Best laptops for engineering students in 2024

best laptops for engineering students: A Dell XPS 15 (2022) on a wooden desk
best laptops for engineering students (Image credit: Future)

The best laptops for engineering students let you tackle complex CAD designs and datasets with their impressive performance and lightweight designs. We put the most powerful machines to the test. 

Our team of expert reviewers have tested of the best student laptops - but not all of them can power you through an engineering course. What we want to see from the best engineering student laptops is a perfect blend of power, performance, and portability, with future-proofed specs and an comfortable, ergonomic keyboard for extended essay-writing sessions. 

Because engineering apps can be resource-intensive, the best mobile workstations and best business laptops remain top choices for engineering students. But are they the right choice for your course? 

Testing a range of configurations and models from Apple, HP, Dell, Asus, and more, we explored the best laptops for engineering students, benchmarking performance, comparing specs, and assessing overall design, dimensions, and weight to help you find the right laptop, whichever branch of engineering you're studying.

The quick list

Best laptop for engineering students overall

(Image credit: Future)
Our top pick for engineering students

Specifications

CPU: Up to 12th-gen Intel Core i9
Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 3050 Ti
RAM: Up to 32GB DDR5
Screen: 15.6-inch 3.5K OLED
Storage: Up to 2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe
Dimensions: 13.56 x 9.06 x 0.73 in / 34.44 x 23.01 x 1.85 cm

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful performance 
+
Long battery life 
+
Comfortable keyboard for typing essays
+
Windows OS for Autodesk apps

Reasons to avoid

-
Configurations can get expensive
-
Entry level specs are not a good value

"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 that, alongside the ever-comfortable Dell keyboard design, we found comfortable for prolonged use. If you're writing a lot of essays, you'll feel the benefit of this design very quickly. We were also impressed with the extended battery life, letting you work across campus without worrying about losing charge too fast. 

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

(Image credit: Future)
Great value with Nvidia RTX graphics

Specifications

CPU: Up to AMD Ryzen 7 5800H
Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 3050 Ti / AMD Radeon 6500M
RAM: Up to 16GB DDR4
Screen: 15.6-inch FHD IPS LED
Storage: Up to 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe
Dimensions: 11.75 x 8.67 x 0.67 in / 29.85 x 22.02 x 1.70 cm

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent value for money
+
Great performance
+
Good graphics
+
Ideal for work and play

Reasons to avoid

-
Weak battery life
-
Plain design

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. That's going to be a major benefit when working in those resource-intensive apps and large, complex projects that really test the mettle of any engineering laptop. 

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 tough enough to withstand the bumps and bruises of college life. If you're looking to save space in your dorm, this machine easily pulls double-duty as a laptop and a desktop replacement. 

Read our full HP Victus 15 review

Best MacBook for engineering students

(Image credit: Future)
One for Apple fans

Specifications

CPU: Apple M2
Graphics: Integrated 8 - 16-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.6-inch 2,560 x 1,664 LED-backlit display with IPS technology
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Dimensions: 11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 in / 30.41 x 21.5 x 1.13 cm

Reasons to buy

+
11-hour battery life
+
Lightweight for carrying
+
Very good performance. silent to use
+
Larger screen

Reasons to avoid

-
macOS may be unsuitable for your course
-
Expensive

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. However, it's worth checking course requirements here, as depending on your discipline, many engineering classes require a Windows laptop for software compatibility. 

But if it's right for you, then you'll find this machine will absolutely breeze through just about any project, thanks to its incredibly powerful M2 processor. During our time with the MacBook Air, the laptop performed incredibly well, blazing through tasks like video editing and graphic design without a single drag on performance. So, it's more than capable of handle compatible engineering apps. Better still, for those working in libraries and other busy, communal areas, we found the fan was silent under normal operating conditions (although we would expect the volume to amp up when running heavier workloads). 

The laptop is thin, light, stylish, durable with an incredible battery life that lasts over 11 hours on a single charge. In other words, perfect for carrying around campus. Its screen is gorgeous, and the new-and-improved keyboard means you can effortlessly produce coursework for hours.

Read our full MacBook Air (M2, 2022) review

Best engineering laptop for gamers

(Image credit: Future / Alex Cox)
For work and play

Specifications

CPU: 13th Gen Intel Core i9-13980HX
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 Laptop GPU
RAM: 32 GB DDR5
Screen: 18-inch ROG Nebula Display QHD+ 16:10 (2560 x 1600, WQXGA), 240Hz, Dolby Vision HDR, Pantone Validation
Storage: 1TB + 1TB PCIe® 4.0 NVMe™ M.2 Performance SSD (RAID 0)
Dimensions: 15.71 x 11.57 x 1.21 in / 39.9 x 29.4 x 3.08 cm

Reasons to buy

+
Top of the line specs
+
Beautiful screen
+
Built for high end graphics and performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Poor battery life
-
Heavy when carrying power supply
-
Can get loud

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 looking for a laptop powerful for work and play (because college isn't all about studying, right?). 

