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Best Laptop for Software Engineering Students in 2021

Engineering is a vast field of study, with numerous sub-disciplines that demand specific expertise. If you’re enrolling or are currently enrolled in a software engineering degree and, on the search to find a reasonably priced laptop, then you’ve come to the right because our 2021 budget guide on the best laptop for software engineering students has all the answers you’re looking for.

To get a somewhat better idea about the type of laptop needed for engineering is to quickly view the variety of software and programs used throughout your studies. Luckily for you, we’ve already conducted prior research to map out the specifications necessary in a workstation for software engineering students.

To be a bit specific, a laptop for programming should feature a modern processor with ample RAM capacity and, a larger screen will also be worthwhile. In our guide on the best laptops for software engineering students, we’ve carefully handpicked a range of high-performing, versatile and, budget-friendly laptops for you to code on for your college assignments, projects and, more.

Quick Overview: Top 3 Best Laptops For Software Engineering Students

Lenovo ThinkPad X1
Lenovo ThinkPad X1
  • CPU: i7 8th Generation
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050
  • Display: 15.6″ FHD IPS
  • RAM: 32GB
  • Storage Space: 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD
Apple MacBook Pro
Apple MacBook Pro
  • CPU: i7 9th Generation
  • GPU: AMD Radeon Pro 5300M
  • Display: 16-Inch
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Storage Space: 512GB SSD
HP Spectre x360 2-in-1
HP Spectre x360 2-in-1
  • CPU: i7 8th Generation
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce MX150
  • Display: 15.6″ 4K Ultra HD Touch-Screen
  • RAM: 16GB
  • Storage Space: 512GB SSD

1: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme

It is the best laptop for software engineering students, with a slim sleeker design while being packed with premium specifications. It features the advanced 8th Generation Intel Core i7 processor, with a discrete NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card that delivers dynamically powerful performance.

Overall Design & Display

Impeccable, stylish, and ultra-portable with an immersive large display best describes the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Laptop. The all-black chassis and classy matte finish adds a hint of premium look and feel to the laptop. The carboRadeonn fiber construction makes it exceptionally durable and robust while bringing a hint of structural integrity to the overall design.

It has a super immersive 15.6 Inch Full High-Definition IPS LED Backlight Anti-Glare display. Overall the display is vast, bright and, with stellar color accuracy with detailed sharp images. The anti-glare glass screen offers brighter images in all types of lighting scenarios while covering 100% sRGB.

Hardware Specifications & Performance

Without any doubt, it’s an exceptionally powerful laptop as it features an 8th Generation Intel Core i7 potent processor, with Turbo Boost Technology, and paired with the 32GB DDR4 RAM capacity. It’s highly capable of performing all kinds of tasks and effectively running programming applications used by software engineering students.

The discrete NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card is has a 4GB memory and delivers quite realistic graphics. When it comes to memory, the 1TB Intel PCIe solid-state drive is more than enough and offers faster access to files and better bootup time. All in all, performance-wise, it’s a laptop that will not disappoint any software engineering student.

Battery Life & Other Features

The inclusion of the Rapid Charge technology makes the charging process of the battery exponentially faster and allows the battery to charged up to 80% in 60 minutes which minimizes the low-battery obstacles a user experiences. Moreover, the backlit keyboard is spill-resistant with a tactical design and moderate travel distance.

Besides, the famous TrackPoint mouse is situated in the center of the keyboard; it’s a feature that comes in handy as it saves you from carrying a mouse with you. The 720p webcam is high-definition and, the dual far-field microphone is decent for attending zoom classes and video conferencing sessions for group projects.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Business Notebook

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Editor's Choice ⭐

Our verdict on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Laptop is that it’s a premium laptop with an elegant modern design and a lightweight chassis for higher portability. The incredibly gorgeous and immersive 4K anti-glare display, with the world-class keyboard design and the outstanding performance, makes it the perfect-fit budget-friendly laptop for software engineering students.
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Reasons to buy
  • Elegant and, lightweight design
  • Incredibly Powerful performance
  • Fast charging & excellent battery life
Reasons to avoid
  • Could have more connectivity ports

2: Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch)

The New Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch) is the best laptop for the brightest software engineering students; it has a stellar 16” high-definition Retina display, with a 9th Generation Intel Core i9 and the next-generation AMD Radeon Prom 5500M offers a powerful performance every time.

Overall Design & Display

The New Apple MacBook Pro has an extremely elegant, classy and, sleek design, making it a very iconic laptop when it comes to design. The nano-edge bezel design, impeccably fits the laptop and currently has the largest display on a MacBook. Also, regardless of the large display, it’s lightweight and portable.

