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What are the best laptops for computer science students? A student of computer science today simply cannot do without a good laptop.
This is a device that will help in different aspects of the study, directly or indirectly, including coding, concepts, learning different programming languages, making new projects and submitting assignments on time, and of course, occasional gaming, which will come as a breath of fresh air!
You will not need an overpowered beast of a device for studying computer science but a suitable laptop for learning the basics and beyond.
You may stick to your needs and budget and still find one of the most appropriate laptops for learning computer science and coding.
The important things to consider while buying a laptop for computer science students include the CPU, preferably an Intel i5 or Ryzen 5, the display, preferably full HD, the RAM, preferably of 8 GB at least, an SSD storage of 256 GB at the minimum, and at least an integrated graphics card.
Moreover, depending on your usage type as well as your curriculum needs, you may need to use your laptop for a long time, and that too, every day.
This means that it will generate a lot of heat which may damage the innards of your system. Therefore, you will also need a laptop which comes with an effective and efficient cooling system.
Finding such a laptop may seem very easy at first, but with so many available options in the market, things can become really complex pretty soon.
The best way to find an appropriate laptop for computer science students is to know the needs of your computer science school as well as the course itself, and then look at the required specs of the laptop.
Tough? Well, with this buying guide and recommendations of some of the best laptops for learning computer science, your job will be significantly cut out and made easy.
- Laptops for Computer Science Students – Price (Top Picks)
- What is Computer Science All About?
- Minimum & Recommended System Requirements for Computer Science Students
- 5 Best Laptops for Computer Science Students:
- How to Choose Best Laptops for Computer Science Students?
- Should a gaming laptop suffice computer science students?
- Is there a one size fits all laptop for a computer science student?
- Should I opt for an SSD or HDD storage?
- Is a bulky laptop for a computer science student a worthy tradeoff for performance and features?
- Should I invest in an external cooling pad for my laptop to run heavy computer science programs?
Laptops for Computer Science Students – Price (Top Picks)
What is Computer Science All About?
Computers today have become an integral part in the lives of people and are used in almost every aspect of modern life, business, studies and more.
With such an extensive use which includes shopping, logistics, exercising and others, the companies have also taken up the opportunity to create an app to make the best of the extensive use of a computer today as well as make the lives of people much easier.
Ideally, there is an app now for pretty much everything that one wants to do with a laptop, and with each passing day, newer apps are being launched as well. All these have resulted in the rise in demand for computer science graduates.
Computer science is all about designing software programs, coding and concepts.
Whether these graduates work for a big corporation or as a self-made entrepreneur, computer science and its knowledge literally will open up a lot of new avenues and possibilities.
As a computer scientist, the underlying principles and factors of programming and algorithms are to be understood.
It is such knowledge that is provided to the computer science students during the course of their study.
With this knowledge they can design a software, an app, the systems, as well as networks that will meet the needs of the people.
This field is a fast-moving one and highly specialized which also has a constant demand.
This high demand for computer science graduates has resulted in a surge of such students but all of them cannot provide the same job satisfaction.
A good computer science student must be efficient in solving problems, should have the required talent to think mathematically and logically, and possess a lot of different specialized skill sets.
In a computer science degree, the students learn different things in the most incremental and structured way.
It all starts with the students getting an overview of the concept as well as the basic principles to follow.
The first year involves taking modules of different fundamental areas of computer science such as computational theory, machine learning, network theory, and pattern recognition.
In addition to that, you may also be taught about modern computer science, its application into society and business, its history, and more.
There may be several courses that may involve group studies and also working with other students as a team to complete a project as well.
As you go ahead with the course, you will become specialized in developing some transferable skills that will allow you to work on more complex aspects of computer science.
You will be able to work with a set of more composite and sophisticated data structures, design better patterns, and decode more complex signals.
The course will also teach you how exactly you can work with complexity theory which will in turn help you to deal most effectively and successfully with software product engineering.
At the end of the course, you will be asked to create a final project by applying whatever you have learnt till then to it. This is in addition to imparting knowledge and specialized training in the areas of your choice.
All this learning about computer science will be made easy with a computer of your own, though you will get a system to work on in the lab of your school. This is where a suitable personal laptop comes in, preferably one of the following.
