Software feasible for astronomy are numerous and may have different system requirements. But keeping the best ones in the frame i.e Maxlm DL, Starry Night Pro and Stellarium, we need to have a laptop that covers the pre-requisites for running all these software on a single machine. For that, we carried out a comparative study, and this is what we have:
1. Operating system
Although Maxlm DL is compatible with older versions like Windows XP, Windows Server 2003; the other two are not and require Windows Vista at the least. Particularly Stellarium needs at least Windows 7. So, for you to be able to run all these software on your machine, you should look for nothing below Windows 7. In fact, to be on the safer side, get one with Windows 8. For Mac users, anything above OS X 10.8.5 is doable.
Latest quad-core or Intel core processors would suffice for astronomy software like these. Although, 1 GHz is the minimum we would recommend, the optimum processor speed for handling such applications is 1.5GHz, which is quite common in laptops today.
Most of the astronomy software use 3D models for better perceptibility and user-friendly presentation, and these three here are no different. OpenGL 1.4 support capable Graphics card with at least 1GB overall rendering capability is a must. The better the graphics, the smoother the software functions. But take note, these software are not graphics intensive, so you don’t have to spend too much on it unless you are also considering gaming.
Speaking of RAM, the minimum amount required for Stellarium is 512MB, but then at that much, the application would probably be dragging. Besides, most of the astronomy applications need 1GB of RAM to go smooth. So remember, no less than a GB shall you even consider.
5. Disk Space
Although Stellarium and Maxlm DL need a mere 250MB and 100MB of disk space respectively, the Starry Night Pro Plus version demands 12GB of space on your disk. Also, the files would need faster access. So, if you could afford an SSD; that could be great. HDDs are also alright for the purpose and nevertheless, do a fine job.
Other the usual requirements, 64-bit drivers would be required if your PC has a 64-bit architecture. The resolution shall also be at least 1024 x 768 for sharp visibility.
Top 3 laptops for Astronomy
# RANK 1
MSI GS65 Stealth THIN-050 15.6" Gaming Laptop - 144Hz 7ms, Ultra Thin, i7-8750H (6 cores), GTX 1060 6G, 16GB RAM, 512G NVMe SSD, Win 10 Pro, RGB Keys, Black w/ Gold Diamond Cut
- Display: 15.6" FHD, Anti-Glare Wide View Angle 144Hz 7ms 72%NTSC | Operating System: Win 10 PRO
- Processor: Core i7-8750H Hexa-Core (6 Cores) 2.2 - 4.1GHz
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX1060 6G GDDR5
- Memory (RAM): 16GB (8G*2) DDR4 2400MHz 2 Sockets; Max Memory 32GB | Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD
- Special Features: VR Ready | Matte Black with Gold Diamond cut | Killer Gaming Network E2500 | Steel Series per-Key RGB with Anti-Ghost key (84 Key) | Thunderbolt 3*1
# RANK 2
ASUS ZenBook Flip 14 Ultra Slim Convertible Laptop, 14” Full HD WideView, 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8565U, 16GB RAM, 512GB PCIe SSD, GeForce MX150, Windows 10, UX461FN-DH74T
- 14-inch WideView Full HD NanoEdge bezel touch display in 13.3-inch chassis with Windows 10 Pre-installed
- Latest 8th generation Intel Core i7-8565U Quad Core Processor; 178° wide-view technology
- Fast storage and memory featuring NVMe 512GB PCIe SSD with 16GB LPDDR3 2133MHz RAM and NVIDIA GeForce MX150 2GB discrete graphics
- Extensive connectivity with HDMI, USB Type C, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and SD Card Reader
- Sleek and lightweight 3.3 lbs, 0.5 inch thickness, aluminum body for comfortable portability. Built-in fingerprint reader with one-touch login via Windows Hello feature
# RANK 3
Lenovo Thinkpad E590 15.6" HD Business Laptop (Intel Quad Core i5-8265U, 16GB DDR4 Memory, 512GB PCIe 3.0(x4) NVMe SSD M.2 SSD) Type-C, HDMI, Ethernet, Webcam, Windows 10 Professional
- RAM: 16GB DDR4 RAM; Storage: 512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD (Seal is opened for upgrade ONLY, Professional Installation Service included)
- 15.6-Inch Anti-Glare (1366x768) Display with Front Facing HD Webcam | Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 - Supports external digital monitor via HDMI or USB Type-C; Supports dual independent display; Max resolution: 1920x1080 (HDMI)@60Hz
- Whiskey Lake-U CPU: Intel Quad Core i5-8265U 1.6 GHz (Turbo 3.90 GHz, 4 Cores 8 Threads, 6MB SmartCache)
- Intel 9260 11ac, 2x2 + BT5.0 Combo | HD Webcam
- Windows 10 Professional 64-bit - Ideal for Home, Professionals, Small business, School Education