6 Best Laptops For Research and PhD Students (+ Other Top Picks)

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 the laptop can handle multitasking easily.

We are talking about several applications and browser tabs open. Whiles at the same streaming videos. Here are the best laptops for research and PhD students.


Position
First Place
Runner Up
Also Great
Snapshot
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon (6th Gen) 20KH002RUS 14" WQHD (2560x1440) Ultrabook - Intel Core i7-8650U Processor, 16GB RAM, 512GB PCIe SSD, IR Camera, Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit
LG gram Thin and Light Laptop - 17"  (2560 x 1600) IPS Display, Intel 8th Gen Core i7, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, up to 19.5 Hour Battery, Thunderbolt 3 - 17Z990-R.AAS8U1 (2019), Dark Silver
Newest Generation Dell XPS13 9380 Laptop, Intel Core i7-8565U Processor Up to 4.6 GHz, 16GB 2133MHz RAM, 1TB PCIe SSD, 13.3 4K UHD (3840x2160) InfinityEdge Touch Display, Fingerprint Reader
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.

Small, Light and Compact. The Dell XPS 13 is the perfect laptop for those who travel a lot for their research.

Prime
-
-
-
Rating
Position
First Place
Snapshot
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon (6th Gen) 20KH002RUS 14" WQHD (2560x1440) Ultrabook - Intel Core i7-8650U Processor, 16GB RAM, 512GB PCIe SSD, IR Camera, Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit
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 Thin and Light Laptop - 17"  (2560 x 1600) IPS Display, Intel 8th Gen Core i7, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, up to 19.5 Hour Battery, Thunderbolt 3 - 17Z990-R.AAS8U1 (2019), Dark Silver
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
Also Great
Snapshot
Newest Generation Dell XPS13 9380 Laptop, Intel Core i7-8565U Processor Up to 4.6 GHz, 16GB 2133MHz RAM, 1TB PCIe SSD, 13.3 4K UHD (3840x2160) InfinityEdge Touch Display, Fingerprint Reader
What You Need To Know About The Laptop

Small, Light and Compact. The Dell XPS 13 is the perfect laptop for those who travel a lot for their research.

Prime
-
Rating

Last update on 2019-12-08 at 15:16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Here Are The Best Laptops For Research and PhD Students


NameProcessorGPU & RAM 
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Intel Core i7-8650UIntel HD Graphics & 16GBBuy On Amazon
LG Gram Intel Core i7-8565UIntel HD Graphics & 16GBBuy On Amazon
Dell XPS 13 Intel Core i7-8565UIntel HD Graphics & 16GBBuy On Amazon
Microsoft Surface Pro 6 Up To Intel Core i7Intel HD Graphics & Up To 16GBBuy On Amazon
Huawei MateBook X Pro Intel Core i7-8550UNVIDIA MX150 & 16GBBuy On Amazon
Acer Swift 3 Intel Core i7-8550UIntel HD Graphics & 16GBBuy On Amazon

Honourable Mentions

Last update on 2019-12-08 at 16:26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon (6th Gen) 20KH002RUS 14' WQHD (2560x1440) Ultrabook - Intel Core i7-8650U Processor, 16GB RAM, 512GB PCIe SSD, IR Camera, Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit

If you are looking for the best laptop for research 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 student weight is an important factor. Since you will be moving around a lot.

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

Performance-wise, the Lenovo ThinkPad is a powerful machine. An 8th Gen 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 WQHD (2560 x 1440) 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. If you prefer a 2-in-1 laptop with similar qualities then the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga is a great option.

Pros

Great Performance

Long Battery Life

Great Keyboard

Lightweight

Great Build Quality

Cons

Pricey

Not The Best Webcam

Last update on 2019-12-08 at 15:16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Review

LG Gram

LG gram Thin and Light Laptop - 17'  (2560 x 1600) IPS Display, Intel 8th Gen Core i7, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, up to 19.5 Hour Battery, Thunderbolt 3 - 17Z990-R.AAS8U1 (2019), Dark Silver

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.

