right arrow
Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04

Laptops for Mechanical Engineers

robogigirobogigi 5 replies5 threadsRegistered User New Member
What laptops are good for Mechanical Engineering students? Cost is not an issue.
13 replies
· Reply · Share

Replies to: Laptops for Mechanical Engineers

  • eyemgheyemgh 5590 replies122 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Most parents, myself included, over think this. They want a machine that's powerful enough to do "everything" when in reality a laptop is not ideal for CAD. The screen is too small. The few that are certified are tanks and have horrible battery life. LOTS of machines are equivalent. There is no "best" machine.

    In general, prioritize more memory over more processor speed. Give weight a serious consideration, the lighter the better.
    Don't get a spinning drive. Get an SSD or even better NVMe.

    A few really nice ones that are probably overkill are Lenovo Carbon, Dell XPS, HP EliteBook and MacBook Pro.

    In retrospect I would have sent him with his HS laptop and let him figure out what he wanted after he'd been there for a while.

    · Reply · Share
  • robogigirobogigi 5 replies5 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Thank you very much. And yes, I am an overthinker. Your perspective is refreshing.
    · Reply · Share
  • RichInPittRichInPitt 931 replies12 threadsRegistered User Member
    There are several threads here discussing the topic if you want details (but keep to threads in the last 1-2 years).

    Assuming it's a new college student, you'd like to have something that will last for 4 years, avoiding having to move data, re-register for networks, learn new features, etc., while in school. You're also not going to be doing CFD calculations for an F1 team, so you don't need a supercomputer. Keep it light/portable where possible - it will go everywhere

    I'd recommend a high-end but not crazy configuration. i7 processor, 16GB RAM, 256/512GB SSD or a smaller SSD boot drive and 500GB-1TB hard drive, and a 14" HD screen. Graphics cards actually don't help that much with CAD and other engineering packages - most are built for gaming, which has different needs. CAD-specific cards typically aren't found in laptops. Standard Intel graphics, or one step up, are fine.

    I bought my D this configuration 2 years ago entering as a MechE Freshman and it's been fine, with no indication it won't be fine for 2 more years.

    Most important for a college student - get the full 4 year warranty, on-site service, etc. She dropped it while at school. She had a new motherboard, daughterboard, palmrest, and back cover in 3 days, on-site. One of her roommates had a similar problem, without coverage, and had to use the university computers for 2 weeks. Not fun.

    Along the same lines - get a cloud-based backup solution - we use Crashplan but there are options out there.
    · Reply · Share
  • eyemgheyemgh 5590 replies122 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    "CAD-specific cards typically aren't found in laptops."

    You can buy laptops with Quadros, but I wouldn't. I did 5 years ago. It's a tank and has horrible battery life. My son still uses it (until he can get a new desktop), but most of the time he uses a new MacBook.

    Personally, I'd avoid a spinning HD all together. You can get 500G and 1T SSDs very cheaply now. An i5 quadcore is fine for what it will be used for. A 13" monitor is also fine. Most makers don't offer 1 4" , but rather 13 or 15. The 15 will be bulkier with no real benefit.
    · Reply · Share
  • colorado_momcolorado_mom 8968 replies79 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Check the college engineering dept website. It's quite possible that they will have recommendations.
    · Reply · Share
  • colorado_momcolorado_mom 8968 replies79 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Check the college engineering dept website. It's quite possible that they will have recommendations.
    For example, I found this for CU Boulder - https://www.colorado.edu/engineering-advising/get-your-degree/first-year-freshmen/faqs
    Years ago, when we went to a CU info session (or maybe it was School of Mines?) the professor said laptop specs were not criticial.... but pointed to the usb flash drive around his neck as being important. Perhaps these days there is better campus networking.
    · Reply · Share
  • 10s4life10s4life 2216 replies47 threadsForum Champion UCLA Forum Champion
    Huge misconception in this area of engineering. Thin and light is key. Very rarely for actual schoolwork will they need a heavy duty computer. Code runs on anything. Mostly word processing and spreadsheets. No one wants a brick walking to class
    · Reply · Share
  • robogigirobogigi 5 replies5 threadsRegistered User New Member
    I wish they did! I called them and they said they could not legally recommend a computer!
    · Reply · Share
  • robogigirobogigi 5 replies5 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Thank you very much.
    · Reply · Share
  • eyemgheyemgh 5590 replies122 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Schools will not recommend a specific brand or machine, but many give guidance on what to look for. Below I linked Purdue and Georgia Tech. They are very consistent with one and other. What you will quickly figure out is that many, many machines are suitable, probably the one he already owns.

    https://engineering.purdue.edu/ECN/Support/KB/Docs/StudentLaptopsuggesti

    https://sco.gatech.edu/hardware-requirements/
    · Reply · Share
  • Gator88NEGator88NE 6458 replies203 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 15
    eyemgh wrote:
    In retrospect I would have sent him with his HS laptop and let him figure out what he wanted after he'd been there for a while.
    Yep, this is what I would recommend...You really don't need much more as a freshman, and after a semester or two, they will have a much better sense of what they need/want.
    RichInPitt wrote:
    You're also not going to be doing CFD calculations for an F1 team, so you don't need a supercomputer.
    Lol....my son is the current Aero lead on the schools F1 team. He remotes into the "supercomputer" (in which a donor has provided access) to run the simulations.
    In fact, for most school related projects, that require significant computing, the student will be remoting into a school provided workstation.
    edited July 15
    · Reply · Share
  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 4245 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Even though I like powerful computers I am changing my stance a bit. Whatever you used in high school will most likely be plenty for college. Unless there's an amazing deal on Amazon days today.. Lol... Start with what you have and can always get something at another time like one of your breaks or anytime.
    · Reply · Share
  • colorado_momcolorado_mom 8968 replies79 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    But whatever you choose, make sure there is a plan in place for backing up the hard drive data!
    · Reply · Share
Sign In or Register to comment.

Recent Activity