Best laptop for engineering: Guide & 5 Best laptops

I used to be one of those people that took A LOT of time to find a good laptop. I researched every option, quantified every aspect I could and compared every option in a spreadsheet. I am making it sound as if I don’t do it anymore – actually, I still follow this process for my major purchases since it is the best way. But now, I know what I need to focus and what is non-essential. The same process can be applied when searching for the best laptop for engineering.

In this post, I’ll outline the key qualities and metrics you need to know to get the best deal possible. At the end, I’ll list out the top 5 options that I’ve found out by comparing every laptop on my extensive list of hottest and best selling models.

The laptops are geared towards the “classic engineering”: electrical, mechanical, civil etc.

Engineering laptop comparison
Engineering laptop comparison

What is needed to get the best engineering student laptop?

For the most part, you can’t expect your university to give precise guidelines to an engineering laptop. Even if your college website gives a description of what laptop you need – they make it sound as if any laptop that has a screen and a processor made in the 2000s should be just fine. At the same time, some websites recommend workstation notebooks which are way over most students budget. These machines are needed only if you’re already a professional. But if you get a professional workstation now and you do not intend to fully utilize it right now – it’s a waste of money that could be put better elsewhere.

Performance and speed

Major requirementProcessor

Here are the processors you should expect at every price range:

Price range Processors
$300 – $700 i3, i5 processors:
i5-4210U, i5-4300U, i5-4210H, i3-5010U, i3-6100U, i5-6200U
$700 – $900 i7 U processors:
i7-5500U, i7-6500U
$900 – $1,600 i7 HQ processors:
i7-4712HQ, i7-4720HQ, i7-5700HQ, i7-6700HQ
$1,600 and up i7 high-end HQ/HK processors:
i7-6820HK, i7-4770HQ

Remember that the higher you go on the processor ladder, the shorter battery life you’ll get. That’s why you might not want to go up to the most powerful processors in i7 x800 or x900 lines.

2 processors that dominate the laptop market right now are:

  • i7-6500U – ($700 and up) above average performance and good battery runtime
  • i7-6700HQ – ($960 and up) very good performance and shorter battery runtime

Any processor in i7 series and some higher-end i5 processors is fast enough for engineering students.

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Ultimate guide to 5 Best laptops for Law School

law-student-notebookSo you are searching for the best laptop for law school? The good news is that you do not need to spend a lot for an OK computer. But if you want the best one for your needs and wallet – there is only a handful of options I can recommend.

In this page, I will cover everything you need to know about getting a laptop for law school: essential parts of a laptop you should focus on, what is not so important and what are my top 5 picks ($170 to $2100) for any law school student.

What are the requirements for law school laptop?

I have isolated 3 major requirements that would make any laptop a solid choice. Then I have 5 minor requirements that would make sure the notebook we are getting is well-suited for law school and student life in general.

What is essential for the best laptop for law school?

Major requirement Storage

I think, SSD is my most used abbreviation. And for a good reason. Even now I get a bit excited when seeing how quickly every app starts up and how little time I need to find a missing document. SSD is the cure from my trauma of slow computers and hard drives breaking down since Windows 98 era.

If you have been living under HDD rock and you do not know what an SSD is – I can break it down to a few very basic rules of thumb. SSD is a different type of a storage drive that offers a tremendous improvement in overall speed and general experience when using a computer. In the past ~5 years, these drives have become a lot cheaper and viable option compared to their older HDD counterparts. And now, these SSD drives are becoming the standard. Yet, there still are many notebooks in every price range that do not have an SSD. In short, getting an SSD over HDD is be the investment to a computer’s performance you could make.

