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The 5 Best Laptops for Computer Science Students in 2024

Best Laptops Under $340

The 5 Best Laptops for Computer Science Students in 2024

Key Points

  • Our choice for the #1 Best Overall laptop for computer science students is the popular Lenovo Legion Pro 5i.
  • Laptops for computer science students can have a wide range of specifications.
  • On average, students can expect to pay around $500-$2000 for a laptop geared toward computer science courses.
  • The processor, memory, battery life, and warranty are key areas for computer science laptops.

The best laptop for computer science students can be challenging to find, given the scope of the curriculum. If you’re interested in a new system or school or need an upgrade, the selection of PCs can be overwhelming. While students will have access to computers in labs and libraries, you still need a solid system of your own.

Whether you’re looking for something portable to take on a commute or a robust system for class and entertainment, we have you covered. Our guide is full of helpful tips to help you narrow the field, and we’ve compiled a list featuring five of the top laptops for computer science students today:

Best Overall Laptop: Lenovo Legion Pro 5i Gaming Laptop

Best Overall
Lenovo Legion Pro 5i Gaming Laptop
$2,556.72
  • 16-inch WQHD IPS display
  • 165Hz refresh rate
  • Intel 13th Gen i9-13900HX CPU
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 graphics card
  • 64GB DDR5 RAM
  • Upgraded to 2TB SSD plus 2TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
01/16/2024 03:17 pm GMT

Gaming and computer science may not go hand-in-hand, but the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i Gaming Laptop is the #1 Best Overall option, especially for students looking for a powerful Windows system. This popular laptop is powered by Intel’s latest chip and is available in a half-dozen configurations.

Whether you’re studying software engineering or graphics, the Legion Pro has you covered. The 24-core Intel Core i9-13900HX processor powers the laptop, alongside 64GB of DDR5 RAM. The top clock speed is 5.40GHz through Intel’s 13th gen processor, and the display is as impressive as the specs. Lenovo went with a 16-inch IPS panel with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600 on the Legion Pro 5i.

The 165Hz WQXGA display shines when paired with the GPU. The MacBook display below may have more pop, but it doesn’t have an RTX 4070 GPU. It’s perfect for students interested in the world of video game graphics. All Lenovo Legion laptops are well-built with solid webcams and backlighting, but this variant has the most storage — 2TB plus 2TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD for 4TB total storage.

Fast is the best word to describe the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i laptop, which is built for gamers but perfect for any computer science student. It’s another high-end system designed to last throughout school, not just a couple of years. That helps justify the price point, and so does the performance, build quality, and features.

ProsCons
It is powered by the 13th gen Intel Core i9-13900HX.The price puts it in the premium class.
It has a 16-inch 2,560 x 1,600 display.It is overpowered for some courses and applications.
There is 64GB of DDR5 RAM under the hood. 
The laptop has an NVIDIA RTX 4070 GPU. 

Check out the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i Gaming Laptop on Amazon.

Best Mac Laptop: MacBook Pro

Best Mac Laptop
Apple 2023 MacBook Pro Laptop
$2,979.37
  • Features the M2 Max chip
  • 12 CPU cores and up to 38 GPU cores
  • 14.2-inch Liquid Retina XDR display with Extreme Dynamic Range
  • Up to 96GB of unified memory
  • 1TB SSD storage
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01/16/2024 03:17 pm GMT

The new MacBook Pro Max M2 is the best laptop for computer science students who prefer Apple to Windows. The operating system is an excellent fit for computer science due to its Unix-based nature, and the company’s latest laptop is their best system to date.

With 12 CPU cores and up to 38 GPU cores, the M2 Max processor can take anything thrown its way. This powerful laptop has 32GB of RAM out of the box, but it is configurable with 64GB or 96GB of memory. Storage is also expandable up to 8TB of space on the 1TB solid-state drive becomes tight. The hardware should get you through most programs with ease, and the Liquid Retina display will blister your eyes at 1000 nits with a resolution of 3,024 x 1,964.

Ports aren’t a problem on the MacBook Pro with three Thunderbolt 4 ports, HDMI, and a DisplayPort. It has Wi-Fi 6E along with Bluetooth 5.3 and an SDXC card slot as well. Despite its power, this laptop is relatively thin and portable at 3.6 pounds for the 14-inch MacBook Pro M2. Battery life is outstanding at around 12-14 hours per charge, but you can squeeze a few more hours out of the laptop with the Pro chip.

