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Buying any kind of electronics always has crucial decision-making, whether it’s a mobile phone, a tablet or a laptop. We spend so much time using these electronics that durability, robustness, and usability is a necessary criterion that we look into before buying them.
This decision becomes even more critical when you’re buying a laptop as an engineering student. Why? The question is almost rhetorical because the answer is simple- you will be using this laptop for four consecutive years, with an excessive amount of usage. You need a device that can handle the burden in terms of battery, space, and performance.
With the number of varieties available in the market, it is easy to get confused between all the options available. But don’t worry, in this article, we’ll state the ten important factors you should consider before buying that laptop for your engineering course.
Factors To Consider While Buying Best Laptops for Engineering Students
When it comes to portability, size matters. It may not seem as important as the RAM or the type of processor, but once you’ve bought the laptop, you’re stuck with its size and weight. Sometimes, even when the performance of the laptop is excellent, the weight of the laptop makes a regular hassle for you to carry it around, and since you’ll be carrying the laptop for all your projects and tasks, you don’t want sore shoulders every day.
When it comes to the size of the laptop, the three standard sizes are 13.3-inch, 15.6-inch, and 17.3-inch. However, laptops with smaller sizes are still sold by some vendors. These sizes are 11.6-inch, 12.5-inch, and 14 inches.
Since portability is a distinct priority look for laptops that are in between 12.5-inches to 13 inches and weigh between 1 to 2.5 kilograms, I wouldn’t recommend a screen smaller than 12.5. That is because there should be a tradeoff between the size and a screen that’s comfortable to use.
Even for the smaller laptops with 13.3-inch screens, they often don’t support the high-speed i7 processors or graphics card as their 15-inch counterparts. If you’re studying mechanical engineering, specifically you may need to use applications that require high-end visuals and a graphics card would be necessary for better performance.
Apart from the specific sizings, there are different classes that these laptops come in. Ultrabooks are high-end computers trademarked by Intel that feature lighter laptops without compromising on battery life.
Then there are Notebooks which use flat panel technology to produce a screen that is flat and non-bulky. These laptops usually weigh less than 6 pounds.
The third category of laptops is the 2 in one convertible laptop which can pull off being a tablet and a laptop at the same time. They are usually smaller than your other laptops but also are more expensive in comparison.
The final category is for all the gamers; these laptops have high specifications but are usually bulky and larger.
Deciding a size from all these options might be confusing, but once you make that tradeoff between the specifications you want and the size you are comfortable using, this task will become much more manageable.
2. Screen Quality
The quality of the image that shows up on your screen should be in your criteria list. A 1920x1080p resolution gives you a high-quality HD image. While some modern laptops also offer a 4k resolution, this is only recommended if you will be using the screen for designing.
Again for mechanical engineering students who will be using AutoCAD, this resolution may be helpful to you. Otherwise, for computer engineering students, the 4K resolution is an extra cost which could be spent on considering more useful features like processing speed and RAM for running programs.
Also, while looking for screen quality, the resolution isn’t the only factor to be considered. Viewing angles and how the screens perform in broad daylight also affect the quality of the screen and ultimately your work. Screens that use IPS(in place switching) technology will provide better viewing angles as well as perform better in sunlight.
If you can go to a store and check out the screens, you’ll see them in live action, otherwise, read customer reviews on the performance of the screen, and it’s quality to see if it matches your requirements.
If you have used a laptop before, you must be accustomed to using a particular keyboard, and if you are comfortable using it, I’d suggest you look for a laptop with the same keyboard layout. It can be quite frustrating to get accustomed to another keyboard.
For example, the Dell keyboard usually has a longer Ctrl key with space near the arrow keys, whereas a Lenovo or Asus laptop has a smaller control key with less space between the arrow keys. While this may seem like little details, these are the buttons you will use quite often while typing and may irk you every time the wrong key is pressed.
The keyboard should also have snappy responsiveness with comfortable spaces between the keys to help you type without having to look away from the screen. Nowadays you get keyboards that are backlit. This helps you to type efficiently, even in dimly lit environments.
