10 Best Laptops For Engineering Students – 2023 Software (+Hardware Guide)

When engineering students start an electrical , mechanical , computer , civil , software , chemical , aeronautical or aerospace engineering program their first assumption is…

“For my engineering classes, Im going to need the most powerful laptop I can afford”


You don’t need to a laptop with the latest CPU 13th gen Intel CPU or the latest NVIDIA RTX 4000 series. 

In fact…

As long as you buy ANY laptop with “dedicated graphics”, you’ll be able to run ANY engineering project on your laptop.

I will PROVE this to you with benchmarks and by showing what the typical engineering curriculum looks like.


If you are an actual engineer, then yes you MAY need to buy very expensive hardware IF and ONLY IF you work in the 3D CAD department and even then….

CAD software will be the most hardware demanding app for engineering students and even the integrated GPU in this Lenovo Ideapad  has no issues using viewport. It has dedicated graphics but I disabled it to prove that even without it it works just fine.

Truth is, engineering students  run 3D CAD projects in school maybe 4 times in the last two years and the size of those projects do not require expensive hardware. Even a 650 dollar laptop as shown above does fine.

Besides CAD design, What kind of software engineering students use?

Electrical & Computer Engineers: programming languages like C++ and circuit simulators like SPICE. They MIGHT run 3D models in AutoCAD and if they do they’re very small and need  nothing more than a laptop with a recent CPU (Core i3 or Ryzen 3 might be fine as long as they’re recent CPUs). 

Mechanical & Civil :  lots of programming too . However, 3D CAD design gets more complex and they go beyond AutoCAD. Mechanical, aeronautical  androbotic engineers use  SolidWorks & ANSYS (3rd-4th year) while civil uses Revit , 3DS Max and the like. All of them however, at least in school, are limited to models with low # of parts (small , 100-300). This means entry level dedicated graphics (550-700 bucks) will do.

If you want to check what the actual curriculum of an engineering program looks like, the software, the kind of projects, the classes go to the last section. There you will see ALL THE COURSES and what software each usually uses and finally see yourself WHY you don’t very expensive machines in engineering school 

Recommended Hardware for Engineering Students & Engineers

If if its not power, then WHAT should you focus on when buying a laptop for engineering school?


 The hardware demanding 3D CAD projects are FEW. When using software, you’ll be mostly be programming (which requires nothing more than a 400 dollar laptop).

None of those assignments are hardware demanding.

What’s REALLY going to take a toll on you are the math, engineering and physics classes during your first 3 years. 

How does a portable laptop help?

Well , it will make sure you bring it with you  EVERYWHERE so you don’t waste time texting and watching TikTok.

Check out the front page of the site and you’ll find useful software and app  to boost productivity and blocks time-wasting sites and apps

Q: OK, good point, so I can pick any laptop I want even a 250 dollar laptop? 

Of course not. You don’t want a buy a cheap 200 dollar from wallmart that will lag regardless of what you do.

For the following hardware recommendations, I’m going to break down engineers in two categories:

2D engineers: electrical, computer, software, chemical and industrial engineers.
3D engineers:
mechanical, civil and aeronautical

CPU (Processor)

2D engineer: Any CPU released within the past five years. Feel free to go higher if you can afford (without compromising weight)

Core i3 1115G4, Core i3 1215U, Core i3 1315U, Ryzen 3 4300U, 3 5300U, Ryzen 3 7320U 

3D engineer: At least a Core i5 or Ryzen 5 CPU released within the past 3 years.

Core i5 1135G7, Core i5 1240P, Core i5  1235U, Ryzen 5 4500U, 5500U*, Ryzen 5 7530U .
 The more recent the CPU the better.

*For two reasons: better integrated graphics & the higher the clock speed + extra cores will mitigate the lack of “dedicated” graphics.


Integrated GPUs can run relatively small 3D projects with zero issues. You’ll only lag somewhat when you start working with 200-400 part models. That’s when dedicated GPUs come in handy.

2D engineer: No need for “dedicated” graphics, the “integrated” graphics (in the CPU) will be plenty fast for 3D and 2D work. 

3D engineer:  Going for the most recent CPU means you’ll get the most recent thus fastest INTEGRATED graphics which should be plenty fast for the SMALL 3D projects in AutoCAD, SolidWorks and ANSYS*.

Now, there is a chance you’ll deal with BIGGER 3D projects depending on your curriculum.

If that’s the case, you can still run them with integrated graphics but a dedicated graphics will give you ZERO lag when doing so. You only need a 2-4GB vRAM dedicated graphics card though.

*MX250, MX350, MX450, MX550, 1050GTX, 1650GTX, 3050Ti, 4050 RTX

Note: Im crossing out those that have similar performance than integrated graphics. All green ones are good to go, the blue one is overkill but still a good investment.

What about ‘workstation’ GPUs? Like Quadro? FirePro?

Those are only useful for working engineers. If you’re an engineer reading this, check out laptop #10. Even if you’re an engineer, there’s only a small chance you’ll find that one useful though. 

RAM & Storage

8GB: If you my advice on CPU & GPU, you’ll automatically get 8GB or 16GB. Plenty of memory to multitask with 3D modes, IDE for programming, Office,  and all the internet tabs you’ll need.
256GB: This is the bare minimum found on laptops made recently. If you’re specializing in 3D CAD models, you may need 512GB due to the large number of 3D CAD files you’ll need to store.

Top 10 Best Laptops For Engineering Students & Engineers

Since there may be all types of engineers reading this, I made sure to specify which type of engineer will find these laptops useful. 

  This means it’s ideal.

  This means it’s overkill but still useful.

  This means it MAY lack power for large 3D CAD projects. Read description.

Since most of you don’t want to spend anything over 800 dollars, I’ll go over the most powerful and ideal laptop for engineering  you’ll find under 800. It can be used by working engineers too. The only problem is it won’t exactly be portable. If you want portable , you either up the price or give up the power, we’ll get to those laptops after this one.

1. Lenovo Ideapad Gaming 3

Best Laptop For Engineering 

  AMD Ryzen 5 6600H


   RTX 3050Ti 4GB vRAM

  512GB PCIe SSD

  15” FHD 1080p IPS 120Hz


  5 hours

  Electrical , Computer , Chemical , Software
  Civil, Mechanical , Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineers

If you’re an engineering student, be sure that this laptop will be bullet proof for ANY project from ANY course from ANY department. That’s right, ALL engineering students should have no issues running pretty much ANYTHING with this one.

The truth is that it is a OVERKILL for 2D engineers but you are welcome to buy it if you are willing to put up with the extra weight. 

Now, you’ll find several models with these specs, ranging from 650 to 750. Definitely not as expensive as a 3000 dollar workstation laptop! 

As a matter of fact, it’s also useful for MOST working engineers working in a 3D CAD design department as long as the models remain relatively large.

A more bullet proof for actual working 3D engineers would be the verison shown below which has a 4050RTX though:

 Performance: 3050Ti 4GB vRAM + Ryzen 5 5600H

Let’s talk about the laptop being featured here.

If you browse around for laptops, you’ll find that 650 bucks will only get you a 1650GTX GPU with a slightly older CPU (AMD Ryzen 5th gen). They’re not a bad choice but the specs here (both the CPU & GPU) are a massive upgrade, the extra CUDA Cores (from the GPU) and extra clock speed (CPU) makes viewporting through large models smoother. Of course GPU renderers and CPU renderers found in software like SolidWorks and ANSYS also benefit from the extra stats.

