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Best Laptop for Automotive Tuning Compatible With HP Tuners in 2020

The best laptop for automotive tuning runs software for car diagnostics, emissions control, and ECU reading. Software such as HP Tuners, Live Tuning, 3D Tuning, MPVI 2, or Manual ECU mapping is used by car mechanics across the world from a simple laptop.

Mechanics know what it’s like to have a laptop failing during the tuning process. Even having a laptop battery running out is a big problem when testing emission standards. While there’s no damage made to the car’s computer when this happens, the process has to be repeated once the battery is fully charged again.

To avoid such issues and even larger problems when tuning software runs poorly on the laptop, this post aims to list all of the best laptops for car tuning that don’t cost thousands.

For added practicality, all of the following laptops are 15.6” or below. Larger 17” alternatives become hard to move around. Since most mechanics take laptops in the automobile, mobile computers tend to be small.

  1. Huawei MateBook D 14

Running Windows 10 out of the box, MateBook D 14 is both versatile and affordable given its construction. Launched in 2020, it’s often seen at the same level if not higher than similarly-priced mobile computers.

It features USB 3.0 and a USBA 2.0 port which allows various car tested and diagnostic tools to be quickly connected. It also features an HDMI port when it needs to be connected to a TV for more detailed engine graphics.

The first thing mechanics or car electricians notice about it is its screen opens to 180-degrees. When sat on the passenger’s seat, it still offers good visibility. Other laptops don’t have much screen versatility except those made with similar practical hinges.

At 14”, the display is neither larger nor small. It has the right size to easily move around the garage. Made with blue light reduction technology, it offers the right type of screen for those who have to focus on fine-tuning engine performance for hours.

Since most mechanics work in shops with other automobile professionals, the laptop’s safety features prevent it from being borrowed without asking. It features fingerprint unlock which ties it to its user.

Another considerable advantage when working in difficult conditions is the ability to share screens. Those who own a Huawei smartphone can see its screen on the laptop using PC Manager version 10.0.2.99 and NFC pairing. This tool is missing even from laptops twice as expensive.

2 other important features need to be mentioned for mechanics. The computer has impressive battery life. Users constantly get 9.5 hours of use before recharging. It means the laptop can cover a full 8-hours work shift without recharging.

Huawei also made the laptop with a full aluminium body. Away from clean office free from dust, the metal case is a good addition, especially given it doesn’t sell for a high price.

Main laptop chipsets and characteristics

  • Made with a UK QWERTY keyboard
  • Only weighs 1.45kg
  • It runs on an AMD Ryzen 5 3500U processor
  • Made with 8GB DDR4 RAM
  • Ships with a USB-C power adapter
  1. Dell Inspiron 14 5000 Touchscreen Convertible Laptop

Inspiron is a 14” laptop with a touch-enabled screen. The display also flips to allow the best visibility even when dealing with car tuning outside in direct sunlight.

Compatible with Cortana voice commands, the laptop may come with hands-free use in some of its configurations. Its highest specification versions add a fingerprint sensor to make it a futureproof purchase.

2 processors can be chosen by the user for this laptop. An Intel Core I3 and an Intel Core i5 processor are the options to power fast software. While i5 is the best choice here, most tuning apps don’t require the fastest processor as they run on simple graphics.

With 4GB DDR SDRAM, the laptop is responsive. It already runs Windows 10 Home Edition which means its users won’t need to invest in an additional operating system license.

As other top computers on the list, the Inspiron 14” IPS screen laptop is aluminium-made. Brushed aluminium gives it durability and it also helps with efficient cooling. In a physical environment where the laptop is rarely used twice in the same place, the aluminium case as efficient motherboard protection.

Those afraid of its durability can also purchase an extended warranty of up to 4 years, even with commercial use. It’s worth investing in this extended warranty just to ensure there’s nothing to pay in case the laptop needs servicing in the following 4 years.

