Best Laptop for Physics Majors

If you’re going to college to get a degree in Physics, then you probably already know that a laptop is an essential piece of equipment for every incoming student. Most schools will have a nice computer lab, however, it is much more convenient to work on your own device instead of going to labs and working in a crowded environment.

As a physics student you don’t need to go for a really advanced laptop, but you still have to consider a machine with decent specs. These days any mid-range branded laptop would be good enough for getting the job done. Studying physics is different than computer science, network or electrical engineering, however, at some point, you’re going to end up using Python, Matlab, Maple, Mathematica or other similar programs or environments for your class projects and homework assignments.

A lot of scientific software does well on Linux, so you’re going to want Ubuntu or another distro installed on your machine. Windows 10 has a really nice Ubuntu-based shell called Windows Subsystem for Linux. If you use that program, you can open an X window as well, so it’s better to get a Dual boot system that gives you the option of running two OS at a time. If not, then you can always spend more and get a mac since running Linux on Apple machines is a breeze!

Let’s face it, you do not only need a computer for school work, but also for personal leisure activities such as, video conferencing, gaming or watching Netflix. You want to go for a well-built portable laptop with excellent specs, something with a good processor and decent RAM, that will give you strong performance and flexibility to move around.

For sophisticated programming, MacBooks are super-efficient, but not everyone enjoys working on a mac. For that reason, I have also reviewed two exceptional Windows computers which are equally as good and well suited to your needs.

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MacBook Air Review

Are you a fan of the Mac operating system and looking for something portable and powerful enough to meet your requirements? If so, then the latest Apple MacBook Air is an excellent choice for you! It is a powerful machine that delivers exceptional performance with several premium features that you won’t find in your everyday laptops. With a well-built design and curved edges, giving the device a slim and sleek look, the MacBook Air has a lightweight body and a space grey aluminum framework, making it extremely portable and adding to its overall durability.

The device comes equipped with a 13.3-inch Retina display with True Tone technology. The LED-backlit screen with IPS technology has a 16:10 aspect ratio and 2560-by-1600 native resolution at 227 pixels per inch which supports millions of colors. The fantastic high-resolution screen provides plenty of space due to its thin bezels, and the aspect ratio is perfect for juggling multiple tasks during class. The resolution gives crisp and clear images while making presentations, and the retina display makes it easy to work in sunlight providing an awesome level of detail and brightness.

The MacBook features a 1.1GHz Tenth-generation dual-core Intel Core i3 processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz and 4MB of L3 cache that ensures fast multitasking for tackling demanding tasks and is great for running complicated software with ease. In addition to the processor, the device comes with 8 GB of Memory, a fast 256 GB SSD storage, and Intel Iris Plus Graphics, which gives a boost to your processor and allows you to run multiple programming environments smoothly. With 8 GB of RAM and the 256 GB SSD, you can seamlessly open multiple applications without experiencing any lag. The Intel Iris Plus Graphics is also great for playing games and watching Netflix.

With the MacBook Air, Apple has redesigned its keyboard, which looks stunning and gives excellent performance. The new keyboard is backlit with a scissor mechanism that gives you a smooth typing experience. The 720 pixels webcam works well for Facetiming and attending Zoom meetings, while the Touch ID is extremely responsive, giving you quick access to your apps and ensuring the security of your data. The Stereo speakers with the wider stereo provide crystal clear sound, perfect for when you want to attend classes or meet with your group remotely.

The MacBook Air is extremely user-friendly, and the setup process is also quite easy, even if you are coming from a Windows background. The device supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking: IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible and Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology. For a student, a strong Wi-Fi connection is absolutely essential, especially since you are always on the move. The connectivity ports include Two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports with support for charging, DisplayPort, Thunderbolt (up to 40 Gbps), USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10 Gbps). These ports are more than enough for everyday use. If you want more variety then you have the option connect an external hub.

The fan on the MacBook Air does get a little loud sometimes with a heavy workload, but it goes back to normal pretty quickly so it’s not something you have to worry about. A good way to overcome this is by installing a CPU temperature app which will help mitigate overheating issues and let you know when to give your device a break.

