What is the best laptop for a B.Tech / BE / Computer Science student

My Answer to the question on Quora:

As a B.Tech computer science student, your main applications will be programming in Java, C#/C++, Python, cloud computing (maybe with AWS), some version of SQL, applications and the usual stuff like MS Office, etc. Considering this, I feel an Intel-based laptop with an i5 (preferably i7 processor), with 1 TB hard disk, and as much RAM as is possible. Go for 15.6 inch anti-glare screen – smaller ones will be impossible to use with modern IDEs like Visual Studio, PyCharm, Spyder, etc. Avoid i3 processor based laptops as these will crawl with most modern software, especially with Chrome.

It is advisable to go for i7 processor (10th Gen) instead of i5. Please ensure to take an extended warranty on the laptop – it costs a little but gives peace of mind as most laptops have just a 1 year warranty. Go for a 2 year extended warranty so you will get 1 year manufacturer warranty + 2 years dealer’s warranty.

Intel or AMD – this is a question that has been asked since decades. AMD has launched the AMD Ryzen and this processor has more processing power and is almost the default processor used by DIY- PC assemblers. However AMD support is still same as Intel and that is the reason why laptops and professional computer users prefer Intel. With Intel, updating a PC is just swapping out the old processor and putting in a new compatible processor and updating the BIOS settings; that is not so simple with AMD processors.

In addition, following are highly recommended for reasons mentioned:

  1. Display: a large monitor that can be connected to your laptop – about 20 inch. It will make it easier to work with IDEs and Google at same time. It should have at least the resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels  
  2. Input Devices: Wireless keyboard and mouse. Working long hours on laptop keyboard is injurious to health.
  3. Storage: If your budget permits, add a 512 GB SSD. Put the operating system and most commonly used software on the SSD for faster access. To have faster bootup speeds, go for 256GB SSD drive where the operating system and other main applications like MS Office are installed. You may reduce the hard Disk size from 1 TB to 500 GB in order to accommodate the SSD. Anyway, most of our files we store on the cloud like Google Drive. Many laptops now come with only the SSD drive.
  4. Memory: Go for at least 8 GB, preferably 16 GB DDR4 RAM.
  5. Graphics Card: A separate graphics card NVIDIA GeForce MX250/MX350, 2GB DDR5 will be very useful.
  6. Operating System: You should get the official Windows 11 Home edition and also Microsoft Office suite in some models. Are Linux based laptops cheaper? Check this article for more on this.
  7. Ports: Other commonly found specifications are : USB 3 and USB 2 ports, HDMI port, support for external card, 3.5mm – Headphone/Microphone Combo Port, built-in speakers and microphone and 720p HD web Camera (preferably with Privacy Shutter  but this is something you can do on your own).
  8. Audio: Checkout the audio quality in a quiet space in the store if you are buying the laptop offline. Your laptop should have the 3.5mm audio port.

Hope this helps.

Let me know what you feel about this.

Categories: Blog, Computer Science, Study Techniques, Technology News

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5 replies

  1. Thanks for sharing the blog and this great information which is definitely going to help us. Being a college student I need a laptop that was pretty specific.

    -Light – for carrying around all day.
    -Long battery life – from class notes to libraries and study centers, to coffee shops…, not all places have the ability to charge. (Plus carrying around a charging adapter adds weight and takes up space).
    -Good keyboard – for typing, especially on tine lecture hall tables.
    -Detachable keyboard – place my laptop/lap-tablet on a table, while keyboard in lap and type.
    -Powerful processor – to handle all the programs and applications with ease.
    -Good wi-fi – wi-fi that would stay connected and not have to be reset periodically. (Hard to explain to a professor that your laptop dripped the wi-fi signal on an hour-long exam).
    -Ability to draw – diagrams, pictures, little nuances in note-taking help a lot.
    -Ability to turn into a tablet – for viewing lectures, videos, even reading research article journals.
    -Smaller than full-size screen – again, LARGE and MOBILE, do not really go together.
    A little future proof – something that will last for at least 5 years and not become slow & ancient.
    -Low cost – especially hard to find anything worthwhile at lower prices.

    So far I am considering the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, but costs quickly skyrocket, battery life not the best, the keyboard seems flimsy.

    Any suggestions or ideas would be greatly appreciated!

    • After almost 4 decades of fiddling with computing devices, I say that there is no such thing as “the best” of laptop/printer/tablet/….. The best device is the one which is being developed in the lab.
      Most devices will have a year’s warranty against defects – none against obsolescence. Software is also updated very frequently – often atleast once a year, so the 16 GB RAM that was “more than enough” will somehow be just about acceptable.

      So what I am trying to state is this – if possible, go for (i) a decent Android tablet (not necessarily the “best”!) as that can take care of your concerns at points 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, and 12. (ii) Buy a mid-level laptop with configuration based on your requirements – most work that students need to do (except high-end graphics) can be done on an i5 or i7 processor (10th Gen) (details in article).

      A laptop may work for 5 years but it will be surely obsolete in 5 years, compared to what is available in 5 year’s time.

      I cannot suggest any specific brands, but I feel that spending a total of more than INR 1,00,000 on both the above is simply not worth it – for a student. At this time.

  2. Here is the list of top Recruiting companies in which you can apply for after completing your graduation:

    Fractal Analytics
    Walmart Labs
    Busigence Technologies
    Mate Labs


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