The 6 Best Laptops for Web Development & Design 2022

Web Development & Design is an insanely broad topic and I haven’t had the chance to work through all of it.

I dont think anyone has really…

I only know the stacks I’ve worked with and since I’m relatively old that means quite a handful. 

There’s one thing I can assure you though…

Any cheap & modern laptop can build AMAZING websites.

Why?

Think about it.

Web design is MOSTLY about writing code—this is just text and even your smartphone can write lots of text. 

Now I’m not saying….

You should use an iPhone to build websites (though this is possible) or that you buy that $200 laptop you saw Wallmart. 

What I want to emphasize…

If this is your main tool of work. Spend any extra cash on display & keyboard with an emphasis on trying to make your workspace as big and as comfortable as possible according to the “weight” and “size” you need

Yup, it doesn’t mean you need a big display. If you get a smaller high resolution laptop the high resolution will help tons.

No, I’m not going to just list MacBooks here! For developing software purposes I use OSX now but we’ll get to windows options too  (and far MacBooks too!). 

Ideally for ultimate productivity you want enough space to fit in a terminal, a web browser & your IDE

Remember you’re going to be typing your eyes out on this thing while staring at code for several hours(at least when you’re getting started). 

Best Laptop Specs for Web Development

Now if we’re talking about computer hardware, the only two CRUCIAL laptop specs for a fast & snappy workflow are tons of RAM & a spacious Solid State Drive.

That should eliminate ANY signs of loading screens.

What about CPU?

Again, you don’t need to worry about CPUs. Anything made within the past 5 years will do, graphics card are useless too even for Photoshop, InDesign & Illustrator.

The formula goes like this: modern CPU + awesome display + responsive keyboard + SSD = Crazy fast PC and happy Web Developer with a lot of money to spare.

Before we dive in into the best laptops for web development in 2022, let me elaborate a bit more on the best specs so people who can’t laptops in the upcoming list can buy something on their own. 

Display
A spacious display doesn’t mean you need a 16” or 17” display( though that would certainly help tons)
High resolution scales down text/lines of code while still making them visible. 

FHD:  A laptop for web development must have at least this much (1080p).
HD/HD+: You don’t want either unless you’re getting something ultra portable (11” laptop).
IPS/TN Display:  The former is better for PhotoShop due to better color accuracy though the difference is minimal. 
Matte: This can make a HUGE difference in preventing EYE strain but are kind of rare, you’re better off buying an additional screen cover.

Keyboard
A lousy keyboard will render the whole thing useless! You may end up attaching an external keyboard like I did.
There’s no description for keyboard quality so do your research before you pull the trigger.

CPU
Anything that says Core i3 or Ryzen 3 or better. That’s just a rule to make sure you get something modern and not something old and slow: No Celeron, Pentium, Core m3, AMD APU,etc.

RAM
8GB: plenty for both Back and Front End-Web Development.
16GB: Some Back-End developers may need 16GB but it is super rare. You don’t need to buy a laptop with 16GB on board though, you can just upgrade it later. 

Storage
SSDS vs HDD: Make sure to get an SSD, this will have the biggest impact on your workflow. IDEs will launch fast, opening/close files will be instant, libraries will open in a flash,etc.

GPU
There’s no need for a GPU unless you are a heavy and I mean HEAVY PhotoShop User. If so, any “dedicated GPU” released within the past 5 years will do.


Top 6 Best Laptops For Web Development

These 6 laptops should cover the entire spectrum of people into web development: from a student running Visual Studio or Dreamweaver to a pro full stack developer running databases on Virtual Machines. Just keep scrolling down till you find your pick.

We’ll start with the hottest web dev laptop but take a quick glance at the second laptop (it’s the cheapest windows laptop although you can get a MacBook Air crazy chip as will be described later). 

My favorite will be laptop #3 based  (a MacBook Pro) but I show you cheaper windows alternatives in the description.


1. MacBook Air

Best Mac Laptop For Web Development

  8 Core Apple M1  Chip

  8GB RAM Unified

  Apple 8-core GPU

  256GB-512GB SSD

  13” IPS Retina Display

  ~3lb

  +15 hours

The M1 MacBook Air is not the #1 best selling laptop on Amazon for no reason.

