You’ve come to the correct place if you’re seeking the finest laptops for programming in 2021. Choosing a laptop for coding means selecting a device with sufficient processing power to allow you to swiftly write, develop, and test your code.
So, the finest programming laptops will have a current processor from Intel or AMD, or Apple if you’re buying a new MacBook to program on.
Apple has been powering its MacBooks with its own M1 CPUs since last year, and it’s proven to be a superb piece of programming hardware.
Apple has also enhanced the M1 chip with the more powerful M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, which are available in the newly released MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) and MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) versions.
These new CPUs are even better for coding, making these new MacBooks among the greatest programming laptops we’ve ever evaluated.
A laptop with plenty of RAM, as well as a current CPU, will help you multitask. While coding in an integrated development environment (IDE) does not necessitate a lot of processing power, the more powerful the laptop you choose, the better it will be at compiling complex projects.
You can spend more time developing (or taking on more projects) and less time waiting if you speed up your workflow.
The best programming laptops should also have large, high-resolution screens that are comfortable to use for extended periods of time. The higher the resolution, the more code can be seen at once, reducing scrolling.
Because you’ll be typing a lot of code on it, a great laptop for coding will also include a fantastic keyboard that is both comfy and responsive. Also, if you’re working on a game, you’ll need a laptop that can run your game while you test it, so a laptop with a graphics card is a good option.
Best Laptops For Programming
1. LG Gram 17
The LG Gram 17 (2021) is the latest 17-inch addition to the company’s already impressive array of productivity-focused laptops that prioritize portability.
The LG Gram 17 (2021) generally enables rapid, hassle-free productivity to make your workload seamless, thanks to Intel’s 11th-generation mobile processors.
While the LG Gram 17 (2021) isn’t going to win any style awards, it does offer pure functionality, positioning it as one of the best options for office use. That is if you can tolerate the price.
The LG Gram 17 (2021) laptop’s lightness will almost certainly be your first impression. The LG Gram 17 (2021) is a fascinatingly lightweight device, weighing only 2.98 pounds (1.35kg), which is especially impressive given the extra bulk provided by the 17-inch screen.
One of the LG Gram 17 (2021)’s most appealing features is its lightweight. It’s probably one of the most portable alternatives available, and it’s ideal for toting around in a laptop bag.
The significance of this cannot be emphasized, as it might mean an end to heavier laptops causing unneeded strain on your travel to and from work or school in the morning and evening.
The laptop’s lightweight goes hand in hand with its speed. The LG Gram 17 (2021) boots up swiftly, thanks to Intel’s 11th-generation processing power, allowing you to get started on projects almost instantly without worrying about wasting time.
Fast boot speeds are a good sign of how well a laptop performs in everyday use, and the LG Gram 17 (2021) does not disappoint. Intel’s technology has no issue loading programs quickly and sustaining strong performance even when numerous processes are going at the same time when using balanced power settings. This naturally applies to browsers that have a plethora of tabs open.
Another area where the LG Gram 17 (2021) shines is in its long-lasting battery. This isn’t a new feature for the LG Gram series, but this latest model outperforms even its predecessors, lasting just shy of 14 hours. As a result, the LG Gram 17 (2021) will easily last you through a full day at work or school and then some.
All of this cutting-edge technology must come at a premium, and the LG Gram 17 (2021), like the rest of the series, isn’t cheap. Although it is an amazing laptop, its expensive price precludes it from being affordable to a large number of potential buyers.
Even though the ‘LG Kilogram’ is a more literal term for this laptop, the LG Gram 17 (2021) is incredibly light. When you initially take up the laptop out of the box, it’s probably the first thing you’ll notice.
It’s difficult to assess the laptop’s worth without touching it in your hands, but believe us when we say that its lightweight of 2.98 pounds (1.35kg) is a remarkable achievement for a 17-inch laptop.
With that weight, the LG Gram 17 (2021) is one of the lightest 17-inch laptops on the market. Other laptops designed for productivity do not fare as well in this regard. The Gigabyte Aero 17 weighs nearly twice as much at 5.5 pounds (2.49kg), while the XMG Pro 17 is somewhat lighter at 5.1 pounds (2.49kg) (2.3kg).
The LG Gram 17 (2021) has a kilogram advantage over the competitors, so that’s still a significant advantage. If you want to go even lighter, the LG Gram 14 and 16-inch models are significantly lighter and cost a little less. If you’re concerned about the LG Gram 17 taking up too much space, those might be better options (2021).
The LG Gram 17 (2021) measures 15 x 10.3 x 0.7 inches when it comes to real estate (381 x 261 x 17.78mm). While the larger screen reduces some of the portability of its 14 and 16-inch equivalents, the amazingly thin depth allows it to fit easily into a laptop bag of acceptable size.
You might imagine that having such a light design means sacrificing durability. After all, heavier laptops can provide consumers with peace of mind when it comes to unintentional damage prevention. The LG Gram 17 (2021) is still a tough phone, with a full metal body that resists drops, dust, and other forms of everyday wear and tear.
Those who examine the number of ports offered when making a purchase will not be disappointed. The LG Gram 17 (2021) has two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C connectors for charging and powering the laptop. On either side are an HDMI port and an audio jack, the former allowing the laptop to be connected to additional monitors.
Two USB 3.2 ports and a microSD card slot are located on the laptop’s right side, providing users with a variety of options for plugging in portable storage devices as well as connecting devices such as smartphones and tablets for charging or file transfer and administration.
When the LG Gram 17 (2021) is opened, the physical appearance isn’t likely to impress anyone. In reality, it’s pretty unobtrusive. The laptop’s aesthetic appearance is so basic that you’re unlikely to look at it again unless you get a chance to view its stunning screen in action.
