Best Laptops for PLC Programming

Best Laptops for PLC Programming [2024 Buying Guide]

I’m often asked by engineering students what are the best laptops for PLC programming. I’ve been reluctant to do an article such as this due to the fact that technology changes at such a rapid rate.

Couple this with the fact that just about every website on earth does product reviews on laptops (if you don’t believe me do a quick Google search). However, I decided that now is the right time to do one with so many exciting laptops on the market.

Before we get started I would like to apologize in advance to all the Mac folks out there. We will not be reviewing an Apple Macbook Air or Macbook Pro rigs in this article. I have not seen them make their way to the automation floor for the purposes of PLC programming or other automation type programming as of yet.

This article will review top performing Windows based laptops balancing cost, power, durability and most importantly cater to those of us in the programming and engineering world. In order to choose the best laptop, there are some key features that you’ll want to consider in order to make an educated decision. They are:

  • Processing Power (CPU)
  • Memory (RAM)
  • Hard Disk Drive
  • Screen Size
  • Battery Performance
  • Available Communication Ports
  • Operating Systems

It should be noted that most programmers or engineering students will need to run multiple software packages. This can include, PLC Programming software, HMI development software, CAD software, and multiple operating systems to support legacy systems via virtual machines.

In addition to this, portability and long battery life is an important factor as well in choosing the best laptop for PLC programming.

What are the Best Laptops for Programming?

It is difficult to pick one clear winner when it comes to the best laptops for programming. But of course, this is why you’re here. All laptops reviewed have their own set of pros and cons.

However, one laptop did emerge as the clear winner in terms of performance. That is, the MSI Vector GP77. While this laptop is tremendous in terms of spec’s and features, the downside is it also comes with a heavy price tag.

If you’re an engineering student on a budget or a field tech not wanting to spend big money on a field laptop then continue reading. There are plenty of top-performing laptops for under $1000.

Best Laptops for Programming

#1. MSI Vector GP77 17.3″ FHD Gaming Laptop

MSI Vector GP77 Laptop: Intel Core i9-13900H, GeForce RTX 4070, 17.3" QHD 240Hz 3ms, 32GB DDR5, 1TB NVMe SSD, USB 3.2 Gen2 Type C w/DP, Vapor Chamber Cooler, Win 11 Pro: Cosmo Gray 13VG-096US

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Key Specifications

  • CPU: Intel Core i9-13900H
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX4080 Max-Q 8GB GDDR6
  • RAM: 32GB (16G*2) DDR4 3200MHz ; 2 Sockets, Max Memory 64GB
  • Storage: 1TB NVMe SSD
  • Display: 6″ Thin Bezel FHD, IPS-Level 240Hz 3.5ms close to 100%sRGB | 1920×1080 16:9
  • Output: 1x RJ45, 1x (4K @ 60Hz) HDMI, 3x Type-A USB3.2 Gen1, 1x Type-C (USB3.2 Gen2 / DP)
  • Weight and Size: 9.52 lbs, 22.32 x 4.25 x 15.31 inches
  • RGB: Per-Key RGB gaming keyboard by SteelSeries

Our Verdict

Our top pick is the MSI Vector GP77, featuring the super high-end RTX 3080 Max-Q GPU and i9-12900HK CPU despite being relatively thin at 0.92” thickness.

Featuring Steel-series keyboard being an MSI, which is very accurate and comfortable to type in. Obviously not the cheapest, but you’ll get tremendous value for the price with this laptop. The best price-to-value ratio you can get from a laptop at the moment.