Every physical feature from the keyboard to the display and trackpad is of superb quality what’s more the hardware is revolutionarily fast and although most users won’t put that hardware to good use a full stack web developer just might. 

OS: Mac OSX Big Sur

There’s another reason why this is one of the most popular laptops for FULL STACK web developers as you’ve probably noticed by now if you’ve followed tutorials on youtube. I don’t want to get into details here on why the OS is perfect for web developer but you can read it here.

But it’s basically down to how the web development experience is so much better since today’s web development programming relies mostly command line utilities and interface apps like : GIT, Composer, NPM, Artin, Ember for which all work just better on OSX. 

What’s more is that PhP, Apache and even MySQL are readily available through terminal. You don’t have to install anything to get started and although that may not be a good reason to buy a Mac, just know that everything works smoothly and flawlessly when you use the terminal. You can check out this short tutorial to what OSX brings to web development. 

CPU: M1 Core Chip

The M1 core chip is faster than several low power Core i7/Ryzen 7 CPUs which are already too fast for web dev purposes even for all the insane multitasking full-stack developers do so that’s not the reason why you should buy the M1 MacBook Air.

Display: Retina Resolution & Superb Gamut

The display is smaller than the Acer Aspire which we’ll go over soon (15” vs 13”) but it’s actually more “spacious” because now you’re getting a much higher resolution. 

Making 15” would definitely make the screen way more spacious but it’s not a good idea when you want to design a portable laptop that has a long battery life. The Acer only has ~5 hours and the MacBook Air here about 15 hours.

Another cooling thing is the gamut or “color accuracy”. All recent MacBooks with the retina display will cover almost 100% of the sRGB color space which means itll be extremely color accurate to whatever device you’re designing interfaces for. This is not going to be the case with Windows laptops unless you also spend +1000$.

Keyboard & TrackPad: Better than any other laptop

The keyboard and trackpad are of the highest quality from ANY windows laptop you can think of. No matter how expensive other laptos are the design of the M1 MacBook Air or any of its MacBook versions is unmatched.

If I could describe it, they have super low travel distances and yet they are very clicky and responsive (I have the MacBook Pro 16” & 2017 MacBook Air which will go over soon).  It is due to the fact that they are clicky and yet they do not need much strength for characters to register that I can hit my fastest typing speeds on them.

Price: Not necessarily expensive

Okay the newest models are expensive (~1000$ for non students) but that doesn’t have to be the case. There are several solutions to this problem. One is to buy a refurbished machine which reduces the prices by about 200$.

All my MacBooks are refurbished, they still work as new.

Older Models:


A much cheaper option is going for older models. There’s nothing wrong with the older models, if you browse around the web for reviews about the Air. Most of these are actually talking about the older Models. 

The older models only have a weaker CPU and perhaps a lower resolution display (if you go too much far back in time).

If you buy an older model and you ever any extra CPU power (which is VERY VERY unlikely as we’ve discussed several times here) you can just simply resort to VPS service to run that server/backend stuff. 

My favorite Pick a few years ago: 2017 MacBook Air

I’ve first started working with a 2017 MacBook Air  and it was even enough for the stuff I was doing which was kind of heavy: modifying the wikipedia engine through the addition of plugins(it was open source back then). It was only when I started working with wordpress themes and launch SQL servers through Apache from the bottom up that I had to step it up to my current 16” MacBook Pro (more of an issue with display and slightly more CPU power).

PROS CONS
  • Super High Resolution
  • Highest Color Gamut
  • Super lightweight
  • Extremely long battery
  • The most responsive keybard
  • Best Trackpad ever
  • Best OS for web development
  • Very Expensive (newer models)
  • Does not support Windows (M1 Chip is not supported by BootCamp or Parallels )
  • Unnecessarily super fast CPU (that may be a pro to some)

Buy Now


2. Acer Aspire 5

Best Cheap For Web Development & Design

  Intel Core i3-1115G4

  4GB DDR4

  ‎Intel UHD Graphics

  128GB SSD

  15” full HD IPS

  4.19lbs

  7 hours

    Wifi 6 802.11AX

CPU: 11th Core i3 & Ryzen 3 are too fast

Although this is the cheapest laptop for web development, trust me when I say this: you’ll be able to do pretty much ANYTHING related to web development. You can even run Virtual Machines for SQL database testing just like a full stack web developer would.