The LG Gram 17 (2021)’s a large screen, which has a resolution of 2560 x 1600, is one of the main reasons for the laptop’s size. The WQXGA LCD panel is large for a reason, and it’s hard to surpass in terms of productivity.
Because of the increased display provided by its resolution, you may have more real estate displayed on web pages and programs, and the LCD is beautifully sharp.
The keyboard is another noteworthy aspect of the laptop’s design. It’s satisfyingly punchy, with good feedback on each key hit ensuring that typing never becomes a pain. The touchpad, on the other hand, does not perform as effectively.
While it works perfectly in practice, some users will miss the dedicated left and right-click keys seen on other productivity laptops, which can give a gratifying and tactile experience.
The power button, which doubles as a fingerprint scanner for a secure manner of login into your system, completes the design feature set. The sensor is quick and accurate, needing only a little touch of your fingertip, keeping the LG Gram 17 (2021)’s reputation for getting you back into your tasks as quickly as possible.
The LG Gram 17 (2021) has pleased us in terms of aesthetics, but it’s no slouch in terms of performance. Intel’s 11th-generation processor excels in multitasking, allowing you to work on many projects at the same time.
The model we received for evaluation includes the Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor, Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, 16GB of RAM, and a massive 1TB SSD. Those final two are also quite beneficial to the laptop’s performance.
Even with many pages and programs open at the same time, the laptop proved its worth in completing tasks fast. Google Chrome has a reputation for being a resource hog, but the LG Gram’s top-of-the-line components made this a non-issue.
Photo editing is also handled superbly, with the great image quality of the screen allowing for both fun and accurate output. Long sessions of photo editing at 4K and beyond might stress the laptop, so if that’s something you do regularly, a more specialized laptop could be better for you than the LG Gram 17. (2021).
The laptop remained whisper silent during our time using it daily, with just minor humming and heat buildup registering during our benchmark testing, which is to be expected.
It gets the basics right as a laptop designed for work and education use. One disadvantage is that the LCD screen is prone to glare, which can be irritating in brightly lit office settings.
The LG Gram 17 (2021)’s battery life is the true show-stealer here, with hours in the double digits easily registering during our benchmark testing.
With the laptop’s screen set to 50% brightness, our PC Mark 10 battery test lasted 13 hours and 48 minutes. While this will vary depending on the type and number of programs you’re running, the LG Gram 17 (2021)’s battery should be able to get you through a whole work or school day without needing to be plugged in.
Video is another area where the laptop shines. We looped a 1080p film at 50% brightness and found that the battery lasted a staggering 12 hours and two minutes before needing to be recharged. Again, your mileage may vary depending on how many apps are running in the background.
If you’re on the go, the LG Gram 17 (2021)’s excellent battery life will let you keep yourself entertained for an extended period with movies and shows.
The LG Gram 17 (2021) will, believe it or not, require charging at some point, which is where the superfast USB-C charging ports come in handy. When plugged into the wall, the laptop fully charged from zero in just under two hours using the USB-C charger that included with the laptop.
2. MacBook Pro 16-inch
The MacBook Pro 16-inch is the pinnacle of luxury computing (2021). This flagship notebook, which debuted in October 2021 alongside its smaller sibling, the MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021), has pushed the frontiers of what a professional laptop can do.
It not only refreshes the look of the 16-inch MacBook Pro for 2019 but also adds some exciting new features and performance.
The performance of the Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) is remarkably close to that of the slightly more portable MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021), thanks to the fact that they share nearly identical technology, with both versions featuring the new M1 Pro or M1 Max CPUs.
The biggest difference is in size, as you’ll receive a larger screen with greater quality, as well as longer battery life.
The screen is the most significant design change in the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021). It’s now a Liquid Retina XDR display with mini-LED technology that offers up to 1,000 nits of full-screen brightness over a long period. Even better, the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) has a peak brightness of 1,600 nits and a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1.
For smoother gradients, the display has a P3 broad color gamut and supports one billion colors. Most importantly, the display has a 120Hz refresh rate, making it the quickest MacBook Pro 16-inch display to date.
Apple was able to increase the screen size to 16.2-inches from 16-inches in the previous iteration because the bezels around the screen were cut down for a more modern design. It also has a resolution of 3,546 x 2,234 pixels, which Apple claims are the highest ever seen in a MacBook.
This is an improvement over the screen of the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2019), which was a 16-inch, 3,072 x 1,920 Retina display with backlit LED for up to 1,000 nits sustained brightness and 1,600 nits peak brightness, covering a wide color P3 gamut and covering a wide color P3 gamut.
The screen of the 14-inch MacBook Pro is visibly smaller, measuring 14.2-inches and having a lesser resolution of 3024×1964.
However, this results in similar pixel densities of 254 PPI (Pixels Per Inch) on both panels in the new MacBook Pros, ensuring that both give the same visual quality. It’s then a matter of choosing which screen size you desire.
While the 16-inch model has a larger screen than many people will prefer to work on, it also means that the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) has substantially greater overall proportions than the MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021).
Make no mistake: the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) is a big and bulky laptop, weighing 2.2 kg (4.8 pounds) for the M1 Max model (the M1 Pro version is slightly lighter at 2.1kg).
With dimensions of 0.66 x 14.01 x 9.77 inches (1.68 x 35.57 x 24.81cm), which is roughly the same as the previous model’s 0.64 x 14.09 x 9.68 inches (1.62 x: 35.79 (4.7 pounds).
If you’re looking for a thin and light laptop, this isn’t it. Of course, Apple has you covered with the fantastic MacBook Air (M1, 2020), which, while lacking in performance compared to the MacBook Pro 16-inch, is thinner, lighter, and far less expensive. That would be a better investment for many people.
