The laptops that are best fit for programmers and software developers pack great features such as powerful processors, enough RAM, sufficient storage, long battery lives, a comfortable keyboard, and a quality display.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the top models in the market to help you find the best one for your coding needs and budget:
- Best Overall: LG Gram 17
- Runner-Up: APPLE MacBook Air
- Best Budget: ACER Chromebook Spin 713
- Best Premium: HP Spectre x360 13 (OLED)
- Best Performance: ALIENWARE m15 R5 (Ryzen Edition)
#1 LG Gram 17 — Best Overall Laptop for Programming
|Processor||Intel Core i7-1165G7|
|Memory||16GB DDR4 3200 MHz|
|Graphics Card||Intel Iris Xe Graphics|
|Battery Life||11:30 h|
After doing some extensive testing and research, we’ve concluded that the LG Gram 17 is the best overall laptop for programmers because it offers a nice package of performance and storage that will certainly cover all of your programming needs and more. Moreover, it has a nice, big screen to work on while remaining incredibly lightweight, perfect for anyone who travels a lot.
Throw into this package a long-lasting battery life, and you can see why this laptop is at the top of our list. What sealed the deal for us is the price of $1,699, which is quite decent for a high-end device like this one.
Let’s start with the design. We’ve given it a 4 out of 5 scores in this category, which means it’s built almost perfectly. The high-resolution, 17-inch IPS display has very thin bezels to provide you with a huge workspace, so you can have multiple windows open at the same time and work without any hindrance. The backlit keyboard is very comfortable to type on, and it includes a numeric keypad, which is essential to coding efficiently.
The only downside we’ve found is that the chassis is rather flexible and flimsy. Even though the device has passed the MIL-STD-810 military-grade durability test, it doesn’t feel like it could take a few knocks without breaking.
- 17" WQXGA (2560x1600) IPS LCD, with DCI-P3 99% color expression
- Intel Evo Platform Powered by 11th generation Intel core i7-1165G7 Processor with Intel Xe Graphics...
- 16GB LPDDR4X 4266mhz RAM delivers a high level of performance for memory-intensive content creation,...
Moving on to performance, we’ve given this portable 3 points out of 5, which for us means “good”. This doesn’t mean that it’s mediocre, quite the opposite, in fact. We just believe that the specs could definitely be better for the price it’s selling at.
The LG Gram 17 is powered by a 10th Gen Intel Core i7 CPI with Intel Turbo Boost technology, which will allow you to compile and run code with ease. Turbo Boost increases energy efficiency when using just a few programs and apps and gives you more juice when you need to run more processes.
This laptop features 16GB DDR4 RAM for a speed boost and quick switch between tabs and windows and 1TB SSD storage for fast booting and access to your files. Of course, there’s the added benefit that you’ll never run out of space when saving your projects.
When it comes to battery and convenience, the Gram 17 takes the gold with a full score in both categories.
Packing a heavy-duty battery that lasts up to 11 hours and a half on a single charge, you can keep working and hit those dreaded deadlines without worrying about looking for an outlet or bringing your charger everywhere with you. Even if you need to plug it in, it only takes 2 hours and 20 minutes to fully charge, which is just under the average for most laptops.
You’d think that the massive screen and all of these amazing features come at the cost of convenience and portability, but you’d be wrong. This ultra-lightweight device only weighs 2.9 lbs so that you can comfortably carry it around with you wherever you go. Moreover, it has a great range of ports so that you can connect a mouse and extra keyboards if you need to without running out of ports for other peripherals. You’ll find a Thunderbolt 4 port, one USB-C 4.0 port, a headphone jack, and an HDMI port on the left side of the keyboard. On the right, there are two USB Type-A ports and a microSD card slot.
All in all, the LG Gram 17 is the best overall laptop for programming because it’s almost perfectly balanced in all of its specs, and available at a decent price. It’s one of the most portable devices with a 17-inch display currently available on the market. Moreover, it has a long-lasting battery life and offers reliable performance. All of these features should cover your programming needs well.
#2 APPLE MacBook Air — Runner-Up Laptop for Programming
|Processor||8-core M1 Chip|
|Memory||8GB / 16GB DDR3 2133 MHz|
|Storage||256GB / 512GB / 1TB / 2TB SSD|
|Graphics Card||8-core M1 Chip|
|Battery Life||12:30 h|
We have great news for those who prefer Apple products, the MacBook Air comes as the runner-up for the best laptop for programming. At $1,649, just a few bucks cheaper than the LG Gram 17, this MacBook covers everything you might need for coding but running macOS instead of Windows. The innovative technology of this laptop delivers seamless performance that, coupled with a fanless design and noiseless keyboard, make for an excellent working experience.
