Best Laptops for Electrical Engineering Students

Being an engineering student is as hard as it is. On top of that, facing decision fatigue as to which laptop to buy is even more frustrating. Getting something too cheap might result in poor performance and your laptop may become outdated within a year or two. On the contrary, getting something too expensive will be difficult for any student because of their strict budget. Finding a happy medium in this case is really necessary.

You’re not majoring in CS, but you’re still going to encounter a lot of high-end software that will require a fair bit of processing. Your professors will probably end up using hardware description languages such as Verilog and circuit simulation programs such as LTspice in class, for activities you will have to replicate in homework assignments. You’re also going to have a dozen different browser tabs open at the same time while troubleshooting. While almost any computer can handle these tasks individually, you need something with a powerful processor, so you can multi-task and run things simultaneously without any performance hiccups.

Along with that you will probably work with a CAD software like KiCAD. Luckily, you aren’t required to run HFSS (Antenna Design), Cadence (Electronic Design Automation), ADS (Circuit Design & Simulation), and other similar design related software on your own laptop, for these you will most likely log into an external environment due to licensing issues, therefore you shouldn’t really be worrying about your laptop handling them.

In addition to a powerful processor, another thing you want to look out for is the heft of the device. Portability is one of the categories most people overlook especially because customers focus more on the actual specs, than simply the dimensions. You’ll find that a heavier laptop, puts a lot more strain on your back, resulting in multitudinous back problem. Even if you manage to avoid such problems, the fact that you have a 6 pound plus slab of metal on your back is quite annoying.

The last thing you should look for is having an excellent battery life. For someone who is going to use his computer for an entire day, running heavy battery devouring applications, having a good battery life can be essential. Not only that, you will also be running a lot of demanding programs, which will not only tax your processor, but also your battery life.

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Dell XPS 15 Review

Dell XPS 15 is one of the top machines out there that works out for pretty much anyone, regardless of their profession. You will find a lot of laptops in this price range which may do a thing or two really well, but completely fail on something else. Luckily, the XPS 15 an amazing machine that is durable and powerful in every aspect!

For electrical engineers, arguably the most important factor when looking for a laptop is the performance. Luckily, the Dell XPS 15 is no slouch in that department. You are provided with a powerful 10th Generation Intel Core i7-10750H. And that’s not all, you also get a dedicated graphics card in the form of Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti 4GB GDDR6 GPU. It will shred thorough all graphically demanding programs, whether they be CADs like SOLIDWORKS, or high speed design tools such as HYPERLYNX. While having a powerful graphical performance isn’t a necessity, it will surely provide you a better experience and make your device a lot more future proof.

Even the memory and storage sector of this laptop are excellent. For starters, you get 512 GB of M.2 PCIe NVMe solid state drive fast storage. While most people may also be comfortable with a 256 GB drive, but once you factor in the excessive projects as well as any games, movies or other media content, anything below 512 GB starts looking a bit low. Not only that, but also the storage is upgradeable, however, we highly doubt that your needs would exceed beyond a 512 GB drive.

You also get a massive 16GB DDR4-2933MHz RAM. This is another area that Dell could cut corners on and provide you with only 8 GB and no one would’ve complained, but they didn’t. The extra memory will ensure that multiple programs can run in the background. As an electrical engineer who works with a lot of programs, a decent sized RAM will ensure that you don’t have to refresh while switching between programs.

As for the display, you get a 15.6 inch, 16:10 FHD+ edge to edge Touch Anti-Reflective 500-Nit display. Basically, it’s really bright, sharp, and produces beautiful colors. It also covers 100% Adobe RGB and 94% DCI-P3 color gamut. While having a good display is not completely necessary for an electrical engineer, when you’re handling a lot of visual work such as running simulations in Simulink, having a good display just makes your work easier and more pleasing to look at it. It also serves as a perfect media consumption device, considering it has one of the best speakers you can find on any laptop. Many consider it to be the perfect display, and we can’t help but agree.

One of the only things that we found lacking in this laptop is the port selection. You get three USB-C ports and even a headphone jack, but there is no USB-A. Luckily, there are a lot of third-party USB docks, which will get the job done and won’t cost you that much. Considering that the lack of ports can be justified by the sleekness of the device as well as the heat dissipation system, it’s not really a major disadvantage.

You also get a webcam, a fingerprint scanner, Windows Hello facial recognition, a perfect trackpad that blows out all others in the market, a top-notch thermal exhaust system, and an industry-leading backlit keyboard, which beats out most premium ones in the market. As you can see, the XPS 15 absolutely loaded with features that anyone will appreciate, regardless of what their major or profession is.

The Dell XPS 15 comes in at 16.8 x 12.9 x 6.1 inches and weighs 4.25 pounds. It’s a bit heavier than other thin ultra-books, but considering the power and features you get, it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. Moreover, you get a premium aluminum chassis and a carbon fiber armrest, making it one of the best designed and built laptops out there. You get an 86Wh battery, which provides a battery life of 6 to 8 hours with strong use, although your usage may vary. All in all, this is a great machine! Ideal for Electric Engineering students looking for something powerful!