The MacBook Pro 16-inch’s achievement isn’t quite as impressive as the 14-inch model, which packs a significant amount of power into a considerably smaller, and more portable, frame.
That may be a little harsh on the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021), which is still a strong workstation machine, but there’s something about having that power in a smaller notebook that feels so much more remarkable.
Being a big laptop, on the other hand, has its benefits. Extra ports, which many of us have been begging Apple to incorporate in its professional notebooks for a long time, are one of the most welcome upgrades to the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021).
The new MacBook Pro 16-inch includes three Thunderbolt 4 ports, one HDMI port, an SDXC card slot, and a MagSafe 3 port, as well as a Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, Force Touch trackpad, and a 140W USB-C power converter (you can still charge through USB-C if you choose). A 3.5mm headphone jack is also included.
Apple previously limited ports to a pair of USB-C connections, which, while making the laptops look sleek and small, was inconvenient for professionals who needed to put in cameras, displays, and memory cards. Instead, they’d have to buy a USB adapter to connect these devices.
Although not everyone will require it, it’s worth noting that it’s only available with the 16-inch M1 Max MacBook Pro. This feature will not be available to owners of the 14-inch model or any of the models with the M1 Pro.
The 16-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro, on the other hand, proved to be more than capable for most creative work. It’s amazing to have desktop-class speed in a laptop, and while it’s not as portable as the 14-inch model, it’s still a notebook you can carry around in decent comfort.
The screen of the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021), like the 14-inch, is extremely brilliant, and the greater size makes it much more pleasant to work on. Colors and brightness levels are incredible, and images are sharp and vivid. This is currently the best screen available on a professional laptop.
While the resolution isn’t the highest, the technology behind it, particularly the tiny LED display and Pro Motion’s variable refresh rate, ensures that your work, whether 3D models, films or images, looks its finest. It eliminates the requirement for an external display once more.
The webcam was likewise fantastic, with crisp, clear images. It’s critical to be able to communicate with customers, clients, coworkers, and family through the internet these days, and the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021)’s combination of upgraded webcam and studio-quality built-in microphones excels in this regard.
The battery life has also been much enhanced. Apple claims that the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) can play video for up to 21 hours, which is 10 hours longer than the previous-generation MacBook Pro 16-inch (2019).
The business also claims that when wirelessly accessing the web, the laptop would last up to 14 hours, which we read as light to moderate use.
The MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) lasted 18 hours and 48 minutes in our battery benchmark test, which played a looped 1080p video. That’s a remarkable amount of time, and it beats the results of the MacBook Pro 14-inch by nearly three hours.
Because of the 16-inch’s increased size, Apple was able to integrate a larger battery, which resulted in one of the best battery lives in a laptop – especially for a laptop.
During our time with the 16-inch MacBook Pro, we were able to complete a full workday without having to plug it in, and the fact that performance was unaffected when running on batteries was astounding.
This is the first time you’ve been able to use a workstation laptop without having to worry about plugging it in.
3. MacBook Pro 14-inch
The MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021), the smaller of Apple’s two new MacBook Pros, is now available in stores, and it hasn’t disappointed. In the past, Apple has prioritized style over utility, which has resulted in previous MacBooks having a bare minimum of ports to remain thin and light.
Apple has not only listened (finally) to its users this time, but it has also accepted their comments.
So now we have the MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021), a still-slim laptop with plenty of connectors — three Thunderbolt 4 ports, one HDMI port, an SDXC card slot, and a MagSafe 3 charging port – and plenty of juice inside.
Apple has created a device that is perhaps more niche, but considerably more successful, by targeting the MacBook Pro 14-inch squarely at professionals looking for a genuine mobile workstation and leaving the thin, light, and elegant form to the more common MacBook Air.
You won’t find a better laptop if you require this much processing power for editing 8K film, creating extensive music compositions, or developing and testing sophisticated programs.
Not only have the internals been improved thanks to the new M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, but the screen has also been improved. It’s now a Liquid Retina XDR display with mini-LED technology, and it’s bigger than the 13-inch model.
The new iPad Pro uses the same mini-LED technology, and it’s just as amazing here, with a whopping 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio.
If you’re working with images or HDR movies, your stuff will never look better. ProMotion technology is also integrated, which provides up to 120Hz refresh rates that can be adjusted based on the motion of the material on the screen.
Not only does this improve the look of videos, but it also improves the sense of scrolling around web pages, as it now seems smooth and responsive. It also supports the P3 broad color gamut, just like prior MacBook Pro panels.
The battery life has also been much improved, now reaching 17 hours, which is impressive for a professional laptop of this caliber. Not only that, but even while running on battery power, the MacBook Pro 14-inch keeps churning through complicated tasks, rather than limiting performance as other laptops do to conserve battery life.
This is where Apple’s control over both hardware and software, using its own M1 Pro or M1 Max silicon, pays off, allowing the company to fine-tune performance and power consumption to produce a powerful laptop that can outlast – and outperform – the competition.
The upgrades Apple has made here include an enhanced 1080p webcam and studio-quality speakers. These features are especially crucial in today’s world, where many of us work remotely, and they all add up to a genuinely excellent business laptop.
Many of us have been clamoring for a MacBook Pro redesign for years, and now we have it with the MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021). This is the most significant update to the lineup in years, and it appears that Apple is once again passionate and enthusiastic about the MacBook Pro – and that enthusiasm is contagious.
The new 14.2-inch screen, which is about an inch larger than the 13.3-inch display included with the MacBook Pro 13-inch, is the most visible design difference.
This additional screen real estate is skillfully utilized, providing you with a substantially larger workspace than the 13-inch variant without significantly increasing the overall size of the laptop.
