10 Best Laptops for Data Science and Data Analysis
May 20, 2020
You’re only as good a data scientist as your computer lets you be. If your machine struggles to crunch numbers, other data analysts will outpace you, nabbing the most precious insights first. Your clients could suffer, and so could your career. Picking the best laptop for data science is a crucial choice for your future.
But you can’t just say, “What’s the best laptop for data analysis” and get a cookie-cutter answer. Are you using R and doing all your number-crunching on a home machine? Or do you use AWS cloud machines with remote storage? Maybe you’re into parallel computing using GPUs. If that’s all Greek to you, don’t worry. This list of the 10 best laptops for data science and data analysis has the right picks for students, entry-level applicants, and seasoned data-busting pros.
Data science laptop specs
Chances are, your data crunching needs will soon outgrow even the best data science laptop specs. You’ll probably use AWS or other cloud-based computers to crunch numbers, not your own laptop. That said, you’ll still want to run local models from time to time, so think carefully about the specs you spring for.
How much RAM does the best data analysis laptop need? As much as you can get . Big data isn’t getting smaller. With 40 zettabytes of data projected by 2020, we could fit it all in print if each person on Earth had 2.5 million newspapers .
If you’re strictly cloud-based or using clusters, big RAM matters less. Some pros claim to get by with 4GB, but most data science warriors like a minimum of 8GB, with 16GB as the sweet spot. Some high-end laptops can even hold up to 128GB.
Your data is only as fast as where it’s stored. Traditional, disk-based SATA drives spin at 5400 or 7200 RPMs, but with no moving parts, solid-state drives (SSD) leave them in the dust. If money is a sticking point, get a 256GB SSD, then rely on inexpensive external SATA drives for backup. One caveat: make sure your laptop for data science has Thunderbolt-C ports for quick data transfers.
What does the future hold for data science laptops? Not smaller processors and less memory. As your needs grow, you’ll be glad to know HP laptops are easy to upgrade, with wallet-friendly options for adding extra RAM, storage, and beefier graphics cards.
Why does graphics matter for the best data analytics laptops? A standard CPU has 4 to 8 processing cores, but the average GPU has 700 cores, and some have 2,000 or more. NVIDIA® created the CUDA parallel computing platform to leverage that parallel computing power for data science. To run CUDA, you’ll want an HP laptop with a CUDA-capable GPU . Can’t get one? Even integrated graphics can run open-source OpenCL applications .
You’ll likely use external monitors and keyboards for the bulk of your daily work. That said, a full-size HP keyboard and minimum 15-inch display are standard in the data science world. The best data science laptops also add flexibility.
You could also consider a convertible model from the list of the best laptops for data analysis below. They let you choose from multiple work modes, like tent or stand mode for storytelling, tablet mode for one-on-one sharing, or laptop mode for down-and-dirty work time.
10 best HP laptops for data analysis
Ready to dive in? Here’s our list of HP’s 10 best laptops for data processing and analytics. Each one is fully customizable, so don’t be afraid to pick one as a starting point and dial up the RAM, storage, and processor as needed.
For its mix of price and power, the best laptop for data analytics is the HP ENVY 17t. Its Intel® Core™ i5 and Core i7 processors deliver up to 4.6 GHz of speed. Its CUDA-capable NVIDIA GeForce® GPUs can vastly speed up processor-heavy applications.
Add 8GB to 16GB of DDR4 RAM, an eye-friendly Full High Definition (FHD) 17.3-inch touch display with plenty of screen real estate for easy storytelling. Pile on up to a 512GB Intel SSD to store massive datasets. All around, this machine serves up power, convenience, and prestige for a lot less money than you’d think.
Are you buying a laptop for analytics, but on a tight budget? HP Pavilion laptops can give you surprising data-driving specs at affordable prices. The 11-inch HP Pavilion x360 will set you up with a quad-core Intel Pentium Silver processor and 4GB of SDRAM for a solid entry-level experience.
The 15-inch variant bumps you up to more comfortable 8th Generation Intel Core processors with a base of 8GB of memory. That’s robust enough to run powerful data analytics apps like Apache Spark or MATLAB with room to spare.
The HP EliteBook is ultra-slim and light, with 8th Generation Intel Core processors for optimal SAS or ggplot2 use. The ultrabright, anti-glare display lets you move from a darkened boardroom to the full light of day without hurting your eyes.
