Before you go through are list, bear in mind that are a few things you need to think about before you buy the best laptop for programming.
First, you’re going to need one of the best processors, as that horsepower goes a long way when you’re compiling code. Most modern laptops will feature plenty of cores, threads and high clock speeds, but you should focus on getting the fastest processor you can afford.
Then there’s the memory. You absolutely need at least 8GB, and it needs to be fast. Think about storage as well: one of the best SSDs is essential, as it will shave minutes off your project with all the files and apps you’ll use.
You won’t necessarily need the fastest graphics chip on the market, as modern Intel hardware comes with integrated graphics that are more than good enough for anything you’ll encounter while programming. However, if you want to do some gaming in your down time, go for it.
Oh, and do yourself a favor and make sure you’re getting one of the best keyboards. As programming involves a lot of typing, you need a keyboard with excellent travel and superior comfort. And, a high resolution display will help make sure that it’s easy on the eyes, as you’ll be spending a lot of hours and then some staring at it.
Taking all that in consideration, find the best laptop for programming that suits you best in our list below.
What you need to know about Black Friday 2019
The Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals period has always been a good time of year to pick up a great laptop. Usually the big retailers will have plenty of laptop offers but generally speaking they’ll mostly be in the ‘cheap’ or ‘midrange’ categories. IE you’ll find plenty of instances of $600 laptops from HP being discounted to $450 for Black Friday. It’s less common for the best of the best products to suddenly become available with huge discounts. So if you want a really great laptop and you have your eye on one of the excellent models on this page, there’s no guarantee that waiting until Black Friday will get you a better deal than you can get today (our useful widgets pull through all of the latest prices). But if you’re less bothered about the specific product and more interested in feeling like you got a bargain, you should check out our Black Friday laptop deals page where we’ll be rounding up all of the best offers throughout November.
Best laptops for programming at a glance:
- HP Spectre x360 (2019)
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme laptop
- HP EliteBook x360 1040 G5 2-in-1
- Apple MacBook Air (2019)
- MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)
- Microsoft Surface Pro 6
- Google Pixelbook
- Asus Chromebook Flip
- Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch)
- MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (13-inch, mid-2019)
1. HP Spectre x360 (2019)
A best 2-in-1 gets better
CPU: Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch full HD (1,920 x 1,080) – UHD (3,840 x 2,160) touchscreen | Storage: 256GB – 2TB PCIe SSD
Very well built
Powerful and thin
The HP Spectre line has always consisted of stunning devices. So, when we say that the 2019 Spectre x360 takes things to another level, that should mean something. Not only is this one of the most beautiful laptops on the market right now – with its gem cut design and sleek profile, but it’s tough on the inside. HP fitted this with powerful Intel Whiskey Lake processors and long battery life, which means that you’re getting one of the best laptops on the market, hands down. As such, it’s also the best laptop for programming right now.
Read the full review: HP Spectre x360 (2019)
2. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme laptop
Great power, massive price tag
CPU: up to 8th-generation Intel Core i7 | Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti with Max-Q design | RAM: up to 64GB | Screen: 15.6” FHD (1920 x 1080) – 15.6” 4K UHD HDR (3840 x 2160) multi-touch | Storage: up to 1TB SSD
So much power
Glorious 4K screen
Great user experience
If you have the funds for an unstoppable workhorse, then Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Extreme mobile workstation is the best laptop for programming for you. This gets our vote as one of the best Lenovo laptops this 2019 for many reasons. It has several configurations on hand, depending on your needs and budget, but at its most basic, it’s already pretty powerful, packed with a solid graphics card in a robust carbon-fiber and aluminum package that will survive any office or field.
Read the full review: ThinkPad X1 Extreme Mobile Workstation
3. HP EliteBook x360 1040 G5 2-in-1
The best business laptop just got better
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 620 | RAM: 8GB – 32GB | Screen: 14-inch diagonal BrightView LED FHD (1920×1080) – UHD (3840×2160) | Storage: 128GB – 2TB SSD
Nifty design and stylus
Plenty of ports
Battery life disappointing
Uneven anti-glare display
The EliteBook x360 1040 G5 is, without a doubt, the “apex predator of the business world.” It’s not the perfect machine, but it’s got plenty of features that make up for its flaws. It boasts many excellent features in its handsome-looking chassis, as well as plenty of ports, a port that works wonders and impressively audio. Simply put, it’s fit for the professional who demands seamlessness and power at work, making it the best laptop for programming in 2019.
Read the full review: HP EliteBook x360 1040 G5
4. Apple MacBook Air (2019)
A solid entry with an excellent new screen
CPU: 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 | Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 617 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch (diagonal) 2,560 x 1,600 LED-backlit display with IPS technology | Storage: 128GB – 1TB SSD | Dimensions: 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.61 inches (30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56cm; W x D x H)
Screen is great
Fantastic battery life
New lower price
Lack of storage space
Now thinner, lighter and with a Retina display, 2019’s model is easily the best MacBook Air we’ve ever used. Thanks to improved hardware for better performance and an affordable price, the 2019 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 oomph to make programming on it a joy. The improved screen and higher resolution makes it far more comfortable to work on as well.
Read the full review: MacBook Air (2019)
5. MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)
Apple’s productivity machine gets the latest Intel tech
CPU: 9th-generation Intel Core i7 – i9 | Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro 555X – 560X, Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: 16GB – 32GB | Screen: 15.4-inch, 2,880 x 1,800 Retina display | Storage: 512GB – 4TB SSD | Dimensions (H x W x D): 34.93 x 24.07 x 1.55cm
Decent configuration options
Screen remains gorgeous
Lack of ports
Keyboard concerns remain
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 powerful processor and heaps of RAM, is the fastest 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.
Read the full review: MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)
6. Microsoft Surface Pro 6
Still the best Windows tablet
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. While Microsoft has released the Surface Pro 7, we actually think the Pro 6 is the better choice for programmers, as the hardware isn’t the different – but the price is.
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
Yes, a Chromebook (or two) has made our best laptop for programming list. That’s because Google Pixelbook is powerful (and beautiful) enough to contend with the Surfaces and MacBooks of the world. Admittedly, the ChromeOS is not as good a place to program as Windows or macOS. However, 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
Another Chromebook that’s made our best laptop for programming list? The Asus Chromebook Flip, which 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 Asus 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 – i7 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620 – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.5-inch 3,000 x 2,000 PixelSense Display with touchscreen | Storage: 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB PCIe 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. After all, it boasts 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. MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (13-inch, mid-2019)
A great compact MacBook for programming
CPU: 8th-generation Intel Core i5 – 8th-generation Intel Core i5 | Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645 – 655 | RAM: 8GB – 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display with IPS technology; 2,560 x 1,600 | Storage: 128GB – 2TB SSD | Dimensions (H x W x D): 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.49cm
Much more powerful
Keyboard learning curve
If you need a macOS device that’s fast, but also light enough to carry around with you wherever you go, you’re going to love the MacBook Pro 13-inch. This isn’t just a best laptop for programming; 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 with Touch Bar (13-inch, mid-2019)
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