Buy Now|
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Going to school for engineering is an awesome pursuit that is getting more and more popular. Whether it be electrical engineering, aerospace or computer engineering, there are a plethora of modern jobs that require the dedication and knowledge of specialized engineers.
These things can also make engineering programs daunting, especially if you are brand new to the field. They use a lot of complicated and expensive programs to teach and do hands on labs. Do you need an equally complicated and expensive laptop computer to keep up?
Not necessarily. This guide goes over the ten best laptops for engineering students that are available right now.
It also covers what exactly you should look out for in an engineering focused laptop, tips for navigating your particular program plus plenty of answers to the most frequently asked questions. By the end, you will know exactly what kind of computer you want and need to succeed in your new field of study
Here are the ten best laptops for engineering students.
BEST OVERALL: Lenovo Yoga
For the top laptop on our list we aimed for a combination of everything that makes a great engineering laptop. The Lenovo Yoga is affordable, powerful, portable and includes all of the most modern touch enabled features that make using it a breeze.
We even reached out to students online enrolled in quality engineering programs near us and asked their opinions and, to our surprise, this laptop came up on multiple occasions.
The Lenovo Yoga is lightweight, has a great battery life, comes with the needed quad core processor, 8GB of fast RAM and a large responsive HD touchscreen. All of that put together gives you a computer that is going to fit in perfectly on any college campus.
Engineering students will especially love the stylus compatible screen. This modern touchscreen will allow you to edit, code, tweak and take notes on your favorite programs by touch or by keyboard. This gives each student the flexibility and fluidity they need to keep up in a busy schooling environment.
Some computers do touch well or do traditional computing well but the Lenovo Yoga does both equally well and that really impressed us. Better yet, all of this is available for less than $700 and comes to us from a reputable company with a long history of making great products.
● 1.6 GHz Quad Core Intel i5 10210u Processor
● Intel UHD Graphics
● 14” (1920×1080) Touchscreen Display
BEST APPLE: Macbook Pro 16
Apple Macbook computers have been a staple for college students for years now but they have garnered a reputation as not being all that powerful. Many people have uttered the words “yes but you can get twice as much power for half the price on Windows” and for a long time that was true.
However, now there is a Macbook that can stand toe to toe with the most powerful Windows PCs while still offering everything you love about Apple products. That computer is the Macbook Pro 16.
This computer is one of the most powerful laptops Apple has ever made. It boasts 16GB of RAM, a full terabyte of solid state hard drive space, it runs the latest MacOS system and has a super high definition 4k Retina Display that measures 16”.
If that isn’t impressive enough, the whole thing is run by an 8 core Intel i9 processor that is more than powerful enough to run all of the latest and greatest engineering software.
If you are someone who loves Apple and wants to get the most out of their Macbook then you want to consider investing in the Macbook Pro 16. The only downside is that this computer is quite expensive compared so some other laptops on this list.
● 2.3GHz 8-core Intel Core i9 Processor
● AMD Radeon Pro 5500M Graphics
● 16” (3072×1920) Retina Display
BEST PREMIUM: ASUS ProArt StudioBook Pro
If you are looking for a top of the line computer workstation that will be able to handle your college courses with ease and then also transition into being a professional engineering laptop after you graduate then you want to look at the ASUS ProArt StudioBook.
This computer has all of the most advanced features that you can pack into a laptop. This amount of power, storage and functionality will be able to serve you well for years to come.
Everything about this computer is top notch. It has a blazing fast, ultra-modern, processor. The Xeon E-2276M is a powerful 6 core, 12 thread chip that has an MSRP of $450 for the processor alone.
That is backed up by a full 32GB of ECC RAM making the brain of this laptop supremely powerful.
It has a new NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 graphics card that will allow you to do intensive engineering work during the day and power your favorite games at night. They also throw in Windows 10 Pro as a bonus.
The drawbacks start with the price, at nearly $3000 this will not be in everyone’s price range. The 17” screen is awesome when you are working but it can make transporting it a chore.
Also, the battery life starts at 8 hours but that will rapidly decline with continued use and recharging.
All in all, those are minor complaints for a computer of this caliber and if you want a workstation that will stand the test of time, then you want to look into this model.
