Finding the best laptop for computer science students can be a bit more tricky than one can imagine.
Every computer science student is different when it comes to their needs. Some of you might want to make good software whereas some might be only interested in taking a job in a big company.
The path you choose careerwise will also decide the right laptop for you. Whether you’re going to need a workhorse or a mid-range laptop will be dependent on that.
Unfortunately, there are too many factors you have to consider before you grab your credit card and get your laptop. Luckily, we’ve done all the legwork for you. We’ve gone through 100s of models and have handpicked a few that are great choices for anyone who wants to pursue computer science as their major.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best laptops for computer science majors for the year 2023.
Here are our top picks for computer science students
- Apple MacBook Pro 13″ – Editor’s Choice
- Dell XPS 13 – Runner Up
- Acer Aspire 5
- ASUS ROG Zephyrus M
- Microsoft Surface Pro 7
1. MacBook Pro 13 – Editor’s Choice
Apple‘s MacBook Pro 13 is our Editor’s Choice for the best laptop for computer science students.
It is no surprise that the MacBook Pro is the go-to choice for a lot of computer science students, thanks to its flexibility and the power it brings on board. You will see a lot of people using MacBook Pros on your campus and that is not by accident.
One of the main advantages of the MacBook is that it allows you to use all three Operating systems that are windows, macOS, and Linux.
The MacBook also allows you to compile Linux codes natively which is not possible with a Windows machine. If you want to work on a developing environment that is not compatible with the Mac, then you can simply run that by installing windows with the help of Boot Camp.
If you plan to develop applications for the iPhone or Mac, Then the only option you have is to go with an Apple laptop. The reason we chose the MacBook Pro over the MacBook Air is because of the power it brings to the table. The MacBook Pro is more future-proof and can handle more work when compared with the Air model.
The MacBook Pro is one of the most portable laptops in the high-performance category. It weighs around 3 lbs and should fit comfortably inside your backpack.
The battery life of the MacBook Pro is very impressive. With regular work, you should be able to squeeze out at least 8 to 10 hours of use which is excellent. When if you start your day at just 70%, there is a good chance that you might finish your day without having to recharge your laptop ever again.
Having a good keyboard for computer science students is as important as having a good processor and display on your laptop. The MacBook Pro comes with probably the best keyboard on any laptop.
The scissor mechanism is a much-improved version of the previous generation and offers an amazing time experience. You don’t get as much travel as onward expect, the typing experience is still pleasant and the keys have a soft feel to them which is nice.
As a computer science student, you will be working in a lot of public places like cafes and libraries. Having a loud keyboard can be a big disturbance to the people around you. Luckily, the MacBook Pro keyboard is super silent and does not make any noise that can inconvenience others around you.
The trackpad on the MacBook Pro is probably the largest you’ll find on any laptop. It gives you a lot of space to play with and you can use those macOS gestures without any issues.
One of the major selling points of the MacBook Pro is its display. We have a 13.3-inch display that comes with a retina resolution which is 2560 x 1600 pixels. This resolution puts more than 4 million pixels into a 13.3” screen delivering an excellent pixel density.
With full support for the P3 color gamut, this is one of the most color-accurate displays you will find on the market. You will enjoy watching your favorite TV shows and music on this display, thanks to its vibrant colors. The IPS panel also delivers incredible viewing angles from every single viewpoint.
The speakers on the MacBook Pro are a beast. These are, without a doubt, the best speakers on any laptop, period. The fact that Apple has made such impressive speakers fit into such a small body is just amazing engineering. You can easily fill a medium-sized room with the speaker and you might even have some luck running a party on it.
One of the major differentiators between the MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air is the Touch Bar. The touchpad is a nice innovation that gives you customized control for different apps as opposed to having simple function keys on the top row.
The laptop also comes with a touch ID sensor that allows you to log in to your user profile with just a tap of a finger. Another nice touch is that if you have multiple uses on your laptop, placing the finger on top of the touch ID sensor would log you into your respective user profile.
