If you’re looking to get into programming, you want to get a good piece of hardware to work on. You might consider a gaming laptop for the powerful components they often carry. After all, if they can handle demanding AAA titles, they can probably handle some technical work, too, right?
Gaming laptops are good for programming, thanks to their above-average processing power. They’re designed to handle intensive games but can easily do other tasks as well. Some models suffer lower storage space in exchange for power, so make sure it has enough space to store your projects.
The rest of this article will discuss the computer requirements for programming to see what makes gaming laptops good for the job. I’ll also explain if the MacBook Pro and desktop PCs are good for programming.
What Are the Computer Requirements for Programming?
To understand why a gaming laptop is a good choice for programming, let’s see what specs matter for an intensive task like this.
The main computer requirements for programming are high RAM and CPU, which help the device handle large amounts of data and process it quickly. A large screen and extra storage space are also helpful but not required. A gaming laptop checks all the boxes for programming.
Gaming laptops are the most powerful portable device you can buy, period. They often have as much RAM as an average desktop PC and the same CPU, with the only downside being inferior cooling. Some of them have exceptionally large high-resolution displays with accurate color gamuts. This matters a ton if you also work on web design.
Unless you’re a video game developer, one thing you probably don’t need is a fancy graphics card. Take this into consideration when buying a gaming laptop because it’ll likely come with a pricey graphics card that won’t benefit you. It won’t necessarily hurt performance (aside from drawing more power), but you don’t really need it if you don’t plan to use your laptop for gaming or video editing.
Fortunately, there are other options if you don’t think you’ll get your money’s worth from a high-end gaming laptop.
The Best Alternatives to Gaming Laptops for Programming
There’s actually an entire business class of computers explicitly made for things like this.
Most big brands offer business laptops, but Apple is perhaps best known for theirs. Many users prefer the typical Windows computers for casual use, but Apple carves its niche by offering a variety of models tailored to work. Everything from the operating system to the hardware caters to productivity.
Apple’s computers aren’t prevalent among casual users. Despite this, businesses, schools, and students often prefer them for their simplicity compared to the competition. If you want a computer specifically for programming and nothing else, you probably want a Mac.
However, not all Macs are created equal. Like other big brands, Apple offers a wide variety of computers made for different things. If this sounds like what you’re looking for, but you aren’t familiar with Apple’s computers, the good news is there’s one model that stands out.
The MacBook Pro
When it comes to business laptops, Apple has a few popular products, but the MacBook Pro is the most popular and well-received.
For starters, Apple computers run on macOS. Unlike Windows, Mac has good cross-compatibility with other operating systems, meaning you can run any system in a virtual machine with minimal risk of bugs. This is invaluable for some programmers.
Build quality is another highly praised aspect of Macs, and the MacBook is no exception. While this isn’t strictly needed for programming, it’s always nice to have a solid computer that can handle continuous use. Laptops are especially infamous for their frailty, but Macs are an exception.
The MacBook Pro 16-inch (available on Amazon.com) is a popular choice for programming if you can afford it, but the cheaper, non-Pro models should still suffice.
If price is the most important factor to you, it may be a good idea to look away from laptops entirely.
With a laptop, you generally pay a premium for the convenience of portability. This portability comes at the additional drawback of making the computer more fragile and prone to overheating, and it limits the amount of space inside the computer for bigger parts.
A desktop computer with similar parts to a laptop will usually be cheaper and more durable to boot. If you don’t need to carry your laptop to work and want to save some money, consider getting a desktop instead.
Business computers are a lot like gaming computers, except their parts are more optimized for work. They might not come with a fancy gaming graphics card, but even the cheap ones have plenty of processing power and RAM. They also tend to come with more built-in storage space since they’re made for workers.
You can save even more money by buying the parts to build your own PC, assuming you’re comfortable doing so. If you’ve never put a computer together before, it’s actually not that complicated. All parts like CPU and RAM are easy to hook up to the motherboard, which you might have to do with some new PCs anyway.
You can absolutely use a gaming laptop for programming. In fact, their ability to process large amounts of data and perform difficult tasks makes them a popular choice for such work. As a bonus, a decent gaming laptop will be able to run pretty much any video game on the planet.
However, some of the cost may be wasted on things you don’t need for programming, like a powerful graphics card.
Regardless of whether you decide to use a laptop made for gaming, business, or even a personalized desktop computer, remember to make sure it has the power you need.