Computer programming is extremely complex and it involves way more than just flowcharts, algorithms and code. If you’re a computer programming student then you know how important it is to understand the hardware that makes computers. It’s also important to pick a laptop that’ll help with problem-solving and writing code.
Basically, the best laptop for programming is one that’ll also speed up your tasks and increase productivity thanks to increased processing power. However, the best way to find a good laptop for programming is to consider a few critical features and details that contribute to its performance and quality.
In addition to a comprehensive buying guide, we’ll provide you with a few reviews of the best laptop for programming available on the market right now. Read on to find out what makes a good laptop for programming.
Things to Look for When Shopping for the Best Laptop for Programming
PLAN - PRICE
START UP - $ 29
HP Spectre x360 Laptop
BUSINESS - $ 49
Lenovo ThinkPad E590 Laptop
ADVANCED - $ 99
Microsoft Surface Pro 6 Laptop
ADVANCED - $ 99
2019 Apple MacBook Pro 13-Inch
ADVANCED - $ 99
LG Gram Thin and Light Laptop
First off, you need to look at the hard drive because that’s the foundation of a programming laptop. Most of the high-quality laptops you see contain an SSD drive which is short for solid-state drive. This type of hard drive has a large capacity; it offers better information retention abilities and optimal performance.
In terms of programming, you should look into an SSD hard drive with a 256 GB memory capacity. However, if you can afford it then you can also upgrade to a 1TB drive. Now, you can’t discount the importance of processing speed because that’s what determines the level of productivity that you can achieve.
The good news is that an SSD works really well at accessing data so it shouldn’t take you much time to process files. Also, the increased speed means that you don’t have to pick a large standard drive over a smaller SSD.
Every time you click on a folder to access a file from your computer, the hard drive has to go through millions of different bits of information. That’s why it might take a few seconds for your laptop to show the file you wanted to view. An SSD is different in that it enables quick data access through efficient data storage processes that are better than your average hard drive.
RAM (Random Access Memory)
Your laptop’s memory is a crucial part of the hard drive. It’s important to consider the amount of memory that your laptop has because it’s what allows you to store and use your laptop in the first place. A laptop with ample memory performs better when it comes to storing and accessing information. It’ll also process operating instructions faster for smoother programming experience.
One of the crucial steps involved in writing code includes the finishing aspect which is where you actually send or execute the code. At this stage, it becomes a program which you can operate and manipulate through your computer and RAM is what your laptop uses to store those instructions.
Another interesting aspect of memory is that it enables you to operate multiple programs at once. The more memory your laptop has access to the smoother it’ll operate. As a general rule, the minimum amount of memory you need for optimal programming is 8GB, but 16GB will work even better.
Keep in mind that RAM comes in two different types. For instance, you have high-frequency DDR4 RAM which, as the name implies, operates at a much higher frequency. Secondly, there’s DDR1 RAM which doesn’t operate on the same high frequency as its predecessor. In a nutshell, the higher your RAM the faster your laptop’s processing speed will be.
CPU (Central Processing Unit)
CPU is another important feature to consider when looking for the best computer for programming. The CPU is like the laptop’s brain center because it’s what’s responsible for all of your computer’s different functions.
The CPU is single-handedly responsible for managing the different facets of your laptop’s operations. It literally handles millions of data bits at a time which is why it’s important for a laptop to have a good quality CPU otherwise all the other parts will literally become useless.
Now, CPU power is measured according to Gigahertz but larger Gigs don’t always translate to better performance.
For instance, a brand-new processor may have lower Gigahertz speeds than an older model but it’ll perform far better because it’s fresh and new. For the best results, we recommend looking into a powerful laptop with an i5 or i7 processor.
Keep in mind that every processor has cores, and usually the more cores it has the better it’ll perform. If for some reason you don’t prefer Intel processors then you can always opt for the latest AMD processor.