While built with gamers in mind, the G834JY is built to effortlessly handle processor and GPU-intensive workloads on engineering courses. Specs are excellent - 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 4x4 configured in RAID 0. So, this machine should last you throughout your course - it's not going to age-out or need upgrading. 

The screen is great, too - 18-inch QHD+ 16:10, with more screen real estate to keep total oversight over your work. Especially good for designers, the display boasts 100% DCI-P3 color gamut and Pantone Validation. 

On the downside, it's not ultra-portable.  It's broad and heavy and you won't want to lug this laptop around college ground a lot. Cooling isn't great here. Nor did we find battery life especially good. The Asus ROG Strix SCAR G834JY is ideal, however, for setting up in one or two locations each day. Connectivity and port selection aren't great either, the only highlight being a single Thunderbolt 4 port, so you'll need a docking station if you have a lot of peripherals.

With its top-end specs and those minor shortcomings on a very high-performance laptop, this one gives us desktop alternative vibes. 

Read our full Asus ROG Strix Scar 18 review

You could save on your purchase with our Asus promo codes

Best 2-in-1 laptop for engineering students

(Image credit: Future)
For the best of both worlds

Specifications

CPU: 11th-generation Intel Core i5-1235U – i7-1255U
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.5" diagonal, WUXGA+ (1920 x 1280), multitouch-enabled, IPS, Low Blue Light, 400 nits – 13.5" diagonal, 3K2K (3000 x 2000), OLED, multitouch-enabled, UWVA, Low Blue Light, SDR 400 nits
Storage: 512 GB – 2TB SSD
Dimensions: 11.75 x 8.67 x 0.67 in / 29.85 x 22.02 x 1.70 cm

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful Intel processors
+
8-hour battery life
+
Thin, light, and portable
+
Great OLED multi-touch display

Reasons to avoid

-
Touchpad has sensitivity issues
-
No discrete GPU for graphic software

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.

Tablet-type laptops aren't always the best choice for engineering students, as they often feature mobile components, smaller keyboards, or are otherwise less powerful than traditional laptops. Here, the Spectre x360 lacks a discrete GPU - and that's going to be a deal-break on certain engineering courses, where a laptop needs graphical prowess.

But if a two-in-one laptop for engineering is a must, the HP Spectre x360 is an excellent option - especially if you're using office apps or doing design work, with the laptop's stunning multi-touch OLED screen. We also found the keyboard was very satisfying to use, with well-spaced keys that prevent typos.

Portability is a highlight, with a sleek, modern design you can carry all day without (too much) fatigue, and in our battery tests, it lasted over eight hours, which should be ample for most student use. 

Read our full HP Spectre x360 review

Best Chromebook for engineering students

An HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook on a wooden desk

(Image credit: Future)
ChromeOS for class

Specifications

CPU: Up to Intel Core i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe
RAM: Up to 16GB
Screen: 13.5-inch, 1920x1280p, 400 nits, touchscreen
Storage: 256GB
Dimensions: 11.59 x 8.73 x 0.65 ins | 294.38 x 221.74 x 16.61 mm

Reasons to buy

+
Outstanding performance
+
Optional security features
+
Beautiful display

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive for a Chromebook
-
Won't run complex engineering apps
-
ChromeOS only

Chromebooks aren’t usually the best choice for engineering students - like a lot of two-in-ones, they lack the powerful processors, the dedicated graphics card, the broad storage space. 

But for running office apps (or similar) for essays and coursework, they can be the perfect solution. ChromeOS laptops tend to be lightweight, which is always welcome when you're going from class to class, library to lab, dorm to dorm. And one of the best out there is the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook.

There's a good reason why this may qualify as the best Chromebook for engineering students - assuming your course doesn't demand a Windows machine: it's an enterprise-grade laptop with up to i7 / 16GB RAM configurations that proved 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. And we did find the keyboard somewhat tight in use, which might impact its ability to handle long essay-writing sessions. 

Read our full HP Elite Dragonfly review 

You could save on HP products with our HP coupon codes.

Best Microsoft Surface for engineering students

(Image credit: Future)
An excellent engineering student laptop with a 3:2 display

Specifications

CPU: Up to Intel Core i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe
RAM: Up to 32GB LPDDR4x
Screen: Up to 15-inch 2496 x 1664 PixelSense Display
Storage: Up to 1TB SSD
Dimensions: 12.1 x 8.8 x 0.57 in / 30.73 x 22.35 x 1.45 cm

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable keyboard
+
Lightweight and affordable
+
3:2 PixelSense display is great

Reasons to avoid

-
Needs more ports
-
Alcantara fabric dirties easily
-
No discrete GPU

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, depending on how much portability you need. We have to say, during our own testing on the 13.5in model, we found the laptop's 3:2 PixelSense display was gorgeous. 

