best laptop for research scholar

PhD is the highest level of academic degree a person can achieve. Unlike most masters courses (or all undergraduate programs), for PhD, research is an essential part of this study. Nowadays, most of the research happens on computers; that’s why you’re looking for the best laptops for PhD students in 2021.

best laptops for phd students in 2021
DELL XPS 13 9380 2019 model review

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our top choice

DELL XPS 13 9380

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But keep in mind, you’re going to work with dozens of browser tabs and video streaming; therefore, you should consider a powerful machine. No, I am not talking about the expensive workstation or gaming machines; there are lots of great laptops available in the budget range. Well, before we jump into the review of the laptops, let’s discuss what we should consider before purchasing a notebook, it will make our decision cost-efficient. So, let’s get started!


Contentshide10 Best Laptops for PhD Students in 2021 – Buyer’s GuideBest Laptops for Research and PhD Students in 2021 – Buyer’s GuideBest Laptops for Research and PhD students in 2021 –Reviews1. Lenovo Flex 14 (Best Cheap Convertible Laptop for Ph.D. Students)2. Acer Aspire E 15 (Budget Laptop with Big Screen and Long battery Life)3. Acer Spin 3 (Best Chromebook for Ph.D. Students)4. HP Pavilion 15-cx0056wm (Budget Laptop with Powerful Graphics)5. LG gram 15 (Lightest Laptop with Most Extended Battery Life)6. Lenovo ThinkPad E580 (Best Laptop for Ph.D. Students in Mid-Range)7. Acer Predator Helios 300 (Most Powerful Machine for Wonderful Price)8. MacBook Air 13 (Best Apple Laptop for Ph.D. Students)9. Dell XPS 13 9380 (Best Windows Laptop for Ph.D. Study)10. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 (Most Premium Windows Laptop)Best Notebooks for Research and Ph.D. Students in 2021


It’s an essential part of any computer system, and shouldn’t skimp in this section. A laptop’s price significantly depends on the processor. For research and PhD students, I would recommend at least an Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 processor. It can handle several web browser tabs and multitasking wisely. However, if you have a decent budget, you can go with the Intel Core i7 or AMD Ryzen 7, it will ensure the best performance.

If you’re looking for extended battery life, you should consider the Intel ultra-low watt processor, such as the “Y” and “U” series.


Along with a robust processor, computer memory also plays an essential role in multitasking. For Ph.D. students, at least 8GB memory is required. If you can go higher, it would be best. However, nowadays, computer memory isn’t very costly, so it’s not a big deal.


ssd recommended for matlab

It’s something personal preference, and you should choose according to your requirements. However, I would suggest an SSD storage, because it will make your laptop performance even faster. A solid-state drive can reduce the booting time, file/documents accessing time, or searching-time dramatically.

Additionally, if you’re getting a PCIe SSD, it would be the best because it can deliver faster speed than standard SATA SSDs.


Usually, I won’t suggest a laptop with a dedicated GPU for PhD students. It will not only cost you a bit higher but also tax the laptop’s battery life. However, if you do some designing or editing tasks, you have to go with a discrete GPU.


If you move around a lot, you should get a lightweight and portable laptop. In most cases, a laptop’s weight depends on its size. You won’t find a 17-inch laptop convenient for on-the-go use. Moreover, for research and multitasking, a big screen is always helpful. While considering both things, a 13-15 inch laptop would be the best choice.


Best research laptops at a glance

Lenovo Flex 14 review



  • Ryzen 5 3500U @3.7GHz
  • Radeon Vega 8
  • 8GB RAM, 256GB NVMe SSD
  • 14-inch touch, 1920 x 1080
  • 8 hours


Acer Aspire E 15 E5-576G-5762 review



  • i3-8130U @3.4GHz CPU
  • 6 GB memory, 1 TB HDD / 256GB PCIe
  • 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080
  • 13.5-hours


Acer Spin 3 SP314 53N 77AJ review



  • i7-8565U Processor
  • 16GB memory,  512GB PCIe NVMe
  • 14-inch touch, 1920 x 1080
  • 12-hours backup
  •  Win10 Home


HP Pavilion 15-cx0056wm review



  • i5-8300H @4.0GHz CPU
  • GTX 1050 TI 4GB discrete GPU
  • 8GB, 1TB HDD
  • 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080
  • 8-hours of battery life


LG gram 15Z980-U review



  • i5-8250U @3.4GHz processor
  • 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD
  • 15-inch, 1920 x 1080
  • 19.5-hours of battery life


