Best Laptop for Developers 2017

Whether it’s web development or game development, there is no doubt that developers need a powerful laptop that can keep up with their needs.

There are a lot of factors to choose from when deciding on the best laptop for developers. The range of factors is mainly due to the wide variety of software a developer might be asked to work on. However, at the end of the day, all developers need a reliable laptop that can deliver power and performance.

We asked around and did our research before coming up with our top five picks for the best developer laptops in the market.

Sale
ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW-US71 15.6-Inch 4K...
  • 15.6" Touch IPS 4K Ultra­-HD display, 3840 x 2160 resolution
  • Powerful Intel Skylake Core i7­-6700HQ 2.6 GHz Quad­core CPU (turbo to...
  • 512GB SSD with transfer speeds of 1400MB/s and 16GB DDR4 RAM

How we chose the best laptop for developers

With all the different kinds of developers out there, we really had our job cut out for us in researching the biggest factors that come into play when a developer chooses their laptop. As we delved deeper into our research, we found that there are some core features that all developers look for when selecting their laptop.

We also found that many of the considerations that a developer looks for in a laptop overlap with considerations when choosing a great programming laptop.

Based on our data, we managed to filter down the considerations to the top five features.

  • Hard Drive
  • CPU & Memory
  • Screen Size & Resolution
  • Graphics Card
  • Portability
  • The five best laptop for developers

    The most important consideration when choosing the best laptop for developers

    When working on programs such as AutoCAD or visual content, developers often find themselves working on very large files. Due to this, it is essential for developer laptops to have enough hard drive capacity to fulfil their file requirements.

    There have been huge advances in hard drives over the past couple of decades. This means that in traditional Hard Disk Drive (HDD) storage, we see no reason why a developer should settle for anything less than 1 TB when considering a new laptop.

    There is also Solid State Drive (SSD) storage to consider. SSD hard drives provide an amazing boost in speed and loading times. Despite its price, it is hard to turn away from the lure of a hard drive that promises to boost the overall performance and run time of a program.

    At the very least, we recommend a Hybrid drive that combines the capacity of HDD while also providing a boost in speed by throwing in some SSD into the mix.

    Other considerations when choosing the best laptop for developers

    CPU & Memory

    Any developer laptop should have sufficient processing power and memory to keep up with their work demands.

    Ideally, a developer laptop should run on Intel Core i7. It is also possible to work well with an Intel Core i5 as a processor, especially if developing software that doesn’t require as much intense computer processing, such as web or mobile app development.

    For the memory requirement, the best set-up would be a laptop that is outfitted with 16 GB DDR4 RAM. But anything above 8 GB DDR3 RAM is just as likely to get the job done. A laptop with less than 8 GB RAM might prove troublesome and laggy for a developer in the long run.

    Screen Size & Resolution

    Developers spend their entire day staring at their laptop’s screens. Sometimes they are staring at line after line of programming code; other times they are working on very graphic-intensive renderings. Yet other developers spend much of their time traveling for SysAdmin or Network Administration and require a laptop that is immensely portable.

    Whatever the case may be, it is necessary for their laptop to have proper screen size and resolution to alleviate eye fatigue as much as possible. For our top five picks, our selection of laptops range between 13.5” to 17.3”.

    Depending on the developer’s lifestyle, work requirements, and need for portability, the general rule-of-thumb is that a laptop screen should be as wide as the job and convenience allows.

    Graphics Card

    Some developers are required to work on programs that are very reliant on the graphics, such as animation, 3D modelling or game development. A good dedicated graphics card is an essential element for these developers.

    An integrated graphics card should come with a bare minimum of 2 GB dedicated video memory to meet the minimum requirements when coding video games or working in 3D.

    Portability

    The final consideration when selecting the best developer laptop is portability. Some developer jobs, such as SysAdmins, can involve a lot of travelling. These developers find portability to be an extremely important factor when choosing a laptop.

    Portability, for this set of developers, does not just look at the size and weight of a laptop, but the battery life as well. They require a laptop that is compact yet powerful. Their laptops should be able to withstand extended periods without being near an electrical socket as they never know what they will find at each job.

    The best laptop for developers

    Asus Zenbook Pro UX501VW - Best Laptop for DevelopersAfter making our comparisons and comparing them with our metrics for best developer laptop, we finally managed to choose our top five picks. From that top five, our #1 Pick, winning by a narrow margin, is the ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW.

    ASUS has packed their ZenBook Pro with some excellent hardware. The ZenBook Pro features a quad-core 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor with 16 GB DDR4 RAM. ASUS’s ZenBook Pro also comes with 512 GB SSD hard drive, promising fast loading times and transfer speeds. All these components come together to provide developers with a powerful laptop that can run any program smoothly all the time.

    For its graphics card, the ASUS ZenBook Pro comes with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M with 2 GB dedicated memory. This laptop can easily handle any number of graphics-heavy professional applications. The laptop also has an excellent cooling system so developers can work the laptop hard at its peak performance and not worry about the system overheating.

    The ZenBook’s all-aluminum chassis gives a sleek design that houses a 15.6” touch screen with 4K Ultra HD. There is an amazing 3840 x 2160 resolution on this laptop, giving sharp and bright visuals regardless of whether the developer is looking at 3D models or lines of code.

