Best Laptop for College Engineering

Best Laptop for College Engineering – Electrical Engineering is quite enthralling, but having the right tools is very crucial. All of these laptops that I selected for this guide are perfect for students, professional engineers to complete their assignment as well as personal development. If you have any questions regarding these best electrical engineering laptops of 2021, leave a comment down below for me – I’ll get back to you shortly.

OVERVIEW

Engineers, be it students or professionals, need to rely on decent processing power and an adequate chunk of system memory to take care of the more demanding tasks. Moreover, as an aspiring engineer, you must also take your domain and specialization into account, before taking the plunge.

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ROUND UP

In case we were to recommend the perfect laptop for myriad engineering tasks, the Razer Blade 15 will be the first one of our choices, mainly due to the future-proof and highly resourceful specs sheet.

If you are more invested in aesthetics, the HP Spectre x360 is also a decent choice to make.

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1.ASUS ROG

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2.Acer Nitro

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3.Razer Blade

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4.OEM Lenovo

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5.Acer Predator Helios

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6.HP Spectre

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7.MSI Prestige

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8.Acer Aspire

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9.ASUS Vivobook

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10.Dell XPS7390

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Best Laptop for College Engineering – BUYER’S GUIDE

Weight

This is the most important feature for any student regardless of what software you wish to run on it, try your best to go as light as possible. Ideally stick with less than 4lb or even better around 3lb.

If you go above 4lb that it will start to take a toll on your body and will be very difficult to carry it all over campus for an entire day which isn’t helpful at all when you want to work on the go. You can use your phone to quickly use google to check out a definition, a physical formula or the property of a material but writing your reports on the go or practicing problems on the go will or even programming will require a laptop. I personally found out that even 1b can make a huge difference.

However, if you are interested in running heavy software on your laptop,  you will require a high end laptop. You should then try to find the right balance between performance and weight.  This is true for those engineers designing and drafting in 3D. However you don’t need to go overboard with the heaviest and most powerful laptops because undergraduate assignments are simple and introductory compared to industry level projects.

If you do wish to run far more complex projects, then you would need a workstation such as the Lenovo P50, which I don’t recommend at all for an engineering student, it’s definitely too much for now.

Display

Setting aside all the fancy features displays today have there are only two things to consider for all engineering :

Resolution: Try to get a laptop with a 1920×1080 resolution regardless of what type of software you wish to run o. If you go far from that you will find programming , designing and overall any kind of work on your laptop unpleasant.  

Why? A higher screen resolution allows more area for multiple windows to be opened at the same time andwill let you put them next to each other.

It will also offer more space available for you to follow the logic of your assignments (programming, writing reports, etc) as you’ll be able to see more of your code, paragraphs without having to scroll up and down a lot.

Size:  The lower the display size the more portable your laptop will become, which is good! Unfortunately it will also limit the area on the screen you have to program, design or even just to write a simple report. Engineering software and programs have toolbars and icons which already take a lot of screen space  so you’ll end up with little space left for your work if you go for small screen size.

For 3D drafting and modeling software it’s recommended to go as far as 15 screen but 13 is fine for every engineering student out there since you won’t be spending days drafting/designing as compared to writing reports/studying with your laptop.

Connectivity

CD/DVD reader: As far as connectivity goes I don’t think there’s a need for a CD/DVD reader. You can use it to install software or watch movies but these days most software have install clients which only require an internet connection and i really doubt you’d want to get one solely to watch movies. It’s always a nice bonus though but not necessary.

Bluetooth: Bluetooth function can be useful to save you time when you want to share your work with your fellow students for a group project, it’ll work much quicker than regular flash drives. Most laptops today come with this feature anyways so it isn’t something to look for.

Serial port: A modern laptop these days does not have one but this is only important for connecting with DAQ systems (Data Acquisition Systems) for circuit design, should you have a project that involves circuitry/robotics/programming a design, just buy an adapter and you’ll be fine.

Projector port: This is useful when you have to give presentations to your class or group. Most systems today use an HDMI connection to connect to a projector or an external display. However most ultraportable laptops lack an HDMI port in which case you should consider buying an adapter. Don’t worry they’re cheap.