If the 16-inch MacBook Pro is too huge and the 13-inch MacBook Pro is too little, the 14-inch MacBook Pro might be the ideal balance. In addition to the larger screen, the resolution has been increased from 2,560 x 1,600 on the 13-inch to 3,024 x 1,964, increasing the pixel density from 227 to 254 pixels per inch (PPI). This screen is not just bigger, but it’s also sharper.
The screen’s bezels have also been reduced in size. One of our greatest gripes with prior MacBooks was their thick surroundings. They made the laptops appear heavy and old-fashioned, while competitors such as Dell were releasing laptops with ever-thinner bezels around the screen.
As a result, the 14-inch MacBook Pro’s smaller bezels are particularly welcome. Not only does it make the laptop look more modern and focus your attention on the magnificent screen, but it also means that Apple has managed to fit a larger screen inside the MacBook Pro’s shell without increasing its overall size.
The dimensions are 12.31 x 8.71 0.61 inches (31.26 x 22.12 x 1.55 cm), which isn’t much bigger than the 13-inch MacBook Pro’s measurements of 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.61 inches (30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56cm).
Given the increase in screen size, this is quite impressive. However, Apple has added one of its most divisive design decisions in recent memory — a ‘notch’ that surrounds the webcam.
The notch on the MacBook Pro 14-inch (and the new 16-inch MacBook Pro, which also has one) is flat, unlike the notch on the iPhone camera, which sparked outrage when it was first introduced.
The notch extends down into the menu bar that runs along the top of the screen, making it very obvious. The MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) comes preinstalled with macOS Monterey, which is intended to deal with it.
Apps’ menu bars adjust to the notch, so if several menu entries are running down the menu bar, they are rearranged to appear on either side of the notch. Meanwhile, the mouse cursor moves beneath the notch.
It’s not the most elegant approach, and Apple hasn’t stated why the notch is necessary. While the webcam has been enhanced with a 1080p resolution and bigger sensor, many other laptops with 1080p cameras and thin bezels do not require a notch.
Face ID, which allows you to check-in by scanning your face, is not available on the new MacBook Pros, whereas it is on the iPhone.
It isn’t, however, the deal-breaker that many people believe it to be. Because the menu bar is now higher up on the screen, it provides for additional screen space (thanks to the reduced bezels). This allows the application to take up even more screen space beneath it, giving you additional workspace on your desktop.
Also, because that section of the screen is blacked off when using apps in full-screen mode or watching movies, you won’t notice the notch.
When you open up the MacBook Pro 14-inch, you’ll notice that the Touch Bar that runs along the top of the keyboard has been removed. From 2016 forward, this thin display replaced the actual function keys in several MacBook Pro models. Instead, it displayed context-sensitive interactive buttons that changed based on the app you were using.
The Touch Bar was disliked by some customers who thought it was gimmicky, and third-party app developers didn’t fully exploit its capabilities.
The Touch Bar has been removed from the new MacBook Pros, and traditional keys have been substituted. The Touch ID option for logging in with simply your fingerprint is still available, and it works fine. If you didn’t care for the Touch Bar, you’ll be relieved to see it go, but those who did will be disappointed.
The rest of the keyboard is the same Magic Keyboard that has been seen on current MacBooks. This isn’t a terrible thing; it’s responsive and comfortable to type on. It’s also dependable, which is important following Apple’s problems with prior MacBooks’ Butterfly keyboards, which were prone to shattering if crumbs or dust got near them.
The MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) also has three Thunderbolt 4 connections, one HDMI port, an SDXC card slot, and a MagSafe 3 port, which is a significant design shift.
You can connect up to three Pro Display XDRs and a 4K TV with the M1 Max, or two Pro Display XDRs with the M1 Pro, thanks to all those connectors.
This boost in ports is really good, considering we’ve previously complained that MacBook Pros lack sufficient connectors. These are professional laptops, so while having a few USB-C ports on a consumer laptop like the MacBook Air is acceptable, you’ll need more ports for professional laptops because you’ll be connecting in more equipment.
Apple appears to have listened to its customers and increased the number of ports available. Photographers who want to rapidly transfer their images to the MacBook Pro to edit them will appreciate the memory card slot, and the full-size HDMI port means you won’t need an adaptor to connect this laptop to a TV or monitor.
It’s nice to see Apple respond in this way to its customers, and it addresses one of our main gripes with previous models.
The MacBook Pro 14-inch is a little chunkier than previous generations, and seeing a full-size HDMI connection on a laptop feels almost antiquated, but this is a genuine workstation notebook for professionals, so the cosmetic impact is more than worth it.
There’s also a MagSafe 3 port, which you may have seen. This is a magnetically charged unique charging power. This allows you to connect the power supply fast and effortlessly, and if the charging cable is accidentally twisted, it will simply come away from the MacBook Pro 14-inch without causing any damage.
It’s a good inclusion, especially since the MacBook Pro can still be charged via USB-C, which means earlier MacBook Pro adapters (or chargers for other laptop manufacturers that use USB-C) may still be used, but the battery will charge slower. However, it’s all about choices, and the MacBook Pro 14-inch provides many of them.
Overall, the new MacBook Pro 14-inch design is a success. Apple has incorporated features that we’ve been requesting, such as lower bezels and additional ports, as well as a stunningly larger screen.
It’s only available in two colors: Silver and Space Gray, which may disappoint those looking for a colorful reinterpretation like the iMac, but they still have that classic MacBook design.
While the new design of the MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) is one of the most intriguing aspects of this device, the hardware modifications Apple made beneath the shell are even more so. Apple’s M1 chip, which debuted in the 13-inch MacBook Pro last year, blew us away.
