Programming is a mental task that requires a lot of focus and patience. Writing code is not the only answer to the equation, you still have to debug and test it for multiple times until you get everything right.
That’s why you wouldn’t want to be bugged by a laptop that lags and crashes all the time. It will be a big handicap to your focus while coding and having your late-night coffee slash soda spree.
Luckily, we’ve come up with the list of the best laptops for programming. I personally asked my friend who’s a great programmer (and is responsible for antivirus scanners) what’s the minimum spec to get in a coding computer. He initially told me that 8GB of RAM is the least you should go for.
I won’t mention his name as he doesn’t want me to. He also mentioned that it depends on the actual coding you will do and the software (e.g., Visual Studio, Notepad++, or Xcode) you will use.
But, all of our recommendations here will not go below the minimum specifications required in terms of processor, RAM, internal storage, etc. And, DON’T FORGET to check out our buying guide at the end as we will give you the secrets spilled by my friend in choosing the best laptop for programming.
The Top Laptops You Can Buy For Programming (2020)
MSI GS66 Stealth 10SGS-031 Enthusiast
Display: 15.6-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080), 300Hz, 3ms, Anti-Glare Wide View Angle Display
Processor: 10th Gen Intel Comet Lake Core i9-10980HK, 8 Cores, 2.4GHz To 5.3GHz, 16MB Intel Smart Cache, 45W
RAM: 64GB (2 x 32GB) DDR4 3200MHZ
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER 8GB GDDR6
Storage: 2TB 970 EVO Plus NVMe SSD
Weight: 4.63 pounds / 2.10 kilograms
This MSI GS66 Stealth 10SGS-031 Enthusiast is one of the best laptops you can get for programming. We’ve placed it at the top of our list because it’s a seriously powerful beast. Let’s start with the display. It’s 15.6-inch screen has a 1920 x 1080 resolution and an astounding 300Hz refresh rate. This refresh rate is best for playing games and not so much for programming. But, still, who doesn’t want to take a break playing Fortnite or other addictive titles?
The processor is a fiend with clock speeds of 2.4GHz to 5.3GHz. This is coupled with an astounding 64GB RAM which is great for intensive compiling and debugging processes. We won’t want to delve much into the GPU as it’s not important for coding unless you’re going for machine learning. But the NVIDIA GeGorce RTX 2080 is an 8GB GPU great for entertainment as well.
This MSI laptop’s internal storage space is a 2TB solid-state drive (SSD) which is considerably faster than hard disk drives. We also recommend going for a backup cloud storage in case your laptop goes bust. In this way, your hard work won’t go down the drain.
The only drawback we can see with the MSI GS66 Stealth 10SGS-031 Enthusiast is its weight. But, we don’t see much of a problem here especially if you’re not vying for a laptop fashion contest.
2020 ASUS ROG Strix G GL531GT-RS85
Display: 15.6-inch FHD LED Display, 1920 x 1080
Processor: Intel 9th Gen Core i7-9750H
RAM: 32GB DDR4 RAM
GPU: 4GB Dedicated Memory NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
Storage: 1TB SSD + 1TB SSD
Weight: 5.30 pounds / 2.40 kilograms
The 2020 ASUS ROG Strix G GL531GT-RS85 offers a Full HD LED Display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. This display is more than enough for your programming needs and is also decent for watching movies and playing games. The anti-glare feature of its screen means it can be used under the sunlight without causing any issues since they are not reflective.
In terms of processing power, this laptop offers an Intel 9th Gen Core i7-9750H processor with six cores. This means that each core doesn’t use its maximum capacity (and won’t overheat) because there are several cores to back up tasks that need to be done. That’s a very important feature in programming, especially when you’re working with thousands of lines of code.
The processor is backed up by a 32GB RAM which means plenty of high bandwidth to run your programs smoothly including games and other applications. You can do serious multitasking while coding your lines with this amount of memory available in this laptop.
Storage space is hefty at 2TB in total, 1TB for the hard disk drive (HDD) and 1TB for the solid-state drive (SSD). You can store millions of lines of code in this amount of space made available to you.
If you’re a programmer that’s meticulous on keyboards, you’ll surely be pleased with its RGB backlit keyboard featuring a highlighted WASD (for gaming), a broad space bar, and allows you to enjoy typing even under dim lighting.
The graphics card has a 4GB dedicated memory and is made available to you with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650. This is not the best graphics card setup for machine learning. But, if you’re going to play games, it’s fine enough to make the bomb blasts enjoyable.