The device weighs around 2.8 pounds and has 12.76 x 2.4 x 9.09 inches dimensions, making it a nice portable option for students. The box includes a 30W USB-C Power Adapter, a USB-C Charge Cable (2 m), and a lithium-ion battery that gives up to 10 hours of battery life as claimed by the manufacturer. While that may be true if you do not have a heavy workload and operate your machine and at a low brightness, with powerful applications, you can expect a battery life of about 7 – 8 hours depending on your workflow. Overall, the MacBook Air is a good portable option with reliable performance that would be a very solid choice for any Physics major!

PROSCONS
Battery life is goodFan gets a little loud
Lightweight and portable 
High resolution and perfect screen size 
Fast processing with adequate memory 

Dell XPS 13 Review

Dell is one of the most well-known brands on the market that offers high-quality laptops with premium features at very reasonable prices. The newest Dell XPS 13 7390 Laptop is a balanced yet portable choice that meets most of the requirements for Physics students. The aluminum and plastic composition makes the XPS 13 durable while giving it a lovely touch at the same time.

The laptop comes with a 13.3 inches Full HD Anti-glare Touchscreen with IPS technology and a resolution of (1920 x 1080) pixels. The screen size makes this laptop portable and easy to carry in your backpack. The touch screen is ultra-responsive, and the anti-glare feature allows you to work at different angles giving you a clean display. The XPS 13 is equipped with a 10th Generation Intel Quad-Core i5-10210U processor with 1.6 GHz base clock, up to 4.2 GHz max boost clock, 6 MB Intel Smart Cache and 8 Threads, which is super-fast and beats some of the i7 processors as well! With this configuration, you won’t experience any lag while multi-tasking or opening multiple browser tabs at the same time.

8GB DDR4 of memory and 512GB PCIe SSD of storage is ideal for running programs like Mathematica and you also get plenty of space on your hard drive for saving projects and other large files that you may want to hold on to. The Integrated Intel HD Graphics is excellent for working with high-end graphic software or applications, and it improves the overall performance, enabling you to handle your workload with ease.

The keyboard is backlit with bright LED lights, allowing you to work easily in the dark. The webcam has a new 4-element lens to deliver sharp and clear video to all areas of the frame, perfect for video conferencing and Zoom meetings. The fingerprint facility provides fast authentication, an excellent feature for added security.

The networking features include Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 (2 x 2) and Bluetooth 5.1 which offer fast speed for data transfer. The laptop offers an excellent port selection which includes 2 Thunderbolt 3 with Power Delivery and DisplayPort; 1 USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type C port with DisplayPort/Power Delivery; 1 microSD-card reader; 1 Universal audio port, all of which go well beyond ports being offered by laptops in the same category and price range. 

The trackpad is smooth and easy to use, but your purchase also comes with an iCrap Wireless Mouse which is a ‘nice to have’. The dimensions of this device are 11.9″ x 7.8″ x 0.46″, which is excellent for portability, and its weight is 2.7 lbs again very lightweight and easy to carry.

The battery on this device great, giving you 5-7 hours of life after a full charge. You can also use Wi-Fi and run other applications on a brightness of approximately 50% with this battery time. Overall, the Dell XPS 13 is a great machine! It has absolutely killer features that are hard to match by any other device in this price range.

PROSCONS
Good display and resolutionAverage Audio
Lightweight and portable 
Good battery life 

ASUS Zenbook 13 Review

The Asus ZenBook 13 Ultra-Slim Laptop comes in a Royal blue color, composed of aluminum and plastic, a very durable and sturdy built. This compact and premium looking laptop provides a lot of versatility in performance due to its powerful specs. It comes with a remarkable 13.3 inches Full HD screen that has a Nano Edge Bezel and a glossy display, which is perfect to work on for extended periods of time. The resolution of the screen is 1920 x 1080 Pixels with a 3:2 aspect ratio which gives you a lot of space for writing code and juggling multiple windows at the same time.