● Intel Xeon E-2276M Processor
● NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 Graphics
● 17” (1920×1200) NanoEdge Display
Acer Predator Triton 500
The Acer Predator Triton 500 strikes a good balance between pricey and functional. It does not break the budget like some computers but still offers enough in the way of features to be useful for many years.
This could potentially be a transitional laptop that is beefy enough to follow you out of school and into the field, depending on what field that may be.
There is a lot to like here. It runs on an upbeat Intel i7 processor, it has a great screen, good amounts of onboard storage, and lots of RAM.
These specs should easily meet the requirements of most engineering programs nationwide. At 4.6lbs and a manageable 15” screen it can also serve as a decently portable laptop as well.
This computer splits the middle of the scale for specs and price very well. There are very few downsides other than the fact that there is nothing special, nothing over the top and nothing super innovative about this computer.
● Intel i7-10750H Processor
● NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Graphics
● 15.6” (1920 x 1080) FHD Display
Lenovo ThinkPad X1
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Business Notebook bills itself as a mobile business workstation. It packs in super high end features and specifications at a middle range price.
Lenovo tried to build a laptop that can be used as an all-in-one business machine that can serve you at home, at the office or on the go and they did a great job of it. This computer would make an excellent compliment for any engineering student.
First, it comes with Windows 10 Pro right out of the gate. Windows 10 Pro has a lot of benefits for engineering students and having it included is a nice touch.
This computer isn’t super heavy at less than 4lbs. It has a full terabyte of native storage, 32GB of RAM and an HD display. All of that is backed up with a newer graphics card and serviceable processor.
Together, you get a computer that performs like a machine that costs 50% more.
The things holding this computer back from truly being great is that the processor is aging and the graphics card is quickly being outpaced by new technology.
These things will probably be updated in a future version of this computer but as it stands now I am concerned that this laptop will become obsolete faster than some might like. Still, it will easily make it through a few years of college.
● Intel 8th Gen i7-8750H Processor
● NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q Graphics
● 15.6” (1920 x 1080) Full HD IPS Display
BEST TOUCHSCREEN: Dell XPS7390
This is a great computer from Dell. It combines the excellent XPS line of laptops with the newest InfinityEdge touchscreen to give us a modern computer featuring some of the best tools available right now.
If you want a touchscreen laptop from a great manufacturer you are going to be hard pressed to find something better. The XPS lineup of computers from Dell is highly rated and respected for good reason.
This computer has the latest generation processor, 8GB of RAM and the newest touchscreen technology. The display looks great and it is super responsive to the touch.
It is lightweight, has a good amount of battery life and it is backed up with Dell’s legendary customer service. If you are looking for a solid laptop at a good price that has a touchscreen and the specifications you need to get the job done in the classroom, this is a fantastic option.
If you like this computer be sure to also check out the other XPS models available from Dell.
● 10th Gen Intel i5-10210U Processor
● Intel® UHD Graphics
● 13” (1920×1080) InfinityEdge Touchscreen Display
2-IN-1: HP Spectre x360
Flexible and versatile 2-in-1 laptops are the next best thing in computer technology. That is what you get with the HP Spectre x360. This is a laptop with a full 360 degree flip that allows you to seamlessly transfer from a traditional laptop to a handheld tablet.
This computer features a responsive touch display plus a stylus that comes included. If you are someone who loves the tactile aspects of taking notes then you will love the fluid touch features that HP offers here.
The specs for this laptop are better than the average 2-in-1 machine. It has 16GB of RAM which helps power the Intel i7 processor. It has a half a terabyte of solid state storage and everything only weighs 3lbs which is very light for such a powerful computer.
With the 360 degree hinges the Spectre x360 can flip backwards and stand itself up in a teepee formation or lay flat or stand like a traditional laptop. The possibilities are nearly endless.
The only downside is that this computer is quite a bit more than its peers, the Surface and the Yoga and it only features basic Intel Integrated graphics.
● Intel i7-1065G7 Processor
● Intel Integrated Graphics
● 13.3” (1920 x 1080) Touchscreen Display
GREAT BUDGET: Dell G5 15
The Dell G5 15 is a great budget laptop for those who do not have the money to drop thousands of dollars on a new computer.
This model comes from a reputable company with stellar customer support and technical service in Dell. While this laptop is not going to knock anyone’s socks off, it is a great option that can do the job for a relatively low price.