Thus if you have around 650-700 dollars, there’s no WAY you can miss a 3050Ti GPU and a 6th gen Ryzen, 12th or even 13th gen Intel CPU. I’ll post some alternatives soon if this one runs out of stock. 

What about cheaper laptops with dedicated GPUs ?

The following are cheaper and weaker GPUs (in order of performance):

MX150, MX250, MX350/450 940M ,1050/1050Tiand Radon Pro 5XX GPUs, 1650GTX

Except for those in red, all of these are GOOD choices too (for 3D engineering students , still overkill for 2D engineering students). Those in RED are dedicated GPUs with vRAM but the problem is that they’re performance is slightly LOWER than  the performance “integrated” GPUs found on cheaper laptops so they offer no advantage for the extra cost.

The rest of these (whether they have 2GB or 4GB vRAM) will work jsut fine for school with the 1650GTX being the most powerful (hence expensive), all of them ideal for 50-200 part 3d models (solidworks or ansys) which is typically seen in an engineering curriculum.

Now, if you are SPECIALIZING or taking ELECTIVES COURSES in 3D modeling ( you want to design CARS, tools , complex devices) then you HAVE to get at least a 4GB vRAM GPU like the 3050Ti RTX.

If parts step into 500-1000 then you will also need a 4GB or a 6GB vRAM GPU (if you want to viewport with ZERO LAG , that is), you can find more details on this post which goes into depth about how 3D CAD software like Solidworks uses GPU resources.  

Alternatives: 4GB vRAM & 6GB vRAM GPUs

While there are 100s of 4GB vRAM or 6GB vRAM laptops, these are the ones that have the best specs in the 650-800 dollar price range. If you decide to pick a laptop out of this table (because the featured one is not available in your country), it’s not going to be the end of the world if you pick one that has a slightly older CPU or less RAM/SSD storage, you can always upgrade SSD/RAM AND CPU differences between generations although may be significant, it’s not going to be a deal breaker especially if you have the same dedicated Graphics.

Link GPU CPU Display Storage Price
Ideapad 3050Ti R5 6600H FHD 256GB 702
Acer Nitro 5 3050Ti i5 12500H FHD 256GB 765
HP Victus 1650GTX i5 12450H FHD 256GB 714
HP Victus 3050Ti i5 12500H FHD 512GB 739
Acer Nitro 3050Ti i5 12500H FHD 512GB 758

Note: if you are 3D engineering student, you don’t have to pick the most expensive ones. If you are an actual engineer, you may be better off with the 4050Ti which has 6GB vRAM.

2. Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Pro

Best Laptop For Engineering 

  Core i5 11300H


   MX450 2GB vRAM

  512GB PCIe SSD 

  16” QHD IPS (2.5k resolution)

  4.2 lbs

  5 hours

  Electrical , Computer , Chemical , Software

  Civil, Mechanical , Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineers


This laptop has a MX450 which is the bare bone minimum to run small 3D CAD models with virtually zero LAG in SolidWorks and ANSYS. It is still overkill for 2D engineers though, if you are a 2D engineer you’re better off investing that cash on laptop without the graphics (cheaper) that might be lighter (more portable). For example, the following laptop is pretty much this very same laptop without the dedicated graphics:

 Performance: Core i5 11300H + MX450 

Regardless of what your concentration is (electrical or mechanical, etc), all engineers need to deal with programming more so than 3D CAD design or 2D CAD design.

There will be a few courses in 3D or 2D CAD but the assignments and examples are so small that even a laptop WITHOUT a dedicated graphics will run them no problem.

In order for this to be true though, you need to grab a laptop with a MODERN CPU and at least 8GB RAM (not vRAM), with 16GB RAM being ideal. If you do this, you WILL NOT LAG when using viewport even if you run Solidworks.  

Now this laptop has BOTH and on top of that has a DEDICATED GPU which yes it’s not the best one (in fact, the bare minimum) but you bet it will outperform even the most recent integrated GPUs. Be it circuit design, plans or 3D models of tools, a 2GB vRAM GPU will handle it no problems.

You don’t have to buy this laptop if you’re a 3D engineering student though, you can just settle with the cheaper option shown above too.


If you’ve come across similar laptops you’ve probably noticed they’re much cheaper (as low as 500 or even 450) , so is it that am I trying to convince you to buy an overpriced laptop?


Look at the specs, again. 

Not only do you have a “H” CPU stands for high performance instead of the “U” low voltage slower with less cores CPU but what’s most remarkable is the DISPLAY.

 16 inch+QHD resolution:

Your productivity will be multiplied, literally 2 fold with this display, because the extra resolution and the slightly bigger size (despite being portable) will give you a MASSIVE amount of extra screen space

What you can do you with that extra screen space, you’ll be able to program MUCH faster (as you’ll be able to see bigger chunks of code at the same time), you’ll also get a better view of whatever your drawing in CAD software, you’ll also get to see the full steps of whatever math problem you couldn’t solve. In other words, there’s no need to scroll down as much.

Also, having a bigger resolution means more icons , tools and toolbars right next to your software so you don’t have to reach out for a drop down menu.  There’s many more useful things a bigger display brings to the table for an engineer. So after portability, THAT should be your main concern. As a minimum a FHD display and ideally a QHD display.

From here onwards we’ll go over PREMIUM laptops that have this beautiful and useful display and much more, they’ll be expensive so if you’re on a budget SKIP to laptop #8 and #9

3. Surface Laptop Studio

Best Portable Laptop For CAD Engineers

  11th Core i5 / Core i7

  16GB-32GB RAM DDR5

  NVIDIA GTX 3050Ti/ Intel Xe Graphics


  14.4”  2400 x 1600

  3.83lb – 4lbs

  8 hours

  Electrical , Computer , Chemical , Software
  Civil, Mechanical , Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineers

The Surface Devices (Surface Pro, Surface Book, Surface Laptop Studio – the ones that can be converted into a tablet) are the MOST POPULAR LAPTOPS CHOSEN BY ENGINEERING STUDENTS.

ALL of them are PORTABLE, have AMAZING DISPLAYS, LONG BATTERY LIFE, can be USED to take notes AND you can CONFIGURE the power (CPU & GPU) to whatever you desire.

If you’re interested in the note-taking feature more than anything else, consider buying the Surface Pro over the Surface Book and Surface Laptop Studio, all of them can be turned into tablets for note taking but it’s just more comfortable with the Surface Pro (it’s a 1lb less heavier).

 Performance: 3050Ti + 11th Core i5

I’ll over the Surface Pro later, let’s dig into the hardware of the Surface Studio.

It’s very important you read this section if you want to get the best bang for your buck because IT’s EXPENSIVE and CANNOT BE UPGRADED AFTER PURCHASE.

First of all, if you’re a 2D engineer, yes you can use this laptop but you’re better off with the Surface Pro 9 so check out the next laptop and ignore this.

If you’re a 3D engineer, know that you can choose to have either a Core i5 or Core i7 (as of mid 2023, it is limited to 11th gen Intel Core , even though the 13th gen was released). You can also choose the GPU to be either INTEGRATED 

reason why I’m posting it here is because it has both the GPU & CPU you need to run 3D CAD software and actually enough power to run the kind of projects you usually see at work (again if you work as 3D CAD engineer), for school purposes both the CPU & GPU are kind overkill but it’s the only model with a dedicated GPU. 

As a student, you’ll NEVER run out of GPU power for any 3D model you come across, the 4GB vRAM GPU is overkill however since this is the latest model, it is expensive. If you can’t afford this model but still want a super portable laptop with a 4GB vRAM GPU, you could go for the Surface Book models which have been discontinued but they still have modern CPU & GPUs with about the same power as this mode.

