In today’s digital age, programming has become a highly sought-after skill. From app development to software engineering, the demand for programmers is at an all-time high.
However, to excel in programming, you need the right tools. And one of the most critical tools for any programmer is a laptop. Finding a suitable laptop can be tricky whether you’re a techie or a newbie. Where to begin is a question that confuses many. But fear not, dear reader!
In this article, we’ll be sharing the best laptops for programming. So, stay with us!
Criteria for Selecting the Best Laptops for Programming
If you’re looking for a programming laptop, here’s what you should consider in the same order of priority:
RAM – Convenient Multi-tasking
As a programmer, you may need to run heavy IDEs and virtual machines that can take up a lot of memory. A laptop with 8GB of RAM is ideal for app or software developers who need to run virtual machines, emulators, and IDEs to compile big projects. Game developers, on the other hand, require even more RAM, and we recommend finding laptops with at least 16 0r 12GB of RAM but with the ability to expand the memory to 16GB later.
Processor – Smooth Performance
A faster processor is crucial for handling big projects and graphically intensive applications. Therefore, we recommend an Intel Core i5 or a similar class of processors. The Intel Core i7 is ideal for game developers as it enables the switching between design or development tools. At the same time, a dedicated graphics card is needed to run such software. However, web developers without heavy development tools can do just fine with an Intel Core i3 or an AMD A8 / A10 processor.
Keyboard – Comfortable Experience
Programmers often spend long hours in front of their laptop. A laptop with a comfortable keyboard and a numerical pad is ideal. The quality and sturdiness of the keys is essential, and a backlit keyboard is helpful when working at night or in low light. If unsatisfied with the laptop’s keyboard, consider purchasing an external USB keyboard.
Screen – Bigger the Better
A 15-inch screen is convenient, while a 13-inch or 14-inch screen is more portable. Game and software developers should opt for a full HD screen, as a higher resolution gives more workspace to open multiple windows side by side. Moreover, a matte screen is less distracting as it reflects less than reflective screens.
Other Factors to Consider
- Storage capacity: Go for laptops with ample RAM and storage. You need ideally 512GB SSD, to store your operating system, development tools, projects, and files, so you have enough space.
- Graphics card: A good graphics card is essential for running graphics-intensive development tools or testing games, especially for game developers.
- Battery life: You need a laptop with long battery life to work on your projects without worrying about running out of power. So, go for a nine-cell battery.
- Ports and connectivity: Having enough ports and connectivity options helps you connect external devices and expand your workstation if necessary.
- Budget: Try to find a balance between affordability and performance.
Top 5 High-end Laptops for Programming
Here’s a look at the best laptops for developers.
1. Macbook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2002) – The Best Overall Laptop For Programming
For several reasons, the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) remains our top pick for programmers. First, the M2 chip is a major improvement over the M1 chip that powered the previous model. Apple promises a 40% performance increase with the M2. This means programmers can expect faster speeds and better performance when simultaneously running demanding applications or multiple programs.
Second, the battery life of this MacBook Pro is also incredibly impressive. With over 15 and a half hours of battery life, programmers can work for extended periods without worrying about recharging the laptop. Despite the added power of the M2 chip, the laptop remains cool and quiet, with the fans rarely kicking in, even during demanding tasks.
Indeed, the design of the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) remains the same as the previous model, and this may be a drawback for some users. However, the classic design of the MacBook has always been popular, and the lack of design changes doesn’t detract from the laptop’s performance. Oh, the design is still sleek and modern, and the laptop remains one of the most stylish on the market.
The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) is priced like its predecessor, starting at $1,299 or £1,299. This is a great value considering the performance improvements and impressive battery life. For those considering buying the previous 2021 model, it’s a no-brainer to go for the newer version instead.
- 40% performance boost with Apple’s brand-new M2 chip
- Excellent battery life of over 15 and a half hours
- Cool and quiet
- Provides excellent overall performance
- Lacks a design update
- Only two Thunderbolt 4 ports
- Expensive than competitors
2. Razor Blade 17 (2022) – Best Laptop For Game Developers
The Razer Blade 17 is a dream device for creative professionals. Particularly those who need a portable, powerful workstation capable of handling demanding tasks such as 3D modeling, game development, and high-resolution rendering. Its advanced internal components make it a great investment for future-forward individuals.
Its powerful Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti GPU can handle complex 3D games that utilize cutting-edge ray tracing technology. It boasts a stunning 17-inch screen and great build quality, making it a perfect workstation for people who need a reliable partner.
Despite its strengths, the Razer Blade 17 is not suitable for everyone, given its high price tag. Its advanced hardware – 32GB of DDR5 RAM, 12th generation Intel Alder Lake processors, and the RTX 3080 Ti – may be overkill for most people.
Overall, the Razer Blade 17 2022 is an excellent laptop that lives up to its reputation. Its high price tag may put it out of reach for some, but it is worth considering for those who want nothing short of the best.
- Incredibly powerful workstation
- Modern design with a comfortable keyboard
- Three Thunderbolt 4 ports
- Very expensive
- Short battery life
3. HP Spectre x360 (2021) – Best 2-in-1 Laptop For Programming
HP Spectre x360 (2021) is among the greatest laptops for software engineering students today. The 11th-generation Intel Core processors and Intel Iris Xe graphics deliver snappy and responsive performance for everyday programming tasks. And the 2-in-1 design allows you to use it as a traditional laptop and a tablet.
