Hi guys! When I look back upon my twenty years of experience as an IT consultant, I wonder how many options in hardware we have today to choose from especially in the laptops. I am glad that I can share my experience through this buying guide on how to pick the best laptop for programming and coding. This is the year 2018 and laptop manufacturers are trying their best to set new benchmark in terms of performance, features and efficiency. I sincerely think that you cannot buy any laptop and use it for web development, android or iOS app development, python coding, Visual studio, C# or any other platform of software development of your choice.
Some programs need some minimum recommended specifications for smooth execution. If compilation and test execution of code is sluggish, it can be irritating, waste a lot of time and becomes a major deterrent. Remember if you’re planning a career in coding or are looking ahead to become a successful developer, your laptop is the key to success and a vital tool to achieve your dream career.
5 Features you must check before buying a laptop for programming
Well, whatever high-end configuration laptop you own, if it is not robust then everything you do can fall apart. Do not go by looks or sleekness of the laptop. The material of construction used in making its external body, the quality of hinges and keyboard quality are important features to look for. Portability is required for some programmers or coders but it should not be compromised on the sturdy built of the laptop. In short, get a laptop that may not be sleek and smart but is well-built to bear rough and tough usage.
The laptop should be resistant to being heated up for extended period of time. The best laptops have the effective cooling system installed on the CPU and GPU chips of the motherboard. There are some laptop models, I have come across in the past that have heat dissipation vents on the lower (base) side. You should avoid buying such laptops and look for laptops with heating vents on the side of the laptop. Dissipating heat in a proper manner is the key to a cool and long running coding laptop.
The central processing unit is not the only but one of the features you should take care of while buying a laptop for programming students. Look for a laptop with a minimum Intel i5 processor. This is an intermediate between of i3 and latest i7 processor. Considering the budget and the future requirements, I think i5 would suffice all the programming needs. Remember, the processor is responsible for multi-tasking. Higher the processor specs, more applications you can run simultaneously.
The RAM determines how fast the applications open and runs. Although 8GB will meet all the coding requirements considering the future releases of the programming languages, you must choose at least 12 Gb or 16 GB if your budget is flexible.
SSD (solid-state-drives) are much faster than SATA hard drives. So, I would recommend SSD over HDD. If you really need extra storage capacity for games or movies, you can go for a hybrid (SSD+HDD) storage option. But, if you want to use the laptop only for basic programming and coding assignments, a single SATA drive is more than sufficient.
The graphics or the GPU determines the screen resolution of the screen. You have the option of either the onboard integrated display chip or the dedicated graphics chip with memory. See, the latest integrated graphics provided by Intel are not bad and can handle all the graphics requirement of a computer programmer or a developer. If you want to run some games along with your work, then definitely go for a minimum of 2Gb video RAM GPU. But be ready to pay more since this option will increase the price of the laptop.
Check for a minimum of 1366x 768 pixels of resolution. One more important tip, always buy an IPS display screen and not TNT. The IPS display is cool to eyes whereas TNT technology is cheap and can strain your eyes in short time.
You have the option of going for Mac, Windows or Linux depending upon your software needs. If you are looking to work on X-code or iOS development, then Apple laptop is the only option. Windows supports most of the other programming platforms and software.
Reviews of 10 Best Laptops suitable for Programming
1. ASUS P-Series P2440UQ-XS71
After buying this laptop, you are going to secure your next four years for sure. You get all that you need in a perfect laptop like portability, robust design, security features and latest hardware. This is a top of the line laptop that is powered by kaby Lake 7th generation Intel i7 7500U processor and 12 GB DDR4 of RAM.
The ASUS P-series laptop comes with a dedicated graphics. It is equipped with NVidia GeForce 940MX graphics chip with 2GB DDR3 video memory that is enough for smooth handling of any programming language or games. The screen is 14 Inches in size with a matte finish that allows you to code for late hours without hurting your eyes. The laptop screen has a maximum resolution of 1920×1080 pixels that is good enough for both work and fun.
It has an ergonomically designed chiclet keyboard for comfort and enhanced productivity. The touch-pad is capable for multi-gesture inputs for better control. Other features include a fingerprint scanner, TPM chip for secure booting and a DVD writer. The best part of this laptop is that it has an opening on the backside for easy up-gradation of RAM and the battery too is removable.
Highly recommended, this latest beast form Asus is not only a budget friendly laptop but is equally capable to run Python, Visual studio, C# or any other heavy API’s.
