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Best Laptops for Mechanical Engineering Students in 2022

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Purchasing a laptop for college is undoubtedly a daunting task. With so many options available on the market, it’s challenging to make a choice, especially when there are multiple factors to consider.

Ultimately, the best laptop for you will be the one that suits your tastes and needs. Choosing the wrong laptop can turn out to be quite disastrous, especially with the tight budgets of college life that will hold you back from acquiring a new one.

In this guide, we will be going through the best laptops for Mechanical Engineering students and help you choose the best option for the remainder of your college life.

Before purchasing a laptop, you can go over the main points to look out for or head directly to the list below to see our recommendations.

The Best Laptops for Mechanical Engineering Students

Inspiron 15 3000 Series Non-Touch Notebook
Image Credits: Dell

Dell Inspiron 3000 Laptop

For students on a tight budget

Pros

  • Powerful specs at an affordable price
  • Memory and storage are replaceable.
  • Decent amount of ports
  • Full-size keyboard

Cons

  • No dedicated GPU
  • Low multi-core performance
  • Budget Screen
  • Plastic Build
  • Mushy keyboard

We know that many students are severely restricted monetarily, and spending even a little bit extra on a laptop would seem impossible.

The Dell Inspiron 3000 laptop is a decent budget laptop for mechanical engineering students, especially in their starting years of college.

The laptop model we’re recommending features the Intel Core i5-1135G7, a four-core processor that meets the basic requirements of running AutoCAD thanks to its 4.2GHz boost clock.

The Intel processor is still weak in multicore performance, so some applications using the extra cores will run slow. It also lacks a dedicated graphics card, which means that for 3D applications like Solidworks, the integrated Intel Xe graphics will handle only elementary assemblies.

Also, the lack of a Thunderbolt port will prevent you from hooking up an external GPU (eGPU), making the laptop an inadequate option for 3D CAD.

The laptop’s RAM and SSD are replaceable, letting you increase capacity in the future when needed. We recommend upgrading to at least 16 GB of memory since 8 GB can get maxed out with regular applications pretty soon.

Although lower quality, the screen is the standard FHD resolution and should run applications like AutoCAD pretty well. It weighs around 1.78 kilos, tending towards the lighter side for laptops for mechanical engineering.

If your budget takes you only so far, we highly recommend you start saving some money up as you will need a more powerful option in the coming years. Being the holiday season, we expect many of the more powerful laptops to come down in price, so keep an eye out for deals on them.


Image Credits: MSI

MSI WF65 Mobile Workstation

Best 15″ workstation

Pros

  • Durable and lightweight
  • Replaceable RAM (Up to 64GB)
  • Upgradable SSD (Up to 1TB)
  • Powerful Internals
  • Excellent Battery Life
  • Slim Aluminium Chassis
  • Clicky keyboard and Wide trackpad

Cons

  • Hollow speakers
  • Poor Webcam
  • Chassis gets warm on load
  • Number pad absent
  • No Thunderbolt

If you’re looking for our straight-up recommendation for the best laptop for mechanical engineering students, then the MSI WF65 is our choice.

We decided to go with a configuration that meets most mechanical engineering students’ needs and does not cost an arm and leg like the other popular workstations.

The laptop specs are an Intel i7-10750H processor, Nvidia Quadro T1000 GPU, 16 GB of memory, and a 512GB NVMe SSD. This model will cost you a total price of $1,378.92 as configured.

The laptop’s first significant advantage is its low weight of 1.86 kilograms, which is way lower than the workstation average of 2.4 kgs. We are sure you’re going to be grateful for this once you take the laptop with you on multiple trips across campus.

The next major win for the laptop is its MIL-spec durability. As a student, one’s laptop will undergo a series of stressful conditions, and a laptop with this durability is a necessity.

On the performance side of things, the laptop’s Core i7-10750H processor should be able to handle a majority of applications seamlessly, and the Quadro T1000 should be enough for most university-level workloads.

If you plan on working with very complex designs, we recommend going with the more powerful Quadro T2000 or skipping to one of the more powerful options on this list.

The 16 GB of dual-channel memory should also suffice for CAD, but if you’re looking to get into simulations, we would recommend upgrading to at least 32 GB in the future. It lacks a Thunderbolt port but manages to include every other port you’ll be needing as a student.

The final feature is the laptop’s exceptional battery life, which MSI claims to be 9 hours of regular use. We expect that number to hold if you’re performing light tasks such as web browsing. On intense workloads, expect the battery to last no more than two hours.

The laptop is not perfect, though. The aluminum chassis tends to heat a lot on heavy workloads, so ensure you’re using it on a table to avoid any discomfort.

The speakers and webcam are also not the best quality, and with the current pandemic, you will need to buy additional peripherals for the best learning experience. A lack of a number pad might also be a learning curve for those accustomed to the feature.

Overall, we believe this laptop is the best choice for most students unless you need a more customized or powerful laptop.

We recommend you save up and get the laptop when it goes on sale if you lack the funds to purchase one right now as a cheaper option will not be suitable for many mechanical engineering workloads.