That’s because, like I said, current modern CPUs are extremely fast for anything that’s not gaming.

RAM: 4GB is not enough

Here lies in the problem. 4GB is just insufficient to run the full version of Windows with no hiccups. An upgrade to 8GB is a must. Now the problem is laptops with 8GB are about $100 more expensive and this is not fair because an additiona RAM stick is only 15 bucks.

Now you don’t necessarily have to get 8GB if you’re okay workign with Windows 10 in S mode (the upgrade to Windows 10 is one click away and its free). If you’re getting started by coding on text editors following tutorials from udemy.com or youtube, you can do so with Windows 10 in S Mode. 

Anyways the point is, it’s much wiser to buy this model and do the upgrade yourself. I have a tutorial where I show you the steps just so you can see how easy it is(check the sidebar).

Display:

The display is superb. 15” and FHD is pretty close to what I have now on my MBP (16”) and I do not seem to require anything more. The only problem with big displays is that they make laptops heavy. If you are a student, this may not be ideal to work on the move but this is as good as it’s going to get for ~360$. You will have to spend at least 700$ for laptops with awesome displays while being portable at the same time. 

PROS CONS
  • Huge and spacious FHD Display
  • Decent keyboard
  • Latest WIFI Protocol
  • Latest generation budget CPU
  • Extremely cheap
  • Must Upgrade RAM
  • Not very portable
  • Must manually upgrade to Windows 10 (Free)

Buy Now


3. MacBook M1 Pro Chip

Best MacBook For Web Development

  M1 Pro Chip 8-10 Cores

  16-64GB RAM DDR4

  Up to 32-core GPU

  512GB-2TB PCIe SSD

  16” Retina 

  4.7lb

  13 hours

This is the 16” version of the MacBook Air, the 16” MacBook Pro.  We are not going to talk about keyboards and trackpads here because the quality is pretty much the same. I own both of these models (their slightly older variants) and both still have that super great keyboard design (as expected from a laptop designed by the same company).

Display: Retina Display (100% srGB)

The display is surely a lot bigger. I myself don’t know what to do with the extra space sometimes though most of the time it just ends up being completely used if I’m working on a site all on my own (full stack development). 

The takeaway here though is that the retina resolution is still the same but the gamut is vastly improved (and rightly so since you’re paying A LOT more money).

GPU: M1 Pro GPU 24-32 Core

Though useless for Web Development, the 16” MacBook Pros have either a dGPU like the Radeon RX 5550M (~1660Ti) or an integrated GPU that has the power of several modern dGPUs. Both are still going to be overkill for the kind of designs you’re going to do in PhotoShop. 

CPU: M1 Pro 8-10 Cores

This is way way too fast even for engineers and video editors but it’s not like you have a choice. If you want that huge , super high color gamut display you’re going to have to put up with. You can save a few hundred bucks by going for the lowest CPU configuration though (and you should too).

Windows 10 / 11 Pro:  Unfortunately, all recent MacBooks (2020+) are not compatible with Windows through BootCamp or Parallels, the 16′ MacBook Pro is no exception.

The solution: 

If you are a front end developer you don’t have to do this you will never see the need to use Windows. If you are a full stack developer (this is rare super rare and you’ll probably become one way down the road if it ever happens), you will need a solution and the solution is rather simple: go for older models.

I personally went for the slightly older (2019) 16” MacBook Pro. All features are still the same with the sole exception that both the CPU (Core i9) and GPU( Radeon RX 5550M) are both supported by Microsoft Windows so I can run BootCamp and Visual Studio when I please. 

Windows Alternative:

Grab a 17” Lenovo Laptop which should have a FHD display to get the same amount of workspace and a decent keyboard. 

