No need to buy the cumbersome PC that occupies a large space in your room with the best laptop for programming below.
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- 1 Overview
- 2 Our top picks
- 3 What to consider when buying a laptop for programming?
- 4 FAQs about laptops for programming
- 5 Bottom line
A few decades ago, almost all developers needed to work on a powerful PC to compile code. However, with the development of technology, laptops are now an excellent alternative if your house has no space for a bulky desktop computer.
When it comes to laptops for programming, there are hundreds of questions that need to be unraveled before you can make the right purchase. Depending on what program you are doing with and which features you are looking for on a laptop to result in the best experience, you will have to choose among a vast number of models out there.
Don’t panic, this article will handle all your wonders and misconceptions about laptops for any developer. We will offer you a helpful buying guide with numerous key factors that might affect your purchase decision. Moreover, you’ll find the best laptops for programming that we have meticulously chosen from a variety of brands on the market. Let’s check it out!
Our top picks
Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop
With a reasonable price, you can get one of the best laptops for programming that more than 30,000 customers on Amazon have also experienced. The Acer Aspire 5 line is ultra-slim and portable, with only four pounds, allowing you to bring it anywhere you want.
This laptop is equipped with all the average and above standard features for developers, such as 8GB memory, 256GB SSD, and the latest AMD processor to boost your experience while compiling code. The screen and keyboard are also the pluses of this laptop. With a sharp and high-contrast display and a backlit keyboard, everything will be visible even in low-light conditions.
The battery life of the Acer Aspire 5 laptop can last about six to more than seven hours, so consider carrying with you a charger if you are planning to work more than that time.
ASUS ZenBook 14 Ultra-Slim Laptop
The second laptop we would like to introduce should also be considered as one of your priorities when it comes to buying a laptop for programming. All the specs are beyond expectation, making it not only suitable for web developing but also for gaming.
This ZenBook laptop from Asus has a little narrower screen (14’’), but the edge is optimally designed to maximize your vision. Notably, it has an intelligent touchscreen trackpad so in general, the laptop looks high-tech and works much smarter.
This laptop uses a Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, and a 512GB SSD, all gathering to enhance your coding job. It is literally worth the price.
Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14″ Laptop
If the above suggestion from Asus is a little out of your reach, so consider this Lenovo laptop at a humble price. This one also offers the basic needs of any coder, which are 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, and a Full HD 1920×1080 display. It doesn’t use an Intel processor, but a new AMD counterpart instead to make sure that all the programs will still run smoothly.
The membrane keyboard will really satisfy users with the nice and tactile touches so that you will enjoy coding all day long. This Lenovo IdeaPad 3 will not only be suitable for developers but also perfect for IT or editing students because of its lightweight, power, and reasonable price.
Microsoft Surface Laptop 3
The best overall is the Microsoft Surface laptop 3. It comes with two screen sizes and multiple options of RAM and storage capacity for you to choose from. The more you pay, the better features you will get.
Basically, the model with 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD, and a 15’’ display is what you need for either web or game programming. This laptop is perfect to bring to work or school because it only weighs 3.4 pounds and ultra-slim. The matte finish minimizes fingerprints and keeps your laptop cleaner compared to the glossy design, though each has its own beauty.
The latest AMD Ryzen 5 Microsoft Surface Edition processor makes this laptop work two times faster than the previous model. You will love how long its battery life is. No need to bring a charger because it is able to work more than eight working hours without being dead. Now you can do more than just programming with this laptop from Microsoft.
Apple MacBook Air (2020)
Despite the vast majority of Windows laptops on the market, you can still choose for yourself a good one from Apple that can adapt your requirements for programming. If you prefer Macbook because of its sleek and compact design, then this one is what you are looking for.
MacBook Air is too famous for its luxurious beauty in both design and color, but it is also powerful enough for you to do some programming things. In addition to the Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and impressive 512GB SSD, the Retinal display for coders by offering true-toned colors.
Work like an iPhone, this Macbook Air 2020 version allows you to unlock the laptop with your fingerprint by the TouchID tech. In general, to enhance your experience while coding and editing photos or videos, this Macbook Air is a worthy choice.
What to consider when buying a laptop for programming?
Below are seven factors that we find the most important when choosing a good laptop for programming that meets your requirements.
Processing power (CPU)
The CPU is compared as the “brain” of a computer (or laptop) and the processor will control and handle all the duties and information. This factor is crucial because without a good CPU, other functions will not perform their best.
One thing to remember is the power of a CPU, which is measured in Gigahertz, is not equivalent to how good the laptop is, but the processor. For example, a newer processor can have lower power, but its performance will be a lot better than the one with an old processor and high speed in Gigahertz. To have the best experience for coding, programmers should opt for a Core i5 or i7 processor.
