Developers have a unique set of requirements that differ from what network administrators, architects, and graphic designers need. Developers need a swift device – one that has fast storage and memory, and a powerful processor.
Most developers usually do not need a discrete graphics card, and any occasional use of VMs can be handled by the more than capable internal graphics.
What’s more important for developers is the weight, the battery life, and the ergonomics of the device – since a developer needs to move around, work for long hours and feel comfortable as they write code and create software.
Thankfully, the laptop market has evolved a lot in the past few years, and there is a perfect laptop for every kind of user.
Keeping all these parameters in mind, here’s a quick buying guide that’ll help anyone pick the best laptop for development.
Best Laptops For Developers: Buying Guide
The processor is the main component and dictates the overall speed of the device. Make sure you do not skimp on this – processors on laptops are non-upgradable, unlike RAM and storage.
The latest Intel-based laptops have hexa-core and octa-core processors. However, a quad-core i5 or i7 will get the job done. Buy a laptop with an 8th generation processor or higher, since they’re significantly faster than the older chips.
Avoid AMD-based laptops for development. They have a reputation of not having proper support – especially for android development.
As previously mentioned, developers do not need a discrete graphics card.
Only game developers require a beefy graphics card in their devices, which makes for a more cumbersome device. Also, laptop form factors are usually too small for game developers, and this is why they opt for desktop setups – they’re more comfortable to use, very reliable, and extremely powerful.
However, if you really need a discrete graphics card in your laptop, look for NVidia’s latest 20-series and 16-series GPUs – RTX 2060, RTX 2070, RTX 2080 and the RTX 1650 and RTX 1660 Ti.
Recently, applications have become really memory hungry – especially those that aid in development. I recommend having 16GB of RAM; however, if you use lighter software, 8GB of RAM will work.
An SSD is now a bare minimum for developers since they need fast application loading and file saving times. SSDs make for quicker boot times, as well.
Laptops come with either 512GB, 256GB or 128GB SSDs out the box. For most developers, that much space is barely enough, since there are a ton of project files, and more are added daily.
Nonetheless, most laptops have space for an extra drive, and you can add another HDD or an SSD easily. Alternatively, you can look at a cloud storage solution to meet your storage needs.
The size of the laptop matters for most developers. Smaller sizes make for better mobility, while slightly devices are heavier, but include a keypad and have a larger screen. Bigger laptops usually have better hardware specifications, too.
Nonetheless, a 13” device is the sweet spot. They offer a big enough display and also have the keyboard/trackpad real estate one needs to stay comfortable.
For developers, 2-in-1 laptops and laptops with touchscreens are pretty much useless. However, there are some solid 2-in-1’s that meet a developer’s requirements perfectly, hardware-wise.
1080p resolution displays are now the standard in the laptop market. They’re good enough, and one does not need a 4K display to write code.
However, a laptop with a 4K display does look considerably more appealing, but the high display resolution does affect battery life.
Look for right viewing angles and an anti-glare coating – these are the things that matter.
You cannot compromise on the keyboard since you’ll be using it pretty much all day. It is the one thing you must test out before buying a laptop.
The OS you pick is purely a question of preference. Regardless of if you’re comfortable with macOS, Windows, or a specific flavor of Linux, getting the right hardware is what matters – the OS can be changed.
Let’s briefly look at the eight best laptops for development, and then get into the details.
List Of 8 Best Laptops For Developers
Image and Rating
Name and Features
The MacBook Pro has been many a developers’ first-choice for years. The classy design, ergonomic build, and snappy performance make it an all-time favorite.
It comes with an 8th generation i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB/512GB of SSD storage.
The display is simply one of the best you’ll find on a laptop, and the butterfly keyboard is the best of its kind, and the huge trackpad makes it very easy to interact with the computer.
The MacBook Pro comes with four Thunderbolt 3 ports; however, the lack of any other ports makes connectivity a little tedious.
The battery life is a little underwhelming, and you can expect around eight hours of moderate use.
The XPS 13 is another trendy laptop among developers.
It has a fingerprint reader, which makes for faster and more secure access. The keyboard is clicky, yet quiet. The strong backlighting makes it easier to type in dim surroundings. The touchpad feels excellent to the touch.
The device has 8GB/16GB on-board RAM, and you can choose from 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB SSD options. Unfortunately, none of it is upgradable.
The webcam is tiny but still manages to capture crisp images. It has only five ports in total. However, the three Thunderbolt 3 ports make the device very versatile.
The battery life takes a beating due to the power-hungry 4K display. The XPS 13 still delivers about 8 hours of moderate use.
Overall, the XPS 13 is a well-built, lightweight laptop that’ll deliver performance when you need it.
E 15 is a very affordable option for developers on a budget. Although the design is a bit bland, it delivers excellent performance.
The i7-8550U and the MX150 GPU, coupled together, deliver performance that is on par with some of the more expensive devices on this list.
The 15.6” form factor, combined with the comfortable keyboard and trackpad make the E 15 a productivity machine.
