Best laptop for PhD students USA 2022- Buyers Guide


Topic: Which laptop is best for PhD students?

So you are planning to get a laptop for PhD students, I am sure you must be thinking about the budget yet do not need to compromise on performance.

Now you must have done your homework or a lot of research on the best PhD laptop, that’s what you’re going to do in your career right? You must be thinking of getting a very high-powered laptop with a strong CPU and GPU.

You do not have to worry about any lag and slowness well you are not wrong though, soon I am going to cover some of the top best laptop research and writing for pursuing your PhD, yet let me brief you on some misconceptions so you can make the right decision.

However, CPU definitely matters in the best laptop for researchers and PhD students yet graphics card is not the essential factor unless and until you do any video editing or photo editing.

In fact, even with an integrated GPU, you can do basic editing, otherwise, there is no big need for a GPU, instead of a video card your must concentrate on the processor, ram, and storage capacity.

Now let’s not delay first we are going to see the best laptop for PhD students and later a detailed buying guide, still for your reference below is a quick system requirement and our top 3 pick devices if you are short of time.

System Requirements for PhD students 

  • CPU: 10th gen Intel i5 or AMD Ryzen 4500U, 5500U or it’s equivalent (Minimum 4 cores must) 
  • Ram: 8GB with DDR4 technology (Recommended 16GB)
  • Storage Capacity: 256GB NVMe SSD (512GB NVMe is best to store all data)
  • Graphics card: Integrated graphics card from Intel or AMD (For gaming dedicated GPU from Nvidia is a better choice)
  • Battery life: 5-7 hours or above.
  • Display size: 13″ to 15″ with Full HD resolution anti-glare coating.

Also Read: Best Note-taking laptops

Best laptop for PhD students 2022

Best in budget 

Value for Money

Best Choice

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 laptop

Dell XPS 13 9310 laptop 

HP Pavilion 2 in 1 laptop

CPU AMD Ryzen 5500U, 6 cores.

CPU 11th gen intel core i7 1195G7, 4 cores

CPU 11th gen intel core i5 1135G7, 4 cores

Ram 8GB upgradeable up to 12GB.

Ram 16GB

Ram 16GB

GPU Integrated AMD Radeon graphics.

GPU Integrated Intel iris xe graphics.

GPU Integrated graphics card 

Storage 512GB SSD.

Storage  512GB SSD.

Storage 1TB SSD.

Display TN Full HD 14" 

Display 13.4" with full HD & 100% Srgb color gamut.

Display Full HD 14" 45% NTSC color gamut.


1. Apple MacBook Air Laptop 


best laptop for phd students


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Apple Macbook Air is no doubt the top choice for students specifically for research and scientific research due to its amazing components and beautifully crafted keyboard gives a pretty good user-friendly experience.

Moreover, there are multiple options in apple MacBook variants but we pick this one as this is the best mid-budget MacBook laptop for PhD students so let us see its features.

This laptop is powered by an M1 chip that has 8 cores delivers stunning performance during your research on the topic and at the same time maintains all your collected data without any hassle.

The laptop is equipped with 8GB ram and a huge storage capacity of up to 512GB SSD you can save your files and sheets, additionally, 8GB ram is a decent option for multi-tasking.

The display of the laptop is outstanding as this 13.3″ retina screen comes with 2560 x 1600 resolution and a superb P3 wide color gamut that enhances the color accuracy of the visuals you can enjoy true images on this panel.

This screen also has unique true tone technology which makes it the perfect laptop for students as it gives a brighter screen during outdoor use.

Overall graphics performance adds value to your use and apple laptops are known for long-lasting battery back up this one has above 15 hours of battery life which means you can use it the whole day without much worrying about charging.

The laptop looks attractive and very lightweight machine easier to carry in your bag as it is a very slim design and it also has good connectivity options such as thunderbolt and wifi6 with a webcam usable for online classes.

Key Features:

  • CPU M1 chip with 8 cores.
  • Ram 8GB and storage 512GB SSD.
  • Display Reina 13.3″ with excellent resolution.
  • Excellent color accuracy.
  • Longest battery life.
  • Good quality keyboard.


  • Pricey laptop.