In fact, some of the surface book models (the surface book 3) has a 6GB vRAM dedicated GPU which , like I said, the 4GB vRAM GPU is way more than you would need a student so the 6GB vRAM is more suitable for actual engineers.

 Display & Design

This is the model with the largest display (~15”) but it has the same resolution as any other Surfac Device which is close to QHD (a bit more) . You already know the advantages to your workflow when you have this much resolution but let me just remind that this is a 2-1 device too, that extra resolution is going to give you way more canvas than any tablet device even the iPad Pro has less screen size.

This is also the reason why it’s the heaviest of all surface devices. 

I’d recommend you buy this laptop if you are a ‘3D’ engineer who wants to work on 3D CAD projects on a laptop rather than using the labs or a desktop. If you are a 2D engineer, consider the Surface Pro we’ll talk about next.

4. Surface Pro 9

Best Portable Laptop for Engineering

  12th gen Intel® Evo Core™ i5 or Core™ i7


  Intel Xe Graphics


  13” IPS ‎2880 x 1920


  +10 hours

 Electrical , Computer , Chemical , Software
  Civil, Mechanical , Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineers*

*ANSYS/SolidWorks/Civil 3D/Revit projects and assignments can run on the Surface Pro provided that they’re undergraduate level .
*CREO, CATIA projects will need the SurfaceBook 3 though these two is rarely used in engineering 

The Surface Pro does not have a dedicated graphics but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be useful for engineering students. In fact, the Surface Pro is the most popular device among engineering students, even more so than the Surface Book and Surface Laptop Studio (both which have dedicated graphcis).

Don’t believe me, check out reddit posts and read what engineering students have to say about the Surface Pro. If you find a single complain about how useless it’s for school and its not up to the hype blah blah blah,  let me know in the comments below and i’ll give you a $150 Amazin Gift Card. 

One of the reasons, its popular (as we discussed before), it’s much lighter and truth be told, there isn’t much difference in design , battery and portability between the newest Surface Pro9 and the older versions so you could in theory go for the older versions to save a LOT of money and still get a lot of the perks of the Surface Pro (tablet, display, portability , battery).


Before we get into the functionality and all the extra stuff you can do with the Surface Pro, let’s talk about the biggest concern people have with the Surface Pro first…


The main concern is the lack of dedicated graphics (dGPU), there’s no 1050, 1650GTX or even a MX450 on the Surface Pro models.

However, if you pick any of the recent versions (7, 8 or 9) you’ll get a recent CPU either a 10th or 11th gen CPU which automatically comes with a powerful “integrated” graphics card.

Now that integrated graphics is in no shape or form BETTER than dedicated graphics. However, because the projects seen in engineering school are usually small, it should be able to handle projects in Solidworks, AutoCad and similar CAD software no problem.

You MAY lag a bit when you use viewport (low fps as you rate a model) but that doesn’t make it impossible to work and since you only have to deal with 3D models a couple of times during your four or five years in school (unless you specialize in 3D CAD design while in school), it seems like a good trade off.

RAM: 8GB vs 16GB vRAM

That’s all assuming you get a model with either 8GB or even better 16GB RAM. I’d advice you to get a model with 16GB RAM because that will MASSIVELY speed up viewport in 3D CAD software.

How? Well since the GPU is integrated and uses the CPU’s memory “RAM” to process graphics, the more EXTRA RAM you have the better it will be at process graphics. Having 8GB RAM may work but it all depends on how much memory left there is after you install and run all the software in your Surface Pro, most likely, 8GB will quickly be taken over by background processes and Windows itself leaving enough but not “the ideal amount of RAM” for the integrated GPU to do the heavy lifting in CAD software.

 Display & Design

As we discussed before, having a high resolution display is a HUGE productivity boost and the Surface Pro 9 has almost QHD resolution even though it’s just a 13” device.

So despite the screen size, 3D CAD models will be easy to work with as the extra resolution brings up a lot of extra space.

Programming will still be a breeze as you’ll be able to see larger chunks of code at the same time. 

As for the design, it’s much THINNER than Surface Book And Surface laptop studio and much more compact so if you are willing to use the note-taking feature, it’ll feel like using a physical notebook. For math classes, however, and probably physics classes, since there’s a lot of equations, steps and so on, I’d advice you to use a physical notebook instead. The Surface Pro is fine for all other classes but you really need to focus and be able to write small lines of mathematical equations to become good enough to pass those classes.

5. ASUS ZenBook 14 14X

Budget UltraBook for Engineering Students

  Intel Core i5-13500H


  Intel Iris Xe Graphics


  14.5” 2.8k resolution OLED 


  10 hours


  Electrical , Computer , Chemical , Software
  Civil, Mechanical , Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineers*

If you don’t need the note-taking feature but still want something powerful and portable, then you have to look for “ultrabooks”.  Ultrabooks, generally don’t have a dedicated GPU (no graphics), if you pick the recent ones, they’ll have more or less the performance of the Surface Pro.


If you look at the CPU is actually more powerful than the Surface Pro so you bet 3D CAD models will run here. The only REAL downside is that you CANNOT upgrade RAM and you’ll be stuck at 8GB RAM UNLESS you order from the official site and have it customized to have 16GB.

Either way, the 13th generation CPU is significantly FASTER than the 11th gen Core i5 you’ll find on the Surface Pro 9 and most ultrabooks so it should offset the lack of RAM when using viewport in 3D CAD software.

If you are a 2D engineer, this is OVERKILL, nonetheless, it’s still damn useful because the BATTERY life is LONG (10 hours), its VERY THIN (as thin as a MacBook Air) and very PORTABLE (2.5lbs). You can carry it with you as if it were a tablet and program or code wherever you feel like it. 

If you cannot afford this model but still want the portability and battery with the same power, look at older models of the ASUS ZenBook. If you are a 2D engineer, they’re ALL good choices. If you are a 3D engineer, you MAY struggle when running CAD Software but that will only be a few instances during your stay in school (check the last section)

6. MSI Creator M16 16

Best Gaming Laptop For Engineering Students

  Intel Core i7 13620H

  32GB DDR5

   NVIDIA RTX 4060 8GB vRAM 140W


  15” full HD 144Hz IPS


  4 hours

  Electrical , Computer , Chemical , Software
  Civil, Mechanical , Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineers


This is a gaming laptop. I know many engineering students (most students actually) are looking for a laptop both for gaming and engineering.

If you have the cash and want a laptop that can run pretty much ANY game at epic settings, you want a laptop with eithier of the following GPUs:

What exactly do GPU- based renderers use? The CUDA cores as shown in the table:

Name Cores vRAM Speed
1060 1280 6GB 1670
1660 Ti 1536 6GB 1590
2060 1,920 6GB 1680
3060 3584 6GB 1780
4050 2560 6GB 2370
4060  3072 8GB  2370 

Now ALL of them can handle pretty much ANY 3D CAD project you come across in school and even projects during your first two years as working engineering will run OKAY with this machine too (if it lasts you that long). Don’t believe me? the 1660Ti is a pretty old GPU (released in 2016) it’s been 7 years and IT’S STILL popular and useful for most people.

  Performance: 4060RTX

Although most GPUs in that table are found on laptops much cheaper than the one featured here. The 4060RTX will run the HIGHEST settings on every game even games like CoD and it’s NOT that expensive (1300 dollars approx) compared to 3060RTX or 4050RTX laptops.