The highlight of this laptop is its large immersive high-definition 16” Retina display. It can produce 500 units of brightness for exceptional highlights, brighter whites, while precise photoalignment of liquid crystal molecules delivers deeper blacks. The inclusion of the P3 wide-color gamut helps in providing true-to-life images.

Hardware Specifications & Performance

Without any doubt, Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch) can’t be defeated in performance compared to other laptops. It features the advanced 9th Generation Intel Core i9 processor with 8 cores and 16 threads while delivering 2.1 times the processing power. Therefore, when compiling or testing code, any engineering student will be doing it in no time.

As it comes with up to 64GB DDR4 memory, it offers a smooth and efficient multitasking experience. Besides, it is 4.3 times faster than a laptop with a 16GB RAM capacity. The discrete AMD Radeon Pro 5000M series graphic card holds more graphic horsepowers and offers a seamless experience when working on high-end gaming development.

Battery Life & Other Features

Simply put, it features a battery with a strong work ethic as it has the highest-capacity 100-watt-hour-lithium-polymer battery while offering up to approximately 11 hours of wireless web surfing, video playback, and more making it possible to work more productively when you’re off or on the grid.

Another noteworthy feature is the advanced thermal architecture that enables faster processing, which is very important for software engineering students when coding. The large impellers and fan blades allow optimal airflow for effective colling, making it possible for the laptop to deliver up to 12 watts more maximum sustained power.

Apple MacBook Pro 16

Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch) Premium Pick ⭐

In conclusion, the Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch) is an exceptionally powerful designed laptop, with a stellar display, an ergonomic keyboard, and a touchpad which are all essential specifications for every software engineering student. No matter where you are, the large stellar display adapts to the environment and, you’ll see your work in the best possible light.
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Reasons to buy
  • High-definition immersive display
  • Ergonomically designed keyboard
  • High-end advanced graphics card
Reasons to avoid
  • It’s an expensive workstation

3: HP Spectre x360 (2-in-1)

The HP Spectre x360 is the ideal laptop for engineering students who want to bring their ideas to life; it comes equipped with an 8th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, the graphics are driven by the NVIDIA GeForce MX150 and 16GB DDR4 RAM which when combined makes it a full powerhouse laptop.

Overall Design & Display

In terms of design, the HP Spectre x360 has an overall thin frame and an extremely lightweight ultra-portable convertible laptop. The premium metal finish gives it a robust look, and the 360-degrees hinge extends the versatility of usage as it can be switched from laptop to tablet mode with convenience.

The 15.6 Inch diagonal 4K high-definition IPS display, with micro-edges and Bright View WLED-backlit, the display delivers bright colors with vibrance and maximum brightness even in a well-lit environment. Most importantly, the HP Active Stylus improves the user experience and, the HP sleeve keeps the laptop safe at all times.

Hardware Specifications & Performance

Coming on to the hardware specifications, the advanced 8th Gen Intel Core i7 is paired with an NVIDIA GeForce MX150 2GB GDD5 dedicated graphical processing unit and a 16GB DDR4 SDRAM. Overall, it’s a laptop that chews up all types of tasks with ease while performing other tasks like programming is also seamless.

Moreover, the 512GB PCIe NVMe solid-state drive is ample and fast enough memory for data transferring, accessing and, storing. Another integrated feature that is designed to provide maximum online privacy which keeps the user’s personal information and, data secure making it perfect for individuals who are warier of the risks by having an online presence.

Battery Life & Other Features

Although not exceptional, the battery life is pretty decent, while the USB-C connector charges fast enough by offering a full charge from empty to full within an hour only. Besides, the built-in HP Wide Vision FHD IR camera makes it possible to log in using face-detection technology even in dim light.

It’s a laptop that comes fully equipped with dual HP speakers, and HP Audio Boost technology, and an expert tuning system by Bang & Olufsen. When it comes to connectivity, the thunderbolt port allows for a swift connection between advanced external monitors and other external devices, while the backlit keyboard makes the typing experience easy.