The design of this device grants a solid score of 4 out of 5 points. The 13.3-inch HD display features Retina Display and True Tone technology that make for sharper text and brighter and clearer images, and light that adjusts to the color temperature of your environment. You can spend long hours looking at the screen without experiencing any headaches or eye strain.
The backlit keyboard has a refined scissor mechanism that delivers a smooth and quiet typing experience. No more clickity-clackity when writing code! On the downside, the keyboard doesn’t include a numeric keypad, which means you might need to get an external numeric keypad, increasing the final price of the laptop by at least $15.
In terms of performance, the MacBook Air gets a score of 4 out of 5 again. This laptop will have a huge impact on your workflow thanks to the power of the M1 chip. Integrating an 8-core CPU and either 8GB or 16GB DDR3 RAM, you’ll notice that compiling code and powering up apps takes no time. Moreover, you’ll be able to breeze through beefy programming software like Android Studio and Visual Studio Code!
Depending on your budget, you can choose between 256GB, 512GB,/ 1TB, and even 2TB SSD. You can certainly get the exact storage capacity you need while being assured that opening project files and launching programs will be a smooth experience no matter your choice.
Battery-wise, this device excels with a long-lasting battery life of 12 hours and a half from a single charge. Impressive, don’t you think? The best part is that you can fully charge it in 2 hours, which is quite faster than other laptops in this article.
Some other student-friendly characteristics of this laptop include portability and battery life. The MacBook Pro 13” is very thin and lightweight, but don’t be fooled by its size because the battery can last from 14 up to 20 hours with a single charge. Quite impressive, isn’t it? You can easily carry it in your bag and never worry about running out of juice during lectures.
However, nothing is perfect, and we’ve found this portable is a bit lacking when it comes to convenience. With only two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports on the left side of the keyboard and a headphone jack on the right, we believe the MacBook Air doesn’t have enough for most people, let alone for programmers. Especially considering that if you connect a mouse and an external numeric keypad, you’ve run out of ports to connect the charger. Quite inconvenient, if we’re being honest.
We’ve given it a “good” grade, though, because it’s very lightweight with its 2.8 lbs and thin enough to carry it comfortably in your backpack.
It’s worth mentioning that upgradability is an issue with this laptop. The hardware is hard to upgrade, and some components, such as the RAM, are actually impossible to upgrade. If you want your laptop to last for a while, you might want to future-proof it and invest in some extra memory and storage before purchasing.
In short, the MacBook Air is a programming powerhouse that doesn’t compromise portability or battery life. You’ll see your productivity skyrocket, as you’ll never have to struggle with slow or unresponsive software again.
#3 ACER Chromebook Spin 713 — Best Budget Laptop for Programming
|Processor||Intel Core i5-1135G7|
|Memory||8GB DDR4X 4267 MHz|
|Graphics Card||Intel Iris Xe Graphics|
|Battery Life||9:20 h|
So far, the laptop we’ve reviewed are rather expensive. If you’re a programming student or simply are on a budget, we’ve got you! The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is the best budget laptop for programming because it meets all the basic programming requirements in the specs department for only $699. This convertible device is not only convenient, but it also has decent processing power, enough storage for your project files, and battery life to keep up with you while on the go.
The design is nothing aesthetically remarkable, but still good enough for a 3 out of 5 scores. This Chromebook has solid build quality, with a metal chassis that offers a streamlined and reinforced design, and sturdy but flexible hinges.
The bezels are thicker than in other laptop models, particularly the bottom one, but the 13.5-inches touchscreen display is gorgeous. But it’s not all for looks, the VertiView technology of the screen gives you 18% more vertical space to work comfortably on your projects without the need to scroll through long lines of code constantly.
The backlit keyboard is very nice to type on and has decent key spacing. If you’re on the go, this 360-degree convertible device can turn into a tablet so that you can still work or take down notes no matter where you are. Unfortunately, the stylus isn’t included with the laptop, which we’ve found rather strange.
Most convertible laptops sacrifice horsepower in favor of portability, but that’s not the case with the Chromebook Spin 713. Powered by a 10th Gen Intel Core i5, this Chromebook can handle your daily coding workload without too much issue. The 8GB DDR4X RAM ensures that everything is smooth and stable, even when you have multiple tabs open. However, don’t try to run processor-demanding software while compiling code because you’ll certainly see the laptop freezing and struggling.
