Best laptops for computer science students

Let's talk about finding the right laptop to use while you get your engineering or computer science degree.

Engineers like me often run into a problem when they go to college. Many don't think a Macbook is the right choice, or just doesn't have the $999 to throw in the base model 13 "Macbook Air." Where in most professions you can do without, some engineering professions require the use of laptops that meet certain requirements.

The requirements engineers have for the best laptop for computer science are a bit different from many other professions. We don't necessarily care about having the thinnest, lightest, sleekest computer in the room. However, for those less versed in all the PC jargon and less willing to spend weeks shopping, it's easy to spend over a thousand dollars trying to get a nice machine when you can get by with just a few hundred.

With that in mind, I decided to take a look at the requirements that fit most STEM students in terms of usability, preference, and the need to run common software. I personally just needed to buy a laptop myself and as an ME student I felt I had to share the options I had considered for myself as well as other deals available.

I have organized this guide into three categories: computer science, electrical/computer engineering, and mechanical engineering. I put them in order of increasingly powerful computing needs.

Those pricier options on the list (like the $800 Inspiron) are perfect for any content creation needs from graphic design to video editing, as well as CAD and 3D modeling work, and even light gaming. Not only have I created links to the relevant Amazon search filters for these laptops, but I've picked out a few options that I feel like. These are usually particularly good deals for the supplied equipment and well thought out models. I have also filled in a price range that I believe is fair enough to meet or exceed the stated requirements.

The best laptop for computer science

Computer Science laptop specifications are based on which computers can run Eclipse, a commonly used editing platform. Eclipse's rather meager list of specs is proof that even 8 year old laptops don't have coding issues.

  • 13+" (768p min, <= 1080p)
  • Basically, any Intel processor
  • If you will be compiling frequently, go for better processors
  • 3 GB RAM minimum
  • 32GB SSD up to 250+GB HDD
  • Decent battery life
  • Can run Linux (Chromebooks with Intel processors will work)
  • Up to $450

Best laptop for computer science students

These EE/ECE laptop specifications are based on which laptops can run AutoCAD Electrical. This is the most demanding PCB design software I could find and it's still not very demanding. Computer oriented people will have the same coding needs as CS people, as well as the need to use lightweight graphics tools for board design.

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