A reliable laptop is any coder’s best friend. With an external monitor and peripherals, it can fully replace a desktop computer, saving you money and making everything more convenient. Many coders spend as much as 12 hours per day on a laptop, so it’s paramount to select one that meets your criteria.
Best Laptop for Programming
|Apple||Apple MacBook Pro||1678.02|
|HP||HP Spectre x360||1341.78|
|Lenovo||Lenovo ThinkPad P50||1097.99|
|Acer||Acer Swift 7||845|
|Dell||Dell Inspiron 3000||382.44|
What to Look for in a Programming Laptop
Before we get to our list of top 5 best laptops for programming, let’s first go over some of the biggest things to look for:
- CPU – In a certain way, coding is one of the least CPU-demanding tasks you can use a laptop for. After all, you’re just writing text, right? Not quite. It won’t take long before you want to compile and run your project, and that’s where even decently powerful CPUs may struggle. What’s more, any coding task that involves virtual machines, emulation, real-time compilation, or complex graphics is going to require every gigahertz available. We would recommend you to get the best CPU you can afford.
- Memory – Unless you can code without any reference material displayed in a web browser, you’re going to need a lot of RAM. These days, 8 GB is the bare minimum. Anything less than that, and the laptop may start caching to a hard drive, resulting in a dramatic slowdown. 16 GB is the sweet spot for advanced coding, while 32 GB is most likely
- Storage – If you’re dabbling in data mining and data analytics, your storage space requirements are going to be different from those of a web developer. That being said, everyone can benefit from the speed of a modern solid-state drive.
- Display – Coding usually involves multi-tasking, which is easier to do on a larger display with the Full HD resolution than on a 13” It’s also less tiring to read text on a laptop with a fine resolution, allowing you to push through long coding sessions without any major eye fatigue.
- Input devices – No laptop can match the comfort provided by a full-sized ergonomic keyboard and a mouse, but some come close. You should look for a laptop with a responsive keyboard with high-quality scissor switches and large touchpad that supports multi-touch gestures.
Apple MacBook Pro
Used by Mark Zuckerberg, the new MacBook is a stunning, albeit pricey, machine. The 15.4” version is especially well-suited for programming. It features a powerful Intel Core i7 CPU, four USB-C ports, 256 GB SSD drive, 16 GB of memory, and Apple’s signature screen with the resolution of 2880×1800 pixels.
If you see yourself creating mobile apps and games, the MacBook Pro should be high up on your list because it allows you to develop for iOS using Xcode, the center of the Apple development experience. Just like all Apple products, the MacBook Pro is an engineering and design marvel, which is guaranteed to keep a high resell value for many years to come.
Thinkpads are known for their excellent keyboards and exceptional build quality. The Lenovo ThinkPad P50 sticks to the proven formula and improves upon it wherever possible. The highlight here is the presence of the 28nm NVIDIA Quadro M1000M, which is a mid-range DirectX 12- and OpenGL 4.5-compatible graphics card for mobile workstations. Besides the GPU, there’s also 8 GB of memory, 500 GB hard drive, and Intel Core i7-6700HQ CPU.
When it comes to connectivity, Thinkpads are on the opposite end of the spectrum compared to MacBooks. Lenovo understands that its core users would much rather live with a slightly thicker laptop than live without an RJ45 socket and a full-sized HDMI output.
HP Spectre x360
The HP Spectre x360 is our favorite 2-in-1 convertible currently on the market. HP has created a truly gorgeous, slim machine that’s not just nice to look at but also a real pleasure to use. Thanks to the Intel Core i7-7500U CPU and 16 GB of memory, you can expect top-notch performance and quiet operation even under heavy loads. When doing any I/O-demanding work, you’ll appreciate the speed of the 512GB PCIe NVM M.2 SSD. HP’s 15.6″ diagonal UHD UWVA eDP Brightview WLED-backlit display with the 4K resolution is currently among the best laptop displays out there.
Compared with the MacBook Pro, the x360 delivers incredible value without making any compromises in terms of design or build quality. Using the laptop as a tablet may feel awkward at first, but you’ll quickly discover how useful the added form-factors can be.
Asus Swift 7
The world’s thinnest laptop may not be as powerful as some portable workstations, but it’s not trying to be. The Asus Swift 7 is the laptop you choose if you want silence and excellent portability. At under 2.5 pounds, the laptop is so light that you won’t even notice it when carrying it around in a bag. Its design is inspiring, and its internals are admirable.
You get up to 9 hours of battery life on a single charge, up to three times faster wireless performance, and a clean and crisp 13.3” Full HD display with IPS technology. A laptop like this doesn’t make sense for all coders, but when it does, it’s amazing.
Dell Inspiron 3000
So far, every laptop described in this article hasn’t been exactly budget-friendly. But what if you can’t spend upwards of $1000? In that case, you purchase the Dell Inspiron 3000, a budget laptop that can satisfy the needs of most coders.
We really appreciate how Dell included 6 GB of memory, and not just 4 GB. Those 2 extra gigabytes go a long way when you open a dozen or so browser tabs. The Intel Core i3-5005U CPU is more than sufficient for basic programming tasks, and you can replace the slow 1TB 5400 RPM SATA hard drive with a fast solid-state disk later.