Best Laptop for Networking, Cisco and Network Engineers

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. It is not a good idea to get a cheap laptop for 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, you want to choose the best laptop for networking, compatible with all the power demanding CISCO applications and complex programming environments.

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.

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

Surface Pro 7 Review

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 comes with a 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 my favourite 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!

PROSCONS
Extremely lightweight and portableSmall screen size
Better connecting portsNo backlit keyboard
Durable material 
Brilliant display resolution. 

MacBook Pro Review

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!

PROSCONS
Touch ID for fast unlockingIt is a little expensive
Fast processing speedBattery life is low
High quality resolution 
Portable device 

Lenovo X260 Review

Lenovo is a remarkable brand always noted for its performance and durability throughout different domains. The ThinkPad series is on par with the best 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 X260 is an excellent choice!

The ThinkPad X260 comes with a 12.5-inch IPS Anti-Glare HD display with the dimensions of 12″ x 8.2″ x 0.83″ Inches. It has a 16:9 aspect ratio, 700:1 contrast ratio with a 170° viewing angle. It has a resolution of 1366×768, which can be disappointing for users, but it comes with a choice of three independent displays. You can upgrade it up to 1920×1080@60Hz (HDMI) at 300 nits. That is perfect for focusing on tiny details. Even without the upgrade, it delivers a superb mix of colors and brightness more than enough as per the requirements of a networking professional.

The X260 comes with Windows 10 Professional 64-bit preinstalled, supported by the Intel Dual Core i5-6200U 2.3 GHz Processor (Turbo up to 2.80 GHz, 2 Core 4 Threads, 3 MB SmartCache).  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.

It also offers Integrated Intel HD 520 graphics providing excellent visuals with up to 16GB DDR4 memory and 256GB SSD storage. With all these specifications and features, this laptop runs very fast and smooth, perfect for a network engineer. The exceptional memory maximizes your productivity and allows you to run power-demanding programs with ease.

For fast networking, Lenovo ThinkPad X260 offers Intel Wireless Dual-Band 8260ac (2×2) WI-FI + BlueTooth v4.1. This is a great feature for network engineers, as they require a strong connection while on the move. In addition to the aforementioned specifications, the keyboard consists of 6-row, spill-resistant, multimedia Function keys, and an LED back-light. The keyboard with its thin keys is quite formal and perfect for professional use, facilitates easy typing, and provides a great level of comfort.

The webcam has a HD720p resolution with a low light-sensitive fixed focus. The audio feature includes HD Audio, Realtek ALC3245 codec/stereo speakers, and a 1W x 2 / dual array microphone. The webcam, audio and microphone are perfect for video conferencing. The special fingerprint reader ensures the security of your machine, especially if you are using it for work. The ports on the X260 include a Headphone/Microphone Combo Jack, USB 3.0 Type-A (Always On), 4-in-1 reader (MMC, SD, SDHC, SDXC), Gigabit Ethernet (RJ-45), and security Lock Slot to the right. The left side ports include Power Cable, HDMI, MiniDP, 2 x USB3.0 Type-A.

The best thing about this laptop is its excellent battery life which can range from 12 to 18 hours with the external battery installed (It has both internal and external swappable batteries). Lenovo also offers to upgrade your laptop’s battery, but a 3-cell (23Wh) + another 3-cell (23Wh) Li-Ion are enough for formal and informal use. When both batteries are working great, then you only need to fully-charge your laptop once and you are good to go for the whole day! Even though battery life depends on the usage and may vary, the performance of this machine in this area is exceptional! This model weighs 3.18 lbs, which is again, excellent for portability.

Now, a 12.5- inch display with a 1366×768 resolution not bad, infact it is good enough for daily use, but it would be better to do an upgrade. You may face a little dullness on the screen while watching a high-quality movie/video at 1366×768, but it will not cause any problem while networking or doing your other office work. Finally, the screen size of 12.5 inches is a bit small, but since the focus is on networking and portability, it is totally fine! All in all, the X260 is a lethal machine, built like a tank, that never fails to deliver!

PROSCONS
Most affordable optionSmall screen of 12.5 inches
Battery life is extremely good!Not the best resolution
An easy to type keyboard 

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, I 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 its 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, I would advise against purchasing this machine due to the hefty price tag.

If you are quality and budget-conscious, then the Lenovo ThinkPad X260 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. 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 inclusion of internal and external batteries are the real advantage of buying this laptop because 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, I would strongly recommend you buy the Lenovo X260. It is a real compact powerhouse built to perform networking tasks with ease!