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.
8 Best Laptops for Programming to Buy in 2018
Apple MacBook Pro 15″ MPTT2LL/A
Speedy Laptop with Apple Quality
In typical Apple fashion, the MacBook Pro 15″ MPTT2LL/A is packed with useful features and nice accessories. With a speedy Intel i7 processor and a 512GB 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 N705UD-EH76
Great Laptop for Speed and Storage
The ASUS VivoBook N705UD-EH76 packs an intense Intel i7 processor and supports a RAM of 32 GB. The 17.3” screen is large and crisp, featuring NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 4GB discrete graphics.
This laptop comes with a 256 GB SSD + 1TB HDD storage combination, making it great for users who like speed but also cherish storage. ASUS included a lithium polymer battery that is supposed to reach 60% capacity within an hour of charging. Despite the large screen, it is also lightweight.
This laptop comes with several connection ports including different USB ports, an HDMI port, and ports for microphones or headphones. The backlit keyboard also makes it easy to code and work at night. Priced at about $1,100, this laptop is great for intermediate users.
- GTX 1050
- Plenty of connections
- Short battery life despite charging quickly
- Very fragile and delicate
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
Laptop with the Most Customizability
Anyone who watches television has probably seen at least one advertisement for the Microsoft Surface Pro. Easily converted from “studio mode” to “tablet mode” to “laptop mode,” this device is one of the most portable ones on the market.
Because there are so many different processor, RAM, and storage options, the price on this varies greatly. There are also different “Type Cover” colors, including burgundy, blue, black, and various shades of gray.
The Microsoft Surface Pro comes with key Microsoft features including the Surface Dial and Office and the Surface Pen as well as excellent 3D creation abilities, which is great for artists.
- Decently priced and users can choose the best for their needs
- Reports of overheating
- Poor battery life compared to other devices
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
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.