If you’re just starting to learn how to code, you don’t have to invest a fortune in getting a good laptop for programming. Instead, you can choose a cheaper laptop that can still do the job and upgrade after a few years if it’s needed. And we have a list of the best cheap laptops to learn programming to help you get started!
The truth is that, unless you’re also looking to play the latest games on your laptop during your coding breaks, you will be able to find some very good options since a dedicated graphics card is not mandatory. If your only goal is to learn to code and write your own software, then you’ll be able to buy a great laptop for a very low price, without trading away performance.
Below we have a list to share with you for the best cheap laptops to learn programming on in 2018. We have even more guides and reviews for each of the recommended laptops below this list – but if you don’t want to read them, you can just choose your favorite the table below – fast and easy!
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|Laptop||Processor||RAM / HDD||Rating||Store Link|
|Acer Aspire 5||Intel Core i5 7200U @2.5 GHz||8GB / 256 SSD||4.1 out of 5||Buy on Amazon|
|Dell Inspiron 15.6"||Intel i5-7200U @2.5 GHz||8GB / 256 SSD||4.2 out of 5||Buy on Amazon|
|Dell Business Flagship||Intel i7-7500U @2.7 GHz||8GB / 512 SSD||4.4 out of 5||Buy on Amazon|
|Acer Aspire E5 17.3"||Intel Core i5 7200U @2.5 GHz||12GB / 256 SSD||4.2 out of 5||Buy on Amazon|
|PROSTAR Clevo N855HJ||Intel Core i7-7700HQ @2.8 GHz||8GB / 120 SSD||4.2 out of 5||Buy on Amazon|
|Eluktronics N870HK1 Pro||Intel Core i7-7700HQ @2.8 GHz||16GB / 512 SSD||4.8 out of 5|
|Buy on Amazon|
|HP Envy 17.3"||Intel Core i7-7500U @2.7 GHz||16GB / 512 SSD||4.5 out of 5||Buy on Amazon|
Now let’s find out more about how we chose the laptops above as the best of the best when it comes to cheap notebooks to learn to write code on (and we’ll also review each one afterwards!):
1. CPU is extremely important
Probably the most important element when looking at a laptop for programming is the CPU. It represents the processing power of your machine and you want it to be as good as possible in order to compile and run your code as fast as possible. Without a solid processor, most of your time will be wasted waiting instead of working and that’s counterproductive.
The best processors on the market right now are, in our opinion, the Intel i5 and i7 processors and we’re making sure that the products we’re recommending have those equipped in order to offer the best possible performance.
2. You need fast storage
SSDs are no longer novelty items, but there’s still a very fair share of people who don’t own one or don’t consider one a must. However, since a SSD is much faster than a traditional HDD, it becomes an extremely important feature of a laptop that you’ll use for programming, since you will switch between files, save and copy and restore often. And SSDs offers the best speed available right now.
Unless you really need a ton of storage, you won’t need a huge SSD (since they are expensive). You can even opt for a SSD / HDD combo in order to mix speed with sheer storage capacity, so you have options and we’ve had them all covered during our research for the best cheap laptops for aspiring programmers.
3. RAM is also important
Although a ton of RAM doesn’t automatically mean a much better computer for those learning to code, it is still pretty important as it will store the information required to run your programs.
However, even laptops with 4GB can handle most programming tasks, even though 8GB and above is recommended. The good news is that we can keep costs very low in this area.
4. The GPU is not that important, usually
Having a dedicated graphics card is not necessary for a laptop you use for coding. It becomes a must if you want to play modern games on it or if you want to develop your own games. But for most programming tasks, the GPU is not really important. Which is very good, because laptops with dedicated graphics cards are usually more expensive.
We have options with both, though, in case you want a boost in performance and more options when it comes to using your laptop for other purposes as well.
5. Usually overlooked features
Most people only look at the specifications and performance of their machine when deciding what to purchase, but you should also pay attention to a few other details, which we have done when choosing the recommended laptops on the list below (or the table above).
First of all, the screen size is extremely important – we believe that you shouldn’t go for anything lower than 15.6″ because you need a larger screen in order not to strain your eyes more than you will do anyway.
Next, comfort given by a solid, large keyboard and a high quality display with bright colors and eventually anti-glare are also important.
Now that we know the main things we required from our laptops, let’s check out our findings! These are the best cheap laptops to learn programming, listed from the cheapest to the most expensive (at least at the moment of writing – prices can go up or down in the next few months so make sure you do your own due diligence):
Acer Aspire 5
Our budget entry on this list is actually surprisingly good, offering great value for the money. It is powered by a 7th generation Intel Core i5 7200U processor running at 2.50GHz without Turbo Boost. Even though it has just two cores and four are preferred for a boost in speed, it still does a really good job at processing your lines of code extremely fast.
It also has 8GB of RAM which is great, as well as a 256GB SSD which is even better for fast file transfers or write/read speeds. So these top requirements are all ticked, while the budget for this laptop is kept at a minimum.
It does not have a dedicated graphics card, but instead runs on the integrated Intel HD Graphics 620 card which is still solid enough for regular coding. It powers a 15.6″ display and the image quality is really good: it doesn’t strain your eyes more than a good laptop does, which is always a bonus.
The keyboard is not ideal in my opinion as the keys are a bit “buried” and feel a bit strange to press, but this is a minor inconvenience. You get used to it pretty soon and you can still get a lot of good work done on this cheap laptop.
Dell Inspiron 15.6″
If you’re looking for an alternative for roughly the same price and same specifications, you can opt for the Dell Inspiron instead. I’m offering it for its quality and as an extra option for the lower end of the budget.
The main difference here is that it comes with an optical drive if you still need one and the keyboard is not only backlit, but also a bit more pleasant to work with. The machine itself is also a bit lighter which is a bonus if you want to carry it around more often.
