Today it is very hard to come up with a laptop that isn’t suited to the needs of computer science students. Computer science as a field of study has grown exponentially in both size and scope over the last few decades, and there is no sign of its growth abating anytime soon.
This means that computer scientists are finding themselves responsible for running increasingly complex and resource-intensive software, so for them, choosing the best laptops is becoming more and more important.
For example, some of you might be building machine learning algorithms on a daily basis which require heavy usage of GPUs to run efficiently. Some computer science students may even spend their entire day working with virtual machines that need more processing power than the average laptop can provide.
There are other schools of thought within computer science, however. If you are more involved with software development, for example, then your needs might be different to the student who is running advanced algorithms for machine learning (ML). Software developers don’t need anywhere near as much processing power, but instead lean towards laptops that come equipped with a fast processor and as much RAM as they can afford.
In this article, we will explore laptops for computer science students available in the current market so that you know what to look for. We will discuss the very best laptops on the market and compare their specifications side-by-side so that you can see what makes them rank where they do. Obviously, we can’t list all of the available laptops here, but we will discuss the most widely-used and popular options to give you a good idea.
Laptop Requirements for Computer Science Students in 2022
Before we get into the laptops themselves, it is important to define the requirements that a computer science student needs in their machine. After all, if you are going to be spending thousands of pounds or dollars on a laptop, you might as well be sure that it’s actually the right one for you.
1) Precision Trackpad
Firstly, it is an absolute must that any computer science student is equipped with a laptop that has a fast and precise track-pad. If you are the kind of person who prefers to use a mouse then you might be able to get away without this feature, but nowadays almost everyone uses a trackpad. This means that poor responsiveness and accuracy can make it much more difficult to get work done.
For this reason, you should be looking for a laptop with an advanced trackpad such as the infamous “Precision Trackpad” found in all MacBooks. You should also make sure that any laptops you are considering come equipped with multi-touch input. This feature is standard on all Macs, but other laptops might not be so lucky.
Secondly, the laptop should have an advanced CPU. The best way to define the “best” CPU for computer science students is through a combination of “speed” and “number of cores”. You are unlikely to need more than 6 cores, but you will also want a CPU that is powerful enough to run the software (or algorithms) you need to run.
In the past, this meant having a decent Intel i5 or even an i7 processor, but now it means looking for one of the latest top-end Intel i7 chips such as the 8700k. There is some debate as to whether these CPUs are overkill for some computer science students, but as technology improves and software becomes exponentially more complex, more powerful CPUs will be required.
Thirdly, you should be looking at laptops with a decent amount of RAM. It is important to go for 8GB or 16GB if you can afford it, but 4GB is the absolute minimum you should be considering. This will come in handy if your laptop starts to lag when running a couple of different processes at once.
Finally, you should be considering the type of graphics card (GPU) that is equipped in your laptop. This is an increasingly important feature for computer science students who need to run advanced algorithms and simulations. GPUs can be integrated into the main CPU, but you should be looking for a dedicated Nvidia or ATI graphics card. These GPU types are specifically designed with number-crunching in mind and offer a significant performance boost over integrated graphics.
Mobile GPUs are also important, so be sure to consider laptops with a relatively powerful Nvidia 9xx or 10xx GPU.
So What Laptop Should I Get?
Well, the short answer to this question is that it depends on how much money you have available. There are a lot of great laptops out there, but they can also be ridiculously overpriced. In this section, we will cover the types of laptops that are available at different price ranges. If you have the budget, it is worth investing in one of the more expensive options to ensure that your laptop is equipped to handle the demands of computer science.
At the Low-End: Chromebooks and Tablets
At the low end, I would recommend checking out Chromebooks or tablets (iPad, Surface, etc.). If you are only doing basic computer science courses then these machines will be fine. However, if you are studying a more advanced course such as machine learning then this will not be the best option.
Mid Range: Laptops Under $1,500
If you are looking at mid-range laptops then there are plenty of good options available. I recommend the Dell XPS series, but you will also find great machines from HP and other manufacturers. If you can afford one of these laptops then it is a good idea to get one of the “true” quad-core CPUs such as an i7 or Ryzen 5. This will be more than adequate for even the most demanding course.
