Best laptop to buy for undergraduate engineering


Jul 21, 2015
I am looking to buy a laptop for engineering this upcoming year and I'm having a hard time deciding what is best for me. I have very little knowledge of computers so I don't understand a lot of the features that many computers boast, but I now have a slight understanding of whats considered the norm for high end laptops (i7 processor, SSD hard drive, 8GB RAM, etc.). Gaming is not important to me so I'm thinking 13.3" or 14", battery life is more important than graphics for me, and I don't intend to put my computer through any abnormally strenuous use (other than running common engineering programs) so those facts led me to consider getting an ultrabook. Specifically, I was looking at the Dell XPS 13 and the HP Spectre x360 and am leaning towards the spectre. Both of them seem to cover all the essential necessities for my use, but I can't find anyone anyone who recommends ultrabooks for engineering and I want to know why. I've heard people say to buy business laptops rather than consumer laptops so I've also been looking at some more traditional laptops like the Lenovo Thinkpad t450s, Dell m3800, and HP Elitebook 840 G2, but I don't see a reason to pay more to get a laptop that is no more powerful, less portable, and has a worse battery life if I don't need one. Also durability is crucial for me as I really need this to last 4 years although I'm likely going to get a squaretrade warranty anyways. The spectre's unibody aluminum frame seems to offer great protection which attracts me to the spectre. Any advice about what I do and don't need in my laptop and/or suggestions about which laptop to buy would be greatly appreciated.


Aug 10, 2012
The surface pro 3 is also really nice. Has the functionality of the laptop and also takes notes with it. 12 inch screen, solid battery life, and runs all the common engineering programs easily (Autodesk Inventor, MATLAB, programming editors, etc). Only thing that might be a problem is if you run too many things the fans kick in and it can get noisy (games, or many programs).

You can get the i5 128 gb SSD version and use an external HDD for more file storage if needed. It was $1100 Canadian with taxes for keyboard + tablet +case + OS + 2 year warranty.

On the plus side you get to bring it for notes instead of binders/notebooks and they get saved to an email account. So if someone needs notes can just email them the relevant section instead of lending the pages/notebook. Satisfied with my surface pro 3 and also they give 10% student discount (not sure if this is a permanent thing).


Jul 21, 2015
My problem with the surface pro 3 is its keyboard and small display. I will be using whatever device I decide on primarily as a laptop so while it is nice to have the dual functionality of a 2-in-1, I'd like to have something that is more of a laptop pretending to be a tablet rather than a tablet pretending to be a laptop.
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