best laptops for engineering students

5 Best Laptops for Engineering Students in 2020

Last Updated on August 28, 2020 by Karen Maldonado

Choosing a laptop for engineering entails knowledge of engineering software you’ll be using. It also requires research into specific hardware requirements to run the software. This is not an easy task.

Our team did all the research to save you time and help you find the best laptops for engineering students, so you can pick the one that suits your needs.

Engineering students will be running complex software such as AutoCad, Rhino and VRay. These applications demand a lot of computing resources in order to run effectively.

So a good laptop for engineering has to have certain hardware requirements to be able to run complex engineering and design software.

The laptops listed below are our top picks for the best laptops for engineering students, and each laptops follows the expert recommendations and software-specific requirements.

Lesser equipped laptops, may still work but they will be slower and may become obsolete sooner, as software demands change over time.

The best laptops for engineering students at a glance

THE BEST LAPTOPS FOR ENGINEERING STUDENTS AND PROFESSIONALS

Our overall winner

Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Mobile Workstation - best laptop for engineering
(Image credit: Lenovo)

SPECIFICATIONS

  • CPU: Intel Xeon E-2276M six-core
  • Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro T2000 with 4 GB  VRAM 
  • RAM: 32GB DDR4
  • Screen: 15.6 inch Full HD 
  • Storage: 1TB SSD

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Xeon processor
  • Military-grade durability
  • Modern stylish design
  • Slim and light
  • Connectivity
  • Trusted Platform Security

ThinkPad P1 Performance

With an Intel Xeon six-core processor, the Lenovo ThinkPad P1 mobile workstation is built to handle the most demanding computing tasks and complex engineering software.

Whether you’re a student using AutoCAD, or a content creator using demanding visual effects and design software. 

And with the all new NVIDIA Quadro T2000 GPU. the ThinkPad P1  laptop will keep your software applications for engineering that you need for work running smoothly.

With up to 4TB of storage space available, large files aren’t a problem. 

The nice thing about the Lenovo THinkPad P1 is that it includes ISV certification for ArcGIS®, AutoCAD, Creo, Decision Space, McKesson, Revit, SolidWorks, 3dsMax, and more.

Certifications from Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) ensure that your most critical applications will run reliably on your hardware, providing optimal performance and a trouble-free, high-quality user experience.

ThinkPad P1 Display & Graphics

The ThinkPad P1 workstation comes standard with a 15.6″ Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS, anti-glare screen, with Dolby Vision™. You can upgrade to a 15.6″ UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) OLED, touchscreen. In either case you will get stunning graphics that are perfect for design and engineering work.

ThinkPad P1 Design and Build

The ThinkPad P1 is solidly build. The shell is encased in a carbon-fiber and magnesium alloy, and built according to strict military-grade requirements.
 
It is also slim and light weight making the ThinkPad P1 a welcome companion to students.

Another area where the ThinkPad P1 excels is Its discrete Trusted Platform Module (dTPM) which encrypts data and works in conjunction with Windows 10 security features.

It has a ThinkShutter, which is a physical camera cover so you can blocks the lens of your laptop’s camera for your safety and peace of mind. 

It also has a fingerprint reader uses biometrics to log you in easily and also to protect you from spoofing attacks. 

Our runner up

Dell Precision 5540 Mobile Workstation
(Image credit: Dell)

SPECIFICATIONS

  • CPU: Intel Core i9 9th Gen 8 Core
  • Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro T2000 4GB 
  • RAM: 32GB DDR4
  • Screen: 15.6 inch Full HD
  • Storage: 1TB SSD

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Light compact design
  • Connectivity
  • Dell Precision Optimizer

Dell Precision 5540 performance

The Dell Precision 5540 mobile workstations excels in performance under demanding standards. It is very competitive with the Lenovo P1 workstation.

With the latest Intel i9 processor, the NVIDIA Quadro T2000 graphics, 32GB of RAM memory, it blazes through the most complex engineering software.

Performance tuning

What’s unique to the Precision is the Dell Precision Optimizer (DPO) which automatically tunes your workstation’s performance to run specific programs at the fastest speeds possible.