To understand what you should expect from a laptop, here’s my guideline after comparing ~130 laptops on the market:

  • Under $700: regular hard drive
  • $700 to $1000: small SSD storage (250 GB)
  • $1000 and up: medium SSD storage (500 GB) with possible additional 1 TB HDD

Depending on a laptop’s size, there are various options to upgrade a laptop in the future, so do not worry too much to get this requirement one a bit wrong. Unlike processors or graphics chips, storage drives are easy to replace or upgrade, especially in large 15-to-17-inch computers. With smaller ones, I would be more cautious and I would try to get my preferred setup already built-in.

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The 5 Best laptops for Online College

right-laptop-for-online-coursesChoosing a laptop for online college is a bit easier than searching for one for a regular college. That’s because you don’t need to stress its weight and battery life as much. And anyways, a good laptop for online college is just a good laptop overall. Obviously, there are some variations between various courses, but overall, there are a few clear guides on choosing the right one no matter what you’ll be studying. In the next 5 minutes, I’ll lay out the most important bits of the best laptop for online college and which options might fit you best.

What am I looking for in the best laptop for online college?

The key to finding any great laptop is outlining what exactly should be on that laptop. These requirements will be a guiding light and our measuring stick when searching for the best laptop for online college.

For online college, there are 3 main requirements – the essentials – and 2 additional nice-to-have sets of specs that we’re looking for in a quality notebook for our online studies.

Major requirements for a Online College laptop

Major requirement Good processor

In most cases, I’d simply recommend getting an Intel Core i7 processor. Of course, that’s just a general starting point. There’s more to it than just a CPU series.

But since I don’t know how much you’re willing to spend on a laptop, I’m not going to make Core i7 as a requirement. These processors start to come into play as we pass $720 mark. It’s quite interesting how close to no laptops at all below that price point come with an i7 and how many notebooks just over $720 have it.

For the most part, i7 models start from $720 mark
For the most part, i7 models start from $720 mark

To make it a more general rule of thumb for 2016, I’ll round it up to $750 mark:

  • laptops over $750 should have Intel Core i7
  • laptops under $750 should have at least 5-th generation i3/i5

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What is the best laptop for Computer Science student? (2017 August)

Notebook for computer science studentsI have been a computer science student for about as long as I’ve been blogging about laptops – I’m close to finishing my 2nd year. In that time, I’ve seen what laptops suit this course the best. Sadly, I bought my laptop before the course started and in a way, I’ve made some mistakes in my judgment – but I’m here to make sure you don’t make them.

August 2017 update. I’ll go in-depth on what type of laptop you should be looking for and at the end, I’ll give a few of top-notch suggestions that I’d pick if I’d be buying a laptop today.

Without further ado, let’s dive in.

So what are we looking for?

Major requirement Powerful processor

As a computer science student, you’ll probably have to code in several languages:

  • Java
  • Some scripting language (PHP/Python/Ruby)
  • Some functional/logic language (Prolog/Haskell)
  • Likely some C/C++/Objective-C

In all of these cases, your laptop performance will not limit the execution of your code. Yes, it might take a second longer to compile or 5 seconds longer to start a Java server but that’s not a good enough reason to stretch your budget for a better processor.

Even though a basic mid-range 2 core processor should suffice when compiling your code. So why am I edging you towards a fast processor? There’s one important reason on why you should aim for a higher-end CPU if possible. Responsive and snappy workflow actually makes you a better and a happier programmer.

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In-depth guide to 5 Best Laptops for Revit

What is the best laptop for Revit?The upside of Revit is that it doesn’t require a powerful graphics card and that makes Revit a lot more suitable for laptops. Knowing that I’m going to guide you through the requirements for a good Revit notebook and my picks for the best laptop for Revit.

November 16th update. Updated CPU, GPU write-ups, added MSI GL62 6QF and Dell XPS 15, updated the spreadsheet (290 laptops compared instead of just 58)!

What are we looking for?

I’m very glad that Autodesk put in the effort to outline various levels of Revit hardware/software requirements instead of just putting up a list of minimal requirements. This allows us to understand which parts scale better than others and where we should put our focus on.

