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Last updated on September 1st, 2020 at 03:41 pm

2020 Best Laptops For Research and PhD Students [Complete List]

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Last updated on November 23rd, 2020 at 08:18 pm

Grad students, PhD students, scientists, engineers, etc. all do research. Research is what gets you the answers or solutions to problems. And at the university, research is something you can’t avoid.

You will need a laptop for research. And not just any laptop, because a lot goes into research and owning a low-performance laptop can bring unneeded stress. You don’t want that.

Everything will be so much smoother if it can handle multitasking easily. We are talking about several applications and browser tabs open, while streaming videos at the same time.

Here are the best laptops for PhD and research.


Position
First Place
Runner Up
Best Budget
Snapshot
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon 14 Inch FHD 1080P Laptop, 8th Gen Intel 4-Core i7-8550U up to 4.0GHz, Intel UHD 620, 16GB DDR4 RAM, 512GB SSD, Backlit Keyboard, FP Reader, Windows 10 (Renewed)
LG Gram Laptop - 17" IPS WQXGA (2560 x 1600) Intel 10th Gen Core i7 1065G7 CPU, 16GB RAM, 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD (512GB x2), 17 Hour Battery, Thunderbolt 3 - 17Z90N (2020)
Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14" Laptop, 14.0" FHD 1920 x 1080 Display, AMD Ryzen 5 3500U Processor, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 256GB SSD, AMD Radeon Vega 8 Graphics, Narrow Bezel, Windows 10, 81W0003QUS, Abyss Blue
What You Need To Know About The Laptop

Built like a tank and powerful. The Lenovo ThinkPad checks all the boxes when it comes to looking for a laptop for research. Plus, the keyboard is one of the best.

Big, Bad and Beautiful. The LG Gram is the lightest 17 inch laptop yet. And the King of Battery Life.

A great laptop with a very affordable price tag.

Prime
-
-
Rating
-
-
Position
First Place
Snapshot
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon 14 Inch FHD 1080P Laptop, 8th Gen Intel 4-Core i7-8550U up to 4.0GHz, Intel UHD 620, 16GB DDR4 RAM, 512GB SSD, Backlit Keyboard, FP Reader, Windows 10 (Renewed)
What You Need To Know About The Laptop

Built like a tank and powerful. The Lenovo ThinkPad checks all the boxes when it comes to looking for a laptop for research. Plus, the keyboard is one of the best.

Prime
-
Rating
Position
Runner Up
Name
Snapshot
LG Gram Laptop - 17" IPS WQXGA (2560 x 1600) Intel 10th Gen Core i7 1065G7 CPU, 16GB RAM, 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD (512GB x2), 17 Hour Battery, Thunderbolt 3 - 17Z90N (2020)
What You Need To Know About The Laptop

Big, Bad and Beautiful. The LG Gram is the lightest 17 inch laptop yet. And the King of Battery Life.

Prime
-
Rating
-
Position
Best Budget
Snapshot
Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14" Laptop, 14.0" FHD 1920 x 1080 Display, AMD Ryzen 5 3500U Processor, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 256GB SSD, AMD Radeon Vega 8 Graphics, Narrow Bezel, Windows 10, 81W0003QUS, Abyss Blue
What You Need To Know About The Laptop

A great laptop with a very affordable price tag.

Prime
Rating
-

Last update on 2020-11-26 at 16:05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Preview
Name
Rating
Processor, GPU & RAM
 
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon 14 Inch FHD 1080P Laptop, 8th Gen Intel 4-Core i7-8550U up to 4.0GHz, Intel UHD 620, 16GB DDR4 RAM, 512GB SSD, Backlit Keyboard, FP Reader, Windows 10 (Renewed)

Intel Core i7, Intel HD Graphics, 16GB
LG Gram Laptop - 17' IPS WQXGA (2560 x 1600) Intel 10th Gen Core i7 1065G7 CPU, 16GB RAM, 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD (512GB x2), 17 Hour Battery, Thunderbolt 3 - 17Z90N (2020)

Intel Core i7, Intel HD Graphics, 16GB
Dell XPS 13 9380, 13.3' 4K UHD (3840X2160) Multi-Touch IPS Display, Intel Core i7-8565U, 512GB SSD, 16GB RAM, Fingerprint Reader, Silver (Renewed)

Intel Core i7, Intel HD Graphics, 16GB
Apple MacBook Pro with Intel Processor (13-inch, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD Storage) - Space Gray

Intel Core i5, Intel HD Graphics, 8GB
Microsoft Surface Pro 7 – 12.3' Touch-Screen - 10th Gen Intel Core i7 - 16GB Memory - 256GB SSD (Latest Model) – Platinum

Intel Core i3 – i5, Intel HD Graphics, 8-16GB
Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14' Laptop, 14.0' FHD 1920 x 1080 Display, AMD Ryzen 5 3500U Processor, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 256GB SSD, AMD Radeon Vega 8 Graphics, Narrow Bezel, Windows 10, 81W0003QUS, Abyss Blue

AMD Ryzen 5, AMD Radeon RX Vega 8, 8GB

Here Are The Best Laptops For Research and PhD


Pros

  • Great performance
  • Long battery life
  • Great keyboard
  • Lightweight
  • Great build quality

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Not the best webcam

CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 14″ 2K (2560*1440) IPS-Level | Storage: 512GB SSD 

If you are looking for the best laptop for research, graduate or PhD, you are looking at it – the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. Built like a tank, lightweight and a great performer are few benefits that it provides. Let’s go a bit deeper.