In addition to a high-quality display, consider the type of keyboard that your laptop comes with. This is especially important if you’re looking for the best laptop for programming and gaming. Whatever you do, don’t opt for a low-quality keyboard because it’ll compromise your work.
Remember that you’ll spend a lot of time typing code and giving program commands every day so your keyboard should be able to handle all of that without making you feel uncomfortable.
Ideally, you should test a laptop’s keyboard to make sure that you’re comfortable with its keystrokes. It should also be easy for you to access all its different functions. Look out for features like background lighting because that’ll make it easier for you to continue working comfortably at night and in low-light conditions.
The display is absolutely paramount to any decent programmer and it’s one of the most important features to look out for. Keep in mind that you’ll spend hours of your time every day working on code and programming applications on your laptop. So, you need a laptop with a clear display that shows everything in absolute clear detail.
We highly recommend a laptop that has a full HD display so you’re able to see the same level of visual acuity throughout.
Every computer has a graphics card which allows the device to process different graphics and games. If you’re a programmer then this feature is probably not that important to you.
For the most part, the latest i5 and i7 CPUs typically feature integrated graphics that are good enough for all of your programming needs. But, this type of device may not cut it for an avid gamer who needs to process ultra-HD and 4K video game graphics.
A laptop with integrated graphics is usually more affordable and comes with a powerful processor.
Now, if high-quality graphics are essential to you, then you should consider getting a dedicated graphics card with 1 or 2 Gigabytes of video memory.
Another important aspect to look out for when looking for the best laptop for programming is the type of operating system included in the device. Generally, most Windows users have many options to choose from, while those who prefer the macOS are limited to a few MacBook options.
Linux is one of the most highly recommended operating systems for programmers and it comes standard in a lot of high-quality Windows laptops. As with anything, it’s important to figure out your own preferences when it comes to Linux distributions and the type of laptop that you end up choosing.
What Exactly is Linux?
Linux is a basic, open-source operating system that’s developed by a community of computer programmers. It’s designed for computers, laptops, mainframes, mobile devices, and servers. Almost all computer platforms support the Linux OS so you’re really spoilt for choice when it comes to the type of operating system and laptop that you have to choose from. Alternatively, you can use Microsoft Windows and Chrome OS to write code for programs.
Nowadays, portability is essential when it comes to laptops because we live in a fast-paced world and most of us want devices that we can use on the go.
As a rule, a 15-inch screen laptop should be compact enough to carry around anywhere while the screen is large enough for you to enjoy all of the different tasks better. However, if you’re always on the go then you should opt for a 13 to 14-inch screen laptop which weighs less and offers better battery life.
Battery life is relative. It all depends on what you’re planning to use the laptop for. Most programmers tend to work in peaceful, solitary environments because they’re better for focus and productivity. If that sounds like you then you might need a laptop with a strong battery that can last for hours on end.
On the other hand, if you plan on using your laptop next to an electrical outlet then it’s okay to opt for a regular laptop with average battery life.
Specifications are incredibly important when you’re looking for the best laptop for programming but you should also look into comfort features.
These features are usually built-in on most high-quality laptops and they allow you to work on your laptop for long periods of time without feeling uncomfortable.
Some of these built-in comfort features include accessible keys that are soft and easy to press. The laptop should have a large screen for easy viewing and reduced eye strain.
Top 10 Best Laptops for Programming
As you can see, the key to finding the best laptop for programming is to look at a wide variety of different features. This includes screen size, graphics quality, portability, and battery life, not forgetting the type of operating system and memory that it supports. Taken together, these features will determine the type of laptop you end up choosing according to your preferences.
In the following section, we’re going to look at a list of the best programming laptops on the market.
These laptops tick all the boxes but some of them come with certain trade-offs which we’ll be addressing as well. Read on for more.