Apple’s laptops are priced at a premium, and the MacBook Pro M2 Max is no exception. We chose the entry-level version of the new MacBook, but you can pick one up with a larger or smaller screen in various configurations. Just keep your budget in mind, along with any courses requiring Windows-specific programs.

ProsCons
It has Apple’s powerful M2 Max processor.It’s an expensive system.
There is a stunning Retina display with a resolution of 3,024 x 1,964.One of the cons is the battery life and price difference compared to the larger model.
It comes with 32GB of RAM but is expandable up to 96MB. 
The MacBook Pro has excellent battery life. 

Check out the MacBook Pro on Amazon.

Most Durable Laptop: LG Gram 15Z90Q Laptop

Most Durable
LG Gram (2022) Laptop 15Z90Q
$912.24
  • 15.6-inch touchscreen display
  • Intel 12th Gen Core i7 processor
  • Iris Xe Graphics
  • 16GB LPDDR5 RAM
  • 512GB PCIe4 M.2 NVMe SSD
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01/16/2024 03:12 pm GMT

The LG Gram 15Z90Q Laptop is the best choice laptop for computer science students who are tough on their tech. This well-built system comes from one of the company’s most popular lines with a design geared for speed and efficiency.

The LG Gram 15Z90Q provides users with an interesting mix of features for the price. It has a standard 15.6-inch FHD panel with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, but it’s a touchscreen display. This laptop also has an IR webcam with facial login for remote work, and it utilizes LG’s smart display technology. When you walk away, the Gram will automatically lock the screen. It can also blur the display to keep people passing by from looking at your work.

That’s an incredibly useful feature for students, and so is the 12th Gen Core i7 processor powering this laptop. There’s 512GB of onboard storage for projects through the SSD and 16GB of RAM to keep programs humming along. At less than three pounds, the LG Gram 15Z90Q is lightweight but durable. You still don’t want to use it near a pool, but the MIL-STD-810G certification ensures it can handle the rigors of college life.

Computer science students will love the LG Gram. It’s also available with 32GB of RAM and the i7-1195G7 processor if you like what it brings to the table, but feel it’s a bit underpowered for your needs. It has excellent connectivity options with dual USB A and Type-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, although limited in the graphics department with Intel Iris Xe.

ProsCons
There is an accurate touchscreen display with 100% sRGB.It doesn’t have a dedicated graphics card.
It’s a capable system with a 12th Gen Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM.Some users felt the keyboard was uncomfortable.
The laptop is durable with MIL-STD-810 certification. 
It has excellent security features, including facial login and Presence Detection. 

Check out the LG Gram 15Z90Q Laptop on Amazon.

Best Mid-Range Laptop: Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Series Laptop

Best Mid-Range Laptop
Dell Newest Inspiron 15 3511 Laptop
$495.77
  • 15.6-inch FHD touchscreen display
  • Intel Core i5-1035G1
  • 32GB RAM
  • 1TB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD
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01/16/2024 04:03 pm GMT

If you’re just getting your feet wet in computer science, the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Series Laptop is a fantastic choice. While it’s not the cheapest system on our list, it has respectable specifications to go along with a 15.6-inch touchscreen display.

This laptop looks relatively basic at first glance but has a surprising amount of speed. That’s partly due to the Core i5-1035G1, a 10th Gen chip clocked at 3.60GHz. We chose the model with 32GB of RAM, but there are also 16GB and 64GB variants. All models have a 15.6-inch FHD touchscreen display with narrow bezels and integrated graphics through Intel.

A 1TB solid-state drive provides enough storage to get started. Expansion is possible through various ports, including two USB 3.2 ports. Other features to note include 2-watt stereo speakers, a 720p webcam, and Windows 11 Home. The system is efficient, although the battery is somewhat small at 41WHr.

The price, processor, and memory make the Dell Inspiron an inspiring choice, especially if you plan to deal with memory-intensive applications. The 64GB model is still reasonable but also comes with double the storage. While the processor is a little dated, it’s still more than sufficient for the first year or two of school.

ProsCons
The FHD touchscreen display with thin bezels.The battery life could be better.
You can upgrade from 32GB-64GB of RAM.The processor is a 10th Gen Core-i5.
The laptop provides an excellent value for the price. 
It has an attractive, lightweight design. 

Check out the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Series Laptop on Amazon.

