February 26, 2021

As an electrical engineering student, you need a laptop that has a tolerable keyboard and large enough screen. Remember that you’ll be doing programming and running simulations on it, so anything under 13 inches is not recommended.

Plus, it needs to be portable while also having a decent selection of I/O (like HDMI out for presentations).

We have compiled a list of the best laptops for electrical engineering students, and our top pick is the HP ProBook 440 G7. It is built tough and has hardware based encryption via a TPM 2.0 chip for maximum security.

Read on to learn more about the ProBook 440 G7 and other laptops on our list.

Here is our list of 7 best laptop for electrical engineering students:

The ProBook 440 doesn’t look very modern, with its thick top and bottom bezels and an old fashioned chassis design. But don’t judge a book by its cover, because the ProBook 440 G7 is one of the best laptops an electrical engineering student can get.

It is built to military grade standards (passed 19 MIL-STD 810H tests) with aluminum reinforcements around a thick plastic underbody for maximum rigidity and fall protection.

The keyboard deck is all machined aluminum, and the display is also protected by an aluminum cover. Business-class security is provided by features such as HP Secure Erase, Preboot Authentication, HP Sure Sense, HP Client Security, etc.

And there is a TPM 2.0 security chip for hardware based encryption. The backlit keyboard is really pleasant to type on, excellent if you’re doing programming. It is also spill resistant, so if you accidentally spill your beverage on it the drain holes underneath will channel the fluids out of the laptop before they get to any sensitive components.

In terms of performance, it excels in every application thanks to a quad-core hyperthreaded 10th generation Intel i7 processor and 16GB of RAM. Perfect for CAD software, programming, MATLAB, PSpice, OrCAD, etc.

The 14” FHD IPS display is really bright at up to 1000 nits. It also has HP Sure View privacy technology which makes it really hard for people nearby you to view your screen from the sides (can easily be toggled on or off).

Pros

  • Very solidly built, with machined aluminum and high quality plastics
  • Spill resistant backlit keyboard with good key travel and satisfying tactile feedback
  • 10th generation quad-core hyperthreaded Intel Core i7 processor with maximum boost clock of 4.9Ghz (Comet Lake, 14nm)
  • 16GB of DDR4 RAM (1x16GB), 2 SODIMM slots so you can expand the memory
  • 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
  • Windows 10 Professional
  • 14” FHD IPS display with 1000 nits peak brightness and HP Sure View privacy technology
  • Lightweight and slim
  • Business grade security with TPM 2.0 embedded chip
  • Mil-spec toughness (MIL-STD 810H)
  • Excellent battery life
  • USB Type C with Power Delivery and DisplayPort

Cons

  • No Wi-Fi 6
  • Onboard audio is subpar

We’re reviewing 2 versions of the Legion 5- the first is a 17.3” model with an NVIDIA RTX 2060 graphics card. The second is a 15.6” model with an NVIDIA GTX 1660ti graphics card.

The latter is better for students who just want a laptop for some light CAD and simulations, along with a bit of casual gaming. It is cheaper, lighter, smaller, and a more manageable package if you’re travelling.

The larger 17.3” model is for people who want a desktop replacement style machine (it’s still pretty slim), to do their big simulations and projects without relying too much on the lab desktops.

The bigger display is easier on your eyes when you’re coding or working in MATLAD/ OrCAD. And the additional CUDA horsepower of the RTX 2060 comes in handy as well. Plus, it has 4x the storage (512GB PCIe SSD vs 1TB PCIe SSD + 1TB 7200rpm HDD).