And even longer if you turn on Windows Battery-saver. If you are the type of research who travels or moves around a lot. 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 8th Gen 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. The 512GB SATA SSD, on the other hand, is on the slow side. But, you will still get fast boot-up speeds and data transfer.

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

Pros

Solid Performance

Long Battery Life

Decent Keyboard

Lightweight

Cons

SSD Isn’t That Fast

Might Not Fit Into Your Backpack Because of Large Display

Sale
LG gram Thin and Light Laptop - 17'  (2560 x 1600) IPS Display, Intel 8th Gen Core i7, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, up to 19.5 Hour Battery, Thunderbolt 3 - 17Z990-R.AAS8U1 (2019), Dark Silver
96 Reviews
LG gram Thin and Light Laptop - 17" (2560 x 1600) IPS Display, Intel 8th Gen Core i7, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, up to 19.5 Hour Battery, Thunderbolt 3 - 17Z990-R.AAS8U1 (2019), Dark Silver
  • 17 Inch WQXGA (2560 x 1600) resolution 16: 10 IPS display
  • Intel 8th Generation Intel Core i7 8565u Processor
  • Windows home 10
  • 72Wh Lithium battery up to 19. 5 hours Battery Life (mobile mark 2014 standard)
  • Thunderbolt 3

Last update on 2019-12-08 at 15:35 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

LG Gram Review

Dell XPS 13

Newest Generation Dell XPS13 9380 Laptop, Intel Core i7-8565U Processor Up to 4.6 GHz, 16GB 2133MHz RAM, 1TB PCIe SSD, 13.3 4K UHD (3840x2160) InfinityEdge Touch Display, Fingerprint Reader

The Dell XPS 13 is for those who want something small and compact. Whiles 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 8th Gen Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM and a 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 4K (3840 x 2160) 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.

Unfortunately, 4K displays eat into battery life more than lower resolution displays. Because of this the Dell XPS 13 is only able to last 7-8 hours under consistent use. It is still enough to work on.

But, might not be enough if you are always on the move. Turning on battery saver will at least push it above 8 hours. You could also get the Dell XPS 13 1080p version if you looking for more than 8 hours.

One more thing.

The port selection is horrible. It has only two USB Thunderbolt 3 ports. A great thing if you like hooking up your laptop to external monitors or eGPUs. But, not so great because there are no USB Type-A or regular ports. This requires you to get a USB dongle.

Still, the Dell XPS 13 is a beautiful piece of machinery. Small, compact and easily fits into your bag. Although it is expensive it still provides amazing value.

Pros

Top-notch Performance

Beautiful 4K display

Small, Compact and Lightweight

Cons

Pricey

No USB Type-A Ports

Newest Generation Dell XPS13 9380 Laptop, Intel Core i7-8565U Processor Up to 4.6 GHz, 16GB 2133MHz RAM, 1TB PCIe SSD, 13.3 4K UHD (3840x2160) InfinityEdge Touch Display, Fingerprint Reader
22 Reviews
Newest Generation Dell XPS13 9380 Laptop, Intel Core i7-8565U Processor Up to 4.6 GHz, 16GB 2133MHz RAM, 1TB PCIe SSD, 13.3 4K UHD (3840x2160) InfinityEdge Touch Display, Fingerprint Reader
  • 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8565u Processor (8MB Cache, up to 4.6 GHz, 4 Cores)
  • 13.3" 4K Ultra HD (3840x2160) InfinityEdge touch display
  • 16GB LPDDR3 2133MHz
  • Intel UHD Graphics 620
  • 1TB PCIe Solid State Drive

Last update on 2019-12-08 at 15:35 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Dell XPS 13 Review

Microsoft Surface Pro 6

Microsoft  Surface Pro 6 (Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB)

Want a 2-in-1 laptop for research? Look no further. The Microsoft Surface Pro 6 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 6, all you need to do is detach the keyboard. And you have a tablet. The Microsoft Surface Book also has this feature.

The hardware of the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 configurable. The base model has an 8th Gen Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD. It is also the most affordable. The hardware configuration that provides the best value will be i7, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD.

This ensures that the hardware is future-proof. So that you have enough performance to multitask and run quite demanding programs. Plus, the RAM is not upgradeable. So better to get a lot in the beginning.