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Also Read: Best gaming laptop under 800


2. HP Pavilion x360 Laptop 


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The 2-in-1 touchscreen laptops are very popular among students yet these are not suitable for every kind of work specifically the budget and cheap options come with decent hardware.

Now the good thing is Ph.D. and research do not come under those heavy tasks that require high-powered configuration thus this is the top choice for your learning days.

Besides HP Pavilion x360 is a highly popular variant in the market so HP always comes with a few inventions and we chose this latest version from HP laptop for PhD students.

The laptop runs on 11th gen intel core i5 1135G7 processor with intel turbo boost technology, CPU delivers incredibly fast speed up to 4.2Ghz.

This CPU has 4 cores and 8 threads ensuring a good time on your Ph.D. assignments and you can do a very high level of multitasking as it is integrated with 16GB ram memory.

The 16GB ram with 3200mhz frequency let you run any heavy applications easily and storage is awesome it has 1TB PCIe NVMe m.2 SSD storage which is excellent to back up your all data in this system.

On display front laptop has a Full HD 14″ screen panel with 45% NTSC color gamut and 250 nits brightness is decent for students, the side slim bezels ensure a good wide viewing angle and look good.

It is integrated with 3-cell, 43 Wh Li-ion battery that has good battery back up around 5-7 hours spent on usage, overall it’s a good option to carry in classes.

The laptop looks nice very well designed, adjustability is awesome ensuring premium comfort during long hours of working and it also comes with sd card reader support also wi-fi6 wireless connectivity giving a faster internet connection.

Key Features:

  • CPU 11th gen intel core i5 1135G7, 4 cores.
  • Ram 16GB and storage 1TB SSD.
  • Display Full HD 14″ with 45% NTSC color gamut.
  • Good battery life.
  • Portable and easy to carry.


  • Average brightness.


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3. Acer Swift 3 Laptop


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This Acer laptop for researchers is next on our list, its very sleek and thin design makes it a top contender for pursuing your Ph.D. career by working on it smoothly without any lag in performance, the highlight of this budget machine is definitely its octa-core processor.

Under the hood, the laptop has an AMD Ryzen 4700U processor with 8 cores and 16 threads that deliver a base speed 2.0Ghz and maximum clocks up to 4.1Ghz which is pretty fast and bulletproof configuration in such a low budget.

It is integrated with an 8GB DDR4 ram that makes sure you can do a good level of multi-task while doing in-depth research on your topics, also 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD is enough to store your working and this SSD boots the machine faster including quick OS loading.

Overall it’s a good combination of all these 3 components, the notable feature is Acer has not compromised on its storage capacity on a very economical budget you have a strong processing CPU and big storage capacity.

Now if you think 8GB is the least requirement for Ph.D. yet let me tell you it is still the best option for you as the laptop still offers you 8GB ram which is decent enough to run multiple web tabs at the same time you can work on taking notes.

The overall screen panel is standard that you found in most of the laptops under the budget, it is equipped with a Full HD 14” screen, and the display resolution is 1920 x 1080p with IPS LED-backlit technology which ensures vibrant visuals you can also enjoy the videos.

The graphics performance runs on an integrated AMD Radeon graphics card helps in good visuals; moreover, if you do video editing stuff to collect the data from different sources then this is a good option due to its CPU performance for basic editing and not for 4k editing.

 Apart from the technical features it really impresses with its look and thin side bezels looks attractive with stripe, It is integrated with webcam with 720p resolution you can use it for online meetings.

This Acer Swift laptop has a decent battery backup of about 6-7 hours depending on use, the laptop is furnished with USB Type-C, USB 3. 2 Gen 1, USB 2. 0 port, and HDMI port which is a decent option for this laptop.

The laptop only weighs 2.65lbs you also have a fingerprint reader that keeps your data safe and the keyboard has backlit support with excellent tactical keys you can have a very user-friendly experience.

Key Features:

  • CPU AMD Ryzen 4700U, 8 cores.
  • Integrated AMD Radeon graphics.
  • Ram 8GB and storage 512GB SSD.
  • Display Full HD 14″ with 1920 x 1080p resolution.
  • Lightweight laptop.
  • Good backlit keyboard.
  • Good battery life.


