Best laptop for programming 2018

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If you’re an IT professional looking for one of the best laptops for programming, you’re in the right place. With this list, we’ve gathered up all the top laptops for programming, so you can be ready when those Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals hit.

When you’re on the market for the best laptop for programming, you should keep the features that you need in mind. For example, the top laptops for programmers will feature the latest and best processors – you’ll need the extra horsepower to quickly and efficiently compile your code. Luckily, most modern laptop processors feature plenty of threads and high clock speeds, which makes looking for the top laptop for programming as simple as saying ‘hello world’. 

You’ll also need a good amount of RAM – at least 8GB. And, if you’re running complex code, you’ll want one of the best hard drives, too. The top laptops for programming will feature one of the best SSDs – that’s even better, it’ll save you time when coding, and time is money.

Having a dedicated GPU isn’t extremely important for programming, unless you’re coding graphically intensive games that you then want to test out. Modern Intel processors come with integrated graphics capabilities that are powerful enough for pretty much all programming tasks.

So, without further ado, here's our list of the best laptops for programming in 2018. 

Portege

1. Toshiba Portege Z30-C-138

The best laptop for programming

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

Exceptional connectivity
Up to 11 hours battery life
Doesn't have the best input peripherals
Not much else wrong here

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 

Thinkpad X

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
No Displayport

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. 

HP

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
Low resolution
Bloatware

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 this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Lenovo ThinkPad E470 

4. 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 
Expensive 

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.

Read the full review: MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid-2018)
See more like this: The best Macs

5. 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)

Quad-core processor
Insanely portable
No USB-C

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

6. 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 2400x1600 (235 ppi) | Storage: 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB SSD

 Beautiful design 
 Awesome keyboard 
 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. 

7. 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

Gorgeous screen
Elegant tablet mode
Tactile keyboard
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

8. 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
Powerful
Pricey
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)

elitebook

9. Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch 2016

A great performer with an excellent screen

CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7 quad-core | Graphics: Radeon Pro 450 with 2GB RAM | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 15.4-inch, 2880 x 1800 pixels | Storage: 256GB SSD

Updated design is jaw-dropping
Great battery life
Limited appeal of Touch Bar
No SD card slot

If you like the sound of an Apple MacBook as a laptop for programming, then you can save a bit of money by getting a slightly older model. The MacBook Pro from 2016 doesn't come with cutting-edge features such as the touchbar or USB-C ports, but it is still a fantastic laptop that offers plenty of power for all your programming needs. Plus, Apple's top of the range models are certainly not overly expensive compared to their Windows-based counterparts, especially if you buy them from trusted third-party websites.

latitude

10. Dell Latitude E5480

A solid performer backed by Dell's quality aftersales

CPU: 2.8GHz Intel Core i5-7440H | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 630 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 | Storage: 256GB SSD

Impressive performance levels
Strong on connectivity
Not cheap for higher-end configurations

With the Latitude 5480, Dell managed deliver a fantastic piece of kit, which is more reliable, more secure and more manageable than most other business class laptops. And, while it does come at a hefty price compared to its competition, this notebook may feel underwhelming. However, Dell’s expertise lies in its services and aftersales. That particular model comes with a 7th-generation Intel processor, one that is an actual quad-core chip. While it sucks more power than similar laptops, it is definitely one of the best laptops for programming – thanks to the sheer horsepower. 

Check out our laptop buying guide video below.

  • Here's our list of the best laptop 2017: Our pick of the 15 best laptops you can buy this year