ThinkPad E580 review



  • i7-8550U @4.0GHz
  • 16/32 GB memory, 512GB – 2TB SSD
  • 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080
  • 9-hours of battery


Acer Predator Helios PH315-52-78VL review



  •  i7-9750H @4.5GHz Processor
  • GTX 1660 Ti 6GB
  • 16GB  memory, 256GB PCIe NVMe + Extra slot
  • 15.6-inch 144Hz, 1920 x 1080
  • 7-hours backup, Windows 10 Home


Apple MacBook Air 13 2019 edition review



  • i5-8210Y @3.6GHz
  • 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD
  • 13.3-inch, 2560×1600
  • 12 hours of backup


DELL XPS 13 9380 2019 model review

DELL XPS 13 9380


  • i7-8565U @ 4.6GHz
  • 16 GB memory,  512GB PCIe SSD
  • 13.3-inch touch, 4K (3840×2160)
  • 12-hours of battery life


Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 review



  • Intel Core i5, i7, Ryzen 5, or Ryzen 7
  • 8-16GB memory,  256GB – 1TB PCIe 
  • 13.5-inch touch, 2256 x 1504 
  • 11.5-hours  of battery life
  • Win10 Home

CHECK PRICE ON AMAZONShop Related Products

Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 – 13.5″ Touch-Screen – Intel Co…$982.71$1299.00 (1215)

Dell New 2019 XPS 13 9380 Core i7-8565U 16GB 512…$1999.11 (42)

HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop 15.6″ Core i5-8300H 15.6-inch D…$792.76 (412)

Acer Spin 3 Convertible Laptop, 14 inches Full HD IPS Touch, …$669.22$799.99 (1939)Ads by Amazon


1. Lenovo Flex 14 (Best Cheap Convertible Laptop for Ph.D. Students)

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Lenovo Flex 14 review

Processor: Ryzen 5 3500U @3.7GHz | Memory:  8GB | Storage: 256GB NVMe | Screen: 14-inch touch, 1920 x 1080  | Battery Life: 8-hours

Image Credit: Lenovo

Usually, you won’t find a 2-in-1 laptop with a dominant performance at this affordable price. Lenovo Flex 14 is one of the most popular budget notebooks in 2021, which might be a reliable option for research and Ph.D. students.

First of all, the Lenovo Flex is offering a 14-inch full HD display, which is perfect for browsing or reading documents. Additionally, it’s touch-enabled and comes with a stylus; therefore, you can use it for taking notes or drawing. With the full HD resolution, it not only ensures the higher sharpness but also provides the more working area for multitasking.

In the performance department, this buddy is offering an AMD Ryzen 5 processor along with the 256GB NVMe SSD, and 8GB memory. It can deliver a brilliant performance for this meager price; you can use it for internet browsing, document editing, movies watching, or even light gaming.

Apart from that impressive performance, the Lenovo Flex 14 is featuring 8 hours of battery backup, which is backed by quick charging technology.

Overall, if you don’t want to spend much on your research laptop, the Lenovo Flex 14 might be a viable choice, which is coming with convertible design as well.View on Amazon

  • PROS
  • Stunning full HD touch display with convertible design
  • Robust performance 
  • Professional design 
  • Comes with stylus
  • Offering the USB Type-C, and fingerprint sensor
  • Lightweight and portable
  • CONS
  • Battery life could have been better, however, not bad for this price

2. Acer Aspire E 15 (Budget Laptop with Big Screen and Long battery Life)

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Acer Aspire E 15 E5-576-392H review

Processor: i3-8130U @3.4GHz | Memory:  6GB | Storage: 1 TB HDD / 256GB PCIe | Screen: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 |  Battery Life: 13.5-hours

Image Credit: Acer

Unlike the previous laptop, the Acer Aspire E15 isn’t lightweight and portable, but this buddy is offering a bigger screen along with extended battery life at an affordable price. Under the hood, this machine is offering Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB memory, and 256GB SSD storage along with NVidia MX150 dedicated GPU. This machine has enough power to handle all general tasks that you’re going to do as a Ph.D. student. Even you can do some graphics-oriented work as this machine is offering an NVidia MX150 entry-level discrete GPU.

The Acer Aspire E 15 is presenting up to 15 hours of battery life, which can last for a whole day. Additionally, it’s offering a 15.6-inch full HD display; therefore, it can provide crisp image quality.

If you move around a lot, then you should avoid this machine because of weight and large size, as I already said above. However, if you love the long battery life and robust performance, then it’s not a big deal.