Display and graphics

The precision 5540 boasts of an InfinityEdge display with up to an OLED PremierColor which ensures vivid,  virtually borderless viewing.

You can also upgrade to a UHD touchscreen that features 100% Adobe RGB with 500nits. That translates into a sharp, brilliant screen that is easy on the eyes.

The graphics are powered by an NVIDIA Quadro T2000 with 4GB of dedicated memory.

Design and Build

The Precision 5540 is one of the lightest and thinnest mobile workstations. It has a stylish and compact design. It is cooled with a dual fan system with improved air flow to keep your laptop cool during intense computing tasks.

The Dell 5540 has an abundance of prots for easy connectivity. The Thunderbolt 3 Type-C with x4 PCIe and HDMI 2.0 ports enable 4K video connectivity at 60 frames per second.

Best affordable mobile workstation

HP Z BOOK 15
(Image credit HP)

SPECIFICATIONS

  • CPU: Intel Core i7 Six-Core
  • Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro P600 with 4 GB GDDR5 VRAM
  • RAM: 64GB DDR4
  • Screen: 15.6 inch Full HD Touch
  • Storage: 2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Rugged – MIL-STD 810G
  • Affordable
  • Bang & Olufsen audio
  • HD webcam
  • Long battery life

The HP ZBook 15v gives you high performance at an affordable price. It is perfect for engineering students on a budget.

Performance


The HP Zbook 15v packs a lot of processing power. With an six-core Intel i7 processor, Dedicated graphics, 64GB of RAM and 2TB SSD drive this machine will tackle most 3D engineering software.


It is therefore perfect for engineering students, architects, construction managers.

Display and Graphics


The HP ZBook has a 15.6 inch Full HD touchscreen display.

Powered by NVIDIA Quadro dedicated graphics, the Zbook 15v will handle complex 2D and 3D modeling software with ease.

Design and build

The HP ZBook 15v is a rugged, durable machine. It is built to pass military standard tests including drop, shock and severe environments.

An High Definition webcam is built in. This will allow you to connect on Zoom and other videoconferencing software and work remotely. 


The ZBook 15v has high-quality premium Bang & Olufsen speakers that will enhance your experience. That is a cool feature.

 
msi ws66 mobile workstation best laptop for engineering students
(Image credit MSI)

SPECIFICATIONS

  • CPU: 10th Gen Intel Comet Lake Core i9-10980HK 8 Cores
  • Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 6GB GDDR6 
  • RAM: 64GB (2x 32GB) DDR4 
  • Screen: 15.6 inch Full HD touchscreen
  • Storage: 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Slim and light
  • RTX 3000 graphics
  • ISV certified
  • Security
  • Connectivity

The MSI WS66 laptop is another reliable laptop that is ISV certified in 3D modeling, design, and engineering. It can tackle complex applications from Adobe, AutoDesk, Dassault and other engineering software vendors.

Performance

With the latest 10th Gen. Intel Core i9 processor and powerful NVIDIA Quadro Series graphics, the MSI WS66 is equipped to handle large-scale graphic-intensive applications, whether it is 3D rendering, AI or Augmented Reality.

Graphics and Display

MSI W66 graphics are powered by NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 with 6GB of GDDR6 video memory. With these graphics you are guaranteed to breeze through most 3D applications quickly and in real-time.

The screen is a 15.6 inch Full HD touchscreen.

Design and build

The MSI WS66 is made for the mobile professional engineer. It is ultra-thin and light. The battery is long lasting.

ASUS PROART STUDIOBOOK W700
(Image Credit: ASUS)

SPECIFICATIONS

  • CPU: Intel Core i7 9th Gen
  • Graphics: NVIDIA RTX 3000 6GB GDDR6 Graphics
  • RAM: 64GB DDR4 SODIMM RAM
  • Screen: 17 inch 1920×1200 Display
  • Storage: 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD

WHAT WE LIKE

  • Slim and light
  • NanoEdge display
  • Efficient quiet cooling
  • Anti-glare screen
  • NumberPad
  • Connectivity options

ProArt StudioBook Pro 17 is another laptop that is built to handle any of the engineering applications you can throw at it. It is a  high-performance machine with professional-grade graphics that let you blaze through the most demanding tasks with ease.

