Long gone are the days where consumers had less than 10 options when buying a new laptop. Technology has advanced immensely in the past couple of decades, and now there is a slew of laptops to choose from. Whether users are looking for specific laptops such as gaming laptops or the best laptops for programming, it is important to determine what they want before shopping.
Last update on 2023-03-27 // The links above are affiliate // Images from Amazon
Choosing a Laptop for Programming
Any time people are looking to buy a new piece of technology, they have to know what specs and features they want in it. This includes a processor, RAM, storage, cache, and many other things.
“Programming” is a simple word but refers to a vast variety of things. There are now many different programming languages that techies use to code, so it is important to buy a laptop that is able to run needed IDEs, virtual machines, etc. whatever you may need for seamless programming.
Below are some important things to consider when someone is in search of the best laptop for programming.
Programmers spend the majority of their time on their computers. The invention of laptops was excellent for this group of people because they can work from anywhere and they are able to travel and still work. Comfort and convenience are key.
Before purchasing a laptop, it’s important to make sure the keyboard is comfortable. Many people don’t even consider how “touchy” and “responsive” a keyboard is, but developers have to. People who work at night also find a backlit keyboard useful.
Obviously, decent battery life and portability are also required in a laptop, especially for freelancers and those who work remotely. Consumers should look for a laptop that will give a minimum of six hours of battery life.
Smaller screens (more in the 13-inch range) are easier to carry around and usually more lightweight. Users who stay home or in an office most of the time, on the contrary, can get by with larger displays (around 17-inches).
Displays are also important, as eyestrain is real and programmers spend an enormous amount of time looking at them. Eye doctors recommend looking away from the screen every 20 minutes, but many people forget or are too engrossed in their work to do so. Also, the general consensus is that a touchscreen is not necessary unless someone is looking for a 2-in-1 laptop.
Many companies try to sell expensive 4k displays, but these are usually not necessary. As long as buyers get a laptop with at least a 1080p display, it should be just fine.
Of course, one of the biggest considerations that needs to be made when buying any type of laptop is the operating system (OS) consumers want to use. Microsoft Windows and macOS are the most prominent, but Linux is extremely close.
Microsoft Windows is typically the choice of programmers because Windows offers cheap laptops that are still able to provide the processing power a programmer needs. Most programming languages are supported by Windows and therefore are more attractive to general programmers.
Macs, on the other hand, are typically much more pricey; however, Apple developers need to work on them. Xcode isn’t available on Windows (well, you can try to emulate it though) so if you write software for iOS or macOS, Apple laptop is preferred. Apple laptops are also very popular among front-end developers.
As mentioned, Linux systems can also be used for programming and are mainly useful for developers who work with Ruby on Rails, Python, and PHP.
As one would expect, the processors in the programming laptops are crucial. Regardless what users are doing with their programming laptops, they will need a processor powerful enough to support their work.
Intel, of course, has been a powerhouse for processors for many years. Despite being on the more expensive side, the Intel i7 processor is excellent for programming. If you are using developing resource-heavy apps and games, the Intel i7 processor is probably the best choice. Most programmers can usually get by with an Intel i5 processor.
Laptops for programming students who are on a tight budget might have an Intel i3 processor, which is good for basics but not sufficient for heavy programming. These are probably not the best laptops for video editing and graphic design; however, they work fine for the basics.
Another important factor in a programming laptop is RAM. Running a lot of applications and programs at once can really slow a laptop down, but laptops with a large amount of RAM can handle them and allow users to switch between them seamlessly.
Entry level and most intermediate programmers can get by with about 8GB of RAM. This can handle code editors, a browser, local servers, and so on relatively quickly without problems.
On the other hand, hardcore game developers and graphic designers should have more RAM, more in the range of 12GB to 16GB.
Basic laptop buyers don’t even consider the debate between hard drives (HDDs) or solid state drives (SSDs), but programmers do. These both have their pros and cons, so users should make sure to weigh their options when deciding.
Hard drives are typically much slower than solid-state drives, but they usually also come with much, much more storage. Solid state drives are much faster but these laptops are usually more pricey and don’t have as much storage.
Ideally, the best laptop for programming would arguably have a solid state drive and 1TB of storage, but this is expensive and not everyone has that kind of budget.
Overall, if a user is looking for a lot of storage and average speed, hard drives are better, but if the user in search of an extremely fast laptop and can sacrifice storage space, solid-state drives might be the better option.
Though experts would know the answer to this, many beginners question whether to get a discrete graphics card or integrated graphics cards. Luckily, the integrated graphics card is likely the better option here, and it is cheaper than a discrete graphics card. This will allow users to use the saved money on other upgrades and options.