Even for a regular person who plans on buying a laptop, the CPU will be an essential feature to be considered. But for an engineer, this is the heart of the computer. This is where the magic happens. The previous Intel Core i3 and Core i5 have been used as a standard for a long time. Core i3 is found in all basic entry-level computer systems, whereas Core i5 has been the norm for all mainstream computers.
The Core i7, however, offers impeccable multitasking and multithreading of tasks. It offers increased performance and better CPU usage for all your activities.
However, just like every boon has a bane, the i7 processor tends to heat your laptop quickly which may be a concern if you plan on using your laptop quite literally, on your lap for a majority period of your time.
While the Core i9 is available in the market and also provides better performance in comparison to the the Core i7, it is usually preferred for larger systems with complex computational tasks. It is also quite expensive and not particularly useful for an engineering student as the i7 can perform all your tasks at optimum speed.
A RAM is to a computer what a short term memory is to a human. It stores all the temporary data and calculations that will be required by the computer in the future. Hence, the larger the capacity of this memory, the faster your calculations will be.
If you’re an engineering student, you’ll need a larger RAM for better performance. For computer or related fields in engineering, you’ll be running a lot of programs which will require a large amount of computation.
A larger RAM space will allow for faster calculations and hence, higher performance. Look for an 8 GB RAM minimum. There are 16GB and 32GB RAM laptops also available if you require heavy usage and don’t mind spending a little more for efficiency you could go for these laptops.
While mechanical and civil engineering students will need to design in Autocad which requires to store a lot of information before the final model in rendered, hence it is advisable for you’ll also to invest in a larger RAM, even a 16GB one.
While 4GB RAM is still available on some laptops, I’d advise you to not go for them as you will experience some massive lag with these computers.
Hard drives were in constant demand a decade ago for our computers but with so many external devices available for storage and the need for laptops to be sleek and slim has led a decrease in the use of hard drives by laptop manufacturers.
The hard drives are replaced with SSD (solid state drive) technology which provides a lot more speed, runs without making much noise and is embedded in the laptop with a form factor that adds very little weight to a laptop. With the advantages it provides, SSD has become a standard with OEMs for laptops.
You should go for an SSD while buying your new laptop and love how fast the system will boot up and the speed with which your programs and applications will load. However, the only disadvantage to the SSD is that it has limited storage capacity.
The storage space for an SSD is 128GB, 216GB, and the maximum is 512 GB but comes at a price that is equivalent to a 1TB or 2TB hard drive. To overcome this, many laptops provide a smaller SSD to store the OS and its applications and a separate hard drive to accommodate the rest of your data.
If you want a laptop with even higher processing speed, a new range of laptops use NVMe solid state drives that are faster than the regular SSD available but are also more expensive.
If you’re an engineering student, you are probably on a tight budget, so investing in NVMe SSD may not be as profitable when all your tasks can be done efficiently by the standard solid state drives.
7. Battery Life
The big one. While handling electronics how long the battery lasts once fully charged is a primary concern for all of us because no one likes finding a plug point when you’re trying to focus on solving that one error, or your laptop shutting down in the midst of you completing that assignment.
Only if finding the perfect battery life was an easy task. The life quoted by the manufacturers will rarely be applicable in real life.
There are too many factors involved in determining how long the battery will last: the number of applications running in the background, screen resolution, screen brightness, internet connectivity, whether you’re transferring large files, running a program that requires a lot of processing power or continuously using your graphics card.
The list goes on. To get a fair estimate of the battery life, look at the Watt-hour rating or milliamp-hour value of the battery. The larger these values are, the better your battery will perform.
The operating system your device uses also constitutes the amount of battery it will use. The OS that runs on the Chrome OS offers a better battery life than the Windows OS.
The MacOS currently provides a battery life that is twice as much(with an average around 12 hours) as the others in the market(with an average of 6 to 8 hours), but the Apple MacBooks are also more expensive in comparison to the others
Battery life also includes how long your battery will serve you before you have to replace it. A lot of times, the battery is easily damaged and won’t charge at all. There’s no exact way to know this before buying the product, but you can read previous customer reviews to get a clear idea.
