The top computer programs used by engineers include CAD, Rhino, and ANSYS DesignSpace.
Asus produces some of the best gaming laptops for engineering purposes.
Lenovo makes the best gaming laptop for engineering purposes for those on a budget.
Gaming laptops come equipped with the strongest hardware found in any laptop. However, this makes them more expensive than traditional laptops students and businesspeople use. What about engineers? Do gaming laptops do more than provide optimal gaming experiences? The best gaming laptop for engineering purposes runs programs that project 3D models with ease. Laptops accomplish this with dedicated graphics cards.
The best gaming laptop for engineering purposes comes with high processing power, a dedicated graphics card, and a lot of memory to ensure programs run fast and smoothly. Not all laptops suitable for an engineer come with a dedicated graphics card, but it's a necessary component for professionals. A graphics card performs millions of calculations and translates those as images on your computer's display. The better the graphics card, the smoother the image.
From mechanical engineers to civil engineers, all sorts of disciplines exist in the industry, and they need a variety of programs to accomplish their jobs. The number of students studying mechanical engineering increases every year with 300,000 or more projected to be in the workforce by 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Mechanical engineers utilize many different computer programs that require a lot of processing power to be successful at their job.
Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Software
Known as CAD in the field, computer-aided design software programs allow mechanical engineers to build 3D models of mechanical parts and assemble them to see how they function. It's demanding software on the processor, requiring a graphics card for boosted processing power. Most CAD software shows its user if the parts assembled work together, allowing them to make adjustments if an error occurs. This software creates each individual piece of machinery and assembles it, making it a grueling and specific process.
When it comes to 3D-imaging software, engineers love Rhino. It's a versatile piece of software that allows users to create, edit, view, document, render, and animate their designs. No other program matches the level of detail Rhino offers. Engineers quickly explore a wide range of design possibilities and evaluate them based on their performance criteria. Rhino also provides an easy-to-use interface, making it accessible to users with varying levels of experience.
When it comes to easy-to-use software, ANSYS DesignSpace takes the top spot. This simulation software allows engineers to run real-world scenarios for structures and devices from their computers. From the aerospace to the medical industry, DesignSpace allows engineers to analyze every angle of their creations before a prototype ever hits the factory floor.
Laptops for Engineering
Manufacturers produce laptops with dedicated graphics cards not intended for gamers all the time. Creative types such as digital artists and engineers find these laptops just as useful for their purposes. Furthermore, they benefit from something gaming laptops contain: large screens and long battery life. Engineering students especially find long battery life useful due to how often they're on the move from class to class with short deadlines.
Luckily, the biggest brands in computers keep all demographics in mind when designing laptops. However, if push comes to shove, gaming laptops make for good alternatives for designing blueprints and 3D images of all sorts. They might be a little on the high end when it comes to price, but they do the job. Gaming laptops also last years, as long as they're well-maintained and don't overheat on a regular basis.
However, gaming laptops aren't the only option for engineers and engineering students. Plenty of manufacturers design laptops with those people in mind.
Take a look at some laptops meant for non-gamers that get the job done:
MSI Creator Z17
MSI develops laptops and computer components for gamers and non-gamers alike, but their specialty is in gaming. They’re specifically known for their graphics cards. The people at MSI know a thing or two about developing a device for digital artists and other creative people. MSI's 2020 Creator 17 laptop was the "world's very first" laptop to feature a mini LED screen.
MSI added to this design in 2022 with the Creator Z17 by maintaining its beautiful 1,000 nit 4K display and upgrading its processor to an i9-12900H and its graphics card to an RTX 3070 Ti. That's a major step up from its i7 processor and RTX 2080. The RTX 3070 Ti holds enough power to play any triple-A video game without issue. Installing it into a laptop meant for creatives tells you off the bat how serious this machine is for engineers who use CAD software.
Photo source: Amazon.com
Asus Zenbook Pro
At first glance, the Zenbook's price drops jaws, but a thorough readthrough of its specifications changes everything. First of all, it comes with two screens. The primary screen in conjunction with a secondary screen allows you to drag overflow windows such as task management programs or reference materials out of the way while being able to see them both clearly. The newest iteration of the Zenbook Pro improves on the secondary screen, increasing the height it raises and its resolution.
Additionally, the Zenbook Pro's trackpad works phenomenally. There's no clicking option found with other laptops, but the tapping mechanism works seamlessly. All the usual gestures work and it doubles as a touchscreen. Simply tap the touchpad with three fingers and it turns the screen into a giant touchpad. Tap again and it reverts to its previous mode.
Its internals lack the same experience as a dedicated gaming laptop, but it's more than capable of handling an engineer's workload. Its Intel i7-2700H is the same processor used by many gamers and the Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti graphics card helps all design programs operate with ease.
Photo source: Amazon.com
Dell XPS 15
It might not have the power of an Alienware laptop (Dell's gaming subsidiary), but Dell packs a punch in its XPS 15. The XPS 15's beautifully slim chassis hides the power of an Intel i7-11800H processor, an RTX 3050 Ti graphics card, and 16GB of memory. That's a lot to fit under the hood of something so small. Unfortunately, one drawback to powerful components inside a small frame equates to increased temperature levels and noisy fans.
Dell's XPS 15 provides a stunning 15" OLED touchscreen that makes all your engineering needs simple. The RTX 3050 Ti makes every use of a 3D imaging program an engineer needs a smooth experience with no stuttering. This keeps you productive and left feeling like Tony Stark. Furthermore, it comes equipped with Dell's Mobile Connect feature, software that integrates your smartphone with your computer in order to transfer files seamlessly. Something especially useful for students and full-fledged engineers.
Unfortunately, it doesn't support HDMI when you need to present your projects to partners, but an adapter comes in the box. As far as connectivity, the XPS 15 supports two Thunderbolt USB-C ports for lightning-fast data transfer between devices.
Photo source: Amazon.com
Acer Aspire 5
Acer builds the ideal laptop for those on a budget. The Aspire 5 only runs an Intel i5-1135G7 processor, holds an integrated graphics card, and comes stocked with eight gigabytes of RAM, but it promises to handle all the same programs as high-end models. This laptop requires an eventual upgrade because an integrated graphics card struggles to perform well under the demanding stress of a program like Rhino or ANSYS DesignSpace.
However, college students greatly appreciate such a device as it allows them to get their projects done without breaking the bank. It's a solid laptop with a 14" display capable of a 1080p resolution. That's difficult to find on a budget laptop since the majority in a $400 price range achieve no better than 780p. This laptop does what it's designed to do well.
Photo source: Amazon.com
The IdeaPad laptop by Lenovo originated in 2008 and became common among educators. It's another budget laptop utilizing integrated graphics but comes in at a higher price point than Acer's Aspire 5. However, it has similar specs with an Intel i5 processor, eight gigabytes of RAM, and a resolution of 1080p. Don't expect to accomplish any major design simulations on an IdeaPad, but it handles spreadsheets and computer programming well enough.
If you're a student without deep pockets, consider Lenovo's IdeaPad. It comes installed with Windows 11 Pro, an upgrade from the Windows 11 Home edition, providing more options and optimizing it for business uses. Furthermore, the IdeaPad allows you to work quickly with its installed 512GB PCIe SSD that boots up the operating system and other programs in a matter of seconds.
Photo source: Amazon.com
Engineered for Success
Overall, gaming laptops make for great devices even when you don't intend to game. The dedicated graphics card in a gaming laptop runs many programs efficiently and without a stutter. While it's impossible to find any computer marketed as an "engineering" computer, keep your eye out for those labeled as "creative." These laptops come equipped with the necessary hardware capable of handling the top programs used by engineers.
Be aware that hardware isn't cheap and many "creative" laptops come at a premium. Keep an eye out for discounts or wait until manufacturers produce newer models as that's when older laptops go on sale. This presents the best opportunity to get the laptop you need.