Programmers always tend to seek a machine that can best support their work. They hate when their laptops are either heat-up or lags during tasks. Students, in particular, want a decent machine at a good price. This review “best laptops for programming” can be of great help in this case.
Nowadays, many IDEs are quite heavy. They are more resource-hungry and can get pretty sluggish if your machine doesn’t meet the recommended requirements. Android Studio is one example of such an IDE.
So, we usually need a powerful laptop to carry out our tasks. A multi-core processor, DDR4 RAM, and SSD are must requirements if you want to get your task done. Otherwise, with old hardware, you can face a lot of lags and over-heating issues.
In this review “best laptops for programming”, we have reviewed about 21 products. If you are not interested reading them all then jump straight to the “Final Verdict“
Choosing one of the best laptops for programming
To choose a suitable laptop for yourself you have to keep certain minimum requirements in mind. If you somehow meet these requirements then you are good to go. We discuss each factor separately.
Basics for the best laptops for programming students.
The most frequent and common requirements of almost every IDE out there is a multi-core processor, 8-16 GB DDR4 RAM, 256-500 GB SSD. A dedicated graphics card is a bonus otherwise integrated graphic card is sufficient.
But if you are into machine learning or block-chain technology then you need a high-end GPU like Nvidia 1050Ti or higher. For mobile development or web development, this isn’t a requirement.
Let’s jump into more specifics and learn about the best settings that suit a programmer.
1. Processor for the best laptops for programming
Processor aka CPU is the brain of a computer. With modern-day demanding software, you need more processing power. To remain future-proof and hit the minimum threshold, core i5 is the best pick for beginners and intermediate level programmers.
For more heavy tasks you will need to upgrade to core-i7(Hexa-core if you can afford.)
2. RAM for the best laptops for programming students.
RAM is the second most important factor to consider after CPU. The more you have, the more you can do multitasking. But how more? The answer is that for many modern machines 8-16GB DDR4 is sufficient.
If you are into game development or graphic designing then 16GB is the right choice for you.
3. Storage for the best laptops for programming
Its era of SSD. HDD is slower and can hamper your tasks. SSD enables fast access, copy/paste, and no start-up latencies. Time is money and programmers are always short of time. So SSD is a must.
256GB SSD is sufficient for programmers. For graphic designing however you will need up to 512GB.
4. Graphics card for the best laptops for programming
As I have mentioned before, dedicated GPU is not necessary for mobile development or web development. But if you are into graphic design, machine learning, game development or block-chain then you need at least Nvidia 1050Ti or slightly a higher model.
Graphic cards are expensive. So if you are a beginner programmer then integrated graphics would work just fine for you.
5. Display for the best laptops for programming.
A programmer stays in front of a computer screen for long hours reading lengthy documentation and debugging code. Certainly, a good display is a need. A 1080p HD display is required for almost every programmer.
4k displays are hot nowadays but they are costly. So 1080p HD display will work for you.
List of best laptops for programming (prices may be different)
Here we have a list of best laptops for programming. Each product review is available in the subsequent section.
Apple MacBook Pro (2020)
HP Spectre x360
Microsoft Surface Pro 6
Dell XPS 15
HP EliteBook x360 1040 G5
Huawei MateBook X Pro Signature Edition
Apple MacBook Air 13-inch
Lenovo 15.6″ ThinkPad P1
Acer Predator Helios 300
Samsung Notebook 9 Pro
ASUS VivoBook Pro 17
Dell G5 15 5587
HP Envy 13”
Microsoft Surface Book SW5-00001
Dell G3 15
Dell Inspiron 14 5482
Acer Aspire E 15
ASUS VivoBook 15
Lenovo IdeaPad 330
1. Apple MacBook Pro
Pros and Cons
Core i9/i7 processor.
The keyboard needs improvements.
Touchbar feature is a bit redundant.
2.3GHz 8-core Intel Core i9 with Turbo Boost up to 4.8
Radeon Pro 560X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory.
32 GB DDR4
256GB or 512GB SSD
0.61 inch (1.55 cm) x 13.75 inches (34.93 cm)
4.02 pounds (1.83 kg)
This MacBook Pro is an iteration of the 2020 MacBook Pro by Apple. The exterior of the laptop isn’t much different from the 2018 model. Yet, there are updates to the hardware.
It has two variants: one with Intel Core i9 9th Gen processor, the other with Intel Core i7 6-core processor. Entry-level SSD is 256GB while another option is 500GB.
The elegant retina display is something we can brag about this laptop. It makes it great for people in graphic programming. The hardware is quite powerful.
In fact, if we can neglect its high price, this laptop stands number one in the line of best laptops for programming. It can support almost every task in programming.
Furthermore, such powerful hardware can support multi-tasking quite easily. The only bad thing about this laptop is the high price.
