Best Laptop for Machine Learning – 2020 Guide

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Best Laptop for machine learning guide

2020 will be a big year for machine learning. As the industry matures there will be more and more jobs. If you are looking to dive deeper into machine learning this year then getting the best laptop for machine learning to assist you on your journey is not a bad place to start. 

List of the Best Laptops for Machine Learning

Based on our research, our pick as the best laptop for machine learning is the MSI GS65 Stealth-430 (#ad).  

1. MSI GS65 Stealth-430 – Our Pick as the Best Machine Learning Laptop

Image of MSI GS65 Stealth-430

One of the best laptops for machine learning is the MSI GS65 Stealth-430. This computer hits all the points we are looking for and it packs an incredible amount of power. For a gaming laptop it looks really good. MSI is a reputable brand that has been making powerful laptops for a long time. There are more powerful laptops out there that you might be interested in, but we think this is the upper limit of the balance between price and parts.

As most other high end laptops it comes with a 9th generation Intel i7-9750H. This CPU is very good and there is a reason why it is in pretty much all the high end gaming laptops. For machine learning you want a lot of cores and this CPU has 6. 

The GPU on this laptop is better than many of the alternatives. It comes with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080, which has 8 GB of GDDR6 RAM. Just the GPU itself is quite expensive and costs more than a lower end laptop. The GPU is one of the most important parts in a laptop for machine learning and this laptop does not disappoint. 

There is also 32 GB of DDR4 RAM which is exactly what we are looking for. This laptop has two 16 GB RAM sticks, and they are the fastest DDR4 kind which is 2666 MHz. The computer can handle up to 64 GB of RAM so you can upgrade this even further in the future if you want.

It also has a 1 TB SSD which is about what we are looking for. You could do with more memory, but 1 TB should be good enough. Getting an external hard drive is still advisable as you can quickly fill up one TB with data for machine learning.

This is not a cheap computer, but it is our pick as the best laptop for machine learning. MSI is a great brand (That is my daily PC as well), and they last a long time. They have a lot of experience in making gaming laptops which happens to be very similar to what is good for machine learning.

The reason why this computer is the top pick is because of the superior parts and it is made by a very reputable manufacturer for high end laptops. As a bonus the laptop also looks good, so you don’t have to be embarrassed when bringing it places. 

See the MSI GS65 Stealth-430 (#ad) on Amazon.

2. ASUS ROG Strix Scar III

Image of ASUS ROX Strix Scar III

The ASUS ROG Strix Scar III hits most of the points that we are looking for. It is not the cheapest laptop but it is great for machine learning. It has a 9th generation Intel i7-9750H CPU. This is one of the best CPUs on the market currently, and you will only find them in high end laptops. It has 6 cores which means it will be able to do quite a few things at the same time. The more cores you have the better it will be. It is 4.5 GHz.

The computer also has a GPU. It comes with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070, with 8GB of GDDR6 RAM. This is a very good GPU and it will work well for machine learning. The GPU is one of the most important parts for any artificial intelligence development so you don’t want to skimp too much in this area. It is not quite as good as the one in the MSI GS65 Stealth-430, but it is almost there.

It also has 16 GB of DDR4 RAM which goes to 2666 MHz. You could upgrade this to 32 GB in the future, as you could probably do with more than 16 GB. 

The laptop comes with a 1 TB SSD, which is great because you can keep a lot of datasets at any given time. An external drive would also be a good addition.

This is a gaming and it also looks like one. Despite that, it does not look too bad. The screen actually looks really good with its thin bezels, although that is not going to make it any better for machine learning.

See the ASUS ROG Strix Scar III (#ad) on Amazon.

3. Razer Blade Pro – Stylish Gaming Laptop

Image of Razer Blade Pro

Another laptop that is good for machine learning is the Razer Blade Pro 17 inch gaming computer. As with the other options, this laptop comes with a 9th generation Intel Core i7-9750H. It has 6 cores, and should be okay for most of your machine learning needs. A desktop computer could offer you more in terms of CPU, but for a laptop this is pretty much as good as it gets. 