The MacBook Pro also comes with a T2 security chip that provides encryption for all your important data and user details. If you’re someone who values security on your laptop, then this is just the icing on the cake.
The MacBook Pro comes with an Intel Core i5 processor at its helm. This process has a base clock speed of 1.1 GHz and can push to a maximum of 4.7 GHz which is quite some Baba, even for a computer science student. The processor provides you with adequate power to handle all your coding and School needs.
When it comes to memory, you can configure the MacBook Pro to suit your needs. We recommend going with 8GB of memory which should be fine in most cases. If you’re going to work on game development or 3-D modeling, then you should probably go with the 16GB model. If you’re not sure what you should go with, then starting with 8GB should be fine.
The MacBook Pro storage can also be configured to the size of your preference. In most cases, the entry-level size, 256GB, will be more than enough. If you’re going to be dealing with a lot of media files or a huge library of files, then you can upgrade your storage to 512GB.
The solid-state drives you get on apple laptops are blazing fast. You get reading and writing speeds upwards of 2GB/s which is just crazy. This speed is not only for reading and writing files but also enhances the overall performance of the laptop.
Overall, the MacBook Pro is a brilliant laptop that comes with all the stuff you need for a fulfilling college experience. If you’re looking for a premium computing experience when writing a world-changing code, then the MacBook Pro is the best laptop for computer science students.
- Amazing display
- Impressive battery life
- Awesome speakers
- Only USB type C port
2. Dell XPS 13 – Runner Up
The Dell XPS 13 is the closest laptop from the Windows ecosystem to compete with the MacBook Pro. In all honesty, we can say that the Dell XPS 13 has succeeded quite a bit in that quest.
When it comes to windows, there was a period when there were no flagship laptops that could match the performance and fitness of Apple laptops. Who came up with the XPS models a few years back and have been constantly producing amazing laptops that are great for Windows users.
One of the best things about the Dell XPS 13 is its design. Dell has reduced the basis of the laptop considerably and calls it an infinity-edge display. Thanks to these reduced bezels, the entire footprint of the laptop is now smaller.
Dell has managed to put a 13.3-inch laptop into the footprint of a 12-inch laptop which is simply an engineering marvel. This design breakthrough helps heaps when it comes to the portability of the laptop. The XPS 13 where is around 2.7 pounds and is super easy to carry around.
The display on the Dell XPS 13 is one of the best on any laptop. When it comes to the resolution, you have the option to configure between a full HD, quality, and a 4K resolution display.
With this model, we are dealing with a full HD display as we think it is adequate for a computer science student. Having said that, you can upgrade to a QHD display if you can afford it and if you want a bit more detail on your display.
The colors on the display are vibrant and almost true to life, thanks to the excellent contrast ratio. You will enjoy the sharp text that flows on your screen while reading or doing some research. The IPS panel gives you excellent viewing angles that make this display perfect for media consumption.
The display on the Dell XPS laptop is also a touchscreen. Though we don’t find touchscreens on regular laptops that useful, it does give you an additional dimension to play with. Having said that, we are sure that some of you might find a touchscreen quite useful.
The XPS 13 also comes with a fingerprint reader for security purposes. There is no need for you to type your lengthy password as you can simply put your finger on the reader and log in. The fingerprint reader also comes in handy to encrypt any file you want without any added complexities.
The Dell XPS 13 also comes with incredible battery life. With regular use, 8 to 10 hours of battery life shouldn’t be much of a problem. If you’re going to compile some code or do something heavy, expect the laptop to last for about 4 to 5 hours which should give you enough time to find a charging port to charge the laptop on time.
The keyboard on the Dell XPS 13 is an excellent one. It is a tactile keyboard and comes with a nice design. You can type on this keyboard as if it’s a mechanical keyboard, thanks to the travel. It is also backlit so you can work in places where there isn’t enough light. The touchpad here is a Windows precision trackpad and it works as advertised.