1 – HP Spectre x360 Review – (Best Ultra-Portable Laptop that’s Designed to Run all Day)
The 2019 HP Spectre x360 laptop features a nice, sleek aesthetic that includes a metal chassis. Its sharp edges tell of rugged construction with elegant gold accents. It’s a really sexy laptop that you’ll definitely feel proud of owning.
Don’t let the beautiful design of this laptop fool you though, because it has so much more to offer, especially when it comes to performance. First of all, it’s available in 13 and 15-inch models.
The 15-inch version comes with a six-core Intel processor. This processor is integrated with Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050. Just these two features alone show us that this laptop means business when it comes to performance and it’s an ideal option for the professional programmer who needs a workhorse.
However, if portability is important to you then you should look into the 13-inch version which isn’t as powerful as the 15-inch but it’s lightweight and easier to travel around with. If you’re really serious about your career as a programmer then both the 13 and 15-inch versions will work for you.
All told, the HP Spectre x360 is the quintessential programmer’s laptop. It comes with all the features you need to develop effective programs and maintain optimal productivity. The only downside is that it doesn’t come with traditional ports.
Vivid 1080p display
Lightweight and easy to carry
Some might find the display too dim for outdoor use
2 – Lenovo ThinkPad E590 Laptop Review
The Lenovo ThinkPad E590 is designed for self-employed individuals and small businesses which explains why it’s like a business-in-a-box. It features a 15.6-inch large screen which means you may not feel as comfortable carrying it around but it’s perfect for stationery use in a small home office environment or something like that.
It comes with a dedicated AMD Radeon RX 550X GPU as well as the Whiskey Lake CPU. This makes it ideal for mild gaming as well because it offers amazing graphic quality. Then you have the classic ThinkPad design which has remained the same all of these years later.
This laptop is constructed from a sturdy combination of plastic and aluminum which is what makes it lightweight and easy to care for. The chassis is able to handle the powerful processor without overheating and it’s all thanks to the thoughtful design and build. The rest of the specs include a lightweight 2.12 kg frame and a 19.9mm profile.
Simple, classic design
Comes with support for M.2 PCIe NVMe/SATA SSDs
It doesn’t need to use PWM to adjust screen brightness
The keyboard is mind-blowing
Heats up pretty quickly (See Some of the Best Cooling Pads You Can Get)
3 – Microsoft Surface Pro 6 Review – (Lightweight, Versatile & the Best Touch-Screen Technology)
The Microsoft Surface Pro 6 is one of only a few laptop models out on the market right now that has a detachable keyboard. Yet, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the bevy of fantastic features that it offers.
First of all, it’s incredibly lightweight and portable. It comes with a 12.3-inch Pixel Sense display screen that can handle all of your programming needs with ease. Yet, it’s really easy to carry around and that’s probably what makes it our top pick as the best laptop for programming student.
Now, onto specs. This laptop has a large 1TB solid-state hard drive which is supported by 16GB of RAM and an 8th generation Core i7. This tells us that this laptop is a workhorse that can handle up to 10 hours of continuous use without dying.
The only “downside” we noticed is that it offers a lot of mini ports including a headphone jack, a MicroSD slot, a mini DV port, and a single USB-A port.
Weighs less than 2 pounds
Has long battery life
Features a 1TB solid-state drive
Impressive 2K PixelSense display
The screen size may be a bit too small for some
4 – 2019 Apple MacBook Pro 13-Inch Review – (Best Mac for Programming & Web Design)
Apple has stepped up their game to create what is arguably the best Mac for programming. The latest MacBook Pro features a decent 13-inch screen and it’s powered by a super-fast 8th generation Intel Core CPU with a Touch Bar and Touch ID. The keyboard might be a problem for some because it’s not the most intuitive.
It’s definitely much better than the keyboards we saw on previous Apple MacBook models. For instance, this particular model comes with enhancements like membrane materials and key dome metals for better comfort and effectiveness when typing. As a result, the keys in this keyboard feel really soft to the touch and they’re really quiet.