#2. Alienware m15 R4 15.6 inch Laptop

Alienware m15 R4 RTX 3070 Gaming Laptop Full HD (FHD), 15.6 inch - Intel Core i7-10870H, 16GB DDR4 RAM, 1TB SSD, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 8GB GDDR6, Windows 10 Home - Lunar Light Check Amazon Pricing

Key Specifications

  • CPU: 10th Generation Intel Core i7-10870H (8-Core, 16MB Cache, up to 5.0GHz Max Turbo Frequency)
  • GPU: NVIDIA® GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU 8GB GDDR6 VRAM
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4 2933MHz Memory
  • Storage: 1TB PCIe M.2 SSD
  • Display: 6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) 300Hz 3ms 300-nits 100% sRGB color gamut
  • Output: 1 x MicroSD-Card Reader, 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (Type-A), 1 x HDMI 2.1b with HDCP 2.2 Output, 1 x Mini DisplayPort 1.4 Output, 1 xThunderbolt™ 3 Port, 1 x Alienware Graphics Amplifier Port, 1 x Killer™ Networks E3100x Gigabit Ethernet NIC 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A with Powershare Technology
  • Weight and Size: 50 lbs, 10.86 x 14.19 x 0.78 inches
  • RGB: 4-zone RGB N-Key rollover and anti-ghosting technology.

Our Verdict

The Alienware Laptop brand synonymous with high-performance and rather eccentric design, now featuring, again, the NVIDIA RTX 3070 GPU. Impressive performance and great 300Hz 1080p display.

Great thermal management and performance optimization, being an Alienware laptop, and it’s also relatively thin (0.78”) for an Alienware. The major downside to this laptop, as is the case with most Alienware laptops, is the price.

#3. MSI GE76 Raider 10UG-232 17.3 inch Laptop

MSI Raider GE76 12UE Gaming Laptop, 2023, 17.3" 1920 x 1080 144 Hz, Intel Core i7-12700H 14-Core, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 6GB, 32GB DDR5, 1TB SSD, Windows 11 Pro, RGB Backlit Keyboard, Titanium Blue

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Key Specifications

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-10870H 2.2-5.0 GHz
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX3070 8GB GDDR6
  • RAM: 32GB (16G*2) DDR4 3200MHz ; 2 Sockets, Max Memory 64GB
  • Storage: 2TB NVMe SSD
  • Display: FHD (1920×1080), 300Hz 3ms, IPS-Level | 1920×1080 16:9
  • Output: 1x RJ45, 1x SD (XC/HC), 1x (4K @ 60Hz) HDMI, 1x Mini-DisplayPort, 2x Type-A USB3.2 Gen1, 1x Type-A USB3.2 Gen2, 1x Type-C (USB3.2 Gen2 / DP), 1x Type-C USB3.2 Gen2x2
  • Weight and Size: 39 lbs, 1.08 x 15.63 x 10.57 inches
  • RGB: Per-Key RGB gaming keyboard by SteelSeries

Our Verdict

The new MSI GE76 features a high-end performance thanks to the RTX 3070 GPU, 32 GB of ram, and i7-10870H CPU for extreme performance with its 17.3” 300Hz display.

As with other MSI laptops, features SteelSeries keyboard which is very comfortable to type on, and there’s also a separate Numpad, ideal for coders. Not the thinnest, and relatively bulky, but is a great choice if you are looking mainly for performance.

#4. Acer Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop

 

acer 2023 Predator Helios 300 Gaming Laptop, 15.6" 2K QHD 240Hz Display, Intel Core i7-12700H 14-Core, GeForce RTX 3070 Ti, 64GB DDR5, 2TB PCIe SSD, RGB Keyboard, Thunderbolt 4, RJ-45, GM Accessories

 

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Key Specifications

  • CPU: 12th Generation Intel Core i7-12700H 6-Core Processor (Up to 5.0GHz)
  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti with Max-Q Design with 8 GB of dedicated GDDR6 VRAM
  • RAM: 64GB DDR5 2933MHz Dual-Channel Memory
  • Storage: 2TB PCIe SSD (2 x M.2 Slots | 1 Slot Open for Easy Upgrades) & 1 – Available Hard Drive Bay
  • Display:  2K QHD 240Hz Display
  • Output: 1 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x Mini DisplayPort, 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (Type-A), 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-A), 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-C).
  • Weight and Size: 39 lbs, 15.89 x 11.02 x 0.97 inches
  • RGB: 4-Zone RGB Backlit Keyboard

Our Verdict

The Acer Predator Helios 300 heavy-duty laptop built for gaming with a spacious 15.6” full HD display that is ideal for your PLC programming activities. Cool-looking design with a solid performance in mid-high end class. Relatively thin and compact considering its large screen.

