In this list of 11 best laptops for programming of 2021, we have included mid-range as well as range-topping models that are well-suited for different types of programming requirements of professionals as well as students. The list starts with high-performing, range-topping laptops and then gradually moves to mid-range, affordable models for lightweight programming requirements.
There is a common misconception that in order to code, learn or work on programming, it’s a must to have a high-powered, range-topping computer. This is only partially true as the realm of programming is very broad and computer specification requirement often varies from one programmer or developer to another. It goes without saying that one of the biggest factors that determine computer hardware requirements for programming is the type of development environment one uses or prefers to use.
For example, if you, as a professional developer or a software development student, use a text editor such as Emacs, Vim, Sublime Text, and Visual Studio Code for programming, a mobile series processor will work fine for you as they are neither under power nor overpowered for this type of task. On the other hand, if you rely on a full feature IDE for programming, such as Microsoft Visual Studio, PhpStorm, IntelliJ IDEA, the H series core i5 or i7 CPU are the right choice. To put things into the context of choosing the best laptop for programming/coding, the best approach to take is to first assess your programming requirements and then explore your options.
Minimum requirement for best laptops for programming in 2021
But before checking out the list, we recommend going through the minimum hardware requirement spec sheet which we have listed below.
- CPU – core i5 CPU is the minimum CPU requirement for lightweight programming. Core i7 CPU is highly suited for high-level development environments.
- RAM – 8 GB DDR4 RAM is the bare minimum requirement. 16 GB DDR4 RAM works great for supporting intensive multitasking.
- GPU – most programming requirements don’t involve intensive GPU usage. An integrated graphics chipset works well for mid-level coding. Having a dedicated GPU can be of extra advantage.
- Storage – 512 GB SSD storage space will help to store all your scripts, compiler tools, IDE setups, text editors, etc while ensuring faster loading speeds. 500 GB or 1 TB HDD storage space comes as an added advantage.
- Connectivity options – external connectivity options through ports such as Thunderbolt 3, USB Type A, USB Type C, HDMI, mini display port, and SD card reader help open customization options.
Review of 11 best laptop for programming of 2021
Dell XPS 15 – best laptop for programming
If you want the best of everything in the laptop you want to use for programming, you cannot go wrong with Dell XPS 15. By scoring high points in all important areas, including core performance, RAM management, storage, connectivity options, and overall look and feel, Dell XPS 15 doesn’t fail to make a strong stand among some of the best laptops for programming of 2021.
the best of everything
This model uses an 8th generation Intel i7 9 core processor which pushes the boundaries of multithreaded performance. This multithreaded architecture of the CPU comes the most helpful for programmers and web developers when concurrently executing two or more parts of a program, especially when working on AI-based programming. Together with 16 GB DDR4 RAM and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050Ti GPU, the CPU helps you blaze through even the most intensive programming-related tasks such as running virtual machines and tests along with using a full feature IDE.
With the 512 GB SSD storage space of Dell XPS 15, you can store and quickly access your program files, scripts, virtual machines, and IDE software that you frequently access. Apart from being a reliable workhorse, this laptop makes sure that you get the most out of entertainment as well, courtesy of its 15.6 inches 4K touchscreen display. The thin bezels design of the display perfectly complements the overall sleek design language of this model.
Dell XPS 15 also offers immense value to programmers and software engineers with good porting options including one Thunderbolt 3 port, two USB Type A ports, one HDMI port, one SD card reader, and one headphone/mic jack.
- High-end performance
- Premium look and feel
- Can run a bit hot at times
GIGABYTE AERO 15 – a fine balance of work and play
There are few laptops in the premium-range category that can effortlessly strike a fine balance between work and play with no performance compromises, and the Gigabyte AERO 15 is one of them. Although primarily designed to be a gaming laptop, Gigabyte AERO 15 fits the bill as one of the best laptops for coding with its high-end hardware configuration.
