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Do Engineering Students Need Laptops?

As an engineering student, you may need to buy different tools for your college projects. And you may have seen engineering students walking around the campus with the laptops in their backpacks. But, does an engineering student need a laptop?

This post explores everything you need to know about purchasing a laptop for an engineering student. I’ll talk about what to look for in a laptop, when to buy one, and many more.

Does an Engineering Student Need a Laptop?

An engineering student isn’t required to have a laptop by the school. However, since they work with a wide range of software, they need access to a computer, either laptop or desktop, where they live. A laptop can give them higher flexibility since they can carry it around if necessary.

A computer of any type is one of the essential educational tools that engineering students need. Engineering courses involve working with software and programs that require laptops or desktop computers.

However, if a student has a desktop PC where they live, they may do without a laptop during classes. Still, it depends on the major and the course requirements.

You don’t need to buy a new laptop if you’re a freshman and already have one, as it will probably do for your college projects. You can upgrade your laptop or get a new one for later years.  

If you are a civil engineering student check this post.

When Should You Buy a Laptop?

Laptops aren’t the cheapest school supplies, and you should plan to buy yours when you’re most likely to get a good discount. That’s especially important if you have a tight budget as a college student.

The best time to buy a laptop is the back-to-school season, from the end of July to the middle of August. Many students are buying their school supplies, and you can find good deals. So, many retailers try to attract as many customers as possible and increase their share of this big market.

You can find many back-to-school deals on online and physical stores. Brands like Apple, Asus, Lenovo, and HP jump into the fray and attract students.

You could also search on Amazon and websites for physical stores such as Staples and Best Buy.

Black Friday, Amazon’s Prime Day, and Cyber Monday are great times to buy anything, especially laptops for college students. With all the discounts and lightning deals all over the place, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and not get what you want. 

So, it’s best to choose your desired laptop before the deals start and keep an eye on them to buy them at the best price. Some browser extensions such as camelcamelcamel help you track prices and get the best deal before the product goes out of stock.

And finally, you can find great deals when new models of laptops are launched in retail shops. Retailers usually offer steep discounts on previous models, and you can expect them to happen from February to April.

However, companies like Apple and Microsoft have their own release dates. Apple usually has its new product releases in September, while it’s October for Microsoft.

When Should You Not Buy a Laptop?

If you want to have a laptop with the highest technology and great specs, you may want to wait until new models roll out and you can see what they have to offer. Don’t jump into buying the latest models as soon as they launch so that you can make a more informed decision.

However, if you don’t want to pay a fortune for the latest laptop only to see it drop in value massively, don’t buy a few months before new product releases. Wait until you can take advantage of the hype that forms upon new product releases.

You may consider buying a tablet instead.

What to Look for When Buying a Laptop?

Buying a laptop can be daunting and confusing with all the new models introduced every year and the overwhelming variety of brands available.

As an engineering student, you may want to know what to consider when choosing a laptop.

Here’s what to look for:


The first thing you should consider is how much you can spend on a laptop. Obviously, if you don’t have budget limitations, you can get the latest models of the best brands with the highest specs.

But if you’re tight on budget, you want to decide on a ballpark figure on your budget and what your options are within that range.

Power and Performance

You need a laptop with enough power to keep you covered through your college years and handle every project assigned to you.

Pay attention to the CPU and RAM because these two components handle everything a computer does. You could choose between Intel and AMD processors, depending on the tasks you’re going to do in your college years.


Engineering students have to work with GPU-intensive software like CAD or 3D analysis programs. So, you want to invest in a laptop with a powerful graphics card.

You can find two types of GPUs on the market: discrete and integrated. Since you’ll need a powerful GPU, go for a discrete one because it has a higher performance.

Operating System

Apart from Chrome OS, mainly used for browsing and light computing on ChromeBooks, the main operating systems are Windows and macOS.

As an engineering student, you’ll work with a wide range of software, both specialized and self-developed. So, Windows may be a better choice for you as it’s more straightforward to work with and doesn’t limit you in using these tools as much as macOS.

And if you’re a diehard macOS user, you can get around this problem by installing Linux and dual-booting your system into any operating system.

That said, your choice of the operating system may hinge on the major you’re studying. And while a MacBook may be more expensive than other laptops that run on Windows, you can install Windows on it. 


College students, especially engineering majors, need to store lots of things on their laptops, from documents and presentations to videos and photos. And in this day and age, there’s no such thing as too much storage. 

Most of today’s laptops come with hard drives of 500 GB to 5TB and even more, depending on the laptop. A 500 GB hard drive can do the job for you, but you can invest in a higher capacity if you don’t have budget limitations. That said, you can always get an external hard drive or an SSD to increase your storage capacity.

Other things to consider are resolution, weight, RAM, battery life, connectivity, ports, and size. Weight and size are particularly important for college students who take their laptops to the college.

What Is the Price Range?

Laptops are among those electronic devices found in a wide range of prices and qualities. You can find budget laptops with enough specs for engineering students at about $600 to more expensive ones that can cost as much as $3000. 

For example, These Asus laptop for engineering students are a great choice to help you handle all your projects and any assignment thrown at you by the teachers.

How Much RAM Do You Need for Computer Engineering?

Computer engineering students will need to work with a wide range of simulation software, compilers, and coding platforms. For light programs such as MATLAB or coding, an 8GB RAM will do. But if you work with heavier programs, it’s better to get 16GB RAM.

Nowadays, memory isn’t that expensive, and you can get higher capacity RAM to upgrade your system. Still, if you can’t afford a high-capacity RAM, you can get your jobs done with a powerful CPU.

Is Intel Core i5 Good for Engineering?

Intel Core i5 is more than enough for most engineering students and college projects. If you do normal programming projects and casual browsing, you don’t need a higher core

You can even go for lower CPUs if your laptop has a powerful GPU. However, if money isn’t an issue, getting a more powerful CPU can be a good investment in a future-proof laptop.

How Much RAM Do You Need for Engineering?

For engineering students who do software like CAD or 3D software, at least an 8GB RAM is necessary. However, the more RAM you have, the better your laptop’s performance. That’s especially the case if the laptop’s other specs, such as CPU and GPU, are low.

And as mentioned earlier, you can always upgrade to higher RAMs if your laptop has enough slots.

How Many GB Do You Need for Computer Science?

For computer science students, 8GB RAM is the minimum requirement. That’s because they have to perform many tasks simultaneously, such as programming, word processing, or browsing

The higher capacity your RAM is, the faster your computer can work. And remember, look for a laptop with the ability to upgrade the RAM.

Final Thoughts

Although laptops aren’t essential for engineering students, it’s a must-have if they don’t have a desktop PC at home or dorm. For entry-level purposes, a mid-range laptop with average specs will do. So, if you already have a laptop, you don’t need to buy one.

Look for discount prices at events such as Cyber Monday, Black Friday, or Amazon Prime. And aim for powerful specs, especially CPU, graphics card, RAM, HDD, and resolution.