Programmers need more than your average computer for coding needs. Finding the right machine with plenty of RAM and storage that matches your budget can be tricky.
We have compiled a guide to help you find the best laptops for programming. Use this guide to avoid wasting time on endless browsing sessions online.
Here’s a teaser for what’s in this article:
- Suggestions for the top choices for programming laptops
- A brief buyer’s guide
- Some final words on making the right purchase
Here we go:
Top 5 Best Laptops for Programming – 2019
The VivoBook is a versatile laptop excellent for professional and some minor entertainment needs. It’s also one of the best laptops for programming.
The VivoBook comes packed with an Intel Core i5-8250U Processor. It has a 1TB mechanical hard drive and 8GB DDR4 RAM.
You might think Core i5 is so yesterday. Not quite and here’s why:
You can purchase this laptop with the latest 8th generation core i5 chip. It’s known for its efficiency and overall as the best processor around right now.
The 8GB RAM is available in a single card slot. The other RAM slot is empty so you can insert another card and enjoy 16GB of RAM.
If you don’t like the mechanical keyboard, you can install an SSD to speed things up. The laptop has pre-prepared space for a SATA-based SSD drive.
What else will programmers love about this?
The keyboard has an ergonomic Chiclet design. It’s fashioned to make typing fast and pain-free—something programmers definitely would need.
As a programmer, you would probably spend hours staring at the screen. The 15.6-inch screen has a full HD, anti-glare display to protect your eyes.
There are lots of ports for connecting most gadgets. Ports include, USB 3.1, USB 3.0. USB 2.0 and HDMI connections.
If there’s a downside, it might be the Intel UHD Graphics 620. The GPU isn’t exactly power-packed for graphical coding or editing needs.
- 8th generation processor
- Good amount of RAM
- Space for SSD
- Lots of ports
- Ergonomic keyboard
- Anti-glare screen
- Highly affordable price
- Subpar GPU
- SSD has to be separately purchased and installed
Not all programmers are PC fans. The Apple MacBook Pro is the best machine for iOS-loving programmers available right now.
This MacBook is packed with a 3GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5. That’s right, not an Apple-made chip.
It’s also got 8GB of RAM. What programmers would mostly love about this machine is this:
It has an SSD, not an HDD, with 256GB. SSDs are much faster compared to traditional mechanical storage drives.
Of course, you may have to sacrifice some internal storage. You might have to use an external storage drive to make up for the lost space.
The laptop has the much-talked-about Touch Bar, which you might or might not like. It also has Touch ID for easy locking and unlocking.
The MacBook comes with four Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports. No other port type is available, as it is common for Mac computers.
The 13-inch screen has a brilliant retina display made with True Tone technology. Gamer programmer would love this.
This MacBook comes with macOS Mojave. The laptop is pre-installed with Dark Mode, easy screenshots, Stacks, and lots of built-in Apple apps.
And like most MacBooks, this machine is very expensive. But it would be worth it for those who want to program on a Mac.
- Efficient processor
- SSD storage
- 8GB of RAM
- Brilliant screen
- Lots of proprietary Apple features like the Touch Bar
- User-friendly Mojave OS
- Very expensive
Have you ever wondered if you could have a PC that looks and kind of works like a Mac? That’s pretty much what the Huawei’s popular MateBook X Pro is about.
The computer is stunning. It sports a sleek and slim build MacBooks are famous for.
Though powerful, the laptop is really lightweight. It’s perfect for programmers working on the go.
And the specs are not for the faint-hearted. This laptop comes with an 8th gen Intel Core i7 processor, the most powerful processor available right now.
This laptop has 16GB of RAM. That’s ideal for geeks who want the maximum computing power.
The laptop has a powerful GPU as well. The processor is paired with an NVIDIA GeForce MX150.
The storage unit is a 512GB SSD. So fast performance is just about guaranteed.
Essentially, this laptop is perfect for processor-intensive programming needs. Want to program a game?
This might be the machine you need. It even has a wonderful 3K touchscreen, which programmers don’t really need, but can definitely appreciate.
There are a bunch of ports, including compact Mate Dock 2.0, USB-A, USB-C, HDMI and VGA ports. Unfortunately, no USB 3.0 ports are available.
As for the downsides, this laptop’s fan can get a bit noisy. Also, the price is well over $1,000, which might be too much for the specs at hand.
- 512GB SSD
- 16GB of RAM
- Intel Core 17 processor
- Powerful GPU
- Highly portable built
- High-end screen
- Noisy fan
- Expensive price tag
The Microsoft Surface laptop made a lot of noise when it was first released. The machine is marked by its surprisingly minimalist and elegant design.
You are assured of two things with the design aspect:
Slim and lightweight model. The laptop weighs only 2.76 pounds.
It also has a battery with massive capacity. You can get about 14.5 hours of video playback nonstop.
This machine is really great for programmers who want to code while travelling. It would just be perfect for busy coders who fly around the world.
Other than the design, the core specs of the Surface laptop are highly attractive to coders. It’s packed with an 8th Gen Core i5 processor.
Improved speed and performance to do what you want, with the latest 8th Generation Intel Core i5 processor.
It has 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM, plus a 128GB SSD storage unit. You can expand the capacity of these if you are willing to pay more.