Minimum & Recommended System Requirements for Computer Science Students
A minimum of 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of SSD storage is also required along with a good enough integrated graphics chip and a 13-inch LCD screen.
However, when you follow a degree program you will need a much better and more powerful computer that will be efficient enough to handle all the advanced computing needs and run all the complex software and apps on it smoothly.
In such a situation, it will be a pretty wise decision to go with a laptop that comes with the recommended specs rather than the minimum system requirements as mentioned below.
Minimum system requirements: 8th generation Intel Core i5 or higher| 8 GB of RAM | 256 GB SSD or 1 TB HDD storage | Integrated HD or dedicated Nvidia GeForce MX 330 graphics card | 13.3 inches screen | 1600 x 900 or higher pixels screen resolution
Recommended system requirements: 7th generation Intel Quad Core i7 or AMD Ryzen 7 processor| 16 GB of RAM or higher | 512 GB SSD or larger combo storage | Dedicated Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti or higher graphics card | 15.6 inches screen or bigger | 1920 x 1080 pixels or higher screen resolution
5 Best Laptops for Computer Science Students:
1. MacBook Air – Best Overall
Bottom Line: The fast enough Intel Core i7 processor along with the 10.12 Sierra MacOS preinstalled in this laptop will provide the best overall performance in comparison to other laptops in this list making it one of the best laptops to use by the computer science students for their academic needs.
- Key Features
- Screen: 13.3 inches
- Storage: 512 GB SSD
- RAM: 8 GB DDR3 SDRAM
- Processor: Intel Core i7
- OS: MacOS 10.12 Sierra
- GPU: Integrated
- The system comes with a Thunderbolt port.
- The laptop is extremely light in weight weighing just over 2 pounds.
- The system is pretty fast in performance.
- There is no numeric keypad in the system.
- The number of ports is limited.
- The resolution of the screen is low.
This is one of the best Apple laptops for computer science students.
Though it is not very high in specs and looks, it has all that you may need to do your coding, and that too at a remarkable speed and accuracy.
The DDR3 memory and the solid-state drive of the machine will never let you down when you multitask on it.
The renewed version of MacOS 10.12 Sierra will allow you to compute in the most comfortable manner.
The battery life of the system is about 7 hours, which may not be very high by today’s standards, but will provide you with enough power to complete your projects in school.
The screen may be small and the resolution may not be full HD with only 1440 x 900 pixels, but the LED-backlit display will save a lot of energy while delivering a decent set of images.
The number of ports in the system is also not much but the two USB 3.0 ports and one Thunderbolt port will allow you to connect a lot of different external devices and will serve different purposes for the computer science students. Check out Apple MacBook Air Review.
2. Asus TUF FX505DT – Runner Up
Bottom Line: This runner up laptop in this list comes with a combo storage which is fast and large enough to allow storing all project files in it by the computer science students. The AMD Ryzen processor is equally powerful and the dedicated Nvidia GTX graphics card will handle all graphics needs easily.
- Screen: 15.6 inches
- Storage: 256 GB SSD
- RAM: 8 GB
- Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 R5-3550H
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650
- The system performs quietly and stays pretty cool.
- The screen is quite decent and comes with a 120 Hz refresh rate.
- The graphics card and storage make this system perform pretty fast.
- The battery life of this system is average.
- The system becomes slow when used in silent mode.
- The touchpad is shifted slightly on the left.
This is also one of the best gaming laptops that you will find is good to use for your coding and other needs for learning computer science.
It comes with all those specs and features that will suffice all your computing and entertaining needs, both.
It comes with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card with 6 GB capacity and a TDP of 80 watts.
The average operating base clock speed of this graphics card is 1455 MHz which can be boosted up to 1590 MHz most effectively.
With a combination of SSD and HDD storage, you get a large space to store your files and access them quickly and the RAM allows faster and more effective multitasking.
Though the battery life is average with its 48-watt-hour capacity, it is good enough to support the full HD IPS type display that comes with 120 Hz refresh rate.
The Windows 10 Home operating system, the Gigabit wave 2 Wi Fi 5 wireless connectivity, the RGB backlit keyboard with 20 million keystroke durability, the dual fans that come with anti-dust technology, durable MIL STD 810 construction of this thin laptop makes it extremely portable, useful, powerful, and perfect system for all your computing needs.