  • Instead of USB 2.0, it should have one more of the latest connectivity options.


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Also Read: Best gaming laptop under 1200


4. LG Gram 15Z995 Laptop


best laptop for phd students


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If you are not comfortable with Apple Macbook and looking for the longest battery life laptop similar to Macbook then this is the best laptop for PhD students on our list with a good intel CPU.

Though the hardware especially the CPU is not as powerful as the Apple laptop in terms of cores yet it is still the latest one which is excellent for multi-task and can support you in basic editing of photos and videos.

This LG Gram laptop runs on 11th gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 CPU with 4 cores and 8 threads delivering a base frequency 2.4Ghz and maximum boosting speed up to 4.2Ghz.

It is also integrated with 16GB DDR4 ram delivers 4266Mhz speed and good storage capacity up to 512GB NVMe SSD, both the combination is optimal for heavy multitasking and SSD keeps the device faster so you do not have to wait for longer during your lectures.

Overall, the functions are quite similar to HP Pavilion that we have discussed above specifically the CPU and ram yet ram frequency is higher in this LG laptop and the storage capacity is lower the HP still 512GB is good enough for Ph.D. and postgraduate students.

The main difference is definitely its display though the quality is Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution this one offers a 15.6” IPS screen panel with 96 percent sRGB color standards delivers more accurate colors and it has integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics.

So basically if you are someone who wants large screen space then this is the best laptop for your needs, moreover due to 15” display the laptop gets better space to offer you separate numeric pad and the backlit keyboard is a very nice design for good typing experience.

Despite the large screen, this laptop is ultra-lightweight only 2.47lbs the build quality is pretty strong which makes sure you have longer durability and an 80Wh battery delivers above 10 hours of battery back up which is excellent for your school and college use.

On the connectivity front device is equipped with excellent ports such as thunderbolt support with USB type C, 3 USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports, HDMI along with RJ45 Lan for internet connection, and wireless support such as wifi6, Bluetooth 5.1 version.

This laptop also offers features such as a fingerprint reader and SD card reader with excellent sound quality so you can get loud sound while watching videos overall top-notch laptop for PhD students.

Key Features:

  • CPU 11th gen Intel Core i5-1135G7, 4 cores.
  • Ram 16GB and storage capacity 512GB SSD.
  • Integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics.
  • Display Full HD 15.6″ with 96% sRGB color gamut.
  • Lightweight laptop.
  • Good connectivity support
  • SD card reader and fingerprint reader.
  • Excellent battery life.


  • Average Design.


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5. Lenovo Ideapad 3



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The above listed all laptops not in your range as a student if you are not willing to spend much on the laptop then this is the cheapest device on our list.

The Lenovo IdeaPad has done great work on this machine to give all the good hardware in the most economical range that adds a lot of value to your work efficiency.

It highlights with the AMD Ryzen 5500U processor with 6 cores and 12 threads give pretty much impressive performance while multi-tasking, this Hexa core CPU delivers a base speed 2.1Ghz and a maximum clock frequency of up to 4.0Ghz.

Additionally, it is equipped with 8GB ram quite optimal to work on multiple tabs smoothly, this ram support you can extend up to 12GB if needed in the future.

Another feature that stands out in this device is its big storage capacity of 512GB SSD let you store files and data easily.

The laptop comes with an integrated AMD Radeon graphics card that delivers smooth and fine images additionally laptop has a large screen of 15.6″ with full HD resolution yet it has a TN panel that delivers average color accuracy.

Moreover, it’s pretty much ok if you are only going to use it for research and note-taking, also this panel will help you in basic video and photo editing but do not expect to get very high standards of color accuracy.

This Lenovo IdeaPad also comes with a windows 11 operating system and the keyboard comes with a separate numeric pad.

Also, the laptop looks very decent not attractive design but gives a professional feel while carrying with you, there a webcam comes with decent quality you can use for online classes.

on the connectivity front laptop still has decent options such as USB type c, USB 3.2, USB 2.0, HDMI port, with wireless connectivity wifi6 and Bluetooth 5.0 version, the device is also equipped with an sd card reader.