Gigabyte AERO 15 comes with a 9th generation Intel i7 6 core processor which helps developers and programming students effortlessly complete intensive tasks such as running virtual machines and writing in a compiled language with its 2.6 GHz of base operating power. With Turbo Boost, the CPU is capable of cranking up to 4.5 GHz of peak power. If you are a software development professional or student who prefers to simultaneously use multiple tools or open multiple programs, 16 GB DDR4 RAM of this laptop will back you through and through for all your multitasking requirements. This laptop also holds its own in the graphics department with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660Ti Which has a dedicated 6 GB DDR6 memory.
There is no doubt that Gigabyte AERO 15 has one of the best-looking displays. It’s 15.6 inch display boasts of Samsung UHD AMOLED panel which helps you get the best of the high-quality viewing experience. Unlike many premium-range laptops, this model comes with a full-sized backlit keyboard that eases typing experience.
Despite its relatively sleek body, it packs a robot suite of ports, including one Thunderbolt 3 port, three USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type A ports, one USB 3.1 Type C port, one ethernet port, one HDMI port, one SD card reader, and headphone/mic jack.
- Powerful CPU performance
- High-quality build
- Not the best battery backup
New MacBook Pro 16 inch – best macbook for programming
performance that’s on a league of its own
The core computing power of this new MacBook Pro 16 inch lies in its 8th generation Intel i9 6 core processor. The 2.6 GHz of the base operating power and 4.5 GHz of the overclocking power of the CPU helps you complete all your programming tasks without breaking a sweat. The high memory bandwidth of the laptop’s 16 GB DDR4 RAM is seamlessly fused with the computing power of the CPU to help you enjoy high-powered computing experience even during the most intensive multitasking sessions. Graphics processing management in this laptop is on a league of its own; for lightweight graphics processing requirements, an Intel UHD Graphics 630 chipset is used while the dedicated AMD Radeon Pro 5500M GPU handles intensive graphics processing duties.
This core i9 MacBook Pro 16 inch variant comes with a whopping 1 TB SSD storage with which you don’t face any issue storing and quickly accessing all your programming/coding essentials.
This new MacBook Pro 16 inch gives a strong competition to other premium-range laptop is in the display department as well. Its ultra HD retina display works wonders in providing an immersive viewing experience. In terms of external connectivity options four Thunderbolt 3 ports and a headphone/mic jack are available.
- Best-in-class performance
- Premium look and feel
- Not the best connectivity options
MSI GS66 Stealth – Windows alternative to MacBooks
Many programmers and web developers, both students, and professionals, prefer the accessibility that Windows OS offers over MacOS. If you want that flexibility but still prefer MacBook-like aesthetics and build quality, one of the best Windows laptops for programming and software development to choose is the MSI GS66 Stealth. Although primarily marketed as a gaming laptop, this model doesn’t typically look like one, and this part might have to do with the versatile performance that it can deliver.
Under the sleek chassis of MSI GS66 Stealth is a 10th generation Intel i9 8 core CPU that delivers 2.6 GHz of base power and 5.0 GHz of overclocking power. The whooping 32 GB DDR4 RAM of this laptop helps you cut through intensive multitasking sessions without facing any lag in performance. In the graphics processing department, this model makes use of NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Super Max-Q GPU that has a dedicated 8 GB DDR6 memory. Booting and file loading speed of this model is on par with other premium-range laptops, thanks to its 512 GB SSD storage.
MSI GS66 Stealth also excels in the design department with its sleek and minimalist yet sophisticated aesthetics. The backlit keyboard of this laptop has an ergonomic layout for ease of typing when working on scripts.
Porting options in this model include one Thunderbolt 3 port, two USB 3.2 type A ports, one USB 3.2 type C port, one ethernet port, one HDMI port, and one headphone/mic jack.
- Good CPU, RAM, and GPU performance
- Good thermal management
- Not the best battery backup
Razer Blade 15 – more is more
Razer Blade 15 undoubtedly comes as a strong contender in the sleek footprint and high-performance territory. Although this laptop has gained strong traction in the gaming community with its ultra-high-performance, it doesn’t fail to fit the bill as one of the best developers’ laptops as well. The high-end hardware configuration that’s packed in a sleek chassis makes this laptop a take-anywhere powerhouse, especially for programming students who have to attend several classes during the day.
