Best Laptop for Networking, Cisco and Network Engineers [2021 Reviewed]

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A Quick Overview of the Best Laptops for Networking, Cisco and Network Engineers

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We understand that you may be in a hurry, so if that is the case, we’d like you to know that we have chosen the Lenovo Thinkpad T490 as the best laptop for network engineers. Not only is it the most affordable laptop on this list, it also offers the most bang for your buck, with strong connectivity features which include an Ethernet port and excellent battery life!


The work environment for network engineers is demanding in every aspect with rapid changes in technology happening every other day. Networking has become an essential part of the modern world helping us keep all of our systems intact. Are you a network engineer on a quest for a new computer that would help you perform your day to day tasks? If so, then you have come to the right place!

Along with network maintenance, engineers need to share heavy files and other data without interruption. They need portable computers that are able to uplift the task of networking. We know that you’re not a computer science student, but you’ll end up in diverse virtual environments and engage in different areas such as MATLAB programming, querying SQL databases, or running complex programs such as PRTG Network Monitor or Cisco Packet Tracer.

Even though there are several different computers available in the market, we want you to choose the best laptop for networking, compatible with all the power demanding CISCO applications and complex programming environments. You also want to go for a laptop that has excellent build quality and is upgradeable so it is more future proof.

As network engineers are always on the move, these laptops must be portable and lightweight to take and work anywhere. For high performance, laptops with fast processors and exceptional storage are a must! Besides these features, good connectivity is essential for these machines since the networking job depends on compatibility with other devices.

Lastly, to work long hours, an extended battery life is also paramount and you also want to get a laptop that is fit for remote work so a good camera for video conferencing would be great. A solid laptop is always an allrounder, not only good for your job but also for leisure activities such as watching YouTube or Netflix.

After reading all of the above, you may be wondering how to choose best device for networking. To make it easy for you, we have provided detailed information about 3 of the best laptops for network engineers. The reviews are neutral, and we have tried to explain their best features to help you make the right decision for yourself.

Top 3 Laptops for Networking, Cisco and Network Engineers [Reviews]

Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Microsoft is known for some of the best laptops in the market. When it comes to networking, the ultra-slim, lightweight Microsoft Surface Pro 7 laptop of the Surface Pro series leaves no stone unturned! This is a highly sophisticated laptop that can be further customized as per your needs.

Whether at home or at the office, you will not be disappointed with its high-class performance. This next-generation laptop is equipped with a 12.3 inches touch screen which is designed for pen input and can instantly be transformed from a high functioning laptop to a tablet, and even to a portable studio.

The laptop’s screen resolution of 2736 X 1824 pixels is excellent for high quality animated display and offers impressive sharp and vibrant colors. The laptop comes with a great responsive touch and an integrated Intel Iris plus graphics card. With the inclusion of the 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD, the laptop is built to deliver higher performance, to a level much higher than all of its predecessors.

With the instant-on utility, you can boot the laptop right away and get back to work without any delay, anytime you want. Along with the fast i7 processor, the exceptional 16 Gb RAM and the 256 GB SSD hard drive are perfect for all sorts of high tech stuff and will allow you to do all of your networking tasks efficiently with no lag while using multiple applications. These features make the Surface Pro 7 perfect for networking professionals allowing them to run tasks smoothly in a limited amount of time. The laptop also has the new Wi-Fi 6 utility offering a much faster connection.

This versatile laptop is available in two different colors: matte black and platinum. With the inclusion of USB-C and USB-A ports, you can enjoy better connectivity wherever you go, or whatever you intend to do. The USB-C connector is a great thing to have as it allows you to connect charging cables, keyboard, headphones, and 4k monitors for presentations. Design wise, it is quite similar to the Surface Pro 6, but the hardware quality on this machine is far superior!

The laptop’s battery life significantly varies with use. According to the manufacturer, you can expect somewhere around 10.5 hours, however, with heavy usage, it will be in the ballpark of 4-6 hours. You do have the option to make it better by playing with your power settings. As long as you use the OEM charger, you can charge 50 percent of the battery in less than an hour. One of our favorite things about the Surface Pro 7 is that it weighs only 1.7 lbs! Finding a monster machine with such capability at this weight is almost impossible! Microsoft has really crushed its competition here with portability.

You also have the option buy a surface type cover and a surface pen separately if you please. You will have to spend a bit more, but this is optional, really a matter of convenience. One thing that Microsoft did not include is a backlit keyboard, but since the computer also can be used as a tablet, you can give this one a pass. Another thing to keep in mind is that the laptop will not work properly if the original accessories are not attached to it, like the keyboard or the pen. The upgraded microphones provide stronger accuracy, offering a louder and clearer voice perfect for video conferencing calls.

