Laptops have become an essential gadget we use every day and for different needs.
And as such, it is not surprising that gaming laptops have inspired more Indie developers to start using them. Game development as much as gaming demands very high performance from all its machines and it doesn’t surprise us that only the best laptops were used for covering such large professionality.
In this article, we are going to talk about the best laptops that can be used on this matter but, also gaming itself, because it would be nothing but surprising if a strict and professional indie developer wasn’t a gamer in the process.
Table of Contents
- What should a Laptop for Game Development Have?
- #1. Lenovo Legion Y720: Best Laptop for Your Game Development
- Products from Amazon.com
- #2. ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW 15.6-Inch 4K Touchscreen Laptop
- #3. HP Spectre x360 13 (2018)
- #4. Microsoft Surface Book
- #5. Apple MacBook Pro MLH42LL/A 15.4-inch Laptop with Touch Bar, Space Gray
- Final Words
- Products from Amazon.com
What should a Laptop for Game Development Have?
At this point the strong processor and at least 8 GB of RAM with the minimalist performance, which result in creating entertaining 2D games without the fine defined textures.
In order to take on larger development projects that allure with its textures, details, music and movements, along with the powerful storyline, the laptop you are going to pursue needs to be extremely strong. The graphics card needs to be discrete in order to handle the oscillations of the framerate and cooperate with the processor and RAM in order to ensure stable and firm performance.
For the entry level laptops, the ideal starting graphics card is GTX 960M. However, if you want to create less demanding games, even lower graphics cards and the Intel’s ones should suffice.
If you want to create virtual reality games, you need the headset, but more importantly, you need the graphics card. While the Pascal’s series graphics chips were designed to withstand the most demanding, high end game titles, the GTX 1060 is a perfect graphics card that can allow making games eligible for exploring the world of virtual reality.
#1. Lenovo Legion Y720: Best Laptop for Your Game DevelopmentAt this years CES, Lenovo has promised to deliver an extremely powerful machine, one that will be powerful enough to match even the most demanding gaming laptops in 2018. We believe that Lenovo Y720 is the one.
While we are waiting to get hands on our new laptop, whereas the shipping takes one to two months, we have gotten an opportunity to place a hands-on review on this gorgeous, looking laptop, and while the machine seems beyond powerful and represents a laptop that can take on the desktop-class, it is important to note that each utility it possesses, prepared it for the purpose that we are describing in this article, game development.
Full specifications, design and output partitions we are going to discuss below and share our opinion with you, our readers.
Like you can see, Lenovo has completely re-styled its gaming line, and honestly we are merely surprised. There is nothing unusual in that, given that the HP has already dedicated its Omen series a completely badass look which completely stands out from the usual Pavilion series.
Then, there are the Acer Predator series that is beyond the budget for the vast majority of us, and there is Asus’ ROG(Republic of Gamers) series that is the closest to our budgets. Either way, Lenovo is bringing a complete resolution to its gaming creed.
The letter Y is the only thing that remained the same in the Legion series, everything else is a new story. As the manufacturer told us, the name Legion originates from the ancient Roman Empire, wanting to specify the massive strength and immortality applied on this laptop series. Also, the connection to the Roman Empire resembles of the ever growing Lenovo community that grows and emerges day after a day. The company aims to tailor affordable, durable and user-friendly laptops that will provide extensive gaming experience and let the user completely rely on its unique configuration.
The first difference that we noticed is that the model is quite slimmer and thinner compared to its predecessor, leaving us with the thought that this laptop will be absolutely user friendly towards the people who like to play games in large companies, meaning that designing a laptop eligible for traveling and lugging around is nothing but complete spot on.
The Lenovo models that were built before were usually not overweight, but it is nice to see the exponential improvements in the user’s design and proof that the company really thinks about its market. Also, most of the Lenovo models we have reviewed were locked inside a plastic case. Certainly not a cheap one but, it is still a plastic.
Lenovo Legion series feature a full-in metal build, with brushed aluminum looking outstandingly on the upper part of the case. Instead of the regular “Lenovo” , traditional logo embedded in the center of the case, we were greeted with the seemingly ripped Y, complimenting and decorating the very center of the case, glowing in a color that transits from the dark orange towards the sinister red, etched with the famous LED backlights seen on many other gaming brands.