Truly, it is a TUF or The Ultimate Force laptop which is super-efficient to deal with all of the heavy-duty computing tasks for the computer science students and help them to run all programming tools and apps. Check out Asus TUF FX505DT Gaming Laptop Review.
3. Dell Inspiron 5000 – Good Quality Screen
Bottom Line: In addition to the good set of specs, this is also a good laptop to use by the computer science students for the good quality screen. This display comes with an anti-glare feature to protect the eyes from harm while staring at it for a long time in spite of its 300-nits brightness and 72% NTSC color support.
- Screen: 15.6 inches
- Storage: 512 GB Solid State Drive
- RAM: 8 GB DDR4
- Processor: 10th generation Intel Core i7
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- GPU: Nvidia GeForce MX 330
- The laptop comes with a fingerprint reader for safer and faster login.
- The keyboard of the laptop is backlit for easy typing in the dark.
- There is a separate number pad in the keyboard.
- There is no optical drive in the system.
- The battery life is pretty low and drains out quickly.
- The touchpad is shifted to the left side of the chassis.
With a 10th generation Intel Core i5 processor of 6 MB cache and a performing ability at a base clock speed of up to 3.6 GHz, the four cores of it processes data quite fast, making it a good enough laptop for the computer science students.
With adequate memory and storage, the performance of this laptop never drops below the desired level.
Add to that, the 2 GB GDDR5 VRAM Nvidia graphics card produces images pretty fast and it is shown in the full HD IPS display.
The anti-glare property of the display will allow you to look at it for long hours without causing any problems to your eyes, even in brightly-lit settings.
The 300-nits brightness and 72% NTSC WVA display property ensures that the screen is softer to your eyes.
The Windows 10 Home operating system comes with all the good features that the computer science students are already familiar with.
You can type on the keyboard of this device, which is backlit, in any given setting, during the day or at night.
The 53-watt-hour capacity of the 4-cell lithium ion battery will provide you with all the power you need, though for 6 hours only on a single charge.
There are lots of I/O ports in the system which includes one HDMI 1.4 port, three USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type C ports, one micro SD card reader, and one headphone and microphone audio jack. You will also get an 802.11ac 2×2 wi-fi connectivity.
The system allows a safer and faster login with its fingerprint reader and the Waves Maxx Audio Pro technology ensures a clearer and deeper listening pleasure.
4. Asus VivoBook S510UA – Value for Money
Bottom Line: The computer science students who want a better price-performance ratio from a laptop should choose this specific machine. It will offer a higher value for money than others with its faster boot time, little bloatware, lots of ports, and upgradability of the RAM as and when required.
- Screen: 15.6 inches
- Storage: 256 GB SSD
- RAM: 8 GB DDR4
- Processor: 8th generation Intel Core i5 8250U
- OS: Windows 10
- GPU: Intel Integrated Graphics
- The boot time of this laptop is pretty fast.
- There is very little bloatware in the system.
- The RAM is upgradeable.
- The screen of this laptop is not that great.
- The quality of the webcam is not as good as it is expected.
- There is no numeric keypad in the system.
The Asus VivoBook S comes with an efficient and powerful 8th generation Intel Core i5 processor with a base clock speed of 1.8 GHz which can be Turbo boosted up to 4.0 GHz.
The full HD screen of this laptop displays color rich images using the Wide View technology. The Nano Edge bezel provides a larger viewing space with 80% body to screen ratio.
The wireless data network of the laptop belongs to the 802.11AC standard and the Bluetooth 4.1 technology adds to your connectivity options.
The high performance of the SSD and DDR4 memory is well supported by the 3-cell 42-watt-hour lithium polymer battery providing it with enough power with its 19-volt capacity.
There is a good selection of ports in this laptop which includes a USB 3.1 Type C Gen 1 port, a USB 3.0 port, a USB 2.0 port, and an HDMI port.
The ergonomic design of the backlit keyboard of this machine is perfect to type in low-light settings.
The design of this sturdy, single-piece keyboard comes with softer keys with 1.4 mm key travel to offer a more comfortable typing experience, irrespective of the hand size of the computer science students.
