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Best laptop for programming in 2022

PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
A woman with a laptop in a coffee shop.
(Image credit: Unsplash)

You can code from anywhere with one of the best laptops for programming. And, picking one isn’t too hard either. However, you do need to keep several factors in mind when narrowing down your search.

When you’re running and testing code, you need enough performance so that your workflow isn’t at the mercy of your portable’s limitations. Look for the best processors and speedy RAM to keep up with your projects. Grab a fast and large capacity SSD as well. You don’t want to wait too long for projects and files to load after all.

Just as important as what’s under the hood, the laptop needs to be easy and comfortable to use. A quality keyboard is a must for all that coding. And, a display that won’t strain your eyes after hours of use is important as well. If you plan on spending most of your time traveling on the road, consider something that’s thin and light for better portability, such as one of the best Ultrabooks.

Regardless of whether you want a MacBook Pro, a Windows 11 laptop, a powerful  Chromebook, or even a Linux-powered portable, we’ve collected our top picks for the best laptops for programming here. You’ll find some that are fairly affordable as well, setting you back just a bit more than the best laptops under $500. Read on to find which one works best for you and don’t forget to take advantage of our included price comparison tool to get the best price.

The best laptop for programming 2022

(Image credit: HP)

1. HP Spectre x360 (2021)

Best overall laptop for programming

Specifications

CPU: 11th-generation Intel Core i5 – i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: 8GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.3" FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS BrightView micro-edge WLED-backlit multitouch – 13.3" diagonal 4K (3840 x 2160) UWVA BrightView micro-edge AMOLED multitouch
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful Intel Whiskey Lake processors
+
12-hour battery life
+
Thin, light, and portable

Reasons to avoid

-
More powerful than some users will need

The HP Spectre x360 (2021) 2-in-1 laptop had a big refresh, and the boost in specs, with 11th-generation Intel Core processors and Intel Iris Xe graphics, along with the impeccable 2-in-1 design and pristine gem-cut chassis, means that this version is at the top of our best laptops for programmers list.

The HP Spectre line has always consisted of stunning devices. So, when we say that the 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 impressively 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 HP Spectre x360 (2021) review.

(Image credit: Lenovo)

2. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme laptop

Great power, massive price tag

Specifications

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

Reasons to buy

+
Extreme mobile workstation
+
Multiple configuration options
+
Robust carbon-fiber and aluminum package

Reasons to avoid

-
More power than some users will need

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 laptop gets our vote as one of the best Lenovo laptops 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.

The only negative? You get what you pay for, and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme comes with a price tag to match its power.

Read the full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme review.

MacBook Pro 14 against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)
Mightily impressive

Specifications

CPU: Apple M1 Pro 8-core – M1 Max 10-core
Graphics: Integrated 14-core – 32-core GPU
RAM: Up to 64GB
Screen: 14-inch Liquid Retina XDR display
Storage: Up to 8TB

Reasons to buy

+
Brilliant performance
+
Best screen on a laptop

Reasons to avoid

-
Screen may be a bit small for some

The MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) is brilliant for creative workflows, but it’s terrific for programming as well. Taking the MacBook Pro to the ultimate level, this M1 Pro- or M1 Max-powered laptop absolutely blows the rest away with breathtaking power, an equally breathtaking battery life, and an XDR display with 1600 nits of peak brightness. The SD card slot, an HDMI port, and three Thunderbolt 4 ports help ensure that you have all the peripherals you need.

Read the full MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) review.

(Image credit: Google)
The best Chromebook and laptop for programming

Specifications

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

Reasons to buy

+
11-hour battery life
+
Amazing ‘Hush’ keyboard
+
The best Chromebook

Reasons to avoid

-
No biometric login
-
Chrome OS only

The Google's Pixelbook Go is the best Chromebook money can buy right now, and it's also a fantastic laptop for programming. Coming with a more affordable price tag than its predecessor, the Pixelbook, Google's latest Chromebook still packs plenty of the premium features the original came with, including an amazing battery life, and one of the best keyboards we've used on a laptop - an important consideration when looking for a laptop for programming in.

Sure, it doesn't use Windows 10 - instead it runs Chrome OS - but for most programmers, especially web developers, this won't be an issue. You can also install Linux on this thing as well, which makes it an even more versatile laptop for programming.

It features some impressive specs for a Chromebook, which ensures that Chrome OS positively flies on this device, and puts its performance on par with many of the more expensive Windows laptops and MacBooks.

Read the full Google Pixelbook Go review.

MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) against a white background

(Image credit: Apple)
Apple's most affordable MacBook Pro for programming

Specifications

CPU: Apple M2 with 8-core CPU
Graphics: Integrated 10-core GPU
RAM: 8GB – 24GB
Screen: 13.3-inch 2560 x 1600 display with P3 and True Tone technology
Storage: 256GB – 2TB SSD
Dimensions (H x W x D): 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56 cm

Reasons to buy

+
M2 chip is a brilliant performer
+
Excellent battery life
+
Almost silent in use

Reasons to avoid

-
No new design
-
Still only two Thunderbolt ports

Despite the lack of design updates, the Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) brings welcome improvements to Apple's most affordable MacBook Pro. Thanks to Apple's latest M2 chip, it delivers performance and battery life that are better than its predecessor's. Our testing has shown that it actually offers better performance in both single and multi-core CPU tests than the M1 model and Microsoft's Surface Laptop 4.

With more than enough power to see you through intensive workloads like video editing, it will certainly see programmers through their daily coding demands. That's while keeping things cool and quiet – we found that the fans rarely kick in even when performing demanding tasks, lasting more than 15 hours, and costing the same as its predecessor. If you're looking for a more affordable MacBook Pro for your programming needs, this one's hard to beat.