It’s important to note that, unlike other convertibles at the same price range, this one has fans. They do a great job keeping the chassis cool, and they do so silently, which is a huge plus.
As regards storage, you might find a 256GB SSD a bit lacking, but it’s not unexpected for a convertible. We believe it’s good for fast performance and just enough capacity for your files and any programming software you might need to use. However, if you usually work with large project files or have big-sized programming software, you may find the storage insufficient.
The battery is surprisingly long-lasting for a budget laptop, being able to get you through 9 hours and 20 minutes of your daily workload without needing to look for a power outlet. Even better is that you only need 2 hours and a few minutes to fully charge it and be ready to go anywhere with you.
Convenience is not an issue either with the Chromebook Spin 713, achieving almost a perfect score in our tests. With a total weight of 3 lbs, it comes very close to the other laptops reviewed in this article. It’s not the lightest convertible out there, but it’s still fairly portable and easy to carry around.
You won’t be disappointed by the number of ports, as you’ll find a Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) port, a USB 3.2 (USB-A) port, a microSD card reader, and a headphone jack over on the left, and another USB-C port, and an HDMI port on the right-hand side. The fact that they’re not all on the same side of the laptop prevents cable entanglement.
In summary, the Chromebook Spin 713 might not have all the bells and whistles, but it still packs a decent punch in terms of performance, convenience, and battery, making it the best option for the low price range it’s sold at. However, if a large storage capacity is a must-have, or if the software you work with isn’t compatible with Chrome OS, this might not be the best option for you.
#4 HP Spectre x360 13 (OLED) — Best Premium Laptop for Programming
|Processor||Intel Core i7-1165G7|
|Memory||16GB DDR4X 3733 MHz|
|Graphics Card||Intel Iris Xe Graphics|
|Battery Life||6:10 h|
If you’re looking for the very best laptop for programming that money can buy, we highly suggest checking out the HP Spectre x360 13. The HP Spectre line has always consisted of amazing devices, but this 2021 model certainly takes it to the next level, especially when it comes to performance and sleek design. We’re not going to lie, this is quite an expensive laptop, carrying a hefty price tag of $1,799. But we consider it’s completely worth the investment. The company has married portability with raw power, all nicely packed in a stunning and sophisticated design.
Let’s start with what sets this device aside from all the others in this article: design. The HP Spectre x360 13 gets a full score of 5 out of 5 from us, boasting an elegant gem-cut metal chassis that’s available in several color combinations. The solid 360-degree hinge allows the screen to flip back completely and turn the laptop into a tablet. However, the tablet mode doesn’t look as nice as the tablet one, the latter being bulkier and a bit heavy.
The backlit keyboard is spacious, with decently size keys that are very comfortable to type on. However, there’s no numeric keypad, so you might need to consider getting an external one.
- Include Windows 10 Professional activation key(outside HP box), HP Premium Warranty, 3 Years McAfee...
- Newest 10th Generation Intel Core i7-1065G7 (1.3 GHz, up to 3.9 GHz, 8 MB cache, 4 cores) + Intel...
- 13.3" diagonal 4K UWVA BrightView micro-edge AMOLED multitouch (3840x2160), HP TrueVision HD IR...
When you open up the Spectre x360 13, you’re greeted by a 13.3-inches, Ultra HD, multitouch display surrounded by extremely thin bezels. This adds to the sleek and modern look of the device while keeping the overall size down. The BrightView glossy screen is perfect for keeping colors sharp and vivid while working in places with low light conditions.
The only flaw that these screens have is that they’re highly reflective. If you’re working somewhere with fixed direct light sources such as lamps or windows facing the screen, it will create reflections that could be annoying.
When you look under the hood, you can see that the Spectre x360 13 is not just a pretty face, it has some state-of-the-art components as well.
In terms of performance, this is one of the most powerful convertible devices currently available in the market. Thanks to the 10th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU that features Intel Turbo Boost technology, energy efficiency is increased when running few processes. Likewise, when you need a little more juice to use more demanding software or compile and test code, the processor intuitively gives you the necessary boost.
With 16GB DDR4X RAM memory, you can get even faster speeds and higher efficiency to have as many tabs open as you need and run multiple processes simultaneously without freezing and lagging. The cherry on top comes in the form of a 1TB SSD, which means you won’t ever have to worry about running out of storage and can confidently save all of your projects and download all the software you need as a coder, developer, or sysadmin.