Ports include three USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1, a LAN, an HDMI 2.0 output, and a headphone slash microphone combo jack. Of course, connectivity would include Bluetooth and Wi-Fi which are necessary for programming as well.
Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop A515-54-59W2
Display: 15.6-inch Full HD, 1920 x 1080, Widescreen LED-Backlit IPS Display
Processor: 10th Gen Intel Core i5-10210U, 1.6GHz to 4.2GHz Turbo Boost, 6MB Smart Cache
RAM: 8GB DDR4 Memory
GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 620
Storage: 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD
Weight: 3.97 pounds / 1.8 kilograms
Its 8GB RAM is coupled with a 10th Generation Intel Core i5-10210U processor with four cores for faster processing speeds and multitasking. This is pretty decent when it comes to programming, but is definitely not the best. Graphics card is integrated (not dedicated) which means slower performance in terms of apps that require heavy visuals.
Connectivity includes Bluetooth which is great for transferring files or connecting other laptop paraphernalia. And, of course, it does come with a LAN port and Wi-Fi support. Ports include USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 1, USB 3.1 Gen 1, USB 2.0, and HDMI. The HDMI port is useful if you want to connect another monitor or TV for an extra screen. This is very helpful for programming especially if you want to research something on one screen while doing the lines of code on the other.
Unfortunately, storage space is a measly 256GB SSD. But, at least it’s a solid state drive which is significantly faster than a hard disk drive. The Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop A515-54-59W2 is definitely lightweight at 3.97 pounds which means you can take it anywhere you want to. Coding in coffee shops is a possibility if you’re cramped up in your desk space at home.
Battery life is advertised up to 9.5 hours which is definitely superb. But, we’re not counting on it, especially if you’re doing high-level programming plus multitasking. Still, it’s a good number to look at.
Overall, the Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop A515-54-59W2 is a great entry-level programming laptop you can buy as long as you don’t need a heavy-duty graphics card for gaming. If you’re using the device for programming only, this will definitely give you what you need for making those mobile apps or algorithms.
Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-53-72XD
Display: 15.6-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080), Widescreen LED-Backlit IPS Display, 144Hz Refresh Rate, 3ms Overdrive Response Time
Processor: 10th Generation Intel Core i7-10750H, Six Cores, Up To 5.0GHz
RAM: 16GB DDR4 2933MHz Dual-Channel Memory
GPU: Overclockable NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060, 6GB Dedicated GDDR6 VRAM
Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD, Expandable
Weight: 5.07 pounds / 2.30 kilograms
The Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-53-72XD is a great laptop for programming because it has specifications that’s more than enough for coding. The only drawback we can see — and yes we’re starting with the flaws — is it only comes with a 512GB SSD. This may not be enough especially if you’re programming and have large files to store. Fortunately, this is expandable with 2 x M.2 slots where one slot is open for easy upgrades.
Basic connectivity features are included such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and a LAN port. These are definitely important when it comes to coding as sometimes you have to research parts you don’t know about the programming language.
Performance-wise, we’re looking at a 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10750H with six cores and a turbo boost of 5.0GHz. This is powerful in terms of multitasking and because it has six cores, it tends to avoid overheating.
RAM is nearly-superb at 16GB as we prefer 32GB. But, it’s still a good spec for coding, debugging, and testing. The graphics card uses an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 with 6GB of dedicated GDDR6 VRAM. Not a necessity for programming, but is great for top-tier, heavy-duty games which we think programmers love to do as well.
So, display is at 15.6 inches with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. This is perfectly okay for programming tasks. But one thing you have to note here is the 144Hz refresh rate and 3ms overdrive response time, which is definitely great for gaming.
All in all, the Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-53-72XD is a great option for programmers if you want to look for a mid-range laptop. Specs are more than enough for basic to high-level coding tasks. Plus, you get the bonus of having a dedicated graphics card if you’re tired of writing lines of programming languages and want to play GPU-intensive games casually.
Dell Inspiron 17 3793
Display: 17.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) Anti-Glare LED Backlit Display
Processor: Intel Core i5-1035G1, 1.0GHz to 3.60GHz, 6MB Cache, 4 Cores, 8 Threads
GPU: Intel UHD Graphics WIth Shared Graphics Memory
Storage: 512GB SSD + 1TB HDD
Weight: 5.79 pounds / 2.62 kilograms
The Dell Inspiron 17 3793 is equipped with 16GB of RAM coupled with an Intel Core i5-1035G1 with a turbo boost of 3.60GHz. Again, we’re not putting this laptop in our list if it’s not suitable for programming. So, rest assured that this is enough to fulfill your coding needs.