The GPU in this machine is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 with 8 GB of dedicated RAM. This GPU is very good and it represents a significant cost of the laptop. The GPU is very important for machine learning so any computer that is suitable will have a significant price tag.

It has 16 GB of DDR4 RAM which should be good for many.  You can upgrade this later as it is capable of having 64 GB of RAM. 16 GB is not that much these days. 

This is one of the gaming laptops that look the best so if that is of any importance to you then this is a good option.

One downside with this laptop is that it only has a 512 GB SSD. This is quite small for a computer that will be used to train on large data-sets. You can supplement this with external storage or upgrade the SSD later.

An advantage though is that it has Razer Core external GPU enclosure which supports additional graphics power. As the GPU is one of the most important things this makes the machine quite nice.

See the Razer Blade Pro (#ad) on Amazon.

4. Dell Inspiron – Great Budget Laptop

I want to give you one budget option as well. The Dell Inspiron is not exactly a cheap laptop, but it strikes a good balance between power and price. It comes with the same CPU that many of the more expensive alternatives does. That is the Intel Core i7 9-9750H. This CPU is a great option for machine learning, and having it in a laptop for this price is good.

In addition to the CPU, this computer also comes with a GPU. It is not as powerful as the other alternatives, but it is not bad. It comes with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050. This makes the laptop suitable for playing video games as well. If you are looking for the most power you can get then I would recommend checking out the online platform alternatives listed at the end of this article.

The laptop comes with 8 GB of DDR4 RAM. This is not a lot of RAM for machine learning, but the fact that it is DDR4 makes it viable. You can always upgrade to more in the future if you feel you need more. The machine can handle up to 32 GB of DDR4 at 2666 MHz. 32 GB is a good amount. Keep in mind that in a few years you might want to have more than 32 GB, which this laptop would not be able to offer you. For longevity you should consider a desktop computer as you can more easily upgrade the parts.

The laptop has a 256 GB SSD. You probably want some external storage as data-sets can easily be more than the entire storage on this laptop. That means that you might also want to upgrade the SSD on this laptop eventually.

If you are looking for a cheaper laptop then this might be the best computer for machine learning for you.

See the Dell Inspiron (#ad) on Amazon.

5. ROG Zephyrus M – Great for Machine Learning

Image of ROG Zephyrus M

The ROG Zephyrus M is another great laptop that is well suited for machine learning. Not only does it come with good parts, it also looks great. A really nice feature about this laptop is that it has good cooling. It has 2 x 12V fans which will give you good cooling which will be very important when you are running your models. Prolonged exposure to high intensive work will make the computer hot and it is important to have adequate cooling. You might want to consider a cooling pad as well.

As with the other laptops in this category, it comes with the Intel Core i7-9750H. This is one of the best CPUs you can get in a laptop right now. If you were to build your own desktop you would be able to get more power, but this is very good for a laptop.

The GPU is a Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 which also is quite good for machine learning in a computer. Artificial intelligence requires a lot of computation, and a GPU is extremely well suited for computation. A GPU is mandatory if you want to use it for AI.

There is only 16 GB of RAM which is on the low end for this purpose. The good thing is that it is DDR4 and you can always upgrade in the future if you do indeed need more.

Another good feature about this computer is that it has a large 1 TB SSD. You need a lot of space for machine learning as the data sets are incredibly large.

If you are looking for a powerful laptop that actually looks quite good then this might be for you.

See the ROG Zephyrus M (#ad) on Amazon.

6. HP Omen – Powerful Laptop

Another great gaming laptop that is good for machine learning is the HP Omen. Gaming laptops have many of the features we look for in a laptop for artificial intelligence. Most notably this computer has the Nvidia RTX 2080 GPU with 8 GB of GDDR6 RAM. Data science and artificial intelligence requires a lot of compute power, and a GPU is exceptionally well suite for it. This is one of the best GPUs you will get in a laptop right now.

A downside about this laptop is that it does not look that good, unless you like the gaming aesthetics. 

The machine also comes with an Intel Core i7-9750H CPU. This is a 6 core CPU and will be well suited for machine learning and ai. You can get more cores on desktop level CPUs, but for a computer this is as good as it gets. The CPU is the brain of the computer and having a combination of a great CPU and a GPU is something that you should be on the look for.