It doesn’t seem over-attaching, in fact it has a fair, stylish look that drags towards the gamer-friendly “outfit” that not even Indie developers would mind. Even if you prefer to work outside the house, the attractive, sinister look would not stand out from the ambient too much.
After we have finished admiring the case look that is amazing, we decided to open the laptop and check what is inside. The brushed aluminum is present on the area where hands usually rest when using the laptop, looking endlessly professional and like from another dimension. The central hinge, regularly recognizable on Lenovo’s laptop models is still present and just by looking at it we concluded that it serves a great purpose as it looks as if it emits the quality.
There is a 15.6 inch display, that is available with the sample for review, but you can also opt for the 17.3 inches model if you are comfortable with working in a static environment. The size you choose also determines the esthetic of your keyboard. In the sample model we have taken, the keyboard is lit with the sinister red colors, dark, bold and daring. If you opt for the 17.3 inches, rest assured that your keyboard will be dyed in every color possible. Unless you prefer having a keyboard lit with the disco lights, I recommend going for the 15.6 inches for the increased mobility, productivity and potentially less pain in the eyeballs.
Although Lenovo Y720 revamped design brings across more slimness and thinness, the weight is slightly disappointing. Despite measuring the traditional 15.6 inches, the weight of this model reaches up over 3kg, which can appear very difficult when carrying across the city and using it outside the house too much. For those who are enthusiastic and convinced that they can, good luck!
In terms of connectivity, the Y720 comes packed with three USB type 3.0 ports for efficient connecting of external components but also good transfer between the flash memory. Additional Easter Egg has definitely been the USB Type-C port, also known as Thunderbolt port that allows extremely high transfer speeds, exchanging the data at great speed, suitable for the times you are in a hurry.
When it comes to the display, for less than $1500 you can get an outstanding, powerful, sharp and crystal clear 4K display worth its name for all gamers, Virtual Reality gamers, but also game developers of all the calibers. The vast majority of leading laptops right now have an embedded 4K display with an IPS-like panel, fith the finish-matte coating that allows great quality of usage and great amount of time spent without getting the feeling of pain in the eyes and all of that as a result of the Anti-glare feature, that prevents the headache, nauseous feelings and much more.
This 15.6 inches diagonal display measures the 1920 x 1080 pixels resolution that is just sufficient for starting off a professional game development journey and developing your skills. The display will allow you to keep the track of your own textures and orientate them to be more detailed.
Additional feature of very known IPS panel is allowing a wide angle specter that measures up to 178 degrees of viewable image. If you decide to get this laptop for gaming as well, rest assured that you will always be ahead of your opponents, breaking through the surface and maintaining the gaming crown.
Whether are you gaming, playing games that came out recently, in the last two years, you will experience every pixel and every detail put into certain games. Playing on 1080p is possible but, also gaming in the area of virtual reality is definitely wanted and expected of this display. If you are developer, whether do you spring for Unreal Engine or the Unity 5, you will enjoy the opportunities offered and you will be genuinely challenged to better yourself and come up with ideas that entirely focus on details, textures, shadows and other small partitions that every perfectionist expects of their display.
Keyboard and Touchpad
If you are opting for the 17.3 inches machine, know that your keyboard will have a specter of wonderfully designed colors, backlit underneath the keys. The 15.6 inches version leaves you limited for only red color, which by the way looks very bold. Either way you will be left with the highly-customizable, programmable keyboard that you can configure the way you wish.
What does this precisely mean? Generally, you will be able to adjust the brightness, should you work or play games in the dark, you can adjust it in the way that keys can glow stronger, and in case you want something less through, you can let it dim weakly. All in favor to the users, as choosing the right keyboard can often be the pain.
The keyboard precisely represents the gaming-edge with every aspect. However it is suitable for longer periods of typing without feeling fatigued. You can switch between the keys without a problem, feeling nothing but the softness it offers. The 30-key rollover was designed to absolutely prevent the ghosting effects. With fine spacing, the typing is secure, swift and more than anything, accurate. The only thing this keyboard sacrifices is the numerical pad, which is slightly demotivating considering that the laptop measures 15.6 inches.
