5 Best Laptops for Networking & Network Engineers

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What are the best laptops for networking and network engineers? The networking environment and technology is ever-changing. Therefore, the work of the network engineers is not only difficult but is also highly demanding.

However, networking is an essential part in this modern era of sophisticated information and technology.

That is why the laptops for networking and network engineers need to be more advanced to ensure that all the PCs within the network are intact, good, and fully functional.

If you are a network engineer, you will need a laptop that will allow you to perform your day-to-day tasks most easily.

It may involve network maintenance, sharing heavy files, and transferring a host of data without any interruption.

The laptop should support the virtual environments, querying SQL databases, MATLAB programming, and other complex programs such as Cisco Packet Tracer, PRTG Network Monitor, and more.

Choosing such a laptop is not an easy task even though there are several different brands and models available in the market.

This is where this article will prove to be very handy with the names of five good laptops that will suit all the needs of networking and network engineers.

Laptops for Networking & Network Engineers – Price (Top Picks)

How to Upgrade the Wi-Fi in a Laptop for Networking and Network Engineers

For a better networking performance, you will need a strong wi-fi connection and support from your laptop.

Ideally, most of the modern laptops come with quite efficient facilities built in them for wi-fi communication, but at times you will need to upgrade it with these simple solutions.

You may try installing a wi-fi adapter in the Express card or PC card slot. However, be very careful so that you do not damage the small protuberance of the antenna at the end of the adapter.

This will not only damage the card but will also damage the slot of the laptop.

Sometimes replacing the old built-in adapter will also enhance the performance of the wi-fi.

Once again, make sure that you use a new unit that is certified by the original equipment manufacturer and follow the instructions of the Federal Communications Commission so that there is no chance of any interference with other radio signals.

Finally, adding an external wi-fi adapter via the USB 2.0 port of your laptop may also do the trick.

Minimum & Recommended System Requirements for Networking and Network Engineers

The bare minimum requirement in a laptop for networking and network engineers include an Intel Core 3 or equivalent AMD processor with a decent base clock speed.

A 4 GB of RAM and at least 80 GB of free hard drive space are also required. The screen size should be at least 13 inches and it should come with an efficient Intel HD or Iris Plus graphics.

Well, this may be good enough for basic networking requirements but will hardly suffice complex needs that professional network engineers have.

For that matter, it is wise to invest in a laptop that comes with the recommended system requirements as specified hereunder. This will ensure that it can take on and handle any type of networking jobs with panache.

Minimum system requirements: 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor | 16 GB of RAM | 256 GB SSD storage | Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 or Intel Iris Plus graphics | 12.3 inches screen or larger | 1920 x 1080 pixels screen resolution

Recommended system requirements: 9th generation Intel Core i7 or higher processor| 16 GB of RAM or higher | 512 GB SSD or larger | Dedicated Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti or higher graphics card | 15.6 inches screen or bigger | 1920 x 1080 pixels or higher screen resolution

5 Best Laptops for Networking & Network Engineers:

1. Acer Predator Helios 300 – Best Overall

Acer Predator Helios 300

Bottom Line: Though this laptop comes with a 9th generation Intel i7 processor, it is the efficient Nvidia GeForce GTX graphics that enables it to provide the best overall performance. The operating system, keyboard, cooling system and other features in it are also good for the networking and network engineers.

Key Features 

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Pros 

  • The keyboard is RGB backlit and comes with a separate numeric keypad.
  • The storage is adequate and very fast.
  • The airflow and cooling system are quite good.

Cons 

  • The trackpad is off-center.
  • There is no optical drive built in this system.
  • The battery life is pretty average.

This is probably one of the most favored laptops for networking and network engineers. It not only offers them everything that they want to do their job but also helps in doing a lot of other computing jobs, including gaming.

It is powered with a dedicated and efficient Nvidia GeForce GTX graphics card with Turing architecture and 6 GB GDDR6 VRAM of its own.

It also has a powerful Intel Core processor belonging to the 9th generation with six cores and an operational speed of up to 4.5 GHz.