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.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 6 is a great convertible laptop. But, it has its downsides. The USB port is only one. Plus, the keyboard and stylus are sold separately. If you want more USB ports then you need to get a dock.

If your research requires a lot of note-taking or writing. Then the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 will get the job done.

Because having a stylus is a powerful piece of accessory to have and makes thing easier. Plus, you can always turn it into a laptop by attaching the keyboard. One of the best convertible laptops for research and PhD students.

Pros

Solid Performance

Super Light and Thin

Above Average Battery Life

Great Display

Cons

Only One USB Port

Stylus and Keyboard Sold Separately

Sale
Microsoft  Surface Pro 6 (Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB)
227 Reviews
Microsoft  Surface Pro 6 (Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB)
  • A best in class laptop with the versatility of a studio and tablet
  • More power now with the new 8th Generation Intel Core processor
  • Ultra slim and light, starting at just 1.7 pounds. Sensors : Ambient light sensor, Accelerometer, Gyroscope
  • All day battery life, with up to 13.5 hours of video playback
  • Pair with our Signature Type Cover in luxurious Alcantara material and rich colors for a full keyboard experience

Last update on 2019-12-08 at 15:55 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 Review

Huawei MateBook X Pro

Huawei MateBook X Pro Signature Edition Thin & Light Laptop, 13.9in 3K Touch, 8th Gen i7-8550U, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD, GeForce MX150 Space Gray - Mach-W29C (Renewed)

The Huawei MateBook X Pro looks identical to that of the Apple MacBook Pro. And it does. The looks, feels and the way the body of the laptop has been put together. All similar to that of the Apple MacBook Pro.

The laptop is made from milled aluminium. It’s a bit of a fingerprint magnet so you have to clean it regularly. Even though it’s made from aluminium there a bit of display flex. The laptop is super-slim and half-an-inch thick.

This will easily fit in your bag. It is also lightweight coming in at 2.9 pounds. That’s 1.3 kg. The build quality is so similar to the Apple MacBook. If it wasn’t for the logo you might have mistaken it for one.

Battery life is impressive. This ultrabook can last 9-10 hours under consistent use. Impressive for a laptop with a high-resolution display. More often than not, laptops with high-resolution display eat a lot of battery power thereby reducing battery life. But, not the Huawei MateBook X Pro. So it is really impressive.

Talking about high-resolution displays. It is a 13.9 inch almost bezels display with a 3000 by 2000 resolution touchscreen. That’s close to 4K resolution. So right off the bat, you get a bright and sharp display. Colour accuracy and reproduction is above average.

And that always results in vivid and vibrant displays. It is also protected by Gorilla Glass (insert link). A touch glass that is resistant to scratches and shocks. This increases the durability of the display.

When it comes to performance. The Huawei MateBook X Pro is powered by an 8th Gen Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM and 512GB NVMe PCIe SSD. The perfect combination for a fast and responsive system. It will be able to multitask, boot-up and load applications very quickly.

It also has a dedicated graphics card – NVIDIA MX150. An entry-level card that is decent for gaming. But, will suffer running AAA title games. It is not a performance beast like gaming laptops. But, looking at the performance it will get the job done.

Every laptop has its downsides. And the Huawei MateBook X Pro is not an exception. First of all, the webcam placement is poor and has a low resolution. Secondly, it runs hot under demanding loads especially gaming. This is to be expected since it has a dedicated GPU in its small chassis. But, it is not so serious that it thermal throttles.

The Huawei MateBook X Pro might not be the perfect laptop. But, it has a lot going on – slim, lightweight, good performance, battery life etc. A solid option if you looking for laptop research purposes or are a doctoral student.

