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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).