If you are a software engineering student or a developer looking to invest in a new laptop for your programming work, you probably already have an idea about the specs that your next computer should have.  Programmers need to run a lot of code, run different programs simultaneously, run virtual machines…etc, which means a high end machine. But you don’t necessarily need a beast of a computer to write code, and especially if you’re on a budget, you should pay close attention to your needs as a programmer, and find a laptop that provides a good combination between performance and cost. But with hundreds and hundreds of different laptops to choose from, finding the best one for your needs (and pocket 🙂 ) can be quite tricky. Before we proceed with our list of the best laptops for developers, let’s first check the main components you should pay close attention to when picking a laptop for programming.

What specifications should a programmer look for when buying a new laptop?

Long story short, there is no specific laptop for programming, it all boils down to what type of programming you’ll be doing. For writing code in a text file, even a cheap laptop will do, but if you’re planning to develop android apps on Google studio then you will need more power.  Here are a few keys:

For web development:

Any budget laptop will do in this case. It is recommended to get a laptop with at least an Intel i3, and 4GB of RAM.  An integrated graphic card is more than sufficient, if you are not planning to play any games.  As for the hard drive, if you can afford a laptop with a solid state drive it will make your laptop much faster.  But SSDs are not cheap and they also have their own downsides (such as storage capacity). This article explains the pros and cons of hard drives and solid state drives: Pros and Cons of SSD vs HDD.

When choosing a laptop for programming and doing web design,  it is recommended to have at least a 13,3 inch screen, and preferably Full HD.

 

For developing non resource intensive applications:

You should get at least an Intel core i5 or an i7 if you can and 8GB of RAM.  Consider adding more RAM if you need multitasking/ RAM hungry applications. When it comes to the GPU, it depends on your needs; usually the integrated graphics card in the CPU would suffice but if possible, get at least a low or mid-end graphics card. An SSD is also recommended in this case, but if you have lots of files, be prepared to get an external drive, or go for a traditional hard drive. And as always,  when shopping for a laptop for programming, a minimum of 13-inch Full HD display is necessary. Also note that if you will be doing some graphic design occasionally ( if you’re a web developer for example), a laptop with  IPS display is also recommended.

 

For developing heavy applications:

When shopping for a laptop for programming heavy applications, consider an Intel core i7 with at least 8GB of RAM (and free slots to be able to upgrade later). A dedicated graphics card is also very important here, a mid/high end  Nvidia/AMD is recommended. Storage wise, you will need a lot of space, this is not a problem today since most laptops come with a 1TB hard drive, if you need the speed of an SSD however, keep in mind that the storage capacity will be limited. Display here is also very important,  while a 15,6 inch Full HD is a strict minimum to be able to open windows side by side; you should also consider a 17 inch and/or a 4K display.

Recommended system requirements for some of the most popular IDEs (integrated development environments) :

Visual Studio:  Windows 7 SP1, 1.8 GHz or faster processor, 4Go RAM Recommended, Hard disk space: up to 130 GB of available space, depending on features installed; typical installations require 20-50 GB of free space.  Video card that supports a minimum display resolution of 720p (1280 by 720); Visual Studio will work best at a resolution of WXGA (1366 by 768) or higher.

PhpStorm: 1 GB RAM minimum, 2 GB RAM recommended, 1024×768 minimum screen resolution

Adobe Dreamweaver CC 2017: Intel® Core 2 or AMD Athlon® 64 processor; 2 GHz or faster processor, Microsoft Windows 7 with Service Pack 1,  2 GB of RAM (4 GB recommended), 2 GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space (approximately 2 GB) required during installation. Dreamweaver cannot be installed on removable flash storage devices. 1280×1024 display with 16-bit video card.

Eclipse: 1,5GHZ processor, 1GB of RAM, 1GB of free disk space.

NetBeans: Windows 7 pro, Intel core i5 or equivalent, 4GB of RAM, 1,5GB of free space.

Google Android Studio:  Windows 7, 3 GB RAM minimum, 8 GB RAM recommended; plus 1 GB for the Android Emulator, 500 MB disk space for Android Studio, at least 1.5 GB for Android SDK, emulator system files, 1280×800 minimum screen resolution.

 

Best laptops for programming (More will be added soon)

Acer Aspire E15 E5-576G-5762: an affordable multipurpose Laptop under 600$

The Acer Aspire E15 E5-576G-5762 easily offers the best performance for the money. If you’re on a budget, and looking for an affordable multipurpose laptop then this should definitely make it to your short list.  Acer did not skimp on the components on this one, and you will get an 8th generation  intel I5  8250U, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB solid state drive, and a dedicated  NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics card. For the price, the Aspire E5-576G-5762 ticks all the boxes and it’s actually very hard to find a flaw.

The 15,6 inch screen has an anti glare finish, and offers very good color reproduction and decent viewing angles. Resolution is Full HD. The chassis is mainly made of plastic, but the laptop doesn’t feel cheap at all and the build quality is rather sturdy.

Acer claims a battery life of up to 12 hours, but expect around 8-9 hours of normal use, which is still excellent. It should also be noted that the Acer Aspire E5-576G-5762 comes with a free RAM slot in case you need more RAM, and also an empty hard drive slot. So if the 256 SSD is not enough for you, you can easily throw in a 1TB hard drive and you’re set!

