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.
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.
9 Best Laptops for Programming to Buy in 2019
Apple MacBook Pro 15″ With Touch Bar
Speedy Laptop with Apple Quality
In typical Apple fashion, the MacBook Pro 15″ is packed with useful features and nice accessories. With a speedy Intel i7 or i9 processor and a 256GB-1TB SSD storage, this laptop comes in a sleek space gray color and boasts a crisp retina display.
Apple also decided to include the new Apple T2 chip that offers encrypted storage and secure booting. As far as ports go, this laptop offers four Thunderbolt 3 ports.
Users report getting over 8 hours of battery life out of this MacBook and the speakers are also reportedly good quality as for a laptop. Apple made sure to include special features including Touch ID and the Touch Bar. Better yet, users can talk to their best friend Siri, too.
- SSD storage
- Intel i7 processor
- Adapters are needed for anything other than Thunderbolt 3 connections
ASUS VivoBook Pro 17
An Affordable Laptop for Programmers
Programmers can get by on a wide variety of machines, but choosing the right one can be tough when you’re just starting out. The ASUS VivoBook Pro 17 is an ideal laptop for beginners and sports a very reasonable price tag given the specifications.
With a 17.3-inch screen, the VivoBook Pro 17 gives you plenty of panel to work with. The WideView panel has a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, and somehow the company managed to make this one thin. This laptop measures 16.2” x 10.6” and is only 0.8” thick. Sure, there are thinner machines around, but not in the 17-inch class with a 1TB hard drive.
In addition to the HDD, you’ll also get a 256GB solid-state drive for speed. The processor is the 8th gen Core i7-8565U with a top speed of 4.6GHz, and you’ll get 16GB of RAM. Other features to note include the GTX 1050, USB Type-C, 3.0 and 2.0 ports, an SD card reader, and an ergonomic backlit keyboard.
This laptop won’t break the bank, and it has plenty of speed, so you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck from the VivoBook Pro 17. There are two other variants available as well if you prefer the i7-8550U or the GeForce MX150.
- Great value for the price
- 17.3-inch WideView Display
- 16GB of RAM
- Plenty of storage
- Mediocre battery life
Google’s Place in the 2-in-1 Market
Of course, Google had to get in the laptop game, too. Currently in high demand, the Google Pixelbook costs about $1,500 and conveniently comes with a built-in Google Assistant.
The Google Pixelbook is fitted with an Intel i7 processor and has 512 GB for storage. Also featuring 16 GB RAM, the 12.3” screen makes this an exceptional gadget for those looking for portability. The full version of Microsoft Office is not yet supported, but the mobile versions work just fine.
The Pixelbook is great for developers who like Linux, but may not be the best for developers who work in other OSes. An optional accessory users can purchase with the Pixelbook is a “Pixelbook Pen.”
- Easy setup
- No USB-A port
- Developers and programmers report incompatibilities and crashes
Samsung Notebook 9 Pro
Laptop with the Crispest Screen
Priced around $1,300, the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro is one of Samsung’s latest products. The 15-inch screen and 1920 x 1080 max resolution pairs nicely with the basic 16 GB RAM and 256 GB storage. This 2-in-1 laptop has a bright screen and even offers an “outdoor mode” that will adjust brightness to users’ needs while outside.
Despite some occasionally noted lag, a nice inclusion is the “S-pen,” which allows users to write or draw directly on the screen.
A reported downside of the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro is the speakers, as they are not as high-quality and loud as other options; however, if users are not looking for a device solely for music or movies, it should work fine.
- Beautiful screen
- Poor speaker quality
- Delicate and breaks easily
Acer Aspire E 15
The Best Laptop for Beginners
Nicely priced under $400, the Acer Aspire E 15 offers the basic computing needs with some added perks. It includes Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 so it runs even faster than the typical Intel i3 processor.
The widescreen 15.6-inch display is great for watching movies and Acer’s TrueHarmony technology provides the sound needed for great films or music. Boasting a 13.5 hour battery life, many users opt to use this remotely as the battery should last a long time.
The 1TB hard drive provides plenty of storage and connectivity is not an issue as it provides ports for USBs, HDMI, a VGA connection. This laptop is a great idea for beginning programmers and general use consumers.
