Students searching for the best laptops for engineering need a lot of power. But, they need a few other things as well. Most matriculating minds on their way back to school need to find that sweet spot between performance and price, and should look at laptops ideal for college.
Engineering students need serious power from their portable in order to run essential 3D modelling and video rendering software such as AutoCAD, MATLAB and Solid Works in-between classes and lectures. And that means that a engineer’s laptop needs a strong core specs suite.
All that power needs to come in a reasonably priced package that also has great battery life and is lightweight. While they might not compare pricewise to cheap laptops, they need to be within a college student’s budget. Additionally, the best engineering laptops should be able to last the whole day on a single charge as well as be easy enough to lug around from class to class.
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1. DELL XPS 13 (9310)
If you’re and engineering student and you’re a Windows user, too, then the best laptop for you to buy is the Dell XPS 13. Every year the Dell XPS 13 wows us and this year has been no exception, as evidenced in our Dell XPS 13 (9310) review. In the review we discovered the XPS 13 to be everything an engineering student could wish for while taking notes in class or completing coursework in-between seminars – it’s powerful, portable, compact and has an impressive battery life, too.
It also comes equipped in its latest incarnation with the very latest 11th-gen Intel processors installed and up to 16GB of RAM installed, too, meaning everything from Netflix to intensive AutoCAD work is easily handled. The Intel Iris Xe GPU doesn’t give the same sort of performance as a high-end Nvidia graphics card, but it still punches hard and complements the core specs well.
The XPS 13 doesn’t let the side down in terms of screen, either, with a 13.4-inch FHD display with the super-thin bezels looking absolutely stunning. If you’ve got deep pockets you can spec the system out with a 4K screen, too, however we think that to most engineering students the Full HD screen will be plenty. Colors are deep and vibrant and detailing is pin sharp. The whole screen is also coated with Corning Gorilla Glass so it’s not going to crack or scratch easy, either.
|CPU:||Intel Core i7-1185G7|
|Graphics:||Intel Iris Xe|
|RAM:||Up to 16GB|
|Screen:||13.4-inch Full HD+ LCD (1920 x 1200)|
|OS:||Windows 10 Home 64-bit|
|Dimension||198.70 x 295.70 x 14.80 mm|
- Superb looks
- Very strong hardware
- Great display
- Speakers are average
- Limited ports
2. Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020)
The latest MacBook Air is an absolute marvel of a machine, and perfectly suited to engineering students as a result.
The real star of the show is the M1 processor, which is just so ludicrously powerful and optimised that it is crushes rival CPUs in benchmarks with ease. It also packs in some seriously impressive graphics processing power, too, so right off the back you’ve got a system here perfectly equipped to heavy modelling, editing and rendering work.
You can spec the MacBook Air at purchase with 16GB of RAM, too, meaning you’re covered in that department, and naturally for a MacBook you’ve also got a very tidy battery life, with this model stretching up to 15 hours in real world use (although expect a little less with hardcore AutoCAD work.
Comfort and usability is top-notch too – the keyboard and trackpad are excellent, it’s a great size and weight to be portable, and the all-aluminium build is solid and feels premium. The sharp screen is also a pleasure to use, with a good level of brightness.
Basically, it ticks all our boxes for a great laptop for engineering students, and also comes with that premium Apple aesthetic, too.
|Screen:||13.3-inch 2,560 x 1,600 pixel-resolution Retina display|
|OS:||macOS Big Sur|
|Dimension||11.97 x 8.36 x 0.63 inches (30.41 x 21.24 x 1.61cm; W x D x H)|
|Weight:||1.29 kg (2.8 pounds)|
- Astounding power
- Excellent build quality
- Sturdy, luxe design
- Giant battery life
- Very few ports
3. Dell XPS 15
The Dell XPS 15 is, without a doubt, one of the best laptops for engineering students to hit the PC market this year.
Combining staggering power in a stylish thin and light chassis, this laptop doesn’t hold back when it comes to internals and features that improve your computing experience overall.