The keyboard and trackpad are spacious and responsive, a delight for longer writing sessions - even if we found the palm-rests' Alcantara fabric gets dirty easily. And the touchscreen supports the Surface Pen for creative endeavors that are central to so many engineering courses. Our only real criticism with the Surface's design is the lack of port selection - just a single USB-C port, a lone USB-A port.

But it isn't the most powerful Windows machine out there, and there's no discrete GPU - but with configurations up to i7 / 32GB, it's more than capable of handling everyday tasks for engineering students across most disciplines. You can even pick up an AMD variant, if you're Team Red.  

Read our full Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 review

Our Microsoft discount codes can help you save on your next purchase.

Best 17-inch laptop for engineering students

(Image credit: Future)
For when you need a bigger screen

Specifications

CPU: Up to 12th-gen Intel Core i9
Graphics: Up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060
RAM: Up to 64GB DDR4
Screen: Up to 17-inch UHD+ InfinityEdge touchscreen
Storage: Up to 2TB M.2 PCIe NVMe
Dimensions: 14.74 x 9.76 x 0.77 in / 37.42 x 24.79 x 1.96 cm

Reasons to buy

+
Big, bright display
+
Long battery life for its size
+
Powerful CPU performance
+
Good keyboard

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the most portable
-
Somewhat expensive

For a powerful, 17-inch laptop, the Dell XPS 17 is impressively thin and light, making it ideal for student who wants high-performance and a broad display without compromising on portability. 

The laptop has a gorgeous design, with a solid chassis and stable keyboard for carting around campus. 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. In our tests, it tore through the most demanding tasks with ease, including 3D renders, making it a good pick for students of engineering, design, architecture. We also loved the all-day battery life - a rarity on a laptop with these sort of specs and size.

It's not a budget laptop - the XPS line is Dell's premium consumer range - but we don't feel it's overpriced considering the laptop's stellar performance. 

Read our full Dell XPS 17 (2022) review

Best premium laptop for engineering students

Razer Blade 15 (2022)

(Image credit: Future)
Best for engineering students with a flexible budget

Specifications

CPU: Up to 12th-gen Intel Core i9
Graphics: Up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti
RAM: Up to 32GB DDR5
Screen: Up to 15.6" 4K 144Hz
Storage: Up to 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
Dimensions: 13.98 x 9.25 x 0.67 in / 35.51 x 23.50 x 1.70 cm

Reasons to buy

+
Seriously powerful hardware
+
Sturdy, stylish design
+
Amazing display options

Reasons to avoid

-
A very expensive laptop
-
Overkill for many people

If money is no object and you want a future-proofed laptop that will continue running AutoCAD and the like for the next few years at least, then the Razer Blade 15 is certainly an investment. It is an expensive laptop for engineering students compared to rivals, but you get a lot of bang for your buck. 

Of course, as a Razer-branded laptop, this one is built for gaming - making it ideal for more resource-intensive engineering software like the Autodesk line-up. With a RTX 3000-series graphics card, DDR5 memory, and a 12th-generation Alder Lake Intel CPU, our tests have shown that this machine can easily power through the most demanding workloads you'll face on your course. 

The exterior of the Razer Blade 15 is beautiful - a durable brushed aluminum chassis, with a precision glass trackpad and a gently illuminated RGB keyboard that adds a bit more flavor when writing up coursework. 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 for enhanced design-work. 

Read our full Razer Blade 15 (2022) review

Check out our Razer promo codes to get the best deal on your next purchase.

Best laptops 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. 

If you do decide to buy an Apple MacBook Pro, check out our Apple promo codes to save money on your purchase.

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 choosing 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

Our team of reviewers have tested hundreds of the best laptops to find the top-rated for all students. 

We take the same rigorous approach to our review process whether we’re reviewing the best laptops for MBA students, comparing the specs of the best laptops for computer science students, or benchmarking the performances of the best laptops for architecture students

When testing the best laptops for engineering students, we compare all specs, and run simulated and real-world benchmarking tests. We also undertake a full battery life test to see how well it measures up to a manufacturer’s generous claims - because being able to work on the move is essential here. 

We’re looking for devices that are powerful, running engineering programs across a range of disciplines without slowdowns or lagging. They should be discreet and high-performance machines that keep you focused on your classes, not the overwhelming noise from the fan. 

We also look at portability - the best engineering laptops for students boast slim and sleek designs, comfortably slipping into your bag. While when we evaluate build quality, we expect to see a durable construction that can withstand a busy commute, crossing campus, and from dorms to libraries to labs. 

We also assess connectivity and port selection, screen size, overall weight and dimensions, and test out extra features such as face recognition or fingerprint sensors. Finally, we look at which of the best student engineering laptops offer genuine value for money. 

You can find out more in our detailed guide How we test laptops and desktops: our reviewing process explained.  

Collin Probst

Former TechRadar Pro B2B Hardware Editor, Collin has been in journalism for years, with experience in small and large markets, including Gearadical, DailyBeast, FutureNet, and more.

With contributions from