Best Laptops For Computer Science & Programming 2020

Ty Arthur Updated on May 11, 2020
Best Laptops For Programming

Heading off to college to learn the ins and outs of programming? We’ve found the 5 best laptops for programming that will fit your budget and give you a smooth experience

Whether you use, Java, C++, PHP, CSS, Objective C, Swift, or some other language entirely, we’ve got you covered with these contenders. Or reading this progamming laptop buying guide first.

Picking The Best Laptops For Computer Science 2020

When looking for a notebook computer specifically meant for coding, you need to look for different specs than with typical home or office usage.

In particular, this is a category where the processor is more important than nearly any other hardware component.

Compiling and running programs eats up a lot of processor power, so the better your CPU, the faster you will be able to crank out the code.

Unless you are coding apps to be used on a tablet or phone, touch screen capability is less important and is simply a personal preference issue.

You can save quite a bit of money by ditching the touch screen and avoiding hybrid models when looking for a great coding laptop.

Let’s dive in and see what’s available for the best programming laptops this year!Processor

The various tasks and projects undertaken for computer science requires a powerful CPU. Ultimately, you might need to run multiple programs at once which requires more processing power.

RAM & Storage

Without sufficient RAM, laptops can get sluggish. A balance in RAM and storage resources is the perfect foundation for a good computer science laptop.

Graphics

The graphics card determines how the laptop displays media. A good graphics card ensures you handle the most demanding computer science projects with ease.

Screen Size & Resolution

Computer scientists’ core tasks involve reading and creating code. A combination of high resolution and good screen size alleviates eye strain when working for long hours.

Battery Life

Battery life is an essential feature in a computer science laptop. And while you may have power outlets in your classroom or office, it comes in handy when working away from a power outlet.

In A Hurry? Here’s The Winner From Hours Of Research

Editor’s Choice

Samsung Notebook 9

Samsung Notebook 9

Why is it better?

Right now, the Samsung Notebook 9 is our top overall pick for any kind of programmer, whether you are a student or professional. It has all the features you’d need to work in any programming language.

The Notebook 9 comes with a high price tag, however. If you need to save money, your best budget programming laptop pick will easily be the Acer Aspire 5 A515 instead.

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Read The Details

The Lineup At A Glance

The Contenders For The Best Programming Laptop 2020

1. Dell Gaming Laptop – Best Laptop For Game Programming

Dell Gaming Laptop
  • One of the best processors available
  • Plenty of storage space
  • Heavier than non-gaming models
  • No touch screen display

Want the absolute best laptop for both programming and gaming? This is your best pick, and it’s much less expensive than many other gaming models as well!

Finding the best possible processor is critical for programming games, no matter what platform or programming language you utilize.

That’s where this Dell model shines, with an 8th gen processor featuring an absolutely huge cache. That feature is very helpful for programming, since the laptop will be running repetitive tasks with the same data over and over.

Besides the CPU, your next concern should be whether the dedicated graphics can handle game programming. The Ti version of the GTX 1050 video card is more than enough to run the vast majority of gaming applications.

The only downside there is that the 1050 isn’t technically VR ready. If you need to be able to program and test VR programs, you should look for a system with a GTX 1070 instead.

Coding is all about spending long hours typing, so the full size keyboard with plenty of backlighting color options is a major pro here.

keyboard

Want to know the best part?

You also get better battery life than many other gaming models, allowing you to code longer before plugging into an outlet.

Buyers typically praise the keyboard and specs on this model, but do often note one problem. Most users report some issues with the drivers, and end up having to hit the Dell website to manually download the latest drivers.

That’s a small problem for such a high end machine, especially since this Dell model is typically available for under $1,000

Don’t have that much to spend and want to save $200? The MSI GBV62 is another excellent choice for both gaming and programming, although it only sports half the amount of RAM.