Major Requirements for the best Revit laptop

Processor

Autodesk makes it very clear that the processor should be #1 priority:

“Highest affordable CPU speed rating recommended.” – Autodesk

Unlike other visual software (AutoCAD, Solidworks etc.), Revit does not need a powerful graphics card for rendering the drawings.

So what do I recommend?

For an entry model under 950$ – a higher-end Intel Core i5 model is a necessity. Anything above that should have a 5th-7th generation “i7” processor. In some rare cases (covered at the end of the guide), there are laptops under $900, that come with a fast i7 H-series CPUs.

Exact models, I am talking about are:

  • Intel Core i7-6700HQ, i7-4720HQ, i7-4710HQ or equivalent for 950$+ models
  • Intel Core i5-6300HQ, i7-6500U, i7-7500U for anything under 950$

Memory

As per usual, 8 GB of RAM should be your starting point and 16 GB is the magic spot where you don’t have to worry about the memory (for the most part).

Right now, 1100$ is a good line to draw for what amount of memory is acceptable. Any laptop under 1100$ can have 8 GB of RAM and anything above must come with 16 GB on board.

It does not matter whether it’s DDR3/DDR4 – the DDR4 potential isn’t yet fully used due to higher memory access time which is just as important as the memory frequency itself. In short, don’t worry about it.

Solid State Drive

For Point Cloud interactions, it is required to have either a 10,000+ RPM hard drive or a Solid State Drive (SSD). That leaves laptops with only 1 option – SSD. SSDs have fallen dramatically in price and apart from budget laptops – should be the standard package.

Now you need to draw a line on how much storage you need – 250, 500, 1000 GB? Most likely, something like 250/500 SSD + 1 TB HDD is enough. In that case, your OS, Revit, and projects you’re working on should stay on the SSD while older projects and general media can be moved to a spacious HDD.

There are some well-rounded laptops that don’t come with an installed SSD. In that unfortunate case, I recommend keeping 100$-200$ extra for 250/500 GB SSD (I’ve had the best experience with Samsung EVOs, but there’s plenty of good brands to choose from).

Minor Requirements for the best laptop for Revit

We’ve got down our 3 major requirements – processor, memory, and storage. Now any leftover budget should go towards making sure it lasts long, it has a great screen to look at and it can perform well when using other professional software apart from Revit.

Screen

You’ll be looking at it throughout the day (and once in a while – throughout the night), so we might as well make sure it looks good.

A good screen is essential in 3 simple ways:

  • it allows working during bright sunlight without straining your eyes
  • it helps you see your work as it should be seen (as it will be in real life and how your clients will see it)
  • it makes your work a bit enjoyable

Every screen can be broken down by its resolution, contrast, brightness and color gamut.

When talking about the resolution – go for Full HD (1920×1080). There’s not much reason to go above Full HD, especially when Revit developers do not recommend going above 150% DPI scaling. That simply means, that fonts and buttons in Revit will not scale properly at high resolutions.

Contrast should be 800:1 or more, average brightness should be 280 cd/m or more (which is ~20 cd less than usually advertised maximum brightness). Good contrast and brightness are mostly important when working outside or near a bright window.

Finally, color space/gamut is not usually mentioned with other specifications but some reviewers measure it. In that case, 90%+ sRGB coverage and 60%+ Adobe RGB coverage indicate a wide color space. That means that the screen can produce vivid colors. In some cases, you might need to manually calibrate the screen to minimize its color bias – tendency to be a bit too blue/green or red.

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What is the best laptop for high school 2015

Every student has different needs and requirements for a laptop. Some may need a quickly booting notebook for their basic school tasks while others will sacrifice the all-day battery for more muscle under laptop’s lid. But even with this wide range of demands some laptops shine through as being more suited for fellow students than the rest. I split laptops in 3 groups: budget, portable laptops and gaming machines. No matter if you’re a high school freshman or a senior – you’ll find a great option here.

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