Best laptops for programming 2018
Depending on what you are working, requirements tend to vary and getting the right development device is key to stress free and productive development. If your job entails working in a text editor like Sublime or even notepad editing css files and HTML markup, then you are probably better off with a budget laptop running windows, Linux or even chrome OS. Developers working on heavier stuff that require lots of memory, CPU hungry and memory hogging IDES like android studio need a laptop equipped with a multiple core CPU and sufficient volatile memory. Front end developers whose workflow entails editing raw images or video in Adobe and slicing web components,3D renders and writing scripts in blender or Maya may want to get a laptop with a dedicated GPU and loads of RAM.
I will give recommendations based on the type of work and requirements so as rope in every developer in this collection.
Best Laptops for programming students: Android developers
If you develop for android, then are probably either using Google’s android studio or the eclipse IDE with android developer tools installed as a plugin. Android tools generally require a fast processor and at least 8 gigs of RAM. Developers testing their apps using the emulator also need a laptop that can support hardware virtualization.
These are the recommended specifications for developing on android for both Android studio and eclipse.
- Microsoft® Windows® 7/8/10 (32- or 64-bit)/ Mac® OS X® 10.10 (Yosemite) or higher, up to 10.13 (macOS High Sierra)
- 3 GB RAM minimum, 8 GB RAM recommended; plus 1 GB for the Android Emulator
- 2 GB of available disk space minimum,
4 GB Recommended (500 MB for IDE + 1.5 GB for Android SDK and emulator system image)
- 1280 x 800 minimum screen resolution
Both google and eclipse foundation do not recommend which processor to use but we highly recommend at least a core i5 based on our own experience.
With the above in mind, here are five recommended laptops for android developers in no particular order.
Asus f556ua-as54 Laptop
We have reviewed this one here before. The Asus f556ua-as54 Laptop is powered by an intel core i5 6th Gen Intel i5-6200U processor with clock speeds of up to 2.3 Ghz. It has 8GB of RAM installed and can be upgraded to a maximum of 16GB.In addition, this laptop has an ultra-fast 256 GB SSD that significantly improves data access and writing especially for developers who spend a lot of time sifting through hundreds of source file and doing transfers in the file manager.
The performance components on the Asus f556ua-as54 clearly make it a viable choice for android developers out there. That is why we’ve included it in our compilation of best laptops for programming 2018 – android developers.
Another nice is the 15.6-Inch Full-HD Matte Display that make it great for outdoor usage due to lack of glare.
This is a desktop replacement laptop but it isn’t that bulky or thick as it measures just 15 x 1 x 10.1 inches and weighs 5.1 pounds. Developers tend to be quite mobile so portability is an issue that should be taken into account here.
The battery on this one packs enough juice to take you through a 6-hour coding session which I think is sufficient. In terms of pricing, the Asus f556ua-as54 Laptop is on the lower side as it’s currently being sold at just under $570 on Amazon.
Dell Inspiron i5378-0028GRY
Another great budget laptop we reviewed recently-the Dell Inspiron i5378-0028GRY has more or less the same specifications as the Asus above. This one is powered by an Intel Core i5-720U 2.5 GHz Processor, has a faster 8 GB DDR4 module and a smaller but sufficient 128GB SSD.
The major selling point for the Dell Inspiron i5378-0028GRY is its portability and high end IPS display. It weighs just 3.57 pounds and measures 12.8×8.8×0.8 inches. This makes this laptop a perfect choice for android developers looking for an ultra –portable that they can lug around while not compromising on performance. The 13.3 inch IPS display also has excellent color reproduction and brightness making it a great budget laptop for android developers also designing UI elements. The generous 42Whr battery on this one can take you through a 7-hour session before you need to recharge or plug it in.
Although not a major concern for developers, the Dell Inspiron i5378-0028GRY also features a sleek and elegant design that makes it look quite premium.
