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7 Best Budget Laptops for Computer Science Students | 2021

7 Best Budget Laptops for Computer Science Students | 2021

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When choosing the best laptop for computer science students, an affordable option can be to get a laptop that has the Technology specs required for the apps you’ll be using.

Coincidentally, many gaming laptops are also good for computer science and computer science students.

In this list, I’ll cover the top laptops for computer science as well as budget options and alternatives.

The benefits and disadvantages will be explored and what limitations on computer science applications each laptop may have.

Related: Is the MacBook Air Good for Programming? (The Truth)

Related: 9 Best Laptops for Architecture Students [Buyers Guide]

At a Glance – Top Laptop Picks for computer science

  1. ASUS VivoBook 15.6” – Top choice
  2. Acer Aspire 5 Slim 15.6”
  3. Asus ZenBook 15 – Great overall laptop for a computer science student
  4. Asus ZenBook 13 Ultra-Slim
  5. Asus TUF Gaming Laptop 15.6”

Choosing a laptop with 16gb of ram, and a powerful CPU & GPU is of course necessary. However, a large screen size, multiple ports, and a long lasting battery is essential and oftentimes overlooked by many computer science students.

Recommended System Requirements for a Computer Science Students

Recommended System Requirements for a Computer Science Students

As a Computer Science student, you might have the impression that you need a high-end, super expensive laptop. This is not necessarily always the case. Sure, you will have to gain expertise in essential computing software during your studies, however the recommended hardware requirements are met by the list of budget laptops in this article. 

The reviewed laptops are aimed to cover the daily needs of a computer science student, both for personal and academic use. 

In the rare cases that you will need a more powerful computer for an assessment, many colleges offer remote access to high-end desktops. Let’s have a look at the the laptop specs you’ll need for computer science:

Related: 9 Best Laptops for AutoCAD (Designers Guide)

  • CPU: The latest processors of both Intel and AMD can handle computer science software easily. Although Intel i7s and AMD Ryzen 7s are faster, the corresponding i5s and Ryzed 5s are also powerful enough and cover your needs. As the ‘’brain’’ of your new laptop, CPU should be a priority.
  • RAM: The ideal size of RAM a computer science laptop needs is 16GB, but 8gb will be enough for those on a budget, just don’t expect it to last you as long. However, given the fact that your CPU will be powerful enough, you could get away with buying a laptop that has only 8GB, especially when most laptops support future upgrades to 16GB or more.
  • Graphics Card: Fortunately, the times when an expensive dedicated graphics card was essential for a computer student has passed. The offered integrated graphics by both Intel and AMD CPUs can manipulate computing software. 
  • Storage: An SSD drive is a good investment as it concerns the speed of your computer and should be preferred over an HDD. Thankfully, most of the new laptops are equipped with one of them. Even though the recommended size for you is 500GB of storage, your college needs could be covered with 256GB.
  • Screen: As a computer science student, you will have to spend a lot of hours in front of your laptop. Thus, a High-Quality display with good viewing angles should be a high priority for you. Also, the screen should be around 13 to 15 inches to ensure a fluid process of multitasking with different windows open at the same time.
  • Brand: Asus, Acer and HP have proven to provide good batteries and their laptops do stand the test of time, which is important for you as a student. Their built-in cameras also prove to be enough for upcoming video meetings you might have.

Related: 7 Best Gaming Laptops for Graphic Design

Best laptops for computer science students

Best laptops for computer science students

Most of the time, you will be looking for a laptop that is not only affordable but also has excellent performance. However, when you are in need of a laptop for studying the computer science field, it is important to make sure that you are getting something that can handle exactly what you need.

Below, you’ll find our top laptop picks for computer science students, researched and chosen by experts & professionals in the field.

Related: 7 Best Laptops for Animation Students

1. ASUS VivoBook 15.6”

ASUS VivoBook 15.6”
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5  Quad-Core up to 3.7GHz
  • RAM: 8GB
  • GPU: AMD Radeon Vega 8
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Display: 15.6 inch FHD(1920 x 1080)

Being one of the best-selling series, The ASUS VivoBook offers the package a computer science student needs. It’s part of the ASUS mid-range lineup and combines good performance with high portability and beautiful design. 

The Ryzen 5 3500u is one of the most reliable and fast processors of the market and the 8GB DDR4 RAM will prove to be enough for most cases but the laptop can also be upgraded to 16GB. 

Moreover, the CPU’s integrated Radeon Vega 8 graphics will not only cope with most of the computer software you’ll use as a programmer, but will also meet the recommended requirements for games like League of Legends and games like Fortnite can be played in medium graphics. 

