Best Laptops for Programming – Ultimate Buying Guide
Welcome to Best Laptops for Programming – Ultimate Buying Guide. Computer programming (often used interchangeably with ‘coding’) means different things to different people. The heart of programming in any language is not particularly demanding – you’re only writing lines of text, which you may think any computer should be able to manage. However, there are some features that will make a considerable difference to a coder’s productivity and workflow.
The perfect screen size for programming is an interesting debate. With more screen area on a 15-inch laptop, it’s easier to read through code and make GUI adjustments, but you usually lose some of the portability of a smaller computer. We’ve covered screen sizes from 13 inches, and recently we had a chance to test the highly impressive new LG Gram 17-inch laptop. The LG Gram has a massive screen that will accommodate even more code, but without the weight and bulk of a typical 17-inch laptop.
Memory (RAM) & Processor
More memory will mean today’s heavyweight integrated development environments (IDEs) such as Visual Studio will run buttery-smooth, and make it easier to make changes when working with complex website layouts that have huge amounts of background code. Large, complex programs compile faster with a faster processor.
Additionally, if you think your new idea is going to be the next big hit on Apple’s App Store, you need a laptop running MacOS to use Xcode, Apple’s IDE that’s used exclusively to develop applications for the iPhone, iPad and Mac. Similarly, if you’re considering working with game development within an environment such as UnrealEd or Unity, as part of your project, you can’t ignore graphics performance either. While you’re in the market for your new laptop, bear in mind that ergonomics make a big difference if you’re going to be coding for long stretches.
Best Laptops for Programming 2022 – Quick List
- Apple MacBook Pro – Best Overall
- LG Gram 17 – Best LG
- Dell Inspiron 14 5000 – Best Dell
- Lenovo ThinkPad P1 – Best Lenovo
Best Laptops for Programming 2022 – Reviews
While Apple’s MacBook Air is the most portable Apple laptop in the range, and are great for programming. The MacBook Pro is currently our first choice for working with Xcode to develop apps for iOS and MacOS when on the go.
Quad-core eight-generation Intel CPUs are now an option, delivering across-the-board performance improvements, making this MacBook both portable and powerful. While it might weigh slightly more than the aforementioned MacBook Air, the performance boost will be worth it when running taxing processing tasks, such as heavy-duty coding projects.
And since Macs can run Windows just fine via bootcamp or in a virtual machine such as Parallels, you’ll be able to use your Mac to develop apps for any platform on Earth.
Built from a super-light magnesium-carbon alloy, the LG Gram is touted as the lightest 17-inch laptop in the world, measuring just 1.7cm thick. If you like the idea of having a bigger laptop screen for editing code on, then a 17-inch model will be the right choice, but most 17-inch laptops are unfortunately thick, heavy and difficult to carry around. With the LG Gram 17, you don’t have to make that concession – plus it has a specification that will ensure any programming tools run without a hitch.
LG has equipped the Gram 17 gorgeous IPS WXGA (2560×1600) screen that looks sharp and bright, with high colour accuracy, a quad core Intel Core i7 processor, a 512GB SSD and 16GB of memory. That’s enough performance to chew through any heavyweight IDE out there.
The Dell Inspiron 14 5000 is a great all-round laptop for programming. There are three key things to look for if you want a great modern laptop – a FullHD (1,920×1,080) IPS display, at least a quad-core processor and SSD storage. Aside from that, it’s easy to get fixated on bells and whistles when talking about laptops but many coding tasks don’t require anything particularly exotic.
Dell’s latest Inspiron 14 5000 laptops tick all these boxes, which will guarantee great running performance and an excellent system for all computing tasks, including more taxing processing jobs. The starting specification gets you the aforementioned high resolution display, a quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory and a 256GB SSD, with a sleek build and a starting price that really isn’t too extortionate. Go up a level and there’s an additional 1TB hard disk and a Core i7 processor.
Rounding off our pick of the Best Laptopss for programming is the ThinkPad p1. With this model, Lenovo has taken the kind of computing experience most of us assume is only possible with a desktop workstation housed in a large box under a desk, and not only made it portable, but squeezed it into a form that in thickness, is close to an Ultrabook.
It’s the only laptop of this size that offers professional-grade Xeon processors, with up to six cores, an Nvidia Quadro P2000 graphics card and up to 64GB of memory. You can stuff it with up to 4TB of nVME SSD storage, and opt for a 15.6-inch 4K display that’s not only touch-sensitive, but color-accurate too. It’s a great general-purpose workstation, capable of all kinds of visual design work and heavy lifting processor-intensive tasks.
Of course, it works great for coding as well. That’s partly thanks to Lenovo’s excellent keyboard design, but in general the ThinkPad P1 is superbly built, including a semi-rugged chassis that can survive light knocks, a very healthy selection of ports, retaining two original USB Gen 1 ports, as well as two newer, Thunderbolt capable USB type C ports and HDMI. Make no mistake, if it’s raw performance you want, this is the laptop to go for.