HP Spectre X360 (2019) is one of its kind. Its HP successful attempt at Spectre x360 redesign. HP has triumphed in carving out a luxurious design.
The model reviewed here is the premium model with 1 TB of SSD. Besides, HP Spectre x360 is packed with a strong battery. It gives an average of 12-hours backup.
Considering the overall specs, we can say that this laptop is pretty much a top-notch for programmers. It can support heavy applications like Android Studio quite well.
Multi-tasking and portability are yet other two great features that it offers. Programmers with greater portability demands can opt for it because of the strong back-up it provides.
However, the variant that we have reviewed is expensive. There are some other variants with a lesser amount of SSD storage. But, they all cost above US$1000. Still, HP Spectre x360 is not expensive than most of the premium laptops out there.
So if you are looking for truly the best laptops for programming and want to invest slightly high then this is the right choice.
Surface Pro 6 is a laptop-tablet hybrid by Microsoft. It comes with a Windows 10 tablet with a 6-pin port to which a TypeCover keyboard dock can be attached. It was released in late 2018.
This laptop weighs less than 2 kgs and is highly portable due to its hybrid nature. The display is quite good with 2736 x 1824 resolution and measures 12.3 inches across.
The specs are good enough. Particularly, the 1TB SSD model is somewhat a big deal. Graphic designers can do quite well with the Microsoft Surface Pro.
For programmers too, this is a good choice. It can support many programming related tasks. However, if we consider its keyboard dock some programmers may find it a bit uncomfortable due to its small size and a lesser area.
Still, the specs are good enough. Therefore, this is surely in the list of best laptops for programming.
In a series of dell laptops for programming, Dell XPS 15 is packed with powerful hardware which can give an unrivaled performance.
Dell XPS is popular among programmers for many reasons such as portability, battery life, and good performance. It can support multi-tasking and programming quite well.
One of the impressive features is the display. It comes with a 15.6-inch touchscreen. The resolution can be 1080p or 4k: depends upon which variant you pick. It is bright and vibrant and perfect for video editing and graphic design.
The 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H processor with six cores and DDR4 memory is the major force behind this powerhouse. It is a good fit for cyber-security, block-chain, and programming.
LG Gram is the super lightweight, super performing laptop. It is packed with strong hardware to support heavy applications and multi-tasking.
The full metal body adds to its durability and elegance. It is designed such that it is less than 2 kgs. Therefore, super-light and more portable. The thin bezels around the screen give a premium look.
The keyboard occupies sufficient area such that the keys are at a reasonable distance and each key offers a decent amount of travel. Thus, provides comfort for programmers.
With the core-i7 variant, this laptop scores just below the Dell XPS or Microsoft Surface Pro in benchmarks tests. However, the integrated graphic card is a weak point.
At this price, we expect a dedicated GPU. The integrated GPU can support some basic tasks pretty well. This laptop isn’t much of an attraction for graphics designers or video editors.
However, for programmers, it can support many tasks pretty well. Therefore, it makes its place in the list of the best laptops for programming.
Chinese tech-giant Huawei launched its MateBook X Pro in 2018. In 2019, it is iterated with few changes.
The one we have in review here is the signature edition with Kaby-Lake core i7 processor. Kaby-Lake processors are great when it comes to cyber-security and block-chain technologies.
The aluminum finish of MateBook reminds of Apple MacBook Pro. It is thin, light, and thus portable. The massive display of a 91% screen-to-body ratio is a surprise.
The keyboard is designed so that users can feel comfortable while typing. Intel Core i7-8550U CPU and 16GB of RAM are simply a powerhouse. It can support seamless multitasking.
Battery-life gives an average back-up of 9 hrs. This laptop overall is a kind of all-rounder. It has all the necessary features. Therefore, it secures a place in the list of best laptops for programmers.
Apple MacBook Air delivers all that can be expected from a Mac at a much better price than MacBook Pro. It offers a Retina display, 10+ hours of battery life and a slightly better keyboard than MacBook Pro.
It is packed with a 1.6Ghz Intel Core-i5 Y-series processor which can turbo boost up to 3.6Ghz. But the Y-series processor isn’t as fast. It is a bit sluggish.
This laptop offers a lesser amount of RAM as well. So, overall multitasking isn’t well supported in this model. But, that is typical of Apple. At this price, we can expect only this much from Apple.
The reason to have this laptop onboard is to let the budding and beginner iOS developers know about a slightly cheaper MacBook. Therefore, we have included it in the list of best laptops for programming.
Lenovo ThinkPad P1 is a powerhouse at a reasonable price. It has very few shortcomings otherwise it packs all the necessary hardware required to be in the list of the best laptops for programming students.
It is lightweight and portable. It comes with a sleek design with a carbon-fiber finish and matt-black color. It has a wide array of ports available. It is durable enough and can withstand high temperatures, dust, and humidity.