Hardware specifications for Dell Gaming Laptop
ProcessorIntel Core i7-8750H (6-Core, 9MB Cache, Up to 3.9GHz)
RAM16GB DDR4 RAM
Storage256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 1050TI
Display

15.6-inch FHD IPS Anti-Glare Display, 1920 x 1080 Pixels Resolution

Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64 Bit
Battery Life5 hours
Weight5.57 lbs

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2. Samsung Notebook 9 – Best Software Developer Laptop

Samsung Notebook 9
  • Highly portable and lightweight
  • Well-rounded, high end specs
  • Extremely long battery life
  • Less storage capacity than other models
  • High price

Want to be covered for absolutely any type of programming application? If you’ve got the money to spend, this should be your #1 pick!

For aspiring software developers, this is the model you should compare all other contenders against.

An i7 8th gen processor with a big cache and 16GB of RAM will keep you going no matter what kind of program you are coding. With a dedicated graphics card included, you are completely covered on hardware specs.

For marathon doding sessions that go all day long and into the night, you get up to 16 hours of battery charge! Samsung’s entry in our list of contenders far outstrips all others for battery life.

Does your programming team use Office for keeping track of tasks? This machine also has an Office 365 subscription bundle version available at Amazon.

With plenty of ports for connecting external devices and a lightweight design, there aren’t many downsides to picking this notebook computer. Only one particular issue may be a sticking point for you.

While this model features the faster solid state drive technology, it doesn’t have a secondary HDD for storage. If you are coding programs with large graphics files, you’ll want to buy an external drive or look for a different unit altogether.

Hardware specifications for Samsung Notebook 9
ProcessorIntel Core i7-8550U (8MB Cache, 1.80 GHz)
RAM16GB DDR4 RAM
Storage256GB SSD
GraphicsNvidia GeForce MX150 (2GB)
Display15.0-Inch FHD Display, 1920 x 1080 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64 Bit
Battery Life16 hours
Weight2.84 lbs

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3. Acer Aspire 5 A515 – Best Laptop For Computer Science Student

Acer Aspire 5 A515
  • Great specs for a reasonable price
  • Dedicated graphics card
  • Runs hot while gaming
  • Not an IPS panel display

The Acer Aspire should be your top pick for well-rounded machine that will work well for school work, light gaming, and coding projects.

Students need just as much power under the hood as any other user, but they tend to have smaller budgets for spending.

The Acer Aspire sits smack dab in the mid-way point between price and specs, offering a high end experience for a low end cost.

No matter what coding language you are learning about in school, this model has you covered. With a high end processor, 8GB of RAM, and a dedicated graphics card, you can expect a smooth experience across the board.

The Aspire is also designed with future upgrades in mind, which is helpful for the college student trying to save money. If you find you need a bigger SSD or more RAM later, it’s fairly easy to pop in upgraded components.

There’s one potentially divisive feature to take note of here. The Aspire 5 has Alexa built in, which some students will love and other students won’t care about in the slightest.

If you don’t want the voice recognition feature, you can find older versions of the Acer Aspire without Alexa for a slightly lower price.

That issue aside, there’s one issue often noted by college students who use this laptop for gaming on the side — it tends to get hot while graphics-intensive programs are running.

You may want to pick up a lap seat with an extra cooling fan if you intend to keep the computer on your lap while gaming.

Hardware specifications for Acer Aspire 5 A515
ProcessorIntel Core i5-8250U Processor (Up to 3.4GHz)
RAM8GB DDR4 RAM
Storage256GB SSD
GraphicsNvidia GeForce MX150 (2GB)
Display15.6-Inch Full HD Display, 1920 x 1080 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64 Bit
Battery Life7 hours
Weight4.41 lbs

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4. HP High Performance Laptop – Best Laptop For Web Developer

HP High Performance Laptop
  • Touch screen display
  • Plenty of storage space
  • No dedicated graphics card
  • Plastic clamshell chassis

Want an excellent coding laptop with a touch screen for testing web applications? This should be your pick!

Web developers typically don’t need the same level of power as game programmers, but will probably want a touch screen.

Most people browse the web from a mobile device at this point, so that’s a feature you don’t want to skip.

For a very reasonable price, you can get a touch screen display and high end specs with this HP model.

While the overall hardware specs are fairly close to our other contenders, there are a few features worth noting that make this unit stand out.

