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Best laptops for engineers and engineering students: When work requires a real workstation

The high-end laptop market for engineering has narrowed recently. Just like with gamers, engineers pose one of the toughest design challenges for laptop makers. Engineering applications need plenty of memory, graphics horsepower, and large screens — all hurdles in designing stylish, lightweight laptops. The result is something of a trade off between performance and convenience.

Not every engineer will make the same compromises, but there are a few laptops that stand out for use by engineers, depending on their specific needs. This year we’ve also included a couple options aimed a little more towards Engineering students — who are usually on a more limited budget, and may also need something smaller and lighter. So what’s the best laptop for engineers and engineering students? Here are a few great options, newly updated for 2016 — one of which will get the job done for you.

The Apple Macbook Pro is an awesome machine, but doesn't run many key Engineering applicationsFor those who have gotten used to seeing the MacBook Pro appear in nearly every “best of” list of laptops, you won’t find it here. For starters, some of the top engineering applications still do not run on OS X. Also, the MacBook Pro hasn’t been updated in a while. A major overhaul is expected later this fall, which may bring it up to par with some of the units we’ve described here.

The situation is different for most software developers, for whom the MacBook Pro is a favorite. In addition to its style, high-quality display, and long battery life, engineers who have large software components in their projects often find it easier to build and use open source projects under OS X — because of its Unix underpinnings — than under Windows.

The good news on this front is that support for both Windows and Linux on MacBooks has continued to improve, so they are gaining in popularity among engineers — who often use OS X for their productivity work and then Linux or Windows as needed for specific engineering applications.

Now read: The top laptops for photographers, engineers, students, and everyone else

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