As a network engineer, you know that finding the best laptop for network engineering tasks is essential for success in your field. There is a multitude of factors to consider when selecting the ideal machine to handle the complex demands of network design, simulation, monitoring, and troubleshooting. In this guide, we'll take an in-depth look at the top laptops that cater to these unique requirements.
Having reviewed an extensive spreadsheet of recent laptop releases, and comparing both specs and reviews (both professional and user-generated), we have narrowed down the top laptops based on topic-specific requirements and price ranges. Balancing power, portability, and features, we aim to provide valuable insights for network engineers seeking the best laptop for their professional needs.
As someone experienced in the networking field, I can attest to the importance of having a laptop with a powerful processor, ample memory, and fast storage. Furthermore, I understand the value of having a reliable laptop with an excellent battery life and a sturdy build, as well as tools like Wi-Fi 6 support and Thunderbolt ports for efficient connectivity. In the upcoming sections, we'll explore the top contenders for the best laptop for network engineers, taking into account these crucial factors and more.
Engineer your network with the right processor
The laptop processor market has recently seen some significant changes. Apple's ARM-based M-series processors and AMD's latest 7th-generation Ryzen CPUs have both made waves. Intel's 12th-generation Core processors are still a great value for those not in need of cutting-edge performance.
If you're looking for a Windows laptop, the latest Ryzen 5 or Ryzen 7 H-series processors from AMD are highly recommended. While Intel has released its latest chips, they're not as competitive as AMD's latest offerings in terms of performance per dollar.
For network engineers, single-core performance is still essential for certain applications such as network troubleshooting. So, we recommend comparing processors across different price points using benchmarks such as Cinebench R23 or PassMark to identify the best processors under $1,000 and $2,000.
If you plan to use your laptop for gaming or video editing, consider investing in a higher-end processor with an i7 or Ryzen 7 label.
Here are our recommendations for various budgets:
Remember that multiple cores and hyper-threading may not be as important for network engineers as they are for other professions. So, it's best to focus on single-core performance when making your decision.
Power up your network engineering with these graphics cards.
When it comes to network engineering, having a dedicated graphics card can greatly improve the speed and efficiency of your daily tasks. However, choosing the right graphics card for your needs can be a daunting task, especially with the wide variety of options available in the market.
First, let's take a look at the state of the GPU market. Nvidia continues to dominate the laptop GPU market, with their RTX 30 series cards still comprising the lion's share of the current notebook GPU market. However, it's important to note that desktop GPUs are now a lot more power-hungry, which has widened the gap between power-limited notebook graphics and desktop graphics cards in recent years. Additionally, Nvidia has discontinued the Max-Q label for its RTX graphics cards, which means that an exact GPU wattage is now determined by the laptop manufacturer (OEM), resulting in a wide variance in graphics performance even in laptops with the same GPU chipset.
So, what are the requirements for a graphics card for network engineering? It's rare to find a laptop with an integrated graphics chip that's suitable for network engineering. That's because most of the time, you'll need a dedicated GPU to accelerate your daily tasks, such as installing and configuring VMs. To get the best performance out of your laptop's GPU, make sure it has enough power delivery (PD) wattage and is not limited by its power delivery capacity (in other words – ensure it can deliver 100% of its power).
However, having a high-end graphics card is not necessarily needed for network engineering. While Nvidia has recently released their new Turing-based GPUs, which offer impressive performance gains over their previous generation (Max-Q), these chips are not available in every laptop model and are often found only in high-end models that may not be well suited for networking engineers due to their high price tag and poor battery life.
With that in mind, my recommendations for both budget and high-end GPUs are as follows:
- Minimum: GeForce GTX 1650
- Recommended: GeForce RTX 3050
- High-end: GeForce RTX 2060
When comparing GPUs, I use 3DMark benchmarks since they're easy to find and fairly representative of real-world gaming performance. If you're looking for a more comprehensive look at your potential laptop's graphics capabilities, look up its 3DMark score aggregated from multiple tests (such as Time Spy or Fire Strike).
Ultimately, the right graphics card for you will depend on your specific needs and budget. However, with these recommendations, you can make an informed decision and choose a graphics card that will help you improve your efficiency as a network engineer without breaking the bank.
Memory Matters: How much RAM does a Network Engineer's laptop need?