PROS CONS
  • Super High Resolution
  • Highest Color Gamut
  • Super lightweight
  • Extremely long battery
  • The most responsive keybard
  • Best Trackpad ever
  • Very Expensive (newer models)
  • Does not support Windows (M1 Chip is not suitable for BootCamp/VM)
  • Limited to OSX Web Apps (VS studio is not available)
  • Unnecessarily super fast CPU (that may be a pro to some

Buy Now

 


4. ASUS ZenBook 13

Best ASUS Laptop For QuickBooks

  Intel Core i5-1135G7

  8GB RAM DDR3

  Intel Iris Plus Graphics 

  256GB-512GB PCIe NVMe SSD

  13” full HD IPS

  2.45lb

  11 hours

There are two problems with the MacBooks (for some people): they have no Windows and they’re expensive.

The next two laptops will be sort of “cheaper” Windows replicas of both the MacBook Air and the 14′ MacBook Pro (I’ve already listed an alternative to the 16” Pro).

We’ll start with the cheapest yet high quality Ultrabook: ASUS ZenBook 13.

CPU: Core i5 11th gen 

Hopefully you’ve got the point by now. CPUs are not a problem as long as they’re modern. If you must know the Core i5 here vastly outperforms the Core i3 CPU but it’s well below the M1 Chips Though you will never feel the difference.  

GPU: Intel Xe

The cool thing about the Core i5 here is that the iGPU (intel Xe) is different than the one on the Acer Core i3 despite both having essentially the same name. The Core i5 Intel Xe acts like a 2GB vRAM dedicated GPU (a lot less than what a 16” MacBook Pro has ) which is exactly what PhotoShop requires if you want to accelerate 3D effects.  Though as a web developer this is useless. It might be useful if you’re into Photo Editing yourself.

Display: FHD 98% sRGB

The ZenBook’s display at 700 bucks covers almost the same color space the MacBook Pro does. It’s only FHD and 13” but that makes it super portable.

Which brings me to a very important point. The ASUS ZenBook will basically act like the windows version of the MacBook Air: it will either better or the same thinness & weight.

What’s going to be different is the keyboard. It’s not a bad keyboard (no complaints about it on Amazon but no praises either). The fact that the ZenBook uses Windows 10 or 11 makes it more prone to high energy consumption this makes the battery last about 9-10 hours. You are not going to get better than that from a Windows machine that’s as good as it’s going to get.

PROS CONS
  • Super thin
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Great Keyboard
  • Much cheaper than a MacBook Air
  • Most recent Core i5 CPU
  • sRGB not 100%
  • Average battery
  • Average FHD display
  • Troublesome trackpad

Buy Now


5. Lenovo ThinkPad T14  

Best Lenovo Laptop For Web Development

  Ryzen 5 Pro 4650U

 16GB DDR4 RAM 

   AMD Radeon Vega 7

  256GB PCIe NVMe SSD

  14” IPS Antiglare FHD

  3.37lbs

  10 hours

Most of the well known good features of the Lenovo ThinkPads applies to the T series. You may or may not get the superb keyboard, rock solid design & flawless Linux compatibility out other series like the E or P series
 

Operating System: Linux & Windows

There’s no way to hide it. Visual Studio on MacBooks suck just like Microsoft Office. It will limit your workflow tremendously so either get the ASUS ZenBook (for the portability) or this ThinkPad if you’re mostly staying at home (it is rather heavy). Obviously, if you’re limited to Windows Programming like .NET/C# all the reason why you should go for either of the two.

Now if you ever feel like using Linux for better python compatibility or just to run ASP/.NET on Windows and Apache in Ubuntu’s bash, the transition is seamless. Unlike other laptops, every piece of hardware will be compatible (via dualboot & through VirtualBox ) will work like a charm. Even the touchScreen which is usually the most problematic feature will work on Linux. This is something the ThinkPads are known for.

Keyboard & Display

The display is nothing extraordinarty just your average FHD IPS panel with average color gamut. It is still super spacious but nothing fancy. However, the keyboard is just as clicky as the MacBook Pro with the sole difference that it has more travel so it gives you more of “type-writer” file without requiring much strength. Great keyboard is yet another well known feature of the Lenovo ThinkPads.