High-End: Laptops Over $1,500
This is where things start to get expensive. If you have the money, then it is worth getting a high-end laptop. These laptops will usually come equipped with an i7 or Ryzen 7 CPU and at least 16GB of RAM. They will also have a powerful GPU such as the Nvidia 1070 or Radeon Vega 16. These laptops are more than capable of running any computer science software and will be perfect for a senior-level course.
What are the Best Brands?
There are so many different brands of laptops out there that it is hard to know what to buy. The four main manufacturers that I would recommend are Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Apple. These brands offer great laptops at different price points which will be more than adequate for studying computer science.
Top 5 Laptops for Computer Science Students in 2020
1) Apple MacBook Pro (2022 Model)
CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8-core CPU and 8-core GPU | RAM: 16GB | Ports: 61W USB Type-C Power Adapter – USB Type-C Charge Cable (2m) | Speaker: 2.1 stereo speakers | Screen: 13.3″ with Retina Display | Storage: 512GB SSD
I know this is expensive, but I feel that it is worth including this laptop on the list just to demonstrate the level of power that you can get into a laptop these days. Weighing in at just 6 pounds and measuring less than 1 inch thick, the MacBook Pro is an insanely powerful laptop for its size. Not only is it thin and light, but this laptop also has great battery life when compared to other laptops in its class.
You will find that the Apple M1 chip outperforms even the best Intel CPUs when it comes to number crunching. The 8-core CPU is also more than capable of completely maxing out the 16GB of RAM. The high-end dedicated GPU will run any simulation or algorithm you can throw at it, and the screen is bright and beautiful. The 512GB SSD will give you plenty of room for all your software, although this laptop also has SD card support.
- Extended Battery Life
- Top-Notch Build Quality
- Great Number-Crunching Performance for Its Size and Weight
- Beautiful Screen
- High-End Dedicated GPU
- Super Portable
2) Dell 9310 XPS (2022 Model)
Processor: Intel Core i7-1165G7 | Screen Size: 13.4 inches | Processor Speed: 2.8 GHz | Wireless Networking: 802.11ax, Bluetooth | Weight: 2.8 lbs | RAM: 16 GB | Graphics Processor: Intel Iris Xe5
The Dell 9310 is a fantastic laptop for computer science majors. It has an Intel Core i7 CPU that outperforms the first-generation Ryzen 7. However, this laptop does not have an overclocking feature so it should not be considered if you PLAN to overclock. This laptop also has the Intel Iris Xe5 integrated graphics chip which is powerful enough to handle most computer science software. In terms of memory, this laptop comes with 16GB of RAM as standard. You will surely get a lot of use out of this laptop as it has a 13.3-inch display and weighs only 2.8 pounds!
- Extended Battery Life
- Has USB adapter
- Best compact chassis
- Vivid 16:10 scree
- Bit Expensive
- Gives a limited port selection
- Average Cooling
3) Lenovo Yoga 6 Laptop (2022 Model)
Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 5700U | Processor Speed: 1.8 GHz | RAM: 16 GB | Boot Drive Type: SSD | Boot Drive Capacity: 512 GB | Screen Size: 13.3 inches | Graphics Processor: AMD Radeon Graphics | Weight: 2.91 lbs | Operating System: Windows 11
Who doesn’t love Yoga? Yoga is Lenovo’s answer to convertible PCs. It can convert from a laptop to a tablet, all the way up to a stand or tent mode. This is a fantastic laptop that will allow for many different uses. It has an AMD Ryzen 7 CPU which will be more than powerful enough to run most algorithms and simulations. The laptop also has a massive 512GB SSD which will allow you to keep all your software on the same system. If you’re looking for a highly portable laptop, this is definitely one to check out.
For computer science students on a budget, this is easily the best choice. With an Intel Core i3 processor and 8GB of RAM, you will have no issue running your simulations and algorithms. This laptop also has a decent-sized 256GB SSD, so you won’t have to worry about not having enough storage space. This is also probably the cheapest laptop on this list, so if you are worried about money, this might be your best choice.