To ensure better battery life, you can also take preemptive measures such as overcharging your laptop. Don’t leave it overnight on charging.
Similarly, once you put it on charging don’t keep unplugging the device till its fully charged. Keeping the device on Hibernate or Sleep drains more battery even when your laptop is idle. Avoid using these modes unless you have work running in the background.
8. USB 3.0
In a lot of older laptops, the ports used are USB 2.0. If you’re buying a new laptop, stay away from these. The USB 3.0 is the new standard for USB ports. In case you don’t know what these are, which you should if you are studying engineering, they’re ports that let you connect external storage devices or keyboard or mouse to your laptops to transfer data and have better usability. All new laptops have at least a couple of these on them.
The USB 3.0 provides approximately 10 times the speed of its predecessor 2.0 which means the data transfer is significantly higher with 3.0. Most peripherals require USB 3.0 to function and provide best performance. You can go one step ahead and buy laptops having USB 3.1, which provide a data transfer rate of 10 gigabits, that is double of what 3.0 provides.
If you’re an overachiever, you can also go for the Thunderbolt Type C USB. It provides an unbelievable throughput of 40 gigabits.
9. Fingerprint Reader and TPM
The fingerprint scanner has become quite a standard for keeping your mobile devices locked up. But some laptops also provide a fingerprint scanner which significantly offers better protection and privacy than a regular password which can be easily hacked.
Engineering student or not, we keep our personal, professional, and academic information on our laptops and ensuring that the system isn’t hacked (even by a friend playing a prank) should be a priority.
No matter how careful you are, the longer you use the laptop, the higher the chances are of it being dropped. If you’re anything like me, these chances are doubled. Even if you don’t drop it, the laptop is going to have scratches and dents from continuous use. For this reason, it is of utmost importance that you choose a laptop built with sustainable material.
You get laptops that are both dust and water resistant, some specially built for brutal educational environments. While this may not be on the top of your checklist, you can still have a look at the quality of the build along with the features it provides, because really what’s the point of all the features if your laptop is broken?
Finding a laptop that checks all these features is quite improbable, especially when you’re working a budget. The key is to keep in mind the most important factors that you require and make a tradeoff with the rest of them.
If you’re still confused and want to know exactly what specifications you should check, here’s a list of 10 of the best laptops for engineering students available on Amazon that you could order right now!
Top 10 Best Laptops For Engineering Students 2020
1. Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, 1.8GHz Dual-core Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD)
The Apple MacBook Air weighs only 1.25 kg, comes with a 16GB memory and an SSD that is upgradable to 1.5TB. It uses the Intel eighth generation i5 processor, has the Intel 6000 graphics card and is only 15.6 mm wide. The MacBook Air also comes with a 4k pixel resolution which offers ultra HD image and video quality.
It has a battery life of up to 12 hours. It uses the Thunderbolt 3 USB C and delivers a speed of 40 Gbps, twice of its predecessor Thunderbolt 2. The cable is also reversible, which means no matter how you insert it, it’s always the right side up. It provides a Fingerprint ID for unlocking your devices and your protected documents. It has a responsive keyboard with backlit features for individual keys and a mouse pad which is responsive to multi-touch.
- Long battery life
- It’s an Apple luxury product that has the finest hardware
- Reliable machine – MAC OS experiences no lag in comparison to Windows OS and does not require anti virus
- Ambient light sensor that adjusts brightness automatically
- Performance is lower compared to premium laptops
- Compatibility issues if you’re shifting from Windows systems
- Can transfer data only through Apple allowed applications
2. Dell Inspiron 5370 Intel Core i5 8th Gen 13.3-inch (8GB/256GB SSD/Windows 10 Home/MS Office/Silver/1.50kg)
The Dell Inspiron 5370 weighs 1.5 kilograms and has a 13.3-inch widescreen. It uses the Intel eighth generation i5 processor and uses the USB 3.1 ports for data transfer. The processor speed is 3.4Ghz and has a 6MB cache.
It has the Intel UHD 620 graphics card and a storage SSD of 256 GB. The operating system used is Windows 10 and a display of 1080 pixels along with a backlit keyboard. The device also comes with a Fingerprint touch ID.