The Windows 10 Home operating system will be most useful for such jobs with its features and 64-bit architecture.

Though the battery life of this system is just enough to do your day’s work, you can expect it to do it perfectly no matter how much load you put on it.

It will not get warm in the process due to the all-metal, custom-engineered Aero-Blade 3D fan technology of the 4th generation.

The images will look stunning on the 144 Hz IPS display. It will be seamless due to its 3ms overdrive response time and will not be blur or look haloed.

This 15.6-inch screen comes with full HD resolution and widescreen technology.

This LED-backlit screen displays images at 300-nit brightness and 72% NTSC and it saves a lot of energy in the process as well.

The DDR4 memory with 2666 MHz bandwidth, the fast PCIe NVMe SSD storage, the large and comfortable 4-zone RGB backlit keyboard with a dedicated numeric keypad, all will add to your comfort and user experience.

The system comes with extensive connectivity with Killer Double Shot Pro wireless-AX 1650 which is much better and faster than the other generations.

It also comes with a wide range of ports including an HDMI 2.0, a USB Type C Gen 2 port, three USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, an RJ 45 port, and a Mini DisplayPort that supports Nvidia G-sync and up to 240 Hz refresh rate.

The Predator Sense technology will enable you to control and customize the system and its performance including fan speed, lighting, and overclocking.

The Waves MaxxAudio technology will enhance and empower the speakers that will produce an immersive audio experience and clear sound effects. Check out Acer Predator Helios 300 Review.

2. Apple MacBook Pro – Runner Up

Apple MacBook Pro

Bottom Line: This runner up laptop of the list for networking and network engineers also comes with an Intel Core i7 processor but belonging from the 9th generation. The AMD Radeon Pro graphics, Retina display, the touch bar and touch ID are all good in this laptop to offer a better and higher user experience.

Key Features 

  • Screen: 16 inches
  • Storage: 512 GB
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • Processor: 9th generation Intel Core i7
  • OS: MacOS
  • GPU: AMD Radeon Pro 5300M

Pros 

  • The system comes with a touch bar and touch ID.
  • The Retina display is quite large and comes with a thin bezel.
  • The audio system is very good.

Cons 

  • The keyboard does not have a separate 10-key numeric keypad.
  • The system is a bit heavy.
  • There is no optical drive built in this model.

This new model from Apple comes with all the specs that are necessary to run all the software required for networking.

You will get the necessary power to run these for as long as 11 hours from the powerful lithium polymer battery that comes with a high capacity of 100 watt-hours.

The images displayed are seen clearly on the large screen with thin bezel. It is LED-backlit and therefore will consume less amount of energy while delivering sharper and crisper images.

This IPS panel allows you to see the images clearly from a wide angle that are exhibited at 3072 x 1920 resolution and at 226 pixels per inch.

This is the largest Retina display in a MacBook and supports millions of colors with P3 wide color gamut to make the images look clear and vivid at 500-nit brightness.

The Intel Core i7 processor of the system is powerful with its 6 cores and 12 MB shared L3 cache and can operate at a speed ranging between 2.6 GHz and 4.5 GHz with Turbo Boost technology.

It will help you adequately in compiling and testing all networking codes, 3D modeling and rendering.

The AMD Radeon Pro 5300M graphics card is also good enough to support the performance of the system.

It comes with 4 GB of dedicated GDDR6 memory and has the ability to switch automatically to the secondary Intel UHD Graphics 630.

This ensures better and seamless imagery which will further assist you in your job.

The design of this laptop offers a lot of options for charging and expansion with its four Thunderbolt 3 ports.

This versatile and multipurpose port allows charging, transferring of data at a speed of 40 Gbps, and also acts as a display port.

There is a USB 3.1 Gen 2 port that allows data transfer at a considerably high speed of up to 10 Gbps.

As for the wireless connectivity, the system supports IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible 802.11ac standard of wi-fi wireless networking and Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology.