Another downside is that it only comes with 16 GB of RAM out of the box. Luckily it is the DDR4 kind and you can upgrade it yourself as the machine has 2 slots available. You will be okay with 16 GB as you get started, but once you gain more experience, you might want to upgrade to at least 32 GB of RAM.

There is a combination of a 256 GB SSD and a 1 TB HD. You can install all your programs on your SSD and keep your data sets on the slower had drive. This is a good combination and a good compromise in order to save price versus having a larger SSD only.

There are many other good features about the HP Omen that you should have a look at.

See the HP Omen (#ad) on Amazon.

7. Lenovo Legion Y540 – Mid-range Laptop Option

The Lenovo Legion packs a decent amount of power for a decent price. This laptop does not have as powerful of a GPU as some of the others on this list but is still packs an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650. This should be enough for many beginners. It is a good option for a laptop that is more in the mid-range. If you are just starting to learn about machine learning then this would be a good option. If you are just dipping your feet in AI for the first time, you might want to use online computers until you know this is for you. You can see more alternatives towards the end of this article. 

The CPU is the same as in most other good laptops. It comes with the Intel Core i7-9750H. 6 cores goes a long way when the machine has to do a lot of multitasking as it has to with data science and machine learning.

There is 24 GB of DDR4 RAM in the laptop. 24 GB is sort of a strange number for RAM as the sticks come in 4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB, and so on. But nonetheless, 24 GB is a good amount of RAM for artificial intelligence.

This laptop also comes with the split HDD and SSD. There is a 1 TB HDD and a 512 GB SSD.

In addition to powerful core parts, there are quite a few other good things about this laptop that you should check out.

See the Lenovo Legion Y540 (#ad) on Amazon.

MSI GF63 Thin – Budget Laptop

MSI GF63 Thin

If you are just looking for a laptop that you can do machine learning on, but not necessarily the best and most expensive one, then this MSI laptop is a good choice. It is still not the cheapest you can get your hands on, but anything much lower than this will not be well suited for AI.

You still get the Intel i7-9750H in this laptop. You really should not go any lower than this in a laptop that you intend to use for AI.

It does not have the most powerful GPU. The laptop comes with the Nvidia GTX 1050 TI, which is still a good GPU. It is definitely suitable for gaming, just not on the highest settings. The best graphics cards for laptops right now are the RTX cards, but they also significantly add to the price. The product page for this laptop allows you to select a few different cards and CPUs so you can mix and match to better for your price point.

One big down side is that there is only 256 GB of SSD storage. That is a bit small for AI. You can upgrade it to a bigger one yourself if you are capable of doing that, or you could get some external storage where you can keep your files. That is of course not the best option but with mid-range laptops they often skimp on some parts to bring down the price.

There is also only 8 GB of RAM. This is not the best amount, but RAM is fairly easy to upgrade so it is not such a big deal really.

The laptop is quite good looking for a gaming laptop. If you are looking for a gaming laptop then the screen is a little disappointing compared to some of the other options here. 60 Mhz vs 240 for the other MSI. But the price difference is quite large.

See the MSI GS63 Thin (#ad) on Amazon.

What to look for in a Machine Learning Laptop

It is important that you do your due diligence when looking for a laptop. A lot of the high-end laptop do fairly similar in terms of performance, so you should also check out their product pages to see if there are any other features of the laptop that might interest you.

Image of a robot using machine learning

When looking for the best laptop for machine learning you should take the following into consideration.

What CPU to get

The CPU is the brain of the computer, and it is quite important for machine learning. The best machine learning laptop will have a new generation of the Intel Core i7. I do not recommend going with anything lower than an i7 for artificial intelligence related tasks. Also, you probably want a CPU with as many cores as you can get. The more cores a CPU has, the more it can do simultaneously. Ryzen is coming out with a lot of great CPUs these days as well so a high end Ryzen CPU would work as well.