CPU: Core i5, Core i3 & Core i7 & Ryzen 5, Ryzen 7s

There are dozens of ThinkPads to choose from the main difference will be how much RAM they’ve got and what CPU they’ve got. You could save hunderds of bucks by choosing ThinkPads with either a Ryzen 3 or Core i3, they’ll be fine even for VMs.

All of them have at least 8GB RAM so there are no need for upgrades (though they’re all upgradeable).

PROS CONS
  • Superb keyboard
  • Rock solid build quality
  • Best Linux compatibility
  • Super Long Battery
  • Super lightweight  for a 14” laptop
  • too much RAM
  • A bit thicker than Macbooks

Buy Now


6. MacBook Air 11

  Intel Core i5 7th gen

  8GB RAM DDR4

  Intel HD 520

  128GB-256GB SSD

  11” HD or 10” Retina Display 

  2-2.2lbs

  +10 hours

I know this article  is starting to look like an Apple Commercial but bear with me:

The fact of the matter is that I get zero comissions when people buy MacBooks from Apple’s website.

However, I still have to be brutally honest, that’s the whole point of this article. 

10” and 11” MacBooks:

If you browse around refurbished MacBooks, you’ve probably come across extremely cheap MacBooks: the 10” and the 11” MacBooks. The one featured above is the 11” MacBook Air. This is the 10” MacBook:


They’re obviously too small for any serious web developer. However…

If you need something portable to work on the move (think about an 8 hour flight or a 12h train trip), they work like a charm. 

CPU

The problem with these two laptops is that they’ve got weak and old CPUs. Now this is fine for most applications including XCode or an emulator but the moment you start adding insane multitasking, you will lag. 

Display

However, for a multitasking workflow such as the following it will do:

Desktop 1: browser
Desktop 2: Atom (split the panes horizontally instead of vertically)
Desktop 3: 4 terminal windows
Desktop 4: SourceTree
Desktop 5: Second browser
Desktop 6: Affinity Designer
Desktop 7: Mail and Slack
Desktop 8: Other apps such as Byword

I’m calling each program here by Desktops because I would use “Spaces” , a feature that comes on every MacBook, which allows you to change between different “desktop” screens (as you would on a phone) by swipping left or right with three or four fingers. 

I’m not saying you can’t do this with bigger macbooks but it is likely you will have to use it more often on a 10 and 11 MacBook.

If you get to a hotel and feel like using an external display, the latest OSX version have a built-in feature that will let you use an iPad as an additional screen. 

Why go through all this for a MacBook?

The Unix command line… is miles better than what you find on Windows laptops. Things like installing Node, Ruby and any other package is far easier on a  mac.

I’ll pay you if you can find a big name developer at a conference who isn’t using a mac. (Provided they don’t have Win software).

Because most web developera are shifting more and more to Macs, some cool web dev software are only available on Macs too like codeKit.

This article does better job of explaining all the advantages http://code.tutsplus.com/articles/one-developers-switch-from-pc-to-mac–net-11831 .

PROS CONS
  • High Resolution (10” MacBook)
  • Great Gamut (10” MacBook)
  • Most lightweight laptop ever
  • Extremely long batteries
  • Superb keyboards
  • Super compact & Thin Design
  • Crazy fast for a small laptop
  • Extremely Cheap
  • Supports Windows (BootCamp)
 

  • Small sized display
  • Crowded trackpad
  • Low resolution (11” MacBook Air)
  • Must rely on “Spaces” to multitask
  • Cannot be upgraded (RAM & Storage have to be configured before purchase)

Buy Now

Last Words:

Well that’s it folks if you are constantly on the go, I’d recommend you really consider premiul ultrabooks or portable devices (even the Surface Pro will work for web development).

If you are mostly staying at one place, you can consider any modern laptop with a decent display+keyboard. You can’t go wrong.

At the end of the day all laptops have keyboards and displays which is enough to develop.


Building The Best computer for Web design and Development

If things are running slow you don’t necessarily need to buy a new laptop. Throwing money at the problem is not always the best solution; 

Upgrade an Old Machine

Web Development isn’t CPU or GPU demanding which are the only two laptop specs that can’t be replaced.  The rest can be upgraded. Now if you’ve got a HD or HD+ resolution display, then yes you will need to get a new laptop because displays aren’t easy to upgrade.