The SSD unit lacks storage, though. You will have to rely on a cloud drive or an external storage unit to store everything you need.
There are other surprising factors that make this laptop highly desirable to programmers:
The vibrant PixelSense Display. The touchscreen is interactive too.
Overall, this is a great programming laptop if portability is your main concern. Don’t expect desktop-like processing power, though.
- Super-fast SSD
- Lots of RAM capacity
- Slim profile
- Ultra lightweight
- Perfect for programming on the go
- Limited SSD storage
Are your priorities for a programming laptop these features?
Affordability and functionality.
If so, the Acer Aspire E15 might be the machine you need. Do be aware that this is not a cool, slim laptop.
The profile of the laptop is bulky. But it paired desirable specs with a supremely affordable price tag.
The processing power is undoubtedly limited. You get only an 8th Gen Intel Core i5 processor paired with 6GB of RAM.
However, it does pack a lot of storage. The mechanical hard drive is 1TB.
Sure, there’s nothing too sexy about this laptop. However, it has enough processing power for most coding needs.
Need to code on Python, HTML, or a similar language? This laptop is good enough to run the scripts you want.
It still has a built-in DVD drive. If you are an old-school programmer, you would love it.
There’s one important factor that makes this laptop truly worth it:
It’s very easy to upgrade. You can easily improve performance by installing an M.2 512GB SSD in the designated slot.
This laptop certainly doesn’t come with a fancy screen. But it’s more than enough to support your programming needs.
- Super affordable price tag
- Enough processing power for common coding needs
- Easy to upgrade
- Build-in DVD drive
- No high-end specs
Things to Know When Buying Laptops for Programming
Want to know what features and specs you really need for a programming laptop? Then check out this brief buyer’s guide.
Different Types of Laptops for Programming
Programming laptops don’t come in many different varieties. These are the main types of laptops you can purchase for coding needs:
A Windows PC
PCs have unquestionably been the go-to operating systems for programmers. PCs are upgradeable and highly compatible, making them ideal for programming needs.
Windows computers have been a nerd’s dream from the start, compared to Macs. Therefore, investing in a PC laptop might be a necessity, rather than a preference.
Using a PC has many advantages:
It’s highly compatible, meaning you can easily transfer codes back and forth between employer and client computers.
PCs are widely used by programmers. So there might not be a better alternative.
An Apple Mac
Macs are not traditionally known to be a programmer’s laptop. However, these days some people do use Macs for this purpose.
Macs have a signature sleek look. Compared to PCs, you can be assured that a Mac would look good and come with a top-notch screen.
Macs are highly ergonomic. Typing might be easier on these machines.
Processing-wise, Macs are largely similar to PCs. Neither is better compared to the other when it comes to RAM or processors.
But be aware:
Macs are not very compatible with non-Apple software and devices. You may lose out on this factor when purchasing a Mac.
The Main Features of a Laptop for Programming
There are tons of features to look for when purchasing a laptop. But for programmers, the following take priority:
For programming needs, you ideally need an Intel Core i7 or an equivalent processor. But if you are on a budget, the Core i5 is quite sufficient.
Don’t go below this. However, some scripts can be run on a Core i3 processor, such a Python.
Investing in a good processor is a must for programming needs. Fortunately, most affordable laptops these days have Core i5 chips.
For optimal processing power, you need to pack up on RAM capacity. The more the merrier for programmers.
The ideal RAM capacity for programmers:
16GB. However, 8GB is enough unless you code for gaming or editing purposes.
Remember, the more RAM you have, the better. You won’t regret spending money on RAM.
The storage drive can vary depending on your needs. Most programmers are caught between choosing an HDD and an SSD.
Is one better than the other?
An SSD is undoubtedly faster. But they don’t pack as much storage capacity.
Mechanical HDDs are familiar. Though not as speedy as SSDs, these HDDs can go up to 1 or 2TB of storage.
Storage may not be as important for some programmers. You can always rely on external options for storing data.
Programming requires staring at a screen for hours on end. Therefore, you might want to look for these features as well:
Aim to buy a computer with an ergonomic keyboard. Easy typing is a must.
You can get the most for your money for a laptop with an anti-glare screen. It would ensure that your profession doesn’t ruin your eyesight.
Things to Look for When Buying a Laptop for Programming
That’s a lot of features and specs to look for. So here’s a short list of must-haves to keep in mind when shopping:
- Prioritise the specs over the gimmicks. For example, something like RAM capacity is more important than a 4K screen.
- Aim to purchase a programming laptop with a guarantee. It would make it easier for you to return the machine if it doesn’t meet your expectations.
- Set a budget. Then browse for products to avoid overspending.
- Don’t spend a lot of money on the GPU if gaming isn’t a priority. You don’t need a high-end graphics card for programming.
- If portability is important, check the laptop’s weight. It gives a better idea of portability than just a slim profile.
Here’s what we’ve learned so far about buying programming laptops:
- Check out the best programming laptops and their features as suggested above
- Look for the right features and specs you need
- Choose a laptop with features that match your budget
The laptops suggested above vary in specs and price. Some offer high-end specs like Core i7 chips and touchscreen displays.
Others are more budget-friendly. You can enjoy essential specs for a low price tag.
The above tips and suggestions should help you purchase the programming laptop you need. Decide on which specs are the most important to you, and then choose a machine that appeals to you.