Looking for the best laptops for engineering students? Our team of expert reviewers have gone hands-on with the top models, whether you’re creating complex CAD designs, simulating algorithms, or analyzing datasets.
Engineering students know how important it is to choose the best laptop for the job. They need to offer optimal performance without sacrificing too much portability (or breaking the bank). That’s why so many opt for the best mobile workstations and the best gaming laptops, with their emphasis on raw power and graphical fidelity.
Our team have benchmarked the best laptops for engineering students from top brands like Apple, HP, Dell, and Asus. As part of our extensive review process, we’ve dug into each one, comparing specs, speed, size, and weight. From aerospace to mechanical, electrical to software engineering, we’ve tested a diverse range of engineering laptops primed to enhance productivity, creativity, and success throughout your course.
The quick list
“Laptop perfection” is how we described the Dell XPS 15. A Windows laptop with a robust chassis, comfortable carbon fiber palm rests for prolonged use. The powerful performance is driven by impressive specs – the top model features a 12th-gen Intel Core i9 and 32GB RAM.
A great value gaming laptop whose RTX-equipped model effortlessly doubles as a laptop for engineering students running graphically-demanding programs. It’s not the lightest machine you can buy, but we found performance solid and the 15.6-inch FHD display bright and clear.
Feather-light and slimline, the MacBook Air is the ideal engineering laptop for those who prize portability. Don’t let the diminutive size fool you though – this M2-powered laptop delivers impressive performance that’s near-silent in use. A gorgeous screen and 11-hour battery life seal the deal.
Best for gamers
A laptop for engineering students and gamers alike, the Asus ROG Strix SCAR 18 is an absolute beast of a machine. Specced with a 13th Gen Intel Core i9, 32 GB RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090, our tests showed it delivered absolutely class-leading speed.
Offering the best of both worlds, the HP Spectre x360 offers tablet and laptop mode for more flexibility. With i5 and i7 models, and up to 8GB RAM, it’s not a performance-driven device – and the lack of discrete GPU is disappointing. But a good choice if you need a two-in one.
HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook
With little power and storage, Chromebooks are rarely the right laptop for engineering students. But if ChromeOS is a must, opt for the HP Elite Dragonfly. With higher-end configurations, it proved to be one of the most powerful Chromebooks we’ve ever tested.
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Microsoft Surface Laptop 4
When we first tested the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4, we called it “the best Surface laptop yet.” A comfortable keyboard makes for a pleasant typing experience. The 11th-Gen Intel processor is perfect for getting work done, although you’ll struggle to run games outside of your course.
For more screen real estate to really zone in on the details, the Dell XPS 17 is tough to beat. Despite the size, the 17in laptop is incredibly thin and lightweight – ideal for carrying around campus. In our tests, it easily tore through even demanding tasks like video encoding and 3D rendering.
Performance, powerful, a beautiful design – the Razer Blade 15 has a lot going for it. It packs a RTX 3000-series GPU, DDR5 memory, and a 12th-generation Alder Lake Intel CPU – and in our testing process, it easily handled even the most demanding workloads. But all that power will cost you.
The best laptops for engineering students of 2023 in full
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Best laptop for engineering students overall
“Laptop perfection” is how we described Dell’s excellent XPS 15. Maintaining its outstanding classic design from previous generations, the 2022 model is a solidly built device. It’s made with a brushed CNC aluminum chassis and carbon fiber palm rests we found comfortable for prolonged keyboard use. We were also impressed with the extended battery life.
However, limiting portability (without the use of a laptop docking station at least) is the lack of available ports. You’ll find three USB Type-C ports, which won’t be ideal if you’re using USB-A peripherals.
It’s a small complaint, perhaps, in an otherwise great laptop. Paired with a beautiful screen, a great keyboard, and plenty of storage space, you’ll blaze through your latest project. Better still, this is a Windows laptop – and many engineering programs, particularly Autodesk’s line-up, only run on Windows.
Read our full Dell XPS 15 review
Best budget laptop for engineering students
It might be marketed as a gaming laptop. Still, the HP Victus 15’s simple design (free from the gaudy ‘gamer aesthetic’ of many powerful laptops) and RTX-equipped models make it a solid choice for any engineering student who will be running graphically-demanding programs.
It’s also remarkably cheap for a laptop with a discrete GPU, likely to please any budding engineer on a budget. During testing, it performed below other gaming laptops in our standard benchmarks, but not by a huge margin. We also found that it takes air circulation seriously, boasting a dual-fan setup and a large air vent at the bottom.
A bright 15.6-inch FHD display and generally robust build quality mean that while this isn’t the most lightweight laptop in the business, it’s comfortable pulling double duty as both a desktop replacement and a tool for on-the-go work. It’s also a good choice for the environmentally conscious, with a chassis made partially from post-consumer-recycled plastic and eco-friendly water-based paint.