Razer Blade 15 equips a 10th generation Intel i7 8 core processor that sets the bar high in the overclocking performance department with its capability to deliver 5.1 GHz of peak power. Also, the superior multithreaded performance of the laptop’s CPU makes it highly suitable for AI-based programming requirements. 16 GB DDR4 RAM is paired with the CPU to ensure fast and lag-free multitasking. Further contributing to the fast core computing and multitasking speeds is the laptop’s 512 GB SSD storage with superior read and write capabilities. The cooling system of this laptop that boasts of a vacuum-sealed liquid-filled cooling chamber works wonders in cooling the CPU and GPU in order to maintain performance consistency.
Razer Blade 15’s 15.6 inch thin bezels full HD display offers stunning viewing angles. The 300 Hz refresh rate of the display works wonders in offering an immersive viewing experience. Also, Razer Blade 15 is one of the few Windows laptops to offer a wide trackpad with multi-gesture support. For upgradability, this laptop includes an extra RAM and SSD slot. One Thunderbolt 3 port, one USB 3 Type C port, three USB 3.2 ports, one HDMI port, one SD card reader, and one headphone/mic jack provide external connectivity options on this laptop.
- Top-of-the-line performance
- Premium build quality
- Not the best battery backup
Lenovo ThinkPad P53s – a desktop in disguise
When it comes to offering desktop-class performance, accessibility, upgradability, and usability in a mobile workstation environment, very few laptops can actually pull off, and there’s no doubt that Lenovo ThinkPad P53s is one of them. Just like other ThinkPad models, this laptop comes with a power-packed performance that’s further complemented by unmatched accessibility.
Lenovo ThinkPad P53s comes as one of the best laptops for developers, programmers, and software engineers who prioritize power efficiency along with performance. The 8th generation Intel i7 4 core CPU of this laptop is based on a low voltage platform which helps ensure efficient power usage even when delivering the most intensive computing performance. The CPU has been calibrated to run at 1.80 GHz and overclock up to 4.60 GHz of computing power. A 16 GB DDR4 RAM powers you for all your coding and entertainment-related multitasking sprees. Apart from offering plentiful storage space, the 512GBSSD storage of this laptop works wonders in complementing the CPU and RAM’s speed.
The 15.6 inch thin bezels display of Lenovo ThinkPad P53s has a full HD resolution and offers clear and colour accurate visuals. Accessibility in this laptop is hands down one of the best, thanks to its combo of the classic ThinkPad keyboard and three button trackpad. This model also gives a tough competition to some of the premium laptops in the external connectivity department with plenty of options. One Thunderbolt 3 port, one USB 3 Type C port, two USB 3.1 Type A ports, one HDMI port, one ethernet port, one microSD card reader, and one headphone/mic jack provide connectivity options.
- Desktop-like performance
- Sturdy design and build
- Trackpad has a relatively compact design
2020 HP Pavilion 15.6 inch – light on price, heavy on performance
2020 HP Pavilion 15.6 inch marks the transition of this list from high-performance and premium price range segment to mid-range and affordable models. From powerful and reliable performance to lightweight chassis design, this model checks all the boxes for being one of the best laptops for computer science students. Software development professionals too can rely on this laptop for mid-level programming requirements.
Powering 2020 HP Pavilion 15.6 inch is a 10th generation Intel i5 4 core CPU that runs at a base frequency of 1.0 GHz. With Intel Turbo Boost Technology, the CPU is able to crank up to 3.6 GHz of overclocking computing power. The 8 GB DDR4 RAM this laptop suffices for meeting all your multitasking requirements. With an extra RAM slot available, you can upgrade the laptop’s RAM capacity to up to 16 GB should you need more memory bandwidth for your changing requirements. Despite its affordable price point, this laptop packs 512 GB SSD storage space which can be upgraded to up to 1TB through the extra available slot. Graphics processing, this laptop packs an integrated Intel UHD graphics chipset.