Overall, the Acer Aspire E 15 is also a viable option for Ph.D. students in 2021, which won’t make a massive dent in your wallet.View on Amazon

  • PROS
  • A beautiful full HD screen
  • Impressive performance
  • Outstanding battery life
  • Easy upgradable design
  • Available with different configurations
  • Comes with dedicated GPU
  • CONS
  • A bit heavy and thick

3. Acer Spin 3 (Best Chromebook for Ph.D. Students)

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Acer Spin 3 SP314 53N 77AJ review

Processor: i7-8665U | Memory: 16GB | Storage:  512GB PCIe SSD | Screen: 14-inch touch, 1920 x 1080|  Battery: 12 Hours | OS: Win10 Home

Image Credit: Acer

Before discussing this notebook, I want to tell you something about Chromebooks. As compared to Windows or macOS, the ChromeOS is a somewhat limited operating system, and it’s specially designed for working with online applications. It means you won’t be able to use some popular programs such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop. However, there are many alternative programs, which can fill this gap. The ChromeOS supports the Play Store app; therefore, you can use the all Android application on your Chromebook.

The Acer Spin 3 is one of the best Chromebook in 2021, which is offering many great features for a lower price. This buddy comes with an Intel Core i5-8250U processor, 8GB memory, and 128GB eMMC storage, which is perfect for multitasking.

The best thing about this laptop is design; it’s offering a 13.5-inch 2K touch screen with a convertible body, which can deliver brilliant quality images and can be used in tablet mode. Additionally, it comes with a stylus as well, which is useful for taking notes or drawing.

In terms of build quality, this Chromebook won’t disappoint you as it’s coming with aluminum chassis and Corning Gorilla Glass, which entrusts the higher durability.

Spin 3 is backed with up to 10 hours of battery life with a single charge, which sufficient for whole day use.

If you’re looking for something robust performance, you should choose any Windows or Mac machine instead because despite having this fantastic hardware somewhere, Chromebooks lack performance.View on Amazon

  • PROS
  • Gorgeous 2K multi-touch display
  • Convertible design with higher durability
  • Backlit keyboard and metal chassis
  • Longer battery life
  • Robust performance
  • Support Google Play Store
  • Reasonable price for the features
  • CONS
  • ChromeOS is somewhat limited.

4. HP Pavilion 15-cx0056wm (Budget Laptop with Powerful Graphics)

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HP Pavilion 15-cx0056wm review

Processor: i5-8300H @4.0GHz | GPU: GTX 1050 TI 4GB | Memory:  8GB | Storage: 1TB HDD | Screen: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 | Battery Life: 8-hours

Image Credit: HP

If you deal with higher graphics applications or games, you should think about a dedicated GPU. In the budget range, I would like to recommend the HP Pavilion 15.

This gaming notebook is offering Intel Core i5-8300H processor, 8GB memory, and 1TB HDD storage along with Nvidia GTX 1050 TI 4GB discrete GPU; therefore, you can do whatever you want. Whether it’s about multitasking, graphics editing, or gaming, it will be your trusted companion. However, as a gaming notebook, it’s quite heavy and large; therefore, it’s not viable for on-the-go use.

This machine is coming with lots of connectivity options, which included the latest USB Type-C port as well. Moreover, it has a backlit keyboard which comes in handy during a dim light.

This budget notebook is only recommended for those who are looking for a graphics-heavy powerful machine rather than portable and longer battery life.View on Amazon

  • PROS
  • Big full HD display with higher accuracy
  • Robust performance with Intel Core i5 H series processor and Nvidia GPU
  • Upgradable
  • Sturdy and durable design
  • Comes with a backlit keyboard and USB Type-C port
  • CONS
  • Heavy and large
  • Average battery life

5. LG gram 15 (Lightest Laptop with Most Extended Battery Life)

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LG gram 15Z980-U review

Processor: i5-8250U @3.4GHz |  Memory:  8GB | Storage: 256 GB SSD | Screen: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 | Battery Life: 19.5-hours

Image Credit: LG

In contrast to the HP Pavilion, the LG Gram 15 is offering a very lightweight body with incredible battery life, which is perfect for those who move around a lot.  According to the Mobile Mark Standard, the LG Gram 15 is offering up to 21 hours (2019 model) of battery backup with a single charge, which is unprecedented.

Don’t worry about the performance as this machine is packed with the latest Intel Core i5-8265U processor, 8GB memory, and 256GB SSD storage, which is sufficient for Ph.D. students. However, this machine isn’t ideal for heavy graphics work as it doesn’t have any discrete GPU memory.