- Excellent performance
- High durability
- Light and portable
- Backlit keyboard
- Fingerprint ID is fast and effective.
- The average battery life is about 5 to 6 hours
- Not a good choice for heavy graphics usage
- Sharp edges
- Poor camera
3. Asus TUF FX570 Intel Core i5 8th Gen 15.6-inch FHD Gaming Laptop (8GB/1TB Hybrid HDD (FireCuda)/Windows 10/GTX 1050 4GB Graphics/Black/1.96 kg), FX570UD-E4168T
The Asus TUF FX570 contains an Intel eighth generation i5 processor and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 GPU. The laptop weighs 1.9kg and has a gamer-centric red backlight for the keyboard. The screen resolution is 1920×1080 pixels, and the processor speed is 1.6Ghz. The RAM is 8GB with the graphics card size being 4GB. The laptop has two 2.0 and two 3.0 ports.
- Value for money
- Build quality is good as it uses aluminum surfaces
- Screen quality is good and has anti-glare capabilities
- The comfortable keyboard makes typing easy
- Sound quality is average
- The heat generated while using the graphics card is a lot
- The performance of the graphics card degrades when the laptop is not plugged in.
- No Fingerprint sensor
- Poor camera quality
4. Lenovo Ideapad 530s Core i5 8th gen 15.6-inch Full HD Thin and Light Laptop (8GB RAM/512GB SSD/Windows 10 Home/ MS Office H&S 2016/2GB Graphics/Mineral Grey/1.69kg), 81EV00BLIN
The Lenovo Ideapad weighs 1.69 kg and is 16.9mm thin. The screen size is 15.6 inches wide with 1920×1080 pixel resolution. It uses the Intel eighth generation i5 quad-core processor having a speed of 1.6Ghz.
It has 8GB DDR4 RAM with 2GB Nvidia GeForce MX150 Graphics card and a 512GB SSD for faster performance. It uses USB 3.0 ports and has a keyboard with backlight features.
- The 512 GB SSD only storage is sufficient and due to which the downtime is only 3-4 seconds.
- The anti-glare screen offers better viewing angles
- Powerful graphics card
- Good sound quality
- Backlit keyboard
- The battery life is around 5 to 8 hours.
- Keyboard has no number keypad
- Poor camera
- No Fingerprint sensor
- The speaker could be louder
5. Asus VivoBook 15 ( AMD Quad Core R5-2500 /8 GB/1TB / 15.6″ FHD/ Windows 10 ) X505ZA- EJ274T ( Dark Grey /1.6 kg)
The processor is AMD Quad-Core R5-2500 which offers a speed of 2.0Ghz and the AMD Radeon graphics card. It has a hard drive of 2400 rpm with a storage space of 1 TB, and the RAM size is 8GB. The battery contains I1 gram of lithium and offers 42-watt hours.
- Sleek and slim, easy to handle
- Good RAM and internal storage
- The USB port of type C is included
- Good battery life and charges fast.
- No numeric keypad
- Plastic body
- No SSD technology used hence slower boot up time.
- The display is not IPS technology.
6. HP Pavilion x360 Core i3 8th Gen 14-inch Touchscreen 2-in-1 Thin and Light Laptop (4GB/256GB SSD/Windows 10/MS Office/Inking Pen/Natural Silver/1.59 kg), 14-dh0107TU
The HP Pavilion uses an Intel eighth generation dual i3 processor with a speed of 2.1 GHz with a 4MB cache. It has a screen size of 14 inches with a resolution of 1366×768 pixels with an SVA anti-glare micro edge Touchscreen WLED display. It has a 4GB RAM with Intel UHD 620 Graphics. The SSD technology used has a size of 256 GB.
It has a convertible touchscreen and weighs 1.59 kilograms. It comes with a USB 3.1 port which provides better data transfer rates but does not contain a CD drive. The laptop comes with pre-installed Microsoft office and lifetime warranty.
- 2 in 1 laptop: 360-degree feature
- Value for money: good laptop for a budget under 40k.
- Uses FHD technology which provides good visuals. The Inking Pen is responsive, and touch quality is good.