Acer Aspire E15 E5-576G-5762
This Acer Aspire E15 is an affordable mid-tier performance laptop powered by an Intel Core i5-6200U processor with clock speeds of up to 2.30GHz. It has 8GB DDR4 RAM and a 500GB HDD. This laptop packs all the power you need to develop for android and an unbeatable $598 price tag on Amazon. It supports hardware virtualization for developers using an emulator to test their applications. In addition to performance, the Acer Aspire E5 features a compact and lightweight design and has a beautiful 15.6 HD display.
ASUS K501UW-AB78 15.6-inch
Moving towards the high end side for the best laptops for android developers, the ASUS K501UW 15.6-inch is powered by a 6th generation Intel Core i7-6500U 2.5GHz processor. It also has a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M graphics chip and 8GB physical memory. Internal memory is an ultra-fast 512GB SSD.
This is among the best laptops you can purchase to use for your android development as it ticks all the boxes in terms of specifications and adds dedicated graphics on top for developers involved in android game development.
See at Amazon
Dell XPS 15 9560 Laptop
The Dell XPS still holds the mantle for the best built windows laptops in 2017 that can only be compared to MacBook Pro 15. Apart from the premium build quality, the 2017 Dell XPS 15 is powered by the newest 7th Gen Kabylake i7 7700q and a dedicated NVidia GTX 1050 graphics unit. Physical memory is 16GB of fast DDR4 RAM and it comes with one of the fastest 512GB SSD storage on a laptop out there. Everything about this dell flagship is really premium, from the soft carbon fiber material, aluminum chassis, performance components and 4K IPS touch display. Battery life is amazing as it comes with a generous 97Whr Battery-enough to take you through a full day of android development with the screen at maximum brightness levels(256Nits!). All these factors considered make the Dell XPS 15 our choice for the best laptop for android developers and best laptop for programmers in general.
Best Laptops for programming: iOS/Mac Developers
There isn’t much argument with regard to which laptop to choose for iOS/Mac developers-you are better off using some kind of MacBook since Apple development still remains a closely knit ecosystem with proprietary development tools that work best in their platform. It all comes down to your budget and needs and below are a few of our favorites for developers targeting this platform.
Apple MacBook Pro MPTR2LL/A
This is an easy choice. The Apple MacBook Pro MPTR2LL/A is apple’s latest Kabylake powered 2017 release. Apart from the newer processor, this one received several new features and aesthetic upgrades like the thinner chassis and touch bar- an OLED strip that replaces the physical function keys located at the top of the keyboard. Features and design aside, this top of the line MacBook makes it to our list of best laptops for programming for its performance specs. The xcode development platform can be demanding depending on the project you are working on so having a capable laptop like this one will save you time and make you more productive in the long run. It’s powered by a 7th generation (Kabylake) 2.9 Ghz Core i7 Processor that has four independent processor cores and a dedicated AMD Radeon Pro 550 with 4Gb of dedicated GDDR5 memory.
This flagship MacBook has all the power you would ever require to develop applications for iOS and other platforms for years.
See at Amazon
Apple MacBook Pro 13 MPXU2LL/A
This is the 13-inch version of Apple pro line up of performance oriented laptops. It’s thinner, lighter and cheaper but still rocks a quad core Kabylake core i5 processor. It has 8GB or RAM and a fast 256GB SSD. The major selling point for 13 inch aside from the obvious build quality and retina display is its lightweight design as it weighs just 1.37 Kg! This makes the Apple MacBook Pro 13 perfect for developers constantly on the move making it our recommended choice for iOS/Mac developers and best laptop for programming into Apple products in general.
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Apple MacBook Pro 12 inch
Our last recommendation on this lineup is the 12-inch version of the MacBook lineup released in 2017.This is the cheapest among the three and has the weakest processor as compared. It’s powered by an Intel core M processor-mostly geared towards thin and lightweight devices. However, the weak processor makes it no slouch as it can actually handle most developer workloads without significant bottlenecks. It has 8GB of DDR4 RAM and an ultra-fast 256GB SSD. This one takes portability to a whole new level as it weighs just 2.03 lbs.