The touch bar and touch ID, the fast SSD, the advanced audio system with six speakers and force-cancelling woofers, and the adequate amount of DDR4 RAM with 2666 MHz bandwidth are its useful features.

The advanced thermal management system with 35% larger heatsink and 28% enhanced airflow maintains the inside temperature.

The Magic keyboard with advanced scissor mechanism keys with 1 mm travel distance, all will add to your user and working experience.

This system is most secure and safest to use for networking and by network engineers as it comes with the 2nd generation Apple T2 security chip.

The secure enclave coprocessor included in this chip powers the touch ID to and comes with encrypted storage abilities to ensure a safe and secure boot.

It also comes with several controllers such as SSD controller, audio controller, and system management controller to ensure an enhanced performance. Check out Apple Macbook Pro Review.

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3. Microsoft Surface Pro 7 – A Versatile Design

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Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Bottom Line: The versatile design of this laptop allows the networking and network engineers to use it in different modes according to their convenience. It can be used as a traditional laptop by opening the kickstand and using the Signature Type Cover. It can also be used in the Studio and tablet mode.

Key Features 

  • Screen: 12.3 inches
  • Storage: 256 GB SSD
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • Processor: 10th generation Intel Core i7
  • OS: Windows 10 Home
  • GPU: Integrated Intel Iris Plus Graphics

Pros 

  • The battery life of this system is quite good.
  • The screen is quite good and supports touch.
  • The sound quality is good.

Cons 

  • The screen is quite small and comes with a thick bezel.
  • The graphics card is integrated.
  • There is no optical drive in the system.

This small and lightweight laptop is best in the class and stands out from the others, and even from its previous generations.

This device comes with a versatile design that allows networking and network engineers to use it in different modes.

You can use it as a traditional laptop with the kickstand open and using the Signature Type Cover.

You can also use it in the Studio mode at a perfect angle of 15-degree by lowering the kickstand for writing and drawing on the screen directly, easily and naturally using the Surface Pen.

It also allows you to use it as a standalone tablet by closing the kickstand and folding or removing the Type Cover.

This lightweight device is faster than its previous generations with the 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor.

It offers enough connectivity options in the form of both USB Type C and USB Type A ports.

You can connect external displays as and when required as well as docking stations for your accessory charging.

You can work on this system all through the day and get enough power for 10.5 hours.

This lithium-ion battery can regain 80% of its charge from empty in just about an hour. Check out Microsoft Surface Pro 7 Laptop Review.

4. Razer Blade Stealth RZ09 – Safe and Secure Device

Razer Blade Stealth RZ09

Bottom Line: This is a safe and secure device to use by the networking and network engineers. In addition to a better performance, it offers better security with the webcam equipped with infrared sensors and Windows Hello feature. It allows faster login to it with instant facial unlock after proper authentication.

Key Features 

  • Screen: 13.3 inches
  • Storage: 256 GB SSD
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • Processor: 10th generation Intel Core i7 1065G7
  • OS: Windows 10
  • GPU: Integrated Intel Iris Plus Graphics

Pros 

  • The laptop includes versatile Thunderbolt 3 ports.
  • The system includes a biometric security feature.
  • The keyboard comes with single-zone RGB backlights.

Cons 

  • The camera quality is average.
  • The graphics card is integrated.
  • The right shift key is very small.

This lightweight and durable laptop made from CNC aluminum material is another good and powerful device that will support your networking needs. This high-grade metal makes the unibody frame much stronger.

It is powered with a 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor with four cores and a speed range of 1.3 GHz and 3.9 GHz and an integrated Intel Iris Plus graphics chip of the latest design.

Both these working together will allow you to perform all types of computing jobs for networking, basic computing, content creation, and even gaming and streaming.

Since you will need to carry your laptop as a network engineer all day, this system will be most suitable due to its ultrathin and ultralight design.

Weighing just 2.9 pounds and only 0.6 inches thin, this is a very portable and mobile laptop.

The screen of this device may be small in measurement but looks large enough due to the thin bezel all around.

