Which laptop should I buy for engineering?
Every engineering student needs a laptop in 2021. Period. This unavoidable expense is something that all students will have to go through, so we are here to ensure you get the right laptop for you! There are many things to consider when choosing between the many options in the laptop category, and it can seem overwhelming if you’re not a computer nerd or you just want the best laptop for your money. Here is where you think “having a short list of the best laptops for engineering students, and what applications certain laptops are most suited to, would be a life-saver!”.
Well fear not, as below we have compiled the 10 best laptops for engineering students, and the best laptops for CAD, AutoCAD and Solidworks. This should put you in a great position to choose the laptop that is best for you and your budget, or to just to provide you with some useful information to educate you on what you should be looking for. We hope this helps!
Best Overall Laptops for Engineering Students
There are a few criteria boxes that laptops fit for engineering students must tick. These consist of power, graphics, compatibility (with software programs), battery life, price, portability, and toughness. If that seems like a lot of categories to be filled, you’re right, but that’s why you’re here isn’t it? Let’s break these categories down:
The processor and graphics card are the main components to look for when buying a laptop as an engineering student. The processor of the computer is what determines the power. You will want your laptop to have the best possible processor for your budget. The graphics card is also vital, as engineering students will be running graphically intense CAD programs such as AutoCAD and SOLIDWORKS. The processor and graphics card work hand-in-hand to tackle all of the power-intensive tasks that you demand of your machine.
After the two main components above where you will be looking for the best quality components you can get, the rest of the categories can vary (slightly!) depending on your specific needs and taste, but similarly all should be of a certain quality. The compatibility of the laptop refers to the operating software that is installed on it. Windows and Mac are your two choices here, (if you are reading this article then you will not be running Linux). Windows should be your go-to choice here as Windows laptops are generally cheaper than Mac, and Windows is compatible with pretty much every CAD program out there.
The battery life is the last technical spec that you have to worry about, but for convenience most manufacturers display the laptop’s battery life in hours. I’m sure you will have no problems determining that 9 hours of battery life is better than 7. Price, portability and toughness can be left up to personal preference, some people like big, heavy laptops, some like small light laptops, some people have big budgets, others not so much. Choose something that is right for your needs and your budget, and if the steps above are followed you should have picked out your new laptop!
Dell XPS 15
The Dell XPS is definitely one of the best laptops for engineering students. It can be specified to any amount of power that one could desire in a laptop, is thin and stylishly designed, and will certainly not disappoint in user experience. It has an amazingly bright display, loud speakers, high-quality keyboard, and an accurate trackpad.
HP OMEN 15
HP OMEN 15 is a gaming laptop with a 15.6” screen that is ideal for any engineering student. It has a powerful AMD Ryzen 7 processor and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card that are paired with an extremely sharp 4k, 144 Hz refresh rate screen for the ultimate user experience. Thanks to its impressive package it will have no problem dealing with pretty much any design software.
Asus Zephyrus G14
Moving more towards the budget friendly side of this list we have the Asus Zephyrus G14. While still not cheap by anyone’s estimations, this offering from AMD will give you the same functionality as the big players in this field for a reduced price. It is known as a gaming laptop, but it applies perfectly to engineering student’s needs. It is thin and light, with great battery life and performance. It also comes in a rare 14” size, which some say is the ultimate sweet spot for screen size and portability. Worth a look!
Dell G5 15
Here we have another reasonably priced gaming laptop, this time from Dell. The Dell G5 has a powerful intel processor, solid performance and great battery life. This is perfect for graphically intense CAD sessions, as battery life has lasted up to 10 hours under testing! The screen is where the money has been saved here, with the IPS panel being satisfactory but not anything to write home about. It also has a subtle gamer look to it, which is subject to taste, but we think it’s pretty cool.
Best Laptops for CAD
As touched on briefly in the “What To Look For” section, CAD programs like AutoCAD and SOLIDWORKS are quite taxing on computers. They are large programs that require a lot of computing power, and the constantly changing graphics demand a decent graphics card. In general, gaming laptops and premium laptops fit the criteria here and the four options already mentioned can also be used for either program.
The most important factors are the processor and graphics card, which need to meet some baseline requirements stated by the creators of each program. We will explore these requirements in the below sections.
Best Laptop for AutoCAD: our selection
The basics requirements for AutoCAD, stated by Autodesk are as follows:
Processor: 2.5 GHz (3+ GHz recommended)
RAM: 8 GB (16GB recommended)
Operating System: 64-bit
Disk space: 7 GB or more
Display: 1920 x 1080 resolution
Some examples of laptops that fulfill these requirements are:
MSI WS65 is probably the best laptop for AutoCAD. This laptop from MIS was specifically manufactured for engineers and designers, and it has the specifications to back this claim up. It is one of the highest performing laptops on this list, with an Intel i7 processor and up to 32GB of RAM. This will handle AutoCAD with no problems at all.
Lenovo Thinkpad P71
Lenovo Thinkpad P71 is well known in the engineering circles and is the best laptop for AutoCAD under $1,500. This legendary laptop is used by professionals all over the world and engineers are not exempt from that. It also has an i7 Intel processor with up to 16GB of RAM. This Windows laptop also comes with lots of storage so you will never worry about how big your projects files will be.
HP Zbook G5
Another laptop designed with engineering and designers in mind is the HP Zbook G5. This laptop was literally built with CAD in mind, boasting an i7 Intel processor with impressive graphics and up to 64GB of RAM! Crush your AutoCAD projects with this laptop. HP Zbook G5 is possibly the best laptop for AutoCAD for less than $1,300.
Best Laptop for SOLIDWORKS: our selection
SOLIDWORKS state their requirements for their program as:
Processor 3.3 GHz or higher
RAM: 16GB/32GB or more
Operating System: 64-bit
Disk space: 10 GB or more
As you can see SOLIDWORKS is more demanding on a laptops internals, this is due to the larger project files and 3D simulations and rendering that are completed with the program. This will require only the highest powered laptops to smoothly run SOLIDWORKS with no problems, here are our picks:
Acer Aspire 5
This laptop is probably the best laptop for SOLIDWORKS if you have a limited budget. The Acer Aspire 5 is probably the cheapest laptop that you will find that can run SOLIDWORKS properly. It has a good Intel i7 processor, with 3.4Ghz frequency, great battery life and a full HD display. For the money, this is a laptop that will do everything you expect it to, without lagging or generating any error codes. It is one of the best selling laptops, thanks to the fact that it is the cheapest reliable laptop that can cope with heavy graphical load and therefore sutable for computer games and CAD.
Razer Blade 15
If you have a couple of thousands to spare, Razer Blade 15 is the best laptop for SOLIDWORKS money can buy. Razer is a gaming-inspired brand that makes top-of-the-range laptops. If you’re budget allows, the Razer Blade 15 may be the ultimate choice when comparing laptops especially for CAD and SOLIDWORKS. It has the latest Intel processor, an aluminium body for keeping it cool under heavy load and a 4k screen. You will not be jealous of any other laptop if you purchase this machine!
Surface Book 3
If you can afford to push your budget a bit further, the Surface Book 3 is the best laptop for SOLIDWORKS with detachable screen. The Surface Book 3 is one of the laptops certified by SOLIDWORKS as being compatible with their software. That not good enough for you? Well it has the latest Intel i7 processor, with a very powerful graphics card, and a hefty price tag to match. This is a premium laptop that can pretty much do everything, you get what you pay for!
So what laptop will you be picking up? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below and if you have any entries to this list be sure to let us know! See you soon!