Whether you are a newly enrolled Computer Science student or already working as a programmer, finding a good laptop is tough! Programming is an intensive work for processor and it uses up lot of resources. Therefore, even if a laptop is really good for games for example, it does mean that it would be suitable for programming as well. Not only it requires a powerful processor, but also a good keyboard, good screen and much more. For instance, if someone wants a laptop for coding mainly HTML, CSS and PHP, then processor is not a big issue. However, a laptop with at least 1080p display resolution is much preferable. It allows developer to test websites on more screen sizes at same time. This is just one measure whatsoever.
Now a days, programmers are getting laptops over desktop PCs because they can be carried anywhere. This is the biggest advantage for using notebooks. As a student myself, I often have to take laptop to classes. This is why, doing the same work on desktop is not worth it. Programmers can take their programs to meetings, work places, classes and even to casual places. Programmers are well aware that it is often painful to run same program on other computers. Especially when work is in development phase. A programmers laptop should meet certain criteria to make it comfortable enough to use. Having a powerful machine alone is not enough. It should be portable, have great battery life and keyboard.
Here is my mini review on requirements you should look for when buying laptop for programming.
Battery life of a Programmer’s laptop
This is one of the most important metrics when buying a laptop specifically for programming and development. Certain tools and languages do not drain much battery. HTML and CSS on Sublime Text for example. They do not use much of resources therefore even a laptop with normal battery life supports it pretty well. On the other hand, if you are running tools like Visual Studio, IntelliJ IDEA for JAVA or even PHP Storm, they can consume battery much faster. These tools have a lot of built-in functionalities that can eat up battery pretty fast.
When buying a laptop (with high budget) go for a laptop with at least Quad Core CPU and 65WHr + battery. This would allow you to use it without a plug for at least 5 hours. Of course the actual time can vary from machine to machine. Those who are on a tight budget, should go for a notebook with Dual Core CPU as they use less battery. Even a small battery laptop would run for about 5 hours without needing charging. Dual Core CPUs are also fine for web development since they do not have much CPU or GPU intensive work. Programmer in languages like c#, Java, Python should opt for Quad Core CPUs. Even if you have to sacrifice battery life a little. It would reduce the compilation and runtime of programs.
Which Storage to use in Programming Laptop?
Not only for programming, but for any other purpose in general, always for SSD. This is the future. Even a basic SSD can drastically reduce loading time for all programs and Windows itself. MacBooks already come with SSD. There are quite a lot Windows laptops that still offer 5499 RPM hard drives. However, it is not recommended at all. It only makes work more frustrating. The loading times sometimes are just horrible. It is true that the program compilation and execution time normalizes after first run. But the first run can take very long to complete itself.
If the laptop has DVD ROM, then install caddy in it for SATA hard drive. Use SSD as primary storage device. Your Windows and IDEs should be installed on it.
How to select Programmer’s laptop keyboard wise?
Some newbies might just not consider checking laptop’s keyboard. To any person who has not used keyboard to type on daily and frequently, keyboard is unimportant. Bloggers, content creators and programmers know very well how important the keyboard is! It contribute to the overall pleasure of coding. If someone has used a good keyboard for coding, they would never choose otherwise. It somehow becomes a part of muscle memory. It is impossible to adapt to anything that’s less pleasing.
I highly recommend using Chiclet keyboards with good stroke and travel distance. Most of laptops come with chiclet keys with up to 2 mm travel distance. However, what you are comfortable with varies person to person. Before purchasing a laptop, always consider trying out its keyboard. There are model and test units on display. Moreover, there is certain difference in layout of keys. Some keyboards pack them together while others space widely. The amount of clicking is also different. Some like softer clicks while other prefer more snappy sound.
Bottomline, always type few sentences on a laptop before buying it. It is one of the most important features. Ah! And one more thing. The backlit keyboards. Although it does not matter to experience writers, still it is a nice feature to have. Say you want to work in dark, then backlit keyboard would just make it much more easy to use.
Importance of CPU and GPU in Programmer’s laptop
CPU is more important of the two in most cases. For non graphical application development and web development, GPU is not required. It is required for graphical work and sometime game development. Therefore, it all comes down to your specific usage. If you are going to develop websites, then any laptop without GPU but a powerful CPU is sufficient. On the other hand, for someone who is going to work on 3D models, rendering, Visual Programming, should buy a laptop with decent GPU in it. A dedicated GPU would make rendering times much smaller as compared to shared memory Intel Cards.
Bottomline, a laptop should have at least Core i5 Processor (Quad Core is preferred), GPU for graphical work and at least 8 GB of RAM.
How to choose a screen?