Read our full HP Victus 15 review
Best MacBook for engineering students
The Apple MacBook Air (M2, 2022) isn’t just one of the best laptops Apple has ever made. It’s one of the best laptops for engineering students who value portability and power. While it might not pack a powerful AI-assisted GPU, Apple’s own silicon represents serious competition in the lightweight laptop space.
Thanks to the revolutionary ARM-based Apple M2 chip – an update from the previous M1 chip – that powers the new MacBook Air, this is a stunning achievement: a thin and light laptop that offers great performance while offering incredible battery life. During our time with the MacBook Air, the laptop performed incredibly well, whether we were playing around with GarageBand or editing 4K home movies in iMovie. In fact, the fan was silent when in use – although we’d expect that to change under seriously heavy workloads, such as 8K editing.
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 for hours.
Read our full MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review
Best for gamers
The Asus ROG Strix SCAR G834JY boasts an incredible array of specs that promise to make this machine rocket to the top of wishlists for engineering students and gamers. While built with gamers in mind, the G834JY is built to effortlessly handle processor and GPU-intensive workloads on engineering courses.
The G834JY has a 13th Gen Intel Core i9-13980HX processor and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 Laptop GPU. RAM tops at 64 GB of DDR5-4800 MHz memory and comes equipped with 2 TB of PCIe 4×4 configured in RAID 0.
As if that’s not enough, you’re also getting an enormous 18-inch QHD+ 16:10 (2560 x 1600, WQXGA) Dolby Vision HDR screen with 240 Hz refresh rate, 100% DCI-P3 color gamut, and Pantone Validation. Add the 4 speakers Dolby Atmos sound system, and you’ve got a system set up to game late into the night.
We did find the Asus ROG Strix SCAR G834JY lacking in its connectivity. There’s only 1 x Thunderbolt 4 port and 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port. It offers 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports, HDMI 2.1 FRL, 2.5G LAN, and a 3.5mm Combo Audio Jack.
You have to pay for that speed and incredible viewing experience with portability. Weighing in at 6.83 lbs for the laptop and close to 2.5 lbs for the 330W power brick, this beast of a machine totals over 9 lbs when lugging around campus. If you’re leaving it at a desk, no problem, but some might find it unwieldy to port from class to class.
Read our full Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 review
Best 2-in-1 laptop for engineering students
The HP Spectre x360 offers students a luxurious device beyond their typical 2-in-1 laptop. It provides a stunning multi-touch display, a beautifully designed chassis, and an excellent keyboard experience.
While equipped with powerful Intel i5 – i7 processors and up to 8 GB of RAM, the x360 lacks any discrete GPU option. And that may prove a serious limitation depending on your chosen software. We also found the trackpad to have sensitivity issues that prevent this from being a fantastic machine.
On the other hand, if you’re an engineering student in need of a laptop with a tablet mode, the Spectre x360 delivers. The multi-touch OLED is great, 2-in-1 form factor sleek and well-designed, and there’s a solid battery life of over 8 hours. Put everything together, and you’ve got a machine at home doing moderate design work and at home after a long day of classes.
Read our full HP Spectre x360 (2022) review
Best Chromebook for engineering students
Chromebooks aren’t usually the best choice for engineering students – they lack the powerful processors, the dedicated graphics card, the broad storage space. But if you absolutely want to run a ChromeOS laptop, then you’ll want to take a look at the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook.
Effectively an enterprise-level device, with its additional security features and higher-end configurations, this proved this to be one of the most powerful Chromebooks we’ve ever tested. However, engineering students will best avoid the entry-level model with its 12th-gen Core i3 configuration. It’s also worth noting that many engineering programs only run on Windows machines. So, if your apps don’t play well with ChromeOS, then you’ll want to look elsewhere.
For those happy to take engineering classes with a Chromebook, the HP Elite Dragonfly has plenty to offer.
Read our full HP Elite Dragonfly review
Best Microsoft Surface for engineering students
A great pick for engineering students looking to take on a wide range of workloads, from design work to content creation, the Surface Laptop 4 is perhaps Microsoft’s best laptop.
The Surface 4 comes in a broad range of configurations to suit every student. You can choose between a 13.5- or 15-inch screen. During our own testing on the 13.5in model, we found the laptop’s 3:2 PixelSense display was gorgeous. Both models are available with either Intel or AMD processors depending on whether you pledge fealty to Team Blue or Team Red.
Generally speaking this is just a lovely product; the keyboard and trackpad are spacious and responsive, and the touchscreen supports the Surface Pen for creative endeavors. Our only real criticism is the relative dearth of physical ports, with just one USB-C and one USB-A. We also found the Alcantara fabric used on the palm rest of the 13.5-inch model gets dirty easily.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 review
Best 17-inch laptop for engineering students
For a 17-inch laptop, the Dell XPS 17 (2022) is impressively thin and light, especially when you consider the fact that it boasts powerful specs for that top-notch performance that engineering students require. It quickly tore through demanding tasks like video encoding and 3D renders on the test.