Main laptop chipsets and characteristics

  • Powered by i3 or i5 processors
  • Made with e-SATA hard drive interface
  • Weighs only 2.6kg
  • Runs on 4GB RAM
  • The battery lasts 6 hours
  1. HP Stream 14” Laptop

14” laptops are the modern version of the old 13” portable computers used in auto-tuning. These laptops are still small, barely weighing more than 2kg while also offering extra speed and better RAM than laptops made years ago.

The HP Stream laptop is available in 14”, which is just the right size when it comes to portability and screen size. However, those who think smaller laptops are better for in-car diagnostics also have a speedy 11.6” HP Stream alternative.

Interestingly, it only weighs 1.47kg, making it one of the lightest laptops for automotive tuning. It runs on a 2.3Ghz processor and it comes with the latest Windows 10 OS.

Unlike others in its class, it also includes the Microsoft Office Suite. This offers access to Word and Excel to save and easily view downloaded tuning data on the laptop.

1TB of remote One Drive storage is also covered by the laptop purchase. Users who want to save all data have sufficient space to do it in safe Microsoft Cloud servers. But remotely-saved data is also easy to share with vehicle owners who might decide the type of tuning cars need easier.

SD and microSD memory cards are also compatible with the laptop. These storage solutions can be useful when taking pictures of the car and downloading them on the computer.

Another crucial advantage is the ability to run tuning for hours without recharging the laptop. Tests show the HP Stream 14” laptop has a 10.5 hours battery life.

Main laptop chipsets and characteristics

  • Based on 64GB local memory and 1TB cloud storage memory
  • It runs on 4GB RAM
  • Connects via USB, Bluetooth, and WiFi
  • Includes Microsoft Office tools and Windows 10
  • Available on white, pink, and blue
  1. Lenovo IdeaPad 15.6”

Not everybody loves 14” laptops and IdeaPad is the valuable lightweight 15.6” alternative. Even if the laptop has a regular size, it still weighs just 1.85kg. Easy to move around the car garage, the laptop has the right DNA for mobility.

Many users prefer a lightweight laptop over the latest processors while tuning cars as they need to work in difficult locations alongside the car, in the car, or even under the vehicle.

With elegant platinum grey construction, the mobile computer opens to 180 degrees. Users might have a bit more room for screen adjustability than with regular hinge laptops, particularly useful when the sun is shining directly on the screen as also seen on the ThinkPad Lenovo.

Tuning software is not demanding in general. Still, 128GB SSD ensures the laptop starts software quickly. Windows booting is also faster with a solid-state drive.

Cortana is enabled on Windows 10. Car mechanics can learn how to use the voice commands assistant to enable hands-free use on certain car diagnostics.

Another important advantage of the affordable laptop for car tuning is its Dolby Audio technology. Zoom meetings with customers come with an enhanced audio experience due to the intelligible speech supported by the high-fidelity audio technology.

Connectivity options are fair. Users can quickly connect the vehicle using the built-in USB-A ports. HDMI connectivity is also supported for TV presentations such as in stand up meetings where multiple team members need to agree on engine ECU adjustments.

Battery life is one of the potential drawbacks to consider. With a maximum 5-hours of continuous use before recharging, the laptop may not cover a full shift at work when used without breaks. Since most tuning tools are used sporadically throughout the day, this shouldn’t be a major issue for most users.

Main laptop chipsets and characteristics

  • Made with 12GB internal HDD storage
  • It uses a 128GB SSD
  • Backed by 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • Compatible with 1366 X 768 pixels resolution
  1. HP 15s Full HD Laptop

HP’s 15s laptop is a valuable choice for computers that need to be changed frequently. This is certainly the case when running multiple auto-tuning programs or with any other multitasking approach. Since no user likes to wait too long for the battery to charge, HP enables fast charging on its laptop. It takes the battery from 0% to 50% charging in just 45 minutes.

There are other advantages the computer is known for. It features 8GB RAM and 16GB RAM options which makes it one of the most responsive options on this list. These options come with either 256GB SSD or 512GB SSD for swift responsiveness.

Processor options also include Intel’s i5 and i7 chipsets. Ready to deal with the most demanding automobile software, the laptop can be used for years to come even with new software releases.