This matte display comes with full HD resolution that ensures the ultimate clarity of the visuals.

The colors look bold and vivid since it is accurately calibrated and features 100% sRGB color saturation.

You will find the keyboard that comes with single-zone RGB lighting but without any separate numeric keypad to be extremely easy and comfortable to type on.

Just below this Chroma keyboard is the large and sensitive Precision glass touchpad that offers accurate and most responsive touch controls.

If you want to use this system for some more advanced networking and creative production, you can easily do that and expect the best performance by connecting this device with the Razer Core X external graphics.

This will enhance the graphics performance by a significant margin.

This unit offers comprehensive connectivity options including Thunderbolt 3, USB Type A, USB Type C, wireless AX, and Bluetooth.

The biometric security of this system is also worth noting. The integrated webcam comes with infrared sensors and with its Windows Hello feature.

It ensures a faster and more secure login with proper authentication and instant facial unlocking, preventing any unauthorized access to the system, a prime requirement for networking and the network engineers. Check out Razer Blade RZ09 Laptop Review.

5. Lenovo ThinkPad E580 – Value for Money

Lenovo ThinkPad E580

Bottom Line: This laptop will offer a higher price to performance ratio with its specs and features. The system comes with 1 TB SATA SSD which ensures faster boot up, a huge ram for smoother multitasking, and a keyboard with a numeric keypad for comfortable typing by the networking and network engineers.

Key Features 

  • Screen: 15.6 inches
  • Storage: 1 TB SATA SSD
  • RAM: 32 GB DDR SDRAM
  • Processor: 8th generation Intel Core i7 8550U
  • OS: Windows 10 Pro
  • GPU: Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620

Pros 

  • The RAM and storage are huge in this laptop.
  • There is a fingerprint reader for added security.
  • The keyboard is full size and comes with a discrete numeric keypad.

Cons 

  • The keyboard does not come with backlights.
  • The trackpad is relatively small and is off-center.
  • The graphics card is integrated.

Apart from basic computing jobs, this laptop comes with all the specs and configuration that allows advanced computing jobs as well.

It can run most of the software easily and effectively, even those that are required for networking.

The small and light chassis of this machine includes one of the most powerful Intel Core processors of the i7 family.

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It is the latest 8th generation processor that has four cores, a huge cache of 8 MB and an operating ability at a speed of 1.8 GHz at the base and up to 4.0 GHz at the Boost clock.

This processor has all the power to support the integrated Intel UHD graphics chip to ensure seamless production of images with much better color accuracy.

The display of the device is fairly large. It displays images at 1920 x 1080 pixels on the matte surface.

The IPS panel ensures higher color accuracy and brightness and a wider viewing angle. The images are good to view outdoors even under the sun due to its anti-glare property.

You can get strong and consistent connectivity both in the wired and wireless form.

It comes with an RJ 45 port that supports 10/100/1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet LAN. It also supports 802.11ac wireless communication standard and Bluetooth 4.1 technology.

You will also get adequate support in your job from the DDR SDRAM which is huge as well as the 1 TB SATA SSD which will ensure faster boot up and seamless running of the software for networking jobs.

The Windows 10 Professional operating system will ensure that you have a better computing experience and navigation.

The built-in HD webcam with integrated microphone will help in making the video calls clear and better, both in picture and sound quality.

The standard keyboard will ensure that you have a better typing experience.

This keyboard may not come with backlights but has solid concave keys with a good travel distance and feedback.

There is also a separate numeric keypad that will ensure a faster data entry.

As for the safety and security aspect of this device, you can rely on the efficient fingerprint reader which allows faster and safer login to the system by the authorized user only.

Add to that, the d-TPM 2.0 chip ensures that all the data and information stored in the hard drive of the laptop are safe.

You will get extensive connectivity options in this laptop. It comes with 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 one 3.5 mm headphone/microphone combo jack.

The areas that need some improvement in this system are its average speakers and the 45-watt-hour lithium-ion battery that lasts for only 5 to 6 hours, depending on the usage.