Pros

Good Performance

Slim and Lightweight

Decent Battery Life

Beautiful Display

Cons

Not The Best Webcam

Runs Hot

Fingerprint Magnet

Huawei MateBook X Pro Signature Edition Thin & Light Laptop, 13.9in 3K Touch, 8th Gen i7-8550U, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD, GeForce MX150 Space Gray - Mach-W29C (Renewed)
61 Reviews
Huawei MateBook X Pro Signature Edition Thin & Light Laptop, 13.9in 3K Touch, 8th Gen i7-8550U, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD, GeForce MX150 Space Gray - Mach-W29C (Renewed)
  • Watch your favorite shows in HD detail with the MateBook X Pro’s 3K display that features a stunning 3000 x 2000 resolution. Plus, the...
  • With a performance boost of 40 percent generation over generation, 8th Gen Intel Core processors deliver the power and responsiveness to...
  • Go about your day sans charger—the MateBook X Pro delivers an impressive 15 hours per charge, helping it last through a full workday and...
  • The MateBook X Pro is as portable as it is professional. Its slim and light build weighs in at just 2.9 pounds, so you can throw it in your...
  • Windows 10 Home delivers faster start-ups, your favorite applications, and great new ways to get stuff done across multiple devices

Last update on 2019-12-08 at 15:16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Huawei MateBook X Pro Review

Acer Swift 3

2019 Acer Swift 3 Premium Laptop | Intel Core i7-8550U Quad-Core Processor | 16GB Memory | 512G SSD | Intel UHD Graphics 620 | Backlit Keyboard | Fingerprint | Windows 10 Home | Gold

If you are on a budget. But, still, want good performance. Then the Acer Swift 3 is a solid option. An affordable laptop that has quite the processing power.

This laptop has the same specs as the Huawei MateBook X Pro. The only difference is the SSD is slower. An Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD.

So you can expect the same level of performance to that of the Huawei MateBook X Pro. Although the Huawei will be faster. The Acer Swift 3 also doesn’t come with a dedicated card so no gaming on this.

The Acer Swift 3 has an all-aluminium body with a smooth finish. The build quality is so good there is little or no flex on the laptop. It also weighs 2.9 pounds and a little over half-an-inch thick. This puts it in the class of ultrabooks. Because it is light and slim enough to travel with.

The display is average at best. It’s not stellar nor bad. Just good enough for everyday use. It’s a 15.6 inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) display. This display is not matte but glossy. So there will bound to be reflections on the display in bright environments especially outdoors.

Battery life is great. This puts it in the above-average category. It can last 8-9 hours under consistent use. Enough juice to do some important work.

Overall, the Acer Swift 3 is an affordable laptop with a premium design, performance and build quality. One of the best budget laptops for research or PhD students.

Pros

Affordable

Great Price-to-Performance Ratio

Lightweight

Great Battery Life

Cons

Glossy Display

Not The Best Keyboard

2019 Acer Swift 3 Premium Laptop | Intel Core i7-8550U Quad-Core Processor | 16GB Memory | 512G SSD | Intel UHD Graphics 620 | Backlit Keyboard | Fingerprint | Windows 10 Home | Gold
10 Reviews
2019 Acer Swift 3 Premium Laptop | Intel Core i7-8550U Quad-Core Processor | 16GB Memory | 512G SSD | Intel UHD Graphics 620 | Backlit Keyboard | Fingerprint | Windows 10 Home | Gold
  • 15.6" FHD 1920 x 1080 IPS display, Intel UHD Graphics 620
  • 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8550U Quad-Core Processor, 16GB Memory, 512G SSD
  • 802.11ac WiFi featuring 2x2 MIMO technology (Dual-Band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz),Bluetooth
  • 4.01 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C (up to 5 Gbps),2 x USB 3.0 (one featuring power-off charging) 1 x USB 2.0,1 x HDMI,1 x Headphone/Microphone...
  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit,14.13" x 9.57" x 0.67",3.75 lbs, Gold

Last update on 2019-12-08 at 16:15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Acer Swift 3 Review

What To Look For In A Laptop

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 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 you won’t be on edge trying to look for a power outlet. 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

That’s it for the best laptops for research and PhD students. Feel free to comment if you need any help.

Never Miss A Deal
Get Instant Access To Our Latest News, Tips and Exclusive Deals
This newsletter may contain advertising, deals, or affiliate links. Subscribing to a newsletter indicates your consent to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe from the newsletters at any time.
Previous ArticleNext Article