One downside is it’s rather heavy and you might need a little bit of time to adjust to the keyboard layout.

#5. Dell Precision 7670 – 16 inch Laptop

 

Dell Precision 7000 7670 Workstation Laptop (2022) | 16" FHD+ | Core i7-512GB SSD Hard Drive - 32GB RAM - RTX A1000 | 16 Cores @ 4.8 GHz - 12th Gen CPU Win 11 Pro

 

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Key Specifications

  • CPU: 12th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-12850H (12 MB Cache, 4 Core, 8 Threads, 2.80 GHz to 4.70 GHz, 17.5W)
  • GPU: NVIDIA® T500, 2 GB GDDR6
  • RAM: 32 GB, DDR5, 3200 MHz, dual-channel
  • Storage: 1TB PCIe SSD, Gen 3 PCIe x4 NVMe, Class 40 SSD
  • Display: 15-inch, FHD 1920 x 1080, 60 Hz, anti-glare, touch, 45% NTSC, 250 nits, wide-viewing angle
  • Output: 1 x RJ-45 Ethernet port, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type A port, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type A port with PowerShare, 2 x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports with Power-in, 1 x HDMI 2.0 port, 1 x Universal audio port
  • Weight and Size: 5 lbs, 14.09 x 9.13 x 0,56 inches
  • RGB: No, Single point, backlit keyboard

Our Verdict

The Dell Precision 7670 is an ultra-book focused on performance and professional use. Ultra-thin with just 0.56” thickness. 100% sRGB accuracy for the display monitor, making the laptop also ideal for video editing, 3D modeling, and other activities related to PLC programming. Its large trackpad, and very comfortable keyboard layout, making the Dell Precision very comfortable to code for hours with.

#6. HP OMEN 16.1″ Gaming Laptop

 

HP Omen 16.1" 165Hz QHD IPS Gaming Laptop -14-Core i9-12900H - NVIDIA RTX 3060 6GB - 4-Zone RGB Backlit KB - Thunderbolt 4 - Wi-Fi 6E | BT 5.2 - Win11 (32GB RAM | 2TB PCIe SSD)

 

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Key Specifications

  • CPU: 14th Gen Intel® Core™ i9-12900H (Up to 5GHz)
  • GPU: NVIDIA® GeForce® RTX 3060
  • RAM: 16 GB DDR5 SDRAM
  • Storage: 1TB SSD
  • Display: 6″ FHD display 1920 x 1080 300Hz FHD anti-glare
  • Output: 1 x Thunderbolt 3 ( Type-C), 1 x Mini DisplayPort, 3 x SuperSpeed Type-A, 1 RJ-45, 1 x HDMI 2.0a, S•D Multi-Format Card Reader.
  • Weight and Size: 4 lbs, 0.9” thin
  • RGB: 4 zone RGB keyboard

Our Verdict

Omen laptops by HP have been the favorite choices for gamers and programmers in recent years, and the recent models come with an all-new design that looks more sleek and professional. The older Omen laptops also suffer from thermal management issues, but this has been significantly improved.

Based on our test, it only reaches 75°F on the touchpad area and 88°F under the laptop, while the older models can reach 97°F (the average being 95°F for laptops of this caliber) under heavy loads. Great value for its price, especially with its 300 Hz display, RTX 2060 GPU, and i7-10750H CPU.