Keyboard

Backlit feature: I always found it a nice feature especially when studying in very low light conditions especially during final exams . You’ll probably be faced with these instanes too that is working with low light conditions for example in the library & labs overnight.

Full Size Keyboard: This is definitely something you should take into account. Some of us do a lot of data collection and analysis especially in excel (civil, mechanical and chemical engineers will make the most out of it) for which the numerical keypad becomes extremely useful and time saving to enter numerical data much faster.

Unfortunately most laptops today do not come with a full size keyboard unless they’re big and heavy. But you can easily solve this problem by getting an external numerical keypad or an external keyboard. Again prioritize portability whenever you can.

CPU

3D CAD software

An i5 core processor is the minimum for 3D work, i7 core processors are recommended but not required.

*Note that an i7 processor can give you the best performance for 3D software but it will drain your battery much quicker.

2D Software and all other software

For those of you who decide to use the computer labs or a desktop for the heavy stuff ( ANSYS, SolidWorks,Civil 3D, CATIA, any software in 3D, etc) or you simply don’t encounter such software as the table above shows, any laptop with a modern processor will do fine.

As mentioned before, most of the software you’ll be dealing with do not require a high end processor. Modern laptops come with an i3 or i5 core processor today. An i5 core processor is always nice to have , it’ll speed up your workflow while not draining your battery life too much.

RAM

You don’t really have to go for 8GB or more for all the undergraduate assignments  but more RAM is always better.

Luckily, RAM is always cheap and it doesn’t affect the battery life, weight of your laptop so feel free to upgrade it to the MAX (16GB should be more than enough for undergraduate 3D  work). But you should be OK with 8GB RAM regardless of what software you wish run.

If you found a good laptop withi nice performance that doesn’t come with 8GB or 16GB don’t worry most of them are upgradeable so you can just buy an external RAM an upgrade it yourself or have someone else do it. It can be as easy as plugging in a flash drive into your laptop. In fact, your IT department might do it for you in if you’re just like me and too chicken to open up your laptop.

MultiTasking and Light Engineering Software

For these purposes you may wanna go over 4GB (ideally 8GB) for your laptop anyways especially if you like to do heavy multitasking: running several dozens of internet tabs, pdf files open, itunes, skype, a word processor, MatLab, etc, all at the same time.

Storage Drive

Size

Storage capacity is only an issue if you plan on doing hundreds of CAD projects and store them on your laptop. Not only because of the space required to install such software but also because the output files of these projects can get really huge (I doubt this is the case for most engineering students though).

If you are one of those rare students who are going to do so, you can still leave these assignments to your computer labs or a desktop back home. So storage capacity isn’t really something to worry about. 256GB and higher will be enough.

SSD

Try your best to get a laptop with an SSD, regardless of what software you plan to run on it. It’ improve your productivity substantially by booting up your laptop in seconds and also starting your applications in no time without affecting the battery of your laptop(in fact it does the oppossite).  You’ll also get quicker results when trying to look for a particular piece of code, text or numerical data from your projects.

There are far more advantages of an SSD over conventional Hard Drives to be listed here, if your budget allows get one you won’t regret it.

External Hard Drive

Lastly, make sure you have a backup method.  Losing data can not only ruin your day but your entire semester especially if you have a term paper or project that’s going to be due soon. Most departments recommend getting one for that very reason. No need to give it much thought, you should be buying one right now without hesitation. I highly recommend the Lacie Rugged External Hard Drive, which is the model most universities recommend as well.

Graphics Card (GPU)

GPU is only relevant for those wanting to run 3D software, you can safely ignore it if you don’t need to.

Who needs a dedicated GPU?

Those dealing with software in 2D only (mostly electrical, computer,chemical and software engineers) do not need to worry about this, any graphics card will do fine.

ANSYS and other computational software do not need require you a dedicated graphics card either but benefit from it by offloading some of the computations to the GPU Cores. Not much beneficial for undergraduate work so you can safely ignore it and focus on RAM/CPU.

What about CAD engineers (Mechanical, Civil, Aerospace,etc) ?

