Having a slow and sluggish laptop that cannot handle even the simplest tasks such as browsing the internet, typing in Word or even just going through your hard disk’s folders can be very frustrating. But, the most frustrating experience with a slow laptop has to be programming. The lines of code you are writing will be lagging behind, compiling takes forever and the chances of a crash because the system became overloaded is very high. Just imagine, losing all of your progress while coding just because your laptop can handle one simple program.
When you find yourself in this kind of situation, you probably know that investing in the perfect laptop is your only option. It will make you more efficient, netting you more profits overall, so there really is no reason why you shouldn’t make such an investment.
Assuming that you want your computer to last you at least a couple of years in the future instead of having to buy another one in just a year or two, you will probably need to bump up your budget by a little bit. Anything between $750 and $1500 will get you a high-end system that will be able to handle any kind of process you send at it.
However, considering just how oversaturated the laptop industry is, finding the perfect one can be very difficult because you will have to consider tons of different factors such as performance, price, weight and looks.
To ease your decision-making process, we have made a list of the best laptops for software development and what we factored in to make the list.
Things we considered for this list
The central processing unit or more commonly known as CPU is one of the most essential parts of the computer. You could say that it is the brain of the whole operation of the system. It sends all of the instructions to other parts of the system. This is why it is so important to buy a laptop with a high-end CPU. In 2023, we would recommend that you look for 3000 or 4000 series from AMD because they are the best performance to price right now, but you can also go for 9000 or 10000 Intel series if you want.
The next most essential thing we figured was the RAM. Most budget laptops usually offer around 4 or 6 GB of RAM, but considering that you will be running a couple of tabs on your browser, your compiler and a bunch of other programs, we thought that 8 GB is the sweet spot. Keep in mind, if you plan on working on even more demanding programs, you should probably look for 16 GB of RAM or maybe even 32 GB.
As suggested by experts from software development company VironIT, this one is just as important as the RAM in a computer. Not because of the storage space, but the speed of the drive. Most laptops come with a 5400 RPM HDD which is a bit on the slower side which is why we prefer systems with a combination of a small 128 GB SSD and 5400 RPM HDD or just a bigger sized SSD.
Since most of your reading this article will programming and looking at the screen for hours and hours, we thought that the best option would either be a 14″ or 15″ display.
If the CPU is the brain of the operation, the graphics processing unit is the brawns. We believe that a GPU for software development isn’t really necessary. A high-end GPU is only needed for graphically demanding video games or video and image editing.
Best laptops for software development
Now that we went through the details of our search, here is the list of laptops we managed to form.
1. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3
The Microsoft Surface 3 is cleverly designed to work flawlessly with Windows 10. The pricing starts from $999 and can go up to $2,099 depending on what kind of specifications you pick. We love the design of the Surface 3. It is very sleek and minimalist while also being very light which is great if you are constantly mobile with your work. You can also choose between an AMD and an Intel CPU. Having more choice is always good, right? The screen looks great and the keyboard feels amazing, definitely one of our top picks.
2. HP Spectre x360
The x360’s starting price is a bit steeper than our previous pick, but it maxes out at $1,899 compared to the $2,099 of the Surface 3. You can go for either an Intel i5 or an i7, but we recommend going for the i7 if you plan on sticking with this device for a couple of years. What we love about the Spectre is the quality of the build. There is minimal flex of the screen, the entire chassis feels strong and reliable while maintaining quite a thin form. The screen is only 13.3″ which might be a bummer for some, but the fact that it is combined with 4K resolution makes up for the smaller screen size.
3. Macbook Air (2019)
If you do not feel very comfortable working on the Windows platform then your next best option is MacOS. Not only is this device beautiful on the inside, but it is powerful enough on the inside too. The screen’s brightness is high enough and can last a long time on its battery even with high brightness. It starts out at just $1,099 which is pretty cheap considering that it is an Apple product. Our biggest downside of the Macbook Air is that it doesn’t have enough storage space, but that can always be fixed with an external SSD or HDD.
4. Lenovo ThinkPad P1
It can come equipped with either an i7 or a Xeon, but you don’t really have a need for the Xeon if you only plan on programming on this device. The performance is incredible while fitted in a very slim chassis. Feels very premium, the keyboard feels great to the touch and the display is incredible. This should definitely be a contender.