The 17.3-inch display is larger than the usual 15.6 inches and is a great option if you don’t have a 20/20 vision. Anti-glare means it can be used under the sun without reflecting light. Probably the highlight of this laptop is it has additional hardware such as an optical DVD-RW drive and a webcam. Serious programmers mostly use cloud storage services instead of DVDs for storing their files. Still, it’s good to know that you have options.
Storage is massive at 512GB SSD combined with 1TB of HDD. Although the SSD is smaller compared to the HDD, you can still be put at ease knowing that you have the choice to use it for faster data access speed.
Connectivity options include Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth which we won’t explain why you need it here ‘cause we’ve probably stated it previously in this article. The built-in HD webcam can be great for video conference calls and online meetings with your teammates allowing for fast and effective communication for better coding project results.
Ports include USB 2.0, USB 3.1 Gen 1, USB 3.1 Type-C, RJ-45 Ethernet, HDMI, and headphone slash microphone combo. With some of the ports, you can definitely add a second (or even third) screen for better coding efficiency.
Unfortunately, the graphics card is integrated, not dedicated, so this may not be the best option if you want to play heavy-duty games on it. But, it’s still a great option for programming with its processor plus RAM combo.
HP Omen 15 5VY11AV
Display: 15.6-inch 4K UHD (3840 x 2160)
Processor: 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H, 2.60GHz to 4.50GHz, 12MB Smart Cache
RAM: 32GB DDR4 SODIMM RAM
GPU: NVIDIA RTX 2070 (Max-Q), 8GB GDDR6 Dedicated Graphics
Storage: 2TB PCIe NVMe SSD
Weight: 5.00 pounds / 2.27 kilograms
The HP Omen 15 5VY11AV is another powerful laptop in our list. First things first, you’d be delighted to know that it has a 4K UHD screen with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. Yes, great for watching and gaming, but not so much needed for programming. But, who doesn’t want great visuals while coding and binge-watching on your second screen.
Processor is a powerful 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H with a turbo boost of 4.50GHz — which means it can handle complex or heavy-duty programming tasks such as testing massive lines of code.
This processor is combined with a 32GB RAM which is great for multitasking, a common scenario among programmers who perform at their peak (or sometimes what we call coder’s zone).
You’ll love the storage option at 2TB SSD. But, of course, we still recommend that you save your files in cloud storage platforms such as Dropbox or Google Drive because you never know what may happen.
GPU is a top-tier 8GB dedicated VRAM in the form of NVIDIA RTX 2070 (Max-Q). Perfect for gaming and of course, necessary to make sure the 4K UHD display optimally works to give you the best visuals possible.
Ports include USB 3.1, HDMI, miniDisplayPort, Type-C USB, SDXC Reader, and 3.5mm headphone slash mic combo jack. Since it has an HDMI, miniDisplayPort, and Type-C USB, you can actually add three more screens or monitors to your setup. That will seriously look cool!
The verdict? We love this laptop for programming AND gaming if you’re at it! It has a 32GB RAM (four times better than the recommended), a powerful Intel processor, a great 4K UHD display, and a massive amount of ports. This HP OMen 15 5VY11AV is surely hard to beat with its value.
Razer Blade Pro 17 Gaming Laptop 2020
Display: 17.3 inch FHD, 300Hz Refresh Rate
Processor: 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10875H, 5.1GHz Turbo Boost
RAM: 16GB DDR4 SDRAM
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q
Weight: 10.14 pounds / 4.59 kilograms
The Razer Blade Pro 17 Gaming Laptop 2020 is not just made for your Fortnite or The Witcher 3 games. It has heavy-duty specifications that will surely help you finish your coding project in no time.
First, the display. Its large 17.3-inch screen will help you look through your C++ or C# language lines easily. Couple that with a 300Hz refresh rate, and you’re good to go! The maximized screen size offers silky-smooth performance that will have you loving your laptop not just for coding but for entertainment as well.
It comes in 16GB of DDR4 SDRAM which is enough for web and software development. But, we do not recommend this for game development as you must go for the 32GB mark in this case.