RAM is an essential component for network engineers as it plays a vital role in loading operating systems and applications, which are critical for their daily work. When choosing the right laptop RAM, it's important to consider your daily tasks and the number of virtual machines you're working with.
Most mid-range laptops come with 16 GB of RAM, while high-end laptops come with 32 GB or more. If you're working with virtual machines, 16 GB is a good starting point. But if you're working with more than one VM at a time, 32 GB would be better.
It's worth noting that the latest-gen Intel and AMD CPUs support DDR4 and DDR5. While DDR5 is still quite expensive and needs time to mature as a technology, DDR4 is more widely available and sufficient for most users' needs.
Aside from the amount of RAM, other specs that matter include frequency, CL, and ECC. Higher frequency and lower CL numbers offer faster performance, while ECC RAM can detect and correct memory errors.
When it comes to budget, the minimum recommended RAM for network engineers is 8 GB. However, we recommend going for at least 16 GB, especially if you're using virtual machines. High-end users should opt for 32 GB.
If you're looking for an upgradeable laptop, make sure to check for SODIMM slots and consider upgrading later on if needed.
In summary, when deciding on the right laptop RAM for network engineer laptops, consider your daily tasks, the number of virtual machines you're working with, and your budget. Opting for at least 16 GB of RAM is recommended, while high-end users should aim for 32 GB.
Unleash Your Network Engineering Potential: FAQs Answered!
Q: What laptop specs are required for network engineering?
For network engineering, you'll need a laptop with a reliable processor, a dedicated graphics card, and sufficient memory. Refer to the table of provided Requirements for minimum, medium, and maximum specifications.
Which laptop is best for network engineering?
The Lenovo Legion 5 Pro is the best laptop for network engineering, according to the provided Recommendations. However, it ultimately depends on your budget and specific needs.
Do I need a high-end laptop for network engineering?
It depends on your requirements. A mid-range laptop with the recommended specifications can provide satisfactory performance for most network engineering tasks.
Can a laptop be used for network engineering?
Absolutely. A laptop can be an excellent choice for network engineering, especially if you need a portable device that can be used on-site.
What kind of processor do I need for network engineering?
A processor with a high clock speed and multiple cores is recommended for network engineering. Refer to the table of provided Requirements for minimum, medium, and maximum specifications.
What amount of RAM is required for network engineering on a laptop?
For network engineering, 8 GB of RAM is the minimum requirement, while 16 GB or more is recommended for more demanding tasks.
Is a dedicated graphics card necessary for network engineering on a laptop?
While a dedicated graphics card is not necessary for most network engineering tasks, it can be helpful for more demanding visualizations.
What are the minimum laptop requirements for network engineering?
The minimum laptop requirements for network engineering are an i3-1115G4 processor, a GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card, and 8 GB of memory. Refer to the table of provided Requirements for more information.
How to choose a laptop for network engineering?
When choosing a laptop for network engineering, consider the recommended specifications and your budget. It's also essential to prioritize features such as battery life, portability, and durability.
Can I use a gaming laptop for network engineering?
Yes, you can use a gaming laptop for network engineering, as long as it meets the recommended specifications. Gaming laptops often come with powerful processors, dedicated graphics cards, and ample memory, making them well-suited for network engineering tasks. However, they may be heavier and have shorter battery life than other laptop types.
6 Best Laptops for network engineer
1.HP Victus 15The HP Victus 15 is an affordable option for light gaming and work tasks.
- Affordable price
- Good gaming performance
- Can be used for work tasks
- Short battery life
- Plain design
The HP Victus 15 is a budget gaming laptop with good gaming performance for the price. It is suitable for light gaming and work tasks, but the battery life is short, and the design is plain.
Lenovo Legion 5 17.3
- Good gaming performance
- Sufficient amount of ports
- Short battery life
- Small touchpad
2.Lenovo Legion 5 ProLenovo Legion 5 Pro offers top-notch performance for network engineers at a premium price.
- High-quality 165 Hz 16:10 IPS display
- Relatively easy serviceability
- Integrated numpad
- Very fast charging
- Low-resolution webcam with no IR or privacy shutter
- Very warm CPUGPU temperatures when gaming
- Moderate-heavy uneven backlight bleeding
- Only average battery life
The Lenovo Legion 5 Pro is a premium laptop for network engineers with an upgraded AMD Zen 3+ CPU and 150W TGP GeForce RTX 3070 Ti GPU, making it one of the fastest laptops available. The 165 Hz 16:10 IPS display, integrated numpad, and fast charging are added bonuses for engineers who need high-quality visuals and quick access to data.
