Top 10 Best Laptops for programmers in 2020.

If you are just starting off with programming as a student or you are a software engineer for a well-established firm or you are an entrepreneur building something revolutionary by coding, a laptop is what you need to program all your ideas into reality. Buying the best laptop for programming is not an easy task. You have to check a lot of different things based on what programming language you use and what type of programming you do. So, what are those essential things to check on a programmer’s laptop? And, what are the best laptops available to buy for programming or coding in the market?

Here’s the one-stop-shop guide, to answer all your questions and help you to buy the best laptop for programming for yourself.

However, before we proceed with the list of our top picks of laptops for developers, let’s go through the –

Important Things You Should Know Before Buying a Laptop For Programming


Programming is a broad niche, and there are many programming languages you can use to code. So, a programmer’s laptop should be adequately specced to run all programming language compilers, interpreters, local servers, code editors, etc. efficiently. But, what should be an ideal configuration of a laptop that will be used specifically for “programming”? or what are the essential things that all programmers should know before they buy the laptop for themselves?

Well, here they are…

What is the best Operating System for developers?

In a Stack Overflow Developers’ Survey; The following information was gotten:

47.5% of Developers use Windows,

26.8% of Developers use MacOS,

25.6% of Developers use Linux-based OS, and

0.1% of Developers use BSD.

When it comes to coding and development, Microsoft Windows and Apple macOS have been the most used operating systems for years. The OS which we prefer most for the programmer’s laptop is – ‘Microsoft Windows’ because it supports most of the programming languages and also MacBooks are costlier than Windows laptops, so not everyone can afford it.

Well, If you are an iOS or any other Apple’s ecosystem developer or if you are planning to learn it, then you’ll have to buy a Mac for yourself because Objective C and Swift require Xcode which is only available for Mac right now. So, if you are an Apple dev MacBook is your only choice, but which MacBook should you buy? Continue reading to find out.

Linux is also an excellent option for developers coding in Python, Ruby on Rails, and PHP, but Windows also supports them all. So, overall Windows is preferred OS for all programmers and developers work machines, but for Apple developers, the Mac is a must.

Choosing the best processor of a laptop for programming

‘CPU aka processor is the brain of every computer.’ Whether you’re developing a website or a mobile app, you’ll need a laptop with a powerful processor to run all those demanding programs you use to code and to run that code. Always look for quad-core processors or with higher core count than that for a laptop which will be used for programming. Processor with multiple core and thread count not only helps to load your code editors faster but also helps to compile and build your projects quickly, saving you a lot of time.

We think laptops with Intel i5 processor will be able to suffice requirements of most of the programmers, but if you are into something intensive like game development or programming in graphics, then we recommend laptops powered by Intel i7 processor to you. For beginners in programming and budget buyers, even laptops with Intel i3 processor will get the job done but try to buy an Intel i5 powered laptop for programming if you can. That would make your purchase future proof.

How much RAM should your computer have to run your code?

Remember –
More the RAM, more programs you’ll be able to run simultaneously and easier it will be, to switch between all the running applications.
Well, that doesn’t mean you should spend all your hard-earned money to get the most RAM on your computer. But, it’s always good to have more RAM on a laptop to efficiently run local servers, compilers, a code editor, and a web browser simultaneously. We recommend at least 8GB of RAM for programming but again, if you’re into game development, graphics programming, CNC programming, or anything similar, then you’re going to need 16GB or more RAM.

Hard Drive or Solid State Drive on a laptop for programmers?

Let’s keep it straight and simple, HDDs are slower; hence they are found mostly on cheaper laptops, and SSDs are faster (a lot faster actually) than HDDs, which are primarily found in laptops priced around $500 and upwards. Well, if we talk about laptops for programming specifically, then SSDs are highly beneficial to programmers. They significantly increase the overall speed of the computer, which means faster compile-time and quick opening of code editors and other software. Plus, it also helps to boot the laptop faster and quickly load your saved projects to continue work from where you left off.

