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What are some good laptops for engineering students? Answered

I'm off to college this fall, and I have 1,500 USD for a good laptop. I was thinking of a gaming laptop since they are made to run intense programs such as CAD. Any suggestions or tips?
Also, not into Apple computers, I've got one and it's OK, but the students from my school have advised against Mac's.



Best Answer 6 years ago

For my self I have been buying Sager notebooks. I think they are a great little company. Right now a lot of their models are sold out but they have new designs coming in soon. Here is one that pretty much fits what you are looking for. I have one like it. The 17 inch monitor is really good. One thing though, these are not as portable and do not have long run times on the batteries. They are desktop replacements. For portable go with a cheap tablet.

The new Toshiba Satellite S885-S5268 seems to be a good and cost-reasonable option. AutoCad 13 requires at least 3 GHz processor speed and over 4 GB RAM, which the laptop easily covers up. And price of $900 is nothing as compared to its features. 

Don't worry too much about it. You probably won't be doing much CAD on your personal laptop because it's cost probative to get a license for the software. There are some programs that offer student licenses at a discounted price but most of your CAD work will be done in the labs on campus.

I got a student license one year when I was in college, SolidWorks 2007, and ran it just fine on a pretty run of the mill Compaq laptop. Graphics is not a huge issue in 3D CAD unless you are going to be doing lots of rendering (useless except for presentations and posters). RAM is a much more limiting factor, which means having a 64-bit OS is important so you can use more RAM. At the major airplane manufacturer I work at we all run CATIA on laptops.

Purdue gives their students all the software they need so software cost isn't an issue. But now i'm at a cross road, If RAM is what I need then the Sager is ideal because I can get 12GB for under 1.5k, but if the below guys are right then it's the graphics cards, in which case Lenovo would be best, Can anyone clarify which is more important?

If you need another nudge, the best reason I buy and recommend Sager is because of their support. They do their own repairs in house. About 8 years ago I sold one to a young guy for gaming and after 6 months it went dead. I called Sager and on the first call they gave me an RMA, No problems. I shipped it out to them and they fixed it the day they got it. They replaced the entire motherboard, rebuilt it and Shipped it back the same day they received it.
Next, on a notebook of mine my touch pad went bad. I use an external mouse mostly so I didn't do anything about it right away. When I finally thought to call them the warranty had expired. I asked them if I could buy a replacement and they said no need. They said that since it went bad while the warranty was still in effect they would fix it, and they did. They went through the whole thing, cleaned it all up and replaced the touch pad all no charge. Nobody else would do something like that.
I had a customer who had a Toshiba and the screen went bad. It was only 6 months old. She contacted Toshiba and they said she had to send them the notebook and a $500 check, which is more than what she paid for it to start with, in order to cover the cost of the replacement. They refused to do any warranty service unless she sent them complete payment up front for the service just in case it was her fault and not a warranty problem. I found a replacement screen on E bay for her for half the price they wanted and I replaced it for $50 bucks. Their warranty was worthless. I have never had a problem with the people at Sager.

After doing some further research, it turns out that the GPU in Sager laptops is made for not only gaming, but is also well suited for running CAD. I read the nVida release of the 560m and they said it's multi-use, and I've also read reviews from engineers who say they can run CAD on it no problem. Also, I like the way it looks, I know i'm being picky but if I'm going to live with it for the next 5 years, I want to like looking at it, and the Lenovo ThinkPad W520 is nice but it's so ugly, I can't imagine looking at it every day. Thanks every one for the help.

8 gb of RAM is fine but you MUST have a 64-bit OS and CPU to use it.
Knowing what software specifically you will be running would help decide. Check out the Dell M4600. About $1000 i think and it will run whatever you need it's what I run 64-bit CATIA on at work.

Gaming laptops are made to render a game at high frame rates. This is much different then rendering a CAD drawing. If you want good and quick renderings in CAD then go with a mobile workstation. The video cards that come in a good workstation are made to handle the intense calculations CAD software uses. These cards take much of the workload off the CPU. If you go with a gaming system or any other system with a basic video card the CPU is stuck doing all the heavy lifting slowing things down considerably. But if gaming is going to be part of you after hours entertainment and you don't mind the system being a bit slow with your school work then go for it.

Are you sure ? If there is GPU, there's iron there for the graphical intensive stuff the CAD system needs too. I know my system is faster running on a "game card" than it was running native.

Yes a game card is better then any on board GPU but not the best for rendering CAD software. It can take some of the load off the CPU but not as much as a Workstation class GPU can. In order from worst to best you have basic laptop, Gaming laptop, then Workstation laptop. A gaming GPU is designed to render Direct X graphics fast. While the workstation GPU is designed to render and do advance calculations fast. Most CAD software is designed to take full advantage of a workstation class GPU. If a workstation class GPU isn't present then most of the work has to be done by the CPU.

Lenovo ThinkPad. Rugged, reliable, well cooled.