ASUS TUF F15 FX507ZM-ES74
- Faster than most other GeForce RTX 3060 laptops
- 300 Hz IPS panel w full sRGB coverage
- Chassis base and lid exhibit some flexing
- No per-key RGB lighting
3.GIGABYTE AORUS 15 XE4Gigabyte Aorus 15 XE4 is a performance powerhouse with a vibrant display.
- Highly responsive 165Hz panel with a wide color gamut
- High system performance
- PCIe 4.0 SSD with free M.2 2280 slot
- Individual key lighting and Thunderbolt 4
- High power usage at idle and low load
- No card reader
- Only one USB-A port
The GIGABYTE AORUS 15 XE4 is a great gaming laptop that delivers impressive performance in gaming and non-gaming applications. The laptop boasts a highly responsive 165Hz panel with a wide color gamut and a PCIe 4.0 SSD that can accommodate two drives. However, it has a high power usage at idle and low load and lacks a card reader.
ASUS ROG Strix G15 G513RM
- Fair design and solid build quality
- Good inputs and IO
- Some quirks affecting everyday ergonomics
- No ThunderboltUSB 4, card-reader, camera or biometrics
4.ASUS ROG Strix ScarASUS ROG Strix Scar: A Powerful Laptop with Heating and Emission Issues
- Sturdy construction
- Fast Wi-Fi 6E
- Excellent response times and no PWM
- Wide color gamut coverage with Dolby Vision support
- Limited display angle
- No biometric login
- Heavy SSD throttling during continuous reads
The ASUS ROG Strix Scar 15 G533 is a great option for gamers with its Core i9-12900H and RTX 3070 Ti. It also features a fast Wi-Fi 6E, excellent response times, and a wide color gamut. However, it has limited display angle, no biometric login, and suffers from heavy SSD throttling, high heat and noise emissions, and poor battery life.
Acer Predator Triton 500
- High performance capabilities
- Excellent, bright 240-Hz display
- Soldered-in RAM
- Inaccessible SSD
5.ASUS ROG Strix Scar G733CX-XS97ASUS ROG Strix Scar G733CX-XS97 is a powerful gaming laptop with a high-end hardware configuration and an impressive 240Hz display.
- Impressive QHD panel with 240Hz refresh rate
- High and stable gaming performance
- Extensive case illumination
- Thunderbolt 4, Wi-Fi 6E, and PCIe 4.0 support
- Inconsistent SSD performance
- HX CPU premium not worth it
- No webcam
- Electronic noises
The ASUS ROG Strix Scar G733CX-XS97 is a top-of-the-line gaming laptop with an Intel Core i9-12950HX processor, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti graphics card, and a fast 240Hz display. It delivers stable gaming performance with relatively quiet fans, but inconsistent SSD performance and electronic noises are notable drawbacks.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus Duo
- Elegant design with dual displays
- Blistering gaming performance
- Very expensive
- Awkward keyboard and touchpad layout
6.Dell XPS 17 9720The Dell XPS 17 9720 is a powerful machine with a stunning display, but its graphics performance and cooling system leave something to be desired.
- excellent 4K display with AdobeRGB
- high-quality case
- Thunderbolt 4 PCIe 4.0
- very high system performance
- lower graphics performance than the predecessor
- performance not completely stable under combined load
- not Wi-Fi 6E compatible
- 720p webcam
The Dell XPS 17 9720 boasts an exceptional 4K display with AdobeRGB and high-quality case, along with Thunderbolt 4 & PCIe 4.0 and very high system performance. However, its graphics performance falls short of its predecessor and its cooling system isn't the best.
ASUS ROG Zephyrus Duo
- Dual-screen design with a refined layout
- Top-tier performance with GeForce RTX 3080 Ti GPU, Ryzen 9 CPU
- Expensive, especially for the configured specs
- Keyboard and touchpad layout can be awkward
Table of the Best Laptops for network engineer
|HP Victus 15||$880|
|Lenovo Legion 5 Pro||$1,350|
|GIGABYTE AORUS 15 XE4||$1,600|
|ASUS ROG Strix Scar||$2,310|
|ASUS ROG Strix Scar G733CX-XS97||$3,800|
|Dell XPS 17 9720||$5,600|