Best Laptops for Engineering Students

Best Laptops for Engineering Students

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Laptops that are to be used primarily for Engineering tasks need to have a lot of power. Typically, engineering laptops will be used for processor and graphics intensive tasks such as computer aided modelling (CAM), computer aided design (CAD), simulation software and often proprietary and specialist software for specific tasks. Simulation software, large Excel files and Matlab can all require powerful hardware to run effectively. Welcome to today’s search for the Best Laptops for Engineering Students.

To achieve all the necessary requirements, laptops for Engineering need to be fast, efficient and versatile. The processor will need to have multiple cores, be compatible with the range of software that is likely to be used (this will exclude certain ARM processors) and have a good level of cache storage. Some commonly used design software like SolidWorks require a minimum of 8GB of RAM to run effectively (16GB recommended), and resultant designs running to multiple gigabytes are not uncommon, so a large amount of storage is required. The loading times for large files can be greatly reduced by having solid state storage which excludes devices with mechanical hard drives from the running. On-board standard graphics may not have the power to run some of the design software so dedicated graphics with onboard memory may be required.

Hardware requirements do not stop there – for example, screen size is a major consideration when carrying out design work which will exclude smaller screened devices as these will not be able to display multiple windows on screen simultaneously and may cause eye strain with intricate work. A high resolution will also be beneficial. The requirement to interface multiple external devices means that careful consideration needs to be given to input and output ports, including the ability of the device to have multiple external monitors connected for certain tasks. 

Portability and battery life are also considerations as for Engineering use it is often a requirement for the laptop to be interfaced with external machinery for data extraction and analysis or for troubleshooting, programming or system diagnosis. Some machinery software may be in Linux, so the ability to dual boot operating systems may be required.

When all this is considered one can summarize that for full compatibility a powerful, portable device with a large screen and good battery life is required. Compromises can be made where price is a consideration but at the cost of some versatility.

We also need to consider which operating system to use. While both Linux and Mac systems may have versions that have the technical capability for Engineering tasks, getting them to run the full range of software is another matter. Most Engineering software is Windows specific, and while Mac’s can be dual booted into a Windows environment using utilities such as Boot Camp, this has implications on performance. For this reason, we will only be examining Windows based devices.

For use in specific demanding environments, specialist laptops may be required, for example it may need to be rugged if used on a construction site, or resistant to dust or moisture, or its electromagnetic emissions may need to be controlled in certain laboratory settings.

