Best Laptop for Engineering Students – 2020 Guide

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As an engineering student you will be spending a lot of time on your computer. The best laptop for an engineering student needs to be quite powerful, as you will be doing a lot of resource demanding tasks. Also, the further along you get in your studies, the more demanding the tasks will be. Often you have to run complex simulations, or if you want to take any AI classes towards the end, then having a laptop that can handle those tasks without stuttering is best. 

If you plan on doing anything related to machine learning then you might want to check out our guide on best laptops for machine learning as well.

List of Best Laptops for Engineering Students

Below you will find a list of what I think are the best laptops for engineering students. In the end you want the best laptop for the price point that you are looking for. As an engineering students you need a little more power than what a plain regular laptop can offer, and this list has been created with that in mind.

Acer Predator Helios 

Image of Acer Predator Helios

The Predator is a gaming laptop, something that tend to be in line with what would be the best laptop for engineering students. You need a laptop that is powerful. As a student though you also want one that sort of compromises a little so that you don’t have to spend several thousands of dollars on a laptop. 

One downside with gaming laptops is that they never look good. You can instantly tell that it is a gaming laptop and if that is a concert for you then this might not be the best option. If you just want what would be the best laptop for you then this might be it.

The laptop comes with a 9th generation Intel i7-9750H CPU. This is a great CPU that will be good for both engineering tasks and a potential game or two. For longevity of the laptop it is also smart to get a 9th generation CPU. The 8th generation ones are cheaper but they will go out of date faster. As college tend to last 4 years, you want a laptop that is still usable four years down the road. Especially since that is when you will be doing many of the classes where you would actually benefit from a good laptop. There is also a good GPU in this laptop. There is a Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti with 6GB of GDDR6. This is quite a step up for a GPU. A GPU is quite important for playing video games, as well as some of the classes you might take. Artificial intelligence for example can take advantage of a GPU to greatly speed up computation time for algorithms. 

The laptop comes with 256 GB SSD. For some this might be a little too small. An SSD is more expensive than a regular hard drive, so they might have compromised a little on storage to get better parts for this price. There is always the option of external storage if you need more space. Both cloud and physical storage is quite cheap these days and are great options if you hit the space limit. 

There is 16 GB of DDR4 RAM on this laptop, something that is to be expected of a gaming laptop. This is also great for engineering students as you will be running more than one resource consuming program at once. The 16 GB will probably last you your entire career as an engineering student and you will probably not have to add more. 

The screen comes it at 1920 x 1080 and has 144 hz which is quite good. 

See the Acer Predator Helios (#ad) on Amazon

Dell Inspiron

Dell Inspiron

A great laptop for engineering students is the Dell Inspiron. It packs a powerful set of parts for a reasonable price. The laptop comes with a 9th generation i7-9750H CPU. This is a great CPU for a laptop of this price. As an engineering student you are better off getting an i7 CPU as they do provide a lot more power than the alternatives. The CPU does consume more power and battery life will suffer as a result, but having powerful parts is more important for engineering than battery life. You can always carry a charger if you find that the battery does not last as long as you need it to. 

The Inspiron also comes with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU. The GPU is the model with 3 GB of GDDR5 RAM. This GPU has been out for a little while and is just a sliver slower than the 1050 TI 4GB model. For this price range this is a really good option. Unless you purchase a so called gaming laptop you wont get a much better combination of CPU and GPU in a laptop currently. 

The laptop comes with 8 GB of DDR4 RAM. Although a little less than the 16 that we would like to see in a laptop for engineering students, 8 GB is still quite good. The fact that it is DDR4 with 2666 MHz makes it quite good. According to the manufacturer, they have also tested the laptop with a max of 32 GB of RAM, so you can definitely add more at a later point if you so choose. They also say that the laptop comes with 8 GB stick, so all you would have to do is get one more like it and you would have the 16 GB. It is recommended to wait until the warranty expires before you do so though. It is also recommended that someone who knows what they are doing does it. 

The SSD on this laptop is 256 GB which is a little on the lower side. 256 is enough for most people, but if you want to install some of the programs that you will need for engineering school then they will quickly take up quite a lot. Also, if you plan on having a few games installed then you will quickly find that you can hit the upper limit on this SSD. There is always the option of using cloud storage for your files as well as external drives that you can get cheaply. 

The screen is a full HD with 1920 x 1080. It has an anti glare screen which is great for when you can’t control the lightning. This is often the case if you bring the machine to campus or a coffee shop somewhere. The screen also gets up to 300-nit which should be enough. 