Best Budget Laptop: HP 14 HD Laptop

Best Budget Laptop
HP 2022 14 HD Laptop
$479.00
  • Intel 11th Gen Core i5-1135G7
  • 16GB RAM
  • 1TB PCIe SSD
  • Intel Iris Xe graphics
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
01/16/2024 04:34 pm GMT

HP has a number of systems designed for students, and the HP 14 HD Laptop is one of the best options for new computer science students on a budget. If money is tight, this laptop is a great way to get started and it’s one of the top options around $500.

The highlight of this laptop is the price-to-power ratio. It has 16GB of DDR4 RAM and an Intel Core i5-1135G7 under the hood. While the i5 may not sound impressive, it’s the minimum listed by Berkeley and other top programs. It’s also an 11th Gen chip. The HP 14 HD meets all the “basic” requirements for most courses, and the version we chose has a 512GB PCIe solid-state drive.

While there’s no dedicated GPU on this system, the Iris Xe onboard graphics do a respectable job. A Pure Vision webcam also makes remote courses a breeze. The 14-inch display keeps the bezels to a minimum with an edge-to-edge design. It’s colorful, although capped at a resolution of 1,366 x 768. Connectivity options are sufficient but a little sparse, with dual USB 3.0 Type-A ports and only one Type-C port.

HP’s laptop probably won’t get you through computer science school with a Master’s degree, but it will get you started with specs suitable for many computer science courses. The HP 14 HD laptop is also a great choice as a secondary system, given the price. This laptop is configurable with up to 32GB of RAM and a 2TB SSD, depending on your needs.

ProsCons
It has a fantastic price point with baseline specifications.There’s only one USB Type-C port.
It’s configurable for more memory and a larger hard drive.The display isn’t FHD.
The laptop has an edge-to-edge display. 
It has an 11th Gen Core-i5 processor. 

Check out the HP 14 HD Laptop on Amazon.

How to Pick the Best Laptop for Computer Science: Step by Step

If you’re a student considering computer science courses and wondering what the system requirements are for laptops, we’ve got good news. While they vary by program, most schools and courses don’t require that students purchase a $5,000 system.

Choosing the best laptop for computer science is similar to picking out a system for programming or architectural school. That means you must focus on processing power, storage, and connectivity before considering features like fingerprint scanners or UHD displays.

  • System Requirements
  • Storage Capacity
  • Battery Life
  • Warranties

System Requirements

Computer Science is a term that refers to several courses or topics, not just one type of class. All universities and schools that offer these courses provide system requirements for students to use as guidelines when buying a new PC. To find the best laptop for computer science, that’s where you’ll want to start.

We found that while each school has specific laptop requirements, there are more similarities than differences. For example, MIT sets the “minimum” requirements as an Intel Core i7 or Ryzen 7 along with 16GB of RAM. The requirements are similar for Carnegie Mellon University, but Berkeley drops the minimum to an Intel Core i5.

Some schools list 8GB as the baseline for memory, but we recommend 16GB of RAM. Most laptops allow users to upgrade RAM, but picking up a system with factory-installed memory is typically cheaper. With the GPU, that largely depends on the school and course, but most schools don’t call for an RTX 4080.

Instead, consider connectivity options, including Wi-Fi and how many ports a laptop has. An awkwardly placed port isn’t the end of the world, but a lack of USB-C ports could require a hub. We feel that displays should be FHD at a minimum, although this is an area schools leave up to the student, so 720p is an option in the budget range.

Storage Capacity

Do you constantly find yourself running short on storage with your desktop PC or home laptop? If so, you’ll want to consider more storage on a laptop designed for computer science. Personal files always tend to find their way to other devices, and programs in this niche can take up considerable space.

Most entry-level laptops have 512GB SSD hard drives, but we’ve also seen those drives on premium systems. While having a solid-state drive ensures speed, it’s pointless if you run out of space by the end of class. The cloud is handy, but it’s not recommended for schoolwork.

Computer science schools like to list 512GB as the magic number with storage, but we disagree. Unless you want to rely on external drives, a 1TB solid-state drive provides double the storage at a fraction of the price. Whether you plan to store some music on your school laptop or enjoy the occasional game, make sure you have enough storage space for school and personal use.

Battery Life

One area that gets overlooked when shopping for a computer science laptop is battery life. It’s understandable, given the importance of processing power and memory, but those components directly impact battery life.

