For days, I reviewed different products to choose my 7 best laptops for computer science students. With the number of laptops in the industry today, it’s hard to shortlist a few candidates. I mean, it’s not something ANYONE can do. You can, for instance, buy a MacBook, right?
We all know by default that Macs are GOOD. But, would you know that you can get a much powerful laptop at prices much lesser than that of a MacBook? Or, would you know that Windows laptops are better because most programs are made for Windows?
Of course, you won’t— UNLESS someone tells you.
And congratulations, I’m that someone. In this guide, we’ll first look at not only the market-leading choices but also the machines that are purposeful for computer science students.
The List of 7 Best Laptops for Computer Science Students
Let’s now begin with the top picks. You’re gonna love them, so better empty some space in your heart!
#1. Acer Swift 3 Slim & Light Laptop for CS Students – Budget Pick
The first laptop on my list, Acer Swift 3, is my best budget pick.
This beauty has a vibrant 14-inch Full HD IPS (1920 x 1080) display. It will keep you comfortable throughout your working hours. Also, to add style, it has 4-edge narrow bezels, so you don’t have to worry about out-fashioning as well!
The second key quality of Acer Swift 3 is an average 12.5 hours battery life. It’s going to be with you in your coding spree and won’t ditch you at the last moment.
Although the chassis is magnesium-aluminum built, the standard of confidence, say a MacBook or a Dell Ultrabook would provide you, isn’t there. Still, the good side of the build quality is that it weighs only 2.65 lbs. – one of the lightest picks on the list!
Performance is yet another impressive thing about the Acer Swift 3. With AMD Ryzen 7 4700U Octa-Core processor, an 8GB LPDDR4 RAM and a 512 GB NVMe SSD, this laptop promises serious functionality, with compatibility with almost all CS software you’re likely to use.
Add a USB-C, two USB-A, an Audio Jack, an HDMI port, Wi-Fi 6, and a Kensington lock to the deck, and you have quite varied connectivity too.
- Some additional interesting features of Acer Swift 3 include:
- a well-built tactile backlit keyboard;
- a fingerprint reader;
- Amazon Alexa enabled;
- and a decent 720p webcam.
Perhaps the best feature of Acer Swift 3 is the price, making it the best budget laptop for CS students. Overall, Acer Swift 3 creates one wonderful and best-value-for-money picture:
#2. Lenovo Flex 5 2-in-1 Laptop for Computer Science Students – Editor’s Choice
The second laptop on the list is my best overall pick for you – the Lenovo Flex 5.
It’s the best overall due to a bundle of reasons. The first is the 2-in-1 laptop-tablet utility that is operable by the stylus (included). With three modes (Tent, Stand, and Tablet), it offers a wonderful touchscreen with a 360-degree hinge.
This increases usage versatility, so you can use it at almost any place and for any purpose. The screen is a 14-inch FDH IPS LCD that offers good colors, though maximum brightness is less.
Onwards to the performance. With a cool AMD Ryzen 5 4500U processor, 16GB DDR4 RAM, and a 256GB SSD, it’s safe enough for most work you might be doing as a college student. However, yes, you might require a little bit more storage later.
On top of a smooth 9 to 10-hour uninterrupted performance, the battery recharges fast, making you independent of electrical sockets.
The cool thing about Lenovo is its consistent build quality and design. The IdeaPad Flex 5 weighs around 3.63 lbs. and is only 0.82-inch in thickness. The keyboard is exclusively tactile and sturdy, which supports extensive working comfort.
And the overall durability simply gives you more than what you pay for. This laptop is perfect for taking to college every day without the fear that it’ll get rugged any sooner.
The only little problem I’ve found with this machine is the noisy cooling fan. That, too, very occasionally. But this is just to bring to your notice. Other than that, it’s a perfect machine.
The connectivity, though not extensive, is quite sufficient. With two USB-A ports, a USB-C and HDMI port, an audio jack, an SD reader, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, you can fearlessly move around without carrying too many specific cables as it will connect to almost ANY machine there is.
Best laptop for college students? I genuinely don’t doubt that.
#3. Apple MacBook Air – Best Mac for CS Student
The MacBook Air 13 – also the laptop that this article is written about – is a superb machine no matter how you choose to look at it, of course, except for the price.
MacBook Air’s Retina display measures 13.3-inch diagonally, with a crisp 2560 x 1600 resolution with four-million pixels. The Retina display reduces glare, is brighter, and has a higher contrast ratio: an absolutely wowing experience overall.
The laptop is equipped with a decent 1.1 GHz Intel Quad-Core i5, 8 GB RAM, and a 256 GB SSD. It lasts about 11 hours on regular power usage mode, so you don’t have to carry the charger everywhere.
The scissor-switch keyboard is *flying kiss* the best thing about the MacBook Air. The original typing tactility and comfort every Mac lover is a fan of makes me want to pay them a few extra bucks. Trust me.
The MacBook does, however, lack connectivity. I mean, only two USB-C ports, a USB-A port, and a Mini DisplayPort are compact, but not sufficient. Still, a docking station can help minimize this.