The laptop also comes with Intel’s Evo certification, which means it meets certain standards for performance, battery life, and connectivity. And speaking of battery life, the HP Spectre x360 (2021) has one of the best battery lives we’ve seen in a laptop, lasting almost 13 hours in our benchmark battery life tests.
The design of the laptop is another highlight. The gem-cut chassis is elegant and functional, allowing for better heat dissipation and making the laptop easier to grip. The keyboard is comfortable and responsive, with good key travel and backlighting. The touchpad is also large and accurate, with support for multitouch gestures.
In terms of price, the HP Spectre x360 (2021) is definitely on the high end, with starting prices of $1,349 or £1,199. However, a combination of performance, design, and battery life make these the best laptops for coding on the go.
- Elegant and functional design, with a gem-cut chassis
- Strong performance
- Excellent battery life, lasting almost 13 hours
- The 2-in-1 design allows for flexible use as a laptop or tablet
- Clumsy to use in tablet mode due to its size and weight
- Fans can become quite loud under heavy load
4. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme – Best 4K Laptop for Programmers
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme is a machine that is designed to push the performance boat out on almost every front. It combines an 8th-generation Intel Core i7 CPU with an Nvidia Max-Q GPU and packs it into a sleek, durable carbon-fiber and aluminum case.
The laptop’s body has a four-layer carbon-fiber upper surface with an aluminum alloy lower chassis. It provides a highly durable shell that can withstand every encounter in a working environment. The 15.6-inch display is exceptionally bright, very colorful, and remarkably crisp.
Furthermore, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme also has a lot to offer in terms of connectivity. It comes with two full Thunderbolt 3 connectors, which are excellent for connecting to external displays and other peripherals. Our only disappointment is the lack of Type-C, as it uses a proprietary power supply port.
Of course, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme isn’t perfect. At over 4 lbs (1.84kg), it’s a heavy machine that can be difficult to carry for long periods. But if you can look past its weight, Thinkpad X1 Extreme is one of the best laptops for programming today.
- Powerful hardware
- Durable carbon-fiber and aluminum case
- Highly practical design with all connectors, labeled buttons, and ports
- Exceptionally bright, colorful, and crisp display
- Proprietary power supply port instead of Type-C
5. Acer Aspire 5 – Best Budget Laptop for Programming
Acer is famous for its affordable laptops for programming. The Acer Aspire 5, in particular, is a very economical option for programmers looking for an affordable yet capable sidekick. Priced around $539.99, it’s significantly cheaper than other work laptops on this list.
Unlike other laptops offering either 8GB or 16GB of RAM, the Acer Aspire 5 has 12GB of RAM. This great middle-ground option provides enough memory to handle most programming needs. Moreover, the Acer Aspire 5 is equipped with an AMD Ryzen 3 3350U processor, which is not as powerful as the Intel i5 or i7 processors but gets the job done for most programming tasks.
The Acer Aspire 5 also boasts a 512GB SSD, ideal for fast bootup and data transfer. This is the same storage capacity as the more expensive Lenovo Ideapad 5. The 15.6” full HD IPS monitor of the Acer Aspire 5 is also very decent. Regarding its resolution, the Acer Aspire 5 has a simple 1920 x 1080p display, which neither impresses nor disappoints.
In summary, the Acer Aspire 5 is a great option for programmers on a budget. It offers a decent processor, ample memory, fast SSD storage, and a high-quality display. Although it does not have the most powerful specs, the laptop’s price makes up for these shortcomings.
- Affordable price
- Unique memory configuration with 12GB of RAM
- Fast SSD storage
- High-quality IPS display that prevents eye strain
- Not very fast
- Display resolution is not impressive
Other Programming-Friendly Laptops – Our Recommendations
- MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021): These lightweight laptops for programming come with powerful M1 Pro or M1 Max chips, an improved keyboard, and incredible battery life, making it ideal for coding throughout the day.
- MacBook Air (M2, 2022): A thin and light laptop with the new M2 chip from Apple, powerful enough to compile code quickly, run simultaneous emulations and tests, and last over 16 hours in battery life.
- ASUS ROG FLOW Z13: A unique laptop with a powerful 12th generation 14-core Intel processor, an RTX 3050 Ti graphics card, and 16GB of DDR5 memory, ideal for coding and testing games. It’s thin and light, but the slim keyboard may be uncomfortable for some.
- Google Pixelbook Go: Decent resolution, an Intel i7 processor, and 16GB of memory. It’s extremely portable and has a grippable design, but the ChromeOS operating system can limit compatibility with some software.
- The 2021 LG Gram 17 is a productivity-focused laptop with a stunning 17-inch 1600p display, weighing only 2.98 lbs (1.35kg). With a battery life of 14 hours, this is the ideal choice for programmers who require a large screen and portability.
So, that’s pretty much all.
These options should suffice even if you’re looking for the best laptops for specific programming languages (e.g., Java, Python, C++). For coding laptops, consider where and how you’ll use them. Focus on the laptop’s internal specs if you primarily use it at a desk.
However, if you’ll be using it on the go, the keyboard, screen, trackpad, and storage become crucial. Consider battery life, storage, connectivity ports, security features, display, and price for the best programming laptop. With all that in mind, Macbook Pro 2022, Razor Blade 17, HP Spectre 360, Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Extreme, and Acer Aspire 5 stand out as the best laptops for programming.
You can get any of them if you want a top-of-the-line laptop.