However, there have been a few complaints about how the keyboard tends to act up after a few months of regular use. Some reviewers even said that this keyboard can break if you use it regularly.
But the good news is that Apple is willing to repair it for you at no extra cost for at least 4 years from the time you purchase it. After that, it can only be assumed that planned obsolescence will set in and the brand will release a new model that’ll render this one obsolete.
Convenient touch ID
Powerful battery life
Only two Thunderbolt ports
5 – LG Gram Thin and Light Laptop Review – (Longer Battery Life & Large Screen)
The LG Gram is a super thin and lightweight laptop thanks to its construction from magnesium carbon alloy. It boasts a 17-inch screen and measures only 1.7cm thick.
The display is really large and ideal for writing code, editing and giving instructions to the different programs you create. However, what really sets this laptop apart is the fact that it’s still nice and lightweight even though it’s really big.
It’s designed to handle constant use without overheating or breaking down and we love how intuitive and light the keyboard is. The LG Gram 17 also comes with a quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.
Plus, we have to mention how impressed we are by the amazing color accuracy and graphics quality of this laptop. It definitely deserves to be on this list of the best laptop for programming.
Thunderbolt 3 support
Improves productivity through efficient processing
Extended battery life
Doesn’t come with a dedicated GPU
6 – Lenovo ThinkPad P52s Ultrabook Laptop Review – (Excellent 4K Display Technology)
The Lenovo ThinkPad P52s Ultrabook Laptop is the best budget laptop for programming. It has a super long battery life and comes with NVIDIA Quadro graphics, an 8th-Gen Core i5 CPU, two Dolby speakers and 15.6-inch, 4K display.
The only problem we could discern from this laptop is that its graphics are quite slow, the webcam could be better and it tends to heat up pretty quickly. But it makes up for that with an ultra-soft keyboard, a comfortable design, and an upgradable battery.
This laptop features the classic Lenovo ThinkPad design with the classic sleek black frame and glass-fiber reinforced plastic. The keyboard is smooth, stylish and easy to click on and use. The matte palm rest is a great finishing touch that makes for ultra-comfortable typing when programming and editing code.
This is a backlit keyboard that enables you to continue working well into the night and in low-light conditions without missing a beat. But this model comes with the same problem featured in other Lenovo laptops which is a control key that goes after the function key.
Great battery life
Powerful Dolby speakers
Vibrant 4K display
Great feel on the keyboard
The graphics could be better
7 – Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 Review
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 is the best cheap laptop for programming. It’s the latest version of the 1st generation Surface Laptop model from Microsoft. It features the same affordable clamshell frame and solid design that’s perfectly synched with progressive performance. It has a 13-inch screen and a lightweight frame that’s perfect for use on the go.
Unfortunately, it features the same weight and battery life as its predecessor which is kind of disappointing because you’d think that they would improve on their previous models before they release something new.
However, they have made some improvements worth mentioning as well. for instance, this laptop has moved from 7th gen to 8th gen Core microprocessor and it doesn’t come with the horrendous and limiting 4GB memory of the previous model.
Instead of Windows 10 in S mode, it now comes with Windows 10 Home. We absolutely love the keyboard because it’s spacious and easy to use. The keys really pop up at you and it’s smooth and soft enough to not tire your fingers when programming stuff.
Eliminated Windows 10 S Mode
Quiet and cool keyboard
Beautiful and elegant new color scheme
Doesn’t come with enough ports to support its size
No Thunderbolt 3 option
8 – 2018 Apple MacBook Pro 13 Inch Review
This is yet another great offering from Apple. This 2018 MacBook Pro comes with a great 13-inch screen and it’s perfect for anyone that’s working with Xcode. You can use it to develop apps for macOS and iOS from pretty much anywhere. You can’t do that with the Windows OS.
It comes with an 8th generation Qual-core Intel CPU which means you’ll be able to enjoy comprehensive performance improvements on another level.