Obviously, this GPU is OVERKILL for pretty much any 3D CAD modeling software regardless of size. Nonetheless, if you focus on 3D CAD design (by taking many electives or working on a senior project that requires a very complex model), it may come in handy too.


The display is 16”  and has QHD  resolution so you’ll be able to play games at QHD resolution (epic settings) with no sweat. The 4060RTX is pretty much like a 3070RTX (8GB vRAM can handle very high resolutions no problem). Of course, this also becomes useful for programming and 3D CAD modeling.

The only problem with gaming laptops with this much hardware and the big display is that they’re usually VERY heavy. But not this model though, I think 5lbs is a reasonable weight if you’re a guy and if you’re not commuting to school everyday (but rather living in college).

If you do have to commute to school everyday and STILL want to bring with your gaming laptop to school, then you want to look at 15” gaming laptops as shown below, they’ll be weaker but also much cheaper.


7. MacBook Pro M2 Max

Best MacBook For Engineering Students

  M2 / M1 Pro Chip 12 or 10 Cores

  8GB-96 GB RAM DDR5

   Pro Chip 12-38 Cores

  512GB-2TB SSD

  16.2” 3456 by 2234 resolution  120Hz

  4.8 lbs

  +10 hours

 Electrical & Chemical & Software and Computer Engineers
  Mechanical, Civil, AeroSpace, Aeronautical

You may be surprised to go to an engineering class and see MANY students using a MacBook Pro despite reading online that MacBooks are a NO-NO for engineering.

So what’s the truth?

Truth is , they are useful for engineering if you are willing to compromise a few things. It is a NO-NO for real engineers though.

What do you compromise?

Well, Macbooks, ALL MACBOOKs, can run MatLab & AutoCAD & LabView with no need to do any tricks. You just click install and it’s done. 

The problem starts with Circuit design (DAQ Boards) software which are usually (but not all) incompatible with OSX. And virtually ALL engineers have to take one or two courses that will use them and if you’re an electrical or computer engineer, you BET you’ll use them a lot more for personal projects and maybe senior design. 

The second issue is 3D CAD software like Solidworks, Catia & Creo do not have a Mac Version.


You have two ways to solve this issue:

  1. Install Parallels: Parallels is a software that lets you run windows on top of OSX. You can run parallels whenever you need to run Windows only software.
  2. Buy a pre 2020- MacBook: MacBooks made before 2020 have Intel Chips and BootCamp, both let you install Windows NATIVELY, so you can switch between OSX and Windows with a restart.

Why go this far? What is the advantage of a MacBook?

The most commonly used programming languages for engineering school (Java, Python, C++) are natively installed in a MacBook. You can easily access them through the terminal just one click away. They’re built like tanks so you bet they’ll survie 5 years at the very least , they have insanely long batteries, they’re portable (even if you choose the 16” models).


Now what about performance?

Rest assured if you install AutoCAD on a MacBook released within the past 3 years, it’ll run ANY engineering project with Zero issues. So , even though they may or may not have the same dedicated graphics found on windows laptop, they will perform just as well (newer models have what’s called “unified memory” which has the integrated GPU sharing the same memory as the CPU).

Now if you are a 2D engineer, you can PICK whichever rocks your boat. If you are a 3D engineer, you can also do the same actually, because I DO NOT  recommended you MacBooks for personal 3D CAD projects (that are too large) or projects outside of your curriculum. 

Now although I am posting the latest M2 Max MacBook Pro, you don’t need to buy this version. You can go for any of the other versions shown in the table

But of course if you are rich and don’t mind lugging a 16” MacBook Pro , feel free to buy the M2 Max MacBook Pro.

SoC CPU Cores GPU Cores RAM
M1 4 Effiency cores & 4 Performance Cores 7 16-32GB
M2 4 Effiency cores & 4 Performance Cores 10 16-32GB
M1 Pro 2 Efficiency cores & 6 Performance cores 14 16-32 GB
M1 Pro 2 Efficiency cores & 8 Performance cores 14 16-32 GB
M1 Pro 2 Efficiency cores & 8 Performance cores 16 16-32 GB
M1 Max 2 Efficiency cores & 8 Performance cores 24 32-64 GB
M1 Max 2 Efficiency cores & 8 Performance cores 32 32-64 GB
M2 Pro 2 Efficiency cores & 8 Performance cores 19 16-32GB
M2 Max 2 Efficiency cores & 10 Performance cores 38 32-96GB


OSX: Unix System – Computer & Electrical Engineers!!!

If you are an electrical or computer engineer (focusing on programming), you MAY want to consider a MacBook over any other machine. This is a MUST have for anyone that wants to make it big in the programming business, and now with Data Science : AI & Machine learning taking over industry. It is the best time to pick a MacBook.

If you start using  it now, the transition is going to be much smoother (when you start working). The workflow with OSX is just much faster and the fact that terminal is one click away and loads in less than a second means your productivity will be higher .

Also this is an UNIX SYSTEM (OSX) which means all LINUX packages and software are FULLY compatible with MacBooks. If you are to choose a Windows laptop, you’d still have to install Linux through a VM AND switch to Linux when you want to use special packages.


The only issue with the MacBooks is the cost. They are ridiculously expensive if you go for the latest and most powerful models but like I said you don’t have to. Like I said any of the versions will do fine.

If you find the recent MacBooks too expensive, there’s nothing wrong grabbing the older models (you can go as far as 2015). Just keep in mind the following:

2D Engineer: You can grab ANY MODEL, literally ANY. Even the 4GB MacBook Air. It would be better to grab the MacBooks with USB ports though (2015-2019).

3D Engineer: You can also grab ANY Model too as long as you’re willing to use the computer labs for 3D CAD work. Also I recommend you grab a MacBook with a USB port if you’re going for older models. 

8. Lenovo ThinkPad L13

Best Cheap Laptop For Engineering Students

  Intel Core i3-1215U


  ‎RX Vega 3


  15” FHD 

  2.78lbs lbs

  10 hours


 Electrical & Chemical & Software and Computer Engineers
  Mechanical, Civil, AeroSpace, Aeronautical

 All laptops so far are at least 600 bucks and some like the MacBook go as high as 1500 dollars. So it’s time to talk about cheap laptops for engineering.

This is one for example, the cheapest laptop I’ve come across on the internet. Let’s talk about the performance and what you’re compromising here.


Core i3 and Ryzen 3 are bottom of the barrel CPUs BUT they’re STILL useful for ALL engineers especially 2D engineers and those focusing on programming. They are plenty fast, use less energy (which means more battery) and they make laptops CHEAP.

What makes this laptop special is basically the CPU, although it’s a Core i3 , it’s the latest : 13th gen and I’m still surprised it’s under 400 bucks.

The only thing though that will lag with this laptop is probably 3D models in Solidworks. AutoCAD work will run just fine (even with medium sized models) but Solidworks (3D CAD software for 3D engineers) uses more the GPU than the CPU for viewport and this laptop has an integrated GPU.

 8GB vs 16 RAM:

You can mitigate the LAG in viewport if you do the upgrade to 16GB RAM. It will make ALL the difference with 3D CAD software. Now this model does not come with 16GB and I don’t advice you buy laptops with Core i3 that have 16GB RAM either, it’s best for you to do the upgrade on your own. It is pretty easy and if you’re scared about doing it yourself then just take it to the IT department and have them do the upgrade for you (probably takes 5 min).

Budget laptops: No dedicated GPU

Just a heads up: you’re not going to find dedicated graphics under 500 dollars, no matter how old the GPU is, they’re not selling it for 500 bucks or less.

