If you are a chemist, or a chemistry grad student looking to buy the best laptop for computational chemistry and other research works in chemical sciences, this guide will help you make the right choice.

We’ve recommended laptops for getting the most out of programs like ChemDraw, ChemStation, ChemBioOffice, ChemSketch, Origin, CasaXPS, Spectragryph, Avantage, Prism, Microsoft Office, Evernote, RStudio, and GaussView.

The best laptops for chemistry PhD students we’ve narrowed down can also run Mestrelab, SpinWorks and OPUS, LIMS and Mathematica, effortlessly.

From Dell to Lenovo, we look at the best laptops for chemistry grad students and what makes each laptop outstanding.

Best Laptops for Computational Chemistry at a Glance

No. Item  
1 Dell XPS 15 (Editors’ Choice) Check Price on Amazon
2 HP Spectre x360 Check Price on Amazon
3 Acer Aspire 5 Check Price on Amazon
4 Microsoft Surface Book 2 Check Price on Amazon
5 HP Envy 13 Check Price on Amazon
6 Apple MacBook Pro Check Price on Amazon
7 Lenovo ThinkPad E15 Check Price on Amazon

 

1. Dell XPS 15 (Editors’ Choice)

best laptops for computational chemistry

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Our Editors’ Choice for the best laptop for computational chemistry is the Dell XPS 15.The Dell XPS 15 sports a similar design as the Dell XPS 13, however, it is larger.

It is portable and lightweight. You won’t have problems hauling the Dell XPS 15  (14.06 x 9.27 x 0.45 inches, 4.3pounds) in your backpack on the subway, going to and from work.

The Dell XPS 15 pairs an Intel Core i7 processor with 512GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. There are Core i5 and i9 variants as well. With the Core i7 and Core i9 variants, you can run Spectragryph, ChemDraw, SpinWorks, ChemStation, ChemBioOffice, and more without problems.

One of the main appeals of the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 is the sensor hub which enhances the performance of the machine by boosting frequencies. The sensor hub also assists in checking the cooling system.

For cooling, the XPS 15 has a vent situated at the back for taking out heat generated by the laptop during use. The hinges allow you flip it 360 degrees into tablet or tent mode like the HP Spectre x360, Asus Chromebook Flip C434 and Lenovo Yoga C930.

Despite its size, you get an assortment of ports: two Thunderbolt 3 and two USB-C 3.1 ports. These ports support charging. Furthermore, there is a microSD card reader and headphone jack.

As far as battery performance goes, you get approximately 5 hours of use, although the manufacturer claims the XPS 15 can last more than 10 hours.

Overall, the Dell XPS 15 is strongly recommended as the best laptop for computational chemistry.

PROS

  • Portable
  • Fast processors
  • Thin design
  • Affordable

CONS

  • No USB-A port

Dell XPS 15 Key Specifications

Display: 15.6-inch 4K Ultra HD, 3840 x 2160 pixels
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i9
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD
Size: 14.06 x 9.27 x 0.45 inches (35.7 x 23.5 x 1.1 cm)
Weight: 4.3 pounds (1.97 kg)
Battery: 97Wh

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2. HP Spectre x360 

best laptops for computational chemistry

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The HP Spectre x360 2019 is one of Hewlett-Packard’s best 2-in-1 laptops. Its specs and features are excellent and sure to handle all the computational needs of a chemist or a graduate student in computational chemistry.

It comes equipped with an Intel Core i7-8565U CPU, a whopping 256GB of storage, and 8GB RAM. The Spectre x360’s impressive 61 Wh battery will carry you through 13 hours of moderate use without getting energy anxious.

The laptop isn’t quite as expensive as the Apple MacBook Air 2018, Dell XPS 13, and Apple MacBook  which are also very good options for using programs like CasaXPS, Mestrelab, Chemsketch, Spinworks, OPUS,  ChemDraw, ChemStation, and ChemBioOffice.

