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Do I need a desktop for engineering major? Is a laptop enough? Will a desktop help ?

DodoSlickGuyDodoSlickGuy 17 replies11 threads Junior Member
I'm going into engineering and I need to get a new laptop. I know I need an i7 and 16gb RAM. But the website also talks about desktop specs if you are getting one. It says laptops are required. Do I need a desktop in college? Will a desktop help in engineering? Or is a laptop enough for engineering?
16 replies
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Replies to: Do I need a desktop for engineering major? Is a laptop enough? Will a desktop help ?

  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10435 replies123 threads Senior Member
    Probably depends on what kind of engineering but my D has done just fine with just her laptop.
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  • DodoSlickGuyDodoSlickGuy 17 replies11 threads Junior Member
    edited July 6
    Probably depends on what kind of engineering but my D has done just fine with just her laptop.

    Mechanical engineering. what engineering does your daughter do?
    edited July 6
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  • total1096total1096 8 replies2 threads New Member
    My son graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree and used a laptop all through school. Now while working from home he is still using it. Laptop should be just fine.
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  • DodoSlickGuyDodoSlickGuy 17 replies11 threads Junior Member
    total1096 wrote: »
    My son graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree and used a laptop all through school. Now while working from home he is still using it. Laptop should be just fine.

    Okay thanks.
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  • STEM2017STEM2017 4117 replies97 threads Senior Member
    I agree with @total1096 I have a son in engineering and a laptop has worked out well for him. I offered to get him a full sized monitor and keyboard for those long hours in front of the computer, but he said he never needed them.
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 2459 replies40 threads Senior Member
    My D is moving into her Senior year in MechE - she says a laptop is absolutely needed and has no idea how a desktop would have helped.

    i7/16GB/256GB+ and a four year next day/on-site service plan is my recommendation to get through all 4 years.
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  • HPuck35HPuck35 2148 replies17 threads Senior Member
    My son had a laptop for mechanical engineering. But then he got a monitor, a keyboard and a mouse as he didn't care for the built in ones on the laptop. He then got added USB hard drives for more storage. When the laptop startedhaving issues, he just broke down and bought a desktop CPU. He was never taking the laptop out of his room. He was/is a gamer so he liked the desktop much better.

    Bought my daughter a desktop after my son's experience. She was also in mechanical engineering. She ended up using the college's computer center for some of her big projects as they were group projects. She wanted protability otherwise, so she ended up getting a laptop which she liked using better.

    So, it seems to come down to personal preference. I'd get a laptop unless, like my son, you are big into gaming. Laptops can be just as powerfull as desktops. My daughter bought another laptop after she started working for her presonal stuff. She got one with a solid state hard drive and it boots up FAST. She also has an external harddrive for extra storage, but only occasionally has it plugged in.
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  • DodoSlickGuyDodoSlickGuy 17 replies11 threads Junior Member
    STEM2017 wrote: »
    I agree with @total1096 I have a son in engineering and a laptop has worked out well for him. I offered to get him a full sized monitor and keyboard for those long hours in front of the computer, but he said he never needed them.
    total1096 wrote: »
    My son graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree and used a laptop all through school. Now while working from home he is still using it. Laptop should be just fine.


    Okay thank you so much. I actually already have a monitor and keyboard, so I can use that with my laptop, but thanks for letting me know a laptop is enough. Thanks
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  • DodoSlickGuyDodoSlickGuy 17 replies11 threads Junior Member
    RichInPitt wrote: »
    My D is moving into her Senior year in MechE - she says a laptop is absolutely needed and has no idea how a desktop would have helped.

    i7/16GB/256GB+ and a four year next day/on-site service plan is my recommendation to get through all 4 years.

    Thanks. Those are the specs I'm looking at. Thank you
    HPuck35 wrote: »
    My son had a laptop for mechanical engineering. But then he got a monitor, a keyboard and a mouse as he didn't care for the built in ones on the laptop. He then got added USB hard drives for more storage. When the laptop startedhaving issues, he just broke down and bought a desktop CPU. He was never taking the laptop out of his room. He was/is a gamer so he liked the desktop much better.