The system design also allows quick and secure access with its built-in fingerprint sensor in the touchpad.
Since it is integrated with Windows Hello, you will not need to type in the password every time you want to log in.
The audio system of this device is expertly tuned with Asus Sonic Master technology to give you the very best and most immersive audio experience.
This technology is a combination of hardware, software and audio tuning that comes with a codec of professional grade.
This specific technology facilitates precise encoding and decoding of the audio signals to produce more vibrant, clear, and sharper sound making the best use of the perfectly suited large speakers, resonance chambers, and amplifiers.
With the additional signal processing and tuning ability of the speakers, any noise is filtered out and the minute details are refined to enhance audio clarity for providing a truly immersive listening pleasure. Check out Asus VivoBook S510UA Laptop Review.
5. HP Pavilion cx0020nr – High Level of Graphics Performance
Bottom Line: A high level of graphics performance is assured by this laptop with the dedicated Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics card that comes with 4 GB GDDR5 video memory. The images will look clearer and sharper with better and higher color reproduction on the full HD IPS display at 144 Hz refresh rate.
- Screen: 15.6 inches
- Storage: 1 TB HDD
- RAM: 8 GB DDR4 SDRAM
- Processor: 8th generation Intel Core i5 8300H
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
- The battery life of this laptop is quite good.
- The keyboard of the laptop is backlit allowing easy typing in dark settings.
- There is a separate 10-key numeric keypad in the system.
- Weighing a bit more than 5 pounds, this laptop is quite heavy.
- There is no DVD writer in the system.
- There is no fingerprint reader in the system design.
It is the specs of this laptop that makes this device one of the best gaming and learning devices for the computer science students as well as other users alike.
The processor of the laptop belongs to the latest 8th generation Intel Core i5 family with Intel Optane memory and comes with four cores that can operate at a base clock speed of 2.3 GHz which can go as high up as 4.0 GHz with Intel Turbo Boost technology.
It also ensures a high level of video graphics performance with its dedicated 4 GB GDDR5 Nvidia GeForce graphics coprocessor of the GTX 1050 Ti series.
The images produced with better color reproduction are quickly displayed on the full HD IPS display that comes with anti-glare, micro-edge, and WLED-backlit properties to deliver the images at 1920 x 1080 pixels at 144 Hz refresh rate.
The battery life of this machine is quite good and lasts for up to 8 hours and 45 minutes for mixed usage, 7 hours and 45 minutes for video playback and up to 5 hours and 30 minutes for wireless streaming.
The Windows 10 Home operating system is also a useful inclusion to this power-packed machine which is also easy to use and good, making this affordable laptop most suitable for the computer science students for sure.
The keyboard is backlit, softer, and comfortable, the looks are demanding, the trackpad is responsive, and the specs are commendable of the laptop.
As for the ports for connectivity, you will get two USB 3.1 and an HDMI option in this laptop as well as Bluetooth 4.2 and wi-fi networking of 802.11b/g/n/ac. Check out HP Pavilion 15 cx0020nr Review.
How to Choose Best Laptops for Computer Science Students?
The choice of a laptop for computer science students will largely depend on the programs to run on it, the type of the curriculum, and the classes you will attend.
Balancing these all will help you to choose one of the best laptops to study computer science comfortably.
Ideally, a laptop for computer science students needs to be portable and comfortable to work on, in addition to the required specs.
Here are a few points to check and keep in mind before you start shopping for a laptop for your computer science classes.
Check with the IT department
First of all, you will need to decide whether or not you really want and can afford a laptop for yourself or you are okay with working with the systems in your school lab.
If you want to own one for yourself, you must then check with the IT department of your school about the specific requirements in your laptop.
Ask about the particular operating system the computer science students should use and whether or not you are allowed to use anything other than that.
The operating system of your laptop should allow you to run all the necessary software programs you need for the computer science students.
Ask the IT department in your school about the software types you will need to use in your course of study.
Ideally, most of the laptops available today will support running almost all computer science software programs with no issues.
This is probably one of the most important features to consider in a laptop for a computer science student.
There are ideally two specific things to consider when it comes to choosing the display type.
Resolution of the screen is a big factor to consider because you will be looking at it for hours and very minutely, especially after the first year, trying to find out the flaws in your code.