The 15.6 inch display of 2020 HP Pavilion 15.6 inch has a full HD resolution. The touch screen feature of the display, combined with a full-sized chiclet keyboard and ergonomic trackpad, improves the usability factor of this laptop. For external connectivity, this model comes with one USB 3.1 Type C port, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, one HDMI port, one SD card reader, and one headphone/mic jack.
- Good and reliable overall performance
- Good upgrading options
- Not the best graphics processing performance
2020 ASUS VivoBook 15 – Cheapest Under 500
Coming as a more affordable option in this list is 2020 ASUS VivoBook 15. As one of the best laptops for software development students and professional programmers in terms of affordability, this laptop holds its own in terms of reliable performance and usability. It is perfectly well-suited for mid-level programming requirements such as using text editors and running lightweight IDEs.
affordability has a new name
2020 ASUS VivoBook 15 gets its computing power from AMD Ryzen 3 3200U 2 core processor that runs at a base frequency of 2.6 GHz and can overclock up to 3.5 GHz. The CPU is paired with AMD Radeon Vega 3 integrated GPU. Providing adequate bandwidth for multitasking requirements is the laptop’s 8 GB DDR4 RAM which works well in complementing the overall performance of the CPU. This model also breaks the convention in the affordable price segment by including 128 GB of SSD storage space that you can use to store your work essentials.
Apart from overall performance and storage, 2020 ASUS VivoBook 15 also offers good value to programmers and web developers with good accessibility. Unlike most affordable laptops, this model comes with a full-sized backlit keyboard.
Together with the 15.6 inch full HD thin bezels display and super responsive trackpad, the keyboard helps you get your coding work done with the utmost ease. External connectivity options in this laptop include one USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type C port, two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type A port, one HDMI port, one SD card reader, and one headphone/mic jack.
- Good overall performance
- Lightweight chassis
- Entry-level graphics chipset
Acer Aspire 5 Slim – Best budget laptop for programming
Acer, over the years, has perfected the art of packing powerful hardware configuration at an affordable price point. This can be seen in many of their models, one of the best examples being the Acer Aspire 5. Compared to the 2020 ASUS VivoBook 15, this model features a tad bit of bump in price. But that’s totally justified with the powerful hardware configuration it comes with.
power bundled with affordability
Despite its affordable price point, Acer Aspire 5 packs a 10th generation Intel i5 4 core CPU. The 1.6 GHz of base computing power and 4.2 GHz of overclocking power of the CPU positions this model among some of the best laptops for web development, software development, mobile app development, and other types of programming subdomains. The 256 GB SSD storage works wonders in adding more oomph to the overall performance of the CPU. The 8 GB DDR4 RAM of this laptop make sure that you don’t face any lag when simultaneously running different programs and opening several files. Graphics processing performance, this laptop uses Intel UHD Graphics 620 integrated chipset.
Getting all your work done in this laptop is just as easy as in any other premium model, thanks to its 15.6 inch full HD display that has superior color accuracy. Also, the thin bezel design of the display opens up a large viewing real estate. The super-responsive trackpad, in conjunction with the full-sized keyboard, improves accessibility for easing your work experience. One USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type C port, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type A ports, one USB 2.0 port, one HDMI port, one ethernet port, and one headphone/mic jack provide external connectivity options in this laptop.
- Good CPU performance
- Sleek and lightweight chassis
- Can run a bit noisy under heavy loads
Dell Latitude 7390 13.3 inch – a nod to scalable performance
Among several laptop line-ups from Dell, the Latitude series is undoubtedly one of the most work-focused line-ups. One of the most powerful yet budget offerings in this lineup is the Dell Latitude 7390 laptop that packs a powerful hardware configuration in a 13.3-inch footprint. , By covering all the important areas, such as performance, design, and robust connectivity options, this model gives even some of the best laptops for software engineers and programming students a run for the money.