Build quality is top-notch. The main reason why it’s said to be built like a tank. The laptop is made from the combination of carbon fibre and magnesium.

So you have a light and a very durable laptop. There is little to no flex on the lid and keyboard area.

Everything is stiff and robust. Plus, it weighs 2.5 pounds that’s a little over a kilo. One of the lightest laptops out there. And as a research, postgraduate or PhD student weight is an important factor. Since you will be moving around a lot.

When it comes to the keyboard, it is one of the best out there. Travel and tactile feedback are just right. You will type a lot and so it’s best to have a good keyboard.

Performance-wise, the Lenovo ThinkPad is a powerful machine. An Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD. It has the hardware to handle everything you throw at. Multitasking and opening several browser tabs.

Plus, the SSD storage is PCIe which is known to be very fast in transferring data. This means that your ThinkPad will boot-up fast and load applications quickly. In short, it makes it a fast, efficient and responsive laptop.

The display is one of the best. A 14-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) display that is sharp and vibrant. A very bright display with above colour accuracy and reproduction. A stunning display, to be honest.

Want long battery life? The Lenovo ThinkPad has it. This thing can last close to half a day under consistent use. As a researcher, you won’t always have access to power outlets when moving around.

And so having long battery life is important. You will be able to work stress-free without worrying about your laptop dying soon.

Overall, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a great laptop. Not many laptops can match it – battery life, build quality, performance, keyboard, etc.

The only things that count as downside are its price and poor webcam. Still, it provides a lot of value.


Where To Buy

$1,448.00

Buy On Amazon

Pros

  • Solid performance
  • Long battery life
  • Decent keyboard
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Trackpad not centred below spacebar

CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 17” WQXGA (2560 x 1600) IPS LCD Screen | Storage: 1TB SSD 

What the LG Gram has going for it is the battery life. This laptop right here has one of the longest battery life. It’s even longer than the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. This thing can last almost 12 hours under consistent use.

The battery is even longer if you turn on Windows Battery-saver. If your research requires frequent travel or commute, then this is what you need – a laptop with a half-day battery.

Talking about moving around, the LG Gram weighs 2.95 pounds or 1.3 kg. Just 0.4 pounds heavier than the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. But, still, the lightest 17-inch laptop there is.

The build quality is durable with a little flex around the display and keyboard area. It is made of magnesium nano-carbon alloy. A strong enough material to withstand shocks, bumps and vibrations. It has a solid feel to it.

A big and beautiful display. A 17-inch display with a resolution of 2560 by 1440 WQHD. Displays with WQHD resolutions are always bright and have above-average colour accuracy and reproduction. Once you get this laptop you have to get a new backpack. Because of its large display.

Performance-wise, the LG Gram is a solid performer at best. An Intel Core i7 and 16GB RAM. It doesn’t have a dedicated graphics card. So don’t game on this unless you want poor gaming performance.

The processor is powerful and along with its plenty RAM. You can pretty much open a lot of Chrome tabs, multitask and run some quite demanding applications.

Overall, the LG Gram is one of the lightest 17-inch laptops out there. It also has half-a-day battery life. The big screen is a plus because that means more real estate for you to work.

One of the best laptops for PhD or research students in general.


Where To Buy

$1,245.00

Buy On Amazon

Pros

  • Top-notch performance
  • Beautiful 4K display
  • Small, Compact and Lightweight
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • No USB type-A ports

CPU: Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 13.3” 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) IPS Touchscreen | Storage: 512GB SSD 

The Dell XPS 13 is for research, graduate and PhD students who want something small and compact, while at the same time doesn’t have poor performance. Talking about small and compact, the Dell XPS 13 weighs 2.7 pounds or 1.2 kg. This puts it in the category of the lightest ultrabooks on the market.

When it comes to build quality, it is made from anodized aluminium which is resistant to corrosion. It is also a strong material so flex will be non-existent here.

The Dell XPS 13 is powered by an Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM and 512GB PCIe SSD. The perfect recipe for a fast and responsive laptop. You will be able to multitask and handle quite demanding tasks without any problems.

And if you are worried about whether it can open several Chrome tabs, rest assured that it will not only do so but also run applications in the background. Just don’t play games on this laptop or you will surely be disappointed.

The display is a 13.3-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) InfinityEdge. A beautiful display with thin bezels. It’s bright, vibrant and has great viewing angles.

Colour accuracy and reproduction are also above average. In short, display fantastic.

One more thing – the port selection is horrible. It has only two USB Thunderbolt 3 ports. This requires you to get a USB dongle for normal ports.