It’s a bit heavier than previous models but it’s a small price to pay considering how much easier it’s going to be for you to write code for different programs and apps. It can definitely handle heavy-duty coding projects with ease.
Our favorite feature about this MacBook is that it allows you to develop apps for pretty much any platform that you want.
Hyper-threading Quad-core processors
Great GPU and CPU improvements
Non-visual creativity is possible thanks to True Tone feature
It’s a bit pricey, probably because of the quad-core processor and the Apple brand
9 – ROG G703GX Gaming Laptop Review
Judging by the features, Asus has released the ROG G703GX specifically for gamers and programmers. Although pricey, it’s well worth the price. It’s constructed from high-quality hardware with amazing graphics courtesy of the new NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080, a 144Hz screen, three SSDs, and a six-core Intel CPU.
The massive chassis is great for keeping all the different components together but this also means that it’s quite heavy and not that easy to carry. It has a 51mm thick frame and weighs 4.7kg in total which means you’ll need a really sturdy laptop bag to carry this laptop around.
However, we love the matte black aluminum keyboard with a convenient power button and bold metal highlighted hinges.
The back of the frame includes a duo of large air vents, beautiful burnt orange accents and a massive ROG logo to remind you what kind of machine you’re working with.
Both the ROG logo and the keyboard is illuminated by RGB LEDs. Asus has also placed several buttons above the keyboard that allow you to open the Asus OS, streaming settings and audio.
Great overclocked processor
Ideal for gaming
Super expensive because of the elaborate design
10 – Asus ZenBook 15 Ultra Slim Compact Laptop Review
The Asus ZenBook comes with a beautiful 15-inch screen which is the largest out of all the different laptop models offered by this company. Right off the bat, it’s definitely better than the XPS 15 model when it comes to the display as this one offers a crisp, almost 3D quality where everything just seems so realistic.
It’s very well-built and similar in construction to the previous model. This includes military standard durable construction, a super soft touchpad for comfortable programming, and light buttons that don’t make any noise. This means you can work from the quietest environments like a library, without making unnecessary noise.
However, it’s important to note that the ZenBook doesn’t come close to the Force-Touch enabled touchpad featured in the MacBook Pro. But, it does come with a physical numeric keypad which is nice.
The sound quality is really good
Long battery life
Sleek and lightweight
Amazing graphic quality
Soft and noiseless touchpad
Doesn’t come with a Thunderbolt 3 port
Only 2GB of RAM
PLAN - PRICE
START UP - $ 29
Lenovo ThinkPad P52s Ultrabook Laptop
BUSINESS - $ 49
Microsoft Surface Laptop 2
ADVANCED - $ 99
2018 Apple MacBook Pro 13 Inch
ADVANCED - $ 99
ROG G703GX Gaming Laptop
ADVANCED - $ 99
Asus ZenBook 15 Ultra Slim Compact Laptop
Whether you’re a student or an accomplished programmer, you’re probably always excited when new laptop models are released. That’s because this is usually an indication that the technology is moving forward and will make things easier for you as a programmer.
In this article, we’ve covered all the different features that are important to any programmer worth their weight. This includes processing power, graphic quality, and build quality. As you may very well know, all of these features are essential not only to performance but to ease of use as well.
Ultimately, you want a laptop that has powerful processing abilities, it’s noiseless, has soft keyboard keys and a long-lasting battery. Depending on how you’ll be using it, you may need a lightweight laptop that can easily fit into your backpack for use on the go.
However, if we were to pick one laptop as the best laptop for programming out of all the reviews, then it would have to be the Microsoft Surface Pro 6. This might come as a bit of a surprise to most but this laptop ticks all the right boxes. It comes with a 12.3-inch screen, a lightweight frame, and even a detachable keyboard.
As for the specs, it’s powered by 16GB of RAM and an 8th generation Core i7, as well as a powerful battery that can last for 10 consecutive hours of constant use. All told, this is a great programming laptop that works for beginners and seasoned programmers alike.