- Portable as it is lightweight and easily usable as both a tablet and a laptop.
- SSD drive makes the boot-up time of 3 to 4 seconds
- The screen does not provide a full HD experience for 1080 pixels.
- No IPS technology, so viewing angles are minimal. Only one specific angle provides the best view.
- The speaker is not loud enough to be able to play to an entire room.
- The laptop heats a lot while plugged in.
7. HP 14-inch Core i5 8th Gen FHD Laptop (8GB/1TB HDD/Win 10/Integrated Graphics/MS Office/Natural Silver/1.43 kg), 14s-cs1000tu
This HP laptop uses and eighth generation Quad Core i5 processor with a 1.6Ghz base frequency and a processing speed of 3.4Ghz with a 6 MB cache. The screen is 14 inches wide and uses IPS technology which provides full HD.
The screen resolution is 1920×1080 pixels and has a WLED backlit display. It has a 1TB hard drive storage with an 8GB RAM and an Intel UHD graphics card. The laptop is super lightweight, weighing only 1.43 kg. It has a 41 watt-hour Li-Ion battery.
- Slim and easily portable
- Sharp display with full HD resolution.
- Average battery life of around 6 to 7 hours
- Value for money
- Slower boot-up as SSD technology is not used
8. Asus Chromebook 15.6″ HD NanoEdge Display with 180 Degree Hinge Intel Dual Core Celeron Processor, 4GB RAM, 32GB eMMC Storage (Silver)
The Asus Chromebook has a 15.6-inch screen and a screen resolution of 1366×768 pixels with anti-glare coating. It uses the Intel Dual-Core Celeron N3350 Processor with a 2MB cache and a processing speed of 2.4Ghz. It has a 4 GB RAM and a 32GB internal storage. It has USB type C and type A ports, which both provide good data transfer rates.
The Chromebook gives you access to all the Playstore applications and gives you access to 100GB storage on Google drive with automatic backup facility. It uses the Intel HD graphics card and operates on Google’s OS known as ChromeOS. The battery provides 38 watt-hours.
- Linux and Playstore extensibility available. You can also back up all of your data on Google drive.
- The keyboard is responsive and well laid out
- Value for money
- Lightweight and portable
- Boot up time is fast (up to 7 seconds)
- The battery life is only around 5 hours
- The display is grainy and does not provide good HD quality.
9. HP 15 Ryzen R5 15.6-inch FHD Laptop (8GB/1TB HDD/Win 10/Vega 8 Graphics/MS Office/Natural Silver/2.04 kg), 15g-dx0001au
The HP 15 Ryzen R5 has a 15.6-inch screen with 1920×1080 pixel resolution and weighs 2.04 kg. It has a WLED backlit display and brightness of 220 nits. It uses a Quad-Core Processor which operates on a 2 GHz base processor speed and provides up to 3.6 GHz burst frequency along with a 6 MB cache.
It has an 8 GB RAM which is expandable to 16GB, an AMD Radeon Vega 8 Graphics card and storage space of 1 TB through a hard drive.
The laptop has one 3.1 USB port with the other being 2.0. It has a backlit keyboard, dual speakers and provides wifi and Bluetooth connectivity. The battery capacity is 41 watt-hours.
- Value for money
- Good configuration
- Build quality is good
- Weighs more in comparison to other laptops
- No IPS technology used hence viewing angles are limited
- Applications take longer to start as no SSD technology used for the operating system.
10. Lenovo Yoga 520-14IKB Touch Screen Laptop (8th Gen Core i3-8130U / 4GB / 1TB /35.5 cm (14 inches) Full HD Touch Screen / Windows 10 Home) Mineral Grey
It uses the Intel eighth generation i3 processor with a processing speed of 2.2Ghz. The size of the RAM is 4GB and has mechanical hard drive storage of 1 TB. It has an integrated graphics GFX processor
- Value for money
- 2 in 1 touch screen
- Picture and sound quality is good.
- Integrated graphics Coprocessor
- No IPS technology, so viewing angles are minimal.
- The bootup and application loading time is higher as SSD technology is not used.