HP - Spectre x360 2-in-1

HP Spectre x360 (2-in-1) Budget Pick ⭐

The HP Spectre X360 is a high-performing convertible laptop with an ultra-lightweight and slim design. It’s a laptop that can easily handle the needs of all software engineering students. The switching between laptop and tablet mode offers maximum flexibility in usage, with reasonably good battery life. Not to forget, the physical security features provided are one of a kind.
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Reasons to buy
  • Premium and, stylish overall finish
  • Spectacular all-rounding performance
  • Useful in-built security features
Reasons to avoid
  • Sometimes can run hot

4: Dell XPS 15

The Dell XPS 15 is the ultimate best laptop for programming, as it features an exceptionally powerful 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor with a stylish and ultra-light design. It’s comparatively affordable and capable enough to handle most heavy-duty tasks smoothly and seamlessly.

Overall Design & Display

Simply put, it’s sleek, lightweight and, with small-bezels and constructed from CNC aluminum. The clean-edges and carbon-fiber back of the keyboard make it ultra-durable and give it an overall stylish look. If you’re looking for a robust yet elegant workstation within a budget, then it doesn’t get better than this. 

The display is out of this world, as it features a 15.6 Inch Full High-Definition screen with stunning edge-to-edge nano-bezel design and Infinity Edge technology. It comes equipped with 100% Adobe RGB while delivering up to 16 million brighter vibrant colors. In terms of design and, display it’s a workstation that is ideal for all software engineering students.

Hardware Specifications & Performance

It’s a laptop packed with the latest 10th Gen Intel Core i7 and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti. It’s a significantly better option under a budget; it won’t slow down under intensive tasks as it has the computing power to swift through with ease. Besides, the 16GB DDR4 RAM capacity is more than enough for coding applications.

Moreover, the 1TB solid-state drive is the highlight because the more storage space, the better it is for all users. To sum it up, for a workstation with a thin and, lightweight chassis it’s mighty that won’t weigh you down. The graphical processing unit could be a bit stronger, although it shouldn’t be a massive concern for software engineering students.

Battery Life & Other Features

The battery runtime averages around 9 hours and 45 minutes with mixed usage, which is quite incredible for a sleekly designed laptop. Also, it’s a laptop that comes with a few convenient software like Dell Update, Dell Cinema and, Dell Customer Connect. The Dell Mobile Connect software offers a seamless wireless integration process between smartphones and PCs.

Besides, the advanced thermal design, with dual fans separated for heat improved heat distribution, ensures that the system’s performance is not compromised. The unyielding Corning Gorilla Glass 6 is damage-resistant and allows for no flex in the display as well. On the other hand, the 3D sound system offers an immersive audio experience.

Dell XPS 15

To wrap it up, if you’re looking for a powerful laptop with a stylish design under a budget, then the Dell XPS 15 should be taken into consideration. It comes packed with the latest processor cable for chewing through all workload types; the profound ultra-sleek and lightweight design offer high portability. Moreover, the battery runtime is quite efficient, and the 3D sound system sets it apart from its counterparts.
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Reasons to buy
  • Large stunning high-definition display
  • Immersive 3D sound experience
  • Fast performance and, eye-catching design
Reason to avoid
  • The GPU is a little below average

5: HP EliteBook x360

The HP EliteBook x360 1040 G5 2-in-1 is an elegant budget-friendly solution for software engineering students, as it’s an exceptionally designed 2-in-1 workstation with a high-performing Intel Core i7 processor, a reasonably sized 13.3” multi-touch display and, Windows 10 Pro operating system.

Overall Design & Display

It’s a workstation with a 2-in-1 conventional design with traditional aluminum construction. The laptop to tablet mode brings more flexibility to the user, and the compact form factor along with the ultra-lightweight design is notable. The razor-sharped edges chamfered front and tapered profile is what best describes the HP EliteBook x360 1040 G5 2-in-1 laptop. 

When it comes to the display, it features a 13.3” High Definition Bright View Touchscreen, with Corning Gorilla Glass offering unyielding durability. The display is sufficiently bright in all environments, and there is minimum glare. The images are vivid and well-contrasted. To wrap it up, it’s a workstation adequate for software engineering students.

Hardware Specifications & Performance

The hardware specifications are far better in comparison to similarly priced workstations; the Intel Core i7 quad-core processor is efficient. The 8GB DDR3 RAM seems to do a reasonably good job when multitasking and using software that runs on the system’s memory. However, the 256GB SSD, even though fast enough, might not be ample enough for all.

As it comes with an integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 GPU, it’s capable of delivering moderate graphics. The Windows 10 Pro operating system comes with a wide range of HP applications and other security features that come in handy for best paid software engineers. They help improve the overall system performance and allow for improved system management.

