I am looking for a new laptop mostly for programming(work) but also for college and other educational purposes. Right now I have a budget of $650, although I am willing to wait, save up, and spend a total of $800 if necessary.

Graphical considerations: I will want to learn OpenGL, DirectX, WebGL, and possibly Vulkan when it is available. I will also be playing some RTSs like 0AD, and RPGs like KOTOR in my free time. As I will be attending college, I expect I will need it to play high-quality videos without too much difficulty.

OS cosiderations: I want to try Linux From Scratch in a VM. I also want to be able to dual-boot a desktop flavor of linux with windows. I would prefer it to come with Windows 8 with as little ODM-provided junk as possible so I can try Windows 10 but downgrade/rollback if I do not approve. I need at least Windows 8 or later to develop so-called "universal" windows apps.

In all, here are some of the requirements I have, in order from most important to least important:

  • Durable keyboard (won't fall apart) - I don't want to randomly lose my semicolon key again!
  • Battery good enough to last a possible one-hour bus ride without falling into the critical 20% zone
  • Graphics that supports "OpenGL 4.X and up" (requirement for Vulkan)
  • High-capacity hard drive, at least 1TB
  • wifi
  • SD card reader - bonus for multiple SD card readers
  • all hardware is Linux-compatible and runs as smoothly on Linux as on Windows
  • Bluetooth
  • a trackpoint mouse - I find them more useful than track pads when I am typing something up
  • DVD RW drive for installing any operating system from disc and watching DVDs
  • An option to boot from a live SD card or flash drive

I do not know what CPU would be recommended or how much RAM I will need. I'll leave it up to recommendation. I would prefer to be able to upgrade my ram if I find that I am using more than 90% of it on a regular basis. Work-arounds for some of these requirements also appreciated.


3 Answers 3


HP Pavilion 14-ab057ca is a good choice. It has :

  • Intel Core i5-5200U
  • 750 GB HDD (if it you don't mind breaking the warranty, you can just change it)
  • Intel HD Graphics 5500 (Can runs recent games pretty fine, even if it's reputation says the contrary)
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
  • Blu-Ray drive (compatible with DVDs)
  • I can play "Just Cause 2" during 2 hours on battery. Battery life isn't a problem
  • Linux runs smooth on it (Startup in only 10 seconds >_<) (You're gonna need the "wl" driver for using the Wi-Fi card on it. Advanced touchpad features are gonna need little hacks)
  • 1 SD Card slot, 3 USB ports
  • You can boot from the USB, not sure about SD Card.
  • 6 GB DDR3 RAM (You can change it)
  • A touchpad (You can use two-finger scroll, like on Mac)

I bought mine for 650$ CAD (approximately 450 $ USD)


The Dell XPS 13. 13 inch screen in an 11 inch form factor, up to 18 hours of battery life, OpenGL 4.4 support, powerful integrated graphics. 165 ppi screen at minimum configuration, and a free 12 month security software subscription (please don't renew it).

It comes in an ultra thin form factor of 0.3" to 0.6" depending on your configuration.

Starting at $800: Dell XPS 13

EDIT: One problem: the ssd is 128GB.


Dell i7559-763is a superb laptop for programmers and also for game developers.This laptop comes with 8GB DDR3L,256GBSSD 6TH generation Intel core processor.It has 15.6 inch IPS screen with anti-glare technology.

  • How good is the batter on this laptop? Does this supports OpenGL 4.X? Does it have a SD card reader? Can you expand your answer to include these and the other requirements from the question?
    – Cfinley
    Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 14:49

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