If you are looking for the laptop that can easily stand the pressure of constant typing on keyboard, exhaustedly mannered code writing, Lenovo offers a solution to all the pain.
The touchpads are slowly outdating its performance. All in-purpose designed laptops entirely rely on the mouse you get as a gift in shop, or buy yourself. Touchpad comes in handy only when it comes down to the regular day to a day usage, as you are curled in your blanket while it rains outside.
For such situation, the incredibly large touchpad plays sacrificial role, it feels extremely smooth and slippery, supporting the multi-touch gestures, ideal for the times when you are surfing the net and demanding swift communication. The touchpad has decent response time, while offering the top-notch intuitional use, and being incredibly accurate.
New Feature: Xbox One Wireless Controller
Although the development of Bluetooth controllers is extremely rapid and used, the Wireless Xbox one controller offers great gaming opportunities for gamers that are not fond of the keyboard and mice.
The Y720 is one of the first laptops to offer this feature and definitely stimulate higher gaming demands in the ever growing technology community.
The Lenovo’s new series advanced, revolutionary features never end, and additionally the audio performance and overall quality are analytically improved as well with this new release.
This is the first laptop available on the market that supports Dolby Atmos sound system, which extremely improves audio settings and allows the user to experience the best of music. Do you want to be inside what is happening? Rest assured that the Y720 outshining audio performance will take you inside your very own game and let you experience it, literally.
If you are an audio or video editor, even better. The subwoofer 3 will produce a ground-shaking bass that will never cease to amaze you. The emerging, lifechanging and the thrilling experience is achieved through the offered four speakers from the rear and a subwoofer that was built in. It doesn’t hurt to mention that this subwoofer powers the famous JBL.
The sound is one of the essential quality checkers when springing for a gaming laptop, additionally if you are getting one for the game development, it is of the utmost importance to correspond with stronger aspects imbued in the machine, not just a beasty configuration. This is why the Lenovo Y720, offers mesmerizing audio quality.
Heating and Temperature
It is a well known fact that the heating ruins gaming, not just on computers but the laptops as well. If your laptop overheats, even the development and designing process goes in vain. This is why Lenovo reveals another revolutionary invention for its laptop.
The dual-copper fan system positioned on the upper part of the Laptop’s rear, packed together with the powerful vents channels the air outside the laptop with ease. There is no greeting between the air channeled from the graphics card and processor, allowing the laptop to stay cool even when its exposed to the most demanding operations.
In our testing, we have performed different actions in order to test the heating of the laptop. We have played Witcher III: Wild Hunt with genuinely high configuration and we did notice slight warming up. However, nothing that would worry us. With less demanding actions, the laptop remained cool and more importantly silent. Lenovo has invested great amount of effort to create a unique cooling system, seen on the most sinister gaming series such as Asus’ ROG and the MSI’s G setup.
With Lenovo Legion’s cooling system, you can rest assured that all your games will be developed in the cool and silent manner.
Battery life is a discussable matter in the world of gaming technology.
It is still not possible to provide great amount of FPS while playing your favorite games, and keeping the charger off. But, it is a good news that the manufacturer promises a powerful battery that can work flawlessly for four to five hours.
In real time, the imbued 4 Cell, 60 Whr, Li-On battery survived for four hours while performing the regular tasks such as streaming the Youtube videos, surfing the web, and even using some programming environments such as Unity and Visual Studio at time.
While for some four hours is a little, for the others that know how powerful components this laptop yields, that is not just acceptable, but also, respectful.
Whether are you a gamer or a developer, you are well-introduced to the fact that the most essential part of every laptop. The new line of laptops comes with a new processor, designed completely devoted to the gaming and fully operational multi threads. Lenovo springs for the 7th generation Kaby Lake processor. The Intel Core i7-7700HQ, processor with four codes starts at 2.8 GHz and reaches up to 3.8 GHz in its turbo mode per core. This processor suggests high-end gaming experience, business but also programming, and photo and video editing.
