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Do Civil Engineering Students Need Laptops (Guide)

Laptops and desktops have become a vital requirement for pursuing any course, and civil engineering is not an exception.

Civil engineering students need laptops to write notes during lectures, develop models for practical, create weekly lab reports, and learn the various coding languages associated with the degree program.

Buying a laptop might not be necessary during your first semester since most courses are not too demanding.

Besides, universities and colleges have IT centers that students can use to write their assignments and perform other tasks that require a computer. 

However, as you progress through your degree program, the courses become tougher, and acquiring a laptop will become inevitable from this point onwards. A laptop is convenient, and it gives you the chance to perform various tasks from the comfort and privacy of your dorm.

Do civil engineers use computers?

Yes, civil engineers use computers in nearly all their activities. Technology has become a vital part of engineering to the extent that no project can get underway without using computers. 

From conception to analysis and delivery, civil engineers need computers more than ever to complete any engineering project successfully. Besides, computers come in handy when testing and modifying designs and prototypes before the commencement of a project.

Since computers are less prone to errors, civil engineers can use them to process, store, retrieve, display, and manage their project data.

Other applications of computers in civil engineering include:

  • Virtual simulation
  • Mathematical modeling
  • Computing models
  • Task decomposition
  • Parameter matching
  • Stress analysis
  • System evaluation
  • Application of CAD software

See Can Civil Engineers Work From Home?

Is a laptop necessary for civil engineering students?

Previously, laptops were not necessary for civil engineering students. Courses then embraced a practical approach that required students to be out in the field and perform their tasks manually.

However, with the emergence of new technologies in the engineering sector, computers have become mandatory. Civil engineering students need laptops to run multiple software associated with the degree program. 

The primary software programs used in civil engineering are AutoCAD and Civil 3D. This design and drafting software is the ideal choice for generating 2D and 3D models. Inadequate access to a computer limits a student’s ability to draft and design various prototypes and models as required.

The good news is that some institutions provide access to a computer during classes. If this is the case, you may not need a laptop at the moment until you start tackling more challenging courses. 

A laptop provides hands-on practice, and you can access various programs anywhere and anytime, easily and conveniently.

When not to buy a laptop?

You do not have to buy a laptop if you already have a desktop. After all, most desktops are more powerful than laptops, and they exceed the minimum requirements for running various engineering software.

Students can also forgo buying a laptop if their study institution provides access to computers during classes. Some institutions even offer students laptops to use and return after completing their studies. If this is the case, buying a laptop is skippable.

You can also skip buying a laptop during the initial stages of your degree program. The first courses are usually theoretical, meaning you won’t need a computer at that point.

As the program progresses, the classes will become more practical, and you may now need a laptop for practice.

The best laptops for civil engineering do not come cheaply. You shouldn’t strain yourself if buying a computer will take a toll on your finances.

Instead, consider borrowing a friend or accessing one in a public library or your institution’s computer center until you can afford to buy a personal laptop.

You may consider buying a tablet instead.

Is an Apple laptop good for civil engineering?

An Apple laptop can be a good choice for civil engineering due to its high functionality and performance. Apple laptops can run heavy-duty, resource-hungry programs such as AutoCAD seamlessly.

They come with powerful processors and hardware specifications that can handle any software efficiently with lagging.

Another reason why an Apple laptop can be ideal is the display.  Apple laptops boast elegant designs and immersive displays for optimum color accuracy when designing your models and prototypes.

As you know, civil engineering entails generating plenty of 2D and 3D models, so you need a machine with a high-definition display to support you in this regard.

Which Apple laptop is best for civil engineering students?

Not all Apple laptops are ideal for civil engineering students since most are lightweight and not rugged enough to use in the field. 

If you are an Apple fan and looking for a laptop for your engineering course, consider the Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch). This laptop is simply incomparable due to its super-fast processor speed, immersive Retina display, and fast rendering. 

The laptop consists of the latest 9th generation six-core Intel Core i7 processor for fast processing. With the increasing number of heavy-duty civil engineering software, a powerful processor like this is helpful for seamless operation.

Moreover, it can support up to 8TB of hard disk space, and it comes with 64GB of memory to manage and process large data files and for smooth multitasking.

The next-generation AMD Radeon Pro 53000M graphics card features GDDR6 memory for smooth and seamless graphical displays. You do not have to struggle with issues of color and image precision when using this apple device.

It has a 16-inch Retina display packed with over 4 million pixels for true-life images and maximum color clarity. 

Another impressive feature of the Apple MacBook Pro is its long battery life. Since engineers spend most of their time in the field, they require a machine that can last the entire workday.

The Apple MacBook Pro can last anywhere between 10 and 17 hours, depending on the running applications.

The only issue with this Apple laptop is that it is expensive. Not many students can afford the hefty price tag. However, if you are searching for an Apple device that offers value for money, go for the Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch)

Read more Do Engineering Students Need Laptops?

Which laptop is best for civil engineering students?

Choosing the best laptop for civil engineering can be tricky due to the numerous options available. Moreover, the ideal computer is a matter of personal preferences since some people prefer a particular brand to the other. 

However, you can now down your options by comparing features like processor and processor speed, graphics card, RAM, storage space, build quality, battery life, screen size, and operating system.

Performance is everything when looking for the best laptop for civil engineering. A civil engineer requires a laptop that can run heavy-duty programs without lagging or delaying. It should be fast with crisp displays for true-life images

The machine should have a rugged and sturdy design to withstand the rigors of the job. Moreover, it should have a long battery life to last the entire workday.

That said, here are the top ten picks of the best laptops for civil engineering students:

  1. HP ZBook Firefly 15 G7 Mobile Workstation
  2. Microsoft Surface Pro 7
  3. Lenovo Y700
  4. HP ZBook Fury 17 G7
  5. Apple MacBook Pro (16-Inch)
  6. ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo
  7. Razer Blade 15
  8. Dell Inspirion 17
  9. Acer Aspire 5
  10. Lenovo Legion 5

How much RAM do I need for Civil 3D?

The minimum RAM requirement for Civil 3D is 16 GB. However, consider upgrading your machine to 32 GB since other resource-hungry applications may usurp your RAM when multitasking. In essence, you won’t run Civil 3D on 16 GB while other applications are running in the background.

Other minimum system requirements for Civil 3D include:

  • 64-bit Microsoft Windows 8.1 or 10
  • 3+ GHz processor
  • 1920 x 1080 conventional display
  • 1 GB GPU with 29 GB/s bandwidth
  • 16 GB hard disk space

Is Ryzen 5 good for civil engineering?

Buying a laptop with Ryzen 5 processor can be a good choice for civil engineering. Even though it is mainly a gaming processor, the Ryzen 5 offers similar performance to Intel’s i5. Some people even claim that Ryzen 5 is far much better and more powerful than i5. However, that’s a debate for another day.

Most games are heavy-duty, and they require a powerful processor to match their requirements. The Ryzen 5 processor is, therefore, an excellent choice due to its superior performance. 

The processor comes with various cutting-edge technologies to support your computer’s processing power.

It is easy to configure and customize to your needs using Ryzen™Master and AMD StoreMI applications. It is also optimized to work with high-performance cooling systems for unparalleled performance.

Final thoughts

A computer was not mandatory for civil engineering students back in the day. The approach back then was different because students drew and designed their models manually using a pen and paper. 

However, things have changed. Manual drawings are not accurate and prone to errors. A slight mistake or inaccurate measurements in your model or prototype can turn out to be a major disaster in the final product.

With the help of computers, civil engineers can now produce accurate models for their projects. For this reason, laptops have become a must-have for civil engineering students.