Computer science is a general term and covers a wide range of fields from animation and CAD to AI and software development.
Depending on what you’re studying, you need a decent laptop to help you get the most out of college. We’ve done the research and decided on 7 best laptops that every computer science student should definitely consider.
Our top choice is the ROG Zephyrus G15 equipped with an AMD Ryzen 4800HS octacore processor and RTX 2060 graphics. Read on to learn why we chose a gaming laptop as our favorite, it’s a pretty interesting device.
Here is our list of 7 best laptop for computer science students:
One of the best laptops of 2020, the ROG Zephyrus G15 was predicted to be a major success as soon as its specifications were circling around the internet. Not only is this device fast, but it is also priced very aggressively.
It undercuts many of the more premium brands from competing manufacturers by delivering a superior computing experience for gamers/ content creators at lower prices.
If you’re into CAD or simulation this is an excellent laptop, it even has an RTX 2060 GPU which is really useful for TensorFlow applications and CUDA acceleration.
Plus, it can actually play modern AAA titles on 1080p maxed out settings while maintaining a solid 60 fps. If you are more of a high refresh rate gamer, ASUS has you covered.
Dota 2, League, CS GO, COD, Battlefield- this laptop can handle it all at 120+ fps and has a 240Hz display so if you turn down the settings you can actually hit 200+ fps. A nice tool too have for your college esports competitions.
And its styling isn’t too bad either, overall it looks clean and has no weird logos or lines. Build quality feels solid, and battery life is actually not bad thanks to the 7nm Ryzen processor.
Another ASUS laptop, but this is one from their “TUF” lineup. TUF is a brand that contains rugged, relatively affordable gaming laptops which focus on performance for money.
The TUF506IV-AS76 is equipped with a Ryzen 7 4800H and GeForce RTX 2060, nearly the same as the Zephyrus G15. The Ryzen 7 4800H and 4800HS are the same CPU physically, except the 4800H runs slightly higher average clocks than the 4800HS due to having an extra 10W power budget.
The TUF model has a 144Hz display whereas the Zephyrus has a 240Hz display, but neither of them can run AAA games above 120fps at 1080p if you are using anything close to high settings.
The RTX 2060 is the limiting factor here, and that’s fine in a laptop which costs half as much compared to elite tier models with RTX 2080 Supers.
The TUF and Zephyrus chassis designs are similar, but they do have minor differences. The TUF has passed several MIL-STD 810H tests for durability, it has more dust and physical shock resistance compare to your average thin & light laptop.
Plus the cooling system is pretty robust so you won’t overheat this machine even after several hours of continuous load on the CPU and GPU.
What ROG is to ASUS, Omen is to HP. This is a step below the Envy series in terms of build quality and premium features, but Omen is more of a gaming focused machine. Not to say you can’t use one as a student laptop, after all we believe it is an excellent choice for computer science students.
It has a Ryzen 7 4800H processor which destroys anything from Intel in most code compilation tasks. The Ryzen 4000 series runs circles around Intel’s Comet Lake chips in terms of efficiency (performance per watt).
Plus this HP laptop is a brilliantly designed machine, unlike older AMD laptops which used to have decent hardware for the money but were poorly designed.
No such trickery here- you get a nice rigid chassis that is also slim and light. Good cooling, good battery life. The webcam isn’t garbage, and the display is actually nice with vibrant colors and wide viewing angles.
The laptop has thin bezels around its display, an RGB backlit keyboard, and good onboard audio. The Omen is a complete package and we highly recommend it for computer science students who want a laptop with dedicated graphics and a fast CPU.
If you need tons of RAM for running virtual machines and large scale simulations/ databases this is the perfect laptop. It has 64 GB of DDR4, which should be plenty till at least 2025.
The Legion 5 is a little thicker and heavier compared to most college laptops we usually recommend. So if you don’t like carrying a heavier than usual laptop around, maybe look somewhere else.
But if you just care about speed and build quality, this is an excellent machine. It has a Ryzen 7 4800H processor and a very effective cooling system. The hinges feel solid, and the palmrest is cool to the touch even when you’re running games or rendering/ encoding.
The display is bright and decently color accurate. There is no flex or creakiness in the chassis and the webcam comes with a physical privacy shutter.
The keys have plenty of travel for a laptop and the keycaps have a nice concave shape at the top, so your fingertips sit nicely without sliding around.
The backlighting is white and not too intrusive, plus it has a numpad. The deck is made from a smooth soft-touch material that feels great to rest your hand on.
It is advertised as a business machine but there is no reason this can’t also be a great student laptop. The Dell Inspiron 15 5502 is a sleek, well designed 15.6” notebook with Intel’s latest Tiger Lake Core i7 processor inside.
It performs better in single core applications compared to Ice Lake and has the excellent 96EU Xe graphics so you can even game at 1080p low settings on modern titles.
The power button has a fingerprint reader built in. This feels so intuitive and convenient since you can securely and quickly login with the literal press of a button.
The display is the only downside on this laptop, it is inferior compared to some of the IPS panels we’ve seen on similarly priced laptops (even gaming machines have better displays).
The brightness could have been higher, but at least colors aren’t terrible. And yes, it has plenty of I/O for all sorts of peripherals and external displays/ storage devices.
The previous generation Dell XPS 13 was a massive hit, Linus Media Group called it one of the best (if not the best) Windows laptops out there. And while it did have a couple of issues, those were mostly things you could live with. After all, the XPS still had the best display, keyboard, and trackpad of any Windows ultralight in its class.
And the new XPS 13 is no exception, it takes what was already good and makes it even better. The new XPS has an Intel Tiger Lake chip that is both faster and more power efficient than the old Ice Lake/ Comet Lake processors.