Best Laptops for Programming
Apple MacBook Pro 13.3″
Its Highness MacBook Pro
Apple MacBook Pro 13.3″ is a compact, practical, and before anything else, powerful laptop that brings top-class performance in every department. There is the brand new, almighty Apple M1, an 8-core chip that brought a significant increase in performance, compared to the previous MacBook Pro models, as well as its excellent Retina display, with True Tone technology, a wide P3 color gamut, 500 nits brightness, and 2560 x 1600 resolution.
On top of that, there are also the 8-core integrated graphics, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD, which should give enough storage and performance boost for most users. Moreover, there is also the Magic Keyboard, with its subtle backlight, as well as Touch Bar and Touch ID functions.
Unfortunately, the number of connections is limited only to two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack. In other words, you are required to purchase the additional, high-quality HUB, to gain additional connectivity; however, that is somewhat expected from Apple.
On the other hand, battery life of Apple MacBook Pro 13.3″ is impressive and offers some 13 hours of work, allowing for a great level of autonomy. When talking about networking, there are Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 connections, meaning every resource needed for productive work is there.
Therefore, if you are after one of the best laptops for programming in the world, and you are also a fan of the Apple brand, there is no better solution than the Apple MacBook Pro.
- It can run iOS apps
- Magic Keyboard
- Excellent performance
- 13-hour long battery life
- A limited number of ports
Microsoft Surface Laptop 4
Great Elegance and Performance in One
Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 is a sleek and highly practical laptop that allows for trouble-free multitasking and offers great autonomy, due to its impressive battery that gives more than 11 hours of autonomy. This is a device that offers everything essential for good programming, there is a good 15”, IPS screen, with a resolution of 2496 by 1664 pixels, and ideal for split-screen tasks. Also, there is the Ryzen 7 4980U, with eight cores and 16 threads, as well as the 512GB of SSD storage and 8GB of RAM.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 comes fitted with Windows 10 Home Operating System and features AMD Microsoft Surface Edition (AMD Radeon) graphics. Also, it is equipped with Omnisonic Speakers, with Dolby Atmos 6 support, a very good 720p HD camera, and dual far-field Studio Mics that provide exceptional conference call capabilities.
This laptop also comes fitted with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, a comfortable keyboard, and unfortunately, only two USB ports, which, as in the case with the MacBook Pro, definitely requires the purchase of the additional HUB, which certainly isn’t something to be happy about.
All in all, Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 is an almost-perfect device that brings a ton of features, great performance, and ultimately, everything needed for a good-quality programming.
- Sleek looking
- Comfortable keyboard
- Very good audio performance
- Excellent Ryzen 7 performance
- More than 11 hours of battery life
- Reasonably priced
- A limited number of ports
Razer Blade 15 Advanced Gaming Laptop
Another Excellent Laptop for Programming
Razer Blade 15 is a sleek and practical, feature-rich laptop, fitted with a powerful RTX 3070 GPU and perfect for a wide variety of activities, including high-end gaming and programming. This device comes with an Intel i7-11800H, 8-Core CPU, with an Intel Turbo Boost Technology that can boost the processor speed up to an impressive 5.1GHz and a 15.6” OLED screen, with 100% sRGB, capable of delivering 360Hz in an FHD resolution, and 2ms response time.
Moreover, there is also special Vapor Chamber Cooling, as well as Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth connectivity, and a whole bunch of connectivity options. These options include three USB ports, one HDMI 2.1 port, two Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports, and a 3.5 mm Combo Audio jack, which pretty decent.
Razer Blade 15 features 16 GB of RAM; it has 1TB of storage space and an additional M.2 slot for future upgrades. Also, there is per-key RGB Razer Chroma lighting, THX Spatial Audio, good battery life – literally everything you need for an excellent user experience.
For that reason, if you are after the best laptop for gaming, you may be sure that the Razer Blade 15 is pretty much it.
- Attractive looking
- Good battery life
- Very good touchpad
HP Spectre X360
The Beauty and the Beast
HP Spectre X360 is a lightweight and beautiful multifunctional laptop that offers great performance and very good connectivity all in one. With this laptop, you are getting all the latest technologies, such as the 11th generation Intel Quad-Core i7-1165G7 processor, 16GB of RAM, as well as a super-fast 512GB NVMe SSD. There is also Windows 10, as well as a 15.6” 4K UHD, IPS Touchscreen for screening purposes.
HP Spectre X360 can easily be transformed into a tablet, due to the 360-degree hinges integrated into its build, while the handful of connectivity features, such as one USB-A 3.1 port, two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, microSD card reader, along with combo audio jack, and one HDMI 2.0b, offer more than enough options for the most.
Moreover, this laptop comes fitted with the Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX 201 and Bluetooth 5 networking, Bang & Olufsen quad speakers, as well as HP True Vision 720p HD camera that makes it very practical for conference meetings. On top of that, HP Spectre X360 comes with a very good battery that gives more than 11 hours of work, a comfortable keyboard, and ultimately a pretty good overall package, as it should be the case with one of the best laptops for programming out there.
