Best laptop for computer science students

The main characteristics and models that are worth a closer look.

To work with code, a computer science student needs a quality tool, which is often a laptop. But how to choose the right model if you have just entered the industry and do not fully understand what challenges you will face? Let's try to give general recommendations that will simplify the choice of the best laptop for computer science students.

What to look out: laptop for computer science

Display and keyboard

Every day a developer writes hundreds of lines of small code, so the screen and keyboard are the most important factors when choosing. A display with a diagonal of 13 inches will not be enough. The aspect ratio is also important: laptops with 16:10 or 3:2 screens can fit more lines.

The backlight, large key size, and at least 1.3 mm of travel will come in handy for extended use of the keyboard. However, the issue of convenience is always subjective, so it is worth typing a couple of paragraphs of text on a laptop for computer science students before buying.

In addition, it is important to avoid atypical layouts. For example, on Razer laptops released before 2020, the right shift is small and located behind the arrow block, which makes it difficult to print quickly.

Some development environments like PhpStorm and IntelliJ often use the F1-F12 buttons. In modern laptops, they are also used as hotkeys for adjusting brightness, volume, and other settings. It is important that they can be switched to functional mode for use in development.

Dimensions and weight

Choosing a laptop, the computer science student is guided by issues of convenience and portability. And while a large screen and keyboard are essential, don't forget that you will probably have to carry all this with you.

Notebooks weighing more than 2 kg are inconvenient for constant carrying. It is also worth looking at models charged via USB Type‑C. Chargers of this type are found everywhere, which will allow you not to carry a bulky adapter with you.

Operating system

If you need an iOS programming tool, the MacBook is the right choice. Also, Apple products are suitable for developing for Linux servers, since macOS is based on the Unix kernel. This means that the code running on the laptop will run on the server without any problems.

In addition, a huge number of programs aimed at web development have been made for macOS, which is also an important plus. Finally, optimized fonts allow MacBooks to display more lines of code than Windows laptops of the same screen height.

However, sometimes Apple devices do not provide the desired level of performance, and work tasks do not require the use of a specific OS. Then it makes sense to choose among Windows laptops for computer science students: some of them are not only more powerful than the MacBook, but also equipped with a better keyboard and a rich set of ports.

Processor and Memory

For a computer science student laptop, the speed of compiling code is important, and this determines the requirements for the processor. It should provide high performance in Turbo Boost mode, that is, a short-term increase in frequencies. The performance of a single core is also important, since many tasks in development do not involve multithreading.

Compiling code stresses the CPU for short periods of time, between which the laptop works at a lower intensity. Therefore, the cooling system and constant power are not as important here as in video processing and 3D modeling. Also, many developers do not need a powerful graphics card, although in some areas, such as machine learning, things are different.

But it takes a lot of memory for computer science. This is especially true of RAM, which is spent on development environments and running written code. 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of permanent memory is the absolute minimum, below which you should not fall.

Moreover, in a number of tasks, the developer needs a huge amount of RAM and ROM, for example, to analyze big data. And although these are special cases, it is better to choose models with sufficient memory.

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