It has a latest generation processor which is why it makes our list. While the 7th and 8th generation processors are not bad, if you are going to be saving money in the process it is best to get the latest generation processing chip and that is what you get here.
The 10th generation quad core i5 is good enough to run the programs you need to succeed in the classroom. It has a serviceable GTX 1650 graphics card that has juice to run without stuttering.
However, this computer is heavy, has a so-so battery life and might fall behind its peer down the line.
But if you are looking for an easy computer to grab for a low price that will do what you ask of it, there are few better options. Especially since this computer is backed by Dell.
● 10th Gen Core i5-10300H Processor
● NVIDIA GTX 1650 Ti Graphics
● 15.6” (1920×1080) FHD Display
BEST SURFACE: Microsoft Surface Pro 7
The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is a rising star among the newest generation of flexible laptop computers. It is super lightweight, it has tons of unique features, it has a great display and runs quickly.
The Surface Pro is the latest and greatest in the portable 2-in-1 laptop space. If you are someone who is looking for a tablet computer combination then you really should check out this newest iteration from Microsoft.
The Surface Pro has the benefit of being designed and built by Microsoft that means that it has complete integration with Microsoft software. This really comes into play when using things like Office and Outlook with the touch features of the Surface.
Everything works seamlessly. You can easily add a keyboard or flip it over and use it with a stylus. It only weighs a pound so you can truly grab and take this computer anywhere.
The Surface might struggle to run some of the more advanced engineering programs but when it comes to the basics, taking notes and running simple simulations this computer excels.
● Latest Gen Intel Core i5Processor
● Intel Integrated Graphics
● 12.3” (2736×1824) Touchscreen Display
BUDGET APPLE: Apple Macbook Pro M1
Lastly, we have the Apple for the common man. Unlike the Macbook Pro 16 which is extremely expensive, this is your standard Apple Macbook that is more affordable while still giving you that excellent Apple engineering that so many people love.
The standard Macbook Pro might not qualify for all engineering programs so make sure to double check that your school will accept this model before buying.
The Apple Macbook Pro M1 is a classic computer with a new powerful M1 processor at its core. The M1 is a processor completely redesigned to offer next generation speeds.
It features 8 cores designed to seamlessly work with the Integrated Apple GPU. Together, they give us some truly great speeds and seamless functionality.
All of that power is displayed on a 13” HD Retina Display that has a pixel count far higher than most comparable Windows PCs. Add in a 20 hour battery life and a featherlight body and you have a computer that is nearly perfect for the intrepid student.
The only things holding this computer back are a relatively low amount of RAM and a lack of onboard storage. The RAM issue might become a problem as you cannot add RAM to Apple computers and it might lag behind some newer models. Onboard storage can easily be remedied with the purchase of a large external drive.
● Apple M1 8-core Processor
● Integrated Apple 8-core GPU Graphics
● 13.3” (2560×1600) Retina Display
Buying Guide for Laptops for Engineering Students
Computers are made up of various components and are often highly customizable. Computers can be set up for everything from streaming to gaming and even server maintenance. These are the most important features you should be on the lookout for in a computer that excels at engineering.
Engineering programs, even the student ones, are the kinds of programs that need additional processing power to function properly. If you want to be able to run your programs and seamlessly be able to take notes and make key internet searches then you are going to want a processor that is above average.
These processors do not need to be overly powerful but they should probably be a newer generation of quad core chips to give you the best performance possible out of your machine.
Dual core or single core computers just won’t cut it when it comes to making it in the engineering program. Things like coding, CAD, and design all require multiple cores to function at their best.
If anything, make sure your computer has at least four cores but you can even find computers with six and even eight cores that will do extremely well.
HOW MUCH RAM DO I NEED AS AN ENGINEERING STUDENT?
RAM stands for Random Access Memory and it is the space that the processor stores non-permanent information when it is running. In order to get the most out of a fast processor, you have to have a lot of RAM. A good amount of RAM for these kinds of computers starts at 8GB.
However, 16GB might be preferable depending on which exact program your engineering department uses the most. You should be looking for a computer with 8GB of RAM at a minimum if you want to avoid any technical hiccups with your laptop.