#7. Razer Blade 15 Base Gaming Laptop

Razer Blade 15 Base Gaming Laptop 2020: Intel Core i7-10750H 6-Core, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060, 15.6" FHD 1080p 144Hz, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, CNC Aluminum, Chroma RGB Lighting, Thunderbolt 3, Black

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Key Specifications

  • CPU: 12th Generation Intel Core i9-10750H 6-Core Processor (Up to 5.0GHz)
  • GPU: NVIDIA® GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU 8GB GDDR6 VRAM
  • RAM: 16GB DDR5 2933MHz Dual-Channel Memory
  • Storage: 512GB PCIe SSD + available M.2 slot for easy SSD upgrades
  • Display: 6″ Full HD 144Hz, 100% sRGB, 4.9 mm bezel, factory calibrated
  • Output: 1 x Thunderbolt™ 3 (USB-C), 3 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (USB-A), 1 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x HDMI 2.1 output (Up to 4K 120Hz)
  • Weight and Size: 6 lbs, 9.25 x 13.98 x 0.78 inches
  • RGB: Single-zone RGB Powered by Razer Chroma™ anti-ghosting keyboard

Our Verdict

The famous Razer Blade with its unique unibody design, now featuring the NVIDIA RTX 3070. Thin, light, but durable, and there’s no question about performance.

One of the most balanced choices in virtually all aspects from looks, performance, and ergonomics, but a minor downside is that its battery life is not the best compared to others in this list.

How to Choose the Best Laptop for Programming

CPU Processing Power

Image showing an CPU Intel core processor. One of the key aspects in the best laptops for programming.

Choosing the right CPU (Central Processing Unit) for a laptop used for programming is crucial as it directly impacts the performance and responsiveness of your development environment. Here are key factors to consider:

  • Performance: Opt for a multi-core processor. Most modern programming tools and IDEs (Integrated Development Environments) can benefit from multiple cores, enhancing the overall performance, especially during tasks like compiling, debugging, and running virtual machines.
  • Clock Speed: Higher clock speeds generally lead to better single-threaded performance. This can be important for certain tasks that don’t scale well with multiple cores, such as compiling a single file.
  • Architecture: Choose a processor with a modern architecture. The architecture affects the efficiency of the CPU, and newer architectures often come with improvements in power efficiency and performance.
  • Hyper-Threading (Multithreading): Hyper-Threading allows each physical CPU core to handle two threads simultaneously, improving multitasking performance. For programming, especially if you run multiple applications or virtual machines simultaneously, a CPU with hyper-threading can be beneficial.
  • Cache Size: A larger cache size can improve performance by storing frequently accessed data closer to the CPU cores. Look for a CPU with an adequate cache size for better responsiveness.
  • Integrated Graphics vs. Dedicated GPU: Integrated graphics are usually sufficient for programming tasks. However, if you plan to do graphics-intensive work or run GPU-accelerated applications, consider a laptop with a dedicated GPU.
  • TDP (Thermal Design Power): Pay attention to the TDP, as it indicates the amount of heat a CPU generates and the cooling system required. A lower TDP can contribute to better power efficiency and longer battery life.
  • Compatibility: Ensure the CPU is compatible with the software and tools you plan to use. Some development environments or applications may have specific requirements or optimizations for certain CPU architectures.
  • Future-Proofing: Consider future needs and technological advancements. Investing in a slightly more powerful CPU can help ensure that your laptop remains capable of handling upcoming software updates and more demanding programming tasks.
  • Budget: Balance your performance requirements with your budget. There are various CPUs available at different price points, so choose one that provides a good balance of performance and cost for your specific needs.

Popular CPU brands for laptops include Intel and AMD. When comparing CPUs, consider models within the same generation, as newer generations typically offer improved performance and efficiency. Additionally, read reviews and benchmark tests to get a better understanding of real-world performance in programming scenarios.

Determining Your Memory (RAM) Requirements

Image of how much RAM will improve overall performance in a premium laptop for programming.

RAM (Random Access Memory) is a crucial component for a powerful laptop, as it directly influences the system’s ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously and the overall responsiveness of your development environment.