Pros

  • AMD Ryzen 7 4800H octacore 16 thread CPU based on the excellent Zen 2 core and 7nm node (easily outperforms any Intel laptop CPU, except maybe the i9 9980HK/ 10980HK)
  • 2x 8GB 3200MHz DDR4 RAM
  • Ultra fast PCIe NVMe storage (512GB for the 15.6” model and 1TB for the 17.3” model which also gets a 1TB HDD)
  • NVIDIA dedicated graphics with 6GB of GDDR6 VRAM (GTX 1660ti for the 15.6” model and RTX 2060 for the 17.3” model)
  • Excellent full-sized backlit keyboard with well designed keycaps and ample key travel (there is also a soft touch material on the palmrest for comfort)
  • Rugged design, relatively slim and light (the Legion 5 is designed to be a gaming laptop)
  • Full HD 144Hz 300 nits IPS display (15.6”/17.3”)
  • Excellent dual fan gaming grade cooler for maximum performance
  • Very clean lines and simplistic design, no “gamer” accents or styling
  • Physical webcam shutter for privacy
  • Plenty of I/O on the back

Cons

  • Can get a bit on the loud side if you’re blasting both the CPU and GPU simultaneously
  • Battery life is alright, but there are plenty of options from Dell and HP that offer better battery life (this is a gaming laptop after all)

The nice thing about 2-in-1 laptops is the fact that you can just flip the screen around, and suddenly your laptop is a tablet. You can use it to take notes in the classroom, draw up some quick sketches/ plans with your colleagues in the office, or to watch some movies while relaxing on the couch. The possibilities are endless, and you are free to explore your creativity.

The IdeaPad Flex 5 takes everything good about the conventional IdeaPad and adds some flexibility (get it?). You can type articles, write code, do simulations in MATLAB, or kick back and listen to some music.

This laptop can do it all, thanks to the excellent Intel Core i7-1065G7 Ice Lake quad core processor. This CPU is both fast and extremely power efficient (thanks to the 10nm manufacturing process).

Pros

  • Intel 10th generation quad-core i7 processor with Iris Plus integrated graphics (Ice Lake, 10nm)
  • 16GB DDR4 RAM
  • 15.6” FHD IPS touchscreen
  • 512GB NVMe SSD
  • 360° hinge for 2-in-1 functionality
  • Slim and lightweight with good battery life (8+ hours)
  • Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5
  • Full-size backlit keyboard
  • SD card reader slot

Cons

  • Fingerprint reader not integrated into the power button
  • Doesn’t come with a stylus in the package
  • Soldered memory, so you can’t upgrade RAM

Yeah, this is just like the previous one in terms of design and overall form factor. It is another Flex 5 notebook, but the difference lies underneath. Instead of an Intel Ice Lake quad core, this Flex 5 is powered by an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U hexacore.

Now keep in mind the fact that while the Ryzen 5 4500U has more physical cores than the Intel Core i7-1065G7, it doesn’t have SMT so there are 6 threads instead of 8. But overall performance is equivalent to the i7, or even better in some situations like gaming.

The main reason we included this configuration of the Flex 5 is because it’s significantly cheaper than the Intel one. For equivalent performance (or even higher performance if you’re encoding in handbrake or rendering in Cinema 4D).

For Cygwin GCC compile workloads, the Ryzen 5 4500U destroys the Intel i7-1065G7. The AMD version of this laptop even comes with a free digital pen. The only thing to note is that this is a 14” laptop, as opposed to the Intel Flex 5 we reviewed earlier which is a 15” laptop.

Pros

  • AMD Ryzen 5 4500U hexacore which matches or beats the Intel i7-1065G7 (this laptop is also cheaper)
  • 14” HD IPS touchscreen (the Intel Flex 5 has a 15.6” display) with 360° hinge for 2-in-1 functionality
  • Comes with a digital pen (Intel model does not)
  • Ultra narrow bezels
  • 8 to 10 hours of battery life, charges from 0 to 80 percent in one hour
  • Soft touch material makes it feel nice and comfy as you hold it in your hands in tablet mode
  • Lightweight at just 3.64lbs
  • 16GB DDR4 RAM
  • 256GB PCIe NVMe storage (Intel version has a 512GB SSD)
  • Nice backlit keyboard with comfortable keycaps and ample key travel (this is a compact layout; the Intel version has a full-size keyboard with numpad)

Cons

  • Soldered RAM
  • Mediocre webcam

Well, we’ve all heard of Acer’s Swift lineup. They contain some really well design thin and light laptops with good processors, good displays, and are affordably priced compared to the rivals from other brands.

