Best laptops for engineering students in 2021 Engineering student working at a laptop

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Students searching for the best laptops for engineering need a lot of power. But, they need a few other things as well. Most matriculating minds on their way back to school need to find that sweet spot between performance and price, and should look at laptops ideal for college. Engineering students, however, need powerful graphics cards, as well as other capable innards, to be able to fully utilize programs like CAD and CAM, not to mention handle computational tasks that require a lot of computing power.

All that power needs to come in a reasonably priced package that also has great battery life and is lightweight. While they might not compare pricewise to cheap laptops, they need to be within a college student’s budget. Additionally, the best engineering laptops should be able to last the whole day on a single charge as well as be easy enough to lug around from class to class.

We’ve done the hard work for you and gathered the best laptops for engineering students here, some of which are under $1,000, just in time for back to school season. Since we've tested these notebooks, rest assured that you’re getting quality, regardless of your pick.

Here are the best laptops for engineering

Dell XPS 15

(Image credit: Dell)

1. Dell XPS 15

The ultimate laptop has arrived

CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics – NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti | RAM: 8GB – 64GB | Screen: 15.6″ FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge Non-Touch Anti-Glare 500-Nit – 15.6″ UHD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit Display | Storage: 256GB – 2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe

Amazing speakers
Beautiful display
Comfy keyboard
GTX 1650 Ti is a little weak

The Dell XPS 15 is, without a doubt, one of the best laptops for engineering students to hit the streets this year. 

Combining staggering power in a stylish thin and light chassis, this laptop doesn’t hold back when it comes to internals and features that improve your computing experience overall. 

Among those amazing features are a gorgeous bright display with 500 nits of brightness, an extremely comfortable keyboard, impressive speakers, and a terrific trackpad. We’re not saying that this laptop is perfect, but it’s certainly the best laptop for engineering students right now.

Pixelbook Go

(Image credit: Google)

2. Google Pixelbook Go

The best Chromebook and laptop for engineering students

CPU: Intel Core m3 – Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 615 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) or 4K LCD touchscreen | Storage: 128GB – 256GB eMMC

11-hour battery life
Amazing ‘Hush’ keyboard
The best Chromebook
No biometric login
Chrome OS only

The Google's Pixelbook Go is the best Chromebook money can buy right now, and it's also a fantastic laptop for engineering students. 

Coming with a more affordable price tag than its predecessor, the Pixelbook, Google's latest Chromebook still packs plenty of the premium features the original came with, including an amazing battery life, and one of the best keyboards we've used on a laptop.

Sure, it doesn't use Windows 10 – instead it runs Chrome OS – but you can also install Linux on this thing as well, which makes it an even more versatile laptop.

It features some impressive specs for a Chromebook, which ensures that Chrome OS positively flies on this device, and puts its performance on par with many of the more expensive Windows laptops and MacBooks.

Apple Macbook Air

(Image credit: Apple)

3. Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

A stunning laptop for all uses

CPU: Apple M1 | Graphics: Integrated 7-core /8-core GPU | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch (diagonal) 2,560 x 1,600 LED-backlit display with IPS technology | Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD

11-hour battery life
Lightweight for carrying
Silent to use
Hardware refresh rather than new design

The Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020) isn't just the best laptop Apple has ever made, it's one of the best laptops for engineering students. 

Thanks to the revolutionary ARM-based Apple M1 chip that powers the new MacBook Air (Apple has ditched Intel for these new laptops), this is a stunning achievement: a thin and light laptop that offers great performance, while also offering incredible battery life. 

Easily managing over 11 hours on a single charge, this is a laptop you can easily carry around with you in the office or outdoors. Its screen is gorgeous and the new and improved keyboard means you can happily work away for hours on this thing. 