Here are key factors to consider when choosing RAM for a programming laptop:

  • Capacity: The amount of RAM you need depends on the nature of your programming tasks. For general programming, 8GB to 16GB is often sufficient. However, if you work with resource-intensive applications, virtual machines, or large datasets, consider 32GB or more.
  • Type of Programming: Different programming tasks have varying RAM requirements. For basic web development or scripting, 8GB to 16GB is usually enough. If you’re working on complex software development, machine learning, or data analysis, higher capacities may be beneficial.
  • Multitasking: If you often have multiple applications, development environments, or virtual machines open simultaneously, opt for higher RAM capacity. This helps prevent slowdowns and ensures smooth multitasking.
  • Speed: RAM speed is measured in megahertz (MHz). Higher speed RAM can improve overall system performance, especially in scenarios where data needs to be quickly accessed. However, the real-world impact may be marginal, and the CPU and other factors also play a role.
  • Dual-Channel vs Single-Channel: Dual-channel memory configurations can provide better memory bandwidth compared to single-channel configurations. If possible, choose a laptop that supports dual-channel memory for improved performance.
  • Compatibility: Ensure that the RAM is compatible with your laptop model and its motherboard. Check the maximum supported RAM capacity, speed, and form factor to avoid compatibility issues.
  • ECC (Error-Correcting Code) Memory (Optional): ECC memory can detect and correct certain types of memory errors, providing greater reliability. However, it’s not a necessity for most programming tasks and may add to the cost.
  • Future-Proofing: Consider your future needs. As software and development tools evolve, they may demand more RAM. Investing in a slightly higher RAM capacity can help ensure that your laptop remains capable of handling future updates and more demanding projects.
  • Budget: RAM prices can vary, so consider your budget when choosing the capacity and speed. While more RAM is generally better, balance your requirements with cost considerations.

Remember that the RAM’s impact on performance is interconnected with other components, such as the CPU and storage. It’s important to have a balanced system where all components work well together.

Reviewing system requirements for the software and development tools you plan to use can also guide your decision on the optimal RAM configuration for your programming laptop.

Not All Hard Drives Are Created Equal!

Image showing internal storage hard disk drives to be included in the best laptop for programming.

Hard Disk Drives (HDD’s) are an often overlooked aspect of any laptop build. However, HDD speed’s can quickly become a bottleneck in even the best performing laptops. Choosing the right hard drive for a programming laptop involves considering factors related to storage capacity, speed, and reliability. Here are key considerations for selecting a hard drive:

  • Type of Storage: There are two main types of hard drives: HDDs (Hard Disk Drives) and SSDs (Solid State Drives). SSDs are faster, more durable, and generally provide better overall performance. For a programming laptop, it’s highly recommended to go for an SSD.
  • Storage Capacity: The storage capacity you need depends on the size of your projects, the amount of data you work with, and whether you store large media files. A minimum of 256GB is recommended for the OS and essential software, but 512GB or 1TB SSDs offer more flexibility for larger projects.
  • Read/Write Speeds: SSDs offer significantly faster read and write speeds compared to traditional HDDs. Look for SSDs with higher read/write speeds for quicker data access and faster program loading times. SATA SSDs are common, but NVMe (Non-Volatile Memory Express) SSDs are faster.
  • Form Factor: Ensure that the hard drive form factor is compatible with your laptop. Common form factors include 2.5-inch (for SATA SSDs) and M.2 (for NVMe SSDs). Check your laptop’s specifications to determine the supported form factor.
  • Durability: SSDs are generally more durable than HDDs because they have no moving parts. They are better equipped to withstand physical shocks and vibrations, making them suitable for portable laptops.
  • Power Consumption: SSDs typically have lower power consumption than HDDs, contributing to better battery life for laptops. If you value mobility and longer usage between charges, this is an important consideration.
  • Reliability: Consider the reliability and brand reputation when choosing a hard drive. Look for SSDs from reputable manufacturers known for producing reliable storage solutions.
  • Hybrid Drives (Optional): Hybrid drives combine a traditional HDD with a small SSD cache. While they can offer some of the benefits of SSDs at a lower cost, they may not provide the same level of performance as a dedicated SSD.
  • External Storage Options: If you need additional storage space for large datasets or backups, consider external storage options such as external HDDs or SSDs. This allows you to expand your storage capacity without compromising the laptop’s internal performance.
  • Budget: SSD prices have become more competitive, making them a cost-effective choice for laptops. While SSDs may have a higher upfront cost than HDDs, the performance benefits often justify the investment.