What about the hardware? With up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM, you’ll process mountains of data fast. Plus, with not one but two available 2TB SSDs, you’ll work lightning fast without ever thinking about external drives.
Windows 10 64
7th and 8th Generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors
The best laptop for data science for well-heeled pros is the HP ZBook 15 G5. This data-demon lets you enjoy Windows 10 Pro 64, 9th Generation Intel Core i7 and Core i9 (6-core) processors, and up to a blistering 128GB of DDR4 RAM. That’s enough to zip through the heaviest R modeling jobs with ease.
Another perk? This HP ZBook comes standard with a 512GB SSD, which won’t run out of room or make you wait to access data. Or equip yours with up to two 2TB SSDs in an internal NVMe RAID array. An available discrete NVIDIA Quadro® graphics card means you’ll crush CUDA jobs and professional visualizations.
You’ll be shocked to see how far the HP ENVY x360 stretches your dollar. This entry on our list of best data science laptops comes with super-speedy Intel Core i7 processors, up to 16GB of RAM, and a full 1TB of SSD goodness to keep your most demanding R data jobs humming.
The available NVIDIA GeForce MX250 graphics card is CUDA-capable. Plus the x360’s 2-in-1 form factor pops into tent or stand mode for easy teamwork at storytelling time.
The HP Spectre x360’s 1TB SSD will sock away a million megabytes of product quality tracking, supply planning, or output forecasting. The full package of 16GB of RAM and a speedy Core i7 processor will keep your simulations blisteringly-fast. And if you’re thinking of running CUDA, this HP Spectre x360’s available NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards can put hundreds of data science cores in your corner.
The HP ProBook is a solid entry-level laptop for data science pros with mid-level budgets. Its Windows 10 Pro OS lets you log in to your work computer with Remote Desktop, encrypt your data with Bit Locker, and run Linux with Client Hyper-V.
With an HP ProBook, you’ve got all the needed specs like up to 16GB of RAM and optional Intel Core i7 processors. The integrated UHD graphics won’t let you run CUDA applications, but it can run OpenCL with a little effort.
Wait, isn’t HP OMEN a gaming-focused line? True, but the massive ceiling of 32GB of DDR4 RAM and up to a full 1TB of SSD storage make it one of the best laptops for data analysis for the money. The available NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics card is optimal for data science applications. Plus, if you want to play some Fortnite on the side, you’re set with one of the best gaming laptops money can buy.
If you’re on a limited budget but still want one of the best laptops for big data, stop right here. The HP Notebook 15 gives you the data-cooking power of an Intel Core i7 processor with an optional 16GB of RAM. A 128GB SSD keeps the data moving quickly while stocking you with decent storage, though you may want to leverage its 3 USB 3.1 ports to tap into external drives. If you’re a college student or an entry-level data analytics pro, this machine is a great value.
Windows 10 64
Intel Core i7 processors
Up to 16GB of DDR4 RAM
Intel UHD Graphics (not CUDA-capable, but can run OpenCL with a little tweaking )
If you frequently present data visualizations on an overhead, the HP Spectre Folio will make sure you’re dressed to impress. Its handsome leather housing looks fantastic, but it’s much more than an attractive piece of tech. It packs up to 16GB of RAM and powerful Intel Core i5 and i7 processors for up to 4.2 GHz of Turbo Boosted speed.
You’ll have room to spare with up to 256GB of fast SSD storage. An external screen may help for long days of HPCC or Qubole tasks, but be warned you won’t be able to run CUDA on its integrated Intel UHD graphics. A nice perk of this best laptops for a data scientist is the ability to pop it into tablet mode for easy storytelling.
Windows 10 64
Intel Core i5 and i7 processors
Up to 16GB RAM
Intel UHD Graphics
Up to 256GB SSD
Big data is growing exponentially, but with distributed solutions, should data scientists worry about RAM, storage, and other specs? Yes. Even for those who leverage AWS or clusters, the best laptops for data science have more RAM, cores, and in some cases CUDA-capable GPUs for mega-boosted parallel computing. That said, the best laptop for data analysis for a student with big college debt will differ vastly from the best choice for someone with a bigger budget.
Tom Gerencer is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Tom is an ASJA journalist, career expert at Zety.com, and a regular contributor to Boys' Life and Scouting magazines. His work is featured in The Boston Globe, Costco Connection, FastCompany, and many more.
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