FIrst up, you get a DVD-RW drive, which is an anomaly in modern laptops. This machine also features absolutely massive storage space, with both a 128GB SSD and a 2TB HDD for holding your files.

The only complaint frequently brought up by buyers is that the plastic clamshell chassis feels a little flimsy in comparison to aluminum models, although it doesn’t actually impact usage at all.

Note that upgraded versions of this model are available if you find 8GB of RAM isn’t cutting it for your coding needs. For an extra $150, you can bump up to 16G of RAM and increase to a 256GB SSD.

Hardware specifications for HP High Performance Laptop
ProcessorIntel Core i5-8250U (Quad-Core, 1.6GHz)
RAM8GB DDR4 RAM
Storage128GB SSD + 2TB HDD
GraphicsIntel UHD 620 Graphics
Display15.6-Inch HD Touch Screen Display, 1366 x 768 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64 Bit
Battery Life8 hours
Weight4.52 lbs

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5. Asus VivoBook F510UA – Best Affordable Laptop For Programming

ASUS-VivoBook-F510UA-Thin-and-Lightweight
  • Lightweight with good specs
  • Low price
  • No solid state drive
  • Compact keyboard design

Ready to start your career as a computer programmer, but don’t have a lot of spare cash to spend? This should be your best budget pick!

You don’t need to spend thousands to pick up a high end laptop for programming. By making a few trade offs, you can easily find a machine built for coding at around $500 or less.

You’ll notice all the specs listed above are easily inline with our other contenders. An i5, 8th gen processor is perfect for most programmers, and 8GB of RAM will typically get the job done.

The big trade off comes with the hard drive. There’s no solid state drive here, so you’ll have slower boot up times and get some lag when accessing large files.

That issue aside, the Asus VivoBook is an excellent budget choice, whether you are a web developer, app programmer, or game designer.

Besides the HDD, the only other downside to keep in mind is the compact keyboard design. You don’t get a 10 key section, and the power button is on the keyboard itself, instead of set off to the side.

There are ways to get an even cheaper laptop for programming tasks, although the trade offs become much larger.

Depending on the specs you choose when customizing, you can find the Lenovo IdeaPad 330 for $50 – $100 cheaper. You’ll end up with a significantly slower processor though, and that be a huge negative for coders.

Hardware specifications for Asus VivoBook F510UA
ProcessorIntel Core i5-8250U (1.6 – 3.4GHz)
RAM8GB DDR4 RAM
Storage1TB HDD
GraphicsIntel UHD 620 Graphics
Display15.6-Inch Anti-Glare Full HD Display, 1920 x 1080 Pixels Resolution
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64 Bit
Battery Life5 hours
Weight3.7 lbs

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6. Acer predator Helios 300 – Best laptop for computer science

Acer Predator Helios 300
  • Display has a High refresh-rate
  • Great value for money for a programing laptop
  • Decent power for multitasking
  • Battery life is not very impressive
  • Loud fan

The Predator Helios comes with most features you would look for in a high-performance laptop at a lower price tag. The upgradable design makes it possible to get afer-market enhanced performance for computer science.

Its NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660Ti GPU and a 4.5 GHz Intel Core i7 CPU delivers more than what has been the norm in mid range laptops built for gaming programming.  When you factor in the 512 GB SSD coupled to a 16 GB DDR4 RAM, the end result is an astonishing laptop ready to tackle complex software and games.

Normally, gaming laptops have not been designed for high portability and the Predator Helios 300 is no exception. Weighing at 5.5 lbs, it isn’t very suitable for carrying over longer distances.

Some of its most outstanding features include the flagship cooling system which is quite effective and you can also overclock the GPU to get more power when needed.

And while the manufacturer implies that this laptop can last up to 7 hours, reviews from users suggest otherwise. Under average use, the laptop can give you an average of 5 hours of battery life. But this shouldn’t be a deal breaker. In fact, the Acer Predator Helios 300 makes for the ideal laptop for computer students looking for a device that can handle their computing needs.