Like the Lenovo Yoga C930, the HP Spectre x360 is shipped with a stylus.

Every port you could reasonably expect is on this powerful laptop including USB-A and USB-C ports.

Poseidon Blue and Ash Silver are colour choices available in either 13-inch or 15-inch model.

The only minor drawback of the laptop is its average touchpad – it isn’t as good a touchpad as you’ll find on the MacBook Pro. That said, the overall impressive performance of the Spectre x360 overshadows this downside.

If this does not give you pause, then the Spectre x360 is absolutely worth owing. It is still one of the best laptops for computational chemistry.

Read: Things to Consider When Buying a Laptop

PROS

  • Good performance
  • Smart, stylish design
  • Very long battery life

CONS

  • Mediocre touchpad
  • Display could be better

HP Spectre x360 Key Specifications

Display: 13.3-inch 4K display, 1920 x 1080 pixels
CPU: 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8265U/Core i7-8565U
Operating System: Windows 10 Home
RAM: 8GB or 16GB
Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB
Ports: Thunderbolt 3, USB Type-C, USB 3.1 Type-A, microSD slot, headphone jack
Size: 12.2 x 8.6 x 0.57 inches (309.9 x 218.4 x 14.5 mm)
Weight: 2.9 pounds (1.32 kg)

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3. Acer Aspire 5

best laptops for computational chemistry

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The Acer Aspire 5 delivers excellent performance at a reasonable price. It has everything you’d expect from a good laptop.

Port selection is generous, and you shouldn’t have a problem. And the connections are typical of a contemporary laptop: one USB 3.1 (Type-C) Gen 1 port, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports (one with power-off charging), one USB 2.0 Port and one HDMI Port with HDCP Support.

The beefy Aspire 5, sporting dimensions of 14.31 x 9.86 x 0.71 inches and weighing 3.97 pounds, is portable. You won’t have problems hauling the Aspire 5 in your backpack, going to and from school or work.

Battery life is great, just like you’d expect from a good laptop and the cell lasts up to 8 hours without a problem.

Our biggest issue with the Aspire 5 is the lack of an SD card slot.

Overall, you’ll be hard-pressed to be disappointed with the Acer Aspire 5’s performance. It is a strong buy and one of the best laptops for computational chemistry.

Related: The Best Laptops for Chemical Engineering Students

PROS  

  • Excellent performance
  • Good port selection
  • Lightweight
  • Good battery life
  • Good keyboard

CONS

  • No SD card slot

Acer Aspire 5 Key Specifications

Display: 15.6-inch, IPS Full HD (1920 x 1080)
CPU: 10th Gen Intel Core i5
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce MX350
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
Size: 14.31 x 9.86 x 0.71 inches (363.5 x 250.4 x 18 mm)
Weight: 3.97 pounds (1.8 kg)
OS: Windows 10 Home

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4. Microsoft Surface Book 2

best laptops for computational chemistry

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The Microsoft Surface Book 2 is made of aluminum chassis, looks great and comes with a wealth of handy features. The laptop is detachable and comes with a Surface Pen. It is thin and light.

Armed with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, the Microsoft Surface Book 2 stands toe-to-toe with the best laptops for computational chemistry on our list.

Of course, it ships with a powerful Intel Core i7 processor. With this, you won’t have problems running your programs. The Core i7 will make running ChemDraw, ChemStation, ChemBioOffice, and the like unproblematic.

The Surface Book 2 has a good selection of ports for connecting to external displays using the DisplayPort standard, lightning-fast external drives, and pretty much any USB peripheral.

The ports on the 2-in-1 are: two USB 3.1 ports, one USB 3.1 Type-C port, two Surface Connect ports, an SD card reader, and a 3.5 mm headphone jack.

If you are a heavy gamer as well, the Microsoft Surface Book 2 will serve you well. Microsoft was smart to put the Xbox Wireless radio which makes connecting Xbox One controllers seamless.

