The best laptops for programming in 2021


Best laptops for programming: woman at laptop

(Image credit: Getty Images)

You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for the best laptop for programming. On this page, you’ll find some of the best laptops for coding, including a variety of devices suitable for work, study, or just having fun with programming.

While coding does not necessitate a super-powerful laptop, the more powerful the device, the faster it will compile code, which will make your life much easier. When choosing the best laptops for programming, we look for ones that have plenty of power, such as modern processors from AMD and Intel, as well as plenty of RAM.

A good programming laptop should also have a large, high-resolution screen, as you’ll be staring at it for long periods of time while working and don’t want to strain your eyes.

Having a larger screen also allows you to see more of your code at once, reducing the amount of scrolling required and making things more comfortable for you.

Because coding necessitates a lot of typing, the best laptops for programming should include excellent keyboards that are both comfortable and responsive to use, as well as large and accurate trackpads.

If you’re working on a game, you’ll need a laptop that can run your game while you test it, so a laptop with a graphics card is a good option.

Take a look at our guides to the It’s also a good idea to complement your laptop with some high-quality accessories.

best keyboard, the best mouse and best monitor

The best laptops for programming available now

(Image credit: Dell)

01. Dell XPS 15 (2020)

The best laptop for programming overall

Specifications

CPU:
10th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics:
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti – Intel Iris Plus Graphics
RAM:
8GB – 64GB
Screen:
15.6″ IPS – UHD+ (3840 x 2400) FHD+ (1920 x 1200)
Storage:
256GB – 1TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+Fast performance


+Eye-catching design

Reasons to avoid

GTX 1650 Ti is a little weak


For some people, a 15-inch screen may be too big.

The Dell XPS 15 (2020) is the best laptop for programming right now, in our opinion. This 15-inch beauty, like previous XPS laptops, boasts a stunning design, excellent build quality, and some of the most powerful mobile components available in a laptop.

You can also test your games while coding them if you choose a model with an Nvidia GPU. It’s thin and light, which means it not only looks and feels like a high-end laptop for programming, but it’s also convenient to carry around. Its high-resolution 15.6-inch display is ideal for working on, and the Dell XPS 15 can compile code incredibly quickly thanks to high-end processors (and even graphics cards in some configurations) – making it ideal for programmers.

Perhaps most importantly, its battery life is excellent, allowing you to use this powerful laptop without being tethered to a desk.

(Image credit: Apple)

02. Apple MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

A renewed laptop for programming

Specifications
CPU:
Apple M1 (8-core)
Graphics:
Integrated 7-core GPU
RAM:
8GB – 16GB
Screen:
13.3-inch Retina True Tone display with 2,560 x 1,600 resolution (backlit LED, IPS)
Storage:
256GB – 2TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+Super fast and responsive


+Good price

Reasons to avoid

Same design as previous model


Fanless

The MacBook Air (M1, 2020) received a much-needed refresh, and it now has a number of great updates that make it one of the best laptops for programming.

While the 13-inch MacBook Pro (also on this list) is more powerful, the MacBook Air is now thinner and lighter (and more affordable), and it has the same Apple-made M1 chip as the Pro, so it’s no slouch when it comes to programming.

Best of all, the new MacBook Air costs the same as the previous model, so you get a significant performance and battery life boost for no additional cost!

The M1 chip’s processing power reduces the time it takes to compile code, which has a significant impact on your workflow. The new MacBook Air is also as portable as ever, with a seriously light design that makes it easy to carry around – ideal for programmers who travel frequently.

The M1 chip is not only powerful, but also efficient, ensuring that the new MacBook Air has excellent battery life.