The screen is also superior to many of its similarly-priced alternatives. As the manufacturer shows, its HD resolution might be something mechanics are interested in. The laptop supports 1920 X 1080 resolution. With 178-degree screen adjustability, both the clarity of the images and the visibility in changing ambient light are as good as they get.

PCIe SSD-storage is enabled on the laptop. While the 256GB memory capacity is not the best, the memory is a few times faster than conventional 5.500RPM hard drives.

Those who want to enjoy private listening also benefit from a 3.5mm port for headphones. Situated on the right side of the laptop, it allows users to quickly dive into troubleshooting tuning videos both in the software’s help section and on YouTube’s dedicated tuning channels.

An SD memory card slot is also found next to the audio jack. It’s here that users can rely on small SD memory cards for quick data transfer between computers. There are a USB port and an HDMI port on the same side of the laptop.

Another distinct advantage the PC comes with is its hard plastic keyboard. Many users know that working with cars is not always the cleanest job and it’s certainly different from working in an office all day. As a result, the keyboard is easier to clean than it’s rubberized keys’ alternatives.

Made with an aluminium case, the durable laptop is certainly made for changing temperatures in the garage. In the summer heat, the material supports superior heat dissipation compared to its cheap plastic alternatives.

Main laptop chipsets and characteristics

  • Includes an FHD IPS display
  • Designed with dual front-facing speakers
  • Runs with good battery life with fast-charge capabilities
  1. Acer Swift 1

When battery life is the most important laptop characteristic, there are no better options than the Acer Swift 1. With its 17-hours battery life, the laptop only needs to be charged 2-3 times per week. The fact it’s so practical and time-saving might be the most important benefit for busy shops which have to deal with multiple cars every day.

All-metal construction is noticed first when taking the computer out of the box. Made with a polished look, the computer is among the aesthetic Asus releases. Its thin 17mm profile helps it look even better. With a 6.3mm bezel, it largely focuses on the screen as opposed to old laptop designs with thick bezels.

An IPS (In-Plane Switching) screen has been added to the laptop. It supports good viewing angles up to 178 degrees. Oftentimes, users need to view the screen from difficult angles, such as when working underneath the car. The versatile screen can be an advantage in such scenarios.

At 14”, the screen is just the right size for working on a vehicle. It supports full HD 1920 X 1080 resolution which allows it to represent realistic images and to run the latest tuning software with sharp images.

A fingerprint sensor also ensures all vehicle data is safe. Even in the unlikely case of laptop theft, all data from customers’ vehicles are safe.

8GM RAM is added to the compact laptop. It ensures lag-free performance and no wasted time in auto testing. However, USB 3.0 helps fast data transfer in addition to its N5000 processor and high RAM specifications.

Those working in a garage with poor lighting might also find it difficult to deal with laptops and tuning. An advantage of the Acer Swift 1 is it comes with a backlit keyboard. When not in use, the keyboard goes dark which allows car mechanics to focus on the data shown on the display even better.

Main laptop chipsets and characteristics

  • Runs on an Intel Celeron CPU
  • Includes 4GB RAM
  • WiFI and Bluetooth enabled
  • Available in premium rose gold, silver, and black finish
  1. HP 17.3-Inch HD Laptop

Not all users are happy with small laptops. Car mechanics wearing glasses might struggle with small laptops. These groups of professionals are normally among the first to consider larger displays to make their job easier. This is where the 17.3” HP laptop comes in place. It offers the large screen needed to view details better.

Since the laptop is larger, it also comes with an optical drive. It might be one of the few left which takes CDs and DVDs. Those who need to install old software from these sources might appreciate the benefits the drive can still offer.

The portable computer also benefits from HP’s fast-charging battery technology. Within 45 minutes, it charges the battery to 50%. With a solid battery life of 11 hours, the laptop surely covers power needs even on a busy day tuning engines.

It also benefits from considerable storage space. With a 1TB hard drive, it represents a solid option for anyone interested in saving multimedia files such as engine photos and videos. It might also be the right solution for multitasking and for users who need to install multiple automotive programs.

