If you’re looking for the best laptop for programming, a couple features are extremely important. Like, the best processors – you’ll need that extra horsepower to efficiently compile your code. And, while most modern laptops will feature plenty of cores, threads and high clock speeds, the best laptops for programming will put the silicon at center-stage.
You’ll also need some speedy RAM, and at least 8GB of it. You’ll also want to consider storage – you’re going to need one of the best hard drives – maybe even an SSD, as they’ll save you time when saving or opening files and apps.
The best graphics cards aren’t super important, though, unless you’re doing some gaming on the side. Modern Intel hardware comes with integrated graphics that are powerful enough for pretty much anything you can throw at it while programming.
Oh and don’t forget to make sure you have plenty of typing space with a keyboard and a screen that do not impede your coding inspiration. So, without further ado, here’s our list of the best laptops for programming in 2019.
1. Toshiba Portege Z30-C-138
The most balanced laptop for programmers
CPU: 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels | Storage: 512GB SSD
Up to 11 hours battery life
Doesn’t have the best input peripherals
Not much else wrong here
A dev’s dream coding laptop must have plenty of power and memory, a good battery life, an excellent keyboard and monitor plus the ability to handle multiple monitors and other peripherals. It must also have a reliable after sales support that can handle life’s unexpected events whether you’re in Paris or San Francisco.
In our view, the Toshiba Portege Z30-C-138 is the best laptop for programming, as it features a fast processor, a large SSD and hefty 16GB of RAM. Best of all, it also manages 11 hours of battery life, which is ideal if you’re looking for a laptop for programming and coding on the go. Toshiba has also managed to squeeze an extraordinary amount of components in this device including a VGA port, a fingerprint reader and even a 4G/LTE modem and A-GPS!
- This product is only available in the US at the time of this writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Surface Book 2
2. Lenovo ThinkPad E470
A brilliant portable laptop for programming
CPU: 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 pixels | Storage: 256GB SSD
Outstanding value for money
Discrete graphics card
No high capacity battery option
With the ThinkPad E470, Lenovo took an existing form factor and refined it. Now, powered by 7th-generation Intel Kaby Lake processors, this is one of the best laptops for programming. It also features a lovely 14-inch anti-glare display, powered by a discrete Nvidia GeForce 940MX GPU, a spill resistant keyboard and Lenovo’s signature TrackPoint. The Lenovo E460, then, tops all of this off with enough ports and expansion capabilities to keep the average user happy for years to come.
3. HP 255 G5
A great mid-range laptop for programming
CPU: AMD A6-7310 | Graphics: AMD Radeon R4 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, 1366 x 768 pixels | Storage: 1TB HDD
3 year Next business day onsite warranty
Very affordable price
The 255 G5 is HP’s entry-level business laptop and is a solid candidate should you be looking for a straightforward, reliable, laptop for programming at a bargain price. The RAM is a little on the low side, but that can be upgraded later on, and there’s no denying that this is an excellent laptop for coding on. If you want a similar programming laptop with an Intel processor, rather than AMD, then the HP 250 G5 is worth looking into. There are various configurations of both the HP 255 G5 and the HP 250 G5, so it’s worth shopping around and finding one with the right components for your needs.
- This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Lenovo ThinkPad E470
3. 13-inch MacBook Air (2018)
Thinner, lighter, more productive
CPU: Dual-core Intel Core i5 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 617 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 Retina display (backlit LED, IPS) | Storage: 128GB – 1.5TB PCIe 3.0 SSD | Dimensions: 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.61 inches (30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56cm; W x D x H)
Small, lighter design
Beautiful Retina display
A bit underpowered
We’ve been waiting years for a new MacBook Air, and it’s finally here. Now thinner, lighter and with a Retina display for the first time, it’s easily the best MacBook Air we’ve ever used. Thanks to improved hardware for better performance (including 8th-generation processors, more RAM and faster SSDs) and an affordable price, the 2018 MacBook Air is a brilliant laptop for programming on. It keeps that same light and slim design which means it’s easy to sling into a bag and carry around with you, but it also has enough oopmh to make programming on it a joy. The improved screen and higher resolution makes it far more comfortable to work on as well.
5. MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid-2018)
The most powerful MacBook ever made
CPU: 6-core Intel Core i7 – i9 | Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 540X – 560X, Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: 16 – 32GB | Screen: 15.4-inch, 2,880 x 1,800 Retina display | Storage: 512GB – 4TB SSD
Powerful 6-core processor
Plenty of memory
When you’re looking for the best laptop for programming, especially if you’re developing software for macOS, you’re eventually going to find yourself looking at the MacBook Pro. And, the new MacBook Pro, with its hexa-core processor and heaps of RAM, is the most powerful MacBook that the Cupertino tech behemoth has ever birthed. No matter how extraneous your workload is, no matter what you’re trying to develop, you’re going to be able to get it done on the new 15-inch MacBook Pro, and we’d recommend it to any software developer – as long as they had the budget for it.
6. Microsoft Surface Pro 6
The best Windows tablet, but better
CPU: 5th-Generation Intel Core i5-i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8-16GB | Screen: 12.3-inch, 2,736 x 1,824 PixelSense display | Storage: 128GB-1TB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.1 | Camera: 8MP rear-facing, 5MP front-facing | Weight: 1.73 pounds | Size: 11.5 x 7.93 x 0.33 inches (W x D x H)
Sometimes you just have to work on the go, and in those situations, you’ll be thankful for the Microsoft Surface Pro 6. With its quad-core processors and plentitude of RAM, you’ll be able to compile code quickly and efficiently, even when you’re on the move. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to pay extra for the Type Cover – you’re not going to want to get any coding done on a touch screen, trust us.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro 6
7. Google Pixelbook
The best Chromebook for Programming
CPU: 7th-generation Intel Core i5-i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 615 | RAM: 8-16GB | Screen: 12.3″ LCD 2400×1600 (235 ppi) | Storage: 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB SSD
Chrome OS not as refined as other operating systems
Sure, it’s a Chromebook, and while that may put some people off, the Google Pixelbook is powerful (and beautiful) enough to hang with the Surfaces and MacBooks of the world. Now, while ChromeOS is admittedly not as good a place to program as Windows or macOS, the Pixelbook’s support of Android makes it a must-own laptop for any Android developer. The fact that this laptop succeeds the now discontinued Google Chromebook Pixel, which was designed by and for Google’s own developers, should give it some street cred in the eyes of coders.
Read the full review: Google Pixelbook
- This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Surface Pro.
8. Asus Chromebook Flip
A premium but affordable Chromebook
CPU: Intel Pentium 4405Y – Intel Core m3-6Y30 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 12.5-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) LED backlit anti-glare | Storage: 32GB – 64GB eMMC
Elegant tablet mode
ChromeOS isn’t as developed as Windows or macOS
While it doesn’t run Windows or macOS, the Asus Chromebook Flip is powered by Chrome OS, a super lightweight operating system based on the Chrome web browser. The Chromebook Flip is one of the best Chromebooks out there, solely because it offers a premium build, a great touchscreen and reasonably powerful components for the price. And, while Chrome OS doesn’t feature many robust programming tools, the Asus Chromebook Flip is one of the best laptops for programming if you’re deep into web development.
Read the full review: Asus Chromebook Flip C302
9. Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch)
The most powerful 2-in-1 laptop in the world
CPU: Intel Core i5-7300U – Intel Core i7-8650U 1.9GHz | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620; Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 (2GB GDDR5 VRAM) | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 3,000 x 2,000 (267 ppi) PixelSense display, 3:2 aspect ratio | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
Very good battery life
No Surface Pen included
The Surface Book 2 is an excellent choice for any coders out there, as Microsoft has crafted one of the most powerful 2-in-1 laptops on the planet. The Surface Book 2 has components powerful enough to handle pretty much everything you could throw at it – including some light gaming in your down time. If you’re looking for a larger display,there’s a 15-inch model, which also features beefier components – albeit at a higher price tag.
Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch)
10. Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2018)
Thin, light and extremely fast
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 | Screen: 13.3-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 pixels | Storage: 128GB – 2TB SSD
Great battery life
Tons of power
Non-touch bar model wasn’t updated
If you need a macOS device that’s fast, but still light enough to carry around with you wherever you go, you’re going to love the MacBook Pro 13-inch. This isn’t just one of the best laptops for programmers, this is one of the best Macs that we’ve ever used. If you need to code on the go, the quad-core processors and up to 16GB of RAM mean you’ll work fast, while the thin and light design means you won’t be held back. We can’t recommend it enough.
Read the full review: MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2018)
Check out our laptop buying guide video below.
- Here’s our list of the best laptop: Our pick of the 15 best laptops you can buy this year