In summary, the best laptop for programming will prioritize an SSD over an HDD for improved speed, durability, and overall system responsiveness. Consider your storage needs, read/write speeds, and the form factor that fits your laptop. Choosing a reliable brand and assessing your budget will help you find the right balance between performance and cost.

Which Laptop Screen Size is Best?

Image showing a good display quality screen brightness on a Macbook pro laptop.

When choosing the best laptop for programming, the screen size is an important factor to consider. The ideal screen size depends on personal preferences and the specific requirements of the programmer, but here are some considerations:

  • Resolution: Higher resolution screens provide more screen real estate, allowing you to see more code at once. Look for laptops with at least a Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution for a comfortable coding experience.
  • Size and Portability: Larger screens (15 inches and above) offer more space for multitasking and can be beneficial if you often work with multiple windows or need to see more code simultaneously.
  • Aspect Ratio: A 16:9 aspect ratio is common and suitable for most programming tasks. However, some programmers prefer a 3:2 or 16:10 aspect ratio for a taller screen, providing more vertical space for code.
  • Anti-Glare or Matte Finish: If you plan to work in different environments, consider a laptop with an anti-glare or matte finish. This helps reduce reflections and glare, making it easier on the eyes, especially if you code for extended periods.
  • Colo Accuracy: If you’re involved in design or multimedia programming, color accuracy becomes important. Look for laptops with good color reproduction for accurate representation of graphics and images.
  • Touchscreen (Optional): Some programmers find touchscreens useful for certain tasks. If you like the idea of interacting with your code or using touch-based gestures, consider a laptop with a touchscreen.
  • External Monitor Support: If you have the option to use an external monitor, the laptop’s screen size becomes less critical. Ensure that the laptop supports external displays and has the necessary ports for connecting additional monitors.
  • Budget Constraints: Larger screens and higher resolutions often come with a higher price tag. Consider your budget and balance it with your preferences and requirements.

If you don’t mind the extra weight (and price tag that goes along with it) consider moving to a larger screen with a 17 inch. Your eyes will thank you and it makes traversing lines of code that much easier.

Consider the Communication Ports

Laptop showing communication ports such as audio jack, sd card slot, display port for external monitor.

The availability of ports on a laptop is crucial for programmers, as it directly impacts the ability to connect external devices, peripherals, and accessories. Here are important factors to consider when evaluating the available ports on a laptop for programming:

  • USB Ports: Ensure the laptop has an adequate number of USB ports. USB ports are essential for connecting external storage devices, peripherals (such as keyboards and mice), smartphones, and other accessories. USB 3.0 or later ports offer faster data transfer speeds.
  • USB Type-C: USB Type-C ports are versatile and increasingly common. They support faster data transfer, can be used for charging, and are compatible with various USB-C peripherals. Having at least one USB Type-C port is beneficial for future-proofing and versatility.
  • Thunderbolt (Optional): Thunderbolt ports provide high-speed data transfer and support daisy-chaining multiple devices. If you work with high-performance external storage or other Thunderbolt-compatible devices, having Thunderbolt ports can be advantageous.
  • HDMI/DisplayPort: If you plan to connect your laptop to an external monitor or projector, check for HDMI or DisplayPort outputs. Ensure the laptop supports the desired resolution and refresh rate for your external display.
  • SD Card Reader: An SD card reader can be useful for programmers working with cameras, embedded systems, or other devices that use SD cards. If your workflow involves SD cards, having a built-in card reader is convenient.
  • Ethernet Port: While many laptops prioritize wireless connectivity, having an Ethernet port can be crucial for stable and fast internet connections, especially in scenarios where Wi-Fi may not be reliable.
  • Audio Jack: Check for a standard 3.5mm audio jack if you use headphones or external speakers. Some laptops may have combined audio jacks that support both headphones and microphones.
  • Power Delivery (USB PD): USB Power Delivery allows the laptop to be charged through its USB-C port. If you have devices that support USB PD, it can simplify your charging setup.
  • Kensington Lock Slot: A Kensington lock slot provides a physical security option. If you work in shared spaces or need to leave your laptop unattended, this can help prevent theft.
  • Docking Station Compatibility: If you plan to use a docking station for a more desktop-like setup, check the laptop’s compatibility with popular docking stations. This can simplify connecting and disconnecting multiple peripherals.
  • Wireless Connectivity: Ensure the laptop has the necessary wireless connectivity options, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, for wireless communication and device connectivity.
  • Availability of Adapters: Consider the availability of adapters or dongles if the laptop has limited ports. Some laptops are designed to be thin and lightweight, sacrificing certain ports, and adapters may be needed for specific connections.