Image Credits: HP

HP ZBook Power G8 Mobile Workstation

Highly customizable workstation

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Replaceable RAM (Up to 64GB)
  • Upgradable SSD (Up to 2x 2TB)
  • Quadro Graphics and Fast Processor
  • Wide variety of ports with Thunderbolt support
  • All Aluminum build

Cons

  • Dim screen
  • Unconventional trackpad location
  • Expensive (On sale frequently)

Update: The i5-11400H model with an Nvidia T620 goes on sale at the HP store frequently. The model is suitable for students on a tight budget planning, especially if you are mainly going to use it for 2D CAD and light calculations. 

Many mechanical engineering students need a laptop that is specific to the particular software requirements of their discipline.

Many laptops on the market have extra features that many students don’t need, making it impossible to get the exact specification of CPU or GPU that you need.

HP, Dell, and Lenovo are the few manufacturers that offer completely customizable laptops, and the one we feel will go best with most students is HP’s ZBook Power G8.

To make it easier for you to decide, we’ve mentioned the different specifications of the Power G8 that will go well with students’ varying requirements.

Starting with the available list of processors, unless you are on a really tight budget, we would recommend against going with the base model without the dedicated GPU, mainly because an integrated GPU will not be sufficient for a majority of mechanical engineering software.

The i7-11800H should be your primary processor choice if you’re unsure about the software you’re going to use since its eight cores and 2.6 GHz base clock (5GHz Turbo) should work well for the foreseeable future.

The i9-11950H is great for performing simulations and other calculations, though the lack of a suitable Xeon processor means no ECC memory support.

For the GPU, we recommend the Nvidia T1200 if you’re working with simple assemblies in 3D CAD software like Solidworks and the RTX A2000 for more complex ones, especially if you’re planning to render models.

If you plan on gaming, do note that the GPUs are equivalent to the RTX 3050 and RTX 3050Ti, respectively. The RAM is expandable up to 64GB, and if you plan on maxing it out, buy the 8GB configuration and populate the slots with third-party RAM after you receive the laptop. The same goes for the SSDs.

The main reason for us recommending the Power G8 was its premium design and relatively low weight of 1.8 kilos. The laptop also includes a wide range of ports ranging from an Ethernet jack to a Thunderbolt port.

The laptop’s 83 Wh battery is not the largest you can get but should give you at least 5-6 hours on a single charge on regular use.

All these features together make the Power G8 one of the best choices for students. Unless the Quadro RTX A2000 is weak for your needs, we highly recommend this laptop, and considering it frequently goes on sale; we are confident that it will be able to easily fit into your budget.

Best For2D CAD3D CAD with
Simple Assemblies
3D CAD with
Complex Assemblies
Simulations, CFD,
etc.
Processori5-11400HIntel Core i7-11800HIntel Core i7-11850HIntel Core i9-11950H
GPUNvidia T620Nvidia T1200RTX A2000RTX A2000
RAM16 GB16 GB16 GB32 GB
(64GB recommended)
SoftwareWindows 10 ProWindows 10 ProWindows 10 ProWindows 10 Pro
for Workstations
Identify the configuration best for your needs

Precision 17 7750
Image Credits: Dell

Precision 7760 Mobile Workstation

Powerful and customizable 17.3″ workstation

Pros

  • Excellent Thermals
  • Replaceable RAM (Up to 128GB) and SSD (Up to 4x 2TB)
  • Multiple GPU and processor options
  • Wide port selection
  • Top-notch build quality
  • Great keyboard and trackpad

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Very heavy

While most mechanical engineering students are content with a 15.6″ screen for their coursework, a small percentage is willing to sacrifice portability for a larger screen, improved performance, and vast expandability.

But a majority of the 17″ workstations out there are priced insanely high, making them almost impossible to recommend for students. That is why we recommend a desktop PC over a portable workstation if expandability and a large screen are important to you.

However, if you have the budget and need a portable powerhouse, the Dell Precision 7760 is built for you, featuring a large screen and powerful internals, which you can customize according to your requirements.

We recommend the Intel Xeon W-11855M six-core CPU, which should suffice for most modeling tasks. Its support for ECC memory can be a considerable advantage for simulations and analysis, especially if you plan to run the workstation for long stretches.

The eight-core Intel i7-11800H is also a good option since the higher core count can make multi-threaded workloads perform better, though you will lose out on support for ECC memory.

GPU options on the Precision 7760 are Nvidia’s T1200, RTX A3000, and RTX A4000 and RTXA5000.

The Nvidia T1200 should be more than enough for simple assemblies and should get you through most of your coursework.

One of the best graphics card options for CAD, the RTX A3000 is another option, though it will cost you extra. It can easily handle complex assemblies in CAD applications. Thanks to its ray-tracing technology, it will also excel in rendering and visualization tasks.

Add to this the powerful cooling solution, thanks partly to the larger form factor, and you’ve got quite a powerful laptop. The four NVMe and RAM slots are other areas where the computer shines, letting you achieve desktop-class expandability.