- Beautiful design
- Great battery life
- Comfortable keyboard
- Great performance
- Very good multi-functionality
- It can get a bit noisy
ASUS VivoBook 15 M515
A Budget-Friendly Laptop for Programming
If you have a limited budget, or simply don’t want to spend too much of your money on a laptop for your programming duties, ASUS VivoBook 15 M515 is the device to seriously consider.
This laptop offers a good combination of performance and price and delivers a pretty good value to the customer. There is the AMD Ryzen 7 5700U Processor, with eight cores and a maximum speed of 4.3GHz, 8GB of RAM, and a fast 512GB NVMe SSD that should deliver enough storage space for most users.
Also, there is a Windows 10 Home Operating System, a 15.6” IPS FHD screen, with 83% screen-to-body ratio, as well as a whole bunch of connectivity options. To be exact, there are two USB2.0 ports, one USB3.2 port, one USB3.2 Type-C port, as well as an HDMI port and a 3.5mm jack.
Moreover, there is also Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth connectivity, as well as Windows Hello security – in other words, every essential for solid work is there. Sure, the overall performance isn’t at the same level as the best laptops for programming, yet it is good enough to deliver fluid and trouble-free work.
All in all, if you are after a budget-friendly option for your programming, ASUS VivoBook 15 M515 is certainly more than a solid choice.
- Good connectivity
- Nice looking
- Comfortable keyboard
- Only FHD resolution
- No numeric keyboard
Microsoft Surface Pro 7
The Best Portable Laptop For Programming
It’s time for a flagship, henceforth we present you the Surface Pro 7 from Microsoft. This laptop of sorts is an interesting choice for programmers on the go, due to its ultra-lightweight and compact design, which is best in class according to the company.
This particular model comes with a 10th gen Intel Core i5 CPU, 8 GB of RAM and a fast 128 GB SSD. It doesn’t sound like much, but the price is also affordable considering the flagship-build quality, not to mention the excellent 12.3’’ touchscreen display.
Compared to the 2019 model, the 2020 version comes with USB Type C, yet the rest remains basically the same. The laptop weighs 1.7 pounds or 770 grams, which is amazing, and measures 11.5 x 7.9 x 0.33 inches (292 x 201 x 8.5mm). The bright screen boasts a resolution of 2,736 x 1,824 pixels, with a 267 ppi density, featuring an outstanding saturation-color balance, plus an ambient light sensor that automatically adjusts brightness.
Build quality is as solid as it gets, the kickstand is an engineering masterpiece and quite steady in any imaginable scenario, the sound quality is decent, and charging is quite fast, taking 45 minutes from 0 to 50 percent. However, battery life is nothing to write home about at 8 hours, i.e. we expected more to be honest. Finally, keep in mind that you’ll have to spend extra money for a keyboard and a pen eventually, but other than that, this is a very good choice for productivity-focused people who travel a lot.
- Premium build quality
- Good value for money
- Fast charging
- Micro SD reader
- USB Type C
- Light and compact
- Outdated design
Dell XPS 15 9500
Excellent Laptop for Programming
The Dell XPS 15 is arguably the best 15’’ laptop on the market today, and that makes it a fine contender for the “best laptop for programming” extravaganza. To describe it in a few words, the XPS 15 9500 is a premium desktop replacement that’s as close to perfection as humanly possible.
If you’re looking for slick design, top-notch components and robust build quality, the Dell XPS 15 9500 ticks all the important boxes in our book. Depending on your budget, you can configure a 4K touchscreen dream-machine, an Infinity Edge display with 100% Adobe RGB color, up to 10th gen i9 i9-10885H CPU, up to 32 GB of RAM, up to 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD and even a GTX 1650 Ti 4GB GDDR6 GPU.
Build quality is amazing, though a little on the heavy side, the 4K UHD+ (3840 x 2400) display is one of the best in the industry, and that counts for programmers, and the keyboard is fantastic for avid typists, being quiet and responsive, i.e. perfect for touch-typing.
The sound system is excellent, you get both USB Type-C and USB Type-A ports, and even battery life is outstanding at 12 hours autonomy. As we already told you, this is one of the best desktop replacements money can buy, highly configurable, built to last and very pretty; if you can afford it, just go for it and thank us later.
- Highly configurable
- Impressive display
- Top-notch hardware
- Thin bezels
- Great keyboard
- Stellar audio
- A bit heavy
MSI P65 Creator-1084
Dressed to Kill
The MSI P65 Creator is an amazing gaming laptop, filled to the brim with the latest technological bells and whistles, everything packed in a slick and sober design. With a retail price of less than $2k, the Creator is an excellent laptop for programming, gaming, video-editing, what have you, i.e. a jack of all trades if you like, provided you can live with the price tag.