As far as the generation of the CPU goes you should get either a 9th or 10th generation one. There aren’t many options with the 10th generation yet, so going with a 9th generations should be okay. There will always be better parts just around the corner, but you could consider renting some online resources until there are more options with a newer CPU. That being said, we will have laptops with GPUs that will do much of the legwork for us in terms of computation. As the new generation comes out, the cost of the 9th generation should be coming down slightly as well. 

What GPU should you get

The best laptop for machine learning will definitely have a powerful GPU. A GPU is great for parallel computations, something that is incredibly useful in machine learning. Machine learning requires a GPU to perform well.

As far as which GPU you should get, you should get the best one that fits in your budget. The GPU is one of the most important parts of a laptop for doing machine learning. Most gaming laptops already come with GPUs which is great. For a laptop you should be looking for a high end Nvidia GPU. The RTX 2080 is a good option.

The most important part is that the laptop you get actually has a GPU. 

How much RAM do you need

RAM is another important component for machine learning. You need not only a large amount of RAM, but also the fastest kind of RAM you can get your hands on. RAM is important for holding information readily available in memory. In machine learning you often have to load a lot of data into memory at once in order to do calculations on it. The more times you have to go to secondary memory (ssd / hdd) to retrieve data, the slower it will be. 

The best laptop for machine learning will have at least 32 GB of DDR4 RAM. The good thing is that most laptops can handle 32 GB, so even if you get one that only has 16 GB you can buy more RAM and upgrade it yourself. Most laptops have two slots for RAM chips, and in a 16 GB model they usually have two 8 GB chips. The important thing to keep in mind is that you can not upgrade from DDR3 to DDR4 RAM. The chips have different sizes and will not fit in each others slot. 

How much storage (SSD) do you need

Many data sets for machine learning can reach hundreds of gigabytes. Even if you only keep them on the computer for a limited time while you work on your algorithms, they can quickly fill up your entire disk. Because of this, I recommend that you get at least a 1 TB hard drive. An SSD is better than hard drive, and many laptops will have the SSD option instead of the hard drive. Also, some laptops have a combination of a hard drive and an SSD, which is a nice compromise between size and price. The smallest storage device on your laptop should not be less than 256 GB, and the total should not be less than 1 TB. You might also want to pick up an external hard drive that you can use to store your data sets long term. It is not feasible to keep that many on a laptop as they will fill it up very quickly. 

You can often upgrade the SSD in a laptop yourself. If you want to go for a laptop that does not have a lot of storage, do some research into if you can upgrade it easily or not.

Alternatives to a Laptop for Machine Learning

You should not get a laptop if you want the absolute best performance.

Image of space rover using machine learning

The following are alternatives to a machine learning laptop that you should consider.

Desktop for Machine Learning

As laptops are not the best workstation for machine learning, you should consider the alternatives. The first one is a desktop computer. A desktop can be more powerful and can give you more bang for your buck if you build it yourself. The big drawback of course is that you can’t carry it around like a laptop. If your situation allows for it, a desktop is a better alternative than a laptop for machine learning. If you are looking for something that you can bring back and forth to places, then a laptop might be the way to go, but you still have one more alternative if that is the case.

Online Platforms for Machine Learning

Renting online compute power is not very expensive these days. You have both Amazon AWS and Google offering machines that you can connect to remotely do to your work. You can probably get more powerful machines there than what you would be able to acquire yourself. A big advantage is that you can leave the machine running without interrupting anything. If you use a laptop or a desktop it will kinda be locked up for the duration of your learning if you want to give it all the resources. 

Check out the two options below if you are interested in trying an online platform instead of a laptop:

Final Thoughts on Machine Learning Laptops

You should be able to find the best laptop for machine learning if you follow the pointers from this guide. With the advent of gaming laptops there are powerful alternatives that should be able to handle much of what you can throw at it. You should keep the pointers from this guide in mind when you do your research. If you are on a budget then you are better off renting space online, as low-end laptops are not well suited for machine learning. That being said, you can still use them. 

You should also consider the option of building a desktop machine, as they can be more powerful and more up-gradable in the future. A laptop does offer a lot of advantages as well, but the main advantage is that it is portable. If you are a student then a laptop is a good option as you can bring it to campus as well.