The Best Laptops for Programming
There are countless reasons to buy a shiny new laptop. Perhaps you’re an avid gamer who connects with friends from across the world every weekend to compete in virtual world domination. Perhaps your only goal in life is to stream movies on Netflix while casually working on a business report or school project. Or perhaps you simply want a box through which you can send and receive emails.
Regardless of the reasons you’re looking for a new laptop, there are certainly plenty to choose from within a wide range of prices, and each one offers unique benefits that others don’t.
But if you’re interested in programming and development, you need to keep your eye on a different type of laptop, since there are plenty of more costly laptops that simply lack the type of processing power and speed you need to get the job done.
Similarly, there are a series of features in most laptops that you simply don’t need if you’re primarily interested in coding—such as display resolution and crazy amounts of RAM—since you likely won’t be streaming too many movies or running multiple applications at once.
Either way, laptops that are ideal for programming tend to be a unique breed, and you can save a lot of money if you forgo the fancier laptops (read: Apple’s MacBook Pro) in favor of more streamlined and efficient gadgets that focus more on pure power and efficiency.
So with that in mind, check out our list of the best laptops for both aspiring and established programmers.
We’re not going to lie: We love Lenovo. Their famed ThinkPad series seems to be getting better and better with each new release (with a few notable but rare exceptions), and they’re a relatively cheap way for business people and programmers to get a lot done without having to break the bank on a laptop that’s more than $1,000.
This ThinkPad E590 is a testament to Lenovo’s ingenuity and simplicity, and it’s perfect for programmers who want a powerful yet simple way to write code without limitations.
You get a wonderful 15.6-inch HD WLED-backlit screen along with an Intel UHG graphics card, along with everything you need in a quad-core 1.6GHz processor in order to carry out every conveyable programming or development task with ease.
There’s 8GB of onboard RAM that allows you to smoothly run multiple applications and browser tabs all at once (if you need), and 256GB of SSD storage is more than enough to keep most of your files on the computer itself without having to resort to the cloud.
This laptop comes loaded with all the connections you’ll need to hook up your peripherals (including 1 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 ,1 x USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 2, 1 x HDMI, and 1 x Headphone/Microphone Combo Jack), and the preinstalled Windows 10 operating system (which brings back the beloved Start Menu, by the way) is a favorite among coding pros because it allows full control over virtually every element of your computer.
And as an added perk for all of you on-the-go programming pros who love to code on trains and planes, this computer is super compact and lightweight—meaning you’ll be able to easily toss it in your bag without having it weight you down.
Unless you’ve been living under a very large rock for the past several decades, you’ve doubtlessly heard of HP laptops, which reign supreme when it comes to combining portability and affordability.
This super thin and lightweight laptop comes with an Intel dual-core 2.6Ghz processor and 8GB of memory for all of your coding needs, along with an impressive battery life that will allow you to develop the next best-selling apps even when you’re away from a power outlet.
You get all the standard connections (including an HDMI out) along with a surprisingly bright and clear display for a laptop in this price range.
One of the more unique features of this laptop is that it comes with a DVD-writer (which can come in handy if you need to store and send your massive sets of code in a more traditionally secure medium), and the full-sized island-style keyboard is great for expended typing sessions—something that’s all too familiar to experience coding pros.
You also get the Windows 10 OS preinstalled, and there’s a built-in media reader that acts as a fast and simple method for transferring photos and other media.
This workhorse computer has more than enough power to fuel most coding projects, and its build quality should be especially appealing for those of us who are constantly taking our laptops with us on the go.
You get the latest version of Windows 10 Home 64, an Intel Core i7 processor that runs at 2.5GHz, and a 256GB SSD drive that can store more than enough photos, movies, and files for the average user.
You’ll also get an HP TrueVision fully-HD webcam, along with integrated dual digital microphones—along with three USB 3 ports, an HDMI port that can be used to connected external monitors, a MiniDisplay port, and a headphone/microphone combo input.
We were also impressed with the sound quality of this laptop, since most of its competitors lack speakers that produce the kind of low-end punch and high-end clarity that most audiophiles know and love. But thanks to a pair of Bang & Olufsen speakers, this laptop is able to crank out your favorite tunes without issue.
We love Acer almost as much as we love Lenovo when it comes to creating pro-level laptops that don’t break the bank, and this Aspire machine has more than enough processing power and functionality to carry out every and all tasks that define a great programmer.
Powered by a 7th generation AMD A-Series Dual-Core Processor A9-9420 that runs at 3.0GHz (with a Max Turbo Speed of 3.60GHz), this laptop gives you the power to surf, stream, code, and so much more.
You get a 15.6-inch full HD display and 12GB of SDRAM for full-powered multitasking, along with 256GB of SSD storage (which is more than enough space for programmers who rarely keep large media files on their hard drives).
Where would a truly great laptop list be without a second Lenovo machine? Although quite a bit more pricey than the Lenovo at our number-one spot, this intrepid laptop comes with a few more bells and whistles that make it ideal for programmers who aren’t constrained by a tight budget.
It comes loaded with an 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor that operates at just under 2 GHz, and 512 GB of onboard storage is more than you’ll tend to find on laptops in this price range.
You get in-plane switching technology in the monitor along with a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080, and the intuitive and responsive touchscreen can be a major plus for coders who despise having to use a mouse or track pad in order to initiate every single movement on-screen.
There’s also a front camera, finger reader, HDMI port, and a slew of standard connections that make it easy to transfer your files on the go.
This supremely sleek and stylish Dell machine features an Intel i7-8550U Quad-Core Processor (that can be taken up to 4.0GHz with Turbo Boost) along with a 512GB SSD hard drive and 16GB of SDRAM.
The 13.3-inch UltraSharp 4K Ultra HD InfinityEdge Touchscreen Display is both easy on the eyes and very effective when it comes to swapping out multiple windows while you work, and the back-lit keyboard makes it easy to continue your programming even after your significant other has insisted on turning out the lights.
You also get Bluetooth 4.1 and Wi-Fi connectivity, built-in stereo speakers tuned with Waves MaxxAudio Pro, and a widescreen HD (720p) Webcam with four array digital microphones.
Although billed primarily as a gaming laptop, this compact computer is great for programmers who love a fast processor and a bright screen.
Its display is perfect for both work and play (thanks to edge-to-edge viewing and a 144Hz refresh rate that offers the best experience for both creative tasks or intense coding sessions) and you’ll be able to customize the key lighting to make it easier to automate tasks in your workflow.
This laptop also comes with biometric security features and supports Windows Hello instant facial unlock with an integrated webcam and IR sensor.