The battery, unfortunately, takes a bit of a hit for delivering such outstanding performance, lasting an average of 6 hours. The good news is that you can fully charge it in only 1 hour and 20 minutes, which is the shortest time in all the laptops we’re reviewed so far. However, for the price the HP Spectre x360 13 is sold at, we were expecting a lot more. For this reason, we’ve given it a disappointing score of 2 out of 5 points.
Things get brighter again when it comes to convenience, with a score of 4 out of 5. This device weighs only 2.6 lbs, making it incredibly lightweight and highly portable, perfect for professionals on the go.
What might come as a surprise is the assortment of ports this laptop includes without compromising the design, something that certainly puts the MacBook Air to shame. On the right, you get a USB 3.1 (USB-A) port, and a headphone jack; and two Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) ports, a microSD card reader, and a physical webcam kill switch on the left. The kill switch is a cool feature that allows you to turn the webcam off when not in use, giving you greater privacy. We can’t deny, though, that HP has slightly skimped on ports by not including an HDMI port.
Essentially, the HP Spectre x360 13 is the best premium laptop for programming out there. It certainly doesn’t come at a cheap price, but the design is stunning, and the performance, unquestionable. Moreover, you can take this convertible everywhere with you and use it as a tablet when you’re commuting or don’t have a desk nearby. However, if you’re looking for a device to use as a tablet more often than a laptop, this might not be the best option for you.
Moreover, you can take this convertible everywhere with you and use it as a tablet when you’re commuting or don’t have a desk nearby. However, if you’re looking for a device to use as a tablet more often than a laptop, this might not be the best option for you.
#5 ALIENWARE m15 R5 (Ryzen Edition) — Best Performance Laptop for Programming
|Processor||AMD Ryzen R9 5900HX|
|Memory||32GB DDR4 3200 MHz|
|Graphics Card||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 (8GB, GDDR6)|
|Battery Life||9:30 h|
Performance is key when you’re a programmer or a developer, that’s a no-brainer. So if you’re in the market for the best performance, the Alienware m15 R5 is here for you, but be prepared because it doesn’t come cheap. Clocking in at around the $2,078 mark, the highest-spec version has plenty to offer.
Showcasing the power of AMD’s latest laptop CPU and boasting Alienware’s familiar sturdy design, this is one fierce programming machine. It’s no surprise that a gaming laptop takes the gold for best performance since they’re designed to handle games that can be just as processor intensive as the most demanding IDEs.
The design has been slightly tweaked, but no major changes have been introduced, and it still looks rather similar to previous models. If you’re unfamiliar with Dell’s Alienware brand, they have sort of futuristic, alien-themed designs. The Alienware m15 R5, like other models, has RGB lighting on the rear, a sunken hinge, and hexagonal venting above the keyboard.
This Ryzen Edition is only available in a dark gray color, called “Dark Side of the Moon”, with a matte finish. Although the finish is a very nice touch, fingerprint marks are a recurrent, and annoying issue. The build quality of the device could be better. It’s not bad by any means, it’s actually quite sturdy, but you can hear some creaking noises whenever you open and close the lid.
- 【Processor】AMD Ryzen R7 5800H (8-Core, 20MB Total Cache, up to 4.4 GHz Max Boost Clock) |...
- 【Display】15.6" FHD (1920 x 1080) 165Hz 3ms with ComfortView Plus
- 【Memory | Hard Drive】16GB DDR4 3200MHz Memory | 256GB PCIe M.2 SSD + 1TB PCIe M.2 SSD
One of the few changes introduced in the Alienware m15 R5 is the keyboard layout. The keys remain very comfortable to type on and pretty quiet, but they’re slightly more cramped in this version. On top of that, the volume keys have been moved to the right side of the keyboard (they were previously on top).
The new layout is not terrible, but it feels unfamiliar, which can cause some typing mistakes until you get used to it. The cool part of the keyboard is that it has four-zone RGB lighting that you can customize to your liking. Overall, the keys are very comfortable to type on and pretty quiet.
The 15.6-inch display is surrounded by what would be considered thin bezels for a gaming laptop. The screen offers generous viewing angles, and it’s bright enough to see your lines of code clearly.
Overall, this Alienware received a score of 4 out of 5 from us, only having a few issues that left it close to being excellent in terms of design.
Now comes the most important part of this laptop’s review: performance. With a perfect score of 5 out of 5 points, this device can handle anything you throw at it. Powered by an AMD Ryzen R9 5900HX CPU, this gaming device delivers processing power that matches its Intel counterparts but at a lower price and with superior battery life.