The process we have here in the Dell XPS 13 is an Intel Core i7 processor from the 10th generation of Intel chips. This is a low-voltage, mid-range processor from Intel and it does a pretty good job when it comes to running IDEs and other code-related applications.
This processor can handle programming without any issues. The processor is also capable of handling some heavy work like animation and 3-D modeling as well. The processor gets good support from the memory department and provides an impressive multitasking experience.
For storage, the reluctant 13 comes with 512GB of a solid-state drive. This is a lot of space to play with and Dell has been very generous with it. The SSD is quite fast and gives this amazing writing and reading speeds. If you’re coming from a traditional hardest, then you will notice the world of difference in terms of speed.
The Dell XPS 13 comes only with the integrated Intel UHD graphics card. Integrated graphics cards have improved a lot over the years and we can confidently say that this year is probably the best one we’ve seen yet. It may not replace discrete graphics cards anytime soon, but it still is a very good one.
As a computer science student, you’re not going to have a major need for a discrete graphics card. Unless you work on animation come on game development or 3-D modeling, you do not need a dedicated GPU at your disposal.
Overall, the Dell XPS 13 is a champion laptop in the Windows ecosystem. With a brilliant display, excellent battery life, and impressive performance, we can easily say that this is the best Windows laptop for computer science students.
- Awesome display
- Handy touchscreen
- Fingerprint reader
- None at this price point
3. Acer Aspire 5 – Budget Choice
The Acer Aspire 5 is our choice for the best affordable laptop for computer science students.
When it comes to coding, you really can’t settle for a super cheap laptop. We have to pick a laptop which is affordable and at the same time, gives you all the essentials to have a good computing experience.
The Acer Aspire 5 is by no means a premium laptop. The model does come with a budget variant with an AMD processor and slightly inferior hardware choices but the one we are talking about comes with impressive hardware with a price tag that isn’t premium.
The first thing you can’t miss about this laptop is its size. This is a 15.6-inch laptop so it is not going to be as portable as the other two models we discussed. But even for a 15.6-inch laptop, this phone weighs just above 4 pounds and is a lot more portable than one would expect.
The battery life of the Acer Aspire 5 is also quite good. With regular use, you should easily achieve around six hours of battery life which is impressive. When you are compiling code or running virtual machines, this laptop will not die on you before it gave you at least a few hours to work.
The display on this laptop is a 15.6-inch one that comes with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. This full HD resolution does a pretty good job but as we deal with a bigger display in hand, the pixel density does take a hit.
The picture quality is pretty good and you should be happy with what you get for the price. The contrast ratio is decent and you get neat blacks and whites with a good greyscale performance. The viewing angles on the screen are also pretty good making this a suitable display for media consumption.
The Aspire 5 model is powered by an 8th-gen Intel Core i5 processor. This is a quad-core i5 processor that comes with a maximum frequency of 3.4 GHz. This processor can handle pretty much any application you throw at it without making a fuss.
Whether you are running development environments or simply taking notes, this processor makes sure that your experience is nothing but excellent. The memory department gives a helping hand to the processor with the 8 Gigabytes of RAM in it. This RAM should be more than enough for multitasking and run applications that require more memory.
The storage option on the laptop is at 256GB solid-state drive. This SSD may not be as fast as the ones you find in the MacBook Pro and the Dell XPS laptops, but it is still very fast and is a much better alternative to the hard drive discs. The operating system loads up real quick and the same can be said for pretty much all the applications you use.
Even though the Acer Aspire 5 belongs to the budget category, It comes with a dedicated graphics card. The graphics we have here are an Nvidia GeForce MX 250 with a dedicated video RAM of 2GB.
This Nvidia GPU is not a high-end one but it is better than the onboard graphics card you get. Naturally, you will have a better graphics performance on the laptop and you would even be able to run some mid-range games without any issues.