Battery Life & Other Features

The battery life is more than reasonable and offers a runtime of 8 hours and 6 minutes on mixed usage. Besides, the HP EliteBook x360 1040 G5 2-in-1 features a backlit and spill-resistant keyboard with good travel and generously sized keys. The touchpad, on the other hand, is significant with improved responsiveness. 

The wide range of ports for easy connectivity includes a microSD slot, full-size HDMI connector, USB Type-C connector, and lastly, a full-size USB port. The fingerprint reader is efficient and supports the Windows Hello authentication for greater security. On the other hand, the quad-speaker is powered by the Bang & Olufsen technology.

HP EliteBook x360

In conclusion, it’s a good choice for software engineering students who’re in search of more than just a traditional laptop. It comes equipped with most of the essential specifications; the powerful processing unit, combined with the super-fast RAM capacity, offers a smooth working experience, all at a budget-friendly cost.
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Reasons to buy
  • Top-notch performance & battery life
  • Minimalist & modern overall design
  • Value for money with reasonable features
Reasons to avoid
  • Could’ve had more storage space

6: Apple MacBook Air (M1)

The Apple MacBook Air (M1) offers incredible performance, comes equipped with industry-leading power efficiency and unique custom technologies. The M1 chip and macOS combined offer exceptional performance benefits and have Apple’s latest hardware with a beautiful premium design.

Overall Design & Display

In simpler terms, Macbook Air has an overall sleek and slim lightweight construction, along with an advanced thermal design that offers a noise-less experience. With the 13.3” 2560-by-1600 resolution Retina Display the images are detailed, vibrant with lifelike colors. The glass screen goes up to the edges of the enclosure for an immersive experience.

The P3 wide color gamut offers 25% more colors than the traditional sRGB. As coding is all about dealing with a lot of text, the text is extremely clear and sharp because of the advanced pixel density technology. The MacBook has a feature that automatically adjusts the white point of the display following the color temperature of the environment.

Hardware Specifications & Performance

It’s Apple’s first laptop that has a chip designed specifically for MAC, which integrated the CPU, GPU, Neural Engine, and more onto a single nano-chip. The 8-core central processing unit delivers up to 3.5 times faster graphics on all graphic-intensive applications and can easily take on extraordinary tasks like programming.

Most importantly, the high-performance and high-efficiency cores perform all types of tasks using only a tenth of the power. Also, the 16-core Neural Engine is one of a kind, as it uses Machine Learning to improve the user experience in every aspect. The M1 chip and macOS work in harmony to make the whole system snappier in performance.

Battery Life & Other Features

When it comes to battery, we don’t think it can get any better as the Apple MacBook Air (M1) offers up to 18 hours of battery life, offering 6 more hours of productivity and, saves you from the worry of battery consumption. Moreover, it’s a laptop with the most extensive collection of apps that are built for M1.

Also, the Macbook Air M1 chip offers up to 16GB of high-speed memory, with high bandwidth and, low-latency. When it comes to the camera and mic, the M1 chip, with the help of the image signal processor, improves the quality of video conferencing, and the three built-in microphones offer a high-quality recording experience. The Magic keyboard is programmed with new shortcuts and other useful features that provide easier access.

Apple MacBook Air (M1)

In conclusion, the Apple MacBook Air (M1) is a real game-changer and, undoubtedly, one of the best laptops for programming. The battery life is more than exceptional, and it’s capable of working through all types of tasks with ease. It’s also super lightweight, making portability a breeze, and the Retina Display offers razor-sharp images and text for a smooth coding experience.
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Reasons to buy
  • The battery life is more than exceptional
  • Stellar performance with its M1 chip
  • Elegant and, premium design
Reasons to avoid
  • It’s slightly expensive

7: Microsoft Surface Pro 7

The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 has a unique and versatile 2-in-1 design, with a high-performing processor 10th Generation Intel Core i5, and ultimately redefines power in a lightweight and compactly designed laptop. The 2-in-1 design makes it a versatile workstation, which helps it stand out from its competitors.

Overall Design & Display

As it has a 2-in-1 adaptable design, it can be instantly converted from a laptop to tablet, to a portable studio, making it an extremely versatile laptop with unmatched user-adaptability. Moreover, the built-in kickstand design offers different angles of adjustability in every mode.

For the complete experience, it can be paired with a colorful Surface Type Cover which is included.

However, the Surface Pen has to be purchased separately, if needed and considered necessary by the user. The 12.3” Pixel Sense Full High definition touchscreen display delivers immersive visual and rich colors while offering a unique interactive experience. To sum it, up it’s an ideal laptop for software engineering students who’re looking for more versatility.