However, this Swift 5 is a completely unique machine. For two reasons- it is one of the only laptops available at this time with Intel’s brand new 11th gen “Tiger Lake” processors. Secondly, it has anti-microbial parts.

Yeah, you read that right- this laptop is designed to protect you from getting infected by some contagious disease. The Corning Gorilla Glass protective layer that covers the 14” FHD IPS display is itself protected by a antimicrobial coating.

The display boasts 100% sRGB color gamut and 340 nits of brightness, making it one of the best laptop displays at this price point.

The chassis is made from magnesium-lithium + magnesium-aluminum alloy, resulting in a total weight of just around 1 kilo, keep in mind this is a 14 inch laptop. Not some 12” 2-in-1.

The chassis feels extremely premium and lightweight in your grip, the materials are excellent, and the styling is vivid yet clean and refined. The chassis surface is coated with a BPR and EPA-compliant silver ion antimicrobial layer.

The rubber feet also have a silver-ion anti microbial protection layer. So it won’t collect any bacteria or viruses from the table you put it on, or whenever someone else touches the laptop.

Tiger Lake has the best onboard graphics (Intel Xe) of any laptop CPU, so if you’re a casual gamer but don’t want dedicated graphics this is your best option. It beats AMD’s Ryzen 4000 series in gaming, but falls behind in multithreaded performance compared to something like a Ryzen 7 4800U (because the 4800U has twice the cores).

Pros

  • Intel 11th generation Tiger Lake chip with 4 cores and 8 threads based on 10nm+ process (i7-1165G7)
  • Intel Xe onboard graphics beats any other onboard graphics solution on the market (including the onboard graphics of Ryzen 4000 series)
  • Premium aluminum alloy chassis with anti microbial silver-ion based coating
  • 14” FHD IPS display with 100% sRGB color gamut and 340 nits of brightness, protected by Corning Gorilla Glass (the Gorilla Glass is coated with an anti-microbial layer)
  • 16GB LPDDR4x RAM
  • 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD
  • Just 14.95mm thick, weighs around 1kg
  • USB Type C with DisplayPort output and power delivery, Thunderbolt 4
  • Sharp, bold styling with copper accents on the back of the hinge

Cons

  • Limited I/O
  • Fingerprint scanner not integrated into the power button

Not exactly a student laptop since it is more of an expensive gaming machine, but nevertheless- if you want the best Intel 11th generation experience this is it.

 It has Intel’s Core i7-1165G7 Tiger Lake processor with 4 cores, 8 threads and the all-new Xe graphics onboard. That means you can actually do light gaming without having to sap battery life at accelerated rates.

There is still an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650ti Max-Q dedicated GPU which blows the Xe onboard graphics out of the water. This is what you use when you actually need that extra graphics horsepower. Whether it be for gaming, or content creating in Photoshop/ Blender/ Premiere Pro.

The chassis is milled from a single block of aluminum alloy, which by the way is not an easy or cheap process. But it does result in an extremely sturdy design which is also really lightweight.

The 120Hz 1080p thin bezel display with 100% sRGB color space looks gorgeous, both in games and movies. With fast 16GB dual channel memory and a 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD you’ll never feel bogged down, even while compiling large sets of code or doing complex simulations in MATLAB/ Simulink.

Pros

  • Really fast quad core processor- Intel Tiger Lake i7-1165G7
  • Xe onboard graphics
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650ti with 4GB of GDDR5 VRAM
  • 13” 120Hz FHD display with 100% sRGB color space (there’s a 2nd model with a 4k OLED display)
  • Just 0.6” thick
  • Chroma backlit keyboard
  • Precision glass trackpad
  • Thunderbolt 4 via Type C
  • Windows Hello facial recognition
  • Good onboard audio

Cons

  • Very limited on port number and variety
  • Mediocre webcam

A (relatively) affordable Intel  11th gen laptop with a good display, enough RAM, and a super-fast SSD. It has everything an electrical engineering student needs, including some kickass onboard graphics thanks to Intel’s Xe solution.