Key features.

  • CPU AMD Ryzen 5500U, 6 cores.
  • Integrated AMD Radeon graphics.
  • Ram 8GB upgradeable up to 12GB.
  • Storage Capacity is 512GB SSD.
  • The screen size is 15.6″ with Full HD resolution.


  • Average color accuracy.
  • Little heavy.


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6. Asus ZenBook laptop



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The Asus ZenBook 14 is the other slimmest laptop designed by the Asus, it the 13.9mm thin and weighs only about 2.58lb Comes with good processing power and with long battery life.

This Asus ZenBook runs on 11th gen intel core i7 1165G7 CPU with 4 cores, 8 threads, and 12MB cache, laptop delivers seamless performance with a base frequency of 2.8Ghz and boost speed up to 4.70Ghz 

The PhD students can do multi-tasking on this machine as it is equipped with 8GB DDR4 ram with 4266MHz, the memory is enough to rely on web researching and collecting data at the same time.

For a smooth and fast experience Asus uses 512GB NVMe SSD, which keeps the machine efficient, and lets you take all the backups of files.

Although there are multiple options available in the ZenBook series yet we have picked this laptop for PhD students simply due to its amazing battery and brightest screen allow you to work anywhere easily.

The laptop is designed with a full HD 14″ IPS type display that has anti-glare technology to give you comfort during long hours and the highlight of this panel is definitely its 400 nits brightness which is good for outdoors.

This device charges the battery in less time within 40 minutes laptop charges up to 60% and the laptop also delivers amazing battery back up above 12 hours.

The build quality of the machine is pretty strong and compact, there is no big issue of flex on the top lid and the design too very impressive and looks stylish.

Additionally, it offers you backlit keyboard support the keys are nicely placed, and the thinnest side bezels look very nice.

This machine has the latest connectivity features such as thunderbolt 4 support along with USB 3.2 type A, HDMI 2.0b, RJ45 Lan along with wifi6 and Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless support and having an sd card support.

Key features

  • CPU 11th gen intel core i7 1165G7, 4 cores.
  • Ram 8GB and storage capacity 512GB SSD.
  • Display Full HD 14″ with 400 nits brightness.
  • Excellent battery life
  • Quick charging technology.
  • Thin and lightweight laptop.
  • Excellent connectivity options.


  • No ram upgradability details.


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7. Dell XPS 13 9310 laptop 



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Dell is a very well-known brand even for someone who is not familiar with the latest trends in the market, Dell has a different set of audiences specifically for professionals it’s pretty much recommended.

The Dell XPS comes under the category of premium devices you have plenty of options in this series yet most of them are a little costly however we have done long research before listing this Dell laptop for researchers and PhD aspirants.

As it is somewhere in the mid-budget option that comes with super processing intel Evo CPU and high memory support you can enjoy the heavy multi-tasking on this machine.

The Dell laptop runs on 11th gen intel core i7 1195G7 CPU with 4 cores, 8 threads, and 12MB cache, this quad-core processor delivers maximum boosting speed up to 5.0Ghz and the base frequency is 2.9Ghz.

It is equipped with super-efficient onboard 16GB DDR4 ram has stunning 4267Mhz speed and 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD helps in quick booting system.

Overall the combination of ram and processing speed keeps machine performance seamless and you can also do 1080p editing on this dell laptop.

The screen panel has a higher resolution of 1920 x 1200p giving very wide viewing angles as thin side bezels look good and let you enjoy working on this 13.4″ full HD screen also has 100% Srgb color standard ensuring accurate and vibrant colors on display.

It is integrated with Intel iris xe graphics gives smooth visual quality the highlight of this panel is its 500 nits brightness which is usable anywhere in bright areas.

The Dell XPS integrated with 4-Cell  52 Whr Battery delivers decent battery back up om regular use, additionally, it is furnished with good connectivity options such as a thunderbolt, and SD card reader.

The design of this machine is very rich looks professional and very sleek body that fits into your backup easily, the laptop weight is below 3lb and does not put stress on your shoulders easy to carry and the keyboard to comes with responsive keys that are let you take notes smoothly.