They usually start at 550 dollars (see the second laptop on the list).

Another warning is to look after display: most of the laptops under 500 do have FHD (1080p) resolution displays but NOT all of them and if they’re not listing in the description it is likely that it has not a FHD. This is a HUGE deal breaker because anything less than FHD will hurt your productivity. 

Link CPU RAM Display Price
2022 HP Notebook R3 3250U 8GB HD 379
HP Home R3 3200U 8GB HD 329
Lenovo L13 i3 1215U 8GB FHD 399
Ideapad Flex R3 4300U 4GB FHD 352
2022 HP 14” R3 3250U 8GB FHD 349
Acer Aspire 5 R3 3350U 4GB FHD 369
Acer Aspire 5 i3-1115G4 4GB FHD 275
HP 14” i3 1115G4 4GB FHD 299
Acer Aspire E3 R3 7320U 8GB FHD 299
Lenovo 2022 i3 1115G4 8GB HD 384
ASUS VivoBook i3 1115G4 4GB FHD 269
Lenovo Ideapad i3 i3 1115G4 8GB FHD 379
My advice is to up your budget a bit (399 dollars) and buy the laptop featured here because it’s ALSO a thinkpad, we’ll discuss what THINKPAD means in the next review though the following laptop will be many times more expensive, both are THINKPADs. My recommended BEST CHEAP alternatives are highlighted in the table above

9. Lenovo ThinkPad E16

Best Lenovo Laptop For Engineering Students

  13th Gen Intel i5-1335U

  16 GB RAM DDR4

   Intel Xe Graphics

  512GB PCie NVMe SSD

  13.0″ FHD IPS 

  4.34 lbs

  10 hours

 Electrical & Chemical & Software and Computer Engineers
  Mechanical, Civil, AeroSpace, Aeronautical

Probably one of the most, if not the most, popular for engineers.

You’ve probably come across the name “ThinkPad” on engineering forums.  Historically, they’ve been popular for the following reasons:

  • Customer support. Te best customer support & warranty after Apple.  
  • The thinkpads (T series) are built like tanks and they can last as long as MacBooks (~8 years) despite drops, accidents and everyday stress. 
  • Ports: all sorts of useful ports for engineering are natively installed in Lenovos. No need to buy dongles, adapters, etc. Plus there are MANY ports not just a couple.
    This is extremely helpful for circuit boards and testing other types of devices in school or work. 
  • Trackpads and Keyboards are of HIGH QUALITY just like the MacBooks.
  • Also offers seamless compatibility with Linux distros. What I mean is that when you install a Linux Distro , every piece of hardware will run and be compatible. This isn’t the case for all laptops, although they may run Linux they’ll have one or two pieces of hardware (sound or bluetooth) malfunctioning (when running Linux!). This isn’t the case with Lenovo ThinkPads.


Unfortunately, the Lenovo ThinkPads always LACK a dedicated GPU and that should tell you right off the bat that the average engineer does not need a dedicated GPU. Only those working in 3D CAD modeling departments will need it. You don’t need it for programming, designing 2D plans or testing devices. 

Now if you want to run 3D CAD models on a thinkpad (small to medium models) it is possible to do so with no lag as long as you make sure to get: a recent CPU (Either 5th gen Ryzen and 11th gen Intel and above) and 16GB RAM.

10. MSI Creator Pro X17

Best Workstation Laptop for Engineering

  Core i9-13980HX

  128GB DDR5 RAM

   NVIDIA Quadro RTX Ada 5000 16GB vRAM


  16” 144Hz UHD  

  10.00+ lbs

  1 hours

Last but not least the kind of laptop you’ve come across before landing on this page.
This is a workstation laptop, it’s called workstation because it has “special” dedicated graphics “GPU”.
It’s said to be tailored for 3D modeling and it is true but for MOST engineers, actual working engineers, they will not find the “special features” these have useful. Even if they work with 3D CAD modeling software, these features are too niche to be useful for most engineers.
Now, if you’re student, this is OUT OF THE QUESTION, YOU DO NOT NEED TO BUY THIS. So who needs to buy this kind of laptop? When does this laptop become useful?
  • When working with very  lage models done on SolidWorks, CATIA, CREO or ANSYS with  projects with parts in the range of 1000-5000 .
    • Special drivers and plugins can be unlocked with workstation GPUs which increase performance and reduce miscalculations (lag & artifacts).
    • Since these GPUs are designed for ‘floating point calculations’ (this is the type of calculations of the physics of 3D simulations ), they are LESS likely to crash, lag , produce glitches when using viewport, give you incorret shadings, etc. They will still happen but much much less often.
  • If you’re already working for a company and despite buying the latest and best gaming laptop you still have lag when using viewport . Then the fact that this is made specifically for 3D CAD software will mitigate lag (it might not get rid of it but it will make it less likely to happen).
    • I’m talking about lag when using viewport on a very large model with parts in the 1000-5000s.
    • If you’ve lag or erros with a non workstation laptop and you were not working with large models, then that probably can be fixed by updating drivers or forcing the OS to use the dedicated GPU (some will use the integrated by default which obviously causes lag).

Do note that engineers working in the 3D CAD business will be fine with non-workstation laptops that have gaming GPUs like the 4060RTX we went over. It is very rare for an engineer to need this type of machine


If you’ve made up your mind and want to buy a workstation laptop, you have to be aware of a few things otherwise you’ll waste thousands of dollars:

  • Be very careful when shopping for workstation GPUs. Having a workstation GPU doesn’t mean they’ll automatically outperform all other non-workstation laptops with gaming GPUs. For example an outdated workstation GPU like the P520, M1200 or P1000 is more expensive than a 1650GTX laptop but it isn’t going to give you better performance.

Below you can see what the most recent workstation GPUs are and what their “consumer” GPU equivalent is. In other words, an RTX A2000 will slightly outperform a 3050Ti. One costs 2000 dollars and the other is 700 dollars.

Workstation GPU Consumer Equivalent Cores/Shaders Clock Speed vRAM
RTX 3000 2070RTX+ 1280 1380 6GB
RTX 4000 2070/2080 2560 1560 8GB
RTX 5000 2080RTX+++ 3072 1350 16GB
RTX A2000 ~3050Ti 2560 1200 4GB
RTX A3000 ~3060RTX 4096 1560 6GB
RTX A4000 ~3070RTX 5120  1560  8GB
RTX A5000 ~3080RTX 6144 1695   16GB
RTX A5500 ~3080Ti 7424  ??? 16GB

Does this mean all workstation GPUs are useless? Not necessarily but yes. I would only recommend you buy those workstation GPUs that have 16GB vRAM because they will SURELY outperform all other regular GPUs with similar vRAM. 

vRAM is really the #1 most important factor when buying a GPU for 3D CAD modeling software. So when all things are equal, the workstation GPU will significantly outperform a much less expensive gaming GPU with the same vRAM.

Recommended Computer Specs For Engineering Students

We’re going to go over a typical engineering curriculum, take example projects, revisit the software used for said project and talk about the hardware required for it. 

Before we get to that though..

The Engineering Department

I would check your engineering department’s website and head over to the IT section.

Computer Labs

Chances are, no in fact, I am 100% sure there is at least TWO labs which have dozens of computers available for use with all the engineering software in the world installed.

I would 100% recommend you use the labs for those ‘hardware demanding’ projects which as you’ll see in this section is limited to perhaps ONE per year and use ANY laptop of your liking for homework, programming, designing, etc, as those tasks do not require anything more than a cheap laptop.