Processor Intel Core i5-8250U  Processor
RAM 8GB
Storage 256GB, SSD
Graphics Dedicated, NVIDIA GeForce MX150
Screen 15,6 inch, 1920X1080,
Connectivity and Ports 1 – USB 3.0 port

1- USB 2.0 port

1- USB Type C

1 – HDMI port, VGA

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.1

Battery up to 12 hours battery life

 

Asus F556UA-AB54-BL: Best combination between price and performance

The Asus F556UA-AB54-BL is a desktop-replacement laptop that comes equipped with a 7th generation Intel Core i5 7200U processor, 8GB of RAM (upgradable to 16GB), and a blazing fast 256GB solid state drive.  This is the perfect combination if you’re looking for a device that you can use at least for the coming 3 years, without becoming obsolete.

Asus kept the design classic on this model, but the laptop still has a sleek and premium overall feel, and  the maximum thickness is contained under 1 inch. The laptop weighs 5.1 pounds, which is a category average.  The Asus F556UA-AB54-BL is no ultrabook, but it’s still easy to carry.

The 15,6 inch screen has a Full HD resolution and is particularly bright. But since this laptop only comes with integrated graphics, don’t expect playing any games. The Asus F556UA-AB54-BL also comes with lots of ports, including 3 USB ports (with 1 type C), HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, and a DVD/RW.

Processor Intel Core i5-7200U  Processor
RAM 8GB
Storage 256GB, SSD
Graphics Integrated,  intel 620
Screen 15,6 inch, 1920X1080,
Connectivity and Ports 1 – USB 3.0 port

1- USB 2.0 port

1- USB Type C

1 – HDMI port, VGA, DVD/RW

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.1

Battery up to 10 hours battery life

 

Acer Swift 5: A super thin, versatile 14 inch laptop with a great battery life

The swift 5 is the perfect balance between screen size, performance, battery life, and price. This laptop comes with a 7th generation Intel Core i5 7200U processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD.  A combination that is capable of handling all of your everyday tasks and most programming software.  If you’re a developer or student and need a machine with an excellent battery life without breaking the bank, the Acer swift 5 is the best choice.  It comes with a 3-cell Li-Ion Battery (4670 mAh), and can give you about 10 hours of normal use (up to 13 hours according to Acer), which is excellent considering the price.

Another selling point is the screen quality: it has a resolution of 1920X1080 and uses the IPS technology. Colors are vivid, and viewing angles are very good.

The Swift 5 has a maximum thickness of 0,57inch and a weighs less than 2,87 Lbs.

Processor Intel Core i5-7200U  Processor
RAM 8GB
Storage 256GB, SSD
Graphics Integrated,  intel 620
Screen 14 inch, 1920X1080, IPS
Connectivity and Ports 1- USB Type C

2- USB 3.0 port

1 – HDMI port, VGA

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.0

Battery up to 13 hours battery life

 

MSI GL62M 7RD-1407: a powerful laptop for programming and light gaming

The MSI GL62M 7RD-1407 is an entry-level gaming laptop which has a lot to offer for the price. This laptop comes with an Intel Core i5-7300HQ (2.5-3.1GHz), 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a dedicated NVIDIA  Geforce GTX 1050 2G GDDR5 graphics card. This beast can easily run most current games smoothly and also perform well in all other fields of application.

The chassis is entirely made matte plastic, which is no deal breaker because the laptop still manages to looks stylish. It is clearly not meant to be portable and not designed for an outdoor use: first the screen brightness /viewing angles are not enough for a use in a sunny environment, and the battery life isn’t exceptional either. The latter is expected though since we have an intel i5-7300HQ and a dedicated graphics card under the hood. I personally think MSI could have done better with the screen though; the MSI GL62M 7RD-1407 comes with an average TN panel which is not really suitable for a gaming laptop. But again, at this price range, this is no deal breaker!

The MSI GL62M 7RD-1407 comes with a wide array of ports, including 1 USB type C, 2 USB 3.0, 1USB 2.0, HMDI, and Ethernet.

Processor Intel Core i5-7300HQ  Processor
RAM 8GB
Storage 256GB, SSD
Graphics Dedicated,  NVIDIA  Geforce GTX 1050
Screen 15,6 inch, 1920X1080,
Connectivity and Ports 1- USB Type C

2- USB 3.0 port

1 – HDMI port,

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.0

Battery up to 6 hours battery life

 

Dell Inspiron i5577-7359BLK-PUS: A reasonably priced gaming and multimedia machine

 

Just like the MSI GL62M 7RD-1407, the Inspiron i5577 is Dell’s attempt at providing a powerful budget gaming laptop that won’t break your bank. And I must say they succeeded, because while staying under the 900$ bar, the Inspiron i5577-7359BLK-PUS pretty much ticks all the boxes:  You’ve got a powerful 7th Generation Intel Core i7-7700HQ Quad Core, 8GB of RAM (upgradable up to 32GB), a dedicated  Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card,  a 128GB SSD and  a 1TB hard drive, all in a well designed metal chassis.

It is really hard to find any flaws, the Inspiron i5577 can handle all your daily productivity tasks, multitasking, IDEs , and can also play most of the recent titles at full HD with no lag.  As for most budget gaming laptops, the only “downside” to this laptop is the screen: it is a regular TN panel that actually looks great, but has limited viewing angles. Not that we expected Dell to include an IPS panel at this price range, but a higher quality TN panel would have made this laptop even  better.

Processor Intel Core i7-7700HQ  Processor
RAM 8GB
Storage 128GB +1TB, SSD +HDD
Graphics Dedicated,  NVIDIA  Geforce GTX 1050
Screen 15,6 inch, 1920X1080,
Connectivity and Ports 3- USB 3.0 port

1 – HDMI port,

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.2

Battery up to 8 hours battery life

 

 

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