So, we highly recommend the laptop with SSD for programming. Although they are slightly on the pricier side, it’s worth spending extra for the performance boost it provides.

Do you need dedicated graphics for programming?

It’s good to have it but not necessarily because integrated graphics on new Intel and AMD CPUs are more than enough to run most of the programs that you will use to code on your laptop.

Still, it’s good to have it, if you also plan to play games occasionally on your laptop. We think entry-level GPU from Nvidia or AMD with 2GB dedicated graphics is enough for programming and gaming, but if you are into game development or any other intensive coding that demands more horsepower, then you will need better graphics backed laptop for yourself.

Apart from the things mentioned above, a programmer’s laptop should also have a comfortable keyboard with decent traveling keys and a good anti-glare display (IPS recommended) to reduce eye strain while prolonged coding sessions. Good battery life and lightweight design will also be a huge plus.

Now, you might have got all your doubts cleared, and questions answered about selecting the laptop for programming for yourself.

So, if you are ready, let’s begin with the list of our top picks of laptops for developers and programmers right now. Shall we?

Best Laptops For Programming – Top Picks

SUMMARY

1. HP 15-dy1036nr 15-inch Laptop Best Budget Laptop for Programming

HP 15-dy1036nr Laptop - Best Budget Laptop for Programming Under $600

HP 15-dy1036nr is the best option in our list of best laptops for programming for people who are running tight on budget. This laptop is the cheapest on the list and doesn’t compromise in performance. It is powered by the latest 10th Generation Intel Core i5-1035G1 quad-core processor, and it has got 8GB RAM to support all of your multitasking.

Although it doesn’t come with dedicated graphics, Intel’s integrated UHD graphics card does a great job to handle programming and casual gaming. It comes with a beautiful 15.6-inch 1080p display with small bezels, and it has an anti-glare coating on the top. Plus, it gets enough bright and dark to code comfortably from anywhere and in any lighting conditions.

The only downside of this laptop is, the keyboard on this laptop is not backlit, but it is comfortable to type, and it also has Numpad, just in case if that matters to you. All the required ports and slots are lined on either side of the laptop, making HP 15-dy1036nr notebook the complete all-round package for programmers.

Hardware Specifications of HP 15-dy1036nr 15-inch Notebook
 Processor 10th Generation Intel Core i5-1035G1 1.0GHz Quad-Core Processor (Turbo up to 3.6GHz)
 RAM 8GB DDR4 RAM (Upgradable)
 Storage 256GB SSD
 Graphics Intel UHD Graphics
 Display 15.6-inch Full HD anti-glare WLED-backlit display
 Operating System Windows 10 Home 64-bit
 Battery Life Up to 10 hours
 Weight 3.7 lbs

 

2. Acer Aspire 5 Best Affordable All-Rounder

Acer Aspire 5 A515-54G-53H6 - Most Affordable Laptop for Programming

Whether it’s programming or gaming, Acer Aspire 5 is an affordable all-around performing laptop that can handle almost everything you throw at it.

For the price tag of around $600, this laptop provides enough power to use this laptop for game development and graphics programming. It is powered by the latest 10th generation Intel Core i5 quad-core processor, which is combined with 8GB of RAM and dedicated Nvidia GeForce MX250 2GB DDR5 video memory. Enough said? It also has 512GB SSD storage making it the best high-performance laptop for programming and gaming in the segment.

Acer Aspire 5 also has a great keyboard with tactile backlit keys and a battery backup of 9 continuous hours! That was unexpected. Isn’t it? It also has an extra RAM slot and an empty disk bay to expand its storage in the future, which is a huge plus if you game on the laptop or plan to use this machine for some heavy development.

All these great features make the Acer Aspire 5 one of the best affordable laptops for programming of 2020.