Note that I am not saying to ditch a laptop altogether and rely on the labs! You will obviously need a laptop to write papers, program, design, research, do homework, etc but any laptop can do that just leave the hardware demanding projects to the computer labs. 

Remote Access

Did you know, you may not even have to go to the lab when those ‘hardware core engineering projects’ show up? A lot of departments now have the remote access feature which as the name implies will let you access these powerful computers.

All you need is a laptop that runs Windows and an internet connection.

Yes, all the heavy CAD software, will run no problems. As for the internet connection, it doesn’t have to be exceptional, a good basic internet connection should give you NO LAG when hovering over the tools or dragging polygon lines to draw. If your project requires a LOT of precision when drawing, then if your internet connection isn’t good enough, you may just have to head over to the lab.

The Engineering Curriculum

With that said, let us see how the typical curriculum looks and dig in deeper into each of the classes that require an engineering software. 

We won’t be able to do this for every engineering field so we’ll just pick one.

I’ve decided to pick the MECHANICAL curriculum because it is the MOST versatile in terms of software. In other words, mechanical engineers have to run circuits, program and design with 3D CAD software.

If you are interested in knowing what your curriculum looks like, check the following links.

Aerospace & Aeronautical

Freshman Year
Fall Semester


Chemistry I

Calculus I

Social Science Core Class

English Core Class

Linear Algebra

Spring Semester


Physics I

Calculus II

Introduction to Programming

Engineering Graphics

English Core Class II

Sophomore Year
Fall Semester


Physics II

Calculus III

Creative Decisions and Design

Engineering Materials


Spring Semester


Circuits and Electronics

Differential Equations

Computing Techniques

Dynamics of Rigid Bodies

Social Science Elective

Junior Year
Fall Semester


Instrument & Electronics Lab

Mechanics of Deformable Bodies


Fluid Mechanics


Humanities Elective

Spring Semester


System Dynamics

Heat Transfer

Experimental Methods Lab

Engineering Economics

Statistics and Applications

Social Science Elective

Senior Year
Fall Semester


Machine Design

Design, Materials and Manufacture

ME Systems Lab



Spring Semester


Senior Design Project

ME Elective


Free Elective

Free Elective

Free Elective

Those classes highlighted will require a software. Electives may or may not require a software. 

Software For Engineering Students

The following are the most commonly used software for EACH of these classes. How do I know? I’ve taken these classes but if still don’t believe me you can download the curriculum of each of these classes by heading over to your professor’s site. You can possibly also get a free license trial for each of these.

I know this is the mechanical engineering curricula but as you’ll find out sooner or later. Electrical , Aeronautical , computer engineers will use a combination or variation of the following too.

It’s only civil engineers and chemical engineers that ones not usingLabView & Mobile Studio/DAQ Board software because those are for circuit design and testing but will definitely use all the rest (especially CAD Software).

Course Software
Introduction to Computing MatLab
Engineering Graphics CAD Software (Ex: AutoCAD)
Calculus III MatLab
Creative Decisions and Design Optional 3D design software
Circuits and Electronics LabView
Computing Techniques MatLab
Instrument & Electronics Lab Mobile Studio / DAQ Board software
Experimental Methods Lab: C++, Matlab, Excel

Additional engineering software for each field

If you go a step further like I recommended, these are basically a summary of very niche software for each engineering field.

Major Software
Electrical & Computer CAD Electrical, SPICE, LabView
Chemical MatLab, Excel, MathCad, ChemCad 
Aeronautical & Aerospace CATIA,  SolidWorks, ANSYS, MatLab
Civil Civil 3D, Revit
Mechanical SolidWorks, Inventor, ANSYS, MatLab

Hardware Requirements For Engineering Student Software

Finally, here are the hardware requirements:

Software CPU  RAM GPU Comments
MatLab & Mathcad Any Intel or AMD 8GB RAM Integrated.
Dedicated is optional
A dedicated GPU will speed up extremely intensive simulations. However only graduate students or researchers run those projects.
Mobile Studio / LabView Any CPU even celeron & pentium 1GB RAM —- You will need to buy a USB to serial port adapter so you can plug in a data acquisition system.
Programming languages (C++) Any CPU 8GB RAM High-end CPUs are only useful for very intensive data science calculations and such.
Excel Any CPU 8GB RAM You only need to add more RAM if you have to process a lot of data, again only grad students and researchers MIGHT come across this issue. 
ASPEN, ChemCAD, Electrical CAD


Any CPU 8GB RAM No need for dedicated (discrete) GPU. Even 3D models run fine with integrated graphics.
3D CAD (Revit, Civil 3D, SolidWorks, Inventor, CATIA) Quad Core CPU 8GB RAM 4GB vRAM
4GB vRAM GPUs would be the maximum for engineering students.
CAE ( ANSYS ) i5 or i7 processor
  Workstation GPU Although the site says workstation GPU that’s only required for working engineers. Students can use a simple discrete GPU and may not even run into ANSYS while in school.

Now there’s probably a lot of you reading this that don’t know much about computer hardware. This section will clear up the confusion, go straight to the point and tell you what hardware to go after but we’ll also justify why you don’t need to focus so much on power based on the software requirements above.

1. CPU (Processor)

You’ve seen above most engineering software have no special requirements for a CPU.

That’s because most of the software are basically about 2D graphcs which are just simple low-data images that even your phone can display and programming which is just basically typing text (code) for calculations. 

3D Modeling CPUs

Those are not going to be the issue, the issue is going to start when you deal with 3D models and graphics. Those are going to be significantly more hardware demanding because rendering objects with all physics that goes in the real world means there’s a LOT of data to be calculated.

That doesn’t mean you have to get a CPU from NASA because your phone can ALSO render 3D objects, that just means you need to a slightly faster than average CPU. 

Windows 10 & 11

You also need to take into account that Windows 10 or Windows 11, the operating system, takes a lot of resources too. In fact, that is an equally important consideration when picking up a CPU because not ALL CPUs can run Windows 10 or Windows 11 with no lag. 

Intel CPUs

CPU Base Turbo Cores
i3 8130U 2.2 3.4 2
i3 8145U 2.1 3.9 2
i3 10050G1 1.2 3.4 2
i3 10100U 2.1 4.1 2
i3-1115G4 3 4.1 2
i3 1315U    
i5 8265U 1.6 4.9 4
i5 8250U 1.6 3.4 4
i5 1115G4 2.4 4.2 4
i5 8300H 2.3 4 4
i7 8550U 1.8 4 4
i5 1235U 3.3 4.4 10
i7 1165G7 2.8 4.7 4
i5 1240P 3.3 4.4 12
i5- 9300H 2.4 4.1 4
i5- 10300H 2.5 4.5 4
i5-11300H 2.6 4.4 4
i5 11260H 2.6 4.4 6
i7 8750H 2.2 4.1 6
i5 12450H
3.3 4.4 8
i5 12500H 3.3 4.5 8
i5 13420H 1.5 4.6 8
i5 13500H 1.9 4.7  12 
i7 9750H 2.6 4.5 6
i7 10750H 2.6 5 8
i7-11375H 3.3 5 4
i7 1260P 3.4 4.7 12
i7-11370H 3.3 4.8 4
i7-11800H 3.3 5.0 6
i9 8950K 2.9 4.8 6
i9 9900K 3.6 5.1 8
i9-11900H 2.5 4.9 8
i9 10890K 2.4 5.3 8
i9-11980HK 3.3 5 8
i7 13620HX
i7 13650HX
i9 12900H
i9 13900H