8 GB of RAM are sufficient for even the most demanding games on recommended settings. However, the Lenovo Legion Y720 comes with the whole 16 GB that are efficient and sufficient for development as much as for the gaming, along with 1 TB of storage mechanical hard drive and 256 GB solid state drive. Naturally this depends on the model you choose, so the storage may vary.
The most important factor considered in this professionality is the graphics card. In this model we have the entry-level graphics card, eligible for the high-end virtual reality games with at least 90 FPS which are essential to the virtual reality. The GTX 1060M is based on the Pascal’s 16 nm architecture, and represents the first out of three graphics chips friendly towards virtual reality. With the 3 available sets, you can contribute to the gaming industry by creating some really amusing and addictive games that can evoke you to the right position at the right time.
Things that I didn’t like
With the hands-on sample we were given, we noticed a lot of utilities and features that literally took our breath away. However, the gaming laptop Lenovo Legion Y720 comes with a couple of drawbacks that don’t necessarily affect the gaming experience.
First of all is the touchpad, that was promised to come entirely in brushed metal, but instead there is plastic positioned on it. However, this doesn’t affect anything because the strictest laptop users know that they can rather rely on the mouse than the touchpad.
The battery life could be longer at least one hour. We were impressed though, that despite all the components stuffed inside the 15.6 chassis, the laptop managed to survive four hours. This being pointed out, we all hope that we are going to experience improvements in the future.
Reason for Recommending
A lot of game developers are gamers themselves. Hence Lenovo Legion Y720 is a perfect model for developers with the gaming soul. Not only it offers set of great configuration, but also a wonderfully designed case, and enough features that I can’t even count them with my fingers.
Lenovo Legion Y720, is a mid-ranged gaming laptop that can serve the purpose of a game development laptop. Powerful GTX 1060M allows it to work flawlessly in the virtual reality environment and contribute to creating VR games in Unity. Additional storage, amount of RAM and beyond its class processor ensure the smooth performance no matter the pressure.
It is perfect whether are you going for an architect, web developer company or even gamer profession (on a budget level). We know that aiming these professions is expensive in terms of good laptops.
Asus ZenBook Pro UX501VW comes with an attractive 4K display that focuses on every detail and on top of all, it’s touch sensitive, all-in metal build in silver color, attractive, chiclet keyboard with soft and deep keys and when it comes to the configuration it is a true beast.
It sports the latest Core i7 CPU, 16 GB DDR4 RAM, 512 GB SSD drive and a dedicated Nvidia’s budget graphics card NVidia Ge Force GTX 960M. If you are looking forward to meet a powerful laptop even though it looks very regular, ZenBook Pro will convince you that it is the right model for you.
Things that I liked
- 4K display
- Touch screen
- Thunderbolt/ USB Type-C ports
- Powerful configuration
- Durable battery life
Things that I didn’t like
- No configuration options
- Slightly heavier
Reason for Recommending
If you are just about to start video game developing without spending money in larger amounts than your wallet can accept, Asus ZenBook Pro is the best machine for you. It contains great amount of storage, along with the sufficient amount of RAM and processor performance to take onto the most demanding operations.
The GTX 960M in combination with the 4K display can bring images to life, and if you are fond of gaming, the GTX 960M will allow you to enjoy the latest releases at least on medium settings
If you are looking for an advanced performing laptop, with spending less than $2000, Asus ZenBook is the right choice for you. If you are brave enough to live with its minor drawbacks, don’t hesitate to take it. We do wish that it had a slightly higher graphics card but this laptop is more focused into the development process than directly towards the gaming edge.
View full detail on Amazon.com: ASUS ZenBook Pro UX501VW 15.6-Inch 4K Touchscreen Laptop
If I could choose a small, versatile laptop compatible with every sort of programming, I would definitely opt for the HP Spectre.
What does this model not offer? It is hard to tell. The company executed this model, as if its only dedicated to the most royal laptop users.
There has been a major change in design compared to the predecessors but also its larger siblings, and that design led towards one of the most lightweight laptops on the market, weighting only 1.30kg. The 4K UHD display allows you to experience the complete picture offered within, on an extremely high resolution. Surprisingly, the letters are extremely easy to read, and everything is extremely sharp and glossy.