It is pretty simple. Never choose a screen with resolution below 1080×1920. It offers great overall view and colors. You are able to fit more content into same screen. Moreover, having a screen that is Anti-glare is a bonus. In the battle between 15 inch and 14 in screens, it is mainly up to use. We would recommend 15 inch since it offers more real estate to work with. Modern laptops are getting smaller with bigger screen sizes. Therefore, laptops like XPS offer body of 14 inch laptop with 15.4 inch screen size. Laptop weights are small as well. The screen size is down to personal preference.
Do not go with a 4K option if there is no strong enough GPU. It would just cause extra strain on battery. Moreover, most Windows Apps are not optimized for 4K resolution yet. You will find a problem using them. In next few years, it would be normal though.
Here is the list of best laptops that you can buy from programming in 2017 year. These are the latest models with latest specs. Laptops with all price ranges are included below to cover all audiences.
List of 10 Best Laptops for Programming in 2017
This list is composed of laptops that are actually fit for programming. Laptops in all price ranges are included. More expensive laptops have some extra goodies that others don’t. But don’t worry, they will get the job done as well! Use low budget laptops as first step to get to more expensive machines !
Dell XPS 15 – Best Programming Laptop 2017
If we could just name the best Windows laptop, that would be Dell XPS 15. It is the best Windows machine out there. The 2017 version of this laptop has slight improvements over already perfect laptop. It has the body of a 14 inch laptop with 15.6 inch screen. It is available in all resolutions ranging from 1080p up to 4K. Moreover, it has an amazing keyboard and build quality. There are a lot of variants available for it. You will get the perfect screen, keyboard, battery life and comfort with Dell XPS 15. It is direct competitors for Apple’s Macbook Pro. The lower spec versions of Dell XPS 15 can easily out perform Macbook in certain areas. Since the price point of Macbook is so high, you can easily beat it with value for money.
Moreover, the GTX 1050 easily out performs Macbook’s choice of Radeon in every benchmark.
Its main features are:
- 7th Generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ Quad Core Processor (6M cache, up to 3.8 GHz)
- 16 GB DDR4-2400MHz up to 32GB
- 512GB PCIe Solid State Drive
- 15.6-inch 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) InfinityEdge touch display
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 with 4GB GDDR5
- Windows 10 Home 64bit English
These are the specs of most high end model. You can cut the prices with screen resolution, SSD capacity, RAM and Processor.
MacBook Pro 15 – Best Laptop for Development
MacBooks have been the king of laptops in terms of build quality for quite a long time. And without a doubt, Apple produces one of the best machines available! Not only it is built well, but it is fast and reliable. Due to Apple’s ecosystem, the IDEs developed for MacBooks are pretty much perfect. It was not the case with Windows until very few years ago. It looks like Microsoft has picked up the pace as well. Moreover, MacBook has the best keyboard that any laptop has to offer. Especially the 2017 version. It increases the typing speed of even the fastest writers. The SSD used in MacBook is miles ahead of used in competing Windows machines. Its only real competitor is Dell XPS 15. It all comes down to your preference for either Apple or Windows.
The main disadvantage to using Macbook is the AMD Radeon card. It is easily out performed by XPS’s GTX 1050. It does not overheat as much.
Its main features are:
- 2.8GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz
- 16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory
- 256GB SSD storage
- Radeon Pro 555 with 2GB memory
- Touch Bar and Touch ID
Apple MacBook Pro 13 – Best Laptop for Coding + Web
If you are a programmer that only works on web related projects or anything that does not require GPU, Macbook Pro 13 could be a good shout. It is one the most affordable laptops available in the market. Moreover, it offers great speed and amazing set of apps to work with. Most developers that work on Web agree that Macbook’s workflow is really smooth. There is no lag whatsoever. The battery life last at least 8 hours. You can take it to office, outdoors, classes and it still won’t disappoint. Macbook Pro 13 loads up instantly. You can get back to work as soon as you open lid. The keyboard is hailed as one of the best in any laptop in 2017. The butterfly keys on this laptop will increase the typing speed of any person.
The only drawback is small screen. It can be preferable for some people. The only thing that could disturb you is the lack of I/O. You will need some adapters from thunderbolt ports. it is matter of time before USB Type C become standard in pretty much every accessory. Until then, we have to deal with using adapters.
Its main features are:
- 2.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz
- 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory
- 256GB SSD storage
- Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640
- Two Thunderbolt 3 ports
ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501 – Best looking Laptop for Programmers
This laptop is one of the best looking machines on the market right now. It has got everything. A good selection of I/O ports. Very speedy SSD and great build quality. It is all shiny and even pretty light. You can purchase this laptop with display resolution up to 4K. There is a dedicated graphics card to support even the gaming needs. It has also got the Thunderbolt 3 port. It solidifies this laptop for time to come. Anyone can purchase it and survive with it for next couple of years.