The ZenBook features the latest 10th generation Intel Core i7-10510u Core Processor (8M Cache, up to 4.9 GHz) that is strong enough for running demanding programing environments (MATLAB/Python) and other applications such as Maple and Mathematica. With discrete graphics NVIDIA GeForce MX250, 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD storage and 16GB RAM, you get to run all your programs simultaneously without your system dying out. The processor and SSD storage allow you to open multiple tabs or browsers without any hassle. The discrete graphics card offers high-quality resolution, significantly improving the performance of your system, excellent for playing games and streaming videos.

A new feature introduced by Asus is the Innovative Screen pad 2.0, which is a 5.65 inch trackpad which also converts to a numeric keypad. It provides a new way to interact with your laptop, giving you flexibility to access your favorite apps such as Evernote, Spotify and many more. It has some built-in features such as the app navigator to manage your apps, as well as the number key icon used to enter numeric data.

The keyboard is backlit and works great, but the layout may take a little getting used to. Otherwise, the keys are small and soft to touch. The 3D IR camera works as a facial recognition device and helps you sign into your machine, great for convenience and security. The audio of this laptop works great, but the sound may be a little low for some people, if that is something that bothers you, you can attach external speakers for better results.

The laptop has powerful networking features which include Wi-Fi 6 (802.11Ax) and Bluetooth 5.0. You get excellent speed with intensive browsing networking, downloading, and uploading without any network interruptionYou also have extensive connectivity options with the HDMI, USB Type C, and Micro SD card reader. 

The laptop comes with Windows 10 pro and has dimensions of 11.89 x 0.72 x 7.44 inches. It weighs only 2.8 pounds, making it a super portable and lightweight device, easy to take with you anywhere. Finally, the manufacturer claims that the battery lasts up to 14 hours, as mentioned in the description, however, with intensive use you will get around 7-8 hours of battery life, which is actually pretty good! All in all, this is a great laptop to throw in a messenger bag and take to school! An excellent choice for a Physics major.

PROSCONS
Nano edge display with good resolutionSpeaker volume is a bit low
Innovative screen pad 
Fast processing with plenty of memory 
Facial Recognition 
Lightweight and portable. 

Final Words

There you go, we’re done going through three of the best laptops for physics majors anywhere! When it comes to buying a laptop, things may seem really complicated. It’s not easy to choose the right laptop when you have hundreds of different options available in the market. We hope that this informative article has made things a little bit easier for you and you’ll be able to purchase the best one according to your needs.

If you have been an Apple user, then the MacBook Air is probably your top choice, and rightfully so. The great thing about MacBook Airs is that they are not as expensive as MacBook Pros. So even if you have somewhat of a tight budget, you can still snag this machine. It is extremely portable with excellent resolution and graphics. The super-fast processing speed and memory are perfect for running all of your programs. It is lightweight and has enough battery life to last you for two school days. Perfect for college students in all majors. Highly recommended if you do not want to consider a windows machine!

The second choice is the Dell XPS 13, another high-end laptop loaded with powerful specs. With a responsive touch screen and sharp graphics, Dell has done a great job with making things more convenient. The speed of the processer with the combination of memory is enough for you to perform all of your functions easily.

While the XPS 13 is lightweight and portable, it is a little expensive especially considering the specs! It comes with an i5 and 8 GB of RAM which is fine for most programming environments and applications but it just doesn’t match up to the ZenBook. The ASUS ZenBook 13 will give you a lot more than the XPS 13 and it does so at pretty much the same price! It has a perfect screen size with Nano edge bezels and sharp resolution. It is a workhorse and can do intensive computing smoothly due to its super-fast processer (i7) and memory (16GB) both of which are a stellar upgrade to what the XPS 13 has to offer.

The screenpad feature on the ZenBook itself is worth going for this machine since it provides you a lot of flexibility and increases your productivity level. It weighs pretty much the same as the Dell but it offers a much higher battery life along with facial recognition that is very unique for laptops in this price range. The stable network connection features with desired connectivity ports enable you to plug in a ton of different external devices, however it does not have the Thunderbolt 3 like the Dell machine. So if this is a deal breaker then go for the XPS 13, but honestly the processor and memory are a much bigger factor that it is better to forego this feature. Overall, the ZenBook is a much better laptop and will serve you well. It is our recommendation is that you purchase the ZenBook, since it is the best windows laptop for a physics major, anywhere, anytime!