Among those amazing features are a gorgeous bright display with 500 nits of brightness, an extremely comfortable keyboard, impressive speakers, and a terrific trackpad. We’re not saying that this laptop is perfect, but it’s certainly the best laptop for engineering students right now.
|CPU:||10th Gen Intel Core i5 – i7|
|Graphics:||Intel UHD Graphics|
|RAM:||8GB – 64GB|
|Screen:||15.6″ FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge Non-Touch Anti-Glare 500-Nit – 15.6″ UHD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit Display|
|Storage:||256GB – 2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe|
|Dimension||11.97 x 8.36 x 0.63 inches (30.41 x 21.24 x 1.61cm; W x D x H)|
- Amazing speakers
- Beautiful display
- Comfy keyboard
- GTX 1650 Ti is a little weak
4. Google Pixelbook Go
The Google’s Pixelbook Go is the best Chromebook money can buy right now, and it’s also a fantastic laptop for engineering students.
Coming with a more affordable price tag than its predecessor, the Pixelbook, Google’s latest Chromebook still packs plenty of the premium features the original came with, including an amazing battery life, and one of the best keyboards we’ve used on a laptop.
Sure, it doesn’t use Windows 10 – instead it runs Chrome OS – but you can also install Linux on this thing as well, which makes it an even more versatile laptop.
It features some impressive specs for a Chromebook, which ensures that Chrome OS positively flies on this device, and puts its performance on par with many of the more expensive Windows laptops and MacBooks.
|CPU:||Intel Core m3 – Intel Core i7|
|Graphics:||Intel UHD Graphics 615|
|RAM:||8GB – 16GB|
|Screen:||13.3-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) or 4K LCD touchscreen|
|Storage:||128GB – 256GB eMMC|
- 11-hour battery life
- Amazing ‘Hush’ keyboard
- The best Chromebook
- No biometric login
- Chrome OS only
5. DELL XPS 17
If you like the Dell aesthetic but feel you need a larger, more powerful system that takes the word premium to a whole new level, then you’re going to want to check out the beastly Dell XPS 17.
At top spec the XPS 17 delivers what is among the best screen on any laptop, ever, in the form of a 17-inch UHD+ (3840 x 2400 resolution) InfinityEdge Touch panel, which also comes with an Anti-Reflective coating. The screen, in partnership with tiny bezels, means real estate is bountiful and thanks to the Ultra HD resolution, everything on it is absolutely pin sharp. It is truly a stunning display and trust us when we say this, it will be ideal for engineering software usage.
The XPS 17 continues it dominance with a top hardware spec that will make any tech enthusiast drool. We’re talking a monstrous 64GB of RAM in conjunction with an insanely rapid Intel Core i9 which makes even 8K video editing and any sort of engineering rendering work an absolute doddle.
Need to spend time on your course working in Photoshop? Well, you can edit huge TIF files side-by-side without the Dell XPS 17 breaking sweat. And an Nvidia GeForce RTX2060 6GB ensures that modern AAA games are crushed while also providing loads of support grunt for rendering and processing, too.
This machine spots a fantastic fit and finish, excellent connectivity options, a built-in webcam and microphone, a stereo woofer and multiple speakers and a full fat copy of Windows 10 Home 64-bit, and it becomes easy to see how this laptop will serve its engineering student for years to come.
|CPU:||10th Generation Intel Core i9-10885H|
|Graphics:||Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB|
|Screen:||17.0″ UHD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge Touch|
|Storage:||2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD|
|Dimension||19.5 x 374.45 x 248.05 mm|
|Weight:||2.11 kg (4.65 lb)|
- Large, top-tier screen
- Super powerful hardware spec
- Superb Dell fit and finish
- Very, very expensive
6. Asus Zephyrus G14
The Asus Zephyrus G14 may be designed like a gaming laptop, but it’s proven itself a more than capable all-around laptop.
Whether you are serious about your gaming or need a powerful laptop for productivity or content creation, this Asus laptop delivers incredible performance as well as an amazing battery life, a fast screen, and a thin and light chassis that makes it super portable.