Asus Zephyrus G14

(Image credit: Asus)

4. Asus Zephyrus G14

Leading AMD’s charge to mobile dominance

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 4800HS | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti — RTX 2060 | RAM: Up to 32GB | Screen: 14-inch Non-glare Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS-level panel, up to 120Hz – 14-inch Non-glare WQHD (2560 x 1440) IPS-level panel, 60Hz | Storage: 512GB / 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0

Best battery life in a gaming laptop
Excellent performance
Thin and light
No webcam
Fans can get loud

The Asus Zephyrus G14 may be designed like a gaming laptop, but it’s proven itself a more than capable all-around laptop. 

Whether you are serious about your gaming or need a powerful laptop for productivity or content creation, this Asus laptop delivers incredible performance as well as an amazing battery life, a fast screen, and a thin and light chassis that makes it super portable. 

It’s not the cheapest option out there, but you have to pay a premium for quality. And, if you’re an AMD fan, you’ll certainly appreciate the processor under its hood.

HP Spectre x360 (2021)

(Image credit: HP)

5. HP Spectre x360 (2021)

Powerful performance in a head-turning design

CPU: 11th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3″ FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS BrightView micro-edge WLED-backlit multitouch – 13.3″ diagonal 4K (3840 x 2160) UWVA BrightView micro-edge AMOLED multitouch | Storage: 512 GB – 2TB SSD

Powerful Intel Whiskey Lake processors
12-hour battery life
Thin, light, and portable
More powerful than some users will need

The HP Spectre x360 (2021) 2-in-1 laptop had a big refresh for 2021, and the boost in specs, with 11th-generation Intel Core processors and Intel Iris Xe graphics, along with the impeccable 2-in-1 design and pristine gem-cut chassis, means that this version is at the top of our best laptops for programmers list.

The HP Spectre line has always consisted of stunning devices. So, when we say that the Spectre x360 takes things to another level, that should mean something. Not only is this one of the most beautiful laptops on the market right now – with its gem cut design and sleek profile, but it’s tough on the inside. 

HP fitted this with impressively long battery life, which means that you’re getting one of the best laptops on the market, hands down. As such, it’s also one of the best laptops for engineering students right now.

Dell G5 15 5590

(Image credit: Dell)

6. Dell G5 15

Gaming laptop that delivers a killer combo

CPU: 9th Generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 – RTX 2060 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 15.6 inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS 300-nits – 15.6 inch FHD(1920 x 1080) 300nits IPS Anti-Glare LED Backlit Display, 144Hz | Storage: 128GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD + 1TB SATA Hard Drive – 512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD

Perfectly balanced feature set
Strong gaming performance
Great battery life
IPS panel is merely OK
Confusing configuration options

You’ve got a killer combo in the Dell G5 15, a gaming laptop that combines affordability with a solid gaming performance, an amazing battery life and the optional 144Hz refresh rate display. 

If you’re looking for a great value laptop, this one’s a winner, and not just for gamers everywhere. This is a great option for professionals and students as well, especially those who often rely on graphics-intensive applications and 3D design software. 

The fact that lasts up to 10 hours (based on our tests) on a single charge, a plethora of ports, and a chassis that has a more subtle gaming aesthetic are only welcome extras.

Microsoft Surface Book 2 (15-inch)

(Image credit: Microsoft)

7. Microsoft Surface Book 2 (15-inch)

One of the best 2-in-1 laptops to date

CPU: 8th Gen Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 15-inch 3240 x 2160 PixelSense Display | Storage: Up to 1TB storage (SSD)

Crazy long battery life
Massively powerful
Excellent cooling
No up-firing base speakers
Small trackpad
Very pricey

What’s a better laptop for engineering students than one that’s actually designed for it? Microsoft developed the Surface Book line with graphical design and creative tasks in mind. 

It's even built it to support Surface Dial and Surface Pen to make your creative experience more effortless and all the more immersive. Of course, this laptop boasts some pretty powerful specs, robust enough to support casual gaming, as well as a long battery life that will last you up to 17 hours on a single charge. 

Not impressed yet? Well, that excellent cooling system should round out this package nicely.