Hardware Specifications & Performance

Moving on to the hardware specifications of Microsoft Surface, the 10th Generation Intel Core i5 processor is advanced and offers next-generation powerful performance. It’s also much faster than its predecessor, Surface Pro 6. When it comes to RAM capacity, the 8GB DDR4 memory is ample enough to perform all types of tasks.

As it comes equipped with the integrated Intel Iris Plus Graphics, any game developer working on games can view their progress quite easily, as its workstation capable of handling intensive graphics. On the other hand, the 256 GB SSD memory is acceptable and offers a faster boot time.

Battery Life & Other Features

The battery runtime of the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is up to 10.5 hours on typical usage, which includes a mixture of active use and modern standby. The pre-installed Windows 10 Home offers all the power and productive Windows features that add additional value to the whole package.

When it comes to connectivity, both the USB C ports and, A connectivity options are available, making it much easier to connect to other displays, external devices, and docking stations. It comes in two classic colors, Platinum and Matte Black giving the user more choice for personalization.

Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Our final verdict is that the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is an incredibly flexible laptop and perfect for software engineering students who’re looking for a more versatile experience. It has a sleek and slim design that makes it very portable. While the advanced central processing unit and high-end graphics card offers top-notch performance in every aspect. Besides, the all-day battery is another feature that adds value to the whole laptop.
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Reasons to buy
  • Has a 2-in-1 versatile unique design
  • Responsive and, high definition touchscreen
  • Powerful performance and, lightweight
Reasons to avoid
  • It’s slightly heavier on the wallet

8: MacBook Pro 13

The MacBook Pro 13 offers pro speed and power beyond imagination, with up to 2.8 times CPU performance and 5 times more graphic speed. It also features Apple’s advanced Neural Engine with efficient machine learning for an overall improved user experience, making it one of the best laptops for programming.

Overall Design & Display

It’s a laptop with an incredibly premium and sleek design while being equipped with industry-leading privacy features. The advanced thermal design improves thermal efficiency as the active cooling offers a blazing fast performance every time and makes everyday task productivity exceptional.

The 13” High-Definition display is undoubtedly one of a kind; the images take on a spectacular level of realism and detail. Besides, the text is crystal clear, detailed, and, sharper which comes in handy for software engineering students when coding. The bright LED backlighting works well in all environments.

Hardware Specifications & Performance

It comes equipped with the M1 chip, with 16 billion transistors. The Apple M1 system on a chip (SoC) is integrated with CPU, GPU, Neural Engine and, more on just a small chip. The 8-core central processing units make the MacBook Pro 13 extremely powerful and fast. It’s able to handle complex workflow and workload demands with ease. 

As it features the most advanced 8-core graphical processing unit and delivers exceptionally faster-integrated graphics with 5 times more horsepower. Moreover, the M1 chip with the 16-core Neural Engine brings machine learning to a whole new level, with an incredible task-smashing speed.

Battery Life & Other Features

The battery life of the MacBook Pro 13 is up to 20 hours and the longest in the history of MacBooks. The macOS on the M1 chip is developed to offer significant performance benefits like powerful app updates and offers access to the biggest app collection for MAC. At the same time, the advanced privacy features are innovatively reliable.

Moreover, the 16GB of unified memory, paired with a 2TB solid-state drive on the M1 chips, allows for an efficient and fluid app data sharing process between the CPU, GPU and, Neural Engine. The studio-quality three-microphone array and HD camera offer a complete communication experience to the user.

MacBook Pro 13

To sum it up, the MacBook Pro 13 is an incredibly premium laptop with a potent processing unit, and the graphical unit processing performance is unlike anything else out there. It brings unified memory with high bandwidth to the table and plenty of other unique features that will come in handy for any software engineering student.
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Reasons to buy
  • Extremely powerful performance
  • More than enough storage space
  • Incredible high-definition retina display
Reasons to avoid
  • It is a pricier option

Our Final Verdict

We’ve finally reached the end of our budget guide on the best laptops for software engineering students. Our final verdict is straightforward. A laptop for programming students should have robust performance, with a good RAM capacity, as these two are essential for most of the software used during your courses in engineering college.

Our Recommendation

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme

Editor's Choice
Our Best Pick
On the other hand, if you’re looking for our recommendation, then our ultimate pick would be the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Laptop is the best laptop for software engineering students without any second thoughts because it comes with an advanced 8th Generation Intel Core i7 processor and, Turbo Boost Technology, and being paired with the 32GB DDR4 RAM, it’s a laptop that can tackle all types of task.

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