The Gram 15 has only 2.5 lbs weight, and it’s a full-size 15.6-inch laptop by the way; so, it’s utterly surprising. The display comes with full HD resolution and skinny bezel; therefore, it’s quite compact as well.

This notebook is perfect for on-the-go use, especially for the students.

The Gram 15 also offering backlit keyboard along with the latest USB Type-C port. This notebook has passed seven industry-standard tests and proves its military-grade durability, which is even more exciting.

With little weight, most extended battery life, and robust performance, the LG Gram 15 could be a reliable choice for research and Ph.D. students in 2021.View on Amazon

  • PROS
  • Lightweight and portable 
  • Comprehensive battery life
  • Impressive performance
  • Alluring full-size 1080p display
  • Comes with a backlit keyboard and latest USB Type-C port
  • CONS
  • Slightly higher price

6. Lenovo ThinkPad E580 (Best Laptop for Ph.D. Students in Mid-Range)

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ThinkPad E580 review

Processor: i7-8550U @4.0GHz | Memory:  16/32 GB | Storage: 512GB – 2TB SSD | Screen: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 | Battery Life: 9 hours

Image Credit: Lenovo

Thinkpad is one of the most trusted laptop series from Lenovo, which is being used by many professionals. The best thing about these laptops is, they are quite durable and comes with an excellent keyboard. If you don’t want to spend on premium notebooks, the Lenovo ThinkPad E580 is probably the best choice in mid-range.

The E580 is packed with an Intel Core i7-8550U processor, 16GB memory, and 512GB SSD storage. Therefore, it can handle any complex processing; whether it’s about rigorous multitasking or opening several Chrome tabs, you won’t face any lag during usage.

Another interesting think about this ThinkPad is, it’s entirely secure as it’s coming with a dTPM 2.0 chip and a fingerprint sensor.

In terms of display quality, this buddy won’t disappoint you because it is featuring a full HD IPS display with anti-glare technology, which can be used outdoors or in brighter lighting.

As I said about the keyboard quality, if you type a lot, you will love it.View on Amazon

  • PROS
  • Fantastic full HD display with anti-glare technology
  • Potent performance with Intel Core i7 processor
  • Highly durable design with a fantastic keyboard
  • Comes with dTPM 2.0 chip and fingerprint sensor
  • Good battery life
  • CONS
  • Slightly heavy
  • No dedicated GPU

7. Acer Predator Helios 300 (Most Powerful Machine for Wonderful Price)

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Acer Predator Helios PH315-52-78VL review

Processor:  i7-9750H @4.5GHz | GPU: GTX 1660 Ti 6GB | Memory:  16GB | Storage: 256GB PCIe NVMe + Extra HDD slot | Screen: 15.6-inch 144Hz, 1920 x 1080

Image Credit: Acer

There is no doubt the Predator Helios 300 is the most potent laptop of this list, and the best part, it’s not very expensive. But you have to keep in mind, this laptop is quite heavy and sucks in battery life; that’s why it might be a deal-breaker for some.

The Helios 300 is offering the latest Intel Core i7-9300 processor, 16GB memory, 256GB PCIe SSD storage, and Nvidia GTX 1660Ti discrete GPU. Altogether, you don’t need to worry about the performance as all, doesn’t matter which games or program you’re going to run on this buddy.

Moreover, this latest model is backed with a 144Hz display and slim design compared to its predecessor, which is excellent. However, not a lightweight machine if you’re thinking.

With the metal chassis, it entrusts higher durability and longer life. Moreover, it has the latest 4th Gen Aeroblade 3D Fan, which provides astonishing airflow and ensures higher performance.

There are plenty of connectivity ports, you can hook up every device that you want, whether it’s a high-definition external display of a storage device.

If you can compromise with the battery life and weight, the Acer Predator is the best option, which allows running anything that you want.View on Amazon

  • PROS
  • An incredible full HD display with a higher refresh rate and quick response time
  • Top-notch performance with the Intel Core i7 processor NVMe SSD, and large memory
  • Comes with robust dedicated GPU
  • Easily upgradable design
  • Extensive connectivity option
  • Outstanding build quality
  • Appealing price
  • CONS
  • Cumbersome
  • Inferior battery life

8. MacBook Air 13 (Best Apple Laptop for Ph.D. Students)

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Apple MacBook Air 13 2019 edition review

Processor: i5-8210Y @3.6GHz | Memory:  8GB | Storage: 256GB SSD | Screen: 13.3-inch 2560×1600 | Battery Life: 12 hours

Image Credit: Apple

The Macbook Air has everything that a Ph.D. student wants in a laptop – lightweight design, higher durability, powerful performance, and excellent display quality. Unless you’re not looking for more top graphics applications, the MacBook Air is enough; you don’t need to put your step inside the Pro series.

