Our ultimate pick of the best laptops for programming money can buy.
If you spend a lot of time coding, you need one of the best laptops for programming. To help, we’ve picked a top selection of fantastic laptops that you’ll be comfortable coding on – whether it’s for work, study or a hobby.
The best laptop for programming doesn’t have to be all about raw power, but it does need to be able to keep up with your demands. If you’re quickly compiling code, you will want a machine with a decent modern processor and enough RAM to see you through
A laptop with a graphics card will be worthwhile if you are programming games because you’ll be able to trial your game while you’re working on it. And having a larger screen may also make coding more comfortable as you can see more of your work at once, without the need to scroll.
Best Laptops For programming are:
A renewed laptop for programming
CPU: Apple M1 (8-core) | Graphics: Integrated 7-core GPU | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, 2,560 x 1,600 Retina True Tone display (backlit LED, IPS) | Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
+Silent when in use
-Same design as previous model
About This Laptop
After a much-needed upgrade, Apple’s Macbook Air (M1 2020) features several great updates that make it one of the best programming laptops.
Despite the superior performance of the 13-inch MacBook Pro (also on this list), the thinner and lighter MacBook Air (which is more affordable) now comes with the same Apple M1 chip as the Pro – and it’s no slouch when it comes to programming.
And the new MacBook Air offers the same performance boost and battery life as the previous model at the same price!
Powerful M1 chips speed up code compiling, which can affect your workflow to a great extent. Apple’s new MacBook Air is also incredibly portable, thanks to a seriously lightweight design that makes it easy to carry around – perfect for programmers who travel often.
As a result of its strength and efficiency, the M1 chip also allows for impressive battery life for the new MacBook Air.
The best laptop for programming overall
CPU: 10th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti | RAM: 8GB – 64GB | Screen: 15.6″ FHD+ (1920 x 1200) IPS – UHD+ (3840 x 2400) | Storage: 256GB – 1TB SSD
- Fast performance
- Eye-catching design
- GTX 1650 Ti is a little weak1
- The 5-inch screen might be too large
About This Laptop
The Dell XPS 15 (2020) is in our view the best laptop for programming right now. As with previous XPS laptops, this 15-inch beauty combines a stunning design, excellent build quality and some of the most powerful mobile components you’ll find in a laptop.
It’s thin and light, which not only means this looks and feels like a premium laptop for programming on, but it’s also comfortable to carry around with you as well. Its high-resolution 15.6-inch display is great for working on, and with high-end processors (and even graphics cards in some configurations), the Dell XPS 15 can compile code incredibly fast – making it ideal for programmers. Plus, if you go for a model with a GPU by Nvidia, you can test out your games while coding them.
Perhaps best of all, its battery life is excellent, which means you don’t have to be tethered to a desk if you want to use this powerful laptop.
A brilliantly powerful laptop for programming on
CPU: Apple M1 chip with 8‑core CPU | Graphics: Integrated 8-core GPU | RAM: 8GB – 16GB unified memory | Screen: 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 LED-backlit Retina display | Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD | Dimensions (H x W x D): 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56 cm
- Huge battery life
- Great performance
- Can run iOS apps
- Still lacks ports
About This Laptop
The latest Apple Macbook Pro 13″ (M1 2020) from Apple is a brilliant laptop for programming on. It features Apple’s own M1 chip, like the new MacBook Air, and this allows it to run apps with ease, and compile code quickly.
It’ll run your programming tools without any issues, and it comes with the Touch Bar across the top of the keyboard, giving you quick access to tools and shortcuts, and can dramatically speed up your workflow.
Perhaps best of all, it comes with an improved keyboard that’s not just more reliable than the previous model’s keyboard, but is also much more comfortable to work on.
The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) also boasts the longest battery life ever seen in a MacBook. We’ve tested it ourselves and it’s seriously impressive, allowing you to work all day and still have battery life left.
Windows programming on Microsoft’s own hardware
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 / AMD Ryzen 5 / AMD Ryzen 7 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics / AMD Radeon Vega 9 / AMD Radeon RX Vega 11 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.5-inch PixelSense (2,256 x 1,504) / 15-inch PixelSense (2,496 x 1,664) | Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB SSD
- Excellent battery life
- Choice of Intel or AMD CPU
- No Thunderbolt 3 option
- Too few ports for its size
About This Laptop
If you’re a programmer working on Windows 10 apps in particular, then the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 could be the best laptop for you. As it’s made by Microsoft, this is a brilliant showcase for Windows 10, so you can be sure your Windows apps run perfectly on the operating system.
Of course, as a Windows 10 device, it can also run any tool or application you rely on to program.
While Microsoft is best known as a software company, it’s been making some great hardware recently as well, and the Surface Laptop 3 is a great example of this, with a stylish design, a solid aluminium shell and a very comfortable keyboard. The newest version comes in matte black and offers fairly meaty specifications, with a Core i7, up to 16GB of memory, 1TB SSD storage and a high-resolution 13.5-inch screen that works with Microsoft’s Surface Pen stylus.
There are a lot of other variants, too, meaning you can get the power that you want. It isn’t as cheap as some options out there but you do get a superb laptop.
An excellent Android development platform capable of running full-fat Linux
CPU: Intel Core m3 – Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 615 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) or 4K LCD touchscreen | Storage: 128GB – 256GB eMMC
- Incredible battery life
- Amazing ‘Hush’ keyboard
- Iffy pricing at mid- to- high-end
- No biometric login
About This Laptop
For Android developers, a Chromebook might seem a natural choice for the best possible integration with Google’s software and services, with full support for running Android software natively. However, many Chromebooks are designed to be highly affordable, with lower-spec features and performance suffering to bring the price down.
The Google Pixelbook Go is an upgrade from more basic models, designed to compete with the bigger laptop manufacturers. It still runs ChromeOS, which supports Google’s Android Studio development tools, but the hardware is right up there with a standard Windows laptop. You can also run Linux apps as well.
The Pixelbook Go is certainly the best Chromebook ever made. It packs some impressive hardware, including an Intel Core i7 processor, a choice of 8GB or 16GB RAM and a large and vibrant 1,920 x 1,080 screen or 4K touch screen if you really want to show off.
This all makes it a fantastic laptop for programming on, with performance that matches most Windows 10 laptops, but with an incredibly long-lasting battery that means the Pixelbook Go will keep on going even after many Windows 10 laptops give up the ghost.