PROSCONS
Build qualityLack of USB A port
Upgradable 16GB RAM, 512 GB SSDSlightly heavy
Stunning display 
Excellent backlit keyboard and trackpad 
Perfect thermals 
Great battery life 

Lenovo X1 Carbon Review

Not everyone is willing to shell out a ton of money on a laptop and that’s completely understandable. Luckily, you don’t need to spend a lot to get a powerful machine. That’s where the Lenovo X1 ThinkPad Carbon comes in. It’s much cheaper than the previous option and provides a lot of great specs that will satisfy most electrical engineering requirements. If you know anything about the ThinkPad lineup, you’ll understand why we put it here. They provide reliable features, in an amazing body, excluding unnecessary features that you will forget about in a week. It is truly made for productivity, and if you want a device to boost your workflow, then you must check it out.

It is powered by the Intel 8th Gen Core i5-8265U, with integrated Intel UHD graphics. At first, this might seem like a bit of a downgrade, especially considering that you’re getting an almost 2-year-old processor. However, we believe that it’s actually a smart move by Lenovo. The gains in performance are very insignificant between an 8th and 10th gen i5 U series chip, which is hardly 3 to 5 percent faster. Going with a slightly older chipset will allow for massive gains in other areas of the laptop, which are a lot more beneficial. A newer processor would’ve definitely gotten Lenovo better marketing, however, it is good to see a company that is focused on the end-user. You won’t have any trouble with the performance of this laptop for at least the next five years, and the laptop will handle anything you throw at it like a champ.

Along with the processor you get 8 GB of LPDDR3 2133 MHz, which is upgradeable to 16GB. This is something that we have come to expect from laptops in this price range. You don’t have to upgrade it right away, but if you ever decide to in the future, it is good to know that the option is there. Along with that, you get a 256 GB SSD OPAL2 PCIe TLC, which should be enough for most people, but if you ever find the need to upgrade it, the option for that is available as well. You can also go for an external device if you’re one to favor portability.

The display is an important part of any laptop since it’s something you interact with all the time. At a lower price range, manufacturers tend to cheap out on this section as it’s something that doesn’t appear on the spec sheet. Luckily, that’s not the case here. You get a 14″ FHD (1920×1080) Low Power IPS 400nits Anti-glare screen, which gets plenty bright for outdoor usage, while also producing sharp images with vibrant colors. There are also narrow bezels all around, not as narrow as the ones found on the Dell, but they still improve the overall look of the device.

Another area where this laptop shines is the port selection. You get 2 Intel® Thunderbolt™ 3, 2 USB 3.0, an HDMI, an Ethernet, and a headphone/microphone jack. You can clearly see Lenovo has the end-user experience in mind when making the decision as to which ports to include. Working with hardware is your primary objective, and you will likely be using things like Arduinos and other similar devices which have to be hooked to your computer. In that case, having additional ports is a great feature!

Moreover, the X1 Carbon has other features such as good webcam, fingerprint scanner, red TrackPoint, and an amazing backlit keyboard. The keyboard itself is another great surprise. Along with being backlit, it also feels amazing to type, especially for longer periods when you’re writing code in C++ or Python.

While the Dell XPS 15 has a noticeably better keyboard, the one on the X1 carbon is also pretty good. Another discrete feature is the inclusion of a shutter to cover the camera when not in use. This is may come in handy during Video calls, in which you don’t want to show your own video. It saves you from the hassle of constantly checking to make sure if your video is turned off. It also eradicates the need for tapes over webcams, which may leave a residue.

The dimensions of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon are 12.73″ x 8.54″ x 0.62, and it weighs approximately 3 pounds. As you can see, it’s really light and easy to carry. The battery is rated at Li-ion 57 Whr, and is advertised to provide 15 hours of on-screen time, although, with your usage, you can expect a battery life of up to 8 to 10 hours, which is still amazing considering the size of the laptop. Moreover, you get the option to fast charge at 45 W with Rapid Charge technology. All of these features make this machine an amazing choice for electrical engineers who are looking for a top-of-the-line experience without paying a premium.

PROSCONS
Upgradeable RAM and storageNot the latest storage
Stunning displayOnly 256 GB of storage
Great port selection 
Excellent backlit keyboard 
Webcam shutter 
Thin and light 
Great battery life 

HP 15 Touchscreen Premium Review

If you’re looking for a touch screen laptop, which will easily fulfill your electrical engineering requirements without breaking the bank, then you should consider buying the HP 15 Touchscreen Premium.

You will be pleasantly surprised with the processor as you get the 10th Generation Intel(r) Core (TM) i5-1035g1 Processor quad-core 1 0 GHz Base frequency up to 3 6 GHz with Intel’s) Turbo Boost Technology. It comes with a similar integrated GPU as on the Lenovo. It is about 15 percent faster overall, but that’s something you won’t notice in day-to-day performance, however it should do a bit better with heavy programs as well as over a long period of time.