But apart from that, it’s mainly the same thing: a 7th generation Intel i5 7200U processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid state drive for storage. It also has an integrated Intel Graphics 620 Card.
Dell Business Flagship Laptop
An improved performance is delivered by this laptop, without a huge increase in costs. Although we’re still dealing with a 15.6″ display (which many programmers would still consider a bit too small), it packs quite a punch in terms of performance and is the best 15.6″ laptop for programming on our list.
Powered by the Intel Core i7-7500U processor running at 2.7 GHz, it also has 8GB of DDR4 RAM for increased performance, as well as perfect storage capabilities thanks to its 512GB SSD. Really amazing specs for sure!
The graphics card is integrated and not dedicated, but as we explained already, you don’t really need a dedicated one – if you do, of course, this laptop is not for you! But for every other occasion, it’s the perfect 15.6″ choice.
It also has some other nice features that might come in handy, like the presence of an optical drive, tons of ports for plugging in extra peripherals, a good keyboard and solid display with a crisp, pleasant image. My favorite for this size!
Acer Aspire E5 17.3″
We’re now moving to larger displays of over 17 inches. These laptops are a better choice for programmers in my opinion because the larger screen makes it easier to follow the lines of code you write and strains your eyes as little as possible over the endless hours you’ll spend staring at the screen (remember to blink!)
This particular product is an amazing choice as well – at the moment of writing, it’s an absolute steal, priced cheaper than the Dell laptop above. You can’t beat that since it is better in almost all areas than the smaller laptop so it would be a mistake not to go for this one.
Apart from the larger size and the beautiful 17.3-inch display, it offers a good processor: the Intel i5 7200U, but also 12GB of DDR4 and 256GB of SSD storage. The frosting on the cake comes from the dedicated graphics card: the NVIDIA GeForce 940MX with 2GB of DDR5 RAM. This is a huge bonus, giving you a lot more options, including gaming (if you still have time for that between programming sessions).
The larger screen means that it also offers a better, more aerated keyboard which is always a bonus for people like me with thick and clumsy fingers, but I’m sure it’s something that everybody will appreciate.
Apart from that, Acer’s ComfyView Technology ensures that you get a great image quality (Full HD, too), while the laptop itself is very thin (1.09″) and light for its size. A rare find!
PROSTAR Clevo N855HJ
Now, if you’re ready to spend a bit more money for your new machine, we’re starting to recommend players from the top league. And even though some of these brands are not as famous as others, the quality of the products they offer is really, really good.
This Prostar Clevo for example offers a large display – 17.3″, powered by a high performance Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor (running at 2.8GHz without Turbo Boost and up to 3.8GHz if you decide to activate the boost for whatever reason), as well as 8GB of DDR4.
For those who look for a dedicated card, this one offers one of the best on the market right now, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 with 2GB of RAM. Even though this does give you more options, remember that it is not mandatory for most coding work, so don’t make your choice based on this alone.
Especially because this laptop has one massive drawback: the storage space. Although it offers a SSD, that’s just 120GB worth of space which is, truth be told, very little for most people. Unfortunately, you can’t have a full list of Pros and no Cons when you’re dealing with a limited budget…
But all in all, despite the disappointing limited storage, this is a really good product offering top performance and able to get a lot of good work done. So definitely worth considering!
Editor’s Choice: Eluktronics N870HK1 Pro
This is our top choice and highest recommended product on the list. It’s not the cheapest, but it will be on your side for a long time before an upgrade will be needed and it will deliver top performance for a long while. You’ll be extremely happy with it!
Powered by a Intel Core i7-7700HQ quad-core processor, it has a whooping 16GB of DDR4 RAM and offers a lot of speedy storage space thanks to the 512GB SSD. But what makes it perfect for any occasion is the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Graphics card with 4GB of RAM. In other words, it has everything you could wish for from a laptops to learn coding on, game on and perform any type of task with ease.
The 17.3-inch display is also very good: anti-glare, so you can easily work outside and full HD. You’ve got a backlit keyboard, tons of ports… everything you can wish for from a extremely solid laptop. And the price is just right in our opinion!
HP Envy 17.3″
HP’s machine is just one step behind getting the top award on our list. This doesn’t mean that this one is not worth looking at, especially if you prefer a better known brand instead.
You’ll have to accept a bit less in terms of performance, though: it is powered by an Intel Core i7-7500U processor running at 2.7GHz, but compensates a bit thanks to the 16GB of DDR4 RAM. The storage is up there: 512GB SSD, but the dedicated card is a few steps behind too: NVIDIA GeForce 940MX with 2GB of RAM. For programming, though, I have to repeat it: the graphics card is not that important, so not really a big deal. But since you can get a better one for lower the price… why not do so?
On the other hand, the HP Envy has a touch display if that matters to you, and also comes with an optical drive. The keyboard is particularly good and nice to work with too, while the screen itself offers full HD resolution and a wide viewing angle. So it’s definitely a good choice, especially if you want to go with a better known brand (although I honestly recommend you not to ignore the Eluktroniks just because it’s not just as famous).
In conclusion, I think that you should make the choice based on your budget. We have created this list in such a way that we have the best laptop for each budget range listed above. Usually, the higher your budget – the better the laptop, but sometime the price is influenced by the size of the display – so have that in mind as well.
Although we always recommend going for a laptop with a large screen – 17-inchers – we do understand that they’re more difficult to carry around, so if a smaller screen size is mandatory, go with those instead.
Remember: you also need to be very comfortable when writing code and testing your programs, because you will spend hours in front of the screen and comfort is vital to keep you productive! Fortunately, you have the best choices above so you can now make an educated choice you will be extremely happy with.