To complete the high-end spec package, we have a 32GB DDR4 RAM and 1 TB SSD storage capacity. What else could you ask for? Multitasking issues and deleting old files to free up space will certainly be a thing of the past.
An interesting aspect of this laptop is that it’s future-proof. As opposed to most gaming laptops and previous Alienware models, the components can be easily replaced if you want to give the m15 R5 a boost, as the parts aren’t soldered onto the motherboard.
Battery life exceeded our expectations, lasting an impressive 9 and a half hours. This is rather uncommon for gaming laptops, as the processing power tends to drain the battery pretty fast. There’s nothing to worry about if you’ve gone out and realized you left your charger at home, the long-lasting battery life should be more than enough for your programming needs while on the go.
In terms of port selection, this Alienware has fewer ports than previous models, having done away with the microSD card reader and Thunderbolt support. However, the lineup is not bad, and it still beats the MacBook Air with three USB 3.2 (USB-A) ports, a USB 3.2 (USB-C) port, an HDMI port, a headphone jack, and an Ethernet jack.
If you’re looking for Ultra-lightweight and ultrathin laptops, you’re in the wrong place with the Alienware. Gaming laptops aren’t precisely known for their portability, and this one is no exception, weighing 5.3 lbs and being 0.9 inches thick. This doesn’t mean you can’t throw it in your bag and take it with you, it just won’t be as comfortable as a Chromebook, for example.
Basically, the Alienware m15 R5 was built for power, which translates into a high price. In our opinion, though, it’s completely worthy because it remains unmatched by the other laptops reviewed in this article. The device has a cool and futuristic design and an overall sturdy built, with a nice screen and a comfortable keyboard. What surprises me is the battery life, which is the second aspect that makes this a fantastic choice for any programmer.
What to Consider When Buying the Best Laptops for Programming
When you’re in the market for a good laptop for web or software development, it’s important to look beyond bells and whistles and focus on features that have a direct impact on your productivity instead. Here are some features we consider you should prioritize when buying a programming laptop.
This is a no-brainer. You can’t do any programming without a fast processor that handles your software and daily workload. Even though writing code doesn’t require much processing power, most programming tasks depend directly on the processor to function properly. A subpar CPU will struggle with compiling and running your code, leading up to apps quitting and windows freezing.
For most purposes, an Intel Core i5 should be enough. For more demanding projects, you should definitely go above.
To be on the safe side, you should look for 8GB of RAM. While it’s possible to use IDEs such as Visual Studio or Eclipse with 4GB of RAM, they’ll make the laptop slower in the long run, and you’ll find yourself with a useless device rather quickly.
Another option if you’re on a budget and can’t afford more RAM is to get a laptop that can be upgraded later if the need arises.
Most laptops nowadays feature solid-state drives (SSDs) rather than hard disk drives (HDDs). In fact, all of the models we’ve reviewed in this article have SSDs. This is no coincidence, as this type of storage is faster and less noisy than their hard counterparts.
SSD storage impacts booting speed and software launching time. You’ll notice that your projects load faster when you have enough storage.
The starting point for basic programming tasks is 128GB. However, there’s a high chance you’ll run out of space rather quickly. For this reason, we recommend 512GB to 1TB to download all of your developing software and save your project files without worries.
Writing code is a big part of programming, which means you’ll be using the keyboard most of the time. This part can be easily overlooked until you end up with an uncomfortable and inconvenient keyboard that’s a nightmare to type on.
Look for a nice layout and test the keyboard for comfort. We suggest getting one with a numeric pad for easier access to digits, or at least a laptop with enough ports to connect an external numeric pad.
Just like the keyboard, the display is another part of the laptop you’re going to use a lot. You’re going to spend long hours looking at it, which is why it’s important to get a high-quality screen that goes easy on your eyes.
Moreover, when you’re testing your code or looking for that missing closing bracket, you need to be able to see every detail clearly so you don’t lose your mind in the process. Try to go for a large screen (the larger, the better) with Full HD resolution.
Buying a new laptop is always an investment, so you need to be sure of your choice so it’s worth it. There are a lot of factors you need to consider before getting the best laptop for programming. The most important one is processing power, but you also need to factor in RAM, internal storage, and keyboard and display quality.
With this in mind, we hope that this guide will help you compare some of the best choices currently on the market so you can buy a laptop that will make your work easier and boost your productivity.