- Good for movies and music
- Battery life
- Intel i3 processor isn’t sufficient for advanced programmers
Microsoft Surface Pro 6
The Best Portable Laptop for Programming
Programmers come in all shapes and sizes, just like the programs they design and the laptops they use. The Microsoft Surface Pro 6 is a hybrid device due to the detachable keyboard, but it’s more powerful than a slate along with half the laptops on our list.
Before we get to the tech specs, one advantage of this laptop is portability. It’s ideal for students or anyone that needs quick access to a laptop when an idea comes to mind as the 12.3-inch PixelSense Display won’t weigh you down. While it’s not the best option for gaming, media lovers will appreciate its portable nature as well.
This 2-in-1 has 16GB of RAM and a large 1TB solid-state drive. When you factor in the 8th gen Core i7, it can handle anything you throw its way, and the battery life is great as well with over 8-10 hours per charge. Unfortunately, due to its size, you’ll have to get by with a minimum amount of ports with one USB-A port, a mini DV port, microSD slot, and headphone jack.
If you’re on a budget, you may want to look at one of our other options as this configuration of the Surface Pro 6 is pricey. That said, it lives up to its name as it’s a Pro level laptop that’s built for speed and efficiency, not casual use. There are three variants of the Pro ranging available in two colors, and bundles including the Surface Type Cover as well.
- 2K PixelSense display
- 1TB solid-state drive
- Battery life
- Less than 2 pounds
- It’s expensive
- Could be too small for some
The Best Dell for Programming
Fans of Dell were pleased when Dell came out with the G3579-7989BLK-PUS. This laptop comes with an Intel i7 processor, a 256 GB SSD , and 1 TB HDD storage, so neither speed nor storage are an issue.
The 15.6-inch display is backlit and has anti-glare technology. These are plenty of connective ports, including an SD media card slot, a USB port, headphone/microphone jack, an HDMI port, an Ethernet port, and more.
Dell fans would probably agree this is the best laptop for programming and gaming, as the upgraded discrete graphics cards enhance the gaming experience. Priced around $1,000, this laptop is great for small businesses, gamers, or intermediate programmers.
- 256 GB SSD and 1 TB HDD storage
- Good for gaming
- Fan can be loud and annoying
- Speakers aren’t great
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E580
Great Laptop for Photoshop
Built with an Intel Quad Core i7 processor, the Lenovo has made our list with the ThinkPad Edge E580. The 15.6-inch screen features Intel UHD 620 graphics and the laptop is equipped with Windows 10 software.
Offering 16GB RAM and a 500GB SSD, this is great for users who are looking for a speedy laptop. Artists and editors are especially fond of this laptop, as it has a nice screen and works smoothly with Photoshop and other similar applications such as Gimp.
Special features include Bluetooth 4.1 wireless capabilities and a fingerprint reader.
- Good for programs like Photoshop
- Not the most portable
- Reports of screen problems
Huawei MateBook X Pro
An Ultrabook with a Stunning Display
Huawei started turning heads with their smartphone lineup, but they got our attention because of a slick PC. The MateBook X Pro is in the ultrabook class and has a fantastic display with a 91% screen-to-body ratio.
It took a while, but manufacturers have begun to realize consumers love bezel-less displays. Huawei almost achieved that with this laptop as there is just a hint of black border around the top and sides. What really makes it pop is the tech behind the glass however as its 3K with a resolution of 3,000 x 2,000 and a contrast ratio of 1500:1. It’s also a touchscreen…
Huawei went with the 8th gen Core i7-8550U for the MateBook X, and it gets some help from 16GB of RAM. App and file access is snappy because of the 512GB SSD and the company’s One-Touch power button. While only 0.57 inches thick, it has all the essential ports as well with a USB-A, USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 port. We’re also fans of the little privacy pop-up camera and the battery life.
The one negative for this laptop is the trackpad, and some users have reported issues with coil whine. Aside from that, it’s a reliable laptop with a nice price tag and more than enough power to satisfy most users.
- Vivid 3K display
- Stylish design
- Great keyboard
- The trackpad could use some work
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.