This Acer laptop does come with a lot of connectivity options. You get a couple of USB 2.0 ports, which are a USB 3.0 port, an ethernet port, a microSD card slot, and an audio jack. The lack of a USB type C port can be a bit disappointing but for a laptop, at this price point, we can understand.
Laptop also comes with built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth so that you can connect to the internet wirelessly and also connect to external devices without any wires respectively.
Overall, the Acer Aspire 5 is a solid laptop with a price tag that is less intimidating. You get a good display, impressive performance, and surprisingly impressive battery life. In our opinion, this is one of the best budget laptops for computer science students for the year 2023.
- Excellent display
- Epic battery life
- Lack of USB type C ports
4. ASUS ROG Zephyrus M – Gaming Pick
If you are a computer science student who loves to game, then there is no need to compromise on the laptop you need for school. The best gaming laptop for computer science students is the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M.
This Asus laptop is an impressive gaming machine that comes with all the bells and whistles you would expect in a high-end gaming laptop. To make the deal better, this laptop is not as expensive as other gaming laptops with similar performance.
Being a gaming laptop, you would expect this device to get a bit too hot too soon. Thanks to the intelligent cooling thermal system with dual 12V fans and anti-dust technology, the laptop maintains an optimum temperature even when you’re gaming your heart out.
This cooling system also allows you to compile monstrous codes and you can also work with virtual machines without any issues. If you’re planning on becoming a full-time developer, then this hardware is something you would appreciate even a few years from now.
When you talk about gaming laptops, one of the things that everyone would agree on is their portability of them. Gaming laptops are usually bulky and other least portable laptops you can find. But the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M is one of the slimmest gaming laptops you’ll find on the market.
The ASUS ROG Zephyrus M is only 18.9 millimeters thin and comes with a weight of 4.4 pounds which is not that bad considering it is a gaming laptop, You can take it with you when you are moving around but it won’t be as heavy as one might imagine.
One area where this laptop falls short is in the battery life department. Being a gaming laptop, it does not fare well when it comes to battery life. With regular use, you might be able to get around 4 to 5 hours of battery life which is quite decent.
If you’re going to go with all guns blazing, expect the battery life to fall around 2 to 3 hours which can be quite annoying if you are at school and taking notes. This is probably the most infuriating thing about this laptop.
The keyboard on this laptop is perfect. It has a nice tactile feel to it and comes with just the right amount of travel to make a typing experience super awesome. The keys have RGB backlighting which means you can customize the look of the keyboard completely to match your style.
Even though this is a 15.6-inch laptop, you won’t find a dedicated number pad on the keyboard. It might disappoint some but ASUS has done a pretty good job when it comes to the layout of the keyboard and Isn’t much of a deal-breaker. The trackpad on the laptop is also quite big and comes with support for all Windows gestures.
The display of the laptop is one of its bestselling points. We have a 15.6-inch display that comes with full HD resolution and a refresh rate of 240 Hz. The resolution of the laptop gives you excellent pictures and sharp text that a great when you’re working on your laptop.
The feature that steals the show is the reference rate. This 240 Hz refresh rate makes every single moment on the screen super smooth. Once you start using this display, it is going to be very difficult to go back to a display with a 60Hz refresh rate.
The display delivers amazing colors and is great for gaming. The display is also an excellent companion for streaming your favorite movies and TV shows online.
The speakers on this laptop are also pretty good but for gaming, you probably want a nice, dedicated set of earphones. If you don’t mind about the audio quality, you will be perfectly fine with the speakers built-in.
The graphics card in this ASUS ROG Zephyrus M is the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 which is one of the latest graphics cards to come out. This GPU comes with a dedicated video memory of 8GB that is of the type GDDR6. It has a base frequency of 1080 MHz and a boost frequency of 1305 MHz which is pretty good.
Being one of the high-end graphics cards, this one can help you play pretty much any game you want on this laptop. Whether you want the best online shooting experience or you want to play the latest and the greatest to play games, this GPU will make all of it happen.