Its main features are:
- 5.6″ Touch IPS 4K Ultra-HD display, 3840 x 2160 resolution
- Powerful Intel Skylake Core i7-6700HQ 2.6 GHz Quadcore CPU (turbo to 3.5GHz). Nvidia GTX960M GPU
- 512GB SSD with transfer speeds of 1400MB/s and 16GB DDR4 RAM
- 1x Thunderbolt III (via USB TypeC), 1x Gen 2 USB 3.1 TypeC, 3x USB 3.0, 1x HDMI.Bluetooth 4.0, SDXC reader, 802.11ac WiFi
Dell Inspiron i5577 – A beast in small price > Best Laptop for Student Programmers
For more than one year, Dell Inspiron has dominated the laptops for mid range powerful laptops. This is the best example. It can be used for gaming, programming, development, video editing and what not! It can basically survive everything. Moreover i5577 has a wide range of selection of ports. You can buy it with out without SSD. There are so many options to customize it that it is available in multiple price ranges. The only downgrade is the build quality. It is not as good as the laptops mentioned above. But this is the the compromise for one of the most powerful laptops. It offers what likes of Dell XPS would offer. The only difference is build quality and keyboard.
Its main features are:
- 7th Generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ Quad Core (6MB Cache, up to 3.8 GHz)
- 8GB 2400MHz DDR4 up to 32GB (additional memory sold separately)
- Dual drives with 128GB Solid State Drive + 1TB 5400 rpm Hard Drive, No Optical Drive option
- 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) Anti-Glare LED-Backlit Display
ASUS M580VD VivoBook – Stylish and Affordable Laptop for Programming
Although it is marketed as a gaming laptop, it is perfectly suitable for programming and development. It offers sleek and stylish build. The keyboard is nice. Most importantly, the Hardman/Kardon speakers. They sound so good! Most programmers love listening to music while coding. When you have this laptop, you do not need to use headphones inside a room. These speakers are good enough to listed to any sound clearly. It is loaded with GTX 1050 which the best solution for gaming in cheapest option. As mentioned earlier, it has got anti glare display panel. It’s pretty important having this commodity when using laptop outdoors or even in environments like classrooms.
Its main features are:
- Powerful 7th Generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ quad-core 2.8GHz (Turbo up to 3.8GHz), standard voltage for full performance
- 15.6″ Full HD color rich, anti-glare display and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 4GB graphics for flawless visuals and portable gaming
- 15″ wide and 0.8″ ultra thin chassis for a portable & slim footprint; Illuminated keyboard; Harman/Kardon certified audio; Dual-fan thermal design
- Lightning-fast dual band 802.11ac Wi-Fi keeps you connected through any congestion or interference
- 16GB DDR4 RAM and 256GB M.2 SATA3 SSD + 1TB HDD combo for balanced speed and storage capacity; Windows 10; Comprehensive connections with USB 3.1 Type-C (Gen1), USB 3.1 Type-A, USB 2.0, & HDMI
Dell Inspiron 15 3567 – Best Cheap Laptop for Web Programming
Now this laptop is the cheapest one which works as a best. You will be impressed by how good its battery life actually is. It can go up to 7 hours on a single charge. As a matter of fact, we have used this laptop for a while for developing websites on Sublime Text and it worked like a charm. The only addition that it requires is the SSD. It becomes lightning fast. The keyboard is pretty average. Sadly, it isn’t backlit. Therefore, you might have to get used to it. In most cases, we get so used to the keys that looking at keyboard while typing is not necessary at all.
It is highly recommended that you install SSD as primary storage. Install Windows and main IDEs on it. Remove the DVD-ROM and install a caddy in there. Use the pre loaded 1 TB hard drive with this caddy. You will neither run out of space nor speed!
Its main features are:
- 7th Generation Intel Core i5-7200U Processor (3MB Cache, up to 3.10 GHz)
- 8GB 2400MHz DDR4 up to 16GB (additional memory sold separately)
- 1TB 5400 RPM Hard Drive, Tray load DVD Drive (Reads and Writes to DVD/CD)
- 15.6-inch HD (1366 x 768) True-life LED-Backlit Display
- Windows 10 Home 64-bit English
We have included all the laptops that we feel are best options available for programming in 2017. You have options ranging from $400 to $3000. It all depends on the budget. Therefore, if you cannot spend much, then go for the nearest option with highest value for money. Looks are not everything. Even if you have to compromise on looks for specs, do it!
If we helped you, leave a comment below. If you have other options in mind, then we’d love you to share it with other readers.