With regard to weight, the Surface Book lightweight at 4.2 pounds. For comparison’s sake, it is lighter than the Lenovo Legion Y7000 Gaming Laptop (9.15 pounds), 2019 HP Omen 17 (7.1 pounds), and the Dell G7 (5.5 pounds).

As for battery life, you’ll get around seven hours out of the laptop from a single charge, if not more.

The speakers are a bit of a letdown. The Surface Book 2’s speakers do not pump amazing sound as the 2018 MacBook Air, the Apple MacBook Pro, and the Razer Blade Stealth.

All in all, the Surface Book 2 is one of the best laptops for computational chemistry.

Recommended: Are Touchscreen Laptops Worth It? 

PROS

  • Very powerful specs
  • Superb battery life
  • Good cooling feature
  • Quite lightweight

CONS

  • Pricey
  • Speakers aren’t the best

Microsoft Surface Book 2 Key Specifications

Display: 13-inch, 3240 x 2160 pixels
CPU: Intel Core i7-8650U
GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 620; Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
RAM: 16GB LPDDR3
Storage: 1TB PCIe 3.0 SSD
Size: 13.5 x 9.87 x 0.568-0.90 (343 x 251 x 15-23 mm)
Weight: 4.2 pounds (1.9 kg)
OS: Windows 10 Pro

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5. HP Envy 13

best laptops for computational chemistry

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The HP Envy 13 is one of the best laptops you can get for the money.

Entry level model ships with 8GB of RAM and 256GB NVMe solid-state drive, and a full HD (1920 x 1080) non-touch display.

A more expensive variant of the HP Envy 13 pairs an Intel Core i7-8565U processor with 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD, and 4K (3840 x 2160) touchscreen. It is built on an NVIDIA GeForce MX250 graphics card.

The Envy 13 is portable at 1.27 kg and has a 12.01 x 8.30 x 0.57-inch footprint. So you won’t have problems lugging in your backpack to and from work or school.

With regard to performance, the Envy 13 can stand toe-to-toe with laptops such as the Dell XPS 13 and the Razer Blade Stealth which cost even more. You can perform tasks like web browsing, word processing, using spreadsheets, and more on the Envy 13 with ease.

That said, the Envy 13 isn’t made for heavy gaming and 3D rendering or video editing.

Next is the backlit keyboard which is responsive and quiet. The touchpad works smoothly, too. You may not fancy the arrangement of the cursor arrow keys.

Finally, battery life is good. You’ll get at least 11 hours of battery life. So it should get you through a workday.

Don’t Miss: TN vs. IPS Displays in Laptops: Which Should You Buy?

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Excellent 4K touchscreen
  • Sleek design

CONS

  • No HDMI port
  • No Thunderbolt 3 port

HP Envy 13 Key Specifications

Display: 13.3-inch, Full HD (1920 x 1080)
CPU: Intel Core i7
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce MX250
RAM: 8GB, 16GB
Storage: 256GB, 512GB
Size: 12.01 x 8.30 x 0.57 inches (307 x 212 x 14.5 mm)
Weight: 2.82 pounds (1.27 kg)
OS: Windows 10 Home
Battery: 53.6 Wh

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6. Apple MacBook Pro

best laptops for computational chemistry

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If you are accustomed to using MacBooks, the MacBook Pro is for you. It is the best MacBook for getting the most out of the majority of programs used by chemists, and PhD students in computational chemistry.

In fact, nearly every professor uses a MacBook because it just works at all times.

The MacBook Pro’s display is excellent and crisp, but isn’t any different from previous models except for the True Tone technology.

When running processor-intensive tasks, the MacBook Pro does an excellent job without any noticeable CPU throttling.

Aside from running the conventional programs you need for computational chemistry, the laptop is also suitable for gaming and can handle games like Overwatch, Fortnite, and PUBG with aplomb.

That’s not all. With Apple’s T2 chip security, you need not worry about malware. Interestingly, the T2 chip is not all about security. It takes care of the MacBook Pro’s cooling system, too.