For security, Apple has added this fingerprint sensor, and it’s pretty cool. Other than that, well, it’s a MacBook Air. It’s super light and thin; weighs only 2.8 lbs.
So, is it worth the money? Definitely.
#4. HP Pavilion x360 2-in-1 Convertible Laptop
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of HP laptops, but the Pavilion x360 made me one.
What makes HP Pavilion x360 the best laptop for college students is the 360-degree foldable 2-in-1 capability, just like Lenovo Flex 5. So, what the 2-in-1 laptop-tablet connectivity does is basically it gives you a whole lot of utility.
For example, sometimes you don’t have enough space for a laptop. There, you can split it into half by either folding it around or detaching it.
But the tablet/laptop is only useful as long as it functions properly, and HP Pavilion functions like love. It has a 10th Gen Intel Quad Core i5 processor, 8 GB DDR4 RAM and 512 GB SSD. This is sufficient as you don’t really have much high-performance software to run.
Moreover, to enhance your 2-in-1 experience, it has got a 14-inch Full-HD IPS screen, with an 80% screen-to-body ratio (thinner bezels). The colors are super vibrant, and the screen is bright too. The touch is sensitive and fluid, and yes, there’s a stylus available too.
Stylus means real-time handwritten notes. COOL.
The only reported catch is the poor battery life. Even though it is rated at 9.25 hours, it hasn’t really lived up to expectations.
But other interesting features surely outweigh the little drawback. Some of them are: HP Pavilion x360 are Wi-Fi 6, a smooth and clicky keyboard, a USB-C port, 2 USB-A ports, an Audio, SD, and an HDMI port. Covers most connectivity requirements as well.
Perhaps one of the loveliest things for college students in this laptop is the portability. It weighs lighter than a MacBook Air (only 2.5 lbs.) and is perfect for carrying around.
#5. Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060
As a computer science student, you’re at good odds of being a gamer too. I mean, these two areas do intersect quite often. Well, if you’re both a gamer and a student, Acer Nitro 5 is the best affordable gaming laptop for you.
So, the number one unique feature is the GPU, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060. Not that it’s the best one in the industry, but on this list. So, if you’ve got a passion for a crisp and extremely vivid picture, this is your best bet.
But a great graphic card is not enough, right? That’s why Acer has used a 15.6-inch large full high-definition IPS LED display with a real-estate of 1920 x 1080. This is as good as it gets.
The laptop is equipped with an Intel Core i7 processor, a market-leader, a 16 GB DDR4 RAM, and a 256 GB SSD to further back up sweet performance and capability. The SSD might not be enough for you, given that you’ll be using it for gaming.
But, also given that it’s almost 2021 and no one can live without a backup drive … we have our problem solved already.
One feature that I have special feelings for is the AMAZING diversity of connectivity ports. You have an HDMI 2.0 port, a USB-C port, three USB-A ports, Wi-Fi 6, an audio jack, and a LAN port. You can literally connect at least 95% of the devices you’ll come in contact with.
The keyboard is great too. Is smooth, is backlit (not RGB, though), is tactile, and …
It has some overheating issues. But that too is when you use the GPU to the max settings, and that’s unlikely when you’re a computer science student with a mild gaming hobby.
A fun thing about Acer Nitro 5 for music lovers is the epic Waves MaxxAudio and Acer TrueHarmony crossover. The sound has more bass and is much richer than your average laptop.
So, an overall lovely machine. Beautiful aesthetics. Highly purposeful.
#6. ASUS ZenBook 15.6″ Intel Core i7 Laptop with GeForce GTX 1650
Ah. A personal favorite. The ASUS ZenBook 15.
This laptop flaunts extraordinary internal specs. With 10th Gen Core i7, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD, and the incredible NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650, the ZenBook 15 is one of the best laptops for computer science students in 2020.
It has a strong aluminum build that has passed the MIL-STD 810G – military grade – which also means there are some next-level durability and value for money that we’re looking at here.
The ZenBook 15 has an ultra-high-definition 15.6-inch display that has nano-edge bezels with a 92% screen-to-body ratio. Believe me, it’s one of the classiest, most modern-looking laptops I know. But that’s not all the screen that it has.
You must be wondering that the steal for this high-performance is poor battery life, right? Well, it can give you an average of a good 8½ hours. That’s more than most.
It’s also got the 5.65-inch ScreenPad 2.0, a multifunctional touchpad that acts as both a screen and a touchpad. The touch is super sensitive, and the screen size is massive. This is beneficial for coders especially, those who can’t escape the black IDE screen in their coding rounds and need to change songs!
Quick accessibility, basically.
Plus, it’s the perfect portable laptop too. You’ll never have to reconsider carrying it with you whenever you leave for college. Weight only 3.6 lbs. with a super-thin 0.7-inch width, the ZenBook 15 promises a unique overlap.
A yet more interesting feature of this laptop is the diverse yet minimal connectivity approach. For example, it has got a USB-C, two USB-A, an HDMI, an audio jack, and an SD reader. You can’t see a repetition of ports here, yet you can connect to almost any modern device you want.
The ZenBook 15’s connectivity also includes Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi 6. This couple is cuter than Brangelina – wanna bet?
