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Top 5 Best Laptops for Engineering Students on a Budget

Last Updated: October 25, 2019

Laptops are a must for students. In the age of computers and the Internet, laptops are as important as books when going to school. That is the most important reason why you should only have the best laptop for engineering students.

However, laptops are tad expensive. If you are on a budget, is there one in the market that fits your budget without sacrificing performance?

Good thing is that there are various models out there that caters to students. These devices are offered to them without them sacrificing an arm and a leg.

At a Glance: Our Top 5 Laptops for Engineering Students

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# Laptop Our Rating
1 Dell XPS 13 9.2/10
2 Lenovo ThinkPad P40 Yoga 8.9/10
3 ASUS VivoBook S 8.4/10
4 HP Spectre x360 Full HD 8.4/10
5 Apple Macbook Pro 8.3/10

Important Laptop Features for Engineering Students

Engineering student studying on his laptop

Laptops does not come in one generic form. The number of companies making this device and the demand for every kind of laptop makes it a saturated market. If you are looking for one, you might find it difficult to select one that best fits your needs.

However, there are various guides out there, as well as some recommendations from your seniors, that can help you in selecting which one will fit your needs as an engineering student.

This section hopes to guide you on what are the minimum requirements and what are the ideal specifications that must be in a laptop for it to be fit in the daily life of a student.

Processor

Intel and AMD dominated this space years ago. But there are new competitors challenging their dominance. However, do the offerings of these new players fit the demands of the work shouldered by engineering students?

Intel continues to dominate the computing world in the 21st century. While it continues to face challenges from new players and long-time rival AMD, its microprocessors are still a mainstay in most computers and laptops.

So, it is not surprising that most engineering students recommend getting a laptop with an Intel processor. Perhaps, its mid-range line of products is enough to satisfy the demands of what an engineering student does.

The i5, preferably those from 2 generations ago, are the most recommended processor for engineering students. These processors have the power to handle intensive programs and rendering done by engineering students.

RAM

Students like to multitask. It is a fact long established. With that said, the perfect laptop for someone studying engineering is one that packs the most RAM.

RAM is the part of your laptop responsible for temporarily storing data from applications you have open. A much bigger RAM allows you to have multiple applications open at the same time without experiencing hiccups while working.

An 8 GB RAM is a must for any engineering student. It is due to the fact that most of the programs they use require more memory to run. Anything lesser than 8GB will just leave their software hanging. Or more horribly, their laptop freezing in the middle of doing their homework or project.

Storage

The bigger, the better is your mantra when it comes to storage. Most students save a lot of files. Given that, it is only wise to get a laptop that can handle all the files you need saved.

A SSD drive is most recommended not only for engineering students, but for all. It features a faster reading/writing speed compared to the traditional storage found in computers and laptops. A terabyte SSD is ideal, but 256 GB is acceptable.

Graphics Card

Engineering students usually make some graphic intensive projects. This is especially true for CAD engineering students. You mostly spend your time dealing with CAD or CAE software, then you should look for a device with an NVIDIA graphics card or those from its competitor AMD Radeon.

However, there is no need to invest in workstation cards. Any graphics card with at least 2 GB vRAM is capable enough for civil, mechanical and other CAD engineering students who constantly need a powerful machine to keep up with their school work. For other engineering students, a graphics card is not really a big issue.

Other Important Features

Of course, there are other things that must be in a laptop used by an engineering student.

First, display. The ideal laptop is something that comes at a size that is friendly to your eyes. A 13 inch display is the minimum for engineering students. This size allows you to have multiple windows open without sacrificing the space occupied by your active application.

Next, weight. Since you move around a lot while in school, it is only a no-brainer to have a lightweight laptop. It is ideal to get a laptop that is around the 3 pounds mark. While lightweight laptops might cost more compared to those heavier ones, your back will surely thank you for investing in having a good posture.

Third, connectivity. Students need a wide range of connectivity options. This allows them to easily share files and connect to compatible devices used in the university. Laptops nowadays might no longer come with DVD or CD ports, but many offer ports where you can easily stick a portable device. USB Type C, USB 3.0, HDMI and Display Ports are some of the most essential connectivity features that must be in a modern laptop for students.

Lastly, battery. This is perhaps the most important feature aside from processor, RAM and storage. University students mostly spend their time inside the classroom. Given that, there is a need for a device capable of lasting a day without the need to connect it to a wall socket. The ideal battery capacity for students is those that can deliver at least 5 hours of continuous use. If you are looking for a long lasting laptop, check whether it comes with a lithium ion battery with maximum cells.

Five of the Best Laptops for Engineering Students

Now that you have an idea of what makes up a great laptop for engineering students, it is time to narrow down your options. The good news is that there is a lot of options for you to choose from. This list highlights different kinds of laptops with power capable of matching the heavy workload demands of an engineering student.

Dell XPS 13

Dell XPS 13

Pros

  • Capable processor
  • Easily customizable according to budget

Cons

  • Lacks dedicated graphics card
  • Not powerful enough to handle some engineering applications

The Dell XPS 13 is a laptop that offer the most for students on a budget. This powerful laptop can be easily customized according to how much you are willing to spend on a device. This option to customize can easily allow you to choose which feature you must spend more on and thrift on other non-essential specifications.

Its base model comes with an Intel i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 128 SSD storage capacity. There is also an option to bump up these configuration. This laptop can also go with an i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage. Additionally, it comes with a 13 inches HD display, an integrated Intel HD graphics processor and weights at about 2.7 lbs.