Still, the Dell XPS 13 is a beautiful piece of machinery. Small, compact, and easily fits into your bag. One of the best laptops for research, graduate, and PhD students.


Pros

  • Excellent performance
  • Great battery life
  • Lightweight
  • Superb display

Cons

  • No Type-A Ports
  • Pricey

CPU: Intel Core i5 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 8 GB | Screen: 13″ Retina Display | Storage: 128GB – 512GB SSD 

The Macbook Pro is the best MacBook for research, graduate and PhD students. It has everything in terms of performance and reliability. It’s also lightweight and portable making it easy to carry around.

The display is a 13-inch Retina display which makes the screen vibrant and sharp. The display is bright but doesn’t have any touchscreen functionality to it.

The MacBook Pro is powered by an Intel i5 and has 8 GB of RAM. The storage is a super-fast SSD that delivers fast boot-up speeds and makes the Mac responsive. Highly-recommended you get the 256GB or 512GB version.

You can open several applications or Adobe PDF tabs without any delay.

The MacBook Pro has four Thunderbolt 3 ports which you can use to connect to high-resolution monitors.

Battery life is also above average lasting 9-10 hours under normal usage common in MacBook Pros.

To sum it all up, the MacBook Pro combines excellent performance and portability making it the best Macbook for the grad and doctoral students. However, if you pursue engineering, it won’t be a good option.


Pros

  • Solid performance
  • Super light and thin
  • Above-average battery Life
  • Great display

Cons

  • Only one USB port
  • Stylus and keyboard sold separately

CPU: Intel Core i3 – i5 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 8 – 16 GB | Screen: 13.5″ Thin Bezel (2736 x 1824) | Storage: 128GB – 1TB SSD

The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is what you call a true convertible laptop. Most 2-in-1 or convertible laptops have to be turned 360 degrees before you can use it as a tablet.

With the Microsoft Surface Pro 7, all you need to do is detach the keyboard. And you have a tablet.

The hardware of the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 configurable. The base model has an Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD. Also the most affordable. The high-end configuration has an Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD.

The display is a 12.3-inch high-resolution IPS panel. The resolution is what Microsoft calls PixelSense 2736 by 1824. A vibrant and bright display that is colour accurate. The viewing angles are also great. Overall, it is a beautiful display that won’t disappoint you.

Battery life is above average. You can easily get 8-9 hours of power under consistent use. Turning on the battery save will allow you to squeeze more juice out of it.

If your research requires a lot of note-taking or writing. Then the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 will get the job done. Plus, you can always turn it into a laptop by attaching the keyboard.

One of the best convertible laptops for research, postgraduate and PhD students.


Where To Buy

$423.81

Buy On Amazon

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Awesome value
  • Solid performance
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • RAM can’t be upgraded
  • Not the best touchpad

CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 | Graphics: AMD Radeon RX Vega 8 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 14″ FHD (1920*1080) IPS-Level | Storage: 256GB SSD 

The Lenovo Ideapad 3 is a laptop that is light on your wallet. One of the best budget laptops. It features an AMD Ryzen 5 with an integrated AMD Radeon Vega 8 graphics card.

AMD APUs are much more powerful than Intel’s integrated graphics card in the same generation, so you can expect decent gaming performance from this affordable laptop. In addition to that, it has 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD.

The design is also very nice. A simple and sleek design. The battery life is below average. It is able to last 6 hours before you requiring a recharge.

The port selection is also decent – two USB 3.0 and a USB Type-C port. The laptop is quite light weighing close to 4.8 pounds.

The Lenovo Ideapad 3 is for students who are on a tight budget and still want good performance.

But don’t expect this laptop to give you stellar performance when things get demanding. However, this is the best cheap laptop for research, graduate and PhD purposes because it’s very affordable and has good performance.

Highly-recommended for a budget laptop for PhD and research.


What To Look For When Getting A Laptop For Research, Graduate and PhD

Here are the most important things to look for when getting a laptop for research or PhD.

CPU/Processor

Don’t go for low end CPUs or you will be shooting yourself in the foot. Opening a lot of browser tabs and applications eat a lot of processing power. So you need a capable CPU that will be able to handle the necessities easily.

For Intel processors, Core i5 or higher is recommended. For AMD processors, Ryzen 5 or higher.

RAM

8GB or higher. Anything less and you will have problems with multitasking. You won’t be able to load multiple programs or open several chrome tabs. Higher is always better.

Battery Life

As a research or PHD student, you definitely move around a lot. And there might be areas where there are no power outlets. This is where battery life becomes important.

Great battery life ensures that you don’t rush your work because a low battery notification can frustrate you into completing the project quickly. 8 hours is more than enough to get some important work done and make some major changes.

Weight

Once again, if you move around a lot, you want some light and compact. A heavy laptop will make things difficult for you.

Final Thoughts

Solid processing power, good battery life and portability are all you need in a laptop. Fortunately, our list of laptops covers these three.

That’s it for the best laptops for research, graduate and PhD students.

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