This is very different from onboard graphics of the past; you can actually play AAA games like DOOM Eternal at 1080p 30fps on medium settings.

The overall design of the Summit B14 is extremely clean, no tacky logos or weird angular lines. A simple ink black color ensures that this laptop will blend into the environment, whether it’s your classroom or home.

The keyboard has a soft white backlight and features a compact 84-key layout (no numpad). The typing experience is brilliant, your most used keys don’t feel offset to the left like they do with many full-sized laptop keyboards. And the travel is good, with a satisfying tactile feedback at the end.

Pros

  • Intel Tiger Lake 10nm+ quad-core processor (i7-1165G7)
  • Intel Xe onboard graphics
  • Full HD display with 72% NTSC color space (not IPS)
  • 1 x 8GB 3200MHz DDR4 RAM, expandable up to 32GB
  • 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
  • White backlit keyboard
  •  Precision glass trackpad with built-in fingerprint reader
  • HDMI 1.4b out port, Thunderbolt 4, USB 3.2 Gen 2, Micro SD
  • Just 2.9lbs, sturdy black metal chassis with gold accents
  • 10hr battery life
  • TPM 2.0 embedded security chip
  • Meets MIL-STD 810G standard

Cons

  • Speakers are weak and lack bass
  • MSI should’ve included an IPS panel at this price

For electrical engineering you want a laptop capable of compiling code in whatever IDE you prefer, you’ll be working with languages such as C/ Java/ Python/ R etc. And you’ll run software like MATLAB, PSpice, Saber, NI Multisim, Simulink, etc. for simulation.

CAD software like OrCAD and Eagle are also common in electrical engineering courses, so you need a powerful CPU and dedicated graphics of some kind.

At least 8GB of RAM is what we recommend, although 16GB is the sweet spot for most students. You also need a laptop with good I/O since you’ll need an HDMI output for presentations.

And it should have a good sized display as well as a decent keyboard, so you don’t strain your eyes or hands while coding.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Apple MacBook or Windows PC for electrical engineering students?

A. Windows since most of the software you’ll be using is native to the Windows ecosystem.

Q. Do I really need a powerful laptop for class when I can just use the computers in my university/ college lab instead?

A. You don’t need a high-end laptop with the fastest processor and top tier dedicated graphics. But you still need something for writing emails, documents, etc. Something that can run Linux or Windows, you might need to use a word processor or spreadsheet manager. If you’re assembling models in SolidWorks you need a slightly more powerful laptop.

 At least a Core i5/ Ryzen 5 is what we recommend. Plus there is always that rush period one or two weeks before project due data when all the labs are filled, and you can’t get a computer to use. In situations like that it is better to have a decent personal laptop you can rely on, instead of hoping that the lab is free.

Q. What features to focus on if I am purchasing a laptop for studying electrical engineering?

A. Processor, RAM, screen-size, and keyboard. In that order.

Q. Is a 2-in-1 good for electrical engineering studies?

A. Absolutely, as long as it meets the performance requirements. A 2-in-1 allows you to take notes and make sketches effortlessly, and it's also a lot more fun to use in general.

Q. What screen size is ideal for an electrical engineering laptop?

A. Either 14 or 15 inches.

Conclusion

We hope this article was informative and gave you an idea of what to buy for electrical engineering studies. Our top choice is the HP ProBook 440 G7, it excels in all aspects- security, build quality, performance, I/O, etc.

And if you want something more versatile, there’s the Lenovo Flex 5.

For those of you who need an Intel 11th gen laptop, the Acer Swift 5 is a really nice option. Oh, and it also has that weird antimicrobial marketing angle going on, which actually may not have that much practical use (but it’s a fun talking point).

About the author

Saurav Rath

Saurav has been writing about technology for the past 4 years, but has been a fan of all things computer related since he was 7 years old. He is a ghostwriter for multiple sites, and covers everything from PC hardware to chainsaws and mobile game development (yep, the guy has a lot of range). Learn more

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