CPU Max Speed Cores(Threads)
Ryzen 9 6980HX  5 8 – 16
Ryzen 9 6900HS
8 – 16
R7 7840HS 5.1  8 – 16
R7 7745HX  5.1 8 – 16 
Ryzen 7 6800HS 4.7 8 – 16 
Ryzen 7 6800H 4.7 8 – 16
Ryzen 9 5900HX 4.6 8 – 16
Ryzen 9 4800HS 4.4 8 – 16
Ryzen 7 5800H 4.4 8.- 16
Ryzen 7 4800H 4.2 8 – 16
R5 7535HS  4.55 6-12
R5 6600H  4.5 6-12
Ryzen 5 5600H  4.2 6 – 12
Ryzen 5 4600H 4.0 6 – 12
Ryzen 5 3550H 3.7 4 – 8
R5 7530U  4.5 6-12
Ryzen 5 3500U  3.7 4 – 8
Ryzen 5 7320U 
 4.1 4 – 8
Ryzen 3 5300U 3.8 4 – 8
Ryzen 3 4300U 3.7 4 – 8
Ryzen 3 3300U 3.5 4 – 8


Pink & Orange: Overkill for engineering students unless you want to play games at very high settings. Useful for graduate school projects and working engineers though.

Green: Fine choices for all degrees. If you want to run 3D modeling software, then make sure you pick a Ryzen 5 or Core i5 from this group.

Blue: These are usually found on laptops that have more ‘GPU power’ (discrete graphics) hence I’d only recommend these to engineering students who want to focus on 3D modeling projects (electives and such).  We’ll talk more about this in the next  GPU section.


2. GPU (Graphics Card)

This is probably the most important section of this entire post and the reason why most of you are even readin this post.  You probably want  the answer to the following questions:

A) Who needs discrete GPUs? Should I spend money on them?
B) What are the differences between workstation and regular discrete GPUs? Are workstation GPUs better? Should I buy them?

Q: Who needs discrete GPUs? Should I spend money on them?

Short Answer: Mechanical, Civil and Aeronautical engineering students MIGHT need a dedicated GPU. The rest only need to focus on CPU.

Long Answer: As you probably know there are two types of graphics cards: integrated and dedicated GPUs, the former comes by default on every laptop and the latter is an additional piece of hardware that usually adds hundreds of dollars to the overall cost.

Both can run 3D modeling software. However, the 3D models that “3D Engineers” like Mechanical and Civil work with are a bit more complex AND bigger thus there MAY be a need for dedicated graphics if they want a quicker workflow with such projects (integrated graphics can run them too but may be a bit slow).

Keep in mind, though, that there’s only a few times during your five years in engineering school you’ll come across these projects and you have the option to use the LAB!

Thus whatever your engineering field is, discrete graphics or investing money on a dGPU for engineering school is ALWAYS optional.

Q:  What about workstation GPUs? Are they better?

Below you can see a regular “consumer” or “gaming” graphics card running one of the most hardware demanding 3D CAD Software: Solidworks.

In fact,

Integrated graphics from recent and powerful CPUs can run Solidworks just fine too as shown below:

The model below above is quite big and yet there seems to be no issues. You will see models below that level of complexity, much less complex probably, in engineering school. This is why Im telling you over and over workstation GPUs or even spending too much money on computer power is just a waste of time and only OPTIONAL.

Recommended Graphics Cards

Now if you do want to run 3D modeling simulations on your laptop with ZERO LAG during your stay in college (which is understandable if you are a mechanical or civil engineer), then discrete graphics do become somewhat useful but I advice you NOT to buy graphics card out of the following list:

NVIDIA Cores vRAM Speed
MX150 384 2GB-4GB 1532
MX250 384 2GB-4GB 1582
MX 230 256 2-4GB 1519
MX 350 640 2-4GB 1354
MX 450 896 2-4GB 1580
1050 640 2GB-4GB 1493
1050 Ti 768 4GB 1620
1650 1024 4GB 1560
3050Ti 2560 4GB 1485

There are far more GPUs useful from other brands like AMD and older versions of the ones presented here but they’re all rare to find. The ones on the table are the most popular ones.

Who needs a Workstation laptop then?

Probably nobody reading this. If you are going to graduate school or eventually work in the field , the chances that you’ll need a workstation laptop or GPU are very very low. Most engineers dealing with 3D work (civil, mechanical) will still be fine with a 4GB vRAM dedicated GPU.

You will only need a workstation GPU or laptop IF your job is focused on 3D modeling products , objects , carc, etc, for simulation and testing purposes. In fact, even then you will probably do just fine with a 6GB vRAM dGPU such as the ones shown below:

Name Cores vRAM Speed
1060 1280 6GB 1670
1660 Ti 1536 6GB 1590
2060 1920 6GB 1680
3060 3584 6GB 1780

Only a small subset of actual engineers will need the workstation GPUs such as the NVIDIA Quadro and AMD FirePros to unlock special features only available on workstation graphics or because they need to work with MUCH MUCH bigger objects (think about a simulation that has 10 000 parts all interacting with each other) because workstation GPUs have more “vRAM”. 

More vRAM = Easier time viewporting (rotating) much larger & complex 3D objects bigger models

3. RAM (Random Access Memory)

This is probably FAR more important than graphics card and even the processor (since again most modern processors are way too fast & graphics cards are not a concern for engineering projects since is school) because RAM is where SOFTWARE, the operating system and everything else running in your computer will be temporarily stored. That means if you don’t have enough things will slow down, a slow computer means wasting more time and you don’t want a slow computer before finals where you’ll probably have tons of programs opened in the background.

4GB:   This is not enough for the simple reason that Windows 10 and Windows 11 take at least 3.5GB now that means you will only have 500MB left for the the engineering software running in the background in a typical day (an IDE for programming + LabView) and let’s not forget you’ll probably be using youtube and browsing around the web too.

8GB: This is the bare bone minimum for a fast workflow, there’s almost zero chance you’ll need more. Even 3D modeling, the most hardware demanding software, will run just fine with 8GB RAM again because engineering students  only work with small sized models .

16GB: I would personally go with 16GB RAM because the amount of programs I run simultaneously can get pretty insane. Good news is that you don’t need to get 16GB, you can just get 8GB (which most modern laptops have) then upgrade it to 16GB later if you feel you need more. I have a tutorial here on how to upgrade RAM here, it’s quick cheap and easy.

4. Storage (SSD vs HDD)

Im sure you’ve heard of the term SSD and HDD. The former stands for Hard Disk Drive and the latter for Solid State Drive. I’m pretty sure you also know that Solid State Drives are the fastest storage devices now. What you probably didn’t know is that

1. SSDs are available virtually on EVERY single modern laptop made within the past 3 years
2. SSDs are x5 aster than HDDs
3. There are different SSD types but they’re all equally fast for engineering student purposes.

It is pretty redundant to talk about ALL the advantages that come with a fast storage drive because you will get one.

Now if you followed my advice at the start of this post and want to use your current laptop for engineering, that’s a fine choice, I’m not here to convince you to spend 1000 dollars on a laptop however I would advice you to upgrade both the storage and RAM if your laptop is too old and doesn’t have an SSD or 8GB RAM.  Both upgrades will make sure CAD software, the most hardware demanding software for engineering students, will run with no issues. 

How my storage do you need?

Well you only need what most laptops offer which is ~256GB. If you want to install games on your laptop then you will run out of space pretty quickly but that doesn’t mean you’ll have to pick another laptop. Again you can just upgrade yours, check my tutorial on how to upgrade storage here to see how easy it is.