When choosing a laptop for programming, it’s important to match the available ports with your specific needs and workflow. Consider the types of devices you regularly connect and ensure the laptop provides the necessary connectivity options for a seamless development experience.

Not All Batteries Are Created Equal!

The best laptops for programming will have a long battery life such as the battery depicted in this image.

The battery in a laptop for programming is a critical component, especially for those who work on the go or in environments without constant access to power outlets. Here are key factors to consider when evaluating the battery of a programming laptop:

  • Battery Capacity (mAh or Wh): Battery capacity is measured in milliampere-hours (mAh) or watt-hours (Wh). A higher capacity generally means longer battery life. However, actual battery life depends on other factors like the laptop’s power consumption, screen brightness, and workload.
  • Battery Life: Check the manufacturer’s stated battery life, but be aware that these estimates are often based on optimal conditions. Real-world usage may result in shorter battery life. Consider independent reviews and user experiences for a more accurate understanding of battery performance.
  • Usage Scenarios: Assess your typical usage scenarios. If you frequently work in places with limited access to power outlets, a longer battery life is crucial. If you work mainly in a fixed location, you may prioritize other features over battery life.
  • Fast Charging Capability: Fast-charging technology allows you to quickly charge the laptop’s battery. This can be beneficial when you need a quick charge before heading out or during breaks between work sessions.
  • User-Replaceable Battery: Some laptops have user-replaceable batteries, while others have sealed designs. User-replaceable batteries can be convenient if you plan to keep the laptop for an extended period, as you can replace the battery when its capacity diminishes over time.
  • Power Efficiency of Components: The power efficiency of the CPU, GPU, and other components influences overall battery life. Modern processors and energy-efficient components contribute to longer battery life.
  • Screen Technology: The type of display can impact battery life. LED-backlit displays are generally more power-efficient than traditional LCDs. Additionally, laptops with OLED displays may consume more power when displaying bright colors.
  • Operating System Optimizations: Some operating systems are more optimized for power efficiency than others. Linux distributions, for example, may offer better power management than Windows or macOS in certain cases.
  • Battery Health Monitoring Software: Some laptops come with battery health monitoring software that provides insights into the battery’s condition. This can be useful for tracking the battery’s degradation over time.
  • Configurable Power Settings: Check if the laptop allows you to customize power settings. Being able to adjust settings such as screen brightness, sleep times, and background processes can help optimize battery usage based on your preferences.
  • Thermal Management: Efficient thermal management can indirectly impact battery life. Laptops with good thermal design are less likely to overheat, which can lead to more stable performance and potentially better power efficiency.
  • Weight and Portability: Lighter laptops are often more portable, which is beneficial for users who need to carry their laptops frequently. However, smaller and lighter laptops may sacrifice battery capacity.

Considering these factors will help you find a programming laptop with a great battery life that aligns with your specific needs and work habits. It’s essential to strike a balance between exceptional battery life, performance, and other features based on your individual requirements.

Operating System Considerations for Programmers

Windows machine upgrading its operating system.