This is the whole package if you’re looking for a laptop with a big screen. It boasts a 17-inch display in FHD+ and UHD+ flavors, fantastic battery life that will last you the entire day, and a gorgeous design on top of everything else.
The higher-spec models aren’t the cheapest laptops, but they’re not overpriced when considering the performance. The 2022 model packs an RTX 3050 or 3060 GPU with a 12th-gen Intel processor, delivering a speedy performance that can handle complex projects.
Read our full Dell XPS 17 (2022) review
Best premium laptop
If money is no object for you – or you want a great gaming laptop to run AutoCAD on the side – then the Razer Blade 15 is the connoisseur’s choice. Yes, we’re talking a price point in the thousands rather than the hundreds here, but you get a lot of power for your cash.
The Blade 15 has a mighty RTX 3000-series graphics card, DDR5 memory, and a 12th-generation Alder Lake Intel CPU. Our tests have shown that it can easily power through the most demanding workloads.
Of course, that iconic Razer Blade design hasn’t changed much over the years; the exterior is durable brushed aluminum, with a precision glass trackpad and a gently illuminated RGB keyboard. The screen is excellent, too, with various resolutions up to a glorious 4K panel with a 144Hz refresh rate and 100% DCI-P3 color gamut.
Read our full Razer Blade 15 (2022) review
Best laptop for engineering students: FAQs
Are Apple laptops good for engineering students?
Are MacBooks good for engineering students?
Apple MacBooks have always been a solid competitor in the world of laptops for engineers. With the recent jump to Apple’s own silicon with the M1 and M2 chips, these laptops have gotten even more efficient and even better at multitasking while also powering through even the largest of programs and tasks.
However, the issue is that many engineering programs, like those from Autodesk, will only work on the Windows operating system. If in doubt, ask your school or college which software you’ll be using on your course.
Do engineering students need a powerful laptop?
Engineering students need a powerful laptop – although this need is balanced by the portability of the device and the type of software that’s being run.
Using engineering programs pushes devices far harder than, say, the best laptops for writers. Even the best laptops for programming won’t work as hard as laptops for engineering students.
Ultimately, a CAD or SolidWorks window pulls significantly more power than a text document or web search. As such, a dedicated GPU and plenty of RAM are key requirements, while CPU is more dependent on the chosen software.
How to choose the best engineering laptop for you
When chooisng the best laptop for an engineering student, there are a number of factors to consider.
A great laptop for engineering students must operate high-powered applications simultaneously with many open program windows – a CAD window, a large mapping service, and a large Excel sheet.
Since you will likely be using complex programs like AutoCAD, MATLAB, and SolidWorks, you will need a laptop with sufficient power to run them smoothly and effectively. It can be graphically intensive when using programs like the best graphic design software and the best 3D modeling software.
For that reason, and for an uninterrupted workflow, look for laptops spec’d with the best graphics cards, best processors, and best RAM. We recommend a laptop with the latest Intel Core i5 or Core i7 chips as a minimum, 1TB SSD storage, and 16GB of RAM – although 32GB is even better.
A clear display with a minimum 1080p resolution is advisable – although size will be a matter of preference, unless you need as much information on the screen as possible.
Portability and ruggedness are key features – you should be able to carry your laptop around all day, wherever you need to work. And the device handle a few accidental bumps along the way. As part of this, check the battery life of each device. An all-day battery means you won’t have to lug around a charger everywhere. But if you’re mostly going to have your setup in one place, then a lower battery capacity will be acceptable too.
Typical laptops focus on a lightweight frame, long battery life, or other specifications for easy communication and media consumption (eg. webcams, WiFi, screens). Laptops for engineering students need to be able to perform advanced operations easily, even if they don’t have all-day battery life.
It’s also worth asking your school, college, or university if they have preferred machine, or minimum hardware specifications. In many instances, the engineering software you use will be restricted to a particular operating system – usually Windows – so it’s best to get that information before committing.
How we test the best laptops for engineering students
When we test the best laptops for engineering students, we’re looking at a variety of aspects. The device needs to be powerful enough to effortlessly run engineering programs and portable to carry around campus, from dorms to libraries to labs.
During our comprehensive review process, we assess the internal specs of each device – and how they compare with alternatives in the field. This includes CPU, GPU, portability, storage, and design.
Undergoing benchmark testing, we evaluate overall performance of the laptop and how users can specifically benefit from the features.
With an eye on the portable nature of engineering laptops, we analyze battery life, connectivity ports, weight, and screen size – all of which are essential considerations for all the best student laptops. We also want to see a certain level of comfort from the device when used for extended periods.
Finally, we consider the price – and value-for-money – of the machine in comparison to rival laptops for engineering students.
You can find out more in our detailed guide How we test laptops and desktops: our reviewing process explained