Key Features:

  • CPU 11th gen intel core i7 1195G7, 4 cores.
  •  Ram 16GB and storage capacity 512GB SSD.
  • Display 13.4″ with full HD 1920 x 1200p resolution.
  • 100% Srgb color gamut.
  • Integrated Intel iris xe graphics.
  • Good battery life.
  • Good connectivity ports.


  • Pricey laptop.


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Buying guide for the best laptop for PhD students 


Best laptop for PhD students

If you are not sure about the above laptops then read our below in-depth discussion on the best laptop for PhD students, after reading it you can take a more firm decision,s and lots of doubt going to clear.

Before proceeding further let me tell you that for researchers largely 2 technical components are very crucial that is CPU and ram along with storage capacity.

So basically prioritized these elements and put your budget on this, you will definitely get the best PhD laptop for college.

Now let’s start with a discussion.



There is no matter which brand you select between Intel and AMD, it essential is to choose the latest generation CPU, just do not go beyond 5 years older processors.

If you select the right processor you will definitely get high processing power but more than its speed the cores are very crucial as the separate cores let you do a good level of multi-tasking.

So let us discuss each brand separately to understand in-depth both of them as many users are pretty confused about the intel vs AMD.



Intel has dominated this area for years now and still making very good processors.

In intel if you are looking for a good laptop for PhD student then 10th gen intel core i5 is the minimum requirement for a good level of work if you have the budget then the intel i7 is definitely recommended for seamless performance.

Moreover, the processing speed in intel variants is always efficient which gives smooth working.

The thing with intel is these CPUs are a little more expensive than AMD Ryzen options, therefore, many of the users prefer AMD nowadays also intel few years doing good in gaming machines due to its single-core performance.


AMD Ryzen:

In the last few years, AMD has done a very huge improvement on CPU and most importantly they are very economical in budget and provide good performing options.

When it comes to AMD always make sure it has Ryzen series with 4000 or 5000 variants as these processors have 6 cores which will let you do a good level of multitasking

Moreover, in the budget, you will also have AMD Ryzen 7 options which will give you a smooth performance.

So the conclusion is both are great options yet if you are limited with a budget and do not want to compromise with multi-tasking then AMD Ryzen 4500u or 5500u are better options for PhD laptop.


Is MacBook good for Ph.D. students?

Now since 2020 MacBook has invented their own CPU which is pretty much faster so yes it’s definitely going to add value to your work yet they are quite expensive and I would not suggest you choose an older version of apple.

Few things are really impressive about MacBook apart from its new M1 chips processor their extremely optimized keyboard quality with the longest battery life makes them the best laptop for PhD students.


Ram Memory 

While researching on various topics you just do not have to rely on textual content in this modern world we have information on video formats as well.

So as a Ph.D. student you will be involved in a lot of things from collecting data to watching videos, for all these tasks you should have a minimum of 8GB of ram memory.

Though 16GB will give far better performance yet this is not a big headache if you have a low budget as most modern laptops do come with upgradable options yet always better to check.


Storage capacity

In Ph.D., you have to take a lot of backups and that too for the longest time as you never know which file you will require in the future so storage is also as important as ram

If you are very limited with a budget 256GB SSD is decent but there are high chances you will need to get the extra hard drive in the future so I will always recommend 512GB NVMe SSD.

Also, note that just to save some bugs do not choose HDD hard drives as they are way slower than the SSD so as a student you will witness a very sluggish performance that harms the efficiency.

Another benefit of SSD in laptops is they do not consume high power as result you get longer battery life, so overall no compromise on SSD even if you have the lowest budget.


Graphics card

I have briefed above that as PhD student you do not necessarily need a dedicated graphics card unless you like to do gaming on a laptop if you are interested then visit our article on the best performance gaming laptops.

Moreover, even if you do light photo and video editing you can manage it with an integrated video card if you have good CPU and ram support.


Display size & Quality 

There is no denying the fact that you are going to spend your entire time in front of a laptop so with screen size its quality also needs special attention so your eyes will not feel more stressed.

The display size in laptops is available from 11″ to 17″ as a student smaller screen is better to carry yet I will suggest going with a 13″ to 15″ screen size for comfortable viewing.

