Laptop for programming

Hey guys,
I would like to know what would be the best laptop for python and web development (fullstack).
I want to have great battery life and good performance (fast).
Not a budget but something what can work for 4-5+ years.

Thanks in advance!

Hard to give a definitive answer for “best” laptop, but I would say that macbooks are very popular amongst web devs and the battery lifes are usually really good

This specific question has been asked and answered many time on the forum, so please do search.

I’m assuming Windows Vs Mac: you can install Linux on most laptops instead, but unless a new hobby updating your system is attractive, often a lot easier to stick with an OS where everything tends to Just Work (YMMV!). Chrome- or iOS- based platforms I’d ignore. Anyway:

  • doesn’t matter a lot unless you are doing something that is computationally taxing. Most programming work isn’t, with certain outliers (machine learning, 3d games).
  • having more CPU cores don’t magically make things faster. Most applications are not built to take advantage of multiple cores, so having some 16-core threadripper doodad is :man_shrugging:t3: in most cases (YMMV).
  • tooling is often very taxing on resources. RAM is normally what helps there. IDEs can chew through memory, for example.
  • any reasonably good laptop built in the last 4-5 years will do fine.
  • this makes refurbished laptops attractive as there are normally very good deals on high-end laptops (eg a very good computer from a few years ago for price of a budget one, a top-of the range one for the price of a mid-range one). As an example, at top of the range, can normally find refurb Dell XPS’ massively reduced from the Dell site.
  • any new reasonably good laptop should be a workhorse for 4-5 years no problem.
  • anything budget is budget because the manufacturer has skimped on something. Low-end are often garbage. Mid-range will probably have some parts that are garbage. Higher-end (eg Mac level) should generally be very good regardless. However:
  • you will be using it all the time so make sure it feels good (keyboard, touchpad, screen, weight, feel etc). This is possibly most important thing. You can live with some downsides if the machine feels really good to use.
  • built-in graphics are now pretty excellent if that’s at all important (won’t play top of the range games well, but most everything else is generally fine).
  • having a reasonably-sized SSD drive is very useful. Macs are annoying in this regard because the lowest priced ones have small, non-upgradeable storage.
  • WSL2 on Windows is excellent and tends to Just Work. So in terms of developing, where there are certain advantages to using a Unix-based system, Windows is at least as good as using a Mac.
  • Macs work very well, are very well built, the M1/2 chips are good, and the software is tuned to the hardware.
  • Mac screens are brilliant, as are the touchpads (IMO).
  • Macs are very expensive, so you pay a huge premium for the above.
  • sales are coming and Macs don’t tend to be reduced as much as equivalent laptops from other manufacturers.
  • Equivalent laptops are always being reduced much more than Macs because there are a lot more of them, and manufacturers do things like get rid of all stock with {insert previous-gen screens}.
  • Mac M1/M2 chips work very well, and advantage with Macs is that the whole operating system is tuned to the hardware; they tend to be a bit smoother running IME (YMMV).

Again, just to reiterate, you don’t need an all-singing, all-dancing top of the range thing, you aren’t likely doing anything particularly computationally taxing.

Bear in mind that when someone gets a job, the employer will ask what computer they want, and then the employer will provide that computer. The employer is providing professional equipment.

When an employer asks me what I want then sure, an M2 MacBook Pro with a terabyte of storage and 32gb RAM please. And it will be great. Personally though, I don’t need a £3000 top-of-the-range machine that will burn through anything with ease. It may be very nice to have, but it’s also massive overkill.

And again, just to reiterate, find something that feels good to use. As an example:

I have a laptop that’s about 6 years old that I bought for programming and I’ve barely used it. It’s absolutely fine, but the touchpad isn’t great and it’s 15". It’s a bit heavy, and doesn’t fit in my bag very well. Also it has slightly sharp edges, and the screen doesn’t click shut so I have to be careful to make sure it’s closed properly when I put it in my bag. So instead, I have always just used my current work laptop (which has been a Mac for past decade). Which always works fantastically, feels great to use. But that means I’m doing personal stuff on a work computer. So I bought a new laptop three months ago because it had 45% off (getting rid of stock). It cost ¼ of what an equivalent Mac would have cost, its 13", has a great touchpad and screen, weighs nothing, and I basically haven’t touched my work laptop at all since I bought it. It comes down to stuff like that.

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