So we stood up and paid notice when Apple introduced not one, but two new CPUs during the launch event for the MacBook Pro 14-inch. Both the M1 Pro and M1 Max are featured in the MacBook Pro 14-inch and offer much superior performance to the M1.
Regardless of the CPU you choose, the M1 Pro and M1 Max are significant improvements over the current M1 chip, which wasn’t bad, to begin with. The M1 Pro features a dual-chip design that can accommodate up to 32GB of unified memory and has a bandwidth of 200GB/s, over three times that of the M1.
The M1 Pro’s CPU includes eight high-performance cores and two high-efficiency cores, which it will switch between to improve performance for whatever task you’re working on. The M1 Pro has a 16-core GPU with 2,048 execution units and a performance of 5.2 teraflops, which Apple claims is two times quicker than the M1.
A variant of the M1 Pro with eight cores is also available. This looks to be six performance and two efficiency cores, as well as a 14-core GPU and is available in the MacBook Pro 14-inch’s less expensive edition.
If you have a lot of cash on hand or need to run some extremely demanding programs, the M1 Max is a better option. This flagship processor can support up to twice the amount of memory as the M1 Pro and has nearly twice the number of transistors as the M1.
It’s worth noting that the M1 Max has the same 10-core processor as the M1 Pro, but it does have some additional features. The M1 Max has 32 cores for graphical performance, which is twice as much as the M1 Pro.
The GPU has 4,096 execution units, which is twice as many as the M1 Pro, and twice as many concurrent threads (98,304 vs 49,512).
macOS Monterey is exceptionally fast and responsive in everyday usage, and the MacBook Pro 14-inch’s ProMotion panel, which boasts a speed rate of up to 120Hz, makes scrolling up and down webpages (or documents) incredibly smooth.
Of course, a laptop of this caliber should be capable of more than online browsing, and the MacBook Pro 14-inch shines when it comes to heavy-duty professional-grade creative work.
We were able to develop and edit complicated 3D scenarios in Cinema 4D fast and smoothly thanks to the M1 Pro chip’s obvious power, with the unified memory enabling some fairly intense workloads to be handled extremely well. In a portable laptop, this provides workstation-level performance.
We also used Final Cut Pro to edit an 8K video, and the experience was remarkably smooth. We were able to scrub back and forth through the timeline without the extremely high definition film pausing – and we were even able to add four 8K feeds to a scene and play them all at the same time. That is truly amazing work.
While working on these projects, we were blown away not only by the raw performance of the 14-inch MacBook Pro but also by how nice they looked.
The new screen, a Liquid Retina XDR display with mini-LED technology, can produce up to 1,000 nits of sustained full-screen brightness, 1,600 nits of peak brightness, a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, and a P3 broad color gamut.
When working on movies and photographs, this resulted in genuinely outstanding image quality. The 8K film we were editing was also in HDR, and the MacBook Pro 14-inch screen displayed it in all its brilliance. The only way it could have looked better would have been if it had been shot in native 8K, but that’s asking a lot.
Even so, it’s one of the most amazing laptop displays we’ve seen. We were editing a 3D scene in Cinema 4D and adjusted the lights around, which dazzled us for a second. It was an amazing demonstration of the screen’s brightness and vibrancy.
For the previous few years, Apple’s MacBooks have lacked the greatest laptop displays available. Dell and Gigabyte’s ultra-high definition OLED products outperformed Apple’s MacBooks. With the MacBook Pro 14-inch (2021) and MacBook Pro 16-inch (2022), Apple has the greatest screen you can buy on a laptop once again (2021).
Video editors and photographers aren’t the only ones who use MacBooks; artists and music producers do, too, and the 14-inch MacBook Pro performs a fantastic job in this department. In Logic Pro, we experimented with a highly complex project involving an orchestral composition with over 1,500 individual tracks.
This project was provided by Apple (we’re not talented enough to develop anything remotely sophisticated), and it demonstrated the capabilities of the MacBook Pro 14-inch and its M1 Pro chip. The project loaded quickly, and we were able to skip around the track without issue while editing and adjusting tracks on the fly.
The MacBook Pro 14-inch kept up nicely, and the six-speaker system made it sound fantastic. What was probably most impressive about all of this was that there was no discernible performance drop when the MacBook Pro 14-inch was running on battery.
This is significant because, while using batteries, laptops typically throttle some of their most demanding components to conserve battery life, resulting in a performance drop. Many people understand that if you want to undertake heavy-duty chores with your laptop, you’ll need to plug it in, but that means you can use it for other things when it’s on batteries.
Fair play to Apple, then, for basically scrapping this. The work it’s done with the M1 Pro and M1 Max CPUs has allowed the MacBook Pro 14-inch to continue working on complicated activities while on power — without a performance hit or a significant reduction in battery life.
The ability to render complicated 3D scenes or build and test code entirely on the battery is a fantastic sensation, and when combined with the beautiful screen, speakers, and several connectors, this is a genuinely portable workstation that doesn’t require any external power. When using this laptop, you have a tremendous amount of flexibility.
The screen is unquestionably a highlight, and even when you’re not working but instead relaxing and watching movies, you’ll have a terrific time. Apple TV+ and its original programming, which supports Dolby Vision, looks (and sounds) exceptionally good on the MacBook Pro 14-inch, as you might expect. We even played a couple of games on it.
Apple has never developed a gaming laptop, but the new MacBook Pro 14-inch and 16-inch, with their strong M1 Pro and M1 Max CPUs and high refresh rate screens, come the closest. We tried out Metro Exodus on the MacBook Pro 14-inch and were pleasantly surprised by how well it handled the game at ultra settings.