The Air series has updated by Apple after a long time; therefore, it’s featuring many new features and latest updates. The latest MacBook Air incorporates the most popular Retina display and the most versatile Thunderbolt 3 port. The overall design has been improved; this newer model is even portable, thicker, and lightweight as it’s coming with a narrow bezel.

The battery life has also been extended; you can now take advantage of 12 hours backup. You can choose your Air up to 1.5TB SSD, and 16GB memory along with the Intel Core i5 processor.

As I said above, if you don’t do any higher graphics-intensive tasks, you don’t need to opt for the MacBook Pro, this machine can handle everything wisely.

There is no doubt, the MacBook Air is expensive, but if you’re looking for a reliable, portable, and powerful notebook for your Ph.D. study, it would be the best option.View on Amazon

  • PROS
  • Thinnest and lightweight notebook for students
  • Powerful performance
  • Premium quality Retina display with narrow bezel
  • The most secure device with the Apple T2 security chip and fingerprint sensor
  • Comes with the latest Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • CONS
  • Expensive

9. Dell XPS 13 9380 (Best Windows Laptop for Ph.D. Study)

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DELL XPS 13 9380 2019 model review

Processor: i7-8565U @ 4.6GHz |  Memory:  16GB | Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD | Screen: 13.3-inch touch 3840×2160 | Battery Life: 12-hours

Image Credit: Dell

Some peoples are addicted to Windows, and I am one of them. I know, it’s hard to opt for other OS because Windows has the highest compatibility and supports a wide range of programs. If you’re not interested in the macOS, the Dell XPS 9380 might be the best choice for you.

The XPS 9380 is also offering a very portable and lightweight design with robust performance and premium quality display. It’s powered by the Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB memory, and 512GB PCIe SSD, which is enough for doing anything that you want as a Ph.D. student.

Additionally, it’s featuring a 13.3-inch 4K display, which can deliver the sharpest quality image with vivid colors. It’s a touch screen as well; therefore, you can make the most of it.

The Dell XPS 9380 is a very portable and lightweight machine; it’s perfect for on-the-go use. Apart from that, it has a micro bezel, which makes it more compact.

This notebook is made of aluminum and provides higher durability. Moreover, it’s coming with a backlit keyboard and fingerprint sensor along with the latest Thunderbolt 3 port.View on Amazon

  • PROS
  • Premium quality 4K touchscreen ensures the highest color accuracy and sharpness
  • Brilliant performance
  • Portable and lightweight
  • Fantastic battery life
  • Comes with the fingerprint sensor, backlit keyboard, and Thunderbolt 3 port
  • CONS
  • Expensive
  • No dedicated GPU

10. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 (Most Premium Windows Laptop)

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Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 review

Processor:  i5, Ryzen 5, i7, or Ryzen 7 Memory:  8-16 | Storage: 256GB – 1TB NVMe | Screen: 13.5-inch touch, 2256 x 1504 | Battery Life: 11.5-hours

Image Credit: Microsoft

The latest Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 is another viable option for Ph.D. students if you have a decent budget. This compact notebook is not only offering portable and lightweight design but also packed with powerful hardware, which can streamline our work.

The best thing about the Surface Laptop 3 is, it’s available with several configurations you can choose up to Intel Core i7 model with 16GB memory, and 1TB storage capacity.

Aesthetically, this Microsoft notebook looks very astounding because it’s offering a very professional, minimalistic, and thin design, which makes it a fantastic option for traveling or doing work on-the-go.

Despite having that slim design, this notebook is offering up to 11.5 hours of battery life, which support fast charging feature as well.

Microsoft Laptop 3 is offering a 13.5-inch touchscreen with 2256 x 1504 pixels of resolution, which is very crisp and color-efficient, you can use it for movies watching, designing, or general tasks.

The only problem with this notebook is the lack of graphics processing; if you play games or do editing work, you should choose Surface Book 2 instead.View on Amazon

  • PROS
  • Stylish and beautiful thin design
  • Perfect for traveling
  • Available with several configurations
  • Marathon battery life with fast charging feature
  • Incredible performance
  • Gorgeous touch screen with a slim bezel
  • CONS
  • Very costly


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