See the Dell Inspiron (#ad) on Amazon

Razer Blade

Image of Razor Blade

A little more expensive option is the Razer Blade. The better the parts the more expensive the laptop, and this laptop certainly has really good parts.

The laptop comes with a 9th generation i7-9750H CPU with 6 cores. This CPU is a staple in good laptops. You want a newer CPU for not only the power it has now, but also the longevity of the laptop. You want the laptop to last you through college, and perhaps even into your first job. You will take many classes that will require your laptop to be able to handle heavy computations. This CPU will certainly not slow you down in any of those classes. That being said, you can get away with an older CPU as well, it just won’t be as good or feel as fast for as long. 

On the Amazon page you can choose between different models, but this particular one comes with an Nvidia RTX 2060 GPU. This GPU will give you up to 6 times as good performance as previous models. It also allows games to use ray tracing and proper AI in games. This GPU would also be excellent for your own AI efforts if you ever plan on taking classes on that. For games this GPU is really good, so if you plan on relaxing with a game or two then this will make sure you can play pretty much any game at a decent setting. 

There is also 16 GB of DDR4 RAM. Anything less for a laptop in this price class would be bad. 16 GB is really more than enough for both your engineering classes and any game you might want to play. As time goes on you might want to upgrade because of  games, but for school this should last you your entire time. 

Like most other laptops, the screen is full HD with 1920 x 1080. The refresh rate is up to 144Hz which is good for gaming. The bezels on this laptop is quite small, and the laptop actually looks quite normal. Except from the logo on the lid this laptop looks pretty much like a normal laptop. 

There is a 512 GB SSD on this computer. This is a reasonable size and should hold most of what you would want to store on it. There is also an option to upgrade to having a normal hard drive in addition. You can get up to 2TB of extra hard drive space. There are various configuration options on the Amazon page so check it out.  

If you are looking for a powerful laptop that also will be really good for playing video games then this is the laptop for you. It is a bit pricier than the other options but it will certainly last you longer than for just college so it is a good investment in the long run. If you just want a laptop that has some kick to it but is more reasonably priced then check out some of the other options.

See the Razor Blade (#ad) on Amazon.

What to look for in the best laptop for engineering students

There are three parts of the laptops that you should keep an extra eye on. They are the CPU of the laptop. If there is a GPU or not. And the RAM that comes with the computer.

CPU

Most mid-range laptops come with an 8th generation Intel CPU. The 8th generation is great, but some laptops have a newer 9th generation one. If possible, you would want to get a 9th gen i7 CPU. It simply is the best option for the long run. But, if you want to compromise a little between best and price, then an 8th generation would serve you just fine too. 

GPU

A GPU is great for computation heavy tasks. If you plan on doing any sort of artificial intelligence in your studies then a GPU will be extremely helpful. Many people actually rent online compute power because they get to use a GPU there. It can speed up the run time of many algorithms by orders of magnitude. That being said, you don’t have to get a GPU. You will be able to use a regular CPU for pretty much any task, it is just that a GPU is better.

A GPU is also great if you play video games. The GPU is originally meant for graphics after all. 

RAM

There are two types of RAM that you will see in laptops. It is the older DDR3 kind and the newer DDR4. DDR4 is both faster and consumes less power. As with anything, the newer parts tend to be more expensive. RAM is a very important part though so I would lean towards a laptop that has the DDR4 kind. There is also the amount to keep in mind. 8 GB seems to be the new standard on laptops and you will be hard pressed to find anything with less. 8 GB is a decent amount and it should be enough to begin with. 16 GB would be optimal, and more than 16 would rarely be necessary at this time. 16 GB of DDR4 is pretty much as good as it will get for a reasonably priced laptop these days. You can always purchase more later if you want too. Most laptops have two slots for RAM, and if the laptop has 16 GB then it most likely has two 8 GB chips. 

Final comments on the best laptop for engineering students

You can get through engineering with a regular laptop. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on it. That being said, a good laptop will make your life easier. It will also be something that you can take with you after school. Cheaper laptops tend to not last as long, simply because they have older parts that go out of date faster. Regardless of which laptop you get, please keep the pointers from this article in mind. They can help you select something that you will be happy with, and prevent you from having to purchase a new one once you get to your senior project and need something that can run more than just a browser and a word processing program.

To learn more about laptops you can check out our post on best laptops for online teachers.