Hardware Specifications of Acer Aspire 5 15.6 Full HD Laptop
 Processor Intel Core i5-10210U 1.6GHz Quad-Core Processor (Turbo up to 4.2 GHz)
 RAM 8 GB DDR4 RAM
 Storage 512GB SSD
 Graphics NVIDIA GeForce MX250 2GB DDR5 VRAM
 Display 15.6-inch Full HD ComfyView LED-Backlit IPS Screen, 1920 x 1080 pixels Resolution
 Operating System Windows 10 Home 64-bit
 Battery Life Up to 9 hours
 Weight 3.97 lbs

 

3. Dell XPS 15 (2020)

Dell XPS 15 2020 - Best Windows Ultrabook For Developers 2020

The Best Windows Laptop for Developers

The recently launched 2020 Dell XPS 15 is really a badass laptop when it comes to performance and portability. Being a 15-inch laptop, it is smaller and lighter than most other 15-inch laptops, thanks to its bezel-less infinity display and carbon-fiber design. With just 4 pounds of weight, this laptop is perfect for those who are looking for a thin and light high-performance laptop for coding.

It has the latest Intel Core i7 (6-core) Ice lake CPU and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti GPU, making it perfect for power users like game developers and graphics programmers. However, if you need more power, then there’s also an option of an 8-core Intel Core i7 processor with up to 64GB RAM and 2TB SSD storage. So, it is a pretty maxed out machine that could handle even the most demanding coding work.

Apart from hardware, the keyboard on the Dell XPS 15 is also perfect for programmers. It is a backlit keyboard with 1.5mm traveling keys, which gives a very satisfying typing experience. Plus, its touchpad is also responsive and the largest you can find on any laptop. However, connectivity options are very limited on the 2020 XPS 15 with only 3 USB Type-C ports, two of which support Thunderbolt 3, and there’s a 3.5mm jack for audio peripherals. Moreover, all this glory and power doesn’t come cheap. Its price starts at $1300 and goes all the way up to $3000, which is a lot higher than the competition.

If budget is not a problem, then the 2020 Dell XPS 15 is the perfect programming ultrabook for game devs or anyone whose programming demands a lot of horsepowers. The laptop shows no sign of slowing down even while pushing it to the limits and handles everything you throw at it without any problem.

Hardware Specifications of Dell XPS 15 (2020) Laptop
 Processor Intel Core i7-10750H 2.6 GHz Six-Core Processor (Turbo up to 5.0 GHz)
 RAM 16GB DDR4 RAM
 Storage 512GB SSD
 Graphics Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti 4GB DDR6 Graphics
 Display 15.6-inch Full HD+ (InfinityEdge) Anti-Glare Display (1920 x 1200) with 500-nits brightness
 Operating System Windows 10 Home
 Battery Life Up to 10 hours
 Weight 4.0 lbs

 

4. Apple MacBook Pro 16 For Game Developers and Graphics Programming

Apple MacBook Pro 16 - Best Laptop for Programming and Video Editing

The MacBook is the default option for programmers who write code in Swift and Objective C. However, we don’t recommend the MacBook Pro 16 to all the Apple developers. It’s the most powerful MacBook that Apple makes right now and is the best option for programmers whose workload includes graphics and a lot of resource heavy operations.

It is powered by a six-core Intel Core i7 processor paired with 16GB of RAM and dedicated AMD Radeon Pro 5300M graphics. Combined, it outputs enough performance to fire up all your servers, code editor, a browser with 20 or more tabs, and still, you’ll have enough resources to open up other programs and run them simultaneously! For storage, it offers 512GB of SSD, which should suffice the requirements of most programmers. These are our recommended set of specifications of MacBook Pro 16 for programming; however, if you need more power, then it can be configured with an 8-core Intel Core i9 processor and AMD Radeon Pro 5500M GPU with 8GB DDR6 Graphics, and up to 64GB RAM and 8TB SSD storage. That’s a lot of power, and it would be overkill for most programmers, but what’s surprising though is all this power comes packed in a chassis that weighs just 4.3 pounds and 0.6-inch thick. Surprisingly, thermal throttling is not an issue on the MacBook Pro 16.