A computer student also needs a High-Quality big display for multitasking and the VivoBook 15 offers an elegant 15,6 inch  Full HD (1920 x 1080) display with NanoEdge bezels that can be your “partner’’ for many hours without wearing you out.

Asus has also included a 512GB SSD, which is more than most laptops offer in this price range and will prove to be more than enough for you. Another strong feature of the VivoBook is the size and weight, as it prides to be one of the thinnest (only 0.7 inches) and light (3.53 lbs) laptops out there, making it ideal to carry with all the time. 

Overall, Vivobook could be characterized as the all-rounder of the list as it promises a fluid, non-problematic environment that won’t cause any problem to your needs as a computer science student. However, it will not be an ideal pick for you, if you are a student who dedicates time playing high-end games such as PUBg or Witcher III. 

2. Acer Aspire 5 Slim 15.6”

Acer Aspire 5 Slim 15.6”
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 Dual-Core up to 3.5GHz
  • RAM: 16GB
  • GPU: AMD Radeon Vega 3
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Display: 15.6 inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS

The brand new 2020 Acer Aspire 5 also has the potential to meet your needs as a computer science student. Acer has created a laptop that includes solid performance, a very good battery life, and high portability and kept its cost under 600 when it was first released.

The dual-core Ryzen 3 ranks as a solid dual-core workhorse that will handle the computer software you use as a student pretty easily. Having 16GB of RAM is pretty rare in this price range and means it is not likely to have performance hiccups when you run too many programs at the same time.

The Radeon Vega 3 integrated graphics core will allow for your computing software and everyday occupations such as Netflix or youtube, but you might find it harder to cope with something more challenging like highly demanding, graphic heavy PC games.

A solid-state drive always helps to speed up performance and the 512GB capacity will not fill up quickly. Also on the plus side, the laptop is equipped with a 15.6 inch, full-on 1080p display, and also uses an IPS (in-plane switching) panel for wider viewing angles, which is pretty rare in this price range.

The Aspire 5 weights 3.97 lbs and measures 14.3x 9.7x 0.7 inches and therefore quite portable.The keyboard works nicely without issues unlike previous models I’ve tested.

Related: 7 Best Stylus Pens for Touch Screen Laptops

To sum up, at the given price, the Acer Aspire 5 justifies its offering and can cope with every computing software like  Python, Java, Octave, etc. It might not be the most powerful laptop on the list, but it is equipped with a very good display and thus if you want to spend time watching videos and movies online and you are not a fanatic gamer, this could be the best choice for you.

3. Asus ZenBook 15

Asus ZenBook 13.3
  • CPU: Intel i7  Eight-Core up to 4.60GHz
  • RAM: 16GB
  • GPU: Intel HD Graphics 620
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Display: 13.3 inch FHD (1920 x 1080)

Being the definition of a beautiful and portable laptop, the Asus ZenBook has nothing to be ashamed of as it concerns its performance too.

It may lean towards the more expensive side on the list, but for good reasons as it can handle Artificial intelligence, software design, and computer graphics. Mining data, program probots, build websites

The Asus ZenBook could be characterized as a ‘pocket-size performance beast’. It hosts an 8th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, which will easily handle anything you can imagine for many years, and combined with the 16GB RAM, the ZenBook will be able to handle anything you throw at it. Likewise, the fast 512GB SSD will be more than enough for your college, but also your personal needs.

The crisp, clear, high-resolution display makes the visual look great with wide viewing angles and vivid colors. The 13inch screen might be smaller than the 15.6inch screens, but meets the recommended display size for you as a computer science student and will not make your life hard when multitasking.

On the other hand, only ZenBook’s downside is gaming. Although Intel integrated graphics are more than enough for computing software and occupations like Netflix or browsing won’t be a problem, it is not the best choice for gamers, as you will be able to play games like Overwatch or CS: GO, but games like PUBG will be a problem.

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The i7-8565U processor, 16GB SDRAM, and a 512GB SSD will easily handle your heavy-performance usage as a computer science student. Thus, if you are not a gamer, this might be the most expensive but it is also the most powerful solution of the list.

4. Asus ZenBook 13 Ultra-Slim

Asus ZenBook 13 Ultra-Slim
  • CPU: Intel i5  Quad-Core up to 3.60GHz
  • RAM: 8GB
  • GPU: Intel HD Graphics 620
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • Display: 13.3 inch FHD (1920 x 1080)

If you were thrilled about the elegance and power of the Asus ZenBook reviewed above, but you want to spend less, maybe the Asus ZenBook 13 Ultra-Slim is the best solution for you. 

With a small compromise in performance, Asus has managed to reduce the cost keeping the same display and design as the more expensive model. This ZenBook model has a powerful Intel i5 processor that has the speed that you need, and an 8GB RAM that should be enough for you and could also later be upgraded.