Another essential feature to look at besides a good CPU is the capacity of memory, or simply known as RAM. Basically, all the programs on your computer or laptop need instruction that will tell them how to run, and RAM is the place in which temporary memory is kept in the short term.
When your laptop has enough space for memory, you are able to run more programs smoothly at the same time. Normally, a good laptop for programming will have 8GB RAM, and a game developer might need a bit more, about 16GB.
Storage type and capacity
To compile code smoothly and effectively, you will need a laptop with an SSD (Solid State Drive), which is a newer and faster type of storing device that keeps data on instantly accessible memory chips. Not only the SSD helps compile code faster but every other operation will also work more smoothly. A 256GB SSD is the average, but if you can afford a higher capacity storage type, a 512Gb and 1TB SSD will be better.
Linux is currently the most popular operating system in most computers and laptops nowadays. You better buy the laptop which has Linux pre-installed so that you don’t have to wonder if this laptop will support Linux or not.
Many novice developers often underestimate this factor, but it actually requires a careful selection. The keyboard is what a coder works on all the time, therefore, it should be as much comfortable as possible. You won’t want to compile code on hard-to-press keys or without the wrist rest area.
So before making the purchase, don’t forget to give the keyboard on a laptop a test. If you are too admired for other functions except for the keyboard, you might think about buying a wireless keyboard that fits your needs. The peculiarity of this job requires you to work overnight sometimes, so it would be best to buy the keyboard with the backlighting feature.
Besides a good keyboard, the display is another thing you need to take a look at. Your hands will work on those keys, and your eyes will stare at data. Therefore, the screen should be large and high resolution enough for you to clearly read what you have written.
The ideal display for a laptop for programming would never be less than a Full HD 1920×1090 screen and doesn’t work as a mirror because what you will see is your face instead of the important information.
The charging circle of your laptop’s battery will be essential if you don’t plan to sit all day in one place that is next to a power outlet. So you should opt for a laptop that can work for six hours or above without needing to recharge, this won’t interrupt your program at all while you are coding.
One tip for you to pick a laptop for programming that is packed with a good battery is to do some research from reliable sources and feedback from other users before making the purchase.
FAQs about laptops for programming
What is better for programming a PC or laptop?
It depends. Laptops and desktop computers can work the same way if they are equipped with similar processors or operating systems, therefore, choosing between a PC or laptop for programming is more like your preference of using.
For example, a desktop computer will cost less than a laptop which has the same features and power. However, a personal computer is cumbersome and not portable, which is the biggest advantage of a laptop. So if you are a person who just sits all the time and has no demand for moving somewhere else, you can totally get a desktop computer for coding because, in the same price range, this fixed machine is likely to offer better features.
On the other hand, if you often have to work on business trips, then the portability factor is crucial. In this case, a laptop is definitely a wiser way to go.
Is Core i5 good for programming?
Yes, it is. When it comes to programming in laptops, you should stick with a Core i5 or i7 processor because they result in optimal speed and performance. The more cores the processor has, the better experience you have when programming.
Core i5 is average, better than Core i3 but not as excellent as Core i7, but it is enough for a developer to run his program smoothly and effectively, at a reasonable price. If you don’t want to buy a laptop with its processor from the Intel family, you can get another one that is equipped with the latest model of AMD processor, which is normally considered less powerful than Intel’s counterparts.
How much RAM do I need for coding?
It depends on what program you are coding. RAM stands for random access memory, which is actually the temporary and short-term memory. It stores data that the processor will need right after that. It is opposed to the long-term data storage that will permanently keep your computer’s data even when the machine is off.
Averagely, a laptop needs at least 8GB of RAM for coding. If you develop game programs, you need to stick with a more powerful capacity, like 16GB. You can even go with higher options like 32GB, 64GB, or even 128GB, but for coding and gaming, 8 and 16 are doing just fine.
Do programmers prefer Mac or Windows?
In general, programmers and coders are likely to opt for Mac OS rather than Windows. Back a few decades earlier, we rarely saw the Apple logo at a programming event or department of a somewhat technology company. However, things have changed, and Apple has provided users with the best operating system for programming.
OS contains new versions of Linux and a certified Unix operating system, which is very important for a programmer. It helps coders run their programs in almost all languages without calling for a specialized IDE. Another thing is that Macbooks have a slim, luxurious, and compact design compared to Windows laptops. That’s why more and more people enjoy using Mac over Windows for programming.
Ultimately, the invention of the laptop, especially the latest powerful models has saved millions of developers all around the world when it comes to doing their jobs best. They are affordable, portable, and effective. Depending on your need, there will be a specific model that fits you more. So keep in mind the aforementioned buying guide and you can choose the best laptop for programming.
Consider our top five laptops available on Amazon that might be one of your choices: Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop, ASUS ZenBook 14 Ultra-Slim Laptop, Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14″ Laptop, Microsoft Surface Laptop 3, and Apple MacBook Air (2020).