Even though you can touch, write, and type with ease, sometimes the small screen size may get a bit irritating, especially if you have to work constantly for longer periods. However, you can combat this by going into tablet mode where you also have the option to move around easily. The laptop is easy to hold and comfortable and even though it is not ideal for gaming or watching movies, it is an excellent choice for all networking professionals!

What We Liked
  • Extremely lightweight and portable
  • Excellent 10th Gen processor
  • Good variety of connecting ports
  • Dual function (Laptop and Tablet)
  • Decent battery life
What We Didn’t Like
  • The Screen Size is a bit small
  • No backlit keyboard

Apple MacBook Pro

If you are a Mac lover and are looking for a solid return on your investment, Apple’s new MacBook Pro is a great option! The 15.6 mm ultra-slim, space gray colored laptop weighing only 3.1 lbs is a seamless powerhouse portable gadget that features the industry’s best technology.

To access the necessary functions of this laptop with a single touch, The Touch Bar is provided on the top of MacBook Pro’s backlit magic keyboard.  Other than providing shortcuts and quick access to commands, the fingerprint sensor also adapts to your actions. The Touch ID also facilitates quick unlocking of your device and provides fast authentication for making online purchases from Apple’s platform using your Apple ID.

This laptop delivers exceptional performance while reducing power usage, thanks to the induction of Intel’s high-end processor – the 8th generation 1.4 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with turbo boost up to 3.9 GHz. With 8 GB of RAM and the ultrafast 256 GB SSD (Solid-state drive), you get faster speed and more storage utility.

The display of the MacBook Pro is equally as important as the other sophisticated hardware components, for an eye-catching presentation the 13-inch screen is supported by the striking retina display with true tone technology. The screen’s brightness can be advanced up to 500 nits, which is actually quite comfortable for your eyes!

The integrated Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 enhance the laptop’s visual performance by up to 80% with 25% more colors than sRGB (Standard Red Green Blue color space). This means you get to enjoy the stunning graphics of your favorite videos, and not just this, the brilliant wide stereo has a kickass sound! If you are into photography or wish to edit your videos, this machine will not disappoint you at all. For users of the iPhone 11 pro, the laptop has a synchronization feature that lets them respond to text messages, read emails, and even answer phone calls.

There are dedicated apps on the laptop to work with different programs and other technology for network engineers and developers. The scissor keys of the magic keyboard are quiet and comfortable and require relatively less force than most other keyboards. A dedicated escape key lets you quickly switch between modes and views. You can easily navigate through any program, be it a game or a spreadsheet you are working on.

The machine comes equipped with two multipurpose Thunderbolt 3 (USB C) ports which give you high-speed data transfer utility. You can transfer data with a speed of up to 40 GB per second. All the ports give you the liberty to charge and provide power. The output video port from both sides of the MacBook Pro supports one 6K, one 5K, or up to two 4K displays. For a fast, stable, and secure internet connection, the laptop comes with Wi-Fi, 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking, compatible IEEE 802.11. Also, with the use of Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology, you can transfer data at high speed.

The laptop runs on a lithium-ion battery. Although the company states that the routine battery life of this laptop is up to 10 hours, it entirely depends upon the usage of this laptop that either retains or reduces the company’s mentioned battery life. However, on average, the battery life of this laptop is not so encouraging and may last for 3 – 4 hours only which is quite standard for most windows machines, however not the best for Macs. The accessories of this laptop include 61W USB-C Power Adapter and a 2-meter USB-C Charge Cable.

In simple words, the MacBook Pro 13 inch is a type of machine with which you can perform all network engineering tasks with ease and experience a whole new level of elevation in performance and precision. Network engineers will always find this portable powerhouse ever ready to take up all challenging tasks and outperform most of its adversaries due to its high performing processor, RAM, amazingly fast storage, fabulous graphics, and extraordinary thunderbolt ports!

What We Liked
  • Touch ID for fast unlocking
  • Fast processing speed
  • Two Thunderbolt Ports
  • High quality resolution
  • Portable device
  • Backlit keyboard
What We Didn’t Like
  • It is a little expensive
  • Battery life is low

Lenovo Thinkpad T490

Lenovo is a remarkable brand always noted for its performance and durability throughout different domains. The ThinkPad series offers one of the best build quality in the market and has all the characteristics to look for with an excellent return on investment. These laptops are built to last long and work efficiently. If you want to buy an affordable computer that comes with all the features and specifications required for networking, then the Lenovo ThinkPad T490 is an excellent choice!

The T490 comes with an Eighth generation Intel i5 processor (Intel Core i5-8265U) which is fast and robust! The frequency of this processor is 1.60 GHz which can be clocked up to 3.90 GHz with Turbo Boost, 6 MB Cache, 4 Cores. Honestly, this is more than enough for a network engineer or other technical professional. This multitasking laptop rarely hangs due to its excellent processing speed. It is almost as if this processor was built keeping networking professionals in mind.