Dell XPS 17 (2020)

(Image credit: Dell)

8. Dell XPS 17 (2020)

A brilliant 17-inch Ultrabook

CPU: Up to 10th Generation Intel Core i9-10885H | Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GDDR6 with Max-Q | RAM: Up to 64GB DDR4-2933MHz | Screen: 17.0″ FHD+ (1920 x 1200) InfinityEdge Non-Touch Anti-Glare 500-Nit – 17.0″ UHD+ (3840 x 2400) InfinityEdge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit | Storage: Up to 2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe

Great screen
Long battery life
Powerful
Not the most portable
Lack of ports

For a 17-inch laptop, the Dell XPS 17 (2020) is impressively thin and light, especially when you consider the fact that it boasts powerful specs for that top-notch performance that content creators require. 

Among the best 17-inch laptops out there, this is practically the whole package, touting a big, gorgeous screen, fantastic battery life that will last you the entire day and gorgeous design on top of everything else. 

That’s without even mentioning its mid-range price of entry, giving the MacBook Pro 16-inch a good run for its money.

ThinkPad X1 Extreme Mobile Workstation

(Image credit: Lenovo)

9. ThinkPad X1 Extreme Mobile Workstation

Great power, massive price tag

CPU: up to 8th-generation Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti with Max-Q design | RAM: up to 64GB | Screen: 15.6” FHD (1920 x 1080) – 15.6” 4K UHD HDR (3840 x 2160) multi-touch | Storage: up to 1TB SSD

So much power
Glorious 4K screen
Great user experience
Heavy
Expensive

If you’re looking for a workhorse and you have the funds for it, then Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Extreme mobile workstation is the ultimate machine to shell out a lot of cash on. It has several configurations on hand, fitting different needs and budgets. 

But, at its most basic, it’s already pretty powerful, rocking a solid graphics card in a robust carbon-fiber and aluminum package that will survive any field work. 

There’s no doubt that this mobile workstation earned its spot in our best laptops for engineering students list.

Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition (2020)

(Image credit: Razer)

10. Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition (2020)

The best laptop for engineering students with a flexible budget

CPU: Intel Core i7-10875H | Graphics: Nvidia Quadro RTX 5000 | RAM: 32GB DDR4-2933MHz | Screen: 15.6″ OLED 4K Touch 60Hz, 100% DCI-P3, factory calibrated | Storage: 1TB SSD

Extremely powerful
Premium design
Stunning display
Very expensive
Overkill for many people

If you want the most powerful laptop ever made and money is no object, then the Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition (2020) might just be the best laptop for engineering students such as you. 

This gorgeous, smart-looking mobile workstation will give some of the most powerful desktop PCs a good workout, running for their money, showcasing prowess in complex tasks like 3D animation and video rendering. 

That’s while delivering a delicious 4K touchscreen display with 100% DCI-P3 color gamut that’s more than enough for creative pros and accomplished multi-taskers. Of course, it’ll also set you back a hefty sum. But, if you’ve got the dough, this has all the serious firepower you need.

How to choose the best laptop for engineering students?

So, what exactly makes for the best laptops for engineering students? Since you're likely to be running complex programs like AutoCAD, you're definitely going to need a laptop with enough power to run them.

We recommend a laptop with the latest Intel Core i5 or Core i7 chips, and at the very least, 8GB of RAM – though 16GB is even better.

Many of the programs engineering students rely on are also graphically intensive programs – especially CAD, MATLAB and Solid Works, which are used for 3D modelling and video rendering. This means that it's crucial to have a laptop with a dedicated graphics card – rather than an integrated one powered by the processor.

This is why the best gaming laptops are also ideal choices for engineering students, since they offer that kind of graphic power, and the fact that they can handle games for unwinding after classes is just the cherry on top.

A large screen with a high resolution is also advisable, and if you're going to be working on site a lot, Finally, it would be a fine idea to take a look at some of the rugged or well-built laptops that are built to withstand accidents on work sites.

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