The 256GB SSD is fast and meets the requirements, and you could add an external disk for more space in the future. The keyboard didn’t have any disadvantages, which is sometimes common with slim laptops due to the design.

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As mentioned above, although Intel integrated graphics will easily cope with computing or editing software and occupations like Netflix and browsing, the Intel HD 620 is not the best choice for gamers. If gaming is not your priority, the crisp, clear, high-resolution display and the portability of ZenBook combined with the i5 processor, the 8GB RAM, and the 256GB SSD make it one of the best choices in this list.

5. Asus TUF Gaming Laptop 15.6”

Asus TUF Gaming Laptop 15.6”
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 Quad-Core up to 3.70GHz
  • RAM: 8GB
  • GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 4GB
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • Display: 15.6 inch FHD (1920 x 1080)

Keeping in mind that many students spend some time in gaming, it would be a deficiency if we didn’t include in the list the new Asus TUF A15, one of the most versatile and economic gaming laptops you can buy right now. 

The model comes equipped with a powerful Intel Core i5 CPU and 8GB of RAM (which can be upgraded), a 256GB SSD, and a dedicated Nvidia Geforce GTX 1650 GPU.

Thus, performance will not be a problem for you as a student, as this build can handle any computing software, browsing, and pretty much anything.

The great difference with the rest of the reviewed laptops is that Asus TUF contains a powerful dedicated GPU which will allow you to play every game you want. You won’t have any problem running demanding games like PUBG or Witcher III in 1080p and Ultra settings.

The 15.6 FHD display will do more than just ‘the job’ and the keyboard worked flawlessly as expected, even over a long period of time which we’ve tested.

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The Asus TUF A15 is designed for gamers and this is obvious only by looking at it. However, the dedicated GPU and the gaming design has its cost as it concerns the size, as the TUF is larger (14.2x 10.3x 1) and heavier (4.9 lbs) than the rest laptops on the list. If you consider gaming more important than portability and elegance, this is probably the best laptop of the list for you.

6. HP 14 inch

HP 14 inch
  • CPU: AMD Athlon Silver 3050U up to 3.2 GHz
  • RAM: 16GB
  • GPU: AMD Radeon Graphics
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • Display: 14 inch HD (1366 x 768)

The HP 14 inch also has the potential to meet your needs as a computer science student at the lowest price on the list.

Although the hardware build of HP 14 with AMD Athlon 3050U processor, 16GB of RAM, and AMD Radeon graphics probably is not as quick as the rest of the laptops, it will meet the basic needs of a computer science student. Some models will be touchscreen and pose large benefits for those taking notes

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Because of the 16GB of RAM, you won’t have a problem in multitasking as well and the 256GB SSD is good enough for the price range and could be upgraded with an external hard drive later. 

The fact that the display is not 1080p but 720p is reflected in the image quality but the display is not bad in any case and the 14inch screen proves to be big enough. The HP 14 is also small and easily transferred with dimensions of 12.8x 8.9x 0.8 and a weight of 3.24 lbs.

Overall, the HP 14 is a great choice for you as a computer science student, if you want a laptop that meets (and in some features exceeds) the minimum hardware requirements for your college and does not cost a lot.  

7. HP Aspire 15.6”

HP Aspire 15.6”
  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 Dual-Core up to 3.5GHz
  • RAM: 12GB
  • GPU: AMD Radeon Vega 3
  • Storage: 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
  • Display: 15.6 inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS 

HP Aspire is also very popular, was released this year and the differences it has from the rest contestants make it an interesting choice for a computer science student. The laptop includes stable AMD performance, a very good screen for the price range, a great battery, and two separate Hard Drives at a low cost.

HP Aspire contains the Ryzen 3200U, the same as the ACER’s Aspire, which is, as mentioned above, a solid dual-core processor that will handle the computer software you use as a student. The 12GB RAM proves to be more than enough too and you won’t have performance issues when multitasking.

The laptop’s Radeon Vega 3 integrated graphics core will suffice for your computing software and everyday occupations and performance issues might pop up only with demanding pc games.

Although the HP Aspire seems to be similar to the ACER one, the great difference between the two can be found in the Hard Drives, as HP has also included a 1TB HDD drive that works separately from the SDD. That means that you could have all the computing software installed in the SSD drive which is faster and keep the 1TB of the HDD to save all your important files. HP Aspire’s FHD 15.6 inch, 1080P display is great for the price range.

Respectively with the ACER Aspire, the HP Aspire could not be the first choice for a gamer, but can easily cope with your everyday needs as a student and it will provide a pleasant viewing experience in streaming platforms like Netflix. 

How to choose the best laptop as a computer science student for college 

As a computer science student you’ll want to choose a laptop that is more powerful than the standard, average low cost choices available. However, exactly how powerful do you need the laptop to be and what other factors also need to be considered the weighing in the price.