All these laptops have amazing build quality and come with the latest version of Mac OS. They are equipped with the second generation butterfly keyboard that features individual key backlighting. It’s an amazing keyboard once you get used to the shallow soft-touch keys and developers will find it really nice to code with for long periods.
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Best Laptops for programming: Web Developers
Carrying on with or recommendations for best laptops for programming we shift focus towards the modern web developer.
A Web developer can comfortably work on their favorite text editor like Sublime or VScode and still ship fully functional web applications or components while others like front end developers need more specialized and demanding applications like Adobe cc and blender.
Below are our best 5 laptops for developers building the modern web.
Lenovo Edge 2 1580 15.6″ Full HD IPS 2-in-1 Touchscreen Notebook Computer
We kick off with the versatile Lenovo Edge 2 1580 15.6″ laptop. This is an affordable 2-in- 1 powered by a powerful 6th Gen Intel Core i7-6500U with clock speeds of up to 2.5GHz. It has 8GB RAM and a 1000GB HDD. This laptop makes it to our recommended laptop for web developers due its versatility as you can use it in tablet, tent or laptop mode depending on what you are working on. This makes it really great for testing web components made for touch devices and sifting through lines of code in code review while on tablet or tent mode.
This laptop is also equipped with a beautiful 15.6 inch IPS touch display, perfect for front end developers. Battery life is not bad as it can last for about 6 to 7 hours of normal usage.
See at Amazon
Acer Aspire R5 2-in-1 Convertible 15.6 FHD IPS Touchscreen Laptop
Another 2-in-one, this time from Acer-one of the most popular computer manufacturers in North America and worldwide. This one has an almost similar spec to the Lenovo but has a newer 7th Gen Intel Core i5-7200U 2.5GHz processor. It has 8GB DDR4 RAM and a 1TB hard drive. Its major highlight is the high end 15.6 inch IPS touch display which again provides the versatility that modern web developers need.
Battery life is excellent as it is equipped with a generous 42Whr Battery able to handle a 6-hour session before recharge.
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Dell Inspiron 15 i5558-5716SLV Signature Edition Laptop
The Dell Inspiron 15 i5558-5716SLV Signature Edition makes it to our web developer list due to its affordability and performance. This $600 laptop is equipped with a quad-core intel core i5 processor,8GB of RAM and a 1TB SATA hard drive. It’s an affordable yet powerful desktop replacement that can handle most web development workloads and IDE’s. It also shines in the display department as it has a high end 15.6 Full HD IPS touch display. Its housed in a nice and compact chassis that just screams durability.
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Dell J350V Latitude 7480
For a mid-tier web developer laptop, we have this beautiful Dell latitude 7480. This one is powered by a quad core Intel core i5 processor 2.3 Ghz. It has 8GB DDR4 RAM and a 256SSD. Graphics is handled by a the reliable Intel HD Graphics 620 integrated graphics. The display is a high end 15.6 Full HD panel. All these features make the latitude 7480 a perfect tool for web developers and creators especially those working on graphics and video. This laptop also doubles up as a light gaming and entertainment hub thanks to its powerful graphics and high end display. Battery life isn’t that bad for normal usage.
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Moving towards the high end side of things we have this Asus K501UW-AB78. This is one of our favorite laptops as it does not compromise power for portability and aesthetics, it gives the best of both worlds. The Asus K501UW-AB78 is a thin and light laptop powered by an Intel core i7-6500U 2.5 Ghz processor. It has 8GB of RAM and a fast 512GB SSD. This one is also equipped with a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GTX960M GPU. It has one the most beautiful 15.6 FHD displays on the market out there. This laptop is a great performer; it doesn’t get too hot even when under heavy load thanks to Asus icecool technology. It’s a great programming laptop as it has a powerful processor and sufficient RAM coupled with ample SSD storage and still maintains portability.