As for the memory, it comes with a massive 16 GB of DDR4 2666 MHz RAM, which should be fast and more than enough for your usage. While even 8 GB would have been sufficient here, it’s good to see that HP has thought about the performance of their product as well as how well it would perform a few years down the line. They even provided us with 512 GB PCIE(R) NVME. (TM) M.2 Solid State Drive, for fast boot-ups as well as quick program opening times. Moreover, the storage is upgradeable if anyone wants to have this option. We were thoroughly impressed by the storage and memory offerings of this computer and most people should have no problem with having this machine as their daily driver.

The screen is a 15.6-inch diagonal HD SVA bright View micro-edge WLED-backlit touchscreen panel (1366 x 768). Sadly, many users have complained that it isn’t a really good panel. Not only is it not sharp, but also has blown out colors, which aren’t pleasing to look at. If you look at it up front, then it is usable, however, the viewing angles aren’t that good. If this was a more expensive laptop, it would be a major disadvantage, but considering the low price as well as the abundance of features such as the touchscreen, we are willing to let this one slide. Another slight drawback is the design, it’s not terrible but isn’t outstanding as well. Obviously, this shouldn’t dictate your purchase decision as it’s a pretty minor drawback, but you should be aware of it.

What did not disappoint us is the solid port selection, which, while not being as extensive as the one found on the ThinkPad, is still more than good enough for all types of users. You get 1 HDMI, 1 SD-Card slot, 1 headphone/microphone combo, 1 USB 3, 1 Type-C Gen 1 (Data Transfer up to 5 Gb/s), 2 USB 3, 1 Gen 1 (Data transfer only), and 1 AC smart pin. There are many more features that make this laptop a much more compelling offer such as the inclusion of a pretty decent webcam and HP customer service with a one-year warranty.

The laptop’s dimensions are 19 x 12 x 3 inches and it weighs 3.75 lbs. It is a perfect size for most people and you won’t have any trouble moving around. No matter how thin a laptop is, it isn’t truly portable if it doesn’t have a good battery life. We all know how annoying it is to constantly carry a charger and search for a wall outlet. Luckily, the HP 15 does okay in this scenario. You get a 41Whr 3-cell lithium-ion battery, which provides you with 4 to 5 hours of battery life. This is not the best, but it’s enough to get you through the day without a recharge. Overall, this is a great laptop with many features and minimal compromises.

PROS CONS
Great priceDisplay
Touch screenUnimpressive design
PortableBattery life is not as good as Lenovo or Dell
  

Final Words

All three laptops were amazing in their own way, however, only one of them can be declared the best one of all. Below, we have summarized the reviews of each of the devices and have provided a final verdict as to which one of them is the best.

The first laptop we reviewed was the Dell XPS 15 and it is definitely a worthy contender to be your daily driver. If you can afford it, it won’t disappoint you in any area. It has a lot of minute features that will make your laptop experience just that much better. An example of this is the keyboard, which outclasses all competitors. Dell having a huge market share has done a lot of reinvestment in their products. A perfect example of this is the design and materials used, which through their economies of scale, have managed to be better than the rest of the competition, including Apple’s offerings. The few disadvantages aren’t deal-breakers, such as the lack of a USB A port or the slight heavy design. Overall, it’s an excellent laptop to buy for any electrical engineer looking for a reliable device.

Next comes the Lenovo X1 ThinkPad carbon. It’s an amazing laptop, with a lot of useful and necessary features and very few drawbacks. Electrical engineers will appreciate things like a great battery, as well as great future upgradeability. The processor is decent enough, and if you don’t need a lot of power, this can be the perfect laptop for you.

Lastly, we talked about the HP 15 Touchscreen Premium. It’s the cheapest laptop of the bunch, but that doesn’t mean it’s a total slouch. It managed to hold its own and, in some cases, even outperform its higher-priced competitors. It’s the perfect laptop for electrical engineers, who don’t want to get into the complications of buying a laptop, but just want a reliable work machine. Having the touch screen is a plus, which has a lot of use scenarios and will give you easier navigation through your device.

It’s finally time to announce which laptop comes on top. All three of them will provide a great experience for most people, and for the most part you’ll be happy with either of these. However, since there can only be one winner, we think that the Dell XPS 15 is the best amongst the three. It has often been declared as the best laptop ever. Dell has definitely nailed it over here, providing an amazing experience for the most part. You get the convince of a dedicated GPU, which will come in handy when running Graphically demanding programs such as CAD software, Altium Designer, etc. If you want more of a high-end mid-range laptop, then we recommend getting the Lenovo ThinkPad, as not only does it provide many excellent and practical features like a great keyboard and vast selection of ports, but also has very little compromises. If you must get a touchscreen then you can go for the HP, but since a touchscreen isn’t a really necessary feature, we think that most people should go for the Lenovo, due to it being a bit more feature-rich than the rest.