Under the hood, you’ll find an Intel Core i7-9750H CPU, 32 GB of RAM, a beefy 1 TB SSD, a GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, everything VR Ready and running on Windows 10 PRO. We almost forgot the fabulous wide-view angle 4K UHD screen, anti-glare treated, since you’ll be staring at it all day long.
Design-wise, the laptop is ultra-thin, amazingly light and business-looking, or, to put it another way, it’s basically a gaming laptop in sheep’s clothing. The aluminum-built chassis oozes class, build quality is as solid as it gets in an expensive laptop, the keyboard is pretty good and performance is superb, as per tech-specs.
All in all, if you can live with 4-5 hours battery life, which is not impressive to say the least, and the fact that the laptop can get hot and loud when pushed (read gaming hard), the MSI P65 Creator is an interesting choice if you want an all-rounder capable of handling anything you throw at it.
- Superb display
- Solid build quality
- Top-notch hardware
- Nice keyboard
- Good value
- Mediocre battery life
- Dim display (270 nits)
Dell Inspiron 5000 14″ FHD
An Affordable High-Performing Option
Dell Inspiron 5000 14″ is a compact, practical, and pretty efficient laptop, which makes it a very good option for multiple activities, including computer programming. There is the powerful Intel Core i7-1165G7 Processor with four cores, eight threads, and a boost speed of up to 4.7GHz. It’s paired with integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, 32 GB of RAM, and a very good 1TB SSD for storage. In other words, pretty good hardware.
On top of that, there is also a solid 3-cell, lithium-ion battery, which delivers some eight hours of work, as well as the decent 14″ FHD LED-backlit touchscreen. When talking about connectivity, there is one USB3.2 Type-C port, two USB3.2 ports, and a Combo Headphone/Microphone Jack, which should be more than enough for most people.
Moreover, Dell Inspiron 5000 14″ is fitted with the Windows 10 Home Operating System; it is equipped with Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi6 networking and offers a 360-degree flip-and-fold design that brings additional versatility to the equation.
Dell Inspiron 5000 14″ also features Windows Hello security; it has Stereo Speakers with MaxxAudio Pro and overall offers a very good combination of the performance, features, and price. In short, it offers exactly what the best laptops for programming should.
- Very good build quality
- Sleek looking
- Solid performance
- Excellent multi-functionality
- No numeric keyboard
- Only FHD resolution
- No Thunderbolt 3 port
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9
The Perfect Business Laptop
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is a beautifully designed, yet more importantly, highly efficient laptop, which shows its best sides in the business sphere, where it has almost no rivals. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon continues the long, praised tradition of the ThinkPad series, and follows their path delivering a top-class build, combined with high-end performance, as should be the case with one of the best business laptops on the market.
To be exact, this laptop offers the amazing 19 and a half hours of battery life, as well as 4G and 5G mobile support, and features the Windows 10 Pro Operating System, offering more customization and features. Moreover, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is fitted with a fast Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU, with four cores, eight threads, and a boost speed of 4.7GHz, which should be enough for most users.
On top of that, there are also Intel Iris Xe Graphics, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity, as well as the 14″ FHD IPS screen, with 400 nit’s brightness, an anti-glare function, and a 60Hz refresh rate.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is fitted with a three-year warranty and equipped with 16GB of RAM, as well as a 512GB NVMe Opal2 SSD that brings more than enough capabilities for high-end performance. In the connectivity department, there are two USB3.2 ports, two USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports, as well as a Headphone/mic combo jack, HDMI 1.4 port, and Ethernet/side mechanical docking.
All in all, a long list of features and qualities is there, and only thing left is to purchase it.
- Beautiful design
- Very good keyboard
- Excellent battery life
- Good connectivity
- No SD card reader
With so many laptops available on the market today, shoppers must be aware of what they want in their laptops and what they want to do with them. Price points of laptops can vary greatly and so can the specs of each one available. Some of the best laptops for programming have been outlined, but as usual it is an excellent idea to research all options yourself.
Best laptops for programming, written by someone not having even a basic idea about programming. Your top pick puts a Macbook on the list. Not even having a number pad. Uhu, sure, that’s exactly what I need. Jeez.
Thank you for the comment, Adriano.
I’m not sure about your programming level but the half of programmers I know use MacBook Pro. Even architects. And especially front-end devs.
Regarding the number pad, it’s the first time I hear about its importance. I guess for some very specific tasks it may be. But in general, it’s not that important and is just a matter of personal preference.
Also, I’d like to point out that our lists aren’t based on “from best to worst”.
Anyway, I’m sorry you didn’t find our list helpful. Hopefully, you’ll find the right laptop for your particular needs.