2. Lenovo ThinkPad E570 Notebook
It is the best budget laptop that is known for its performance and speed. ThinkPad from Lenovo is a respected series among business professionals. Lenovo E570 has all the ingredients in it that make it a perfect choice for programmers. Equipped with Intel i5 processor and DDR4 12 GB Ram, this laptop can handle software development including game or android coding.
The ThinkPad is one of the robust machines in the laptop industry that undergoes stringent quality, vibration, and dustproof testing. You can code for longer durations without feeling any heat on the innovative cool palm rest of ThinkPad. It has full size ergonomic keyboard with optimum key travel that provides the best feel while programming.
The laptop comes with a hybrid storage that comprises of 128GB SSD and 1TB SATA hard drive. You can keep the OS in SSD for faster booting and “install coding software and keep personal data” in a mechanical drive.
The other feature that makes is the best pick for coding is its anti-glare matte screen. Moreover, it has a 15.6 Inch HD display with a maximum resolution of 1366×768 pixels. It comes with a pre-installed Windows 10 professional 64-bit. With the great all-round performance, Lenovo E570 is highly recommended.
3. Dell Inspiron i5567-3655GRY 15.6″ FHD Laptop
If you are a student of computer science or IT, Dell Inspiron is the best value for the money. Reasonably priced, this laptop is equipped with all the high-end features of a flagship model. The laptop has a fog-grey body finish and is robustly built. You get a full HD touchscreen with max. resolution of up to 1920×1080 pixels, which is great for web development or running a graphics software.
The Dell Inspiron is powered by Intel i5 processor and 8Gb RAM which can be upgraded to 16GB. 1TB hard disk storage is enough for your documents and media needs. Another feature that the programmers would like is its backlit keyboard. So they can work with lights off in the room without disturbing other’s sleep.
This sleek and compact beast weighs only around 5 pounds. You can easily carry it in a backpack without feeling any strain on the shoulders. This powerful and reasonable priced laptop is perfect for developing the apps.
4. Acer Aspire F15
I won’t be wrong if I call it the best laptop of the year 2017 for coding and gaming segment. Whatever you want to run on it, it will impress you with its speed and graphics. The Acer Aspire F15 model is equipped with NVidia GTX 950M GPU with an impressive 4GB video RAM. The inbuilt GPU meets all the demanding graphics needs of playing and developing games.
At such an amazing price, the F series laptop provides enough power for programming and designing needs. It is powered by 7th Generation Intel Core i5-7200U Processor with turbo boost technology and DDR4 RAM of 12 GB. To further boost the performance, the laptop is equipped with 128Gb SSD for quick booting and an addition storage device of 1 TB SATA HDD.
Acer Aspire F15 comes with a full size backlit keyboard with tactile keys that are well separated for comfortable and speedy typing. You can work unplugged for the whole day since the battery offers a whopping backup of 12 hours. Other features include USB 3.1 Type C port, HD webcam, SD card reader and an FHD 15.6” screen.
This laptop is undoubtedly having all the premium features at a budget price and is highly recommended for students pursuing CS or Information technology degrees.
5. Apple MacBook Air New (2017)
If you wish to code with Swift or objective C, you need to buy a Mac laptop. Apple MQD42LL/A is the latest launched MacBook you must seriously consider for developing iOS apps. Weighing less than 3 pounds, it is one of the lightest and sleek design MacBook, you can’t resist.
Apart from the mind boggling looks, this MacBook is a powerful machine equipped with Intel i5 processor and 8 GB RAM. On the graphics front, the laptop has integrated Intel graphics (6600) chip and a 13.3 Inches anti-reflective screen with a maximum of 1440×900 resolution.
This latest MacBook is priced in mid-range and also features 256 GB SSD, SD card slot, thunderbolt 2 port and pre-installed with latest Mac OS. The hardware is enough for optimum performance while coding and developing games.
This model from apple is released in 2017 and has all the latest features and ports necessary for programming. Buy this exclusive MacBook Air at a budget price.
6. Apple MacBook Pro MPTR2LL/A 15-inch Laptop
If you can spend little more, this is a high end model that is powered by latest Intel i7 processor and 16 GB RAM for a powerful performance while reducing the power consumption compared to other laptop models. With advanced graphics of Radeon Pro (2GB Video memory) , the coders who need extreme graphics will be delighted with crisp and clear on-screen display.
The MacBook Pro comes equipped with a PCI-e based flash drive that has a capacity of 256 GB and speeds up the loading of apps and OS by at least 22 times. Talking about the speed, it offers the data transfer speed of 10 GBps with its innovative thunderbolt 3 technology.