Thanks to its huge dimensions, there’s enough room inside for its hardware to breathe. Plus, it has two fans inside that dissipates all hot air out, and it manages to keep the keyboard and palm rest area always at comfortable temperatures. Speaking of the keyboards, the MacBook Pro 16 comes with an updated scissor mechanism keyboard with 1mm traveling keys. The new keyboard delivers an enjoyable and tactile typing experience, just like older MacBooks, and it also has a dedicated ESCAPE key!

Everything is pleasant about the MacBook Pro 16. Isn’t it? Well, check out its price. It starts at $2400 for an i7 variant, and if you want i9, it starts from $2800. So, unless you’re into some serious coding job that can utilize all the CPU cores and GPU power it has to offer, we don’t recommend the MacBook Pro 16 to you. The MacBook Pro 13 is an excellent default option for most Apple developers and other programmers who prefer macOS over Windows, which is our next recommendation in this list of best laptops for programming. However, if you are also a content creator who makes videos for YouTube or anything along with coding, then the MacBook Pro 16 will be a good option for programming and video editing.

Hardware Specifications of Apple MacBook Pro 16
 Processor Intel Core i7 2.6 GHz Six-core 9th Gen Coffee Lake Processor (Turbo boost up to 4.5GHz)
 RAM 16GB 2666MHz RAM
 Storage 512GB SSD
 Graphics AMD Radeon Pro 5300M 4GB DDR6 Graphics
 Display 16-inch Retina True Tone Display, 3072 x 1920 pixels Resolution
 Operating System macOS Catalina
 Battery Life 11 hours
 Weight 4.3 lbs

 

5. Apple MacBook Pro 13 Best MacBook for programming

Apple MacBook Pro 13 - Best MacBook for Programming 2020

The MacBook Pro 13 is our most recommended MacBook for programming right now. The new 2020 models pack the latest 10th Gen Intel processors inside a sexy looking all-metal unibody chassis that we all are familiar with and it weighs less than 4 pounds.

It has got a 13.3-inch True Tone Retina display with impressive viewing angles, and it also has an improved backlit keyboard with scissor switches just like the older MacBook Pro. On the hardware front, this laptop is powered by a 10th Gen quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage. It outputs enough power to smoothly run all your programming software, compilers, emulators, etc. and despite having such powerful hardware in a thin and light form-factor, it manages to keep laptops always at comfortable temperatures.

Well, if you think that the specs mentioned above won’t be enough for your work, then it is also configurable with up to the newest 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, 32GB RAM, and 4TB SSD. However, if you are thinking of configuring it with the i7 processor, then it’s better to go with the MacBook Pro 16 instead. You’ll get more performance for the price with it.

All in all, we think the 2020 MacBook Pro 13 is currently the best developers compatible MacBook. It is ultra-portable with long battery life to carry it anywhere and work on-the-go, and it packs enough power to develop apps and games for Apple devices or do coding in general.

Hardware Specifications of Apple MacBook Pro 13 (2020)
 Processor 10th Generation Intel Core i5 2.0 GHz Quad-core Processor (Turbo up to 3.8 GHz)
 RAM 16GB DDR4 RAM
 Storage 512GB SSD
 Graphics Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645
 Display 13.3-inch Retina Display, 2560 x 1600 pixels Resolution
 Operating System macOS Catalina
 Battery Life 10 hours
 Weight 3.1 lbs

 

6. Asus VivoBook S15 Powerful Thin & Light Laptop

ASUS VivoBook S15 - Best Affordable Laptop for Programming Students

Asus VivoBook S15 is one of our favorite all-purpose laptops with powerful high-performance hardware which we think is also suitable for programming and coding. From build quality to performance, Asus has done really a great job to make this laptop perfect in all ways.

It is powered by a quad-core Intel i7 processor combined with 16GB of RAM to handle all your multitasking and for storage, this laptop has lightning-fast 256GB of SSD and spacious 1TB HDD. Asus VivoBook S15 also has the dedicated graphics processor in the form of Nvidia GeForce MX250 GPU.

This high-end specced laptop can run all your programming software pretty easily and you can also play most of the latest gaming titles on this laptop at medium graphics settings. Apart from this, it is also a very smart and ergonomically designed laptop. Its intelligent dual-fan design provides robust cooling to keep this laptop always at normal temperatures while gaming and heavy multitasking.