There were a few hiccups when frame rates fell for a few seconds, but Metro Exodus, like most other games, is running on Apple’s Rosetta 2 compatibility layer because it wasn’t created for Apple Silicon.
These new MacBooks, especially the M1 Max models, might be formidable gaming machines with a little tweaking to the graphical settings and improved M1 support in the future. That isn’t something we expected to say about a MacBook.
It’s worth noting that if you want the absolute best performance from a MacBook, you’ll need the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2021) M1 Max, which includes an exclusive ‘High Power Mode’ designed to squeeze out even more performance. Even with the M1 Max edition of the MacBook Pro 14-inch, the model isn’t available, which is a bummer.
3. Google Pixelbook Go
The Google Pixelbook Go has made Google’s typically expensive product range more affordable to consumers. That makes it a welcome addition to the lineup, especially for budget-conscious users who can’t afford the high pricing of the Google Pixelbook.
However, certain concessions must be made to keep the price low. The Google Pixelbook Go lacks more premium features such as biometric login.
It’s also not the most affordable Chromebook on the market. Furthermore, while its base configuration is reasonable, as you move up the specs ladder, it becomes more expensive, making it less of a good deal.
Is the Google Pixelbook Go even worth considering with so many compromises? It’s not completely without merit. It has a 1080p webcam, long battery life, and a decent keyboard, which should be enough to persuade anyone wanting to upgrade from their tablets or out-of-date laptops. And it’s still the most cost-effective method to try out Google’s products.
Even if those with the cash will still choose the premium Pixelbook, the Go is an excellent choice for many. The Google Pixelbook Go is, of course, designed to be thin and light, with a thickness of only 0.5 inches and a weight of 2.3 pounds.
The laptop is only available in two colors: “Just Black” and “Not Pink” (black and pink, respectively). Something in the middle, such as a white or straight anodized magnesium alternative, would be ideal, but alas.
As previously stated, the laptop’s frame is constructed of a magnesium alloy with a matte finish that, when combined with the rippling base, makes it simpler to grab and hold while traveling between meetings or workplaces, as Google claims.
This Chromebook’s frame is extremely resistant to pressure and flex, which is uncommon in Chromebooks. And boy, does Google make the most of every square inch of that screen.
The Pixelbook Go has top-firing speakers as well as a keyboard with ergonomically spaced keys. Although they’re a little small and, as a result, a little tinny at the high end, these speakers outperform the vast majority of laptops of this size, which often have bottom-firing speakers.
However, one feature that Google left out is biometric log-in: the Pixelbook Go lacks a fingerprint sensor, as well as an iris or face scanner. Given that many Chromebooks at this price point include at least one of these features, it’s a thorny issue.
Google claims to be using its Android phone unlocking capability, although this excludes anyone who does not have an Android phone. However, returning to the pros, the Google Pixelbook Go keyboard is unquestionably one of the nicest we’ve ever used on a laptop.
Google’s “Hush” design, which brings the company’s original, silent Pixelbook keys to a more affordable price point, is an improvement. On a laptop keyboard, we’d say this is the best blend of silence and powerful feedback we’ve ever encountered.
However, unless you read this review, you’d have no idea that the Pixelbook Go keyboard is backlit. Holding the “Alt” key while pushing the screen brightness controls toggles the brightness of the keyboard backlight.
This isn’t a deal-breaker, but the design isn’t particularly intuitive, as this combination does not affect any other key on the top function row.
The Pixelbook Go has two USB-C 3.1 connections for charging and display output, as well as a 3.5mm headphone socket for listening to music.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of ports, but it doesn’t have to be. When compared to their price-equivalent competition, the laptop’s mid-range and high-end options are easily outmatched by Thunderbolt 3 ports aplenty.
When comparing the Pixelbook Go frame design to its predecessor and competitors at similar pricing, there is one drawback: it is not a 2-in-1 laptop. This reduces the laptop’s adaptability, but this editor isn’t a fan of convertible 2-in-1 laptops in the first place.
That makes us wonder why Google included a touchscreen at all since it would significantly limit the number of Android apps the OS could handle.
Let’s talk about what you’ll be staring at for the rest of your life: the display. The Pixelbook Go, except for the highest-end version, has a 1080p touchscreen, which we found to display colors with the vibrancy and precision we expect from laptops in this price range.
However, we wish Chrome OS could render at native resolution without scaling — the most legible scaling results in an effective 1,600 x 900 resolution, which dilutes the impact of Chrome OS’s 1080p status.
Nonetheless, we’d feel a lot more comfortable editing images on this laptop screen than on most other Chromebooks. While we haven’t seen the 4K Molecular Display option in person, we believe it is utterly superfluous for a Chromebook.
The Pixelbook Go is a Chromebook, so don’t anticipate stellar performance, especially given the fanless Intel CPUs within. While we can’t comment on the Intel Core m3 performance of the entry-level model, we can state that the Core i5 Y-series is more than capable of handling simple chores and even light photo editing.
The laptop can surely run Android games and playback 1080p video, but anything more beyond that will likely cause the system to grind. This is advantageous for Google, as their operating system does not support many truly demanding applications.
We discovered that with 8GB of RAM, this Chromebook can multi-task between a large number of Google Chrome browser tabs – over a dozen – without needing to refresh them owing to memory constraints. Most Chromebooks at this price point have only 4GB of RAM, which is a disadvantage because Google’s browser is quite RAM-hungry, even after upgrades.
Also, at least in the configurations we tested, the Pixelbook Go’s Geekbench 4 scores aren’t that much worse than the current MacBook Air for its price. That’s a remarkable achievement for a Chromebook – and, strangely, a remarkable achievement for the MacBook Air.