Audio on the MacBook Pro is unsurprisingly outstanding. The speakers offer the same amazing sound quality as the MacBook Air. This is good news for anyone who digs good sound.

The MacBook Pros’ RAM uses more power than the previous models, however, Apple isn’t skimping on the battery with the MacBook Pro. Apple has added a battery strong enough to power the Pros with Touch Bar.

You could get a little above 10 hours out of the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar without having to visit a wall plug.

The MacBook Pro has a super-responsive touchpad. Apple nailed the touchpad. It remains one of the best touchpads on the market.

Keyboard is decent. The butterfly-style keys have been tweaked and are quieter, thanks to a silicon element beneath each keycap – so no more clacky sounds.

If budget is no issue, the MacBook Pro is worth considering and remains one of the best laptops for computational chemistry.

Also Good: 4K (UHD) vs. 1080p (Full HD) Laptops: Which is Better?

PROS  

  • Enhanced Processing speed
  • Improved storage
  • Better display
  • Very portable
  • Outstanding speakers

CONS

  • Same old design
  • Expensive

Apple MacBook Pro Key Specifications                     

Display: 13-inch display, 2880 x 1800 pixels
CPU: Intel Core i7 – i9
Graphics: Radeon Pro 555X – Radeon Pro 560X
Operating System: macOS High Sierra 10.13.6
RAM: 16GB – 32GB
Storage: Up to 4TB SSD
Ports: Thunderbolt 3, audio jack
Size: 13.75 x 9.48 x 0.61 inches (349.3 x 240.7 x 15.5 mm)
Weight: 1.82kg (4.02 pounds)

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7. Lenovo ThinkPad E15

best laptops for computational chemistry

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The Lenovo ThinkPad E15 is an affordable laptop with impressive specs. Its display features a Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution.

As far as weight goes, the laptop is lightweight at 1.90kg. So you have a laptop that is light on your back and on your wallet.

The ThinkPad E15 is equipped with Intel Core i7-10510U CPU, 8GB of RAM and 256GB or 512GB of storage. These specs provide the power you need to run many programs without problems. There are models with Intel Core i3, or Core i5 processor.

For privacy, the laptop has a TPM chip, and a privacy shutter on the camera.

On another front, the ThinkPad E15 keyboard has keys with slightly long key travel, however, they provide quiet feedback. The touchpad supports multi-touch gestures.

For cooling, there are vents underneath.

Every port a good laptop should have is on the ThinkPad E15. You’ll find two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, a USB 2.0 port, one USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 port, an HDMI connection, a LAN, as well as a headphone/microphone combo jack.

You’re sure of a limited 1-year warranty when you buy the Lenovo ThinkPad E15.

The Lenovo ThinkPad E15 remains one of the best laptops for computational chemistry.

PROS

  • Lightweight
  • Good keyboard
  • Ample port selection
  • Affordable

CONS

  • Battery life could be better

Lenovo ThinkPad E15 Key Specifications

Display: 15.6-inch, IPS, Full HD (1920 x 1080)
CPU: Intel Core i7
GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 175
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 256GB, 512GB
Size: 14.5 x 9.6 x 0.7 inches (371.2 x 245.8 x 17.9 mm)
Weight: 4.19 pounds (1.9 kg)
OS: Windows 10 Pro
Battery: 45 Wh

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No. Item  
1 Dell XPS 15 (Editors’ Choice) Check Price on Amazon
2 HP Spectre x360 Check Price on Amazon
3 Acer Aspire 5 Check Price on Amazon
4 Microsoft Surface Book 2 Check Price on Amazon
5 HP Envy 13 Check Price on Amazon
6 Apple MacBook Pro Check Price on Amazon
7 Lenovo ThinkPad E15 Check Price on Amazon

Bottom Line

We’ve reviewed the best laptops for computational chemistry. These laptops are a great pick for chemists and graduate students in computational chemistry who need robust, fast, and responsive laptops.