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Best Laptops for programming: PC Developers
In this section we give suggestions for best laptops for programmers developing applications for the pc and other platforms. These could range from C# developers creating business solutions in Visual Studio to Java developers working on desktop/robotic or embedded software on IntelliJ Idea, eclipse or NetBeans. Our suggestions here are mainly guided by the system requirements of the popular IDE’s modern desktop developers/programmers use. These include Visual studio, IntelliJ Idea, eclipse, NetBeans, and many other IDEs out there. Please do not feel left out if we did not mention your favorite IDE up there, we understand choice of IDE can be an emotive affair
Most of these development environments can be quite demanding in terms of memory and CPU usage so choosing the right development laptop will go a long way towards streamlining your work. We suggest at least 8GB of RAM and a core i5 processor or higher. With that in mind, below is our top 5 list of best laptops for programming.
Microsoft surface Book i7
A lot of you guys are probably developing applications in the windows environment. What’s better than developing in windows with their own flagship surface book? Surface books have been praised for their versatility and premium build quality. This model is powered by an intel core i7(2.6 Ghz) processor-Kabylake. It has 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. Being a high end flagship, its equipped with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M graphics unit. It comes with a surface pen that you can use as a precise pointing device or doing sketches for your project flow charts and other diagrams in your development work.
This surface books are on the high end side in terms of pricing but trust us, they are the best windows based laptops out there today. This one comes with full day battery.
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Asus P-Series P2430UA-XH53
You can read our full review of this one here. The Asus P-Series P2430UA-XH53 makes it to our list of best laptops for programming for its performance, general build quality and reliability. It has a 6th Gen Intel core i5 quad core processor 8GB DRR4 RAM and a 256GB SSD. It has this functional and low profile design aesthetic that we think is perfect for most programming out there. Portability is a key factor as developers tend to be on the move and prefer to work anywhere. The Asus P-Series P2430UA-XH53 weighs just 4.3 pounds and has a thin and compact frame measuring 9.5×13.4×0.9 inches. The major selling point for this one is battery life. It can give you a solid 10 hours on intensive usage and about 14 hours on normal usage. The battery is a Lithium ion 56Whr brick. You could also consider the ASUS P-Series P2540UA-AB51 which is cheaper but has a 1 TB HDD rather than an SSD.
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HP ProBook 455 G3 Flagship
This AMD powered HP makes it to the best developer laptop list for its price, design and performance. For just above $500 you get a laptop with amazing build quality and great performance specs. It’s powered by a quad core AMD A10 8700P processor and has AMD Radeon R6 dedicated graphics. Physical memory is a whopping 16 Gigs DDR3L. This is the kind of device for programming who want performance and portability in an affordable package.
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Dell Inspiron i5567-3655GRY
Another affordable choice for programmers looking for a development laptop. The Dell Inspiron i5567-3655GRY is a nice and compact day to day laptop equipped with a fast intel core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM. This one comes with windows 8 but one can easily upgrade it to windows 10 once they purchase it. It has a 1TB hard drive and SSD storage can be installed on the motherboard when needed.
Battery life is above average as you can easily get over 6 hours of usage depending on what you are working on.
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Dell XPS 13
We just can’t seem to get enough of dell’s newest XPS flagships. The XPS 13 is the smaller version of the 15-inch model highlighted earlier on this best developer laptops list. They are both premium laptops both in design/build quality and performance. We think these two are the best you can get in terms of windows laptops only rivalled by microsoft’s surface pro and surface books.
Depending on your needs, the XPS 13 is available with a 7th Generation Intel core i3, i5 and i7 processors along with a selection of SSD drives and up to 16GB of RAM.
The XPS 13 has a large battery that packs enough juice to last you a full day.
The XPS 13 takes the crown for best laptop for programming overall. Most of its competitors simply feel extremely out of date when placed side by side with the XPS 13 or XPS 15.
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Whether you are a web developer creating modern websites and web applications, a mobile developer creating apps for android or iOS, just a traditional programmer developing business applications or creating software for embedded systems in robotics or consumer electronics, having a great development laptop that streamlines your work is critical. We hope our recommendations for best laptops for developers helps you in making that critical choice and buying the right development machine.
We intend to keep updating this list as newer and faster devices come along and as needs and requirements constantly evolve in this vast and dynamic programming ecosystem.