Even better, the Google Pixelbook Go offers an exceptionally long battery life. Using our local video playback test, we were able to drain the Chromebook in 11 hours and 14 minutes. By one hour and 14 minutes, the MacBook Air 2019 fell short of the mark.
This is quite close to Google’s claimed battery life of 12 hours on a single charge, which is unusual for almost every laptop on the market at the time of its debut. This demonstrates the advantages these businesses gain from fine-tuning their hardware and software in tandem.
In addition, the Pixelbook Go can acquire a two-hour charge with a 20-minute connection to the outlet. This makes the laptop practically unkillable in terms of battery life, which is a significant plus for people who commute or work from different locations daily.
One of the biggest advantages of Chromebooks is that they usually come with spotless Chrome OS installations, and the Google Pixelbook Go is no exception. This does, however, imply that this laptop does not provide anything truly unique in terms of software or features that other Chromebooks do not.
We like that Google Assistant is available through speech or keyboard, but it’s hardly unusual when compared to practically every other recent Chromebook.
If there’s one feature that stands out about this Chromebook, it’s the sharp, 1080p webcam. It’s uncommon on Chromebooks, let alone some of the most costly laptops.
At this price, we believe the Google Pixelbook Go, like most other laptops – Chromebook or not – should feature some type of biometric login. It’s not enough to assume consumers have an Android phone with which to connect to their laptop, especially in the United States, where iPhones are everywhere.
4. HP Spectre x360
The HP Spectre x360 (2021) improved on an already excellent laptop. Last year’s HP Spectre x360 model combined performance and portability to create one of the best laptops we’ve ever seen. And now that the 2021 model has received Intel’s Evo certification, the threshold has been lifted.
The Spectre 2021 edition must meet certain standards to be certified, with the result being improved performance and design.
This model has excellent battery life, lasting nearly 13 hours in our PCMark 10 battery life test, demonstrating that a Windows laptop can outlast Chromebooks and MacBooks in this category. It can also play casual games and boots up quickly, which will impress anyone who isn’t a hardcore gamer.
That isn’t to imply that the HP Spectre x360 is without flaws. While the 360-degree hinge allows you to use it as a tablet, it’s a little too large and awkward to be useful as one.
It’s not unusable, but if you value this function and want a laptop that can spend as much time in tablet mode as it does in laptop form, we recommend the Surface Pro 7 or iPad, both of which are thin and light tablets that can be used with keyboards.
The fans also become pretty noisy when you’re using the laptop — and, on rare occasions, even when you’re not. Even when the HP Spectre x360 (2021) was closed, we heard the fans kick a few times. It’s the one part of the HP Spectre x360 (2021)’s design that doesn’t feel entirely premium.
With premium, pricing comes a premium design, and the HP Spectre x360 does not disappoint (2021). To be honest, we never doubted it; the previous model was one of the most attractive laptops we’ve ever seen.
As a result, it’s no surprise that the new model is yet another stunning HP laptop. The HP Spectre x360 (2021) appears almost comparable to the previous generation, which isn’t a terrible thing given how impressed we were with its appearance.
The HP Spectre x360 (2021) has a brushed-metal style that comes in a variety of color options. The 360-degree hinge, which allows the screen to entirely tilt back, transforming the HP Spectre x360 (2021) into a tablet-like device, feels robust and trustworthy. The word ‘Spectre’ is carved on the right-hand side, which adds to the overall premium impression of the HP Spectre x360 (2021).
On the right, you’ll find an audio-in jack and a full-size USB port (the inclusion of a full-size USB port is a nice touch for such a thin and light laptop), as well as two USB-C ports, a microSD port, and a physical webcam kill switch. On the left, you’ll find two USB-C ports, a microSD port, and a physical webcam kill switch.
When you’re not using the webcam, you may switch it off; this is a nice option for folks who are concerned about their privacy.
It’s a huge selling feature, because it demonstrates, along with the full-size USB port and MicroSD slot, that a thin and light laptop can include several connections without sacrificing design. It surely puts the MacBook Air (M1, 2020) and MacBook Pro 13-inch (M1, 2020)’s two USB-C ports to shame.
When you first turn on the HP Spectre x360 (2021), you’re greeted by a brilliant, vibrant screen surrounded by razor-thin bezels.
This provides the laptop with a more modern appearance while also reducing its total size. It’s just another example of a Windows 10 laptop looking more fashionable than an Apple MacBook, which will satisfy both HP and Intel, and is still more cause for Apple to reconsider its MacBook designs.
The keyboard is spacious and comfortable to operate, with good travel between the keys. They’re also illuminated, so you can use them in the dark with ease.
The touchpad is comfortable to use and responsive. It’s a little wider than a 13-inch laptop would be, giving you a little extra room to wiggle your fingers. To the right of the touchpad is a fingerprint scanner for logging into Windows 10.
In the same way that HP has managed to pack a huge keyboard and trackpad into a compact body, Lenovo has managed to cram a large keyboard and trackpad into a small body. It’s a fantastic design achievement that ensures the HP Spectre x360 (2021) not only looks beautiful but also feels comfortable to use.
The big touchscreen of the HP Spectre x360 (2021) works well when the screen is completely flipped back and used as a tablet-like device. However, while being a thin and light laptop, the HP Spectre x360 (2021) feels big and cumbersome when compared to tablets like the iPad.
Although having the ability to use the laptop in this fashion is convenient, it isn’t a perfect substitute for a tablet. As a laptop, the HP Spectre x360 (2021) is significantly more successful. The components and performance of the HP Spectre x360 (2021) are the most significant improvements over the previous edition, with the laptop serving as a showcase for Intel’s latest mobile processors.