As it weighs 2.51kg, the HP notebook is not heavy. Given it includes multiple ports and even an optical drive, it remains one of the lightest 17-inch laptops.

SD and micro-SD memory card compatibility support even better compatibility. Engine or exhaust pictures and videos are quickly downloaded from digital cameras using these ports.

Main laptop chipsets and characteristics

  • Based on 1TB storage capacity
  • Includes a 45 Watt AC power adapter
  • Supports fast charging and it features a battery life of 11 hours
  • Only weighs 2.51kg
  1. Lenovo Flex 2

Made for screen angle versatility, the Lenovo Flex 2 is one of the responsive options to those who need better viewing angles. Users can rely on the computer in a classic laptop mode but they can also turn it into a stand mode, particularly useful when it comes to solely rely on its touchscreen display.

Supporting full HD resolution, the laptop is a suitable choice for care work and even for multimedia. Its screen favours quality video calls with customers and or vehicle owners. At 14”, it’s just the right size for garage work.

Based on an i3 processor, the portable computer is also responsive. Superior to Celeron processors, i3 is already a solution that runs a wide range of apps and software, including its responsive Windows 8.1 operating system.

Apart from most tuning software, it also runs Office, Adobe Photoshop, and even Adobe Premiere. Storage is not bad as the laptop has space to install all of these programs on its 500GB hard drive.

The computer features solid physical characteristics outside its screen. For example, it comes with rounded keys that allow fast typing and quick user data input.

Main laptop chipsets and characteristics

  • Only weighs 1.9kg
  • Runs on 4GB RAM
  • It features speakers with Dolby Advanced Audio v2
  • Runs for 6 hours on a single charge
  1. ASUS E406MA 14″

At a weight of just 1.3, many don’t expect much from the small ASUS laptop. But there are multiple reasons to consider it for tuning vehicles and all other car diagnostic efforts.

Powered by a dual-core Intel processor, it has the right responsiveness to run tuning programs. It features silent operation and those who want to focus on any problematic engine or exhaust noises won’t have to deal with the laptop interfering with their work.

Heat pipes are added to the internal componentry to keep it cool even when it runs for hours. The manufacturer’s IceCool technology ensures it doesn’t go anywhere above 36°C, which is a plus for those tweaking car computers for hours.

Battery life is also supportive of long hours at work. An average of 14 hours of battery life can be achieved by the small laptop for proper versatility. It only needs to be charged every other day as a result.

64GB eMMC storage is added to the small computer. It might be the only real issue to consider. Those who typically work with large files and thousands of photos and videos might need to look at different options such as the 1TB HP Stream 14” Laptop listed above.

Main laptop chipsets and characteristics

  • Ships with Windows 10 and Office 365 pre-installed
  • It measures 38.2 x 26.4 x 7.2 cm
  • Available in 14” and 11.6” options
  • Made for cloud storage
  1. Jumper EZbook X3

At 1.23kg, the EXbook X3 is the lightest laptop on the list. Surprisingly, it still comes with a solid performance. It features an old-school 13.3” display and it runs fast with its 8GB RAM.

Even without a dedicated video card, the laptop still runs full HD images at the 1980 X 1080 resolution. Its small screen might not compare in sizes to displays of other laptops, but it certainly delivers sharp images.

A USB 3.0 port is added for the only connectivity option truly needed in automotive tuning. It also features HDMI ports and fast 802.11b/g/n WiFi connectivity.

Battery life is good. While it doesn’t last an entire day, the battery runs for 6 hours before recharging. Together with the limited storage space, it might be the only drawback to consider. Given its high affordability, the laptop has made a name for itself. It even comes with a silicone keyboard cover to keep it dust and debris-free around vehicles.

Main laptop chipsets and characteristics

  • Runs on 8GB DDR RAM
  • Covered by a 12-months warranty
  • It supports 1080p screen resolution
  • Compatible with TF cards and SSD drives

How to choose the best laptop for automotive tuning

Finding the best laptop for car chip tuning is not complicated. Since the software behind the process is not too demanding on resources such as processors and video cards, these laptops are not expensive. In general, it’s still wise to have a look at certain variables to find the computer most suitable for this process.