- Huge 512GB Boot Drive Capacity
- Great for multi-purpose use
- Light and Portable
- Powerful CPU and GPU
- 2nd Gen Ryzen CPU
- Lacks Thunderbolt Port
4) HP ENVY X360 15 (2022 Model)
Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 5700U | RAM: 16 GB | Screen Size: 15.6 inches | Native Display Resolution: 1920 by 1080 | Graphics Processor: AMD Radeon Graphics | Weight: 4.11 lbs | Operating System: Windows 10 Home
The HP ENVY x360 is a great mid-range laptop that will be good for any computer science major. As with other laptops on this list, it has an AMD Ryzen 7 5700U processor that will outperform even the fastest mobile Intel i7 CPUs. This means it will be able to handle all the tasks you need it for, including simulation software. It also features 16GB of DDR4 memory which is plenty for most purposes. The best thing is: it will help you stay within budget. However, it can’t help you with portability and also lacks a 4k screen option with AMD CPU that students normally wish for.
- High-End CPU and GPU
- Dedicated SSD Drive Capacity
- Huge Display Resolution
- Stylish Look
- Has Function-packed keyboard
- It has no 4K screen option with AMD CPU
- Bit Heavier than other series
5) Samsung Galaxy Book Pro Laptop (2022 Model)
Screen Size: 15.6 Inches | Screen Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Processor: Intel 11th Generation Core i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics | Screen Type: AMOLED | Memory: 16 GB
This beast from Samsun g is another convertible device for those who wish to work with their hands. The Samsung Galaxy Book laptop is pretty much an alternative to the MacBook Pro, thanks to its high-end processor and beautiful display screen. It comes equipped with an AMOLED display which makes up for one of the best screens you will ever see on a laptop.
The only downside is that it will not come with Thunderbolt support like its MacBook competitor, but hey, you can’t win them all. Another downside is that it costs more than any other option in our list but if invested in this super machine, it’s worth it.
- AMOLED Display Screen
- Backlit Keyboard
- Handsome Look
- Hardly any bloatware
- It has 5+ hours battery life
- Easy connectivity with phone
- Powerful Processor and GPU
- Great for multi-purpose use
- Has a stylus pen included in
- Get’s dirty if not cared
FAQs about Laptops for Computer Science Students
1) How to choose the best laptop for computer science students?
There are some important factors to consider, such as the processor speed, the amount of RAM, the size of RAM, processing power, cooling system, and temperature management.
2) How much does a laptop for computer science cost?
It depends on the specs you want. However, if you go for a high-end laptop it will cost around $2000.
3) How to choose a laptop for programming?
Make sure it has a good processor speed and the RAM is at least 8GB. If you want to build a gaming laptop, then you need to go for a dedicated graphics card.
4) What is the best laptop for computer science students?
It is up to you which laptop you want to go for. Just make sure that it has enough RAM and battery life for your needs.
Also, you should consider the processor speed and ensure that it is upgradable.
5) Should I go for an SSD or HDD?
SSDs are faster and more expensive than HDDs.
6) What is the best laptop for web development?
It all depends on what you would like to develop. For developing apps, you need a high-end laptop with an Intel Core i5 CPU and at least 8GB of RAM.
7) What is the best gaming laptop for programming?
A dedicated graphics card and an Intel Core i5 CPU will ensure that you can run most programming software.
8) I like a laptop which is performance and feature-rich but it’s bulky, is it a worthy tradeoff?
Yes, it is worth the tradeoff because the bigger laptop usually has more storage space, processing power, and also longer battery life.
9) Which is better for programming: Linux or Windows?
It is up to you which operating system you prefer. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
The best option will vary depending on your own personal preference, but our picks are Lenovo Yoga Book 2017 and ASUS VivoBook Pro M580VD-EB76. These laptops offer a lot of really impressive features, and for this reason, come out as the best.
In addition to their robust specifications, the devices also provide a great look and feel. They are both spacious, so you have no problem manipulating them as desired. The processor used on either one of these devices is an Intel Core i5 8250U.
This means that they will never disappoint when it comes to speed and efficiency. Finally, the devices come with a lot of space, leaving you free to store all your files and apps on board. This is great for student computer science majors who are always on the go. Of course, there are also other things to consider depending on what you need your new laptop for.
Now, you know what you can expect from these laptops, so it’s time to be a winner and have one of these laptops for your use. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it.