Laptop buying guide for programmers in 2018

To program, in general, you do not need a very powerful team, every software developer knows this, since after all, editing text and compiling is not usually a heavy task. Even so, there are always some minimums and a margin that must be taken into account, especially if you want the equipment to last and enjoy the time you spend programming on it.

That said, I am going to present you with this guide full of advice regarding how to find a good laptop for programming. After this article I will leave you a link to another, with a list of several laptop models to program respecting my passwords.


  • If you are going to program, choose the perfect screen
  • The power of a laptop to program
  • Amount of RAM you need to program
  • How much storage do you need for software development?
  • The correct keyboard for writing code
  • The autonomy of the laptop
  • Final remarks for choosing your laptop
  • Tap choose your laptop to schedule

If you are going to program, choose the perfect screen

I never tire of repeating it left and right: the screen of your laptop is very very important. Ultimately, it is the means by which you will interact with the work you do or the software you use. You are going to spend hours and hours reading and you need a suitable screen to take care of your eyes.

A screen on a medium size laptop (14″-15″) has to have a resolution of FullHD (1920×1080). Even so, the most common resolution on laptops is HD+ (1366×768) and, in my opinion, it falls very shortsince there is little space to work comfortably and the number of elements on the screen is drastically reduced, reducing your productivity and often disassembling the code that you would like to see in one line.

Regarding size issues, if you are not going to use external monitors, it must be at least 15”, yes or yes, especially since if you are going to program, you need the text to have an adequate size. Besides, it is the only way to take advantage of the 1080p resolution And don’t strain your eyes.

There are also, as an alternative, 17” laptops. It’s a comfortable size, perfect if it’s your main monitor, but keep in mind that you lose the portability of a laptop. So this option would be for workstations.

Even more important than the resolution is that the screen is mattethat is to say, antereflex. Despite the fact that in the case of a matte screen, the colors are flat and color quality is normally lost, since there are no reflections the view is much less strained when looking at the texts you are reading. On the opposite side, screens with reflections will eventually cause you problems derivatives like the Dry Eye and, if you are not careful with the light sources, they will end up giving you endless working days.

The power of a laptop to program

Referring to what I said at the beginning, programming is not a heavy taskbut it is always recommended look for a moderately powerful team in order to have room for, for example, multitasking, virtual machines, or other heavy work. Also to say, that although the power of a team of gaming either video edition, there are some minimums to achieve a satisfactory experience. Besides, the more “leftover” the team goes, the betterthis will be reflected in lower temperatures and less forced cooling.

Since the core of the computer is the processor, it is important that it be a priority when choosing which computer equipment to buy. We will differentiate between the two brands of current desktop processors: AMD and Intel. Although I am going to opt for Intel, since AMD has not renewed its laptop processors for a long time. We will have to see how Ryzen evolves in laptops.

That being said, on Intel’s part, there are five series of processors: Celeron, Pentium, i3, i5, and i7. Both Celeron and Pentium are low-end series, so you will not see any laptop on the list that has one.

With this we are left with the i3, i5 and i7. So, here I will say that, logically, the i3 are the least powerful, the i5 are mid-range and the i7 would be high-end. To program I recommend at least an i5Although I would go for an i7 directly, especially if we want to make sure we have a “mattress” to spare to perform other tasks. Then there are categories, although the main ones are the “U” and the “HQ”, with the U being the least powerful and the HQ being the most powerful.

Amount of RAM you need to program

After choosing the right processor to develop at ease, the next thing to look at is the amount of RAM we need in the laptop. Although here I make a clarification, and it is that in most laptops the memory can be expanded, buying the corresponding modules and installing them. But still andIt is advisable to choose a reasonable amount of RAMas the separate modules are expensive.

Nowadays, don’t even look at a laptop if it has 4GB and you don’t intend to expand it, since just opening a couple of tabs in Chrome in Windows 10 and with a couple of programs already has the RAM fully occupied and paging would be activated, which slows down the system a lot.