Understand car tuning

Before purchasing the laptop, users should understand basic car tuning principles. The engine works by combining air pressure (turbo), fuel, and spark. These elements are the ones that generate power and power on the engine. They can be altered from a computer but this doesn’t necessarily need to be the most powerful computer.

Processors

While many modern applications require the fastest processors, automotive tuning is not as demanding. As seen from the new laptops above, good tuning software works on Celeron, Pentium, and even Atom processors.

There’s no point in over-investing in i5 and i7 Intel processors if the laptop is only going to be used for car tuning. Those choosing to purchase these i-series Intel processors might need to go with the U-category products as they’re the most energy-efficient. These processors are particularly useful for better laptop battery life.

Screen size

The first variable to take into account is display size. From small 11” laptops to 17” laptops, there are plenty of good options to consider. Most car tuners stay away from 17” laptops and they choose those under 15” for practicality. In the automotive world, it’s not unusual to see 11” laptops being used even by professionals.

Battery life

Battery life varies from 6 hours to 20 hours on the best laptops, as seen on the recommended computers listed above. These batteries may come with fast charging which further improves power independence.

But other aspects such as the actual time spent working on the laptop are also important. It’s rare to work on the laptop for 6 hours without taking breaks.

Users who may even tune cars away from a garage or away from a power source need to prioritize battery life, however. The Acer Swift 1 is the laptop with the longest battery life on this list.

Materials

Case materials should be a bit better than on regular computers. Since these laptops tend to be moved frequently, aluminium cases should be seen as the right standard for both durability and heat dissipation.

The materials of the keyboard are also important. Working with engine oil and other lubricants often means getting dirt on the keyboard is inevitable. This is the main reason to prioritize keyboards that can be completely cleaned easily.

Warranty specifications

Since most automotive tuning is done in specialized garaged, laptop warranty policies may differ for commercial use. Ideally, the laptop should be covered between 2 and 4 years. There are laptops which only come with 1 year of warranty and in this case, it might be wise to ask about warranty extension packs.

Ports and connectivity

Most laptops in the tuning community need to come with USB ports. Almost all ECU tuning programs run through USB and ensuring the laptop comes with at least 1 such port is crucial.

Professionals also use LAN ports to work with premium software. Ethernet ports are mainly seen on larger laptops such as 15” and 17” notebooks as they’re a bit thicker with plenty of space for this directly wired connectivity option.

Optical drivers are not frequently seen on modern laptops. While many old-school car tuners still carry software on DVDs, this doesn’t mean a laptop without an optical drive can’t use it. An external optical drive might be used to install the software in case it can’t be downloaded or transferred via USB.

FAQ

Do I need a dedicated graphics card for an automotive tuning laptop?

You don’t need a dedicated graphics card for your car tuning laptop. Most software which deals with air intake, sparks, and fuel pressure doesn’t need the latest video capabilities. These programs can be compared with those from the Office suite in hardware requirements.

Should I pay for Windows to run a laptop?

You should only choose a laptop that already comes with a pre-installed operating system. Laptops listed above come with pre-installed Windows.

Is Chromebook a good laptop for automotive tunning?

Chromebooks are great laptops, but they’re not the best for automotive tuning. Running on a Google-specific operating system, these laptops are not compatible with most OBD scanners and tuning software. The same principles apply to MacBooks Apple laptops.

What is the best tuning software and can my laptop run it?

The best tuning software depends on the type of vehicle to be adjusted. Subaru WRX has its preferred software while a Land Rover, Toyota, or Ford could come with other software recommendations.

Before purchasing the software and laptops for car tuning, you should look at system requirements to ensure it runs on your laptop. However, you shouldn’t worry too much as even nitrous adjustments are easy to make on basic laptops. Refurb netbooks are not an option given the affordability of new laptops.

Conclusion

You don’t need to spend too much to buy an efficient laptop for tuning purposes. You can save hard-earned money to invest in tuning software or better engine tools. Have you overspent on your car tuning laptop? Feel free to leave a comment on our Facebook page and share the article if you find it useful.