Thinkpad 4k display is not very bright which is a weak point. But it is still elegant and vibrant enough. The keyboard is a true surprise. It is comfortable with 2.2 mm of key travel. The keys are well-spaced and relatively quiet.
As far as performance is considered, the benchmark tests wouldn’t disappoint you. It beats Dell Precision 7520 and HP ZBook Studio x360. Therefore, for programmers, it can work flawlessly.
Multitasking is not an issue in Lenovo ThinkPad P1. It is a true all-rounder. It can run a bit warm but the carbon-fiber case is strong enough to withstand that.
This model is surely one of the best choices for students on a budget.
Acer Predator Helios 300 is one of the most famous gaming laptops. It is powerful, portable and affordable at the same time.
It is a metal-finish, black color with a red accent and LED-lit keyboard. It is a pure gaming laptop design. Although intended for gaming this laptop can be a good choice for programmers too. Most programmers tend to be gamers as well, so it’s like one shot two kills.
It delivers enough power to support heavy applications like Adobe Photoshop, Android Studio, etc. 1080p display with 1-inch bezels and quite a comfortable keyboard makes it equally good for graphics designers and programmers.
It can get too hot while gaming but for programming over-heating wouldn’t be an issue. A slight under-volting can sort that over-heating issue but even in default settings, it can do well.
Although it is a gaming laptop it is not restricted to gaming only. It can be a powerhouse for programmers too. Therefore, it is in the list of “best laptops for programming“
Packed with 8-Gen Core-i7 8568U Asus VivoBook Pro 17 delivers the power on a budget. It is adored for its strong performance, elegant design, and effective thermal management.
It features a plastic case with sheets of brushed aluminum covering the palm rest and display lid. VivoBook’s design is sturdy and neat. The keyboard is backlit and is somehow good but not a top-notch.
Its 1920×1080 resolution display is superior to its predecessor and is sufficiently bright and vibrant. The performance is great across a variety of applications.
HP Envy laptops are considered high-end, just a step below the HP Spectre. However, HP Env y13″ (2018/19) comes with powerful hardware at a much better cost.
The aluminum finish gives the laptop a premium look. It comes with a top-notch 3.3-inch 4K UHD display. The display looks phenomenal. HP Envy has an 80.92% screen-to-body ratio.
The keyboard is nice and comfortable. As for the performance, the Core i7 -8565U and dedicated Nvidia GPU are a good deal at this price. However, in the case of the 4K UHD variant, the battery life becomes a bit shorter.
Overall it is a good deal, programmers can consider this model if they want to get good specs at a slightly lower price. Furthermore, a 4K display at this cost is a bonus!
Dell G3 15 is a Dell budget gaming laptop. The G3 15 packs the best of the hardware at a very reasonable cost. The overall performance is very solid.
The only downside in this model is the dull display. Although, it is full HD yet it suffers from this ill fate. The design is a bit low-key for a gaming laptop. Yet, at this budget it is fine. The keyboard is good enough.
When it comes to performance, this laptop can deliver the best as compared to almost any laptop at this cost. The performance is just below Predator Helios 300 which costs around US$1200.
Intel Core i5-8300H equipped with Nvidia 1050 and 8GB RAM can run many new AAA titles like Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate flawlessly. Therefore, it is capable of multi-tasking and handling heavy applications.
I consider it one of the best picks for programmers who are on a budget.
Acer Aspire E15 is a budget notebook. It packs many useful features like a 15.6-inch Full HD display, an eighth-generation Intel Core i5-8250U CPU, a discrete Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU, 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD.
It isn’t an all-metal design rather the body is plastic-built with old-school display bezels. The chassis appears to be thick. The overall design isn’t as impressive as we have seen in other laptops.
However, we should keep this in mind that it is a budget laptop so some compromises have to be made. Aspire E15 Performance wouldn’t disappoint you. It can challenge more expensive fellows like Dell Inspiron 15 7000 gaming laptop.
Quite good for programmers on a tight budget. It can support many applications and be a great partner in your programming journey.
In this review “best laptops for programming“, we have reviewed about 21 products, I will pick the best one according to my opinion and research.
1. If you are on a tight budget.
Acer Aspire E 15 is a perfect choice for programmers who want a decent machine at a less cost. It packs all the necessary hardware to support your tasks.
2. You want to invest some more money.
Dell G5 15 5587 gaming laptop is suitable for you. It costs around US$1,060 but comes with the best hardware that can support all your heavy tasks from programming to machine learning, block-chain, cyber-security. Plus, if you are a gamer too then seek none other than this powerhouse.
3. If you are ready to spend a fortune.
Apple MacBook Pro is the way to go. It is the top-notch model and quite future proof. It will enable you to do heavy multitasking and get the best out of your development and programming. iOS development, Andriod development, AI, Block-chain or cyber-security. This laptop can support all.