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The 5 Best Laptops for Civil Engineering Students

Civil engineering can be quite demanding. Not only in terms of skills, but also in terms of hardware. You’ll need quite a powerful machine that works as fast as you do – especially as far as 3D rendering is concerned.

That’s why picking the best laptop is essential. However, the best choice differs from person to person – which is why we did the research for you and hand-picked some of the best options out there. 

So, without any further ado, let’s get right into it!

Before you Buy

While looking at the specifications of each laptop, there are some things that you must keep in mind. Things that are going to determine what’s best for you. 

  • OS: Windows is most likely your best bet since most programs, professional-based or not, are made for it. Linux lovers don’t need to worry about anything since it’s an OS that works with every machine – but macOS will only properly work on Macs
  • CPU: We wouldn’t recommend anything less than a quad-core Intel Core i5 or Ryzen 5
  • GPU: Those of you who need to work with 3D rendering (And most civil engineering students do) are going to need a dedicated GPU. We’d recommend at least a GTX 10xx card and the same goes for gamers
  • RAM: 8GB is the sweet spot but get 16 if you can – just to be safe
  • Storage: SSDs are the norm now. However, big ones are expensive. If you want both speed and capacity on a budget, consider looking at laptops with small SSDs and big HDDs (Or just get an external drive – if it’s not inconvenient)
  • Battery life: Powerful laptops tend to suffer from bad battery life due to the extreme power requirements and vice versa – but not always
  • Display: Bigger displays are more comfortable but smaller ones offer more portability

And that’s about it for the basics. Those of you who are a bit pickier may want to pay attention to other stuff as well. Things such as the keyboard, overall design, bezels, etc. 

With that out of the way, let us look at some laptops!

1: Asus VivoBook S 

Decent Specs on a Budget

Generally coming in at less than $600, the VovoBook S is one of the greatest budget options that we could find. 

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-8250U
  • GPU: Integrated graphics
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • Display: 15.6 LCD IPS display at 1920×1080
  • Battery: 5-6 hours with casual usage
  • Weight: 3.7 pounds

Don’t let the relatively low price tag fool you. With a Core i5, 8 gigs of RAM, and a decent SSD, this machine is more than capable enough to handle some basic tasks. 

However, do keep in mind that the lack of dedicated graphics is a massive deal-breaker for those who are interested in 3D rendering anything or playing games. The rest of you should be fine with it. 

One thing that we particularly liked about it is its low weight and overall design. Thin bezels, slim, decent keyboard – there’s not a whole lot more that we can ask from a budget laptop!

Pros: 

  1. Lightweight
  2. Cheap
  3. Beautiful design with thin bezels
  4. Decent battery
  5. Good balance between portability and usefulness

Cons: 

  1. No dedicated GPU – bad choice for those who need 3D rendering or gaming

2: Acer Aspire E15

Great Battery Life

If you’re looking for something with great battery life in the mid-range sector and you don’t care too much about graphics performance, then the Aspire E15 is quite possibly your best option. 

  • CPU: Intel Core i5-8250U
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce MX150
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • Display: 15.6 LCD IPS display at 1920×1080
  • Battery: Up to 15 hours but you can expect 6-7 or a bit more with “normal” usage and may be less than half of that while gaming or 3D rendering
  • Weight: 5.27 pounds

Acer claims that we can get up to 15 hours of battery life. But, most people report half of that under real-world usage. And while you could potentially get 15 hours with the laptop idling, we just don’t see the point in that. 

Now, do keep in mind that while the MX150 is a dedicated GPU, it’s still not the best pick for gaming or demanding 3D renderings. Still much better than an integrated card, though. 

The general specs are also nothing to brag about. But they are more than enough to satisfy casual users. 

Pros: 

  1. Sleek design
  2. Decent mid-range specs
  3. Great battery life
  4. Screen size is just about perfect for offering both portability and a decent viewing experience

Cons: 

  1. Not the best price to performance ratio
  2. It has a dedicated GPU – but it’s quite weak and outdated compared to newer offerings. Still better than nothing

3: Dell G5 15

Our High-end Pick

If you’re willing to spend about a thousand dollars or more, then we’d seriously recommend checking out the Dell G5 15. 