Dell G7 17.3 inch FHD 144Hz 300 nits IPS Anti-Glare LED Backlit Narrow Border Display Gaming laptop, Intel Core i7-10750H, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GDDR6, Win 10 Home
ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 G401IA Full HD 14" IPS level Gaming Laptop (AMD Ryzen 5 4600HS, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 4GB, 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD, 8GB RAM, Windows 10, Includes Bag & LAN Dongle), White
HP Spectre x360 15.6" 2-in-1 Laptop PC 15-eb0003sa, Touch Screen, Intel i7, 16GB RAM, GTX 1650Ti, 512GD SSD, UHD, Nightfall Black
Acer Predator Triton 500 PT515-51 15.6-inch Gaming Laptop - (Intel Core i7-9750H, 16GB RAM, 2 x 512GB SSD in RAID, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q, Full HD 144Hz Display, Windows 10, Black)
Lenovo ThinkPad P15s Gen 1 20T4 - Core i5 10210U / 1.6 GHz - Win 10 Home 64-bit - 8 GB RAM - 256 GB SSD TCG Opal Encryption 2, NVMe - 15.6" IPS 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) - Quadro P520 / UHD Graphics - Wi-Fi, Bluetooth - black - kbd: UK
Dell G7 17.3 inch FHD 144Hz 300 nits IPS Anti-Glare LED Backlit Narrow Border Display Gaming laptop, Intel Core i7-10750H, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GDDR6, Win 10 Home
ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 G401IA Full HD 14" IPS level Gaming Laptop (AMD Ryzen 5 4600HS, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 4GB, 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD, 8GB RAM, Windows 10, Includes Bag & LAN Dongle), White
HP Spectre x360 15.6" 2-in-1 Laptop PC 15-eb0003sa, Touch Screen, Intel i7, 16GB RAM, GTX 1650Ti, 512GD SSD, UHD, Nightfall Black
Acer Predator Triton 500 PT515-51 15.6-inch Gaming Laptop - (Intel Core i7-9750H, 16GB RAM, 2 x 512GB SSD in RAID, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q, Full HD 144Hz Display, Windows 10, Black)
Lenovo ThinkPad P15s Gen 1 20T4 - Core i5 10210U / 1.6 GHz - Win 10 Home 64-bit - 8 GB RAM - 256 GB SSD TCG Opal Encryption 2, NVMe - 15.6" IPS 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) - Quadro P520 / UHD Graphics - Wi-Fi, Bluetooth - black - kbd: UK
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£999.99
Dell G7 17.3 inch FHD 144Hz 300 nits IPS Anti-Glare LED Backlit Narrow Border Display Gaming laptop, Intel Core i7-10750H, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GDDR6, Win 10 Home
Dell G7 17.3 inch FHD 144Hz 300 nits IPS Anti-Glare LED Backlit Narrow Border Display Gaming laptop, Intel Core i7-10750H, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GDDR6, Win 10 Home
Price not available
ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 G401IA Full HD 14" IPS level Gaming Laptop (AMD Ryzen 5 4600HS, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 4GB, 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD, 8GB RAM, Windows 10, Includes Bag & LAN Dongle), White
ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 G401IA Full HD 14" IPS level Gaming Laptop (AMD Ryzen 5 4600HS, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 4GB, 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD, 8GB RAM, Windows 10, Includes Bag & LAN Dongle), White
Price not available
HP Spectre x360 15.6" 2-in-1 Laptop PC 15-eb0003sa, Touch Screen, Intel i7, 16GB RAM, GTX 1650Ti, 512GD SSD, UHD, Nightfall Black
HP Spectre x360 15.6" 2-in-1 Laptop PC 15-eb0003sa, Touch Screen, Intel i7, 16GB RAM, GTX 1650Ti, 512GD SSD, UHD, Nightfall Black
Price not available
Acer Predator Triton 500 PT515-51 15.6-inch Gaming Laptop - (Intel Core i7-9750H, 16GB RAM, 2 x 512GB SSD in RAID, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q, Full HD 144Hz Display, Windows 10, Black)
Acer Predator Triton 500 PT515-51 15.6-inch Gaming Laptop - (Intel Core i7-9750H, 16GB RAM, 2 x 512GB SSD in RAID, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q, Full HD 144Hz Display, Windows 10, Black)
Price not available
Lenovo ThinkPad P15s Gen 1 20T4 - Core i5 10210U / 1.6 GHz - Win 10 Home 64-bit - 8 GB RAM - 256 GB SSD TCG Opal Encryption 2, NVMe - 15.6" IPS 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) - Quadro P520 / UHD Graphics - Wi-Fi, Bluetooth - black - kbd: UK
Lenovo ThinkPad P15s Gen 1 20T4 - Core i5 10210U / 1.6 GHz - Win 10 Home 64-bit - 8 GB RAM - 256 GB SSD TCG Opal Encryption 2, NVMe - 15.6" IPS 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) - Quadro P520 / UHD Graphics - Wi-Fi, Bluetooth - black - kbd: UK
£999.99

We look at some of the best options in this class below.

Dell G7 17.3”

Dell G7 17.3 inch FHD 144Hz 300 nits IPS Anti-Glare LED Backlit Narrow Border Display Gaming laptop, Intel Core i7-10750H, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GDDR6, Win 10 Home
  • Fierce, flicker-free visuals come alive with 144Hz and G-SYNC displays.
  • Fast, quiet performance. Real-time ray tracing and AI-enhanced graphics. And the mobility of the world’s thinnest and lightest designs. It’s everything you want. And it’s only in GeForce RTX
  • Engineered with up to 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processors, the Dell G7 17 possesses powerful performance for uninterrupted gameplay.
  • Hear every enemy approach with built-in, dual speakers and the Nahimic Sound Center for intuitive audio and voice controls and in-game visual sound tracking.
  • Enjoy the benefit of multiple port options in just one, with the Thunderbolt 3 port.

Specifications

  • Intel Core I7 10750H processor 
  • 16GB RAM
  • 1TB SSD
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Graphics Card with 6GB GDDR6 memory
  • 1920 x 1080P display
  • 17.3” 144Hz display
  • 97-Watt Hours battery
  • Windows 10

Whilst this is primarily a gaming system, the combination of specifications makes it ideal as an Engineering laptop. It has a thin and sophisticated design with a black chassis, an RGB keyboard with various lighting options, and its overall discrete look makes it suitable for both gaming and as a business device. It has plenty of connectivity ports and a long lasting and high capacity battery.

The graphics card is one of the most powerful available in a mobile device and should be particularly useful for students that use CAD and design software. The display has a standard resolution of 1920 x 1080P, however the refresh rate of 144Hz and the narrow bezels make it a joy to use. 

