Priorities for programmers can vary. For instance, you might want a large-screen laptop to work with multiple documents/files in parallel. Or, you might desire excellent battery backup to have your back in coding marathons.
5 Best Laptop for Programming 2023 to Experience High-Speed Coding and Development
Various brands now have satisfying offerings for programmers, including Razer, Acer, ASUS, and, of course, Apple. Let’s be honest: you will shell out a minimum of $1,500 for a decent coding-friendly laptop, more for game development.
But prices have become affordable for the features offered, from high-res displays to terrific sound and intelligent cameras for collaborative work. We have collected some of the best choices for programmers to browse for the perfect fit.
Good old MacBook
Who can deny the easy, inimitable performance that comes with a Mac? Laptops like a 2023 MacBook Pro (around $2,100) are perfect for programmers in multiple aspects – including speed and security. This Mac runs on an M2 Pro chip, 16GB RAM, and a 1TB SSD. It even has a gorgeous XDR display with over 1000 nits of brightness (1600 nits peak).
The latest MacBook Pro lasts unplugged for a brilliantly long 22 hours, so coders feel free to take their code anywhere. Plus, it is thoroughly connected – as many as three Thunderbolt 4 ports, a card reader, and an HDMI.
The Magic keyboard can take a little while to wrap your head around, but it is a great way to boost your productivity and security with a Touch ID. MacBooks show smooth compatibility with other Apple devices to give you a seamless work experience (not that we recommend taking your work home, but it is what it is!).
Razer Blade for ultra-rich performance
The Razer Blade lineup has become popular with programmers for its performance focus and unique heat management (vapor chamber). The Razer Blade 16, for instance, will cost you approximately $2,700. But it packs up a lot of substance to give you a rich working environment: an Intel Core i9 CPU, RTX 4060 graphics, and 16GB RAM. The QHD+ monitor, with a 240Hz refresh rate, makes the deal that much sweeter.
Razer endeavors to keep things portable; it works well for modern hybrid work environments. You can travel with these lightweight and compact laptops. The 16″ version, for example, resembles the chassis of a 15″ model.
Razer is also a great brand to consider if your work involves audio. THX Spatial Audio and advanced 7.1 surround sound unite to elevate things in that department.
ASUS ROG Strix for affordable coding laptops
Programming machines can be steep, but companies like ASUS persevere to keep prices down. The ASUS ROG Strix G16 is an option worth considering, for it comes with an Intel Core i7 processor, RTX 4060 graphics, and 16GB RAM. A MUX Switch gives you a performance boost of up to 10% when your code can use it. ASUS uses liquid metal cooling supported by an additional intake fan to keep things cool as you run complex applications. And all this will cost you just over $1,300.
It doesn’t hurt that this laptop also provides Dolby Vision, Pantone validation, and a 90% screen-to-body ratio. The full-size keyboard has a comfortable key-travel distance (1.9mm), ensuring your fingers don’t experience cramping as you code away to glory. It also has consistent Wi-Fi 6E connectivity, which is critical for web developers.
Acer laptops for programming: Predator & Swift
Another family you should explore when scouting for the perfect tech laptop is Acer. It has inexpensive offerings that provide keen performance and crystal-clear displays with clever features for security and connectivity.
The Acer Predator Helios 16 is an excellent choice driven by an Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB RAM, and RTX 4060 graphics. For less than $1,700, you get the goodness of a 165Hz refresh rate with G-SYNC and NVIDIA Advanced Optimus. The latter lets you switch between integrated and discrete graphics without a reboot. So, you can choose to conserve battery when you are neck deep in work and let things go full steam ahead when unwinding with a movie after work. (It is so light – just 3.42 lbs – that traveling between roles and places isn’t challenging.)
Acer excels at delivering customization to the user through options like PredatorSense. It also prioritizes connectivity – Thunderbolt 4, Killer Wi-Fi, you name it.
The Acer Swift X 14 is another worthwhile pick for programmers. It boasts a bright OLED display and 100% DCI-P3 color. It runs on an Intel i7 processor and RTX 4050 graphics. Acer facilitates your work life with contemporary features like automatic framing and gaze correction for video calls. The reduced blue light emissions ensure your eyes don’t get the brunt of code that didn’t compile right.
What should you look for in a programming laptop?
Performance is the undisputed leader here. You want a machine with at least an Intel Core i5 processor, 16GB RAM, and adequate storage space, preferably a 512GB SSD or more. An AMD equivalent, like AMD Ryzen 5000, is also a good choice.
A high-res screen is essential to see more code at a time; FHD is a wise option as some coders find 4K makes text harder to read. We recommend a matte screen instead of a reflective display to limit distraction. Some languages demand greater visual accuracy – for instance, HTML or CSS – so you should pick accordingly.
Many programmers prefer a full-size keyboard and hassle-free internet connectivity (Wi-Fi 6E). You might want to consider a keyboard with a dedicated numerical pad. Odd layouts where the Function and Control keys get positioned abruptly can get confusing.
Depending on your specific area of programming, you should also look for sound and picture clarity. For instance, game developers will need a fast refresh rate of over 144Hz and accurate color.
Is a gaming laptop good for programmers?
Gaming machines have many overlapping features with workstations intended for programmers. For instance, both focus on performance and have speedy processors (Intel Core i5 and above). They will likely have decent keyboards with a comfortable key-travel distance and shortcut keys. You will find consistent internet connectivity and plenty of ports in gaming machines. We daresay they double up as reasonable options for programmers. It is even more essential if you plan on developing games or interactive media content.
Gaming laptops can also work better if you work on environments like Unreal Engine or Unity. These applications usually need specific graphical requirements.
Is a Mac or a Windows laptop better for programmers?
Well, here’s the deal: many coders prefer a MacBook for its performance and security. Since macOS is on Unix, these laptops are harder to exploit and pose a far lower security risk. Plus, Apple includes additional security features to keep you and your programs safe. Another reason behind their popularity is the lower incidence of crashes and glitches. The operating system is user-friendly and easy to understand.
Windows machines are also popular (and usually less expensive) picks for coding. We recommend prioritizing security and connectivity while exploring these options. Note that you will need a Mac for specific situations like developing Xcode for an iPhone.
How much RAM do you need for coding?
Writing code does not require too much RAM – around 4GB is enough. However, compiling and running code will need more memory. Running virtual machines and IDEs (Integrated Development Environments) will need at least 8GB of RAM, although 16GB gets preferred for game developers. You will not need 32GB of RAM unless your workload is immense.