(Image credit: LG)

03. LG Gram 17 (2021)

The best large-screen laptop for programming

Specifications
CPU:
10th-generation Intel Core i7
Graphics:
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3000 Series
RAM:
Up to 64GB
Storage:
1TB SSD
Size:
381 x 261 x 17.78mm
Weight:
1.35 g
OS:
Windows 10

Reasons to buy

+Incredibly light


+Long battery life

Reasons to avoid

Expensive


Not the best touchpad

If you’re looking for a large-screen laptop to code on, the LG Gram 17 (2021) is a great option. It has a stunning high-resolution screen. and This laptop, on the other hand, proves that portability and comfort don’t have to be sacrificed for screen size, as it’s surprisingly light. This means you can easily carry it around with you – ideal for frequent travelers. large, allowing you to work comfortably.

As a result, you can work wherever you want, knowing that the battery will easily last you an entire work day – if not longer. It also has one of the best battery lives we’ve seen in a Windows 10 laptop, thanks to Intel’s new 11th generation hardware.

04. Huawei MateBook 13

This is a fantastic all-rounder in terms of portability, performance, and price.

Specifications
CPU:
8th generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics:
Nvidia GeForce MX150 2GB GDDR5 Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM:
8GB
Storage:
256GB – 512GB SSD
Size:
21.1×28.6×1.2cm
Weight:
1.3kg
OS:
Windows 10

Reasons to buy

+Lightweight and slim


+Affordable

Reasons to avoid

Limited to 8GB memory


Just two USB-C ports

Huawei is best known for its excellent smartphones, which won over critics by providing features and build quality comparable to those found in more expensive competitors, and it has done the same with its laptops. One of the best laptops for programming, especially for coders on a budget, is the Huawei MateBook 13.

You get all the power of a Core i5 or Core i7 processor, a crisp, bright, high-resolution 13-inch display, and plenty of SSD storage for a (relatively) low asking price.

If you like the look of the Apple and Dell laptops in this roundup but can’t afford them, the MateBook 13 is a great alternative.

It’s also extremely portable, weighing only 1.3kg and measuring less than 1.5cm thick.

(Image credit: Apple)

05. Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)

A brilliantly powerful laptop for programming on

Specifications
CPU:
Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU
Graphics:
Integrated 8-core GPU
RAM:
8GB – 16GB unified memory
Screen:
LED-backlit Retina display with a resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels.
Storage:
256GB – 2TB SSD
Dimensions (H x W x D):
1.56 cm x 30.41 cm x 21.24 cm

Reasons to buy

+Huge battery life


+Great performance

Reasons to avoid

Still lacks ports

It, like the new MacBook Air, has Apple’s M1 chip, which allows it to run apps smoothly and compile code quickly. Apple’s latest MacBook Pro is an excellent laptop for programming.

It’ll run your programming tools without a hitch, and it comes with a Touch Bar across the top of the keyboard that gives you quick access to tools and shortcuts, as well as the ability to significantly speed up your workflow.

Perhaps best of all, it includes a new keyboard that is not only more reliable than the previous model’s, but also much more comfortable to use.

In addition, the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) has the longest battery life of any MacBook. We put it to the test and found it to be extremely impressive, allowing you to work all day and still have battery life.

Also read:
MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) review

(Image credit: Microsoft)

06. Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

Windows programming on Microsoft’s own hardware

Specifications
CPU:
AMD Ryzen 5 – 7 / Intel Core i5 – i7 eleventh-generation
Graphics:
Intel Iris Xe / AMD Radeon
RAM:
8GB – 32GB
Screen:
PixelSense (2,256 x 1,504) touch screen 13.5-inch
Storage:
256GB – 1TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+Comfortable keyboard


+Beautiful screen

Reasons to avoid

Not enough ports


Alcantara fabric might get gross over time

This is a fantastic showcase for Windows 10, as it was created by Microsoft, so you can rest assured that your Windows apps will run flawlessly on the operating system. It’ll also be one of the first devices to receive an upgrade to Windows 11 when it launches in the second half of 2021, so if you want to make sure your app runs on that as well, this could be a good investment. If you’re a programmer who primarily works on Windows 10 apps, the Surface Laptop 4 might be the best laptop for you.