As a computer science student, if you want to run something heavy and graphically intensive, this GPU will be of great help. You can work on animations, 3-D modeling, and other graphics-intensive work on this laptop without any issues.
The laptop is powered by an Intel Core i7 processor from the ninth generation of Intel ships. This is an extra-core processor and comes with excellent performance all across the board. You can do pretty much anything you want in this process and it will handle it like a boss.
With 16GB of RAM in the memory department, there is absolutely no restriction when it comes to multitasking. You can run as many applications as you want without worrying about any lag in the system’s performance.
Overall, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus M Is an absolute beast of a gaming laptop. If you are a serious gamer, then you will be very pleased with what is left has to offer. With an amazing display, powerful specs, and an impressive keyboard, this is this laptop is one of the best laptops for computer science majors.
- High-end hardware
- Amazing refresh rate
- Excellent graphics performance
- A tad expensive
5. Surface Pro 7 – Convertible Pick
The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is the best convertible laptop for computer science majors. The focus on this laptop shifts to taking notes because this is a very good tablet that offers a surface where you can take handwritten notes with ease.
With a 12.3-inch screen, the Surface Pro 7 is probably the lightest convertible laptop you can get your hands on. Without the keyboard, the device weighs around 1.5 lbs which is almost negligible when you slide it into your backpack.
The keyboard that you get with the Surface Pro 7 is detachable and it is not the regular material we are used to. It is a nice soft fabric feel to it and is not as rigid as the keyboard you will find on other laptops. This could be a problem for those who rely on the keyboard more than the touchscreen.
Writing code on this laptop might not be a breeze but it is something you can get used to over time. One of the advantages of the Surface Pro 7 is that you’re still running a full version of Windows even the tablet mode. This means you can run development environments even in tablet mode without any issues.
With a battery life of 10.5 hours, the Surface Pro 7 is easily one of the best laptops when it comes to battery life. Even when you are compiling and writing a lot of code, the laptop will still give you an impressive battery life which is pretty cool.
The 12.3-inch display on this laptop is probably the best Microsoft has ever produced. It comes with Pixel Sense resolution which translates to 3200 by 1800 pixels. This is one of the most pixel-dense displays you’ll find on the market.
It is perfect for taking notes as it comes with support for external styluses. I am so used as a media consumption device, thanks to the rich colors and the excellent viewing angles of the display.
The device does well when it comes to everyday performance. The Intel Core i5 processor and the 8GB of RAM in the memory department do a fine job when it comes to handling your everyday tasks. The 256GB solid-state drive is quite fast and enhances performance in every way possible.
The device comes only with an integrated graphics card which is fine for most computers and students. Unless you are a serious gamer, the lack of a dedicated graphics card should not affect you in any way.
When it comes to connectivity, the laptop comes with USB Type-C and USB Type-A ports that are pretty good when it comes to data transfer speeds. The laptop also comes with support for wireless standards like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi which should help you remove some clutter from your desk.
Overall, the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is a handy convertible laptop that is more of a tablet if you look at it closely. If you’re looking to take a lot of handwritten notes digitally, then the Surface Pro 7 is probably the right choice for you.
- Extraordinary display
- Incredible battery life
- Keyboard is not great
What To Look For In The Best Laptops For Computer Science Majors?
If you want to pick the right laptop for yourself, then here are some criteria you should consider before coming to a final decision.
What you are going to study will play a big part in deciding what software you’ll be working with. The software, in turn, will decide what computer needs to have the best college experience.
Are you going to take notes during lectures? If yes, then you need a laptop on which you can’t type fast and freely without making a ton of mistakes.
If you’re planning to take handwritten notes, then you should probably go for a tablet or a convertible laptop that allows you to use a pen to write notes on the screen.
What are the main subjects you’re going to focus on?
If object-oriented programming is your answer, then Java and C++ will be the languages you will be focusing on. If you want to learn advanced computing code, then Python might be your friend.
In either case, you need a good laptop that will be able to handle the IDEs for the respective coding languages.