Although the battery life can stand an amazing 8 hours of use, it is still less compared to the model that came out last year. Even so, the laptop is eligible of continuous use which is not the case with our Lenovo Legion model.
What makes the battery shorter is the fact that the DDR3 RAM was replaced with the pricier, but also faster DDR4 memory. Also, if you are planning to use this laptop on tropical destination and where the temperature varies a lot, keep in mind that the laptop will run hotter due to the lack of proficient air flow.
Heating is usually one of the biggest enemies to every computer whether is it gaming or not, so if you decide to spring for this lovely model, keep in mind that you need to get a cooling padd.
The laptop is equipped with 16 GB DDR4 RAM, 512 GB of SSD storage and a 128 MB dedicated Intel HD graphics card, model 620. It comes with 2 USB type 3.1 and one type-C, for fast and smooth transfer speeds. As about the processor, the model sports Intel Core i7-7500U with great programming capabilities. You will soon conclude that it is eligible to stress and works absolutely great.
Things that I liked
- Beautiful design
- 4K Display
- Long Battery Life
Things that I didn’t like
- Runs hot,
- Lack of NVidia graphics card
Reason for Recommending
I recommend this laptop for everyone who knows how to treat the luxury models, to the people that are devoted mostly to the development process and are looking for a lovely button-like laptop that they can fit in their bags, and lug around with ease. Aside from the heating problem, HP Spectre 360x 13 is perfect for people who are prone to travelling a lot and working remotely from the libraries, cafes and other destinations.
HP Spectre 360x 13 is a powerful, ultra thin and portable laptop that exceeded every of our expectations. Aside from its gorgeous design, it offers great features and the 4K display is definitely the one that makes it worth to the competition.
View full detail on Amazon.com: LGI 2018 HP Spectre x360 – 13t(7th Gen. Intel i7-7500U, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, FHD, Windows 10, Backlit) 2-in-1 13.3″ Tablet Convertible Kaby Lake Touchscreen Bang & Olufsen Thunderbolt Laptop PC
Now, Microsoft has revealed the successor, the latest Microsoft’s Surface Book, with revamped configuration, designed entirely for discipline, success and work.
It can be used for many purposes, such as video and photo editing, business, and programming, hence it is more than suitable for the video game development.
While the design remained mostly the same, there is a lot of things that changed and are useful for strict programmers, in case they decide to spring for this unusual, yet powerful notebook.
It is packed with the 6th generation Intel’s processor of the M series, 16 GB of DDR4 memory and 512 GB PCI SSD. It runs smoothly and swift and outperforms many laptops for its versatility, smooth performance, attractive design but also a discrete Nvidia GeForce graphics card.
Unfortunately this is not a GTX series graphics card but, it can pretty much relate to the performance of GTX 940M. It is not set to be available with the most demanding VR ready games but it is definitely suitable for use in order to create some exciting games. Another feature that matches pure excellence is the 4K display fit on it.
With the 3000 x 2000 pixel resolution, Microsoft Surface Book is going to throw any demanding task down on its knees also, it will provide a genuine, clear and sharp image, just as you were in the location when the picture was taken.
The display sports vivid color and vibrant textures just like every photo or video editor would like, but also a game developer.
When it comes to the gaming, despite being rolled back in time with an old graphics card, Microsoft Surface Book can run all older games without the issues, so if you are not aiming for the ultra settings, but you are aiming for the laptop that can outperform all of your needs, you should consider getting yourself one Microsoft Surface book.
Things that I liked
- Perfect for the 3D textures and demanding rendering
- Beautiful 4K display
Things that I didn’t like
- Slightly chunkier than its predecessor
- There are more qualified laptops for the same price
- Occasionally it will run hot
Reason for Recommending
When we first started editing the review of this laptop, we weren’t sure whether is this laptop fully operational for what we were looking for. However, after the close checking, some testing, in both development and gaming sector, we decided that this laptop is ideal for people who have to work a lot with the sensitive, but also massive data. