5 Best Laptops for Astronomers, Astronomy or Astrophotography

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What are the best laptops for astronomy, astronomers or astrophotography? If you are interested in celestial beings and want to work in a field related to it, you will not only need to have a creative eye and a good and powerful camera, but also a very good and powerful laptop.

However, searching for a good laptop for astronomy, astronomers, astrophotography and astrophysics is as difficult as the subject itself. Just buying a standard notebook or an average productivity workhorse will not suffice your needs.

You will need to find the most suitable one from the great variety of laptops of Windows, Mac, or Chromebook, available in the market.

The system should be able to run all those specific apps and software programs necessary for astrophysics such as the Starry Night Pro, Stellarium, and Maxim DL.

All these apps and software have some specific system requirements to run smoothly and therefore, it is essential for you to make sure that your device meets all of the pre-requirements to run the software.

It is challenging, no doubt, but then articles like this one will help you to take on and overcome such challenges most confidently, convincingly, and easily.

The list will help you to choose the right device for astronomy and the buying guide following it will help you decide which one to buy.

Laptops for Astronomers or Astronomy – Price (Top Picks)

How to Upgrade a Laptop for Astronomy, Astronomers or Astrophotography?

Once you have bought your laptop you may need to upgrade it down the road according to your needs and the type of job you are involved with. This will certainly not involve simply upgrading the memory and storage of the system.

Sometimes the processor may become outdated or you may need some more ports to make the best use of the new astrophotography hardware products that keep hitting the market continuously. These hardware components need a much faster and more capable machine to operate.

The best way to upgrade your existing system for astronomy and astrophotography is to add and use a small yet powerful Pegasus Astro Pocket Power Box. However, an outdated USB 2.0 port may lead to some issues in connecting this device.

You will also need to download some specific software from time to time to keep your system upgraded.

It includes specific planetarium software that will help in mapping the night sky from any place on the Earth, print star charts, and prepare extensive databases of the celestial objects.

You will also need some special observing software programs that are not exactly for featured planetariums but designed to view specific objects.

Also, CCD control and imaging software, robotic and remote-control software for telescope control, and other software that does not fall under these categories may be required.

Minimum & Recommended System Requirements for Astronomy, Astronomers or Astrophotography

If you are a beginner and limit your job to the basics of astronomy or astrophotography, the minimum configuration of your laptop should be an Intel Core i5 or an equivalent AMD Ryzen processor of a higher generation.

The base clock frequency must be of 1.5 GHz or more. A strong integrated or a mid-range dedicated graphics chip of Nvidia or AMD with at least 1 GB of video memory and OpenGL 1.4 support, 4 GB of RAM, and 256 GB of SSD storage are required. And, at least a 12-inches screen with full HD resolution will be good.

On the other hand, studying the complex celestial objects of the cosmos will need a complex set of equipment and a laptop that comes with hardware specs that are much more powerful than the minimum. It is for this reason you are advised to choose a laptop with the recommended set of hardware in it and overlook the minimum configuration.

Minimum system requirements: 7th generation Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 3 processor| 8 GB of RAM | 128 GB M.2 SSD storage | Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 or Nvidia GT 940M dedicated graphics or higher| 13.3 inches screen | 1920 x 1080 pixels screen resolution

Recommended system requirements: 6thgeneration Intel Core i7 or higher processor| 12 GB of RAM or higher | 256 GB SSD or larger storage | NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 or equivalent AMD Radeon Vega graphics card | 14 inches screen or bigger | 1920 x 1080 pixels or higher screen resolution

5 Best Laptops for Astronomers, Astronomy or Astrophotography:

1. MSI GS65 Stealth – Best Overall

MSI GS65 Stealth
 

Bottom Line: This laptop, powered with an Intel Core i7 processor and also powerful enough graphics from the Nvidia GeForce GTX family will not only meet with all the needs of astronomy, astronomers or astrophotography but will also offer the best overall performance than others even while gaming.

 

Key Features 

  • Screen: 15.6 inches
  • Storage: 512 GB NVMe SSD
  • RAM: 16 GB DDR4
  • Processor: 8th generation Intel Core i7 8750H
  • OS: Windows 10 Pro
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060

Pros 

  • The keyboard comes with RGB keys for comfortable typing.
  • The screen has narrow bezel on three sides to offer more viewing area.
  • It is thin, light, and fast.

Cons 

  • There is no separate number keypad on the keyboard.
  • The off-center trackpad may cause issues while typing.
  • The fan noise under heavy use can be annoying.

This is a good laptop that you can use for gaming as well apart from your needs for astronomy or astrophotography.

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It is a thin and light laptop with its weight perfectly proportioned at its base not to lift it while opening the screen with one hand.

The display of the unit is large enough and has a 4.9 mm narrow bezel to offer a larger real estate.

This 15.6-inch screen comes with full HD resolution that will make the images of the celestial objects look stunning on it.

The anti-glare property will not cause any strain in your eyes when you look at it for long hours at a stretch.

The wide view angle will allow you to see the images clearly from any side. The screen also comes with a high refresh rate of 144Hz, 7ms response time and 72%NTSC which makes it one of its kind.

The Windows 10 Pro operating system, the Intel Core i7 processor that comes with six cores and an operational speed ranging between 2.2 GHz and 4.1 GHz with Intel Turbo Boost technology, and the Nvidia GeForce graphics card with 6 GB GDDR5 dedicated memory, makes this system stand apart from the rest of its kind.

Both the RAM with 2400 MHz bandwidth and the NVMe SSD storage are adequate enough to boost the performance of the system. The good thing is that you can upgrade the memory up to 32 GB, if you like.

The other unique features of this VR Ready laptop include its design, the Killer gaming network E2500, and Thunderbolt 3 port.

The backlit keyboard comes with steel series per-key RGB lights. All of the 84 anti-ghost keys allow easy, faster, and more comfortable typing in dimly lit or no lit settings.

2. Lenovo ThinkPad E580 – Runner Up

Lenovo ThinkPad E580
 

Bottom Line: In spite of having an Intel Core i7 processor of the 8th generation this laptop is considered as the runner up in this list because it comes with an integrated UHD graphics. However, it is strong and efficient enough to meet all the needs of astronomy, astronomers or astrophotography in the best way.

 

Key Features 

  • Screen: 15.6 inches
  • Storage: 512 GB SATA SSD
  • RAM: 16 GB DDR SDRAM
  • Processor: 8th generation Intel Core i7 8550U
  • OS: Windows 10 Professional
  • GPU: Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620

Pros 

  • The screen comes with a thin bezel and an anti-glare property.
  • There is a fingerprint reader to ensure safety and faster access.
  • The keyboard comes with a separate numeric keypad.

Cons 

  • There is no optical drive in the system.
  • The trackpad is on the left and may cause inconvenience while typing.
  • The battery life is average.

It is the specs and features that make this laptop feature in this list of laptops for astronomy, astronomers or astrophotography.

It will support and fulfill all of your computational needs with the 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor consisting of four cores, 8 MB cache, and operational speed of 1.8 GHz at base clock and up to 4.0 GHz at boost clock.

The integrated Intel UHD graphics chip is good enough to deliver images at a fast rate and seamlessly with better color reproduction on the fairly large screen.

This screen comes with a thin bezel, full HD resolution, a matte finish, an IPS panel to offer wider viewing angle, and anti-glare property to ensure that the images do not cause any strain to the eyes.

The device offers multiple connectivity options in the form of both wireless and wired connectivity of 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, and 10/100/1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet LAN.

The ports and slots also add to the connectivity options. It includes one USB 2.0 Type A port, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type A ports, one USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C port, one HDMI 1.4 port, and a 3.5 mm headphone/microphone combo jack.

The Windows 10 Professional operating system, the DDR SDRAM, the SATA SSD, the full-size keyboard, the 720p HD webcam, the integrated microphone and speaker enhances the performance and functionality of the system even more.

Add to that, the d-TPM 2.0 chip and the fingerprint reader ensures that your system and data both are well protected.

3. Acer Aspire E15 – Good Screen for Amazing Visuals

Acer Aspire E15
 

Bottom Line: The screen of this laptop for astronomy, astronomers or astrophotography is quite good to make the images displayed by it look as close as possible to the sources. It comes with Acer Color Blast technology and supports 94% NTSC color gamut which makes the images look just like real.

Key Features 

  • Screen: 15.6 inches
  • Storage: 256 GB SSD
  • RAM: 8 GB DDR4 SDRAM
  • Processor: 7th generation Intel Core i5 7200U
  • OS: Windows 10 Home
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce 940MX

Pros 

  • The backlit keyboard comes with a separate number keypad.
  • The battery life is quite good.
  • The design includes an 8X DVD drive.

Cons 

  • The screen comes with a thick bezel.
  • The system is a bit heavy, weighing more than 5 pounds.
  • The camera delivers blurry images due to poor contrast.

This new Acer Aspire laptop comes with a lot of useful features and appealing design. It provides comprehensive performance at a faster rate and will exceed the expectations.

You will get a fast and reliable connection through the latest 802.11ac wireless communication with its new MU-MIMO technology.

The 7th generation Intel Core i5 processor can operate at a high speed of up to 3.1GHz and will support the graphics card that is powerful itself with its 2GB of dedicated GDDR5 VRAM, the DDR4 SDRAM, and the SSD that offers adequate storage space.

The 15.6-inch widescreen is good enough and comes with full HD resolution. The Acer ColorBlast technology ensures that the colors of the images are superb.

The 94% NTSC ensures that the colors are twice as many as compared to any average laptop. Therefore, you can rest assured that the images of the celestial objects will be as close as the source images.

You can easily upgrade the memory and storage of this laptop for astronomy, astronomers or astrophotography through the compartment door that allows convenient access.

The great battery life of 12 hours will allow you to take and use it anywhere for the entire day on a single charge.

The USB 3.0 and 3.1 Type C ports are good inclusion and support data transfers at great speed, charging devices, and display.

The good thing about the USB 3.0 port is that it can charge up the accessories even when the laptop is off.

You can have uninterrupted, clear, and better web chats, thanks to the advanced speakers, microphone, and the HD webcam which needs some improvements.

The speakers need a special mention about its performance and functionality. It is powered by the Acer TrueHarmony technology.

The design of the speakers involves a paper cone of innovative foam material.

This design allows the speakers to produce more accurate sound with more volume and deeper bass. Check out Acer Aspire E15 Review.

4. HP 14 Touchscreen – Value for Money

Sale
HP 14 Touchscreen

Bottom Line: Even though this laptop comes with a low SSD storage, the other useful features of it will add to the value for money when it is used for astronomy, by the astronomers or for astrophotography with its touchscreen, the combination of AMD Ryzen processor and AMD Radeon Vega 3 graphics.

Key Features 

  • Screen: 14 inches
  • Storage: 128 GB M.2 SSD
  • RAM: 8 GB DDR4 SDRAM
  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 3 3200U
  • OS: Windows 10
  • GPU: AMD Radeon Vega 3
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Pros 

  • The display is touchscreen allowing easy navigation.
  • The system comes with a fingerprint reader to allow safer login.
  • The media reader built in the system allows faster photo transfer.

Cons 

  • There is no discrete numeric keypad on the keyboard.
  • There is no optical drive in the system.
  • The amount of storage is low by today’s standards.

The two cores of the AMD Ryzen 3 processor that has a 4 MB cache and operate at a base clock speed of 2.60 GHz and up to 3.50 GHz has the ability of four-way processing that enhances the speed and performance of this laptop for astronomy, astronomers or astrophotography.

The AMD Radeon Vega 3 graphics card produces high quality images with good enough color reproduction on the 14-inch display that comes with 1366 x 768 pixels HD resolution. It is LED-backlit and therefore is highly energy efficient.

This touchscreen supports natural finger-touch to allow easy, fast, and comfortable navigation allowing you to make the most out of the Windows 10 operating system that comes with a 64-bit architecture.

The DDR4 memory of the system comes with 2400 MHz bandwidth to support multitasking.

The Solid-State Drive enhances the performance of the system allowing faster access and boot up.

The system also allows running several photo editing and video editing apps on it as well as using multiple browser tabs and programs all at once.

There are lots of ports and slots in the system design which you can use to add a number of external devices when you need.

It comes with a headphone-out and microphone-in combo jack, one built-in media reader that allows simple and faster photo transfer, one HDMI 1.4B port that supports 4K output, one USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type C port, and two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type A ports.

There is also a RJ45 LAN jack to provide more connectivity options apart from wireless connection in the form of Realtek RTL8821CE 802.11b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi networking and Bluetooth 4.2 support.

You can connect to a wireless-ac router and get a speed three times faster which will also provide wider coverage and more capacity than wireless-N.

The best thing is that it is backward-compatible with all other hotspots and Wi-Fi networks.

In addition to all these, the machine also comes with one built in fingerprint reader and one HD webcam with microphone integrated in it as well.

5. Asus ZenBook UX303 – Good Audio Output

Asus ZenBook UX303
 

Bottom Line: In addition to the data processing and graphics performance, this laptop also ensures a good audio output. This adds to the visual experience when it is used for astronomy, astronomers or astrophotography with the cosmic sound effects with its exclusive Asus Sonic Master technology.

Key Features 

  • Screen: 13.3 inches
  • Storage: 512 GB SSD
  • RAM: 12 GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • Processor: 6thgeneration Intel Core i7 6500U
  • OS: Windows 10
  • GPU: Nvidia GT 940M

Pros 

  • The keyboard comes with backlights allowing easy typing in the dark.
  • The quality and performance of the touchscreen is good.
  • The sound output and quality are good.

Cons 

  • The keyboard does not include a distinct numeric keypad.
  • The screen has thick bezels all around.
  • There is no optical drive in the system.

This all-new ZenBook comes with a combination of power and portability. The design of the device makes it ultra-light yet durable due to its all-aluminum chassis.

It is packed with the most advanced technology that promises high performance allowing you to do anything on it no matter wherever you use it.

This powerhouse of a laptop for astronomy, astronomers or astrophotography comes with an Intel Core i7 processor, a fast SSD for quick launch of the apps, adequate RAM with 1600 MHz bandwidth to allow effortless multitasking.

All these features of the unit along with the beautiful touchscreen display offers smoother video playback, thanks to the discrete graphics.

The stunning display of the system delivers crisp, detailed, and vivid graphics.

It comes with QHD+ or 3200×1800 pixels resolution, a 770:1 contrast ratio, 300cd/m2 brightness and IPS technology to offer a wide 178-degree viewing angle.

The anti-glare coating on the screen ensures that images are softer to the eyes with deeper blacks and stunningly bright and pure whites.

The touchscreen will add to the comfort in your navigation with its precise control due to the unique actuators that are only 6mm in size.

This is smaller by 3 mm of the industry standard. Therefore, you will have a superior, intuitive, faster and better touch input experience when you write and draw directly on the screen.

The seven-hour long battery life will provide you the necessary power all day on a single charge.

It comes with the unique Super Hybrid Engine II technology that helps in boosting the life of the lithium polymer battery by up to 25%.

You will get the best typing experience on the backlit keyboard that comes with the unique Asus ambient-light sensor technology.

This means that it can automatically adjust the keyboard backlights to blend seamlessly with the ambient lighting making it easy to view the keys even in total darkness.

The audio system of the device is incredible and produces superior cosmic sound output with the exclusive Asus SonicMaster technology.

It comes with the best software and precision engineering and is tuned by the Asus Golden Ear team.

This ensures that the sound delivered has deeper and richer bass and clear notes even if the volume is set at the highest level.

How to Choose Best Laptops for Astronomy, Astronomers or Astrophotography?

Your buying decision of a laptop for astronomy will largely depend on several factors such as your affordability, the type of job you are involved with, and your preferences.

The requirements for astronomy, astronomers or astrophotography will vary according to the preference.

For example, if you want a great gaming laptop for your job, the requirements will be different from a multimedia player device that will allow you to watch movies as well.

Therefore, you will have to focus on all the specs that will make your laptop most reliable.

It includes the design, the keyboard, storage, performance, comfort in use, the touchpad, the display quality, and battery life, apart from the cost.

Screen Size

Right from the size of the screen to the display resolution of the laptop for astronomy, astronomers or astrophotography, there are lots of things to consider.

The size of the screen will determine the portability of the laptop. Ideally, it should be within 13 to 15 inches.

If you work more on your desk than on the go, you can choose a screen larger than that, but then it will add to the weight of the system, which should never be more than 5 pounds to ensure that the system is portable and not cumbersome to carry along.

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Though the size of the screen of the laptop matters a lot in astrophysics or astronomy, the convenience in use and portability should not be ignored at any cost.

This is because you will have to travel with your laptop to different places for your job and all these places may not be just by the side of a smooth highway!

The resolution of the screen is also an important factor to consider. Since you will be viewing celestial objects millions of miles away, the resolution of the screen should be very high.

This will not only make the images crisper and clearer, but will allow you to see every detail in it, and most of these are very minute.

Ideally, a UHD or UHD+ resolution is recommended, though a full HD screen will be fair enough, but nothing less than that.

An IPS panel and anti-glare property in the screen is also appreciated as that will allow you to see the images clearly outdoors under the sun as well as allow you to share your screen with others, if you are working in a group.

In this respect, a 2 in 1 laptop with a touchscreen will make your life much easier. You can use this as a tablet as well as detach, bend or rotate the screen to 360 degrees to share it with others.

You can work on the screen directly, adding to your convenience, as well.

Battery and Operating System

The life of the battery is not only important to allow you to work on it for long hours on a single charge but will also determine how portable it is.

Ideally, the battery life in your laptop for astronomy and astrophotography should be 8 hours, at least. This will allow you to take and use it anywhere you want, without having to worry too much about recharging the battery.

However, if you can afford and want to be better off, you may go for a battery life of 10 hours or more.

As for the operating system, Windows happens to be the more popular one. It is because this operating system is compatible with most of the devices and software that most of the astronomers use in their computer.

However, choose the version of Windows operating system according to the software you use mostly. This is because different types of astronomy software need different types of Windows operating systems.

For example, Windows XP operating systems will support Maxim DL, and Stellarium astronomy software will run on Windows 7, and others will need Windows Vista. As for the Mac systems, you will need a Mac OS X 10.8.5 or above.

Processor

As for the internal hardware specifications for a laptop for astronomy, the most critical aspects to consider include the processor, RAM, storage and others.

As for the CPU, or the central processing unit, which is the most crucial part of any laptop, you may use an Intel Core i5 processor.

This will put you and your laptop in a better position to view the celestial objects and work on it.

However, this does not mean you cannot go for an Intel Core i3 processor, but the benefits of it will be limited.

Nevertheless, it is always better to aim for a laptop with higher capabilities and qualities, especially for astronomy and astrophotography.

Therefore, a quad core Intel i7 processor with the serial number ending with HK or HQ will be far better for your job.

This will help you in multitasking smoothly and quickly without any system failure.

Moreover, the processor should come with a base clock frequency of at least 1 GHz to run any astronomy software of astronomy seamlessly.

However, if you want to have faster results, you should use a processor that comes with a base frequency of 1.5 GHz.

This will not be very difficult to find because most of the laptops today come with it.

RAM

The RAM of a laptop stores the data temporarily and therefore higher the amount of RAM, the better it will be for the overall performance of the laptop. It will also help in multitasking, a common feature in astronomy and astrophysics.

If you have a very low budget, then you may go for a laptop with 4GB, but, once again, it will be inadequate for high end jobs.

If you can afford and if you are into complex jobs, you should go for an 8GB of RAM in your laptop. This will make your life and work for astronomy much easier.

On the other hand, specific software used in astronomy and astrophysics may require even higher RAM. Therefore, choose wisely and accordingly.

Storage

The storage amount as well as its type will determine how efficiently your laptop can handle all the needs for astronomy or astrophotography.

Storage or disk space in an efficient laptop should be at least 256 GB, that too if your files are not too big. This is the storage amount that you will get today in most of the laptops.

However, for larger files you will need higher storage, but then it will add to the cost. When it comes to using the software for astronomy, these alone will take a lot of space to store, though not all of them will be very big.

For example, the Stellarium software will require only 250 MB of disk space, and, on the other hand, the Maxim DL software will need only 100 MB of disk space.

However, with the development in technology, modern software programs such as the Starry Night Pro Plus version will need as high as 12GB of disk space! The files will also need a larger space to store.

All these files and programs need to be accessed at a fast rate as well to ensure that your laptop works fast and seamlessly. It is therefore essential that you always go for an SSD instead of a conventional HDD.

The Solid-State Drives will be much faster and operate quietly without causing any heat buildup in the system.

It will not fail or damage easily because there will be no spinning discs inside it. This means that there will be no hanging up of the laptop at all.

Moreover, the SSDs are lighter and therefore will not affect the portability of the system, no matter how big a storage space it offers.

However, the cost of the SSDs will be more, and, greater the storage space it comes with, more will be the price.

Apart from the cost factor, you will not get these benefits if you go for an HDD type of storage in your laptop for astronomy or astrophotography. Once again, choose wisely.

Graphics Card

In a laptop for astronomy, astronomers or astrophotography, the graphics card is the key spec.

This is because you will deal with a lot of images, either capturing or studying them to find the inherent pattern.

Once again, all these will need using different types of software programs designed specifically for astronomy and astrophysics, and all these programs are graphics intensive.

An integrated Intel HD or UHD graphics chip may do the job, but will not be as effective as a dedicated graphics card in running these software programs.

Therefore, figure out the most suitable discrete GPU that is required for the specific software you want to use.

This will help you in creating and using a better 3D model to ensure greater perceptibility and more user-friendly presentation.

The functionality of the software as well as rendering will be much better with a better and dedicated graphics card with a minimum of 2 GB video memory.

Keyboard

Finally, focus on the keyboard of the laptop for astronomy, astronomers or astrophotography. It should be solid and full size with larger keys.

Having a separate 10-key number pad will be an added benefit because you will need to punch in a lot of numbers and make a lot of data entry.

Also, it should come with properly spaced keys with excellent travel and tactile feedback to provide you with the best typing experience.

Moreover, if the keyboard is backlit, it will be even better in helping you to see the keys clearly in a dark situation, a common scenario encountered by the astronomers, ensuring accuracy and comfort in typing.

All these features in the keyboard will help you to get your job done in the best way possible.