How to Choose Best Laptops for Networking and Network Engineers?

It is not easy to distinguish the best laptops that will help in networking by the network engineers.

However, if you look for these following specific aspects then things might be much easier for you.

Portability

This is an aspect that should be at the top of your checklist. It should be easier for you to carry your laptop always and everywhere you go.

It should also be ready to use in any given environment. Ideally, you should choose a laptop that weighs anywhere between 3 to 5 pounds.

Display

The display, especially the size, will influence the weight of the laptop. Therefore, choose the right screen size which should be between 13 to 15 inches.

Apart from that, you should also make sure that it is user friendly.

It should be softer to your eyes and therefore you should focus on the screen resolution, which should be either HD or full HD.

An IPS panel and an anti-glare screen will be an added benefit.

Processor

The next important thing that you should focus on is the CPU of the laptop.

Make sure that it is fast, powerful and comes with more cores, two and above, and belongs to the latest generation, 7th or above.

This will help you to complete your networking job easily and seamlessly.

It should belong to the i5 series, if not higher. If you want to run software programs like Unigraphics, ANSYS and others you will need a much powerful processor, such as an Intel Core i7.

It should have a higher clock speed to get your job done most effectively and efficiently.

To be on the safe side, you should choose a processor belonging to the HQ series.

These CPUs come with four cores and a much better hyper-threading ability which will enhance its performance by a significant margin in comparison to those processors belonging to the U series.

RAM and graphics card

As for the RAM or memory of your laptop, it is recommended that you go for a device that comes with at least 8 GB of it.

This will allow you to run all those necessary software and programs for networking such as AutoCAD, 3D modeling and more, and all at the same time. You will however, be better off if you go for 16 GB of RAM.

Your job will be much easier and done in a much better way if you have a dedicated graphics card in your laptop. Ideally, a dedicated GPU with at least 2 GB of VRAM is ideal for network engineering.

However, this does not mean that you will not be able to do your job with a laptop that has an integrated graphics card.

In fact, the integrated GPUs today are more powerful than those of the yesteryears and will be good enough to handle your networking needs, albeit will be a tad slow in performance.

Storage

Always go for an SSD in your laptop, at least of 256 GB of it, if you want it to perform faster.

An SSD will boot up the system faster and also make the software load and run much quickly.

The SSDs are much better than the traditional HDDs in performance and durability.

If you want more storage but cannot afford an SSD, you can alternatively go with a laptop that comes with a combination of both SSD and HDD.

This will offer you a huge storage space as well as an SSD-like performance.

Connectivity and battery

Since you will need to take your laptop to different places where finding a power outlet may be difficult, you should choose a device that has a fairly long battery life, preferably of 8 to 10 hours.

And since it is all about networking, you should have the best connectivity options in your laptop.

It should include, and certainly not be limited to, a USB Type C port, an HDMI port, Bluetooth 4.0 or higher, wi-fi 5 or higher, and/or RJ 45 port.

FAQs:

Can I use a USB wi-fi card in my laptop for networking?

Yes, you can. In fact, this is the best option. These are very small and unobtrusive. The best thing is that you can leave it connected to the USB port all the time.

Will all laptops allow upgrading the wi-fi card for networking?

No, all laptops will not allow replacing or upgrading the internal wi-fi card. You must check whether or not your system allows it and also how easy it is to access.

Are graphics, keyboard and sound utilities important in a laptop for networking and network engineers?

No, it is not mandatory to perform networking tasks. However, if you have these it will surely be an added plus for networking which is all about data transfer, speed, and portability.

Are all laptops for networking and network engineers expensive?

No, not really. There are even a few budget laptops in the mid-range that are good enough to support such tasks. These are designed perfectly to meet the needs of the networking engineers. There is no need to buy an expensive device, but that is a personal preference.

Will a good quality webcam and microphone in a laptop be of any help in networking and for network engineers?

Yes, these will help you immensely if you need to hold any remote meetings with other members of your team and perform the networking tasks most easily.