I recommend minimum have 8GB being about 12-16GB adequate. You can also find laptops with 32GB or even 64GB of RAM, but you don’t need that much memory unless you do 3D or have multiple versions of Windows running on virtual machines at the same time. For me, without a doubt, you have to look for 16GB.

How much storage do you need for software development?

Here I am going to be very direct, if the laptop has an SSD, you forget everything. But here a problem appears, for the price for which you have a 1TB HDD you have a 128GB SSD, so you have to think carefully about what to choose. Although, as with the issue of RAM memory, storage can also be extended, and in a simpler way than memory, since the bays are usually more accessible.

As you know when programming, searching for words or terms among hundreds of files is quite normal, so if we compare the read/write speed of an SSD against a classic HDD (at least 2 times slower) the choice is clear:

Here I emphasize that not all laptops can extend the capacity of RAM or storage, therefore, you have to be very sure of both concepts in laptops with this “problem”.

I recommend have an SSD of at least 240GBsince, from my own experience, a 120GB one fills up very quickly, although, if possible, one of 500GB will be a choice for many years when programming. Also, if possible I recommend adding a HDD as secondary storage (for backups for example) of 1TB more or less, although that amount is up to personal taste, since you can work perfectly without including an HDD.

The correct keyboard for writing code

First of all, tell you that it is important that the keyboard is standard size, that is, with a numeric keypad. Why? Because the size of the keys without reducing, as a general rule and with few exceptions, will facilitate long working hours writing code.

Out of curiosity, I suggest you review the layout, that, although you have never thought about it, in terms of programming comfort, the best layout of keys would be English. Although in case of not using the laptop exclusively to program or not being able to get used to the layout, His thing would be that the disposition was the Spanish one.

Finally, a good keyboard has to have remarkable key travelbecause having the sensation of pressing keys reduces fatigue, in addition to improving precision, since, in my opinion, the sensation of shallowness or sticky keys, gives the impression that you fail to press the keys and that you do not a letter has been written.

The autonomy of the laptop

Most highly efficient laptops promise battery life of around 10h, but this doesn’t end up being true, mostly because they test under unrealistic conditions, and at the end of those 10h you’re typically left with around 6h. .

You should also think that the more powerful the laptop, the less time the battery will last before needing to be loaded. Therefore, a decent duration is usually around 4-6 hours of battery life. Less may be little, because the battery degrades over the years. Laptops with 4-5 hours of battery life in a couple of years barely have an hour and a little.

In addition to what has been said, always observe that the battery is removable, avoid ultrabooks unless your budget is large enough to pay the amounts to repair and change components of this equipment.

Final remarks for choosing your laptop

With all this said, there are a couple of tips left:

  • The first: a good laptop is not worth much money, since for about €600 you can find several proposals that comply with all the sections seen. For example, my current laptop cost me €700 with a more than decent i7, 8GB of RAM (which I upgraded to 12GB), a 1TB HDD (which I would change to an SSD if I could) and an acceptable battery life. The only weak point, I was not able to find a matte 1080p screen.
  • As of today and due to the decline in PC purchasesthe offer of laptops is better than ever and with very reasonable prices, take advantage of offers such as the black friday or even see refurbished products from websites like Amazon.
  • Look for trusted brandsIdeally, they should have equipment intended for professional use. Brands like DELL, Lenovo or Asus offer maximum reliability for professional use with its models intended for this purpose.
  • Note that changing the hard drive of the laptop usually makes you lose the warranty of the team. So try to buy a kit that has everything you need without modifications. In some cases, certain brands allow you to change the hard drive without losing your warranty. If you can, ask before making any changes.
  • Changing the RAM of a laptop does not cause the loss of the guaranteeso expanding this hardware will not be a problem apart from the cost of the module to install.

Tap choose your laptop to schedule

We have already reached the end and I really hope that you have managed to synthesize in the best way the bases that in my experience are essential to buy a good laptop for programmers.

If you have any observations or you think that some relevant information is missing for you, do not hesitate to leave your contribution below. Thank you!

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