However, the display is too dim, and you will find yourself using it on full brightness all day.
The battery life is OK – but it definitely won’t last 15 hours as they advertise.
Both sticks of the dual-channel 8GB memory are upgradeable. It comes with a 256GB SSD. If you’re looking for more space, there’s another slot for an extra drive, which can be accessed by just undoing three screws.
The E 15 is the ultimate bang-for-the-buck device.
Extra features: it’s durable, super lightweight (2.2lbs!), and the battery lasts long
The Gram feels like the perfect laptop for a developer – it’s durable, super lightweight (2.2lbs!), and the battery lasts long.
It doesn’t compromise on performance either – the i5-8265U can handle heavy workloads without stuttering.
The 14″ form factor feels right. The Full HD display is vibrant, the bezels are slim, the keyboard is backlit, and the trackpad feels terrific to the touch.
The screen is touch-enabled, making the device easy to interact with.
The 72Whr battery will last you over 11 hours before needing a charge, making the device a long-lasting workhorse.
It lacks Thunderbolt 3 ports but makes up for it with the two USB 3.0 ports, an SD-card reader and the USB Type-C port.
LG’s Gram is a fantastic device – it’s efficacious, and every developer deserves a laptop designed as well as this one.
Extra features: its powerful hardware and sleek looks, while keeping the price extremely reasonable.
The Blade impresses, with its powerful hardware and sleek looks, while keeping the price extremely reasonable.
It comes with a dual drive setup, which gives users a lot of flexibility in terms of storage.
The 1060Ti Max-Q is a graphics card from the previous generation. However, it still is a high-performance GPU that’ll never fail to deliver.
The i7-8750H Hexa-core CPU ensures that you never slow down. The device has a ton of ports, including three USB 3.1 ports and a Thunderbolt port.
The keys are backlit in green, which gives the Blade a unique appeal. The trackpad is large, which makes for comfortable scrolling.
It is a heavy device – weighing 4.48lbs. However, it more than makes up for it with the excellent dual-fan cooling system.
The 1080p display offers rich-colors, and the large form factor and thin bezels only add to its charm.
Extra features: great choice for someone looking for a compact, powerful 2-in-1
HP’s Spectre x360 is a great choice for someone looking for a compact, powerful 2-in-1. The i7-8550U keeps you going stutter-free, regardless of what you’re running.
The 1080p screen is vivid and works well with the stylus. It is a little dim, but not to the point that it’s an issue.
It comes with Windows 10 loaded, however, the OS is filled with bloat and will slow you down if you don’t get rid of it.
Design-wise, the Spectre is super sleek, yet the aluminum chassis gives the device a sturdy feel.
It lacks ports, and the fingerprint scanner is awkwardly placed on the right edge near the Thunderbolt ports.
Overall, the Spectre is a sturdy and lightweight device, that doesn’t compromise on hardware.
Extra features: great choice for someone looking for a compact, powerful 2-in-1
This affordable laptop is available in many striking colors, and the brushed aluminum finish gives the laptop a premium feel.
The 1080p display is a little drab and lacks color. It comes with a licensed copy of Windows 10, however, its full of bloatware.
The fingerprint sensor is conveniently placed by the trackpad and unlocks the computer quickly. It features a selection of the fastest ports, but it doesn’t have a Thunderbolt 3 port.
The keyboard maintains the perfect activation distance, which makes it comfortable to type on — the hinge tilts towards you, which also adds to the typing experience.
The device will last a little over 7 hours when used moderately. Storage is not an issue with the dual drive setup, and the i7-8565U keeps things running smoothly.
All-in-all, the VivoBook is a reasonably rounded budget-friendly option.
Extra features: slim design, however, it is the heaviest device on the list, coming in at 5.29lbs
ASUS’s G53GT features a slim design, however, it is the heaviest device on the list, coming in at 5.29lbs. It also has the sturdiest build of all on this list.
The 9th gen i7 can tackle the most demanding of applications with ease, and the GTX 1650 has got you covered in case you need to render anything.
The keyboard is excellent, and every key is individually RGB backlit – adding to the laptop’s appeal, and making it much easier to type in dim surroundings.
The 1080p display boasts impressive clarity and is backlit by energy-efficient LEDs, making for better battery life.
Nonetheless, the battery is still bad and will last you around 5 hours on a good day. It comes with 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, and there are extra slots that enable upgrading both.
The price is surprising, especially for such powerful hardware. It’s a beast that’ll never let you down.
Developers have a tough life, professionally speaking. Core development encapsulates a ton of different forms of creation, because of which there can never be one perfect device for everybody.
This list highlights the best laptops for every kind of developer – if you’re looking for something affordable, the VivoBook and the E 15 are great options. The G531GT perfect for users looking for a robust device, and the XPS 13, LG Gram, and MacBook Pro supply a great balance between power and portability.
Finding a solution is much easier once you know exactly what to look for.
Apple MacBook Pro - Editor's Choice
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