What are the laptops which are most suited for data scientists and analysts?

As we deal with heavy computations and also need to generate visualizations, something which can take the toll of it, would be recommended.

Would be preferred if it can help in handling Big Data analytics too.

Even though the analytics is done in the Map Reduce framework (or distributed computing), yet the computations are heavy and time taking and also slows down the laptop in most cases.

So, a laptop with features and OS which is most suited to handle such things gracefully is recommended.

[Price not an issue]

  • Concerning hardware: I'd guess Quadro M and mobile Xeon would be best? – SEJPM Sep 20 '15 at 17:13
  • "Even though the analytics is done in the Map Reduce framework (or distributed computing), yet the computations are heavy and time taking and also slows down the laptop in most cases." -> you run on your computer or some server? – Franck Dernoncourt Sep 20 '15 at 19:32

As I am pretty much in the same situation, here are what I look for:

  • SSD: since you'll likely perform many I/O on large data sets. 1 TB is my bottom line.
  • RAM: since it's often more convenient and much faster to keep data sets (or part of it) in memory. 16 GB is really bottom line.
  • GPU: Nvidia is sometimes preferable over AMD as it tends to be more supported (e.g. for neural network libraries). I had to get a MBP M2014 instead of M2015 because the latter had AMD while the former has Nvidia, and I need to use Theano.
  • OS: Linux tend to have more libraries (but since it doesn't have any decent speech engine software I personally use Microsoft Windows, using Linux in VM or in server).
  • CPU: hasn't evolved much over the last few years... some i7 3rd or 4th generation is standard.

As it's often cheaper to add SSD and RAM oneself, I tend upgrade mid-spec laptops.

If price isn't an issue, you can have a look at those overpriced Alienwares. For people who are more budget conscious, just check to what extend the laptop is upgradable (e.g. max RAM + number of SSD slots). In the US, I like Xotic PC as the max specs are clearly defined.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    I would add system76.com to the list when considering Linux. They have Nvidia high end options, and with the last one I ordered you could have an extra battery or throw in an extra drive for more IO - nice flexibility – Adam Comerford Sep 21 '15 at 13:57
  • Thank you for a wonderful answer. Upgrading my laptop seems like a better option. And can my Macbook Pro (15' retina) be upgraded for with the specs you've mentioned? – Dawny33 Sep 29 '15 at 16:25
  • @Dawny33 I believe RAM is soldered but SSD should be easy to change. – Franck Dernoncourt Sep 29 '15 at 21:00

An alternative which you should consider is moving to a server-client model for your calculations, performing the calculations on a powerful desktop and accessing the results remotely.

The desktop, being relatively free from the restrictions of cooling and weight, can be configured to be almost an order of magnitude more powerful than the best laptop. Dual Xeon setups with 3 or 4 graphics cards come to mind.

However, in order for remote access to work well, you need to have a reliable internet connection (data or wifi). If you can obtain a high speed internet connection that you can reliably access from any of the places you frequent, you should seriously consider that as an option.

Many 3G/4G operators have data plans which you can use in your laptop either as a built-in or using a USB data modem, and the main stumbling block here is likely to be the coverage of their services.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.