Having a good display can benefit some engineering software but not others. Some coders and programmers like to have a large screen to work with but some people prefer smaller screens that increase portability. Generally, you want a screen that has at least 1920×1080 pixels of resolution.
The size of the screen is largely a preference. Large screens that are fifteen inches or more are great but they make the computer harder to transport. You can find great displays that are smaller that still have the required resolution.
I would try to avoid resolutions lower than 1920×1080 because that is what most programs are slated to run currently.
Having a good, if not great, graphics card is essential to running engineering programs. It might not seem like it on the surface but engineering software takes a lot of graphical juice.
This is true of nearly every commonly used engineering program especially programs like CAD and AutoCAD.
That means it is good to get a newer generation graphics card. Check to see if your computer has a dedicated graphics card or integrated.
Integrated generally does not perform as well as dedicated but there are exceptions (as we will see later). You also want to make sure that your graphics card has enough memory capacity to run in tandem with your processor and programs. That means having at least 2GB of graphical memory and ideally 4GB or more.
What Not to Look for in a Laptop for Engineering Students
Not every feature on a laptop is super important. These are a couple of features that you can safely ignore for the time being, unless told otherwise by your program specifically.
If you are a student that is doing a majority of their classes or lab work on campus then battery life should be a non-factor. On today’s modern campuses there are outlets everywhere, and I do mean everywhere.
There should be no situation in which you cannot find a place to sit and charge your computer or work while plugged in. The only time this might be a problem is if the area you want to work in is overcrowded and all of the plugs are taken.
Every table has a power bank. Every wall has multiple outlets. There are libraries and study rooms with outlets that come down from the ceiling. There are outdoor solar charging stations.
Battery life is not important right now, at all. Choose a laptop based on other factors before you take battery life into consideration at all.
For the most part, nearly every program in the world now has an Apple and a Windows version. If you are torn between Apple and Windows, choose based on the features rather than the operating system. It should not matter either way.
If you are worried about choosing the right operating system check with your department’s computer recommendations to see if they suggest one over the other. Some programs will, most will not.
The only operating system you should avoid at all costs for your student engineering laptop is Linux. Linux is great for coders who want to dabble on the side but it can cause issues for students trying to run official programs or trying to connect to official school networks.
What Software Program does my Laptop Need to Run as an Engineering Student?
These suggestions are generally good advice for anyone who is entering a new engineering program however, each program will have its own rules, guidelines, and recommendations as to what types of computers are going to be best suited for their particular courses.
If they haven’t pointed you to their recommended computer specifications you can often find it on the department’s website. While most programs have a very general recommendation that looks very similar to ours, some programs might require something specific to be successful.
Individual engineering departments might use specialized programs that other schools don’t use. Some may require strictly Windows or strictly Apple products.
You should double-check and at least find out if they need anything very specific before making a final purchase. The last thing you want to do is to put in a ton of work finding the perfect Windows laptop only to show up at school and find that the program demands Apple computers to run their software.
Each individual engineering program and specialization are going to have their own list of software required for the student to have access to but these are some of the most common programs you are going to require in any engineering program.
Computer Aided Design or CAD is one of the most universally used programs by engineers of all kinds. It is used to sketch out, run parameters and design everything from chairs to specially cut CNC pieces.
Almost every engineer is going to be familiar with CAD at some point if they are not fluent. CAD is a program that is going to show up time and again in lab or in the classroom.
C++ is a common programming language that many engineers use as the backbone of their designs. C++ is an older coding language but the framework is used nearly everywhere.
Getting acquainted with C++ as a language or a tool is going to be key to succeeding in many engineering endeavors.
Similar to C++, Python is another common computer language that is going to crop up all the time.
Python has a framework and a library that need to be downloaded in order for their program extensions to work properly. Be prepared to have the latest iteration of Python downloaded on any new engineering laptop.
This may seem simple but do not forget about Microsoft Office. Many new Windows computers will come with a promotion that gets these programs unlocked for a discount upon purchase.
Microsoft Excel is especially useful for engineering students but they will also find themselves using Powerpoint, Notes and Word often as well.
ADOBE PDF READER
This is another program that is often overlooked. Without the upgraded version of Adobe Reader, PDFs simply open in your web browser and do not give you the ability to edit and write on them.
PDFs are used extensively in the professional world from resumes and contracts to official product documents and user guides. Having Adobe Reader is going to make your life much easier and you should definitely give it a download.