Dell Latitude 7390 gets 1.7 GHz of base computing power from an 8th generation Intel i5 4 core processor. For intensive computing, the CPU can crank up to 3.0 GHz of overclocking power. An 8 GB DDR4 RAM is paired with the CPU to power you through all your programming-related multitasking requirements. If you want a higher RAM performance, you can easily upgrade the laptop up to 16 GB RAM through an extra slot available. An Intel HD Graphics 620 integrated chipset handles mid-level graphics processing duties on this laptop. Although not one of the best graphics chipset, it certainly suffices for most types of programming-related work requirements. The 512 GB SSD storage space of this laptop helps ensure that you don’t go short on storing all your work essentials within quick reach.
The 13.3 inch full HD display of Dell Latitude 7390 allows easy accessibility with super-responsive touch. Also, the anti-glare feature of the display helps you steer clear from eye fatigue when working for long hours on end. Despite being a mid-range model, Dell Latitude 7390 gives a tough competition to premium laptops in the external connectivity department. The myriad connectivity options include one USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type C port, two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, one HDMI port, one ethernet port, one smartcard reader, one microSD card reader, a micro sim tray, one mini display port, and one headphone/mic jack.
- Good CPU power
- Great external connectivity options
- Bulky chassis
2019 Lenovo L340-17 – a powerful budget choice
ThinkPads aren’t the only laptops from Lenovo that are capable of being a reliable workhorse. Other affordable models, including 2019 Lenovo L340, also keep up to the brand’s standard of computing performance that’s backed by consistency and reliability. This model certainly deserves a spot among some of the best Lenovo laptops for programming in the budget category.
2019 Lenovo L340 employs AMD Ryzen 5 3500U CPU which helps you work on programming using an IDE or run text editors with its 2.1 GHz of base computing power. With Max Boost, the CPU can overclock up to 3.70 GHz of overclocking power. The availability of 16 GBDDR4 RAM helps this model make its own stand in the affordable laptop price segment. And out of what you would least expect from a budget laptop, this model packs 1 TB HDD storage that opens up large storage space. Unlike many laptop models that have been recently launched, this model also includes a DVD drive which ensures a high level of versatility.
In the display department, you get to enjoy a large viewing real estate, thanks to 2019 Lenovo L340’s 17.3 inch HD display. Despite the inclusion of a DVD drive, Lenovo has managed to pack a good number of ports on this laptop for superior external connectivity options. The connectivity options include one ethernet port, one HDMI port, two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 3.0 Type C port, and one headphone/mic jack.
- Good overall performance
- Inclusion of a DVD drive
- Weight is on the heavier side
Common FAQs about best laptop for programming
1) Do I need a powerful laptop for programming?
Not necessarily. As a programming student or a professional, if you use text editors for programming, a budget laptop with a mid-range hardware configuration, such as core i5 CPU, 8 GB DDR4 RAM, and 128 GB SSD, will help you get the job done. On the other hand, if you work on intensive, high-level programming tasks such as running tests and virtual machines or writing in a compiled language, a powerful laptop with a core i7 CPU, 16 GB DDR4 RAM, dedicated GPU, and 512 GB SSD will be the right choice for you.
2) What makes a laptop good for programming?
Compared to desktops, portability is one of the main factors that makes laptops good for professional programmers, software engineers, and programming students. Unlike a desktop, you are not confined to one space when using a laptop for programming. CPU performance also highly matters for programming. While mobile series laptop processors suffice for lightweight programming tasks such as using text editors, intensive programming requirements such as running a full feature IDE and working on while the languages require a higher processing power which the H series Intel CPUs can deliver.
3) Is high graphics performance necessary for programming?
No. High graphics processing performance is only required if you run/work on virtual machines. It is the raw processing power that matters the most when it comes to choosing a laptop for programming. For lightweight to mid-level programming requirements, integrated GPU chipset suffices for the job. Having a dedicated GPU comes as an extra advantage.
Apart from choosing the right laptop, the way you use it also significantly determines whether or not you can make the most out of its hardware configuration and overall performance. Whether you choose a range-topping model or go for a budget choice, there is always room for scalability and performance improvements. From updating drivers, upgrading RAM and storage, to using additional external devices, the customization options are endless.