Best Laptops for Software Development in 2021

originally posted on hellodevworld.com

This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something I may earn a commission. Thanks.

So I often get asked what the best computer for doing software development is and I kind of hate that question because the answer is it depends. Are you only going to use it for software development? What else do you want to do on it? What operating system do you want? What kind of development are you going to be doing? So ya. It depends and arguably you could do development from just your phone. Nothing special needed. However, I will do my best to make a top 5 list of best laptop choices for software development (in no particular order).

MacBook Pro 13”

Okay so this is a hot topic but I love using a MacBook for development. I’ve been using them for years and never had issues. It’s also a must-have if you are doing ruby development as you may run into issues with it on a PC. The reason I say a 13” MacBook Pro is because the 16” versions don’t have the M1 chip yet. It is on its way but not out yet. When that comes out I will be updating this for that instead. You can never have too much real estate when developing especially for web developers. If you are looking to do App development and want to support apple devices an iMac or MacBook Pro will be a must-have as you need them to compile your apps and release them to the store. If you are a game engineer the screens on the MacBooks are incredible and with the new M1 chips you shouldn’t have any issue with processing power although they may run a little hot. I also get the higher RAM and storage because I would rather have more and not need it than need it but not have it.

Razer Blade 15

If you are leaning more towards a pc the razer blade 15 with a GTX 3070 is a great choice. I love this laptop because is a beast and super portable. I used to have this laptop for traveling because I liked that I could do work and gaming on the laptop. If you want a lot of power in a small laptop this is a great choice. The screen is also amazing. It also has plenty of processing power for the game developers and a great screen for them to work on. If you are doing .NET development (not core but anything other than core) you will want to opt for a PC as you won’t be able to do it on a mac. Again I opt for the higher ram and if possible get more storage. I also opt for the 3070 instead of the 3060 because I use it for gaming and would rather have the power than not. The extra power is also a must if you are going to be doing game development or video processing.

Asus ROG Zephyrus

This is actually the current laptop that I have as my travel laptop. It is such a beast of a computer for a great price. It isn’t too heavy and has enough power for gaming as well as web development. If you want the best screen around this isn’t the best choice you get a lot for your money with this laptop. You get a great amount of storage and RAM in a small laptop for around $2000. I have last years’ version and since then they have unfortunately raised the prices I think due to the expense of the new graphics cards but I still think this years’ is a great choice for a great price. They do have a cheaper option with a 3060 instead of a 3070 personally I think it’s worth the extra for the better graphics card but I also play some graphics-intensive games. Again if you are doing .NET development (not core but anything other than core) you will want to opt for a PC as you won’t be able to do it on a mac.

Surface Pro

I have always found surface pros really interesting. At this point, they are a great very portable option. However, they are more like tablets which bother some people. They do run the full Windows OS and can definitely handle web development. I wouldn’t choose this if you are a game developer as I don’t think it would have enough processing power. But if you are looking for a lightweight very portable option for development definitely check one of these out! One these I actually opt for the cheaper options because you won’t be using this for much more than web development or basic web browsing and I don’t think it’s worth the extra cost for the upgraded version with more RAM and storage as the lower version can handle everything you’d be doing on it. Again if you are doing .NET development (not core but anything other than core) you will want to opt for a PC as you won’t be able to do it on a mac although visual studio (the full IDE) does take a good amount of processing power usually so if you will be doing this I would consider the upgraded version of the surface

Dell XPS 15

If you are a .Net developer or work in a PC shop you will most likely have used this before or may currently be using it. Say what you will about dell but I never had issues developing on an XPS. They are a super solid option if you are doing web development as they are plenty powerful but don’t have all the bells and whistles that you pay extra for in other computers. I don’t think they are the best option for gaming devs or people who want to also use their laptops for gaming but if you just want to use your computer for development this is a very solid and cheap option.

*Bonus — MSI Stealth

I have always been a huge MSI fan. My first laptop was an MSI and lasted over 5 years. They are a little more pricey but they have great customer service and are built really well. This MSI laptop will be able to handle anything and everything and is definitely a great investment especially if you are a game developer or would like to play games on this laptop as well. They do have cheaper versions of this laptop with similar specs. But, these are the specs I would go for especially if you are doing any gaming. If you don’t care a lot about refresh rate or playing a lot of processor-heavy games you can definitely go with the cheaper version though and they are still a great choice.

I hope this helps you when deciding on your next laptop you really can’t go wrong with any of the options just keep in mind the type of development you want to do and what else you may want to do on the laptop.

I love being a dev and learning from other devs as well! I want to help aspiring and current devs love their jobs, fix issues, and solve the world’s problems!