We recommend filling up the RAM slots with three more 8 GB sticks for a total of 32 GB for simulation tasks at a bare minimum.

A large battery should give you roughly four hours on a single charge, but considering it will sit on your desk for most of the time, we expect it to be less of a problem.

The laptop comes packed with all the ports you will ever need and includes the option for a fingerprint reader. The keyboard and trackpad are excellent as with Dell laptops, though the placement will need a bit of time to get adjusted to.

It weighs a little over 3 kilos, making it difficult to lug this behemoth frequently around your campus.

We specced out the laptop with Ubuntu to lower the price, and if you need windows, you could install it once you receive the workstation.

With a wide variety of options for the processor, GPU, display memory and storage, and an easy upgrade path down the future, the Precision 7760 is a great choice if you need the best performance.

However, skip this if you frequently travel with your laptop, as its weight will seriously hold you back.

Best For 3D CAD (Basic Assemblies)3D CAD (Complex Assemblies)Simulations, CFD,
etc.
ProcessorIntel Core i7-11800HIntel Xeon W-11855MIntel Xeon W-11955M
GPUQuadro T1200 Quadro A3000 Quadro T1200
RAM16GB16GB32GB
SoftwareUbuntu Linux 20.04Ubuntu Linux 20.04Ubuntu Linux 20.04
Price

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Main Factors to consider before buying a laptop for Mechanical Engineering Students

It is necessary to identify what features are important to you before buying a laptop for a degree in Mechanical Engineering. To help you with your decision, we have condensed them into the following points: 

Graphics Card

As a Mechanical Engineering student, we are sure you will be working with 3D Computer-Aided Design (CAD)applications like Solidworks. To run these applications smoothly, you will need a Graphics Card or GPU, which most students would know about from their use in gaming.

While you could technically use a gaming GPU for CAD, we believe it’s best to stick with a certified card like Nvidia’s Quadro series for the best compatibility and performance. It’s better to take a minimal hit in gaming performance rather than in software critical to your studies.

The general rule is that a gaming GPU will suffice for smaller assemblies in 3D CAD, but a Quadro GPU is the best option for more complex and extensive models.

RAM

While most people need 16 GB of RAM for their regular workloads, mechanical engineering software that deals with simulations like Ansys and Matlab can quickly hog up your system memory if you plan to use large datasets.

For those who aren’t sure they will need this feature, it’s best to select a laptop with support for at least 64GB of memory, which you can expand to in the future as the need arises.

Many colleges have servers that can accomplish the same job faster, so check with them beforehand to save money.

Weight

A feature often overlooked by students is their laptop’s weight. While it may be tempting to buy a high-performance laptop, it’s six and a half pound weight will severely limit you from traveling with it across classrooms.

Unless you’re pretty sure you will use the laptop on your desk all day as a desktop replacement or need all the power you can get, we urge you to consider a hit on performance in the name of portability, especially if you travel with your laptop frequently.

Processor

A powerful processor is essential for tasks like simulations and 2D CAD in Mechanical Engineering. You will generally need the maximum number of cores you can get for jobs like FEM that use parallel computing for faster results.

Intel’s Xeon mobile chipsets are the best choice if you perform critical calculations, thanks to their support for ECC memory.

You can still use consumer processors like Intel’s Core series and AMD’s Ryzen if you plan on solely using a laptop for 3D applications since they offer a high core count at lower prices.

Battery 

Another commonly overlooked factor is a laptop’s battery life. When choosing a laptop for mechanical engineering, you will need to choose between battery life and performance since high-performing parts will drain your laptop’s battery pretty quickly.

Screen Resolution

We believe that a decent FHD screen with full sRGB coverage should be sufficient for most students. UHD screens do not scale well with Windows 10 and mechanical engineering software and tend to cause issues with seeing the text on the screen legibly and significantly reduce your battery life..

Price

Perhaps the most crucial factor to consider while buying a laptop for mechanical engineering is the price since your budget will determine how much you will spend on a computer. Thankfully, there are quite a few laptops out there at different budgets for pursuing a mechanical engineering degree.

Aesthetics

Many powerful laptops available for mechanical engineering also happen to be gaming laptops, which have a gamery aesthetic that can be distracting at times, especially in the classroom.

Most laptops these days have addressed the issue and offer more toned-down models, but do take a good look at a laptop’s aesthetics before deciding.

As you can see, several important factors can affect your choice for a laptop for mechanical engineering. The main decision lies with the software you plan to use, whether Solidworks, AutoCAD, Matlab, or Ansys, and your personal preferences.

We hope you were able to find a laptop that fits your needs. For further recommendations on tech like PCs and Smartphones, you can bookmark our homepage and visit our site at any time.

About Paul Jacob

As an avid hardware enthusiast, Paul always takes the opportunity to explore the underlying technology through teardowns of the laptops, smartphones, and graphics cards he owns. He is also pretty passionate about stuff like sideloading the latest Android ROM to his smartphone or tweaking the processor clocks on his laptop to improve performance and lower temps.