The Intel Core i7-1165G7 processor was used in the review unit we received. This is a quad-core processor with a boost speed of 4.70GHz, which is a significant improvement over the Intel Core i7-1065G7 (prior generation CPU) found in last year’s model.
Overall, the HP Spectre x360 (2021) is a wonderful little performer, with Windows 10 feeling snappy and responsive thanks to the latest CPU and a generous 16GB of RAM. Multitasking with many apps open at the same time, as well as a slew of Edge tabs, did not affect the HP Spectre x360 (2021)’s speed.
The HP Spectre x360 (2021) delivers the kind of performance you’d expect from a luxury laptop at this price point for day-to-day use. You will not be disappointed in the least.
The addition of Intel Iris Xe graphics to the new Tiger Lake CPUs, such as the Intel Core i7-1165G7, is one of the most significant advancements. This is an integrated GPU that promises to deliver significantly better performance than prior integrated graphics and may even be able to compete with discrete GPUs.
While the HP Spectre x360 (2021) isn’t a gaming laptop, it could be able to run some PC games that other thin and light laptops couldn’t.
While Cyberpunk 2077 at full graphical settings isn’t on the list, Intel claims it can run GTA 5 at over 60 frames per second, and esports games like Rocket League, League of Legends, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – which is less graphically demanding but require fast performance – may also be playable.
So, naturally, we tried out a few games on the HP Spectre x360 (2021). As previously stated, this is not a gaming laptop, but we wanted to check if it was possible to play games at the end of the day to unwind after a long day at work.
Sort of is the answer. On low settings, Total War: Three Kingdoms barely managed 30 frames per second. Anything more difficult would have been unplayable. We also played Ori and the Will of the Wisps, a graphically striking 2D platformer that, while beautiful, isn’t as taxing as many other recent games.
Unfortunately, to ensure seamless gameplay, we had to lower the graphical settings and scale down the resolution. As a result, while recent games like Ori and the Will of the Wisps were playable, they came at a significant cost in terms of graphical fidelity. So, HP Spectre x360, don’t quit your day job (2021).
One thing to keep in mind is that the fans on the HP Spectre x360 (2021) will turn on even when performing relatively low-powered operations like downloading an app.
It’s understandable in some ways, given that this is a super-thin laptop with components that must be kept cool. It was, however, inconvenient, and stood in stark contrast to the MacBook Air (M1, 2020), which runs quietly thanks to its fanless design.
Long battery life is one of the most important features Intel is emphasizing with its Intel Evo platform, and the HP Spectre x360 (2021) doesn’t disappoint. In our battery life test, which runs a 1080p video clip at 50% brightness until the battery dies, it lasted an impressive 11 hours and 22 minutes.
The previous HP Spectre x360 did well on this test as well, clocking in at 10 hours and 55 minutes. The extra half-hour is good, and it shows that the more powerful components didn’t come at the expense of battery life.
On the laptop, we also conducted the PCMark 10 battery life test, which simulates day-to-day tasks like online browsing and video calling. The HP Spectre x360 (2021) managed approximately 13 hours in this test, which is a huge improvement over the previous model’s four-hour score (on PCMark 8).
As a result, the battery on the HP Spectre x360 (2021) is well-balanced, able to last in both light- and medium-use scenarios.
This laptop can easily get you through a whole workday, making it a good choice for business customers searching for a laptop that delivers exceptional performance, looks great, and doesn’t require charging until they get home.
Laptops come in a variety of sizes and styles. You’ll need to decide how portable your laptop will be. A 15-inch laptop is a good choice if you don’t need to carry your laptop about all the time. These often have higher specifications and larger screen real estate for multitasking.
A 13 or 14-inch laptop may be appropriate for you if you work in multiple locations or travel frequently. They are more compact and have longer battery life. A touchscreen does not provide enough benefits to justify the extra cost unless you’re buying a 2-in-1 laptop.
The screen of a laptop is one of its most crucial elements, particularly for programmers. Long times of looking at a computer screen are required when developing programs. You must pay great attention to the finer points.
A 1366 x 768 display is standard on most budget laptops, which we believe to be mediocre at best. Multitasking is not possible due to a lack of screen real estate on the display. Furthermore, the font isn’t sharp enough for you to enjoy a pleasant reading experience.
A 4k display is an overkill for a laptop, especially when you consider the additional expenditures and battery loss you’ll experience.
If you must buy a laptop, make sure it has a Full HD 1920 x 1080 (1080p) display. If you have to spend a little more for 1080p, it’s worth it.
Also, ensure that the display has good viewing angles; your laptop’s screen should not be a mirror!
3. Processing Capacity (CPU)
The CPU in your laptop has a significant impact on performance, therefore you can’t afford to compromise on this. Processors come in a variety of shapes and sizes, each with its own set of specs.
Keep these specifications in mind. Cache size, number of cores, frequency, and thermal design power are a few of the most essential.
Most folks should be able to get by with an Intel core i5 or i7 CPU running at 3GHz or higher.
We don’t think you can do any real programming on a laptop with less than 4GB of RAM. The least amount of RAM I propose is 8GB. With the advent of Electron programs, which love to take big amounts of RAM, even that is becoming insufficient. If you have any spare cash, consider upgrading to 16GB of RAM.
5. Storage capacity and type
Getting an SSD (Solid State Drive) should be high on your priority list. When compared to a normal hard disk, this will provide considerable performance gains.
With an SSD, everything will be much faster, including starting up the operating system, compiling code, running apps, and loading projects.
The starting point should be a 256GB SSD. A 512GB or 1TB SSD is ideal if you have more money. If price is a concern, go with a smaller SSD, which will house your operating system alongside your apps and frequently accessed documents (such as project files). The rest of your data, such as music and films, can be stored on a larger external hard drive.