With a 15-inch full HD display, an ergonomic backlit keyboard, and long-lasting battery life, Asus VivoBook S15 stands strong among all other contenders in the same price range. Hence, it’s here in our top picks of best laptops for programming and coding of 2020.

Hardware Specifications of ASUS VivoBook S15 (S512FL-PH77) Laptop
 Processor Intel Core i7-10510U quad-core processor (Turbo up to 4.9 GHz)
 RAM 16GB DDR4 RAM
 Storage 1TB HDD + 256GB SSD
 Graphics NVIDIA GeForce MX250 2GB DDR5 Graphics
 Display 15.6-inch Full HD NanoEdge Display, 1920 x 1080 pixels Resolution
 Operating System Windows 10 Home
 Battery Life Up to 8 hours
 Weight 3.9 lbs

 

7. MSI GS66 15.6″ Gaming Laptop Best Laptop for Programming and Gaming

MSI GS66 10SE Gaming Ultrabook

If you are looking for a laptop for programming which can run all the latest games, then MSI GS66 is our pick. It is a gaming ultrabook housing the latest hardware and fast refresh-rate display, which is excellent for gaming and programming both.

Its finished in matte black color, which looks premium, and its chassis is built from high-quality polycarbonate and has an aluminum lid with a black MSI logo. The best thing about the design of the MSI GS66 is it doesn’t look like a gaming laptop. It has an RGB keyboard that shouts that its a gaming laptop, but you can turn it off when you are at an office or in the classroom if you are a student.

It comes with the latest 10th Gen Intel Core i7 six-core processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU paired with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD, which outputs enough performance to play all the latest games on this laptop. Apart from that, it has a 15.6-inch full HD 144Hz refresh-rate display, which complements its gaming ability. The display is also great for programming. It gets bright enough to use in every lighting condition and has an anti-glare coating for eye-protection.

Overall, the MSI GS66 is an excellent high-performance laptop that is best for programming and gaming. It packs very high-end hardware in a thin and light chassis that weighs less than 5 pounds, and it has a screen and keyboard that’s well-suited for coding as well as gaming.

Hardware Specifications of MSI GS66 10SE 15.6″ Gaming Laptop
 Processor Intel Core i7-10750H 2.6 GHz Hexa-core Processor (Turbo up to 5.0 GHz)
 RAM 16GB DDR4 RAM
 Storage 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
 Graphics Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB DDR6 Graphics
 Display 15.6-inch Full HD LED-lit Anti-Glare Screen with 144Hz Refresh-Rate
 Operating System Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
 Battery Life Up to 9 hours
 Weight 4.6 lbs

 

8. Lenovo Ideapad 5 Best Value for Money

Lenovo Ideapad 5 - best value for money laptop for coding

Lenovo has got some of the best value for money laptops in its portfolio, and this Ideapad 5 14-inch notebook is one of them. It is recently launched and comes with a new design and all current generation hardware. Speaking of the new design, it adds more professional looks to the laptop, and its polycarbonate chassis finished in graphite grey color makes it look appealing and feels premium in hands.

The performance of this laptop is also top-notch. It has a 10th generation quad-core Intel Core i5 processor inside and 8GB of RAM for multitasking. It also has dedicated Nvidia GeForce MX350 GPU, which makes this laptop suitable for all sorts of development work and even light gaming.

For icing on the cake, the Lenovo Ideapad 5 also comes with a backlit keyboard, which is ergonomically designed to deliver the most comfortable typing experience. Even its display is eye-friendly, and it is calibrated to reduce eye fatigue. Plus, it is anti-glare. So, the new Lenovo Ideapad 5 is a complete package for coding and it is among the few laptops right now, which comes with all the latest hardware specifications, too, with a relatively affordable price tag.