Hardware specifications for Acer Predator Helios
Processor4.5 GHz Intel Core i7
RAM16 GB DDR4
Storage512 GB Flash Memory Solid State
GraphicsNVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660Ti
Display15.6 inches
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home
Battery LifeAbout 5 hours
Weight5.2 pounds

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7. Microsoft Surface Pro 7 – Best Hybrid laptop for programming

Microsoft Surface Book 2
  • Decent performance
  • Lightweight laptop for programming
  • Responsive touch display
  • Long battery life
  • The Typecover is sold separately

Microsoft Surface Pro is among the elegant laptops on the market. It’s a great choice for computer science students looking for a 2-in-1 device combining high portability, impressive processing power, and outstanding display.

With its Intel Iris Plus Graphics in a 12.3-inch screen and a 2736 x 1824 resolution, it is definitely one of the best displays found on 2-in-1 laptops thus delivering crispy images. In addition, both the stylus pen and the touchscreen are quite responsive.

Surface Pro 7 comes with a 10th Generation Core i5-8250U CPU that works perfectly with the 8 GB RAM and 256GB SSD for storage. As a result, running intensive tasks on this laptop is a breeze.

For computer science students with lots of programming and coding tasks for projects, the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is a worthy ally. Whether you are working in a class setting or in a café, the laptop offers about 9 hours of battery life under average usage. However, the keyboard is sold separately but the typing experience is outstanding.

Hardware specifications for Microsoft Surface Pro 7
Processor10th Gen Intel Core i5-8250U
RAM8GB
Storage256 GB SSD
GraphicsIntel Iris Plus Graphics
Display12.3 Inches
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home
Battery LifeUp to 10.5 hours
Weight1.70 pounds

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8. Asus TUF FX505DT – Most Affordable With High Performance

ASUS TUF
  • Packs a powerful AMD processor
  • Impressive integrated GPU
  • Focus on rich specs
  • Durability
  • Plastic-built body
  • Below average battery life

The TUF FX505DT offers outstanding value for money that most brands find hard to keep up with at its price point. The combination of features makes it a worthy consideration for resource intensive tasks that computer science students are faced with.

While ranking below the Asus’ ROG flagship product line, the TUF series has been introduced as the starting range for the brands’ gaming laptops. This model is built for heavy users and gamers looking for better performance but are on a tighter budget.

From the word go, The TUF FX505DT puts extensive emphasis on value therefore delivering a clear message to consumers not to expect high-end luxurious features found on premium laptops.

The TUF FX505DT stands to be counted as a powerful AMD-powered laptop available on the market. With the AMD Ryzen 7 3750H coupled to a GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU and a 16 GB DDR4 RAM, this laptop is geared up for performance.

Besides the 8/16 GB already on the laptop, you can extend the RAM to 32 GB. Even without expanding the memory, the 16 GB is enough to execute demanding tasks and resource intensive programming tools like PyCharm run effortlessly on the laptop.

On the downside, this laptop’s battery life is less than 5 hours under standard use and the body is made from plastic.

Considering its price point and the performance features, this shouldn’t distract you from the main aim of the Asus TUF FX505DT which is providing a powerful laptop at a budget.

Hardware specifications for Asus TUF FX505DT
Processor4 GHz AMD Ryzen 7 R7-3750H
RAM8 GB DDR4 RAM expandable up to 32GB
Storage256GB PCIe SSD
GraphicsNVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660TI, with 6GB GDDR6 VRAM
Display15.6-inch 120Hz FHD IPS
Operating SystemWindows 10
Battery LifeUp to 5 hours
Weight4.85 pounds

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9. Dell XPS 9570 – Best Overall

Dell-XPS-9570
  • Great battery life
  • Astonishing display
  • High-end cooling system
  • Outstanding overall performance
  • Handles concurrent multitasking well
  • Unusual Webcam placement
  • Heavier than its competitors

Dell XPS 9570 boasts premium aesthetic features on a solid build. Being from the flagship high-end Dell’s brand line, this laptop packs outstanding power which is perfect for computer science projects.

