This article was published on January 21, 2021

The 6 best developer laptops for 2021

The 6 best developer laptops for 2021 Image by: Unsplash

Computers, in particular laptops, are the essential tool for any developer. Sure, having a nice keyboard and mouse can boost productivity and comfort, but developers can’t do any work without a good computer.

There are many types of developers out there – those who use the terminal for everything, even coding, and those like me who use IDEs built on Java, which is resource-intensive. Plus, there are web developers, desktop developers, game developers… you get my point.

Because there are so many preferences and styles, we will focus this article on multiple purpose developers, nothing too specific, so laptops that will help most of us enjoy our work and produce fantastic value.

The best laptops for coding will be the right combination of OS, resources, and comfort. Without any further ado, let’s review the best developer laptops for 2021.

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Dell XPS 15

Dell XPS 15

The first machine that appears on our list is the Dell XPS 15. It has expeditious performance and an aesthetically appealing design. The Dell XPS 15 is the laptop I currently own (though I have an older model), and I love it.

The laptop features a stunning 15.6-inch with up to a 4k screen resolution. Dell offers the laptop in multiple configurations for different budget levels, having options from using a 10th generation Intel Core i5-i7 CPU, 8-64 GB RAM, a storage memory of 256GB-1TB SSD, and an Intel Iris Plus Graphics – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti.

The dedicated graphics performance gives you the liberty to handle intense graphical work, like video editing or rendering. Another great thing about the Dell XPS 15 is its excellent battery life. Thanks to this, you don’t have to be chained to a desk every time you want to program with this powerful device.

The laptop officially doesn’t support Linux, and even if you’d ask Dell operators, they will tell you there’s no support for Linux. However, most Linux distributions would run without any issues on these devices. I run anything on my laptop; from Arch to Manjaro, Linux Mint, and Ubuntu.

Check out the Dell XPS 15 on Amazon.

Apple MacBook Pro 16

Apple MacBook Pro 16

We can’t talk about the best laptops for programming without talking about the MacBook Pro. It is one of the bests all-around laptops, featuring MacOS and its characteristic performance. We are still waiting for the 16 inches model to feature the M1 processor (hopefully coming out soon).

MacOS is perfect for developers as it combines a brilliant and smooth interface with a powerful command-line and UNIX like architecture, giving the best of both worlds. If budget is not an issue, it’s definitely worth getting a MacBook Pro.

This laptop is so popular among developers that most companies will now offer you a MacBook Pro as the default laptop.

Check out the Apple MacBook Pro 16 on Amazon.

Apple MacBook Air with M1 chip

Apple MacBook Air

Apple MacBook Air has been refreshed and ushered in a few significant updates, a high-speed and responsive interface, noiseless use, a similar design as the last model, and is fanless, making it one of the best laptops for web development.

Although it’s not a powerhouse like the MacBook Pro (or other high tech Windows laptops), it comes with the new M1-chip, which is specifically designed for Mac and offers unparalleled performance.

This laptop will not let you down, and it will handle all daily tasks without issues, making it a perfect budget laptop for those who want MacOS.

Check out the Apple MacBook Air with M1 chip on Amazon.

Dell Inspiron

Dell Inspiron

The Dell Inspiron is a budget laptop that suits many developers’ needs. Because it has multiple configurations allowing it to expand its available memory, it’s a strong candidate for web developers.

This laptop earned many developers’ hearts by being an affordable solution that can run Linux and Windows with good performance.

Check out the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 on Amazon.

Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is the best Windows 10 tablet computer you can purchase today. It runs Linux OS exceptionally well.

The Surface Pro X line’s most significant issue so far is the very same thing that makes it stand out, and that’s the fact that it’s built upon an ARM-based processor.

Check out the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 on Amazon.

Oryx Pro by System76

Oryx Pro by System76

System76 is a company that builds computers and laptops for Linux. They even have their own Linux distribution called PopOS, which builds on top of Ubuntu.

Though I’ve never owned one myself, it’s on my wishlist. The company claims their hardware runs perfectly on Linux, making it a great experience.

All laptops come with either PopOS or Ubuntu installed, and the configurations are endless. Select the one that better fits your needs and budget and enjoy!

Check out the Oryx Pro on the System76 website.


There is no one laptop to tick all the boxes, but there are great laptops in each category. My favorite laptop today is the Dell XPS. I owned multiple versions of that laptop in the past and it never let me down. They have great Linux support, the hardware for the price is excellent, and the laptops are well-designed.

Another solid personal choice is the MacBook Pro 16 inches. MacOS is hard to beat: I use it for my 9 to 5 job, and I love the experience. It’s just that my heart belongs to Linux (you can read more about that inner conflict in my article about working with Linux and MacOS) which is why the Dell XPS will always have a slight advantage.

This article was originally published on Live Code Stream by Juan Cruz Martinez (twitter: @bajcmartinez), founder and publisher of Live Code Stream, entrepreneur, developer, author, speaker, and doer of things.

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