Updated December 31, 2020 by Christopher Thomas

The 10 Best Laptops For Programming

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This wiki has been updated 14 times since it was first published in December of 2018. While they might be able to get by with a run-of-the-mill machine, most serious coders and software developers require something with a little more oomph to get their jobs done. The laptops on this list boast a number of features that make them ideal for programming, including full keyboards, large displays, and powerful components. Many are also useful for students and engineers. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 8th Gen

2. LG Gram

3. Dell XPS 15 9500

Editor's Notes

October 09, 2020:

Programming can refer to a wide range of tasks, from simple and relatively non-taxing coding to testing advanced graphical algorithms that require the most advanced hardware. A majority of programmers, though, look for pretty similar things in their mobile workstations. These include a screen that's easy to look at, enough storage to maintain various projects at once, and a keyboard that's pleasant and reliable to type on.

With those common requirements in mind, it's very difficult to top the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 8th Gen, which routinely comes up in conversations about the best laptop keyboard available today. It's a little pricey, but if you're willing to sacrifice a little horsepower, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 7th Gen from last year is actually a fantastic deal. The Lenovo ThinkPad E15 is another from the popular business-oriented line, and has many similar design elements to the flagship model. And while the Lenovo Flex 5 is considerably farther down the line, its Ryzen APU, 2-in-1 rotating hinge, and precise touchscreen make an especially versatile choice.

From a line that's about as famous as the ThinkPad comes the Dell XPS 15 9500, which is the latest evolution of what may be the single most popular laptop ever. This advanced machine has plenty of capable hardware inside, including the GTX 1650 Ti graphics card that can help with resource-intensive engineering tasks as well as providing a little gaming fun when work's over with. Although the HP Spectre x360 hasn't been around as long as the Dell or Lenovo flagships, it's a great device in its own right, and its premium appearance certainly doesn't hurt its case as one of the top options. Finally, the LG Gram is a relative newcomer that's taken many circles by storm, due not only to its impressive battery life, but also its slim package and remarkably light weight.

January 02, 2019:

While coding isn't necessarily a performance-demanding task in and of itself, software development as a whole can be pretty taxing on a computer's system. For that reason, programmers must be more discerning than the average user when looking for a laptop. Battery life, processor speed, keyboard layout and graphics quality are among the most important features one should consider, and the laptops on this list have all been carefully selected based largely on them. Naturally, we've included the flagship models for all major operating systems, including the Microsoft Surface Pro 6, Apple MacBook Pro and the Google Pixelbook. We've also included a number of gaming laptops, including the Dell G5 15 and Razer Blade 15, both of which offer advanced graphics cards at relatively affordable prices.

Special Honors

HP ZBook Firefly The entire ZBook lineup from tech giant HP is intended for the most demanding professionals and creators. The various models each have their own specific focus, and the Firefly is notable for combining workstation-class hardware in a form factor that rivals many Ultrabooks. hp.com

Origin PC They're somewhat better known for their custom gaming rigs than their professional PCs, but Origin does it all - and if you need something that can power through the heaviest workloads without flinching, their NT-17 and NS-17 mobile workstations are packed with just about the nicest components available. originpc.com

4. HP Spectre x360

5. Apple MacBook Pro

6. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 7th Gen

7. Lenovo ThinkPad E15

8. Lenovo Flex 5

9. Apple MacBook Air

10. HP 15


Christopher Thomas
Last updated on December 31, 2020 by Christopher Thomas

Building PCs, remodeling, and cooking since he was young, quasi-renowned trumpeter Christopher Thomas traveled the USA performing at and organizing shows from an early age. His work experiences led him to open a catering company, eventually becoming a sous chef in several fine LA restaurants. He enjoys all sorts of barely necessary gadgets, specialty computing, cutting-edge video games, and modern social policy. He has given talks on debunking pseudoscience, the Dunning-Kruger effect, culinary technique, and traveling. After two decades of product and market research, Chris has a keen sense of what people want to know and how to explain it clearly. He delights in parsing complex subjects for anyone who will listen -- because teaching is the best way to ensure that you understand things yourself.


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