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Laptop recommendations, please


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Hello everyone

Background: My son studies urban and regional planning at college, and there is a sudden new requirement that all students must have a laptop (to use on the train, during projects or study group meetings, and in class situations where students are no longer allowed to sit elbow to elbow).  The department's web site simply recommends "i5 or equivalent" but that is useless information.  My son currently uses AutoCAD, Revit, Civil 3D, and Microsoft Office -- from what I understand, it's the latest or near latest versions (they run just fine on his desktop computer).  Since the laptop requirement was not announced a year in advance, and it must be bought within the next week or two, the budget is tighter than we'd have liked. (In an ideal, forewarned situation we would have saved up and bought a proper $2000 laptop.)

My question is: what components should we maximise on? I don't know what the above three programs (and likely other relevant programs) need most to work best... more RAM, faster processor, bigger and/or faster graphics card, faster storage (SSD, M.2), etc.  Is the CPU score (from e.g. cpubenchmark.net) an indicator?  Do these programs typically make good use of multiple cores, or should we favour something with a high single-core score?  And if they can use multiple cores, do you think 4 cores/threads are enough?  The laptop won't be used for gaming, but even so, is there something at e.g. gamedebate that we can take as a good rule of thumb?  Ignoring slow start-up times, is an SSD even necessary?

Does the age of the laptop really matter?  I mean, we're also considering refurbished laptops from e.g. 2016 and newer (limiting the search to DDR4 and 6th & 7th gen i5).  Do these programs (and their assumed upgrade paths) typically need graphics or CPU capabilities that have only been available for the past year or two?


Thanks (and I realise that computer recommendations are always cans of worms)



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This is where I'd start...
$1,850 Dell XPS 15
9th gen i7-9750H
GTX 1650
32 GB DDR4
1080 LCD (4K will be $300 more)
upgrade to Win10 Pro

Accept NOTHING less than a GTX graphics card, 512 GB NVMe, 32 GB ram and a current gen i5 cpu!
The above Dell is a good start. It's not an RTX graphics but it is a good CPU with enough ram and a fast hard drive.

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Depends where you are in the world US is cheaper than AUS.


Maybe a I7, min 16gb, nvidia as much as budget permits, a SSD drive and 1tb drive. Mine was like $1600 Aus. My son just paid $2000+ but bought 512gb ssd and 1tb, NVIDIA 2xxx I7 etc wants it for gaming.


Dont buy less than 16Gb memory 


Something like HP Pavilion 15.6-inch15-DK0237TX i7-9750H/16GB/256GB SSD Gaming Laptop $1800 AUS


Note Microsoft software may cost you as well. There was a student deal.



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Well not sure he said "where" he was but he used "$" so I quoted USD. MS Office is free for most college students through their university ;) or it is here in the US.

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I'm in the Netherlands, where they slap 30% customs duties on any imported computer, computer component or software 😞 but that doesn't really affect my question.  Yes, Windows is free, and MS Office is free if you mom or dad has a family license.  And the CAD programs are also free for as long as the dearest student remains a registered student.

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Had a look at Amazon USA and so cheap. What is link to say purchase in Netherlands. Here in Aus Dell.com.au, Harveynorman.com.au, JBHIFI.com.au obviously lots more.

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On 8/18/2020 at 4:20 AM, BIGAL said:

Had a look at Amazon USA and so cheap. What is link to say purchase in Netherlands. Here in Aus Dell.com.au, Harveynorman.com.au, JBHIFI.com.au obviously lots more.

General stores like Bol.com and appliance stores like CoolBlue sell computers, and Tweakers.net sells computers and components.  Some brick and mortar appliance retailers have webshops as well, e.g. BCC and Mediamarkt.

Anyway, I'm not the purchasing decision maker, so what ended up being  bought was this one:

Verdict: the various programs (with projects opened in them, etc.) run slower than on the home desktop computer, but faster than the desktop computers at college.


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