A display with good resolution will take care of your eyes by preventing straining them. Ideally, a resolution of 1440×900 pixels and above is good for reading codes.
The size of the screen is the next important thing to consider. A huge screen may be good but is not necessary as that will add to the weight making the laptop less portable.
On the other hand, too small a screen may kill your eyes. Anything within 13 to 15 inches is ideal screen size.
As said earlier, portability of the laptop is the most significant aspect for a computer science student.
Lugging around with a heavy laptop is uncomfortable and you will soon feel the weight on your shoulder and back while moving in and out of your classroom to listen to or after a lecture.
Anything within 3 to 5 pounds is ideal for your laptop as you can carry it anywhere, use it easily in and out of your school, as well as do some coding anytime and anywhere.
Even if your classroom has a few outlets, all of these may not be available to you to charge your laptop.
You will not find one outside of classes as well. Therefore, choose a laptop that comes with a battery life of at least 8 to 10 hours.
Fortunately, most lightweight and small laptops available today come with enough battery life that can provide the desired power to use the system all day in school.
Choose these laptops instead of those heavily overpowered gaming machines that will run out of life by the time you get to the next lecture.
A long battery life will be very handy especially during the exam time when the labs and libraries are flocked by hundreds of students.
You can work on your system in the bus or in the tube, in the park or in a coffee shop the whole day without recharging.
When it comes to the performance of your laptop, there are a few specific things to consider.
Since the use of your laptop will be limited to Python, C++, Java and the coding will not be more than 1000 lines, you will not need an ultra-fast processor.
An Intel i5 processor is enough for completing the coding assignments by the computer science students.
As for the RAM in your laptop, anything between 8 GB and 16 GB is ideal for coding and there is no need to go crazy about it.
Instead, focus on a laptop that comes with a good cooling system because your computer science coding and other tasks may go on for several hours which may heat up the system, resulting in a crash.
Storage, either SDD or HDD, is another primary concern for a laptop for computer science students.
Ideally, an SSD will expedite your workflow significantly by speeding up the system and will not fail easily.
As for the storage capacity, at least 256 GB is required to have enough space to store your files after the operating system and IDEs take up most of it.
An external hard drive may come in handy if you have a large number of files to store. This will not make your laptop heavy.
As for the GPU, you should not worry much about it because none of your coding software will be graphics intensive, provided you are not into designing games or playing high-end games in your laptop.
Any integrated Intel HD graphics card or other will do for you.
Should a gaming laptop suffice computer science students?
Even if you are not much of a gamer, you can always choose a gaming laptop to learn computer science. Since computer science involves a lot of complex coding, a laptop should come with high quality specs and configurations to support your purpose. Since most gaming laptops come with solid specs and great design, it will suffice all your needs and prove to be a worthy investment.
Is there a one size fits all laptop for a computer science student?
Whether it is for laptops for computer science students or law students, just like any other commercial products, there is no ‘one size fits all’ principle when it comes to choosing one. You will need to research and shop around a lot to choose one of the best laptops that will suit your usage needs, preferences, and interests.
Should I opt for an SSD or HDD storage?
It is always feasible and useful to go for an SSD storage instead of an HDD variant. This will make your system faster, not fail too often, and will not heat up the system quickly as an HDD type of storage would. It will help you to compile a lot of codes and even use your laptop for running those machine learning apps, such as MATLAB, in the future.
Is a bulky laptop for a computer science student a worthy tradeoff for performance and features?
Most of the laptops that come with a lot of features and assure a higher performance tend to be a tad too heavy. Therefore, this is one of the tradeoffs that you should keep in mind if you choose a bulky laptop. If you do not mind carrying a bulky laptop all day and cannot afford those expensive ultra-light and ultra-portable laptops, go for a bulky laptop for specs. It will support your coding journey as well as the new interest that you may develop tomorrow as a student.
Should I invest in an external cooling pad for my laptop to run heavy computer science programs?
Yes, you should if you want to protect your laptop from failing and damages and prevent it from crashing. Most graphics intensive and heavy software programs will heat up the system considerably and quickly when you run them for extended hours. The system will therefore need an efficient cooling system of its own but that itself may not be enough at times. An external cooling pad will keep you and your system on the safer side.