It also has far superior integrated graphics thanks to Intel Xe which means video encoding and gaming performance has improved significantly.
The chassis is made from an alloy of magnesium and aluminum with Gorilla glass on the display for scratch resistance. It feels like a very premium device, and there is even a carbon fiber panel on the palmrest.
Exquisite craftsmanship and elegant styling are what make this laptop stand out from the rest, and it has all the performance you could ever need in a package that is extremely portable with all-day battery life.
Note: This laptop is hard to find in stock, so if it’s out of stock we suggest you check out the Dell XPS 9300 which has a 10th generation Intel Ice Lake processor (still very capable).
One of the more affordable laptops equipped with Intel’s latest Tiger Lake processors, the ASUS VivoBook S14 is specifically targeted at homeowners and students.
With its refreshing and peppy styling this laptop is something you would actually want to be seen with, unlike most of the gaming laptops out there which seem like Decepticons in disguise.
The processor is a i5-1135G7 with Iris Xe graphics (4.2Ghz boost and 4 cores with hyperthreading). Performance is ideal for light video editing, CAD, rendering, and coding.
It can also handle some light gaming in esports titles such as Rocket League or Quake Champions. With 8GB of RAM and 512GB of PCIe NVMe storage this is a laptop that loads stuff fast and feels very responsive.
If you’re just studying to be a systems administrator, you could probably get away with a basic setup that includes an i3 and no dedicated graphics. You just need to use Notepad and Terminal.
If you’re studying web development, you don’t need anything too powerful either. Even a Chromebook will do. However, if you’re working with 3D you need a good CPU and possibly some form of dedicated graphics. Maybe an i7/ Ryzen 7 and NVIDIA RTX 2060 or above.
If you’re in data science or AI, you need a mid range to upper mid range laptop. Something with an i7 and at least 8GB of RAM, as well as 256GB of SSD storage at a bare minimum.
For computer science, you also need a good keyboard on your laptop. You’ll be doing a lot of typing, whether you’re writing code or working with some document in MS Office.
The display has to be 768p at a bare minimum, but we don’t recommend anything under 1080p especially if it is a 15.6” display. Either IPS or TN will do, but if you want to use your laptop for entertainment (movies, streaming, etc.) an IPS or OLED panel is much better.
And finally, you need at least 7 to 8 hours of battery life in a laptop for college.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Why do you have so many gaming laptops in an article for student laptops?
A. Because unlike traditional gaming laptops these are thin & light machines with a focus on portability and features. They are very daily-drivable and have good battery life (as long as you aren’t gaming).
Plus, the styling on these is pretty neat and the display isn’t absolute garbage like gaming laptops from a couple years ago. Which makes them just like regular laptops, only a lot more powerful and with dedicated graphics. You need dedicated graphics if you’re working with AI, simulation, emulation, CAD, etc.
Q. How much difference does it make going for Windows 10 Professional instead of Home if you’re a computer science student?
A. Professional is more for corporations/ business orgs since it has a higher focus on security. Pro has features like BitLocker device encryption and Windows Information Protection.
If you’re a student your college might provide an upgrade to pro for free, but you really can do equally well with either version of Windows 10 on whatever software you’re using so it doesn’t matter in the end.
Q. IPS vs TN vs OLED
A. IPS is the most common on any laptop costing over 600 dollars. It has good viewing angles and rich colors unlike TN which looks washed out, especially from the sides.
OLED is the best but extremely rare and will cost you a pretty penny. It has the most vibrant colors, best pixel response times, true blacks, and can be pretty bright. But it’s also a battery hog and sometimes colors look oversaturated out of the box compared to good IPS screens.
Q. I am not a gamer, but I do play games occasionally. Will I benefit from a high refresh rate screen (120Hz/ 240Hz)?
A. The thing about high refresh rate is that it makes your computing experience better in general, not just while playing games. Even mundane tasks like navigating Windows and browsing the web feels so much smoother.
You can scroll and read moving text so much easier on high refresh displays, plus the higher pixel response times of a gaming screen come in handy for watching fast paced action (sports).Just use a 120Hz screen for a month or two and then switch it back to 60Hz. You can immediately tell the difference, especially with the mouse pointer which is going to look like it’s lagging. You can begin to notice trails when you move windows around on your desktop. But high refresh does consume more battery, so you can turn it off if you want to conserve power.
Q. I am not very comfortable with computers, should I bother with upgrading RAM/ cleaning the fan myself or just pay a technician?
A. Changing the RAM is a very simple task, and you can easily do it by looking up a couple of Youtube videos. Even if you get it wrong, the worst that will happen is your laptop won’t boot until you revert things back to the way they were.
You can’t physically damage something unless you are literally ramming it in with all your strength. And the same applies to cleaning your laptop’s cooler/ fan system. Just get a can of compressed air and some microfiber cloth with a bit of cleaning alcohol.
If you’re still not comfortable, you might want to take your laptop to a shop. Or just ask some friend at college who knows this stuff, he’ll happily do it for free.
We hope this article was informative and guided you on the right path to choosing a good laptop for computer science studies. Get a machine that suits your needs, and consult with your course advisor in the college. They will tell you what specs you might need for the software that you’ll be running.
If you’re working a lot with 3D you need a dedicated graphics chip. Not something really high end, but at least a lower mid-range GPU like the GTX 1650ti.
The ROG Zephyrus G15 is our top pick because of how much performance it delivers, especially in compiling code and 3D rendering/ animation thanks to the Ryzen 7 4800HS and RTX 2060.
It is also one of the thinner gaming laptops out there and has an excellent display. If you want something cheaper, the Dell Inspiron 15 5502 is worth taking a look at.