Engineering Laptops

Looking for a laptop to use for an engineering degree. I am having trouble find one that will run the engineering programs but is not a gaming laptop. I am not big on video games. Therefore I do not need all of the extras that come with it. Also the prices on these gaming laptops are fairly high. I do not fully trust the staples and best buy sales reps. So I am coming to you guys. I am looking for a reasonably priced laptop with all the power to run anything an engineering degree might need. Without all the extras. Open to any suggestions and comments.

-Thanks, Mason.

Your school should have computer labs where all the engineering software (I assume you mean things like SolidWorks that require a lot of graphical power) is already installed on the computers. Any laptop that can run those programs without freezing every few minutes is going to come at a pretty high cost, and is probably going to be marketed as a gaming laptop. I would check on your school’s computer lab situation and skip the beefy laptop in favor of something small and light that can handle day-to-day computing tasks, and can also make a remote connection to something more powerful if you want to use those software packages at home. I had an ASUS 3-in-1 with an i5 processor and a decent amount of RAM and it served me well for all 4 years of undergrad; now have a MacBook Pro because they’re pretty, have a fantastic screen, can “talk to” my phone, and also have a quad-core processor on their next-to-base model now, great for when I need to remote into the big video acquisition and graphical processing computer at my lab (which another student and I built)

Unfortunately, those gaming “extras” are kind of unavoidable if you want a computer with graphical power because gamers are a much bigger market than engineers when it comes to hardware. Most of the parts in the big computer in the lab are from gaming computing companies. Removing those extras is not going to bring the price down very much.

My son was accepted into several engineering programs and the ones we visited all said no special laptop was needed. The engineering students do their heavy duty work in labs with dual monitor desktops with all the software pre-loaded. The tour guide engineering major at one school said he just carried a lightweight Chromebook for taking notes in class and accessing the internet.

The schools you are targeting should have minimum performance requirements on their IT sites.

As noted above, you don’t need your personal laptop to be able to run everything.

It may depend on what you want to do. I got my S a thin and light laptop with specs sufficient to run almost all common tasks. Gaming laptops are too heavy to carry around the campus. However, my S, a sophomore, is now asking for a more powerful machine to run his deep learning models. He’s asking for more than 8GB of video memory. Few laptops have this much VRAM. The few that do are very heavy and expensive. I’m going to get him a desktop instead. A laptop that is good for general tasks and heavy duty computation is just too much of a compromise.

My D is a Junior at a T10 engineering school and is getting along fine with the moderately-high end laptop I bought 2+ years ago.

i7 processor, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD, normal HD 14” screen. With the full 4 year on-site support/replacement coverage, it was something like $1200. There was no need for a big $$$ machine. A vast majority of specialized video cards on gaming laptops actually do nothing for CAD software and other engineering packages.

As noted, computationally heavy software is typically run on school machines dedicated to that purpose. The post above is the first I’ve seen in many years here of a student actually needing a workstation-class machine. Perhaps just not wanted to remote into/walk to the school machines?

I highly recommend the extended on-site repair/replacement coverage. My D has pretty much everything but motherboard and top cover/screen replaced in 2 days after a drop. Her roommate had to depend on school machines for 2 weeks in the same situation.

And cloud-based backup.

In most cases you wont need more that a basic laptop and most schools have some recommendations. If not, then most of the recommendations on this and other threads are pretty sound.

If you get involved with deep learning, like @1NJParent S then a desktop is the way to go. There I would recommend Nvidia based graphics as they make it easy to used the many DL frameworks out there. Lots of details there to consider.

Both of my kids are in engineering. No special laptop is required, but some engineering programs don’t run on Apple computers so if you get an Apple, be prepared to spend some time in the school’s computer lab. That happened to my D, who has to do a lot of design work for her FSAE project team, so when it came time to buy S a laptop for college, he went with a PC. He has a Razer, which I guess is a gaming type machine, but he loves it. Both kids have 13" models, and wouldn’t want anything larger, as they are on a big campus and don’t want to lug around a big machine all day.