    Bought my daughter a desktop after my son's experience. She was also in mechanical engineering. She ended up using the college's computer center for some of her big projects as they were group projects. She wanted protability otherwise, so she ended up getting a laptop which she liked using better.

    So, it seems to come down to personal preference. I'd get a laptop unless, like my son, you are big into gaming. Laptops can be just as powerfull as desktops. My daughter bought another laptop after she started working for her presonal stuff. She got one with a solid state hard drive and it boots up FAST. She also has an external harddrive for extra storage, but only occasionally has it plugged in.

    I don't do gaming. i guess I can use a laptop for lecture notes and a college computer lab desktop for any cad work I have to do. Thank you so much for telling me about their stories. It really helps. I appreciate it. Thanks
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 7618 replies36 threads Senior Member
    Laptop for my son also. But he got a gaming msi one that is actually very light but powerful. He uses an external monitor when doing some of his stuff also. Change of pace I guess. He brings it to all his lectures etc.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83881 replies744 threads Senior Member
    edited July 25
    Make sure that you back up your data whenever you add new important data to the computer's storage (draft and final term papers and project reports, etc.).
    edited July 25
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  • 1NJParent1NJParent 2468 replies37 threads Senior Member
    A laptop is generally sufficient for any student with some exceptions. If your area of study or project involves manipulation of huge quantity of data (e.g. deep learning/machine learning), you may need a desktop computer with a very powerful GPU and lots of on-board GPU memory. My S got one in his 2nd year and now he rarely touches his laptop. He even carries the desktop when he travels home.
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 7618 replies36 threads Senior Member
    My son's laptop has to be fixed. So I went to Costco and picked him up one since due to parts it can take 2 months. Don't overthink this. He doesn't know anyone in engineering that doesn't have a laptop. For heavy processing you can hook into the universities server/computers. Most university engineering departments will give you the specs they desire and most are pretty basic honestly. Check your university website.
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  • Data10Data10 3374 replies11 threads Senior Member
    edited July 26
    I'm going into engineering and I need to get a new laptop. I know I need an i7 and 16gb RAM. But the website also talks about desktop specs if you are getting one. It says laptops are required. Do I need a desktop in college? Will a desktop help in engineering? Or is a laptop enough for engineering?
    It depends on many factors. At many colleges, students aren't required to bring a computer and instead have the option to use shared computing resources. I was an engineering major who used shared computing resources during college. However, not being able to work out of my dorm room was awkward, and it sounds like this isn't an option at your college.

    You can easily find both laptops and desktops with more than enough processing power for your school's requirements, including for engineering majors. This makes laptop vs desktop preference primarily a matter of preference and convenience. If you need to take the computer out of your dorm room, such as for taking notes or reviewing previous work during class, then you'll probably want a laptop. I'm guessing this is why your college says "laptops are required," rather than a computer is required. They want students to be able to take a computer to the classroom.

    If you attend a college that doesn't require laptops and don't require taking the computer out of the dorm room for personal reasons, then some may prefer a desktop setup with multiple monitors, external speakers, ... . Some personally prefer this type of desktop setup, and/or don't want to do a lot of cable changes to repeatedly set one up, when they bring their laptop back to the dorm room. Another option is a laptop with a docking station that connects to the setup with monitors, speakers, ... although some find using this type of docking station setup awkward.
    edited July 26
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 2459 replies40 threads Senior Member
    While it’s true that it’s possible to do all of your coursework in a computer lab on campus, this is tremendously restricting and my D doesn’t know anyone who does this. She also doesn’t know anyone who uses a desktop instead of a laptop.
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  • boneh3adboneh3ad Forum Champion Engineering 7520 replies134 threads Forum Champion
    Desktops are "required" for a very small subset of problems you'll encounter as an undergraduate engineering student (certain kinds of CAD tasks or large computations, for example). I wouldn't say this is enough to justify buying a desktop you don't want, though.

    One issue I foresee is going to be difficulty accessing shared computing resources during the COVID-19 pandemi when many universities are (at least temporarily) operating remotely.
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