If that’s not the case, you can get your old laptop a nice boost by replacing the HHDD drive with an SSD AND/OR upping your RAM.  

Before that, double check if RAM is the problem:

1. Access task my through CTRL+ALT+DEL. Check if the IDE/Web development App you’re running is eating away all the hardware resources or perhaps it’s competing with other background process that are also taking away lots of RAM. 

Downgrading OS/Changing  IDE

New Windows or OSX updates can eat up tons of RAM. I remember updating my macbook pro to Mavericks and thats why when I decided to get a new laptop. Also the same thing is going to happen if you’ve bought a laptop with the early version of Windows 10. If it’s been updated to the current version of Windows 10 or even worse Windows 11, you’re definitely will run out of RAM (Both can take ~4GB RAM and way more storage up to 64GB).

If you add the fact that Dreamweaver and PS can take around 4GB then you will already out of RAM (8GB) . The solution here would be to use a different IDE to free up resources OR up your RAM beyond 8GB. 

Uninstalling Software

Keep an eye on what you’ve got installed on your system (besides web dev software). I’ve had pretty solid and fast laptops only to slow down once I installed games on them. Might be a coincidence but the pattern is there.

As long as I kept games off my laptop, everything was ok. It probably has to do with the storage being nearly at full capacity or the fact that some guys come with bloatware. 

Lastly, it’s always best to try out software on a VM first so you can find out whether said software is actually going to be useful. This is one way to avoid malicious software that may come with the installation.


Web Developers

It’s important to know where you are going to stand to see if you may need to do upgrades or whether investing on better hardware is ever going to be any useful.

Front End Web Developer

This is just code with CSS, HTML, Javascript and maybe JQuery (although it’s being used less and less as modern web browsing software can now do all the work).  Coding doesn’t need anything special. If you’re using an IDE (Dreamweaver, VS Studio) for it then yes you’re just going need to up RAM to at least 8GB and add an SSD if you want.

If you’re going to use inDesign , Illustrator and Photoshop because you’re also in charge of designing icons/interfaces the same rule applies: 8GB RAM and SSD (which most laptops have these days). Graphics cards are useless for this type of work.

 

Back End Development

In addition to the programming languages mentioned, back end development also involves Java, PHP, Ruby on Rails, Python and .Net.  These are also just programming languages that require nothing more than an IDE.

The only thing to be highlighted here is that most will run local Databases and perhaps VMs (Virtual Machines to do this). In the worst case scenario, an upgrade to 16GB RAM will be needed.

Full Path Developer

This just means someone works on both “Front End” WD (Html, CSS, javascript etc) and on backend code (databases, .net, Php, C#, Ruby etc).

A developer like me usually has: Atom for coding, Safari and Chrome for web browsing and 4–5 terminal windows for testing (issuing SQL statements, testing, and Git tasks, and Redis, and…), 1–2 Finder windows, Discord, Mail, Affinity Designer and SourceTree all open at the same time. 

The requirements are the same I’m doing just fine with 16GB and even 8GB was okay too but did the upgrade because it was cheap.

Student

I started with C# classes which used Visual Studio and a SQL Server so 8GB RAM will be fine.
What’s going to be really important is an FHD display so you can have your IDE on one side side and a web browser on the other (to follow tutorials). You don’t have to do work like that, you can always switch between spaces or use ALT+TAB but I found that annoying.

Software

The most useful software for web developemnt are software like TextMade, CodeKit, Atom and SublimeText which are just text editors and do not require any special hardware. In fact, you can use an iPhone for these types of programs.

The only two programs that MIGHT  require a little more power are : PhotoShop or Virtual Box.

Illustrator/Photoshop

If you do minor graphic editing like converting vector AI files to SVG and tweaking colors, you dont need to worry about hardware.

You won’t need a dGPU nor 16GB of RAM.   CPU does not help either it’s rare for the software to be bottlenecked by a modern weak CPU.

VirtualBox

If you run an Ubuntu Server VM using Vagrant and VirtualBox to simulate a production environment before release then you probably want to make sure you’ve got at least 8GB RAM.