Despite the high specification, this system is quiet in operation due to the use of an innovative dual fan cooling system, although it can still get very hot during intensive activity.

This laptop is not the lightest, and some users have commented on the poor portability. Other negatives include a poor sound quality, although this is mainly affecting those using the device for gaming. As with most Dell devices, this unit comes with lots of pre-installed bloatware that needs to be removed for a smoother experience, and the webcam is basic.

We have found Dell devices to be very reliable with consistent support options available via their website. Firmware and driver updates are regularly available, and this is a manufacturer that backs its devices up with consistent service even after the expiration of any guarantee period.

Asus Zephyrus G14

ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14 G401IA Full HD 14" IPS level Gaming Laptop (AMD Ryzen 5 4600HS, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 4GB, 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD, 8GB RAM, Windows 10, Includes Bag & LAN Dongle), White
  • PC Gaming Just Got Smaller But with AMD's latest R5 processor Nvidia's GTX 1650 and Full HD screen there's no need to compromise power for portability
  • Dynamic and ready to travel the pioneering ROG Zephyrus G14 is the first of its kind 14 Inch Full HD gaming laptop
  • Outclass the competition AMD's Ryzen 4000 Series CPU and potent GeForce GTX 1650 GPU that speed through everyday multitasking and gaming
  • The Zephyrus G14 comes with an uncompromised keyboard that fits full-size functionality into a much smaller machine
  • The Zephyrus G14 changes the game for portability by packing unprecedented power into a 14 Inch body weighing just 1 6 kg

Specifications

  • AMD Ryzen 5 4600HS processor
  • 8GB RAM
  • 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Graphics Card with 4GB GDDR6 memory
  • 1920 x 1080P display
  • 14” display
  • 76-Watt Hours battery
  • Windows 10

This option is compact and portable with just a 14” screen size, however it features the new and very powerful Ryzen 5 4600HS processor which outclasses most competition including far more expensive options from Intel and has 8 cores / 16 threads. The inclusion of a powerful graphics card somewhat makes up for the 8GB of RAM especially when used for design work (although there is an extra slot for additional memory inside). The display has superb colour accuracy and is Pantone validated. Four corner mounted speakers produce an immersive sound with Dolby Atmos. 

This unit features a large capacity battery that is good for around 10 hours general use, and it is charged via USB-C for flexibility. The included charger takes just over 2 hours to fully charge the unit from empty and some versions include a second more portable charger and a nice zip up carry case. The keyboard features a fingerprint scanner in the power button and has dedicated and customizable hot keys and a large space bar.

Unfortunately, this unit lacks a built-in webcam, which could be a deal breaker for many especially in the current situation where videoconferencing is often required. It is also reported to have noisy fans, although this can be controlled by adjusting the CPU boost feature. The fingerprint sensor is sometimes temperamental.

The overall appearance of the laptop may not be suitable for use in an office environment due to the presence of a Republic of Gamers (ROG) logo on the lid, which is unfortunate, as this is a good highly portable solution with plenty of connectivity options and an excellent performance.

HP Spectre x360 15 eb0003na

HP Spectre x360 15.6" 2-in-1 Laptop PC 15-eb0003sa, Touch Screen, Intel i7, 16GB RAM, GTX 1650Ti, 512GD SSD, UHD, Nightfall Black
  • Fingerprint Reader - Keep it confidential. Privacy for your peace of mind. Log on quickly and securely with the fingerprint reader
  • Webcam Kill Switch - Designed to ease your mind. Peace of mind to work anywhere, anytime. Security from hacking with Webcam Kill Switch
  • UHD OLED Micro-Edge Touch Display - Enjoy the view indoors or out with the 4K OLED with True Black HDR, near-borderless and anti-reflection display
  • Pen - Simultaneous pen and touch support - 4 different modes with touch screen for sketching and writing. It's also easy to digitalize for sharing
  • Footprint and screen-to-body-ratio (STBR) - Minimalist design - narrow bezel on 4-sides with 90%+ screen-to-body-ratio (STBR). Enables a 15 Inch display in an almost 14 Inch footprint

Specifications

  • Intel Core i7 – 10750H processor
  • 16GB RAM
  • 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Graphics Card with 4GB GDDR6 memory
  • 3840 x 2160 4K display
  • 15.6” touch screen with stylus
  • 76-Watt Hours battery
  • Windows 10

Despite its large 15.6” screen size, the footprint of the HP Spectre x360 is as small as a regular 14” laptop due to the virtually bezel-less “Micro-Edge-Touch” display which is a 4K OLED panel with true black HDR and is anti-reflection. The webcam has a “kill switch” for privacy. The display is both touch and pen compatible, which should make the process of creating complex designs far more intuitive than using a mouse and could be beneficial for engineering design students.