While Microsoft is best known for its software, it has recently released some excellent hardware, including the Surface Laptop 4, which features a stylish design, a solid aluminum shell, and a very comfortable keyboard.

This new model features new 11th generation Intel Core processors or AMD’s best mobile CPUs, as well as up to 32 GB of RAM and a fast SSD, making it an excellent laptop for even the most intensive programming tasks.

Most importantly, it has one of the longest battery lives we’ve seen in a laptop, allowing you to work on the go without having to worry about being plugged in.

(Image credit: HP)

07. HP Spectre x360 (2021)

The best 2-in-1 laptop for programming

Specifications
CPU:
11th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics:
Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM:
8GB – 16GB
Screen:
13.3″ diagonal 4K (3840 x 2160) BrightView micro-edge WLED-backlit multitouch UWVA BrightView micro-edge AMOLED multitouch UWVA BrightView micro-edge AMOLED multitouch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS 13.3″
Storage:
256GB – 2TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+Powerful Intel Whiskey Lake processors


+12-hour battery life

Reasons to avoid

More powerful than some users will need

This means new Intel Core processors from the 11th generation, as well as Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, making the HP Spectre x360 a programming powerhouse. The HP Spectre x360 (2021) 2-in-1 laptop received a major update for 2021, and it now boasts some of the best mobile hardware money can buy.

It’s not only a powerful programming laptop, but it’s also stunning, with a 2-in-1 design and a gem-cut body that’s thin, light, and portable.

It has a level of adaptability that many of the other devices on this list don’t have. Because of its 2-in-1 design, you can use it as a traditional laptop and then fold the screen back to use it as a tablet. It has a long battery life, so you can work on it all day without having to worry about plugging it in.

08. Dell Inspiron 14 5000

If you’re on a budget, this is a great laptop for programming.

Specifications
CPU:
Intel Core i5-8265U (quad-core processor with 3.9GHz Turbo Boost)
Graphics:
NVIDIA GeForceR MX150 2GB GDDR5
RAM:
8GB
Storage:
256GB SSD
Size:
32.4×23.2×1.9cm
Weight:
1.48kg
OS:
Windows 10

Reasons to buy

+Well specced and well priced


+Excellent screen

Reasons to avoid

When you upgrade to a Core i7 processor, your SSD shrinks to 128GB.


Not particularly powerful for 3D

The Dell Inspiron 14 5000 is a great all-around laptop for programming, and it’s a lot less expensive than many of the other laptops on this list without sacrificing features or performance.

So it has a high-resolution Full HD display, a quad-core processor, and fast SSD storage, all of which make it a dependable laptop that can keep up with any of your programming demands.

Sure, it lacks the premium style of its more expensive competitors, but if you’re on a budget and need a laptop that will do everything you need it to and don’t care about visual flair or features you’ll never use in your day-to-day programming, this is a laptop worth considering.

(Image credit: Lenovo)

09. Lenovo ThinkPad P1 (Gen 2)

Professional-grade premium performance

Specifications
CPU:
Six Core Intel Core i7 / Xeon
Graphics:
Nvidia Quadro T1000-T2000
RAM:
8-64GB
Storage:
256GB-4TB
Size:
36.2×24.6x17mm
Weight:
From 1.7kg
OS:
Windows 10 Home / Pro

Reasons to buy

+Incredible performance in a slim chassis


+One of the best displays on a laptop

Reasons to avoid

The standard for wired ethernet has changed to a new ‘mini’ version.


Not vastly cheaper than Apple’s premium models

The Lenovo ThinkPad P1 is a laptop worth considering if you want to take your programming to the next level.

Professional-grade Xeon processors with up to six cores, an Nvidia Quadro T2000 graphics card, and up to 64GB of memory are all included in this seriously powerful workstation laptop.