Hardware Specs for Web Development

The above should be enough information for those a little acquianted with computer terminology.  If that doesn’t make things clear read this section though it will sound redundant to those of you up to date with computers.

CPU

All you need for web development is a modern CPU or any CPU that can run  Windows 10 with no hiccups because Web Developing and running code has never been CPU intensive UNLESS you’re running calculations like a NASA engineer.

What’s a modern CPU?

A modern CPU does not mean a fast CPU. It just means a CPU made within the past 5 years. In other words, a late generation CPU. Why modern and not old? Because these CPUs have been tested and proven to run the latest version of Windows 10 and some can even run Windows 11. 

Modern = Late generation. Late generation = 8th,9th,10th,11th Intel Core CPUs or 3rd, 4th, 5th gen AMD Ryzen

What about # Cores?

All Modern CPUs will have at least 2 and the latest 4 cores. The most powerful will have somewhere around 8 and they’re totally unncessary for a web developer even if you’re running VM (Virtual Machines) for software  testing, you will be fine with just 4 cores (which is what most have, this include budget ones):

Core i3 8100U, Core i3 10100U,Core i3 11537G, Core i5 10100U, Core i5 115G35[ /tip] 

[tip]Ryzen 3 3200, Ryzen 3 4300U, Ryzen 3 5300U. Ryzen 5 3500U, Ryzen 5 4500U, Ryzen 5 5550U

Those in green are found on the cheapest laptops ($350-$420) and they have exactly what a front end developer needs.

Those in Blue(450-550$) have +2 cores which may or may not come useful to Back-End Developers because they might also be fine with the ones on green. I suppose those in blue would be more of a future proof thing.

RAM

8GB: 8GB should work fine for most people. It will only an issue if you’re some sort of full stack developer.

16GB: That is whenever your workspace area looks like this:  

A textEditor, a web browser, a virtual machine, a SQL server and several tabs for tutorials and videos. Terminal. A heavy IDE like DreamWeaver or VS

If you add PhotoShop and a project with hundreds of layers, then you’ll definitely need at least 16GB.   

No need to buy 16GB laptops: Virtually every laptop that has 8GB (except MacBooks) will be upgradeable to 16GB.

Storage

The most common bottleneck for web developers will be storage speed, not # cores on a CPU or clock speeds or even RAM.

Storage Speed

You’ll always opening/closing files (data), looking up for a piece of code (throughout the whole drive), opening and closing software.

All that data is stored on your storage drive. 

If you can make your storage deliver that data to your CPU faster, that means you’ll be able to save a few seconds here and there and all of that can add up to hours over the course of the week. 

SSD (Solid State Drive)

SSDs are the standard and virtually on every single laptop made within the past 3 years. They’re so fast that what used to take 3 min to load now takes a few seconds (an IDE would take that long with HDDs).   

You’ll also be able to boot windows in literally split seconds!

Disk Memory

In the scenario where you go crazy with a photoshop image and you run out of RAM memory, Photoshop or any image editing software will resort to use your storage drive as “extra RAM”.

If you’ve got a slow storage drive like an HDD. Your computer will slow down massively.

If you’re cheap and you get a 5400RPM HDD, it will get painfully slow. This is another reason why you should never cut down prices by ditching the SSD.

What about backups?

Use CarbonCopyCloner to clone the entire disk on any external drive every other day. There are similar software for windows machines you can use.

Display

This is just as important as having Solid State Drive. Your workflow will be several times faster with a high resolution big display that can accomodate everything you’re doing. Don’t forget you’ll be staring at this thing for long periods of time too.

Resolution

FHD (1080p): All web developers should get at least this much and it’s just wrong to try to cut down prices by getting anything lower. You see high resolution displays make a bigger difference than having a bigger display when it comes to having several programs on windows next to each other.

High resolution displays do this by adding more pixels to images/text which enables to scale everything down without compromising visibility, this means more stuff on a display by scaling down objects = bigger workspace area.

HD+ and HD: these displays are found on budget laptops (under 400$) but if you look long enough you should be able to find a FHD display under 400$. Don’t worry about RAM, storage, those can be upgradeable the display isn’t.