The XPS brand line from Dell has earned its place as the high-end and premium offers for Dell’s laptops and the XPS 9570 doesn’t fall short of the expectation. The recent Dell XPS 9570 is among the top performing laptops on the market thanks to its phenomenal 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H CPU, 32 GB DDR4 RAM, 1 TB SSD, and the powerful NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU.

And the XPS 9570 is not just about mind-blowing computing power. It incorporates the 4.0 oriented design, crisp 4K display, and super sleek bezels. On the flip side, users have pointed out the oddly-placed webcam but it’s a negligible glitch if you are not obsessed with the small aesthetic features.

The 4K display produces rich and very sharp images making it mesmerizing to stare at and the matte feature ensures minimal eye strain. This is quite what computer science students should be looking for considering the longer periods of time spent using the computer for class work and projects. And if you want to take a break and relax, the XPS 9670 is fun when watching movies.

While this laptop looks sleek and ergonomic on the outside, it’s a formidable beast on the inside. The 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8750H processor works in tandem with the 32 GB RAM and you can have Netbeans, MATLAB, and Intellij running in the background while watching a 1080p show and won’t notice disturbing lags.

If your computer science projects revolve around game programming, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU with the phenomenal 400nits display makes your work smooth and enjoyable. Given its capabilities, testing your games won’t be something you dread. Without a shred of doubt, Dell XPS 9570 is a must have for computer science practitioners.

Hardware specifications for Dell XPS 9570
Processor8th Generation Intel Core i7-8750H
RAM32GB DDR4-2666MHz
Storage1TB M.2 2280 PCIe SSD
GraphicsNVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
Display15.6 Inches 4K Ultra HD, InfinityEdge Anti-Reflective Touch IPS
Operating SystemWindows 10 Home 64 bit
Battery LifeUp-to 9 hours
Weight4 lbs

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10. Asus Zenbook 13 – Best portable laptop for Travel Programmer

ASUS ZenBook 13
  • Lightweight
  • Long battery life
  • Premium features at a budget
  • Lacks a dedicated graphics card
  • The display is not so great

Asus ZenBook offers premium features and a sturdy chassis at a significantly lower price compared to its contenders. The integrated graphics makes it a powerful companion when completing computer science tasks.

While the Asus ZenBook 13 comes with a 13.3-inch screen, it has been designed with smaller bezels resulting in a visually appealing device. The laptop weighs only 2.5 pounds making it the second lightest option on this list. If you’ll be hopping from one computer science class to another, this laptop is convenient to carry around.

The 16 GB LPDDR3 memory is sufficient to support multiple applications running concurrently without breaking a sweat. Under the hood, the 8th Generation Intel Core i7 processor ensures quick operations .

Although the Zenbook 13 doesn’t have a dedicated graphics card, it’s still a good pick considering how much you are paying. For students, battery life is a top feature to consider in a laptop. The Asus ZenBook 13 doesn’t disappoint in this area and it delivers up to 9 hours of continuous use with lowered screen brightness.

Hardware specifications for Asus ZenBook 13
Processor8th Gen Intel Core i7 processor
RAM16 GB LPDDR3
Storage512 GB Flash Memory Solid State
GraphicsIntel HD Graphics 620
Display13.3” FHD WideView
Operating SystemWindows 10 Pro
Battery LifeUp to 10 hours
Weight2.6 pounds

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11. MacBook Pro 13 – Best Apple laptop

MacBook-Pro 13
  • Fast SSD
  • Lightning fast performance
  • Lightweight
  • Graphics can get slugging under intensive use
  • Keyboard learning curve

The MacBook Pro 13 features a 13-inch display and an aluminum casing making it reliable and durable. Combined with a powerful processor it’s a great choice for computer science projects.

When it comes to practical functionality, the Apple MacBook has earned a top spot. If you are seeking a powerful laptop that can handle programming tasks with ease, you’ll probably want to get a MacBook Pro. More so, it’s the perfect option if you are working to build software for the macOS platforms.

With its 8th Gen Intel Core i5 CPU, 16GB DDR3 RAM, and the Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655, the laptop has been designed to run multiple programs concurrently. But of course, heavy gaming will take a toll on the resources.