Are you considering a laptop with a QHD or 4K display? Those will eat into battery life, just like a 17-inch FHD panel on a powerful gaming rig. The GPU, display, and programs you run can drain batteries fast, especially those used in computer science classes.

Battery life is tricky, considering it varies by usage, and no course gives you specifics on battery life. While the systems we chose will all get you through class, smaller batteries may require a top-off in the middle of the day. That’s not ideal if you’re halfway across campus on foot.

Warranties

We didn’t see too many universities take a deep dive into battery life, but they do discuss warranties at length. It’s another area students can overlook in the rush to get started, and it’s something that can backfire in an instant.

Regardless of power, price, or features, most laptops come with a one-year warranty. That may come as a surprise if you’ve mainly used desktop PCs, but it’s standard practice. Even a fully decked out $6,000 MacBook Pro only comes with a one-year guarantee. While some companies buck that trend, computer science schools highly recommend getting an extended warranty.

Extended warranties are provided directly from the manufacturer or at the point of sale, depending on where you purchase a laptop. Most provide an additional 2-3 years of coverage at minimal cost. If you’re paying $1,000 for a computer, an $80 warranty is a worthy investment. For a $300 system, not so much, but you won’t find any new laptops in that class geared for computer science school.

What to Know Before Buying a Laptop for Computer Science School

Power and battery life are key with laptops designed for computer science students. It’s also important to consider how you’ll use the computer. Do you drive to school or live on campus? Walking with a heavy laptop isn’t ideal, but it’s not a significant concern if you plan to use other systems at the school as well.

Every laptop has a webcam, but the quality is hit or miss. It’s not something that should factor into your buying decision, although you may need to buy an external camera for remote work. That’s where your needs and usage come into play, along with the computer science courses you plan to take.

Using a Computer Science Laptop: What It’s Like

When you fire up a laptop built for computer science, you aren’t going to be sucked into the Matrix and greeted by Agent Smith. While that would certainly increase attendance, using these laptops is no different than using a traditional one.

With premium models, you can expect a few extra bells and whistles. RGB lighting and backlit keyboards are common, but a good cooling system is far more useful. Your overall experience using these laptops will vary depending on what you’ve used in the past, but using your laptop for computer science courses should be pleasant if you follow our tips and choose a solid system.

Summary Table

RankLaptopKey Features
#1Lenovo Legion Pro 5i Gaming Laptop24-core Intel Core i9-13900HX processor, 64GB of DDR5 RAM, 16-inch IPS panel with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600, RTX 4070 GPU, 4TB total storage
#2MacBook Pro12 CPU cores and up to 38 GPU cores, M2 Max processor, 32GB of RAM (expandable up to 96GB), up to 8TB of storage, Liquid Retina display with a resolution of 3,024 x 1,964
#3LG Gram 15Z90Q Laptop15.6-inch FHD panel with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, 12 Gen Core i7 processor, 512GB of onboard storage, 16GB of RAM, MIL-STD-810G certification
#4Dell Inspiron 15 3000 Series LaptopCore i5-1035G1, a 10 Gen chip clocked at 3.60GHz, 32GB of RAM, 15.6-inch FHD touchscreen display, 1TB solid-state drive
#5HP 14 HD Laptop16GB of DDR4 RAM, Intel Core i5-1135G7, 512GB PCIe solid-state drive, 14-inch display with a resolution of 1,366 x 768

Frequently Asked Questions

Is using a Mac or Windows laptop better for computer science courses?

Unless your school calls for a specific operating system, you can choose either operating system.

Do you need to adhere to the minimum system requirements for a computer science laptop?

It’s certainly not required, but it’s a good idea unless you know the courses you plan to take. Schools put out the requirements as general guidelines, not for specific classes.

How much RAM should a computer science laptop have?

While some schools list 8GB as a minimum requirement, we advise using at least 16GB of memory.

How much does a laptop for computer science cost?

A laptop for computer science can cost anywhere from $500 to well over $5,000, depending on your needs and budget.

Do computer science students receive a discount on laptops?

Yes, there are a variety of programs that provide students with discounts on laptops and other technology for school. You can look for deals from institutions and direct from companies like Dell and Apple.

Can you use a Chromebook laptop for computer science courses?

Using a Chromebook is not recommended. While they may work with some courses, those laptops are geared for casual use, not running popular programs in computer science classrooms.

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