Gone are the days when software development was a workplace-only activity, with developers coding away on giant computers, unable to work from home or elsewhere. Modern programming laptops are packed with power.
Multi-core CPUs, tons of RAM, terrific graphics for gaming or multimedia development, you name it.
Not only can you compile the code quickly, but also test it and run many applications simultaneously. What is more, many of these computers also provide thoughtfully designed keyboards to let you work untiringly.
What is essential is to select the best device for your needs. No two programmers are alike, and the laptop that suits you best will depend upon multiple factors. (Think product/service category, your multimedia requirements, portability, and so on)
- How to Select a Programming Laptop
- Our Picks: 10 Best Laptops for Programming 2021
- 1. Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch
- 2. Dell XPS 15 9510 Laptop
- 3. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4
- 4. Acer Swift 3 SF316 Budget Laptop
- 5. MSI Stealth 15M Laptop
- 6. ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED UX582
- 7. Razer Blade 15 Advanced
- 8. ASUS ROG Zephyrus S17 (2021) 17-inch
- 9. HP Envy x360 15 Convertible
- 10. Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 Cheap Laptop
- Closing Note
How to Select a Programming Laptop
Purchasing a suitable device for coding needs you to keep track of several things, which is why we have consolidated them here:
- Performance: This one is a no-brainer, of course. A programmer will need to blaze through their development pursuits without delays. It necessitates an Intel Core i5 CPU or above or an equivalent on AMD or Mac. Look for a minimum of 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage, preferably SSD.
- Audio-visuals: If you are a game developer, you should seek out a dedicated GPU. From a display point of view, your choice will depend upon your budget and requirements. For instance, some programmers need the glamour that comes with a P3 wide color gamut. Others will find that Intel Iris Xe Graphics does a neat job of making things meticulous.
- Battery backup: Battery capacity over eight hours is helpful for software developers who need to travel frequently. If you are going to be working at home or in an office setting, this will be less important to you.
- Keyboard: A comfortable, spacious keyboard and trackpad is an absolute must for speed and accuracy. You will be pressing keys day in and day out, and a poorly designed keyboard can cramp your style. MacBooks come with a scissor mechanism for the keyboard to up the overall fluidity. Some brands like ASUS use an elevated design for added comfort.
- Build and design: It helps if a programming computer is dependable inside out. The military-standard build makes laptops tough enough to let you code from anywhere. Portability can be crucial if your lifestyle involves travel; look for devices that weigh less than 5lbs and have sleek profiles.
- Connections: Programmers often need to connect to accessories, devices, etc., in the workplace or otherwise. You may also have to share data with your colleagues. Thunderbolt 3 or 4 ports, Wi-Fi 6, card readers, etc., are essential to facilitate collaboration.
- Security: Password-free, safe login is always a plus for programmers and other professionals who have to work in shared workspaces. Think fingerprint readers, facial login, and infrared cameras. These features provide reliable security to keep your work confidential and well-protected over time.
Our Picks: 10 Best Laptops for Programming 2021
Thanks to the increasing demand, the market is overrun with choices for programming devices. Popular picks usually have larger screens – 15 inches or more – although some people get by with smaller screen sizes.
With a small display, you will find increased portability. But it might be harder to read your code or make minute changes in the GUI.
In the list below, we have included the best programming laptops available today. They start at less than $1000. Whether you are a professional coder, student, or hobbyist, you will find something after your own heart.
1. Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch
Unarguably, the Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch is one of the finest choices for programmers and other professionals, particularly multimedia businesses.
It has an enviable configuration: an Intel Core i9 CPU, 64GB of RAM, 8TB SSD storage, and AMD Radeon Pro 5500M graphics.
The Retina display has a brightness of 500 nits. It uses True Tone technology and P3 wide color for impressive image clarity. With a six-speaker system and force-canceling woofers, you will receive loud, crystal-clear sound.
This MacBook comes with a Touch Bar and Touch ID for enhanced security. The magic keyboard with a scissor mechanism lends you smoothness and fluidity while writing line after line of code. On the security frontier, of course, the Apple T2 security chip is unmatched.
This 4.3lbs laptop comes with Thunderbolt 3 ports that make it ideal for traveling. A long-lasting battery, not often found in a Mac, runs for 11 hours on one charge.