The newer processors are great, but they also cost a lot of money and the incremental performance just doesn’t add up to the dollars spent. Besides an 8th generation If you’re looking for something that delivers pure value, the T490 offers much more performance for the money you spend!

The laptop has also been upgraded to 16 GB of DDR4 RAM, while hard drive has been switched out for a 256 SSD. The exceptional memory and space help maximize productivity and allow you to run heavy duty programs with ease. A perfect combination, exceeds some of the best laptops being offered in the market, especially within this price range.

The T490 comes with a 14 inch 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) IPS display (excellent size, neither too big, nor too small, especially if you’re looking for something that’s easy to carry around) and includes one HDMI, Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 / USB 3.2 Gen 1, RJ-45, Headphone/microphone combo jack and two USB Type-A (USB 3.1 / USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports.

Did you notice the RJ-45? That’s the ethernet port most network engineers look for! Extremely rare find in most modern laptops! Definitely an added plus if that’s something you’re looking for in your next laptop. Other networking features on this laptop include IEEE 802.11ac with Bluetooth 5.0 and the laptop also has a backlit keyboard.

Finally the laptop comes with Intel UHD Graphics 620 integrated graphics and weighs 3.41 pounds which is neither too light nor too heavy. Most newer laptops could be lighter, but you’d end up paying a premium for that price. The weight to size ratio is pretty decent here! The battery life of this machine realistically fits in somewhere around the 6 – 8 hour window, even though the manufacturer states it to be around 15 hours. The laptop also comes with a NexiGo Wireless Mouse so if you’re not comfortable using the trackpad then it’s an added plus! All in all, the T490 is a lethal machine, built like a tank, with a good focus on networking, portability and raw power. Highly recommended!

What We Liked
  • Most affordable option on the list
  • Excellent value for money!
  • Excellent processor and storage
  • Built like a tank!
  • Excellent battery life, better than other expensive high performance laptops
  • J-45 Ethernet Port
  • Lightweight and portable
What We Didn’t Like
  • The only laptop on this website where we could find no cons 🙂

Final Words

Networking is all about speed, portability, and data transfer. Graphics, sound, and keyboard utilities are definitely an added plus, but not essential for performing networking tasks. While shortlisting laptops for networking engineers, We wanted to focus more on professional requirements than anything else. Though a high price is evident if you go for a high-end laptop with all bells and whistles, if a laptop serves your purpose well within a limited budget, there is no need to buy an expensive machine, unless that is your personal preference.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 laptop is a multi-purpose machine built to work the way you want it to! Its touch screen technology provides quick access to the applications you want to access. The laptop to tablet conversion feature definitely makes it stand out from the rest of the crowd. Excellent display, super-fast processor, high-speed RAM, blazing-fast storage and 1.7 lbs. weight are exceptional features of this laptop that enhance its performance significantly.  Even the average battery life of this laptop is not bad as 4-5 hours are enough to perform a job in one sitting. If you are willing to spend more, and value the laptop to tablet conversion feature, then this laptop could be your final choice. Although it is quite pricey and includes a ton of features that are not required for network engineers.

The MacBook Pro 13 inch is yet another high-end machine, built for Mac lovers, that beats most laptops in terms of performance. This laptop works like heavy artillery when it comes to handling multiple tasks. It is full of stunning features and performs amazingly, the way you want it to. It is adaptable to the working needs of the end-user and meets all major networking requirements. From processing to graphics display and storage to fast speed data transfer, this ultra-slim gadget is a real magic box. The short battery life is a bit disappointing although it varies depending upon usage, so you might want to customize the settings if you would wish for it to work a little more hours for you. If you are Mac user, this is hands down the perfect choice! Especially if you want to run Linux or other technical programs. For anyone accustomed to Macs, it is hard to go back to windows, so in that regard, you should go with this machine. However, if you are not hell bent on a Mac, we would advise against purchasing this machine due to the hefty price tag.

If you are quality and budget-conscious, then the Lenovo Thinkpad T490 is a machine that will serve you really well! It is perfectly designed to meet the requirements of network engineers who would love to spend less on a high-quality product. The screen size of the laptop is perfect for mobility, its resolution is also fine while performing any networking jobs. The fast speed processor, reasonably high-speed RAM, and commendable storage facility makes it a perfect choice for all multi-taskers. It also includes an Ethernet port and is a machine that is built to last!

For internet and data transfer, the inclusion of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth features are excellent for a budget friendly machine. The webcam and audio are also great for holding any remote meetings. With a great selection of Ethernet and USB ports, you do not have to worry about networking and data transfer issues. The battery life on this machine is unbeatable!

Imagine if you could work for a full day without charging your laptop’s battery. The laptop is lightweight, and that is all you need while on the move to perform your job. If you are looking for a bang for your buck, We would strongly recommend you buy the Lenovo T490. It is a real compact powerhouse built to perform networking tasks with ease!

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