If you’re going to work on systems and networks, then you might need to run virtual machines. Here, you’re not going to fare well with mid-range laptops as you’ll need a high-end device with flagship hardware.
Whatever your curriculum is, most modern laptops with decent hardware will be a good companion for you in most cases. Unless you have very specific high-end requirements, you should be fine with any laptops from our list.
One of the main criteria for selecting the operating system for your laptop is to see if your main software is compatible with the OS. If it does, then there shouldn’t be any problem in moving forward with that operating system.
Selecting the operating system you use will also be dependent on the school. Some schools might have a preferred operating system that they would have even listed as a basic requirement to join the course.
Some schools may not have any preferred OS. But no school is going to take it out on you for using a different operating system than what they’ve recommended.
If you’re going to take a general route and not going to develop anything for Apple products, then going with Windows is probably a good choice. Most IDEs are compatible with Windows and you will have a good overall experience, thanks to the coders available on the OS for your stream.
If you’re going to develop apps for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, then you have no choice but to go for MacBooks.
The macOS is a variant of BSD Unix which is preferred by a lot of programmers. The MacBooks are very flexible as you can also install Windows and Linux operating systems along with macOS.
With macOS, you get a native compiler for C, C++, Objective C, and Python. This is not something you get in Windows or any Linux distribution.
Another social reason to go with Macs is that a lot of students and professors use them. If you’re an introvert or someone who wants to belong to a crowd, having a macOS device could be an icebreaker.
As a computer science major, there is no way you’re going to complete your course without learning Unix/Linux.
There are a lot of open-source resources for Linux operating systems and sometimes they are as good as their Windows and Mac equivalents.
A catch with the Linux operating system is that you don’t get laptops out of the box with Linux operating systems. To get Linux OS, you have to download the operating system from the official source and install it on your Windows laptop.
As someone who is going to go out a lot and sit in front of the screen for days, you need the absolute best display for the sake of your eyes.
We recommend going with at least a 1080p display as it gives you good-quality images and a neat resolution which will not make you squint your eyes to focus on the smaller details.
Having a full HD display is a much better option when compared to HD displays. The HD displays are not that bad but you do not get the same quality and looking at them for longer periods might even affect your eyes.
If possible, we do recommend going with higher resolution displays like QHD or 4K displays. A 4K display might be overkill for a laptop, but a QHD display would present information more impressively. You will enjoy the sharp text on the screen when you are writing a ton of code.
The next thing you should worry about the display is its size. If you want a laptop that you can carry everywhere, then you should probably go with a 13-inch display.
This display size is very famous among programmers and you can see a lot of these laptops on your campus.
If you’re someone who wants more screen real estate, then you can try going with a 14-inch display or a 15.6-inch display. But do avoid 17-inch displays as they can have a lot of bulk and moving around with them can become cumbersome.
One way to deal with a small display on your laptop is to have a secondary monitor that is big. You can connect your laptop to high-end and a bigger (24” or more) Monitor through the HDMI port and get a much better screen for coding and other purposes.
having an IPS panel is super important for modern-day laptops. This IPS panel gives you excellent colors and presents you with a very good contrast ratio. In addition to the visual benefits, you also get amazing angles which are great for media consumption as well as presentations.
You can also go for a laptop with a touchscreen but that is more of a personal preference. A touchscreen or a laptop is not going to make significant improvements when it comes to your daily routine. It is just a convenience feature unless you plan to take notes on a convertible laptop.
If you’re going to be working in places that have a lot of light, then it is wise to go for a laptop that comes with impressive maximum brightness. We would suggest getting a laptop display that comes with at least a maximum brightness of 400 nits. It would benefit you greatly if you can get an anti-reflective display as well.
For a computer science student who might need his laptop at any point in the day, battery life is one of the most important aspects of your laptop.
Yes, you will have a lot of charging outlets for you to charge your laptop. But the real question is how many of them will be available at the time you need to recharge your laptop.