Size

If you get a bigger display on top of a high resolution display, obviously you’ll get an even bigger workspace.

Ideally, you want 15” . This is a good compromise between portability & size.

17” is even better but only if you’re staying at home mostly.

If you’re always on the go, then consider 14″ screen or even 13” screen. Anything less will take a toll on the eyes especially if you reduce the size of fonts. 

Smalls screens will reduce the size of fonts automatically but you can always make them bigger however this will make your windows look smaller. 

I personally split my panes top and bottom. When this is not enough, I plug an iPad as a second monitor . This is something I do now with my 16” MBP. 

Thunderbolt and Dual Monitors

You don’t have to attach a tablet by the way because all laptops now have “ThunderBolt” ports or Type-C USB ports and even an HDMI too. So you can attach at least two separate monitors to one. I use a tablet because it works wirelessly.

IPS

I must also add this specification is SUPER important. It will add wide horizotan and vertical viewing, that is, you can flip back the monitor and everything will still be visible.

When is it useful? When you’re doing pair programming or when you are showing off your work to clients or colleagues.

Matte vs Glossy

Most FHD IPS displays will have a glossy screen which have really cool colors & all but they’re not as easy on the eyes as Matte displays. 

Since you’re going to be staring at this thing for a long time, try to pick the laptop with a Matte finish if you can’t find one just use an accessory like this one:

Other factors

Gamut

If you’re a front developer that’s also going to design buttons and interface images gamut also becomes important. However, laptop displays will rarely have the same color reproduction (gamut) of desktop monitors unless you start investing quite some cash (2k-4k laptops are around 1500$). 

FHD laptops will rarely have superb color gamuts. I’d say the best way to get a super high quality monitor on a laptop is to get a macBook Pro either the 16” or the 15” version. 

It’ll always be cheapere to get an external monitor and use it when you need it.

TouchScreen

TouchScreen is kind of helpful just to test how the touch interface features of whatever app you’re developing works. However, there are tons of apps that facilitate testing this feature. 

GPU

You don’t need dedicated graphics cards for web developing. Even if you are a front end developer working with photoshop all day, it will rarely need a dedicated card. It’s only useful for making the edition of national geographics-like photos a bit faster , it’s not going to make buttons/interface design editing faster because these tasks are not hardware demanding at all. 

Even if you do need a dGPU at some point, most integrated GPUs (found by default on laptops) are pretty powerful these days and have almost the same performance of low-tier dGPUs (AMD Radeon Vega 7 / Intel Xe). 

Keyboard

 If you are going to be typing for 8-15 hours day you want those fingers happy so you have to research keyboard quality thoroughly. Here are a few tips that never failed me to get something decent:

  • If you have cash get a MacBook you’re guaranteed a superb keyboard among other things
  • Lenovo Laptops will have at least a decent keyboard
  • HP laptops/Dell Laptops/ ASUS laptops under 800$ may not have great keyboard
  • ThinkPads: keyboards of all models are legendary but they’re heavy.
  • Try it out! Go to your local computer store try out a few keyboard then either buy it there or buy it online. Whichever is cheaper.

Trackpad

Ditch the trackpad, you’ll improve your workflow several times.

If you can’t ditch the trackpad, do the same: follow the guideline above or go to the local computer store and try them out:

  • Test for responsiveness
  • Test scrolling (this will fail sometimes)
  • Test multi touch gestures
  • It has to have physical buttons too (some do not)
  • Try dragging and dropping

WiFi Card

All laptops have WiFi Cards so WiFi will work on every single laptop you see. That’s not the problem.

You see internet is like a car, the faster it works the faster you’ll finish your project. Why? Uploading and downloading files in a flash saves a lot of time, if you’re multitasking and searching for specific tips through Google, you want those results popping up instantly while at the same time being able to access YouTube tutorials at high resolution.

How do you make it fast? Either:

  • Sit in the same room your modem is
  • If you can’t do the above, get the latest WiFi Wireless Protocol. By the time of this writing it’s WiFi 6. WiFi 5 is cool too but the latest protocol will get you faster speeds if you’re living in a building or house where everyone’s using the same connection.

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