Like CAD, Matlab is another overarching engineering program that gets used a lot. This one will certainly show up in class as a tool used by both the students and the teachers.
Matlab ships with various tools and simulation programs that are used by everyone from electrical engineers to the government and aerospace engineers. You should count on using both CAD and Matlab extensively throughout your engineering studies and career.
Depending on what field of engineering you are pursuing you will also be accessing more specialized programs. An electrical engineer is going to have a different specialized program than a civil engineer for example.
There are many of these specialized programs on the market and your professors and professional guides will clue you into which programs are needed and when throughout the course of your schooling.
Yes. Apple laptops can be excellent machines for engineering students. In fact, we featured two outstanding options on our list of the ten best laptops for engineering students.
Apple products are known for being great laptops for designers, coders and programmers. For years the Macbook was specially made to run the highest end design programs.
The Apple Macbook Pro 16 has outsized specifications and features that blow almost anything else out of the water (if you can afford it).
The only time an Apple computer might not be suited for an engineering student is if the specific program demands the use of a Windows computer or if the programs they require do not run natively on Apple products. This happens in rare cases.
However, if there are no software or hardware restrictions, there is no reason that people should not get an Apple computer if they want one. In fact, some programs are made up of students that use majority Apple products.
Yes. Engineering computers are going to be more powerful than an average person’s computer. Engineers use programs that are computer intensive and need special requirements to run.
When compared to the average person’s laptop, any of the laptops on this list are going to be more specialized and more powerful.
For example, the University of Florida suggests that their student’s come with a laptop running 16GB of RAM at a minimum. 16GB of RAM is far more RAM than any regular people typically boast.
While many of these laptops are not the most powerful or most advanced, they are definitely above average and are considered powerful computers.
Prices for laptops can range considerably. Engineering laptops run the gamut of pricey gaming computers, high end mobile workstations to simple 2-in-1s. This can making pricing a laptop difficult.
A good laptop that will serve any engineering student just fine is going to run between $750 and $1000. This covers most of the computers on this list that check every box.
A great engineering laptop is going to be $1000 to $1500.
Phenomenal laptops that can serve an engineering student as well as a full fledged engineer are going to be $1500 or more.
If $750 as a starting point sounds high, there are budget computers that you can find for $600 or so. Computers less than $600 are truly going to struggle to keep pace with an engineering program.
Just know that getting an engineering laptop that is right for you is going to cost some money and in some cases, it is going to cost a lot of money.
It depends. There are methods of getting your laptop for school covered. Some schools simply offer eligible laptops and tablets outright to students accepted to the school or certain programs.
Check to see if the school you are applying to or have already been accepted to has programs that will offer free electronic equipment. Not all schools have programs like this.
Other ways of getting your laptop covered is to try and work it into your financial aid package.
There are scholarships and financial assistance programs that can build in the cost of a specific laptop into their aid package that will reimburse or fully cover the cost of a new laptop.
Check with your financial aid officer or scholarship programs to see if they will cover the cost of a new laptop.
If budget is a chief concern for you, there are a few things you should focus on above the rest.
First, is getting a decent processor. Make sure your computer has a quad core processor that is running a newer generation chipset from either Intel or AMD.
Having a decent processor with multiple cores will go a long way in ensuring that your computer runs smoothly during classes.
Second, make sure your computer has a decent amount of RAM. Aim for at least 8GB, even if you have to sacrifice on other features. Having a solid amount of RAM in tandem with a multicore processor will cover most of your bases on a budget.
You don’t even really need a large hard drive either. With cloud storage, university offered on campus storage and external storage you do not need to worry about loading up on onboard hard drive space until it is an issue.
You can find a 5TB external hard drive for $100 these days making storage cheaper than ever before. Don’t shell out a ton of money on a laptop just because it claims to have a large solid state hard drive. It is unnecessary.
Other things you do not need to consider include battery life, graphics card and screen size. Computers with large screens, large batteries and upgraded graphics card can quickly balloon in price.
Integrated graphics will work for most tasks without many issues, students are rarely far from an outlet and large screens are not strictly necessary for a computer to run well.
Are you an engineering student using a laptop other than the ones mentioned here on our list? If so, we’d love to hear from you!
Happy Laptop Shopping!