The only catch, I believe, is the price. It’s in the ‘investment’ range but deserves every dime.
#7. Lenovo Legion 5 Gaming Laptop with NVIDIA GTX 1660Ti
On my list of the best laptops for CS students, this last pick is from Lenovo’s favorite brand. I want you to take this seriously.
The engine pulling Lenovo Legion 5 is NVIDIA GTX 1660Ti, made for bosses in the gaming and computer field. It has a mindbogglingly crisp and high-quality graphic production that sits right at the bottom of our hearts.
The wheels are no less behind. With AMD Ryzen 7 4800H taking the lead, this beast is powered by a 6 GB DDR4 RAM and a spacious 512 GB SSD. For the most part, you won’t be needing a backup drive (though if you choose to do, that’s a good thing).
These wheels and this engine collectively carry this beautiful techy vehicle with a gigantic 15.6-inch FHD IPS screen with 1920 x 1080 resolution.
However, this beauty has a catch: it’s got a higher fuel consumption – only 5-7 hours of battery life. But … I mean, it’s a gaming laptop, so it’s more like a workstation. Not very mobile, but you can always carry it around with a little effort.
With only four USB-A ports, Lenovo Legion 5 does restrict connectivity to some point. But again, docking stations can come in handy here for everyone.
The actual reason why I’ve put it in this list apart from its irresistible functionality is the durability and build quality. If you’re a freshman and are just starting out in your computer science career, you want to invest in something that’ll be with you for the long run.
The keyboard is a Legion TrueStrike keyboard with the original Lenovo tactility and crispiness that I am always ready to die for. The build is sweetly ergonomic and is perfect for extended working hours.
As a whole, Lenovo Legion 5 is extraordinaire. A showman. Take action; you have my word.
Buyers’ Guide – Buying Best Laptops for Computer Science Students
The next step is learning how to buy the best laptops for CS students. It’s not technical at all; it’s fairly straightforward and let me show you how.
As much as you’re surprised to see the display as a factor for buying, I was surprised to put it here.
See, you work long, you work regularly. Sometimes you’ve to sit through the nights. Sometimes you’ve to go sleepless for days to correct your code, assignments, and other tasks.
You cannot afford a poor display that’s going to leave you with eye strain, eye fatigue, headaches, and at times, stress too. You cannot afford this on top of dying deadlines. Period.
What you need to ensure is AT LEAST an FHD IPS display. When you see this keyword in product descriptions for any laptop, you can relax that the display would do you justice.
Batteries with shorter battery life also limit your portability. It’s so because regardless of the laptop’s weight, you always have to sit near a socket – that ain’t very likable.
I’ve observed many new laptops to have relatively lower battery ratings. That is partly due to our likeness of maximum capabilities and minimum space acquired. To find the right balance between them isn’t tough, but then you have to give away other important features (maybe the display isn’t great?).
So, a perfect mix would give you a decent 6-7 hours of battery life plus other cool utilities. So, do make sure to weigh in all of the factors before buying.
Keyboard operates a laptop. It’s a key peripheral. There are two things you need to ensure here: experience and durability. Let’s talk about experience first.
By experience, I mean the feel: is it ergonomic? Do you feel comfortable while using it? Are the keys clicky enough, and do they have a decent key-travel? Is the key-spacing sufficient enough, or are the keys too closely packed together?
Ask yourself these questions, and if you find a keyboard that says ‘yes’ to all of these, you’ll have your perfect pick. Now let’s talk about durability.
Durability is, of course, a question of build quality that whether it can withstand regular use for a long period or not. When you are going to spend some money, you want it to last.
Most machines on this list promise durability.
Internal specs are subjective. For a computer science student, they don’t matter much. I mean, decent specs would work (about and above Core i5, 6 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, a nice GPU) for your college-related assignments.
You won’t really be using any heavy-duty programs. Mostly programming language software, and they don’t require much high-performing internals.
But of course, if you’re a gamer or designer on the side, then you can’t go on without a powerful machine. I’ve ensured the best specs against the minimum price.
At last, it comes down to your pocket too. You can choose an affordable pick, OR you can go into investment mode. I mentioned ‘investment’ mode earlier, so let me elaborate on it a bit more.
The affordable mode is where you pick a laptop that suits your pocket and not necessarily your purpose. Yet, the investment mode is where you pick a laptop that suits your purpose, gives you a better tool to work with, and makes you a return-on-investment (ROI) sooner or later.
So, for a student like you, your ROI might be after 3-4 years of effective study when you get a job. Yes, a laptop can matter that much.
I’ve chosen investment laptops mostly. They’ll suit your purpose the best.
By now, you must have a thorough idea about what the top best laptops for computer science students are in 2020 and how you can buy one.
Great display saves you from eye damage, great keyboard comforts your hands. Great specs allow you to work with a variety and great battery life keeps your machine alive at all times. And above all, a great price makes your purchase happy.
It’s not hard to balance all of these. I’ve done this throughout this list. I’ve picked seven awesome and balanced laptops. You can do that, too; just keep your eyes, ears, and pockets open!
Just kidding about the last one. Happy-laptop-buying!