Unlike the older MacBook Pro models, this one comes with Apple’s TouchBar.  In addition, its keyboard is soft, runs quiet, and it’s dust proof. Meaning your experience on the keyboard goes to another level which is exactly what a computer science student needs considering that most of the time is spent typing on the keyboard.

On the flipside, the Apple MacBook Pro 13 only comes with Thunderbolt 3 ports which poses challenges to people used to normal USB ports. However,  you’ll appreciate the higher transfer speeds compared to regular USB ports. Under standard usage, the battery lasts about 6 hours.

Hardware specifications for Apple MacBook Pro 13
Processor2.4 GHz Intel Core i5
RAM16 GB
Storage512 GB SSD
GraphicsIntel Iris Plus Graphics 655
Display13 Inches
Operating SystemmacOS 10.14 Mojave
Battery LifeSlightly over 6 hours
Weight3 pounds

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Is 8GB Ram Enough For Programming?

This is going to be one of the biggest questions to consider when deciding between different laptop models.

You can save yourself a bundle by going with 8GB of RAM, and in most cases, it won’t even slow you down.

Programming is a memory-intensive task, but you probably only need 16GB – 32GB if you are coding something more heavy duty than an Android app or web page.

There’s another reason to go with 8GB instead, and it has nothing to do with sticking to a budget. Don’t forget that you also have to test your programs after they are coded!

Testing applications on the highest end laptops available isn’t very helpful for discovering bugs and figuring out how a program will run on the average computer.

Most users today have 8GB (or less) of RAM in their home machines, so it’s not a bad idea to test your code on a computer similar to the end user’s.

Are Chromebooks Or Macs Good For Coding?

In most cases, the answer to the first half of this question is a simple and resounding “no way.” Chromebooks are designed for web browsing and using apps, not for running heavy duty programming tools.

You generally want an operating system with more versatility for programming, whether that’s Windows, Mac OS, or Linux. Chromebooks also tend to have lower end specs, with very small hard drives and slower processor.

There is one big exception to that rule. If you want to use a Chromebook for coding now that they have Android support, your best option will be the Google Pixelbook.

The Pixelbook has a fast enough processor, enough RAM, and a large enough storage capacity to be usable as a programming laptop.

In a similar vein, you may be wondering if you should go with a Mac vs a PC for programming. That depends entirely on what sort of apps you are making.

If you intend to make iOS apps over any other type of program, you should absolutely consider going with an Apple machine instead. Your best bets will be the MacBook Pro if you want a high end device, or the 13” MacBook Air if you want a more portable option.

Should I Go With I5 Vs I7 For Programming?

At the moment, this more a matter of cost than of necessity. In most cases, an Intel Core i5 processor is all you need, although you may get slower speeds when running large builds.

If you have the money to spend, bumping up to an i7 means faster build speeds. If you are working in a Microsoft environment, you will also go through Windows updates much faster.,

That means more productivity, since you will have less down time waiting for updates to finish installing.

No matter which way you go, be on the lookout for more cores and a higher cache, as these will be crucial in attaining smoother performance while coding.

Best Developer Laptop Options For Any User

There you have it — these are the five best laptops for programming currently available in 2020. Whether you are a web developer, game designer, or app programmer, one of these models will be your best pick.

What did you think of our choices, and what features are most attractive to you as a developer? Sound off in the comment section below!

Ty Arthur
Article by:
After more than a decade of searching for the perfect gaming rig, Ty knows a thing or two about picking the right hardware. He'd like to share that knowledge with all of you through his work at NetbookNews.com, whether you need a business machine, college laptop, or killer gaming computer.

3 thoughts on “Best Laptops For Computer Science & Programming 2020”

  1. Excellent post. I used to be checking continuously this blog and I am impressed!
    Very useful information specifically the remaining phase

    Reply
  2. Very informative post. As a developer myself i wasn’t sure which laptop to choose but after research and reading your post i have made up my mind to buy the right laptop for myself. Thank you very much for your help.

    Reply

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