    At 5 pounds, this laptop is slightly heavier than some other 15” laptops; however, it more than makes up for the slight heft by offering an impressive battery life of up to 8 hours. The laptop also comes with great connectivity, including a USB-C port with Thunderbolt 3.

    Asus Zenbook Pro UX501VW Keyboard Shot - Best Laptop for Developers

    The four other laptops for developers we tested

    MSI WT72 6QI-654US

    MSI WT72 LaptopAnother fantastic laptop for developers is the MSI WT72 6QI-654US7.

    The MSI WT72 offers users a powerful high-performance laptop, but at the cost of battery life and weight. The WT72 comes with a quad-core 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor and 16 GB DDR4 memory. Its 1 TB 7200 RPM HDD with 128 SSD storage allows programs to load and run faster.

    In addition, its NVIDIA Quadro M1000M 3D graphics card comes with 2 GB dedicated memory. The WT72, being the professional line from a manufacturer that specializes in gaming laptops, you can be sure the laptop has a well-designed cooling system to handle a maximum workload all day long.

    It’s 17.3” screen has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. However, the size also contributes to its hefty weight of 8.4 pounds. Its battery life is also pretty short, lasting only about 2 to 3 hours.

    Developers who are looking for a laptop that packs power, peak performance, and large screen size should certainly take a closer look at the MSI WT72.

    Dell Inspiron i7559-2512BLK

    Dell Inspiron i7559 LaptopThe Dell Inspiron i7559-2512BLK is a great laptop where performance meets mobility meets affordability.

    The i7559 houses a 6th-generation 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7 processor as well as 8 GB DDR3L RAM. It utilizes a Hybrid hard drive with 1 TB HDD and an additional 8 GB SSD.

    The Inspiron i7559 comes with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M with 4 GB discrete memory. Two cooling fans, three exhausts and large vents with 240 thermal fins all work hard to keep the laptop cool at all times, even while rendering 3D models or developing new games.

    Dell’s Inspiron i7559 is 15.6” and features full HD with 1920 x 1080 resolution. It weighs in at just 4.6 pounds and has 7 to 10 hours of battery life.

    The Dell Inspiron i7559 is a great choice for developers who are in the market for an affordable developer laptop that also offers great performance and mobility.

    Lenovo Z70

    Lenovo Z70The Lenovo Z70 is a wonderful laptop for those looking for something that gives portability without sacrificing screen size.

    Running on a 5th-generation 2.4 GHz Intel Core i7 processor with 8 GB DDR3L memory, Lenovo’s Z70 comes with a Hybrid hard drive of 1 TB 5400 RPM HDD with 8 GB NAND Flash memory. It also has an NVIDIA GeForce 840M graphics card with 2 GB dedicated video memory.

    The laptop has a 17.3” screen, offering FHD in 1920 x 1080 resolution. Its battery can run up to 5 hours and it weighs 6.61 pounds, which is light given its 17.3” screen.

    As a desktop replacement laptop for developers, the Z70 manages to merge the performance and comfort of desktops with the mobility of laptops.

    Microsoft Surface Book

    Microsoft Surface BookThe Microsoft Surface Book is the ultimate laptop when it comes to mobility. However, it also comes at a pretty expensive price, especially after the required hardware is added for the peak performance that developers need for their jobs.

    The Surface Book that comes with the best components includes an Intel Core i7 processor and 16 GB RAM. In addition to that, developers can opt for up to 1 TB Flash Memory and an NVIDIA graphics card. As expected, all these components add up to an extremely impressive and light laptop with great all-round performance.

    The Surface Book has a screen size of 13.5” but features a resolution of 3000 x 2000. The screen is a touch screen and Microsoft’s Surface Book comes with a stylus as well. A key feature of the Surface Book is its ability to transform from laptop to tablet simply by pulling its screen apart from its keyboard.

    The Surface Book weighs just 3.34 pounds and has a truly amazing battery life lasting up to 12 hours in laptop mode. Its tablet mode battery life is only able to last about 2 to 3 hours, but developers might prefer to work in laptop mode as the graphics card is located in the keyboard.

    If price is not an issue, the Microsoft Surface Book is definitely a laptop that can offer flexibility and peak performance to a developer.

    The bottom line

    While the ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW offered the best combination of affordable performance, we also found many other laptops to suit a developer’s needs depending on whether they are more keyed toward mobility, performance or affordability.

    Finding the best developer laptop depends greatly on the type of work the developer does. Whether they need maximum performance for working on AutoCAD or rendering 3D models, mobility for Network Administration, or sharp screens for reading code and managing databases, our top five picks is sure to have something for every developer.

    The Microsoft Surface Book is extremely light for those who travel a lot. The Lenovo Z70 and MSI WT72 offer 17” screens for developers that prefer wider views. The Dell Inspiron is an affordable developer laptop that does not skimp on performance. However, it was the ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW that offered the best of all worlds with decent screen size, performance components, and great mobility and battery life.

    Sale
    ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW-US71 15.6-Inch 4K...
    • 15.6" Touch IPS 4K Ultra­-HD display, 3840 x 2160 resolution
    • Powerful Intel Skylake Core i7­-6700HQ 2.6 GHz Quad­core CPU (turbo to...
    • 512GB SSD with transfer speeds of 1400MB/s and 16GB DDR4 RAM

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