However, CAD engineering students might have an issue using this laptop. It does not come with a dedicated graphics card. This limitation might be a deal breaker for those who often use resource-demanding applications. But the XPS 13 is definitely a good deal for engineering students who mostly do little CAD work and just use the word processor and browser for studying.

Lenovo ThinkPad P40 Yoga

Lenovo ThinkPad P40 Yoga

Pros

  • Mult-mode capability
  • Powerful i7 processor
  • 16 GB worth of RAM

Cons

  • The multi-mode feature might be a problem in the long run.
  • Might be a bit dated having been initially released in 2016.

The ThinkPad brand is perhaps the most trusted in field of computing. Its products are found in offices and used by professionals around the world. The Lenovo ThinkPad P40 Yoga takes the brand into new heights. This laptop is a multi-mode mobile workstation. It is capable of being a traditional laptop, a stand, a tablet or a like a tent.

This multi-mode laptop laptop also does not compromise features. It comes with a sixth generation Intel Core i7 processor, a 16 GB DDR3 SDRAM and 512 GB SSD storage. These features make it an ideal device for those students who need a machine capable of handling intensive applications and something that is able to play HD videos.

It is also packed with all essential connectivity options needed by students. The laptop comes built-in with three USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, mini-Display Port, headphones/mic combo port, a card reader port, and a OneDock+ Connector.

This 14 inch Windows 10 Pro-powered laptop is not only a beauty but is also packed with several certifications ranging from the ENERGY STAR standard to the MIL-STD 810G military certification for durability.

ASUS VivoBook S

Asus VivoBook S Ultra Thin

Pros

  • Comes in different configuration to fit those who are on a budget
  • Powerful processors even with the base model
  • Full HD Wideview display
  • Hybrid storage for the premium model

Cons

  • Only decent battery life

ASUS is a power house for beastly laptops in the 21st century. Given its wide range of laptops, there is one that an engineering student can find that meets his/her needs. Engineering students usually require a device that is powerful yet is still within the mid-range price category.

The VivoBook S is one of those laptops that is affordable yet is able to deliver even when an application demands more CPU activity and RAM. It also comes in various models to suit your budget.

The base model for this ASUS laptop comes with an 8th generation Intel i5 processor that can reach Turbo speeds of up to 3.4 GHz,8 GB of DDR4 RAM, 1 TB of Hybrid Drive, and a 14 inch Full HD WideView display. It also comes with a wide range of ports including USB 3.1 Type C, USB 3.0, HDMI and headphone/mic jack.

For students who do have the budget for a more premium version of the VivoBook S, its processor can be bumped to the 7th generation Intel i7 processor, its display is much bigger than the entry model at 15.6 inches of Full HD Wideview, and 1 TB of HDD.

HP Spectre x360

HP Spectre x360

Pros

  • 8th generation i7 processor
  • Touchscreen display
  • Capable graphics card

Cons

  • Weak battery
  • Wrong positioning of air vents
  • Weird placement of track pad

This HP laptop is power and all. The Spectre x360 is for engineering students who want style and power in one device. It is a thin laptop that makes it ideal for carrying around the whole day. It is also a versatile device capable of being transformed into different modes. It is heralded by some tech review sites as one of the best 2-in-1 gadgets around due to its ability to be a tablet at one time and then a traditional laptop when needed.

It comes with an 8th generation, quad core Intel i7 processor, a Radeon RX Vega M Graphics Card with 4 GB dedicated memory, and a Windows 10 PRO operating system. Aside from this top of the crop features, the Spectre x360 laptop also comes with 15.6 inches 4K display with BrightView WLED-backlit touch screen and a Corning Glass for protection.

In terms of storage, it comes with a 512 GB SSD drive and 16 GB DDR4 SDRAM that makes it capable of handling intensive applications even when you are multitasking. The Spectre x360 also comes with great connectivity features. It has USB-C ports, Thunderbolt 3 support, HDMI port, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.

Apple Macbook Pro

Apple Macbook Pro 15 inch

Pros

  • The Apple branding
  • Powerful and stylish
  • Dependable processor

Cons

  • Might be pricey for a student even with a discount
  • TouchBar feature can just be a novelty than a necessity

Apple will not be left behind in this battle. Engineering students who want to make a statement can opt for a Mac laptop while doing uni. These laptops from Cupertino are created not only with style in mind, but also power to ensure that its users are not left behind when work demands full computing power.

The Macbook Pro is the laptop marketed by Apple for professionals. It is a fully capable laptop that comes with only the latest and greatest technology in mobile computing.

Dubbed as the most powerful laptop released by the biggest company in the world, the Macbook Pro comes in different configurations. This customization allows you to pick the one that you think can be dependable for your whole life in the engineering department.

There are two options for you - the 13 inch model and the more powerful and expensive 15-inch model. The entry level Macbook Pro comes with the Apple signature Retina Display, with an option to go with 128 GB SSD or 256 GB SSD for its memory and 8 GB of RAM. The 15-inch model also comes with the aforementioned features but is added with TouchBar functionality, an option to have 512 GB of storage and more connectivity options with up to four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports.

Conclusion

Engineering students need to be wise when picking the right laptop. Research and knowing what to expect in their school work are some ways to narrow down the list for the best laptops out there.

It is recommended to stick with the minimum features, but going extra might save more money in the long term. Investing more on premium and newer laptops means you can still use this device even after you graduate and become an engineer.

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