The MacBook Pro is powered by Mac OS X El Capitan OS. You can work on the laptop on the go for nine hours before recharging it. Said that, the MacBook has an intelligent power saving technology which automatically switches the graphics settings as per the needs.
Whether you do multitasking or run resource intensive coding apps, this is a machine you must pick for an all-round high performance and durability.
7. ASUS F556UA-AS54 15.6-inch Full-HD Laptop
Productivity and Portability are what this Asus F556 laptop offers. The sleek profile and a metallic (icicle-gold) body give it a premium and eye-catching appearance. It provides great efficiency as it is powered by Intel i5 processor that is capable to handle any demanding workloads. The processing is done in such a way that the power is consumed in an optimum way to save the battery life.
A 256 GB SSD and 8 GB RAM ensures lightning fast booting of windows OS and quick launch of applications. The 15.6 Inches screen is fully HD with a max resolution of 1920×1080. The screen is anti-glare matte finish and the eye care mode reduces the blue light that is responsible for eye-fatigue.
Instead of a conventional Li-Ion battery, the F556 laptop battery is made from Lithium polymer that gives it 2.5 times more battery lifespan. Latest Asus laptops are always equipped with ice cool technology and F556 is no exception. It lets you carry out programming tasks comfortably without any heating issues.
The laptop comes with one-year accidental warranty and the customer service is available round the clock 24×7.
8. Acer Aspire E15
Whether you intend to work on the android studio, IDLE or C #, this is an affordable and efficient laptop to consider seriously for programming. The Acer E15 comes with premium features and incredible design that is beyond expectation for a budget machine.
High performance is supported by a powerful Intel i5 processor (7th generation), 8GB RAM and a lightning fast Solid State Drive of 256 GB capacity. The icing on the cake is that there is an easy to open window at the back side for upgrading the RAM and SSD. At such a nominal price, you get NVIDIA GeForce 940MX GPU with DDR5 2GB of video memory to handle any graphics demanding apps.
Other features that need a mention here are its 12-hour battery life for all day coding without plugging it to a power source. For clear and crisp visibility, the laptop has 15.6 inches of HD wide screen with max. resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.
Buy this obsidian black beauty from Acer packed with powerful features and you won’t regret for sure.
9. Dell XPS9360 13.3 Inches
Weighing just 2.7 pounds, this is the lightest laptop in the list. Apart from being light, it has a thin profile with bezel less display screen. Dell XPS 13.3 is a great replacement of a MacBook for an all-round enhanced performance. With stunning looks and high end features, this is the best laptop for college students.
You can’t get a better display than Dell XPS with QHD display (3200×1800) that provides clear view even at the wide angle of 170 degrees. With a contrast ratio of 1000:1 and 400 nit brightness, you can work in brad-day light without any hassles. With a responsive touchscreen, you can easily operate the apps in a more interactive way.
For enhanced usability, the keyboard is powered by a backlit to enable you to type in dimly lit areas. Dell XPS is capable of handling all the programming languages. It is powered by the seventh generation i5 processor and 8 GB DDR3 RAM. The storage needs are taken care by ultra-fast 256 GB SSD. The battery life of 10 hours is also worth-mentioning.
Dell XPX is highly recommended for students looking for portability combined with performance. The laptop has got high star ratings around the globe for its astonishing features.
10. Asus Zenbook
This is again a mid-range Ultrabook with 13.3 Inches display screen. This compact and sleek Zenbook from Asus is quite popular among students and travelers. The sturdy body of the Zenbook is made of all-metallic (aluminum) with a silver finish that adds to the premium looks of this laptop. Apart from its durable construction, the Zenbook comes with some impressive specifications.
Asus Zenbook comes in various variants. This model UX330UA-AH54 is powered by Intel i5 processor (7th generation), 8GB RAM and a 256 GB SSD for faster loading of aps and OS. The laptop has full HD (1920×1080) 13.3 inches’ screen for clear images and graphic intensive apps.
The laptop is rightly priced and the features are perfect for those looking for software development work. The full-size keyboard is comfortable to work with 1.5mm key travel. It is pre-installed with windows OS and connectivity ports include HDMI, USB 3.1, Type-C, D-sub and SD card reader.
A budget Ultrabook with a thin profile, stunning performance, and 12-hour battery backup are enough to consider it for your programming needs.
This is a list of top 10 laptops which are best for all the programming or coding needs. I hope the buying guide and reviews of the hand-picked laptops will help you in making a right decision while picking the best laptop for programming.