This is why we recommend going with laptops that last the entire day.
If you’re going with a premium laptop from any of the reputed brands, then there is a good chance that you might get all-day battery life. A good example of this would be the MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro, the Dell XPS 13, and the Surface Pro 7.
All these models come with extraordinary battery life and you won’t have to charge them again during the day.
Having good battery life has more advantages than just recharging your laptop. You can easily take your laptop and get into a zone when you are working on your code.
Sometimes your college campus can become crowded and loud. In this scenario, you would love some peace if you can take your laptop and move to a quiet and calm location. Having excellent battery life will not make you think twice about making this move.
Solid battery life will also allow you to work while you’re traveling, chilling in a cafe, working out in the gym, and returning to other different places.
Even if you can’t get a notebook with all-day battery life, we recommend going at least for 5 to 6 hours of battery life as it could give you a decent experience without having to search for a charging port every few hours.
Being a student, you will need to go from one hall to another to attend lectures. Having a lightweight laptop can you come in handy when you’re moving a lot.
The ideal weight for a good laptop, in terms of portability, would be around 3 pounds. Most 13.3-inch laptops would fall in this weight range and would be easier to carry around.
If you want a bigger display, like a 15.6-inch screen, then you might have to compromise and portability as they are going to add a pounder to extra to your backpack.
If you don’t want to carry around anything, You can do that as well. A lot of schools provide students with computers in the labs and other places and you can take advantage of that.
There is one more way to shed a lot of weight on your device. It is to go with a tablet rather than a laptop. Most tablets will be around 1.7 lbs which is a lot less than 3 pounds and will be a breeze to carry around.
If you can manage your studies on a tablet, then there might be no harm in making one your daily driver. Coding on a tablet is not going to be the best experience as most tablets are not optimized for coding.
Having enough processing power will make or break your experience as a coder or even just a computer science student.
In most cases, as a student, you would be limited to programming languages like Java, Python, and C++. Unless you have chosen a very specialized discipline, you’re not going to be involved with stuff like animation or 3-D modeling.
For more students, an i5 processor would be a good bet. Most Intel i5 processors come with adequate power and do not cause any stress on the battery.
In our opinion, you should avoid dual-core processors and should go with quad-core processors as they can give you a little extra oomph when it comes to processing power.
You should avoid high-end processors like the i7 if you are sure that they are going to affect battery life negatively. They would be overkill in most scenarios unless you’re working on something that needs a lot of processing power.
You can save some money by going with an equivalent AMD processor. Ensure that the processor does not produce too much heat as AMD chips are notorious for that very reason.
How much memory do I need as a computer science student?
If you’re going to be dealing with regular school work, then 8GB of RAM will be more than enough.
If you’re going to be developing applications while still in school, Still be okay with it gigabytes of RAM but having 16GB will definitely give you an edge. This memory will also come in handy if you are going to compile a lot of code on your laptop.
If you’re going to work on stuff like animations and 3-D modeling, then 16GB of RAM is a minimum you should go for. This is also applicable when you’re working with web servers, networks, and even databases.
To summarise, you will be fine with an Intel Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM in most cases. If you’re going to work on specialized software that requires a lot of resources, then it might be worth upgrading to an Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM if they would truly bring a performance improvement.
The storage space you need is secondary when it comes to picking storage for your laptop.
The real question here is if you should go for a hard drive disk or a solid state drive. Hard drives are super cheap and can give you more storage to work with. State drives, on the other hand, are quite expensive and you won’t get a lot of storage for the same amount of money.
In our opinion, no student should ever go with a hard drive disk anymore. These traditional storage drives are outdated and come with a speed that is no longer feasible for student work.
Solid-state drives are a huge improvement and come with speeds that are 10, 20 times faster than those mechanical drives. Having a solid-state drive not only gives you great reading and writing speeds but also improves the overall performance of the laptop.