Hardware Specifications of Lenovo Ideapad 5
 Processor 10th Generation Intel Core i5-1035G1 1.0 GHz Quad-core Processor (Turbo up to 3.6 GHz)
 RAM 8GB DDR4 3200MHz RAM
 Storage 256GB SSD
 Graphics Nvidia GeForce MX350 2GB DDR5 VRAM
 Display 14-inch Full HD IPS Anti-Glare Display with 300-nits Brightness
 Operating System Windows 10 Home 64-bit
 Battery Life Up to 11 hours
 Weight 3.4 lbs

 

9. Lenovo ThinkPad T590

Lenovo ThinkPad T590

Lenovo’s ThinkPad line of laptops is well-renowned among business people because of its business proof design and powerful performance which comes paired with security features that one can rely upon. The recently updated ThinkPad T590 looks similar to its predecessors but its display now has tiny bezels, and there’s ThinkShutter on the webcam which can be used to cover the webcam when not in use.

The changes are mainly on the inside which means the ThinkPad T590 comes with the latest Whiskey Lake 8th Gen Intel processors and provides options to select RAM and storage up to 32GB and 1TB PCIe based SSD respectively. So, it’s pretty capable on the hardware front making it good enough for all sorts of computer programming and development work.

It comes with all the ports and slots, including traditional USB 3.1 ports, HDMI, Ethernet, USB Type-C Thunderbolt port, and it also has an SD card reader. What’s surprising though is, its battery lasts up to 14 hours on a single charge! So, it’s easily one of the best laptops for programming you can buy right now. It has powerful innards, beautiful 1080p display and not to forget a class-leading ThinkPad keyboard which is hard to find a replacement of.

Hardware Specifications of Lenovo ThinkPad T590
 Processor 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8565U 1.8 GHz Quad-core Processor (Turbo up to 4.6 GHz)
 RAM 8GB DDR4 RAM
 Storage 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD
 Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 620
 Display 15.6-inch Full HD IPS Anti Glare Display with 1920 x 1080 pixels Resolution
 Operating System Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
 Battery Life Up to 14 hours
 Weight 3.8 lbs

 

10. HP Spectre x360 13″ Convertible Laptop

2020 HP Spectre x360 13-inch Convertible Laptop For Developers

If you are looking for a convertible laptop for coding, then the 2020 HP Spectre x360 laptop will end your search here. With all-metal chassis finished in silver color and sharp cut edges, the HP Spectre x360 is one of the sexiest looking laptops you can buy right now.

The laptop scores full marks in the design segment but it doesn’t lack behind in performance either. It comes in two sizes 13 and 15 inches. The 13-inch models can be configured with the newest 10th Gen Ice Lake Intel processors while the 15-inch variants are powered by a powerful Comet Lake six-core Intel processors with dedicated Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q GPU. Performance-wise both are excellent, but if your programming work demands more power, then 15-inch would be a better option.

Speaking of its battery life, the 13-inch variant averages around 12 hours, and for a 15-inch variant its 9 hours which is rather great considering the kind of power they pack inside. Moreover, its keyboard is also excellent with the perfect layout, and its keys provide nice feel and feedback while typing. So, all in all, the HP Spectre x360 is a great convertible laptop that checks almost all the boxes of the requirements of programmers. It has great looks, powerful and newest hardware, and all-day battery life as well. Moreover, it also comes with standard USB Type-A ports along with Thunderbolt USB Type-C ports, which is great considering other thin and light laptops avoiding standard USB ports completely. Hence, the HP Spectre x360 is one of the best convertible laptops for programmers who like to keep their style game on point.

Hardware Specifications of HP Spectre x360 13″ Convertible Laptop
 Processor 10th Generation Intel Core i5-1035G4 1.1 GHz Quad-core Processor (Turbo up to 3.7 GHz)
 RAM 8GB DDR4 RAM
 Storage 256GB PCIe M.2 SSD
 Graphics Intel Iris Plus Graphics
 Display 13.3-inch Full HD IPS WLED-backlit Multitouch Display with 1920 x 1080 pixels Resolution
 Operating System Windows 10 Home 64-bit
 Battery Life Up to 12 hours
 Weight 2.8 lbs

 

 

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