2. Dell XPS 15 9510 Laptop
The Dell XPS 15 9510 laptop, costing $1,899.99, is a terrific pick for programmers.
Led by an Intel Core i7-11800H CPU, this device packs efficient performance, superior thermals, and display options.
You get a power-packed combination of 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 graphics.
Dell provides users with several display options. For instance, you may choose an FHD+ screen, an OLED, or even a 4K UHD+ display.
At 3.99lbs, this device is fairly light. It comes with significant unplugged usage: over 13 hours on the FHD+ model and over nine on the OLED one.
Even the 4K+ version lasts for more than eight hours on one charge. Add to this the customization options provided by Dell Power Manager, and you have a laptop well-suited for prolonged usage.
Dell ensures all-around connectivity with Killer AX1650 and Thunderbolt 4. You can enjoy a secure working experience with Windows Hello and an integrated fingerprint reader.
3. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4
A ThinkPad is one of the most trusted options for programmers. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 is an excellent choice that offers top-notch performance combined with security.
Inside the processing chamber is an Intel i7-11850H processor, up to 64GB of RAM, and 4TB of storage.
An NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card offers the brilliance of a dedicated GPU. It costs $1,907.4 – not too steep a price for performance of this caliber.
This 3.99lbs ThinkPad comes with brilliant audio-visuals for coders who enjoy multimedia pursuits or need to render content to see it in action.
The Dolby Vision WQXGA display is highly alluring, boasting 400 nits of brightness and an anti-glare panel. The sound frontier is tremendous, thanks to Dolby Atmos.
Guaranteeing secure access is an integrated fingerprint reader. You get numerous connectivity options like Wi-Fi 6/6E (Gig+), two Thunderbolt 4 ports, and an optional 5G WWAN.
4. Acer Swift 3 SF316 Budget Laptop
Acer has a knack for building affordable, multipurpose laptops that offer many of the newest technologies.
The 16.1″ Acer Swift 3 SF316 budget laptop is a decent pick for programmers who want to keep within a budget. It costs about $963.78 and offers an Intel Core i7-11370H CPU.
You get 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and Intel Iris Xe Graphics. These specifications are adequate for a fair degree of coding.
The FHD monitor is ultra-bright at 300 nits and provides a color gamut of 100% sRGB. It also has an IPS panel to let you work in a position comfortable for you. With a screen-to-body ratio of 88.2%, you can feel absorbed in whatever transpires on the screen.
It is a well-connected computer with Wi-Fi 6, Thunderbolt 4, a fingerprint reader, and about 11.5 hours of battery backup. A lightweight chassis (3.75lbs) and a backlit keyboard enhance its mobility.
5. MSI Stealth 15M Laptop
Top-of-the-rung cooling (Cooler Boost) and multiple connections contribute to making the 15.6″ MSI Stealth 15M laptop another good choice for coders.
It has an impressive configuration: an Intel Core i7-11375H CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD.
A discrete GPU – NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 – brings with it the glory of ray tracing and imagery enhanced by artificial intelligence.
It costs about $1,399.00, which makes it a mid-budget purchase.
If you develop games or wish to use this device for gameplay, you will find the high refresh rate of 144Hz enchanting. Nahimic 3 sound makes all the sound effects pop, letting you get engrossed in the proceedings whether you are working or gaming.
This 3.73lbs computer has a sleek profile measuring just 0.63”. It is equipped with Thunderbolt 4 and Wi-Fi 6 to permit you to connect to any devices or peripherals you may need.
6. ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED UX582
The ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 OLED UX582, priced at $3,749.99, is the most expensive laptop on this list.
But it also offers features and specifications that few others match. It gets powered by an Intel Core i9-10980HK CPU, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070.
An ergonomic lift-based design improves the typing position, audio, and heat dissipation.
The OLED 4K UHD monitor comes with 133% sRGB color and 100% DCI-P3. The 0.2 ms response time is faster than most contemporaries and perfect for gaming or other multimedia activities on the side.
Programmers frequently suffer from eye strain. It makes the blue-light reduction up to 70% one of the most thoughtful provisions.
This ZenBook provides a secondary touchscreen (ScreenPad Plus) to up your productivity and multitasking.
Additionally, you get a detachable palm rest, stand, and active stylus – a perfect arrangement for traveling. This 5.16lbs device adheres to military standard (MIL-STD 810G) build.