Performance

The ASUS ProArt StudioBook Pro 17 is powered by an 9th Generation Intel Core i7 or hexa-core processor designed to handle complex, multithreaded engineering applications. 

Graphics and Display

The ProArt StudioBook is equipped with professional-grade NVIDIA Quadro RTX 3000 Max-Q graphics, with 6GB of video memory. This laptop has a 17-inch NanoEdge WUXGA display which features a wide color gamut and exceptional color accuracy to ensure extra sharp detail and bright, vivid colors. The screen has an anti-glare matte finish so there’s no distracting glare.

Design and Build

The ProArt StudioBook Pro 17 features a dual-function touchpad containing a switchable LED-illuminated numeric keypad for faster data entry. 

 

The laptop is Ultra-thin and light and meets the ultra-demanding MIL-STD 810G military standard for reliability and durabilit.

What is the best laptop for engineering students?

Experts in the field of computers and engineering have compiled the following list of recommended computer hardware requirements.

For the computer intensive applications used by engineering majors, we recommend a laptop computer that exceeds these minimum requirements. The performance of a laptop depends on the processor and amount of RAM installed, as well as Graphics card and other factors discussed below.

Recommended Processor for engineering: 

A 9th or 10th Generation Intel or Xeon quad core processor running at least 32GB of RAM memory.

 Minimum recommendations: 8th or 9th Generation Intel dual or quad-core processor running 16GB of RAM memory.

Graphics chip recommendations

A Graphics card with dedicated RAM capable of displaying resolutions higher than 1920×1080. 
Minimum graphics recommendations: A Graphics card capable of displaying resolutions of 1920×1080 or higher.

Students who will be running graphics-intensive engineering software on their personal laptop computer should consider a video card with 1 GB (or more) of dedicated video memory, This consideration would apply to students who want to run SolidWorks; Machinery Systems students who want to run Creo; ArE/CnS students who want to run AutoCAD, Revit, or other Autodesk software; and CIS students specializing in computer game design. Please note that some video cards may require larger computer power supplies.

You may be thinking those graphics requirements are similar to gaming laptops requirements, and you are right. The best gaming laptops can also handle engineering software, and in addition you can use them for playing video games if you are inclined to do so. But  the disadvantage of using a gaming laptop for college engineering courses, is the heavy weight of gaming laptops as well as the color lighted mechanical keyboards, which can be a distraction.

Storage

1TB or more SSD or Solid State Drive.

At minimum: 512GB SSD.

External Monitor:

A large 27 inch – 32 inch monitor Is helpful, as laptop screens are too small for comfort.

An HDMI adapter:

Useful for connecting to external monitors or projectors.

Our experts picked the top 5 best laptops for engineering students and professionals alike.


What laptop is best for engineering a PC or a Mac

A PC is preferred as the platform of choice when running engineering software. There are still compatibility issues with the Mac operating system. Some engineering  applications (such as AutoCad and others) which  have a Mac version, are not full-featured on the Mac as they are on a Windows PC. Other applications do not have a Mac version and are available solely on Windows. Therefore the Laptop of choice for engineering is a PC laptop running Windows 10 pro.

Can I still use a MacBook for engineering coursework?

The answer is that using a Mac to run engineering software is not recommended.  A MacBook is fine for general use, but is not the best choice for running engineering-specific software, which is mostly Windows-based. 

One way you can use a Mac to run Windows-based engineering software is by installing and running Microsoft Windows on your Mac.  This requires purchasing a separate license for Windows, and installing it on a separate partition on your Macintosh hard drive.  You can then run Windows on your Macintosh computer by selecting Windows when you boot your computer.

Another way to do that is through install third-party software such as Parallel Desktop, to run Windows in a virtual machine environment. Windows will be a “guest” operating system, and your Mac OS will be the host, in this case. 

But This method is not recommended as a solution, because you may still run into performance limitations, especially if you run graphics intensive software, such as AutoCAD or SolidWorks.

Hardware requirements for engineering software

It is always a good idea to check the specific hardware requirements for each software package you will be using on your new laptop.

Here are some specific hardware requirements for popular software used in engineering classes, provided directly from the software developers.

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Last update on 2020-09-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API