6. Weight & Display

If you are an engineering student, weight is probably the number 1 most important factor IF you want to get work done as much as possible. Buying something that’s heavy only means not bringing to school and collect dusk back at your house or dorm.

Although not always the case , weight is pretty much related to how big your display is.

Size Weight
13” 2.5lb-3lb
15” 3.5lb-4.5lb
17” 5lb-7lb
16” 5lb

Exceptions to the above rule are ultrabooks like the LG Gram, MacBook Pro & Surface Series.

13”: If you are a mechanical, electrical, chemical or any type of engineering student. I would strongly advice you to invest your money on a 13” laptop. It’s going to make ALL the difference for your productivity. Laptops with the CPU & RAM size I’ve recommended that are still 13” can be expensive though.

15”’: These laptops are way cheaper and still have the CPU & RAM size I have recommended. Most laptops with dedicated GPUs have this much weight, you are not going to find a 13” laptop with a dedicated GPU. 

17”: Strongly advice to buy a laptop this big if you’re an actual engineer since chances are you’re not going to move around a lot and the extra screen space will massively improve your workflow as you’ll have more toolbars available.

FHD vs QHD vs UHD: Resolution

Resolution will also give you extra screen space. Since you’ll have more pixels with higher resolution displays, size of objects can be scaled down in size thus freeing more space.

FHD: is the bare minimum for CAD work and this is virtually present on any laptop above 450 dollars or any laptop with the specifications we have talked about. It’ll be very rare for you not to get a FHD, it can happen so you have double check.

QHD or UHD:They are 2k and 4k resolutions respectively. (FHD ~1k). Both will massively expand the screen space available but unfortunately they are QUITE expensive and they are RARELY found on laptops under 800. There is one model I have listed that has it under 600 and it’s probably going to run out of stock soon that’s how rare and expensive they are.

7. Connectivity & Ports

You don’t really have to worry about what ports your laptop has because today there are adapters for just about every connection you need and you’ll need a few connections

Serial port: No laptop made within the past 10 years will have this port but they are useful to connect DAQ systems (Data Acquisition Systems) which are used for circuit design & labwork. If you come across a DAQ system that only uses a serial port, you’ll just have to get this adapter.

HDMI port:  These are useful to connect to external display. If you are giving a presentation you’ll need an HDMI port, most projects , if not all, only work with HDMI or ‘mini’ display ports. Again you don’t have to worry about it, just buy an adapter too.

Bluetooth: this is very very useful for engineering purposes. You can connect to many engineering devices via bluetooth and you can also share files between co-workers or colleagues with the bluetooh function. 

5. Operating System

Windows vs Mac

If you are an engineering student, it doesn’t matter because although engineering software has been written for Windows the most basic ones that are used in engineering school (like AutoCAD) have a Mac Version and all programming languages work even better on a Mac. It’s only going to be a problem for circuit design and lab software such as LabView & SPICE for which you may have to use Parallel’s or BootCamp. Note that you cannot install Windows on the latest MacBooks only on models before 2020 (those without the M1 & M2 chips).


If you have any questions, please let me know. It will help everyone to be better informed when shopping for laptops.

Author Profile

Miguel Salas
Miguel Salas
I am physicist and electrical engineer. My knowledge in computer software and hardware stems for my years spent doing research in optics and photonics devices and running simulations through various programming languages. My goal was to work for the quantum computing research team at IBM but Im now working with Astrophysical Simulations through Python. Most of the science related posts are written by me, the rest have different authors but I edited the final versions to fit the site's format.

Miguel Salas

I am physicist and electrical engineer. My knowledge in computer software and hardware stems for my years spent doing research in optics and photonics devices and running simulations through various programming languages. My goal was to work for the quantum computing research team at IBM but Im now working with Astrophysical Simulations through Python. Most of the science related posts are written by me, the rest have different authors but I edited the final versions to fit the site's format.

10 thoughts on “10 Best Laptops For Engineering Students – 2023 Software (+Hardware Guide)

  • July 6, 2017 at 9:26 am

    good detailed information for laptop shopping. Thanks for your information
    Here i have a blog i started after purchasing a laptop after reading your guide Technology-tutor

  • August 11, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    Would you recommend the Acer E15 as a suitable alternative to the E5?

    • August 12, 2017 at 11:26 am

      That was a typo, I fixed it thanks. Yes, the Acer 15 is fine. Make sure it has a dedicated graphics card from 940MX onwards. I have that GPU myself on one of my laptops.

  • August 19, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    what if I want to prepare for my professional career afterwards, should I go all out for laptop? Or desktop would be more preferable?

    • August 19, 2017 at 5:14 pm

      Not every engineer out there uses heavy programs like AutoCad SolidWorks Catia, etc. And if your
      job requires you to do so, the company will provide you with computers far more powerful or even go as far as giving you money to buy your own set up. I know this from experience.

      But if you do want to become an expert with any of these programs and start practicing with CAD/CAE programs right now a desktop would be more preferable. A laptop is useful for the small projects you’ll have to do during engineering school.

  • April 10, 2018 at 6:42 am

    What If I was going into mechanical engineering and was going to buy the new Razer blade stealth 8th gen i7 with 16gig ram and integrated hd 620 graphics, but I also bought the eGPU with a GTX 1070 that I can have in my dorm room that I can plug into the laptop and have a dedicated gpu? Would this work for heavier solid works projects or is it over kill?

    • July 26, 2018 at 10:49 pm

      That’s not a bad idea at all ! if your choosing the razer blade for portability you are better off with the Surface Book 2 (unless you plan on gaming with the razer).

      GTX 1070 is overkill pretty much for anything….I dare to say even gaming.

      I doubt you’ll see “heavy solidwork projects” as an undergrad and even if you do, you’ll be better off heading to the lab. You don’t want to work on a huge project with thousands of parts on a 12” screen.

  • August 8, 2018 at 6:23 pm

    This is a good advice, but i’m quite doubtful on my program. I am studying electrical engineering. In my autocad we were taught to make a 3d model. Btw, electronics is separate in my program. I was planning on getting laptops with gtx series because of the possibility of using autocad in my majors and the 3d model. But after reading your advice, i’m now thinking of getting ultrabooks with the mx150 and i5 8****u or i7 8****u other than the i5 8300h with gtx1050. The mx150 ones are quite light than the i5 8300h which has gaming in their name. Thinking of getting the dell g7 before but now thinking of inspiron 15 or asus s15.

    • September 26, 2018 at 5:21 am

      AutoCAD is the weakest 3D modeling software out there, you could even get away with an integrated card. The MX150 is more than sufficient for undergrad courses and you can even use it after you graduate.

      As for me, I’m steering away from engineering and starting my phD in Physics this spring and I’m all for the surface Pro 4. You can use AutoCAD in it no problems plus you get to take notes (this is super useful for me) and share your notes/solutions on discord/whatsapp/web etc in a flash.

      If you have the cash get the surface pro, this is enough for an EE student (you get portability + power). If you can’t afford the Pro, definitely get the MX150 laptop if you are dealing with autocad in 3D.

      • September 27, 2018 at 12:49 am

        Thanks for the reply. I took your advice. I aimed for something light. Surface devices are scarce in my market. I bought the hp envy 13, i5 8250u with mx150, 8gb ram. Just going to have a dongle with me when i’m in need of hdmi or vga port. I’d say the cad is not much important at the moment or will not. Currently dealing with matlab.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons