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Best Laptop for Computer Science Students 2024

It should be no surprise that for comp sci students, your computer will basically become just another appendage to your body. So it's pretty important that you purchase a laptop that has the durability to last throughout college. But you'll also want the performance and speed to quickly run Python, Javascript, C++ and whichever other languages your professor throws your way.

The good news is that if you're in comp sci, you're in demand — jobs for computer science are projected to grow 21% in the next 10 years, by far the fastest growing occupation in America.

But before that first paycheck hits, here are the top laptops you should consider for 2024's back to school season — I've curated this laptop list specifically with computer science in mind, and have made it as budget-friendly as possible while not sacrificing the necessary performance you need.

Let's dive into them:

Best Overall Laptop for Computer Science Students

You really can't go wrong with the Lenovo Thinkpad for coding. A lot of comp sci majors I know run Linux on the Thinkpad, which is really the most secure, open-source OS out there. And what's better is just how cheap this laptop is, while still being a durable powerhouse.

If you're planning on just using your laptop for 4 years of college, and not beyond, then the Thinkpad should easily last that long without slowing down, and should be able to run most programs with ease. A lot of employers will give you a laptop for work, so unless you're looking for a long-term personal use computer, I'd recommend going Thinkpad over the MacBook options here.


Most Popular Laptop for Computer Science Students

The MacBook Pro is likely going to be the computer you see the majority of students in class with. And whether or not you think that might be sheep mentality, the reality is that MacBook's are beasts when it comes to longevity.

Plus, Macs are built on Unix, which makes them popular among developers and comp sci majors because most web and db servers are based on Unix.

If you're looking for a laptop that can last you not just through 4 years of university, but also well into professional life, then it could easily make sense to make the upfront investment now into a Mac.

Overall, the M2 MacBook Pro is a powerhouse that is popular among students for its longevity and performance. Built on Unix, which is widely used in web and database servers, the MacBook Pro is particularly suited for developers. It offers robust performance and can easily last through university and into professional life, making it worth the upfront investment for those who can afford it.


Best Laptop for Computer Science Under $1,000

The Nitro 5 is FAST and can easily keep pace with most 4-digit laptops on the market, both on speed and on graphics. The display, processing power, ability to run multiple monitors with no issues, fast boot-up and a solid, large keyboard makes this a super versatile PC for computer science classes or everyday JS. Really the only drawback, in my opinion at least, is Windows 11 being the OS here and some fairly audible fans.

Overall, the Acer Nitro 5 offers impressive speed and graphics capabilities at a budget-friendly price. It features a strong display, powerful processing, and the ability to handle multiple monitors without issues. The primary drawbacks are its Windows 11 OS and somewhat noisy fans, but overall, it provides excellent value for its price, making it suitable for students who need a high-performing laptop without spending a fortune.


Best Under $300

If you're on a tight budget and a first-year student, the Acer Aspire is under $300 and a reliable option that can offer desktop performance even at its slim, lightweight composition. The main drawback with the Aspire 5 is going to be memory — with this price, you get only 4GB of RAM, which may struggle with more advanced programs. But, if you're a freshman taking 100-level courses, this laptop will easily do the job for you without any major noticeable difference in execution speed.

Overall, for students on a tight budget, the Acer Aspire 5 is a reliable option under $300. It offers decent performance for basic programming tasks and general use, though its 4GB RAM may struggle with more advanced programs. This laptop is best suited for freshmen taking introductory courses who need a functional yet affordable machine.


Additional Considerations

When choosing a laptop, consider the following so you’re making sure the computer meets all your academic and programming needs:

1. RAM and Memory: Aim for at least 16GB of RAM for standard coding tasks, but 32GB or more if you’re planning to run AI or other memory-intensive programs.

2. Budget: Plan to spend at least $800 to get a laptop with sufficient RAM and storage for your needs.

3. Size: A 15-inch laptop is generally ideal for computer science students, offering a good balance between screen space for coding and portability for classroom use.

4. Operating System: Macs are preferred by many programmers due to their Unix-based OS, which aligns well with many web and server applications.


How much RAM do you need for computer science?

You should strive for at least 32GB of RAM, but if you're coding on a budget, 16GB should be okay for a few years. But if you're running any AI programs, those are going to require a lot more memory, and you should look instead in the 32 to 64GB ballpark for your next laptop.

How much should I spend on a laptop for computer science?

Due to needing a decent amount of memory and speed for comp sci, you'll want to budget at least $800 to spend on your next laptop so you can get the proper amount of RAM and storage space needed to run demanding programs.

What size laptop is best for computer science students?

Personally, I think 15 inches is the optimal size for computer science students. 13 or 14 inches is often too small for reviewing code, and 17 inches can feel a bit unwieldy to bring to class and fit on those tiny college desks.

Why do most programmers use Mac?

Mac's are so beloved among programmers and developers not just for their speed and power, but also because of how secure & widespread the Unix OS is — with most of the web and programs built on Unix as well, it's more convenient to code on a Mac.

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Ryan Smoot
Ryan Smoot
May 10, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

The absolute best laptops for computer science students!

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