It’s not the cheapest option out there, but you have to pay a premium for quality. And, if you’re an AMD fan, you’ll certainly appreciate the processor under its hood.
|CPU:||AMD Ryzen 7 4800HS|
|Graphics:||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti — RTX 2060|
|RAM:||Up to 32GB|
|Screen:||14-inch Non-glare Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS-level panel, up to 120Hz – 14-inch Non-glare WQHD (2560 x 1440) IPS-level panel, 60Hz|
|Storage:||512GB / 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0|
- Best battery life in a gaming laptop
- Excellent performance
- Thin and light
- No webcam
- Fans can get loud
7. LG GRAM 17 (2021)
Despite this laptop coming with a 17-inch screen, it weighs only 1,350 grams (that’s just under 3 lbs). It also measures in at a super thin (26.01 x 38.02 x 1.78 cm), make it incredibly portable.
It’s a portable superstar, but that doesn’t mean its hardware spec lets it down, with an Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor, Intel Iris XE graphics chip, 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD on board. The battery life is also impressive, and is definitely good for all-day study sessions and MATLAB work.
|CPU:||Intel Core i7-1165G7 (2.8 GHz, Turbo up to 4.7 GHz, L3 Cache 12MB, 28W)|
|Graphics:||Intel Iris Xe Graphics|
|RAM:||16GB LPDDR4X 4266MHz|
|Screen:||17-inch IPS WQXGA 2560 X 1600|
|Dimension||H x W x D = 26.01 x 38.02 x 1.78 cm (14.97 x 10.24 x 0.7 inches)|
- Fantastic 17-inch screen
- Lightweight, stylish design
- Plenty of battery life
- Not a touchscreen
8. HP Spectre x360 (2021)
The HP Spectre x360 (2021) 2-in-1 laptop had a big refresh for 2021, and the boost in specs, with 11th-generation Intel Core processors and Intel Iris Xe graphics, along with the impeccable 2-in-1 design and pristine gem-cut chassis, means that this version is at the top of our best laptops for programmers list.
The HP Spectre line has always consisted of stunning devices. So, when we say that the Spectre x360 takes things to another level, that should mean something. Not only is this one of the most beautiful laptops on the market right now – with its gem cut design and sleek profile, but it’s tough on the inside.
HP fitted this with impressively long battery life, which means that you’re getting one of the best laptops on the market, hands down. As such, it’s also one of the best laptops for engineering students right now.
|CPU:||11th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7|
|Graphics:||Intel Iris Xe Graphics|
|RAM:||8GB – 16GB|
|Screen:||13.3″ FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS BrightView micro-edge WLED-backlit multitouch – 13.3″ diagonal 4K (3840 x 2160) UWVA BrightView micro-edge AMOLED multitouch|
|Storage:||512 GB – 2TB SSD|
- Powerful Intel Whiskey Lake processors
- 12-hour battery life
- Thin, light, and portable
- More powerful than some users will need
9. Microsoft Surface Book 2 (15-inch)
What’s a better laptop for engineering students than one that’s actually designed for it? Microsoft developed the Surface Book line with graphical design and creative tasks in mind.
It’s even built it to support Surface Dial and Surface Pen to make your creative experience more effortless and all the more immersive. Of course, this laptop boasts some pretty powerful specs, robust enough to support casual gaming, as well as a long battery life that will last you up to 17 hours on a single charge.
|CPU:||8th Gen Intel Core i5 – i7|
|Graphics:||Intel HD Graphics 620 – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060|
|Screen:||15-inch 3240 x 2160 PixelSense Display|
|Storage:||Up to 1TB storage (SSD)|
- Crazy long battery life
- Massively powerful
- Excellent cooling
- No up-firing base speakers
- Small trackpad
- Very pricey
How To Choose The Best Laptops For Engineering Students?
So, what exactly makes for the best laptops for engineering students? Since you’re likely to be running complex programs like AutoCAD, you’re definitely going to need a laptop with enough power to run them.
We recommend a laptop with the latest Intel Core i5 or Core i7 chips, and at the very least, 8GB of RAM – though 16GB is even better.
Many of the programs engineering students rely on are also graphically intensive programs – especially CAD, MATLAB and Solid Works, which are used for 3D modelling and video rendering. This means that it’s crucial to have a laptop with a dedicated graphics card – rather than an integrated one powered by the processor
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