Any dedicated Graphics Card  with 2GB of vRAM  should be  enough  for all your undergrad assignments. All modern dedicated graphics cards have 2GB vRAM anyways.NVIDIA graphics cards  are the common found on laptops today and recommended for students by most universities.

What about the “approved” Graphics Cards for 3D software?

If you are thinking of the FirePro & Quadro Series, you won’t need these cards for any type of project or simulation in a typical engineering program. Anything outside of that might require one, it depends on the size & complexity of your projects. In summary, if you are a student forget about them. They are definitely overkill for the projects you’ll be dealing with.

It’ll come useful after you graduate and start working with CAD software, there’s no need to worry about it for now. If you do want to get a headstart use your computer labs, don’t waste money now.

Touchscreen

If you decide to go for a touch screen, make sure it is convertible laptop like the Surface Pro or the Surface Book so you can take notes on it too in which case it becomes a total deal breaker and extremely useful for engineers.

Other than that I don’t see the benefits of going for a regular touchscreen laptop. It might be a nice additional feature for personal amusement but not required for any type of work.

Operating System

Windows

There’s not much to discuss here. As far as engineering software goes, windows is really the best operating system for you. Virtually every engineering application will be compatible with a Windows machine. If you major deals a lot with programming such as software engineering and some electrical concentrations then it might be useful to get to learn some Linux .

Mac

Only a few engineering software is fully supported on a Mac, even if you decide not to run such software on your laptop you will still face compatibility issues with other light software such as LabView, SPICE and other unknown software that your professor or comapny (if you are on a internship) may throw at you.

However regular Autocad and MathLab are fully supported on a Mac, which are the most important ones for engineering students. Java and virtually all programming software(save for Visual Studio) will have no issues with a Mac. Java in fact is natively installed on it.

If you are a computer or maybe an electrical engineering student dealing with a lot of programming, then a Mac becomes an advantage over Windows laptops because you will also have easy access to Linux applications and software without the need to install Linux on your Mac.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How much RAM is required by an engineering student?

As a rule of thumb, 8GB is the bare minimum for engineering students, provided they are more into online tasks, browser usage, spreadsheet management, and other moderately demanding tasks. However, for civil, mechanical, and students from similar engineering domains, 16GB is a decent mark considering the massive processing workload that might require managing.

Do Engineering students require 10th gen H-series processors?

While 10th gen processors are decent, future-proof choices, the H-series can be overkill if you are into basic tasks. You must only consider a 10th gen H-series CPU if you want to use the laptop even as an engineering professional. In most cases, a U-series processor is more than adequate when basic processes are concerned.

Why a mid-range GPU is preferred by engineering students?

As an engineering student, you would want to save money for the more essential specifications like storage and RAM. Moreover, with such a vast engineering curriculum to account for, you shouldn’t prep the device as a high-end gaming station and for leisure indulgences, mid-range GPUs like the GTX 1650 might just be more than adequate.

Is MacBook good for engineering students and professionals?

If you are primarily interested in coding, the MacBook Pro is quite a reliable gadget to consider. Then again, students from the core engineering domains like Mechanical and Civil are better off using Windows-powered notebooks, precisely for the software-centric compatibility on offer. Besides, if you still want to opt for a MacBook, it is advisable to opt for dual boot support for getting app-support for Windows or even Linux OS.

Which are the more important yet underrated laptop traits preferred by engineering students?

As an engineering student, you might need to store massive volumes of data which calls for the inclusion of a sizable storage module, preferably dual-storage for keeping gadget prices in control. Besides, you also need to take a closer look at the keyboard travel considering the fact that engineering students and even professionals need to type a lot. Last but not least, students who prefer moving across the country for relevant indulgences must look to purchase light-weighted and autonomous gadgets, offering a decent battery backup.

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WRAP UP

Furthermore, unlike a multi-dimensional professional, an engineering student or professional has highly curated requirements to deal with. These include accommodation for CAD tools, MATLAB, SketchUp, coding platforms, machine learning interface, accounting resources, and whatnot. However, rarely would you come across notebooks that offer resources for handling each of the mentioned requirements while making room for leisure indulgences.

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