As below 13″ screen sometimes makes it harder to read and the 17″ laptop becomes too heavy to carry.

Now the quality of the display panel is very important always prefer full HD resolution with anti-glare technology as it provides comfort to your eyes during long hours of working.

The color accuracy though does not matter much in the Ph.D. laptop so you can manage with a 45% NTSC color gamut panel.

Lastly, screen brightness is also needed to check however higher brightness is always better for students yet in budget options, you have to settle with 250 nits and honestly, you should not go below 250 nits.


Operating system

This completely depends on you yet windows and macOS are good for Ph.D. students, Chromebook is fine still it has some limitations when compared to others.

Though Chromebook looks fine as a Ph.D. student you spend a lot of time on the internet but the issue with Chromebook is if you do not have a web connection it will lag and very limited access to software, therefore, windows and macOS prefer choice.

If you compare both then definitely macOS is faster but again when it comes to flexibility working on different software on windows laptops is better.

Overall if your main aim is only to use for Ph.D. then it’s pretty much ok to go with any of the options.

There is also Linux operating system available but it’s a little complex to use if you are not very technically aware then don’t consider Linux on your laptop.



For students connectivity ports are important as these will help you for different purposes from connecting external devices to transferring data etc

The USB Type-A port makes sure you can connect your mouse, and keyboards apart from this it will also help you to use printers to take prints of your documents and data.

The HDMI port is very important as it allows you to connect your device to external sources such as monitors which can help you to give presentations without transferring data to others.

For Internet connection you should have good wireless support as nowadays all of us use wifi, good options are wifi5 and wifi6 for better connectivity on the web.

Thunderbolt or USB type C port ensures quick data transfer, thunderbolt connectivity is mostly found in mid to expensive laptops so a USB type c port is a must if you are limited with a budget.


Frequently asked questions


What laptop is best for research?

For research, you need a decent laptop if not a very high processing system, for this kind of work you need to put your budget mainly on three specs that are good CPU, Ram, and SSD drive.

If you want to know in detail read our above details buying guide on laptops for researchers and Ph.D. students.

However, we have listed some of the best laptops for research above among them Acer swift is the best choice on budget and the cheap option is Lenovo Ideapad 3.

If you have a budget to spend then the apple MacBook is a value for money laptop on our list as it comes with a high processing CPU with 8GB ram and is very lightweight and also delivers the longest battery life.


Is a laptop necessary for Ph.D. students?

Yes, a laptop or pc is necessary for a Ph.D. student as the research methods have changed over the years nowadays you are not only relying on books for the information there is a lot of study material available in video format and text content on different web sites.

Additionally f you want to make presentations then the laptop will help you to make a beautiful presentation for college and also makes note-taking easy during lectures.


How much ram does a Ph.D. students need?

The ram actually helps you to do smooth work while you are using the machine here we need to understand first that ph students have to do a lot of research therefore high chance you will be opening a lot of tabs during your research.

To run all your applications and tabs smoothly you need a minimum of 8GB, this is sufficient enough yet if you have the budget then consider 16GB ram for a high level of multi-tasking.


What is the best laptop for scientific research?

If you are on to scientific research then you have a lot of work on your hand from research to compiling all the data you collected yet you do not need any special specification as the work is almost the same as researchers do.

However, the recommended specs for laptops are intel i7 10th gen with a minimum of 8GB RAM with a 512GB SSD drive to store all important data in folders and a full HD screen panel with anti-glare coating.


Is Chromebook good for Ph.D. students?

Yes, Chromebook laptops are good for Ph.D. students they are a little affordable and easy to carry outdoors.

Yet you should know that you need a fast internet connection to work on it and it has very limited access to different software, therefore, it’s a decent option for Ph.D. students but windows or MacBook laptops are always the best options for Ph.D.


Final words 

Getting the best laptop for PhD students does not necessarily require spending higher yet you need a good device with compact build quality without compromising on portability.

Overall as I discussed many times during this article processor, ram, and SSD drive need attention while searching for a laptop for PhD however good display quality can ensure comfortable use still you do not need a dedicated GPU unless you do gaming or any heavy video editing.


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