The performance is exceptional and this device has it all – a very fast processor, plenty of memory, a fast graphics card, backlit keyboard, rechargeable tilt enabled stylus pen, Bang & Olufsen speaker system, a tough corning glass NBT screen, a display that can be folded back for the laptop to be used in tablet mode, and a decent storage. Plenty of port options are available including Thunderbolt 3 for further expansion if required. Battery life is good, and it is quick to charge.

Some users have reported that this unit is very heavy, however the build quality is average with some flex and creaking. The graphics card is not capable of rendering very complex designs in a timely manner and if that is your intended use then you should consider a unit with a 2060 card installed instead.

Acer Predator Triton 500 PT515-51

Acer Predator Triton 500 PT515-51 15.6-inch Gaming Laptop - (Intel Core i7-9750H, 16GB RAM, 2 x 512GB SSD in RAID, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q, Full HD 144Hz Display, Windows 10, Black)
  • Infused with an 9th Gen Intel Core processor and GeForce RTX graphics card, this laptop was forged to obliterate your games, empower your creativity and inspire envy from friends and family alike
  • Covered in abyssal black metal, they designed the Triton 500 with a purpose – to allow you to game, whenever, wherever, as you please
  • Get one of the world’s thinnest, fastest, and quietest laptops, all in an impossibly sleek design you can actually fit in your lap and this is the sweet spot of GeForce RTX gaming
  • All Predator laptops utilize the custom-engineered cooling technology, the latest generation’s new design reduces noise while increasing airflow
  • With Killer’s E3000 Ethernet Controller, Wireless-AC 1550 and Killer Control Centre 2. 0, you have all the tools you need to clear out the online competition keep your ping low and 100% optimized

Specifications

  • Intel Core i7 – 9750H processor
  • 32GB RAM
  • 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q Graphics Card with 8GB GDDR6 memory
  • 1920 x 1080P display
  • 15.6” 144Hz screen
  • 84-Watt Hours battery
  • Windows 10

This unit has plenty of power for all design and development needs and doubles as a high specification gaming laptop. The chassis is thin and light (2.1kg) and it has an excellent battery life considering the impressive and potentially power draining specifications. The screen has excellent contrast and brightness and is G-Sync compatible. 

The laptop is very well made with a metal body and has a backlit RGB keyboard with 3 zones and a responsive touchpad. There is a good screen / bezel ratio for a modern look and the cooling is effective, but users report its quite noisy and has poor sound quality considering the very high price.

This model is frequently used for design and rendering work, and its portability, rigid structure, extreme power and conservative looks make it suitable ideal for these tasks.

Lenovo Mobile Workstation P15S

Specifications

  • Intel Core i5 – 10210U processor
  • 8GB RAM
  • 256GB M.2 2280 SSD
  • Nvidia Quadro P520 with 2GB GDDR5 memory
  • 1920 x 1080P display
  • 15.6” anti-glare screen
  • 57-Watt Hours battery
  • Windows 10

This option differs from the others in that it is a dedicated business-oriented laptop that does not double as a gaming machine. The specifications indicate it is less powerful, but the cost is lower. This is a semi-rugged device weighing just 1.75kg that is specifically designed for students, engineers and designers who need to work in a variety of locations and conditions. The inclusion of Quadro graphics makes this especially suited to CAD and design work, and it has ISV certification from vendors like 3DEXPERIENCE, ANSYS, ArcGIS, AutoCAD, Creo, MicroStation, NX and SOLIDWORKS. 

The display is exceptionally colour accurate, with some versions having 100% Adobe colour gamut capability (this model has 45%). Battery life is up to 15 hours of average use, putting this laptop near the top of the tree where longevity is concerned. The Lenovo P15s can run in extreme conditions – from Arctic wilderness to desert dust storms and can withstand accidental spillages due to the resistant keyboard.

This is a very secure laptop which features a discrete Trusted Platform Module (dTPM) which encrypts passwords and data – excellent when working on critical or sensitive projects. The Webcam has can be physically shut to improve privacy with what Lenovo calls its “ThinkShutter”.

Lenovo are renowned for the quality and features present on their keyboards, and this model is no different with excellent tactile keys, separate number pad, and a backlight.  For connectivity, in addition to the usual Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, there are 2 x USB A, 1 x USB C with Thunderbolt, 1 x USB C with DisplayPort, HDMI, RJ45 Ethernet and a headphone / microphone combo port. An optional hub is available that can increase these further.

Amy Green

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