Processor is powerful in the form of a 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10875H. It comes with a turbo boost of 5.1GHz, which is very strong in terms of performance. The CPU is actually a great contender in terms of power, especially when you’re going to multitask, use IDEs, and launch virtual machines, all at the same time.
Connectivity includes USB 3.2 Gen 2, RJ-45 Ethernet jack, UHS-III card readers, Wi-Fi, Thunderbolt 3, and Windows Hello. You will notice that the ports are not lacking in number so you can definitely go for multiple screens which will allow you to code better and faster.
Overall, if you’re going for web and software development, this is a good laptop to get. Plus, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q will definitely be useful for gaming. Couple that with the 300Hz refresh rate screen and you got both a programming and entertainment powerhouse.
16-Inch Apple MacBook Pro
Display: 16-Inch Retina Display, P3 Wide Color Gamut
Processor: 9th Gen Intel Core i9, 8 Cores
RAM: 16GB RAM
GPU: AMD Radeon Pro 5000M Graphics
Storage: 1TB SSD
Weight: 4.3 pounds / 2.0 kilograms
We did not place a lot of Mac products in this list, but it doesn’t mean this type of laptop isn’t suited for programming. The 16-Inch Apple MacBook Pro is a great option for those who want to use multiple operating systems because you can still run Windows and Linux on a macOS. On the other hand, it can be difficult to run macOS on a Windows laptop.
But, these are not the only advantages to the Apple MacBook Pro. It offers a stunning 16-inch retina display which is easy on the eyes. Plus, the keyboard is ergonomically-designed for extended periods of use.
In terms of power, this laptop is excellent as it has a 9th Gen Intel Core i9 processor that has eight cores. This means, it can process multiple tasks at one time making it a great option for coders. Plus, this is coupled with 16GB of RAM which is the minimum level you should go for with regards to memory.
You can even play games with this laptop as you will surely love the display. The graphics card is in the form of AMD Radeon Pro 5000M which is great for running power-intensive, top-tier games available today.
Storage is at 1TB SSD which is enough for working on massive coding projects. And, because Apple loves SSDs, you’re sure to take advantage of faster processing and loading times compared to a HDD.
Probably, the best thing I love about this 16-Inch Apple MacBook Pro is it comes with four Thunderbolt 3 ports. This is great for extending your screen on multiple monitors. And, it has a data transfer speed of up to 40GB per second which is ridiculously fast and can be helpful for coders who need to transfer files to different storage devices.
Another highlight of this laptop is its stylish design. This is not that important for coders, but if you’re into looking fashionable, then this may be a good fit.
Overall, Apple laptops, specifically this one, are great for cross-platform compatibility in coding. Plus, they provide you with retina displays and a performance that’s hard to beat. Most Apple fans love their laptops because it offers a solid performance which may be something you should consider.
Buyer’s Guide: How To Choose The Best Laptop For Programming
Not all programmers need the same hardware specifications for their laptops. That’s why we’ve made a comprehensive guide to help you choose the right laptop for your coding needs. Below are the factors you should check out. Hopefully, these will help you select the right specs for your requirements.
In terms of programming, you should opt for at least a Full HD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. This is due to the fact that you have to stare at your screen for long periods of time. A worse resolution would not be pleasing to the eyes and would be mediocre for serious programmers.
But, of course, you don’t have to pay for a touchscreen and even a 4K UHD resolution because the added cost wouldn’t be practical. Plus, these types of display drains the battery too quickly and can be a major overkill. Refresh rates (e.g., 144Hz and 300Hz) and response times don’t matter as well. That is, if you’re using the laptop solely for programming.
However, if you want your going to use the laptop for programming and entertainment purposes (watching Netflix and playing heavy-duty games), then refresh rates, response times, and screen resolution do matter.
A great option to look at would be an anti-glare display. If your laptop has this feature, it means the screen is non-reflective. And, you can easily see the display even under the sun. So, if you love to work outdoors, then this may be another feature you can look for in your laptop’s display.
Random Access Memory (RAM)
The RAM and the processor are the most important things you should consider when buying a laptop for programming. If you code intensively, we DO NOT recommend getting 4GB of RAM. The lowest mark you can go for is 8GB of RAM, and we’re serious about this. Web developers may go for the 4GB level, but we still recommend going for at least 8GB.
RAM is very important as you have to multitask and run virtual machines or integrated development environments (IDEs). These software can take up a lot of your laptop’s memory. So, if you can go for 16GB, that would be better.