When it comes to dealing with IDEs, solid-state drives are much faster and will load them in a flash. If you’re trying the same with a hard drive, You will get a very slow and painful opening speed which is no longer competitive when it comes to students.
The amount of storage you want on your laptop is mostly personal preference. Most students would get away easily with just 128GB of storage on the laptop. Going with storage could be the right thing to do if you are short on money.
If you’re going to use your laptop for storing some entertainment like movies and TV shows, then you need a little bit more storage. Here, a 256GB solid-state drive would make more sense.
Even if you can’t afford an SSD for the entire storage you’re planning to get, you can get a small-sized SSD and back it up with a cheaper external hundred.
Regardless of the size of your solid-state drive, you should have an external hard disc that acts as a backup and you should do regular backups of your work so that you don’t lose it entirely overnight.
Another smart thing to do is to have a cloud backup solution. Cloud storage is much safer and you may not lose all your data unless you have a poor password on your account. You will never know when your laptop might die on you and in those cases, your cloud backups will come in handy.
Keyboard And Trackpad
For a computer science student who is going to type a lot of coding his entire lifetime, a good keyboard is crucial.
You need a tactile keyboard that gives you good feedback and feels more like a mechanical keyboard and not like a laptop keyboard. Unfortunately, most laptops can make a mistake in this area.
The laptop so we have mentioned in the list comes with excellent keyboards that have well-spaced keys and good travel.
It would be an advantage to have backlighting on your keyboard. A backlit keyboard gives you the option to work in dimly lit rooms and pitch-black environments.
When it comes to trackpads, make sure that you get a Windows precision trackpad. Please track pants come with support for complete Windows gestures and using them as a pretty standard experience.
If you’re going to take a deep dive into the world of coding, then you may not need a dedicated graphics card on your laptop.
Unless you are going to work on game development or something similar, then a dedicated graphics card would be overkill for your regular routine.
Most CS curriculums do not include animation, 3-D modeling, and design. This means that you may not need a laptop with a dedicated GPU right now. If you get a laptop with the latest-gen Intel processor, the integrated graphics card will take care of most of the graphics requirements without any issues.
Having only an integrated graphics card also brings a couple of advantages. You get longer battery life which is more valuable for you at this point rather than running a few complex applications.
You are also not sidetracked to play some games. If you are a gamer, it is better to avoid a laptop with a dedicated graphics card so that you can focus on your studies and improve your GPA.
It just goes to show that most computer science students will be fine with just an integrated graphics card on their laptops. Unless you are going to work on animations or game development, you will not need a discrete graphics card at this point.
Make sure that your laptop comes with all the essential possible needs. Some of the important ports are a USB type C port, a USB 3.0 port, an HDMI port, and an audio jack.
If you’re planning to become a coder, it would be a worthwhile investment to get a second display and convert it into a vertical monitor. You can use the HDMI port to connect your laptop to this vertical monitor and make it your coding base.
Having a second display that is solely for code can make wonders for your productivity and will make your life much easier.
Ensure that you are getting a decent WebCam on your laptop. In this day and age, you are going to attend a lot of online classes where you are required to be present visually. In this case, a good WebCam can come in handy.
If you’re planning to attend online classes or even for simple rising, you need to have good internet speeds. The laptop must have built-in Wi-Fi and it should allow you to get high internet speeds. Wi-Fi 802.11AC or later will be a good choice for better internet speeds.
Having Bluetooth built into your laptop also brings in a turn of advantages. You can easily connect with external devices without the need for clunky Vyas on your desk.
That brings this huge post to an end.
With the laptops mentioned in this list, you will be able to start your school as a computer science student and you can even finish your Ph.D. with the same laptop.
Our simple recommendation for most people is to go with a laptop that is good for both your wallet and also for your needs. Just get a laptop that is easy to carry around and has a good battery life. Most modern processors will handle your workload, in most cases.
If you’re still not able to find the best laptop for your computer science course, do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We will talk to you personally and recommend a device that suits your needs to a tee.