The choice of an operating system (OS) for programming depends on personal preferences, the development tools you use, and the specific requirements of your projects. Here are factors to consider when evaluating the operating system in a best laptop for programming:

  • Compatibility with Development Tools: Ensure that the operating system supports the programming languages, frameworks, and development tools you intend to use. Some tools are platform-specific, so check for compatibility with your chosen OS.
  • Popular Programming Platforms: Windows, macOS, and various Linux distributions are common choices. Consider the popularity of the platform within your development community and the availability of support and resources.
  • Integrated Development Environment (IDE) Support: Check if the preferred IDEs for your programming languages are available and fully functional on the chosen OS. Popular IDEs like Visual Studio, IntelliJ IDEA, and Xcode may have different levels of support across operating systems.
  • Command Line Interface (CLI) Tools: If you frequently use command-line tools or scripts, consider the command-line capabilities of the operating system. Some developers prefer the robust command-line interface offered by Unix-based systems (Linux/macOS).
  • Package Management: Package managers make it easier to install and manage libraries, dependencies, and software packages. Different operating systems have their own package managers (e.g., apt for Debian-based Linux, Homebrew for macOS, Chocolatey for Windows).
  • Performance: Evaluate the performance of the operating system, considering factors like system resource utilization, efficiency, and responsiveness. Some developers prioritize the speed and efficiency of Unix-like systems.
  • User Interface and User Experience: Assess the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) of the operating system. Windows, macOS, and Linux desktop environments have distinct designs, and personal preference plays a role in the choice.
  • Security Features: Consider the built-in security features of the operating system. Windows, macOS, and Linux have different security models. Frequent security updates and a proactive security stance are essential for a programming environment.
  • Community and Support: The availability of a strong community and support resources can be beneficial. A vibrant community can provide assistance, share knowledge, and offer solutions to common problems.
  • Virtualization and Container Support: If you work with a virtual machine or containers, check the support for virtualization technologies. Some operating systems may have better compatibility and performance for running virtualized environments.
  • Device Compatibility: Ensure that the operating system is compatible with the laptop’s hardware. Some operating systems may have limited driver support for certain devices.
  • Cost: Consider the cost of the operating system. Linux distributions are often free and open source, while Windows and macOS may involve licensing fees. Keep in mind that the cost may be a factor, especially for personal or budget-conscious users.
  • Updates and Long-Term Support: Evaluate the update policies and long-term support (LTS) options for the operating system. Regular updates are crucial for security, while LTS versions may provide stability for a longer period.

Ultimately, the choice of an operating system for programming is subjective and depends on individual preferences and requirements. Many developers use multiple operating systems based on project needs or personal preference.

It’s also common to see developers using Windows for some projects and Linux or macOS for others. Consider your workflow, tools, and the development community you’re a part of when making your decision.

As I said previously, most industrial automation software is designed to run on Windows-based PC’s…sorry Mac people. Having said that, I have heard of people running PLC programming software, in dual boot mode on MacBook Pro’s with good performance and success.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Which brand of laptop is the best?

The “best” laptop brand can be subjective and depends on individual preferences, needs, and budget constraints. Different laptop brands excel in different areas, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Stick to brands you know such as Dell, HP, Lenovo, ASUS, Acer, Microsoft, Apple.

2. What is the best laptop to buy?

Determining the “best” laptop to buy depends on your specific needs, preferences, and budget. The market is dynamic, and new laptop models are frequently released with updated features and specifications.

3. What brand of laptop is most reliable?

Determining the most reliable laptop brand can be subjective and may vary based on individual experiences and specific models. However, some laptop brands have gained a reputation for producing reliable and durable devices. Here are a few: Lenovo, Acer, Dell, HP, Asus.

4. Is 14 inch laptop too small for programming?

The suitability of a 14-inch laptop for programming depends on individual preferences, workflow, and the specific programming tasks you undertake. While a 14-inch laptop may be considered small compared to larger alternatives, it can still be a practical and portable choice for many programmers.

5. Which laptop is best for programming?

We’ve ranked the best laptops for programming at the beginning of this article. Be sure to check them out to see which laptop for programming we rated in our top picks.

6. Do I need a powerful laptop for programming?

The need for a powerful laptop for programming depends on the nature of your programming tasks, the technologies you work with, and your personal preferences.

7. How much RAM is needed for PLC programming?

The amount of RAM (Random Access Memory) needed for PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) programming depends on the complexity of your control system, the size of the programs you are developing, and the specific software tools you use.

PLC programming software typically doesn’t demand as much RAM as some other resource-intensive tasks, but it’s still important to have enough for smooth and efficient operation.