So, let’s put this into perspective. Web developers should go for at least 8GB of RAM. Software developers that run IDEs, virtual machines, and emulators will need at least 16GB of RAM. While game developers will need at least 32GB of RAM because of heavy computing tasks required.
Other buying guides will recommend lower specifications. But, we want you to have the best coding experience possible (without the lags and hitches) that’s why we’re aiming for these numbers.
Processors, again, is a significant factor to take into account. If you’re coding, you will definitely handle massive projects and you’re constantly juggling among multiple screens (or monitors) and applications.
Thus, if you consider multitasking and the requirements you need for programming, then you will definitely need at least an Intel Core i7 or processors of the same specs and class. The AMD alternative is at least an AMD Ryzen 7.
At the end of the day, a faster processor means better performance, especially when compiling, debugging, and testing code. And, it helps if you’re working with millions of lines of code that’s seriously mind-boggling. .
Graphics Card (GPU)
A heavy-duty graphics card isn’t necessary if you’re not working on machine learning or game development. If you’re not one of these types of developers, then you should go for a decent graphics card with 2GB or 4GB of VRAM.
But this will change, of course, if you want to use your laptop for gaming and binge-watching. In these situations, you will need a dedicated graphics card with at least 4GB of VRAM. This will allow you to play graphics-intensive games such as Far Cry, The Witcher 3, etc.
Storage space is another important thing to consider. Of course, it’s better to get a solid-state drive (SSD) compared to a hard disk drive (HDD) because it’s significantly faster. The baseline would be a 512GB SSD. If you have more money, you can opt for at least 1TB SSD.
But, we do not recommend placing your bet solely on the SSD. Because, hardware does malfunction in certain situations. We still recommend that you save your files to a cloud storage service provider such as Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc. This is apart from saving it on your local SSD.
Yes, keyboard. This is another thing you should think about because you will be using it for hours on end. And, if they’re not comfortable, you’ll need to buy an external mechanical gaming keyboard just because you want the optimum working experience you can possibly get.
Backlit keyboards are useful if you love to work at night in dim environments. Of course, going for a mechanical keyboard is better than going for a standard one. We noticed that most laptops cannot give you the best experience possible in terms of typing. So, it’s still best to buy an external mechanical gaming keyboard that will give you the best conditions for typing and working.
Most programmers go for the Windows operating system because it is very popular and user-friendly. But, the macOS or Mac OS X also have their own advantages. For instance, Apple’s operating system allows cross-platform compatibility.
As stated previously, it is easy to run Windows and Linux in a macOS laptop. However, it is difficult, if not impossible, to run macOS on a Windows laptop. You will need a hacked version of the macOS for this to work.
UNIX and Linux are very important in programming as well, especially if you are seasoned coder. Macs run on a UNIX-based operating system that’s why they are more friendly for developers. However, in the end, we do recommend that you choose an operating system you’re comfortable with.
And finally, the battery life. This isn’t that important if you’re always near a power outlet. But, it can be useful if you’re always on-the-go. The manufacturer, of course, will advertise a battery life that lasts longer. But, you do not have to rely on these, because we use laptops in different ways and launch different applications or accessories. Still, we don’t think this is much of a problem unless you’re in a situation where a power outlet isn’t available.
Recap: The Best Laptops For Programming
1. MSI GS66 Stealth 10SGS-031 Enthusiast
2. 2020 ASUS ROG Strix G GL531GT-RS85
3. Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop A515-54-59W2
4. Acer Predator Helios 300 PH315-53-72XD
5. Dell Inspiron 17 3793
6. HP Omen 15 5VY11AV
7. Razer Blade Pro 17 Gaming Laptop 2020
8. 16-Inch Apple MacBook Pro
The top 8 laptops we’ve listed here are best for programmers who are serious about their career. We do recommend going for (at least) 16GB of RAM coupled with an Intel Core i7 processor or other comparable hardware.
The buying guide will surely be enough for you to gauge which actual laptop you need. Of course, it will depend if you are a web, software, or game developer. And, of course, the needs will change if you have to implement machine learning.
Overall, I suggest that you opt for the minimum specs PLUS add one degree of power (as I may call it). So, if you need 16GB of RAM, add 8GB or another 16GB more to avoid hitches and lags. This is because, you’ll never know what you may need to code, compile, test, and debug. And, you may need multiple screens and software while working.