7. Razer Blade 15 Advanced
The Razer Blade 15 Advanced is a premium laptop costing about $2,299.99.
It offers spectacular performance, vapor chamber cooling, and riveting audio-visuals suitable for programmers and gamers.
An Intel Core i7-11800H CPU runs the show with 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. A combination of THX spatial audio and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 graphics gives you exceptional performance for multimedia playback, content generation, etc.
You can choose a display specification customized to your needs. For example, an FHD screen with a 360Hz refresh rate is terrific for game developers.
Many programmers might fare just as well with a QHD screen that has a 240Hz refresh rate. You may also pick an OLED UHD panel if you desire a 4K resolution for multimedia tasks.
Connectivity-wise, this 4.4lbs Razer laptop provides options like WiFi-6 and Thunderbolt 3. A UHS-III SD card slot is helpful since it lets you travel freely without carrying an adapter.
8. ASUS ROG Zephyrus S17 (2021) 17-inch
If you like a sizeable form factor for programming, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus S17 (2021) 17-inch laptop is a neat choice.
It has a stunning QHD display with a refresh rate of 165Hz and a 3ms response time. The cinema-grade monitor supports Pantone validation and a wide color gamut of 100% DCI-P3.
The performance is adept for immersive coding: an Intel Core i9-11900H processor, 32GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD.
An NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card (with G-Sync) makes it a sensible choice for entertainment and multimedia editing as well.
ASUS is committed to sustainable performance through effective heat dissipation. The Active Aerodynamic System uses a liquid metal compound for thermal management.
A beneficial addition is a dedicated volume multi-wheel that you can program based on your requirement. An RGB keyboard with per-key lighting and Thunderbolt 4 connectivity further improve the accessibility of this 5.73lbs device.
9. HP Envy x360 15 Convertible
You can enjoy multi-mode usage with the stylish HP Envy x360 15 convertible. It lends itself well to programming. Yes, it can be hard to wrap your head around coding on a convertible.
But this HP Envy with a 360-degree hinge design packs in a decent configuration in its 4.24lbs body. An Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU gives you the power to blaze through your processing tasks, supported by 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. This configuration is adequate for smooth, glitch-free coding.
Long battery life is a satisfying bonus of this device, allowing you to use it for entertainment and traveling as well. On one charge, it lasts for about nine hours and 45 minutes.
Intel Iris Xe Graphics ensures that the imagery is engaging and rendered with complete detailing.
This 2-in-1 uses patented 3-D fingerprint technology for password-free access to your system. It makes things convenient and secure while working in collaborative spaces.
10. Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 Cheap Laptop
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 cheap laptop is a great pick for budget watchers who need a device suitable for programming and other day-to-day tasks like gaming and entertainment.
It costs just $669.99 and runs on an AMD Ryzen 5 5600H processor. You get 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and eight hours of battery capacity.
The 4.95lbs IdeaPad is especially delightful for coders who are also gamers. It has enjoyable features like Nahimic Audio, an Xbox Game Pass, and a large backlit keyboard.
The 15.6″ FHD monitor provides a 120Hz refresh rate that makes it suitable for software applications, games, content, etc., that involve transitions and special effects. At an affordable price, you can also enjoy an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU. It makes all the difference.
Heat management is efficient thanks to a raised thermal ceiling. The company claims that this model is cooler than older generations due to increased heat dissipation.
Programming is an intensive activity in every sense of the word. You require a resource-intensive environment, plenty of power, and attention to detail.
If you run Visual Studio, for example, or have a complex IDE with significant background code, you will need sheer power and effective cooling to keep things going strong. The laptop you choose should adhere to these basic guidelines.
You can now find development laptops that bundle up multiple display options such as 4K+ and OLED. A device like the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo 15 even offers a secondary touchscreen to enhance the usability of your laptop while keeping you productive.
Convertible design, while not uppermost in your mind when seeking a programming laptop, is also becoming popular among professionals constantly on the run.
It is vital to prioritize dependability when selecting a programming machine. You want something that can bear the brunt of many applications running at once, such as test servers, databases, and scripting engines.
Fortunately, tech companies are continually working on innovations to deliver delightful options to developers, coders, system administrators, etc. You can feel free from the need to turn to a desktop to develop, compile, or test your code.