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-9750H
  • GPU: GTX 1650 4GB
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Storage: 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
  • Display: 15.6 LCD IPS display at 1920×1080
  • Battery: Anywhere from 2 to 6 hours with casual tasks but gaming will kill it much faster
  • Weight: 8.1 pounds

With a decent dedicated graphics card, a very powerful processor (Second only to a Core i9), plenty of storage, and very beautiful design, it’s really hard to go wrong with this one. 

Sure, looking it from the back or the sides is a bit weird. But who uses his laptop sideways anyway? 

If there’s one downside, then that’s definitely going to be the weight. At about 8.1 pounds, this is the heaviest laptop in this list. 

Pros: 

  1. Powerful processor
  2. Decent GPU for 3D rendering and entry-level gaming
  3. Plenty of storage
  4. Good build quality

Cons: 

  1. Heavy

4: Acer Predator Helios 300

Best for Gaming/Best Overall

If gaming and heavy 3D rendering are on your scope, nothing else in this list is going to beat the Helios 300!

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-9759H
  • GPU: GTX 1660 Ti 6GB
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Storage: 256GB Nvme SSD
  • Display: 15.6 LCD IPS at 1920×1080 144Hz
  • Battery: 68 Wh, up to 6 hours
  • Weight: 5 pounds

If there’s one downside, then that’s probably going to be the lack of space that you can easily solve by getting a secondary HDD, an external drive, or just a bigger SSD right from the get-go. 

Other than that, we’re talking about a powerful processor, a mid-range graphics card, a high-refresh-rate display, and decent battery life on top of that. It’s no doubt one of the best overall options. 

The design could be better. But for something that packs so much power at this price point, we’re not going to complain. 

Pros: 

  1. Powerful processor and graphics card
  2. Plenty of RAM out of the box
  3. Good value
  4. High refresh rate display
  5. Great for gaming and demanding 3D rendering

Cons: 

  1. A bit expensive
  2. Not the thinnest option (Thicker laptops tend to have better thermals, though)

5: Dell Alienware M15

Offers the Most Storage

Alienware laptops are notoriously known for being overpriced. But that doesn’t change the fact that they are very well made machines – and the particular one comes with more storage than you’ll ever need. 

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H
  • GPU: GTX 1060 6GB
  • RAM: 32GB
  • Storage: 1TB SSD + 1TB HDD
  • Display: 15.6 LCD IPS at 1920×1080 
  • Battery: About 6 hours on average (Not while gaming or performing 3D rendering, though)
  • Weight: 4.78

With 32 gigs of RAM and 2 terabytes of storage, 1 of it coming from the SSD, this laptop offers much more than most people will ever need. 

The GPU maybe a generation or two behind, but it’s still a solid performer at 1080P. If there’s one downside, then that’s probably going to be the price. 

This is by far the most expensive laptop in this list. But, in Dell’s defense, it also includes the best hardware (With a small exception on the GPU which is weaker than the 1660 Ti)

Pros: 

  1. Decent battery life for a gaming laptop
  2. Very beautiful with a unique design (Maybe too aggressive for some people, though)
  3. Great specs
  4. More storage and RAM than you’ll ever need

Cons: 

  1. Expensive

Wrapping Up

We understand that all of that may be a bit too much to take in at once. So, to wrap things up as fast as possible: 

  1. Asus VivoBook S: The cheapest and most lightweight option – but it only offers the absolute basic specs for a casual user
  2. Acer Aspire E15: Offers great battery life – but the specs are still not high enough for some people (Especially the GPU)
  3. Dell G5 15: All around a good high-end option – but it’s also the heaviest laptop in this list
  4. Acer Predator Helios 300: The best for gaming and demanding 3D tasks – but it’s a bit thick and expensive as well
  5. Dell Alienware M15: Powerful with more RAM and storage than you’ll ever need on a laptop – but it’s by far the most expensive laptop here

That’s all for now. We hope that this article helped you out with your decision. If there are any questions, feel free to let us know about them in the comments!

About the author

Charlie Noon

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