Read our in-depth MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2, 2022) review

6. Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch)

A powerful 2-in-1

Specifications

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

Reasons to buy

+
One of the most powerful 2-in-1 laptops
+
Quiet, fanless design

Reasons to avoid

-
No Surface Pen included

The Microsoft 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 Microsoft Surface Book 2 (13.5-inch) review.

(Image credit: Apple)

7. MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)

Apple’s little MacBook Pro gets a big refresh

Specifications

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

Reasons to buy

+
13-hour battery life
+
Powerful M1 chip
+
Can run iOS apps

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive than other featured MacBooks

The MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) may not have gotten a massive design overhaul, but what it lacks in that department, it makes up for big time in performance and battery life thanks to Apple’s groundbreaking M1 chip. 

This MacBook Pro has the longest battery life in a MacBook, in fact, allowing you to use it for programming for hours on end without having to worry about stopping to find a charger. 

The M1 chip is no slouch when it comes to performance, either, so compiling and testing code is extremely quick as well. If you have the budget for it, this is a programming laptop that will last you for years.

Read the full MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020) review.

(Image credit: LG)

8. LG Gram 17

A super-light 17-inch laptop for programming

Specifications

CPU: Intel Core i7-1065G7
Graphics: Intel Iris Plus
RAM: 16GB
Screen: 17-inch 1600p (2,560 x 1,600)
Storage: 2 x 512GB SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Very lightweight design
+
14-hour battery life
+
Beautiful 17" screen

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the fastest processor

The LG Gram 17 abandons the full-fat H-series processors for Intel Ice Lake Ultrabook-class chips, and makes up for that by being a 17-inch laptop that's as light as a 13-inch one. 

This all means you can get a gorgeous 17-inch 1600p display in a laptop that weighs just 2.98 lbs (1.35kg). So, for programmers who need nice, big screens to work on, this is a fantastic choice, and you can comfortably carry it around with you wherever you go.

When you couple that lightweight design with the fact that the battery lasted more than 14 hours in our testing, you have the recipe for the perfect laptop for programming on.

Read the full LG Gram 17 r review.

(Image credit: Asus)

9. Asus Chromebook Flip C436F/C436FA

A whole lotta hits

Specifications

CPU: 10th-generation Intel Core i3 – i5
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics
RAM: 8GB – 16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3
Screen: 14” LED-backlit Full HD (1920 x 1080) 16:9 display
Storage: 512GB / 256GB / 128GB PCIe® NVMe 3.0x 2 M.2 SSD

Reasons to buy

+
Superb performance
+
Premium build and features
+
Cheaper than the Google Pixelbook
+
Thin and lightweight

Reasons to avoid

-
Touchpad and the touch display not as accurate as rivals

Premium Chromebooks occupy their own space in the laptop market, bridging that gap between powerful traditional laptops and super lightweight Chromebooks. 

And, the Asus Chromebook Flip C436F/C436FA is perhaps one of the very few examples of these out there, with its combination of superb power, terrific feature set, premium build, but a price tag that’s cheaper than its rivals. 

This makes the Asus Chromebook Flip C436F/C436FA perfect for web developers who need a powerful machine.

Read the full Asus Chromebook Flip C436F review.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

10. Microsoft Surface Pro 8

Rebirth of the Surface Pro

Specifications

CPU: Up to 11th-gen Intel Core i7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: Up to 32GB LPDDR4x
Screen: 13-inch PixelSense Flow display
Storage: Up to 1TB

Reasons to buy

+
Faster processors
+
Gorgeous new design

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive

The Surface Pro 8 comes with an all-new design, but it boasts internals that are faster than ever – just the ticket for all your demanding coding needs. It’s not just, therefore, ideal for illustrators, graphic artists and other creative professionals. There are other things to love here as well, like the two Thunderbolt 4 ports and 2-in-1 design. Its bigger screen with a 120Hz refresh rate is also a nice upgrade, giving you more space to spread out for a more seamless workflow. The higher price is going to get in the way for some, but it might just be worth it for pros.

Read the full Surface Pro 8 review.

CrowPi-L Raspberry Pi laptop hero image

(Image credit: Future)

11. CrowPi-L Raspberry Pi laptop

A Raspberry Pi laptop for all ages

Reasons to buy

+
Simple assembly process
+
GPIO accessible externally
+
Spare HDMI output

Reasons to avoid

-
Ineffective cooling
-
Low-resolution screen
-
Touchpad located above the keyboard

The CrowPi-L Raspberry Pi laptop is a kit aimed at young tinkerers. With an assembly process that is fuss-free, the end result is a small and powerful notebook that is ideal to begin one’s journey into the world of programming. 

The laptop can interact with various electronic modules using an extension board that connects to the Pi’s GPIO header. Equipped with one HDMI connector, two USB3.0 connectors, and a Gigabit Ethernet jack, the CrowPi-L is an ARM laptop also suitable for software development.

For a little over $200 without the Raspberry Pi, the CrowPi-L is a budget PC that supports only 1366x768 pixels. The ineffective cooling system hinders the performance of the Pi with benchmarks showing a Dual-core performance instead of a Quad-core. That said, the laptop has a lot of potential so be ready to spend time tweaking it.

Read our full CrowPi-L Raspberry Pi laptop review (opens in new tab).

Matt Hanson
Matt Hanson


Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Computing and Entertainment, looking after two of the best, and most exciting, channels on the site. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made. He's also a huge film and TV fan and Marvel geek, and his favorite recent film is Dune.

With contributions from