You can choose from up to 4TB of nVME SSD storage and a 15.6-inch 4K display that is both touch-sensitive and color-accurate. It’s a fantastic general-purpose workstation that can handle a wide range of visual design tasks as well as processor-intensive tasks.

Of course, it also works well for coding. That’s thanks in part to Lenovo’s excellent keyboard design, but the ThinkPad P1 is well-made overall, with a semi-rugged chassis that can withstand light knocks and a generous array of ports.

(Image credit: Google)

10. Google Pixelbook Go

A fantastic Android development platform that can run full-fat Linux.

Specifications
CPU:
Intel Core m3 – Intel Core i7
Graphics:
Intel UHD Graphics 615
RAM:
8GB – 16GB
Screen:
Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) or 4K LCD touchscreen 13.3-inch
Storage:
128GB – 256GB eMMC

Reasons to buy

+Incredible battery life


+Amazing ‘Hush’ keyboard

Reasons to avoid

Iffy pricing at mid- to- high-end


No biometric login

Many Chromebooks, on the other hand, are designed to be very affordable, with lower-spec features and performance to keep the price down. A Chromebook might seem like a natural choice for Android developers looking for the best possible integration with Google’s software and services, as well as full support for running Android software natively.

Linux applications can also be run. The Pixelbook Go is a step up from earlier models and is intended to compete with larger laptop manufacturers. Although it still runs ChromeOS, which includes Google’s Android Studio development tools, the hardware is comparable to that of a standard Windows laptop.

The Pixelbook Go is certainly the It has an Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB or 16GB of RAM, and a large and vibrant 1,920 x 1,080 screen (or a 4K touch screen if you really want to show off). The best Chromebook ever.

This all adds up to a fantastic laptop for programming, with performance comparable to most Windows 10 laptops and a battery that will keep the Pixelbook Go going long after many Windows 10 laptops have given up the ghost.

Best laptops for programming: What to look for

They can compile code much faster than we can. Programming can be done on a variety of machines, but many programmers prefer something more than a simple laptop. While you don’t need a powerful laptop to code on, you will need a laptop with plenty of RAM and a modern multi-core processor if you need to compile your code and test out the games you’re working on, for example. Furthermore, the less time you spend waiting for your laptop to finish complex tasks, the more time you have to do other things, like take on more projects.

Of course, a larger display comes at the expense of portability. When it comes to choosing one of the best laptops for programming, screen size is crucial. A 15-inch screen, for example, has more pixels than a smaller screen, making it easier to read code and make GUI adjustments.

That level of power isn’t exceptional, but it’ll suffice for most tasks, especially if you’re dealing with complicated data. Consider getting an Intel Core i5 processor at the very least – website layoutsthat contain a large amount of background code With a faster processor, large, complex programs compile faster.

Don’t forget to check out our roundup of the Depending on the type of development work you’re doing, graphics can be crucial. If you’re working on a game in an environment like Unreal Engine or Unity, you’ll want to think about the graphical requirements of the apps.best graphics cards if this is something you might need. 

Want to create apps for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac using Xcode? You’ll need a Mac after that. Also, keep in mind that it’s a good idea to use an operating system that’s compatible with your objectives.

Furthermore, the faster your laptop compiles code, the less time you’ll spend waiting, which means you’ll be more productive and able to take on more projects.

The best laptops for programming are essential tools for any developer who wants a powerful machine that they can take with them and work on almost anywhere.

In the meantime, you might want to check out our guide to the best laptops for Photoshop and best laptops for graphic design.

How much RAM do I need for coding?

The more RAM on a laptop, the better it is at multitasking, allowing you to run multiple apps at the same time. If you’re looking for a laptop to code on, make sure it has plenty of RAM.

You’ll be more productive if you can complete this task quickly. It will also assist you in quickly compiling your code, as well as allowing you to test and run your apps and games.

However, this is only necessary for extremely heavy workloads. As a result, we recommend at least 8GB of RAM for coding on a laptop, but ideally 16GB or 32GB if your budget allows it.

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