The core of what you’ll need is based around what softwares and application you’ll be using for computer science.

If you want the laptop to last a while as a computer science student you’ll want to get a laptop with an adequate CPU that is i7 equivalent or better, a good gpu, 512GB storage, and a larger than average display (14 inches or larger is ideal). Long Battery life, and having many ports, a USB-C or an external adapter for several ports also works.

See our post: 5 Fastest MicroSD Cards (256GB, 512GB, 1TB)

What Computer science apps can students use on a laptop?

As a computer science student you’ll be using many of the same programs, softwares, and applications that a professional will use. However, there are some computer science apps specifically created to help students.

The field of computer science has given birth to different career opportunities for people. In the realm of app development, there are a lot of opportunities for those who have a computer science degree. There are also those who do not have any formal education in the field. Which apps you choose will depend on your preferences and requirements as a computer science student.

Best apps for computer science students

Computer science students will be using apps that are based around machine learning, artificial intelligence, data structure, statistical inference, software development, terminals such as bash, unix, linux, and more are ideal. Choosing the right laptop for these apps is crucial.

Best apps to help students learn computer science

SoloLearn

Solo learn is a learning app used to improve your coding, programming and all around computer science knowledge. They provide courses and unique ways of learning computer science.

Mimo

Mimo is very popular and can show computer science professionals and students how to handle all the terminology and basic programming knowledge.

Code academy

Code Academy explores fundamental such as algorithms, databases ,computer architecture and more. As one of the most popular coding learning web programs, code academy is a great resource to use after you get your first laptop for computer science and are ready to go.

What type of laptop should a computer science student get?

Knowing the type of laptop you need as a computer science student is crucial before making a final choice for college or class. You’ll need to know which laptop works best for your studies and what tech specs and requirements are necessary.

A big part of understanding which is the best laptop as a computer science student, is knowing the type of laptop you need. Students have quite a few options, such as: touchscreen 2-in-1 laptops, gaming laptops, MacBooks, lenovo, acer and more.

If your’e using a non touch screen laptop, see the best ways to Write and Draw on a Non Touch Screen Laptop

Many other brands that have variations of these features will fulfill the requirements you need.

Touchscreen Laptops for computer science

Getting a laptop that is touchscreen, like the Microsoft surface Pro model, is not required. However, some computer science students find it useful for lectures because they can draw, take notes, and annotate over display.

A Gaming laptop is also ideal, but even a good laptop without a strong graphics card will work well if you’re sticking to computer science and not many other extra activities outside these needs.

Is it worth getting a gaming laptop for my computer science studies?

A gaming laptop works well for computer science students because it will fulfill the 16GB recommendation, they have a powerful graphics card, and have many ports and a long lasting battery life that will greatly benefit a computer science student.

The laptops in this post will work similarly for your needs: Best Gaming Laptops for Graphic Design

Is lenovo a good laptop for a computer science major?

Lenovo Yoga, ThinkBook, and other ideapad models work very well for computer science majors because they are very secure compared to many other lesser-known laptops and they also have the tech specs most computer science students need.

Gaming laptops are created for professionals of all types have have many unique features that make navigating and performing computer science tasks intuitive and easy to accomplish.

Related: Lenovo Thinkpad vs Ideapad: Which is better?

Is a Microsoft Surface Pro good for computer science?

The Microsoft Surface Pro is a touchscreen laptop that has all of the features you would need for a computer science student. While, it’s on the more expensive side for the tech specs you get, the innovative touchscreen and overall user experience is top notch, especially for a student.

The surface pro can be used like a tablet and has downloadable apps that are available for computer science students.

See more on the surface pro: Surface Pro 7 vs iPad Pro for Drawing & Art (Compared)

FAQ:

How much RAM do I need for computer science

Computer science students and professionals will ideally grab a minimum of 16Gb ram on their laptops or desktops. In the past, 8GB RAM was adequete, but as technology advances more RAM will be needed, especially if you want your laptop to last you for years to come.

Computer science desktops on the other hand are typically less expensive in regards to the amount of ram you need.

Bottom Line

A computer science students looking for the best laptop will need to know the tech specs they need. Once that is established, you can choose a laptop based around if these specs can handle the type of computer science tasks they need, such as handling data structures, algorithms, computer architecture and discrete math.

Shooting for 16Gb of RAM and a fast CPU is ideal and this is why may gaming laptops are also used for computer science. You can choose any type of laptop that has these specs – including, but not limited to 2-in-1 touchscreen laptops, gaming laptops, lenovo laptops, HP, and other name-brands that are reliable such as Macbook Airs and Pros & Microsoft Surface Pro’s.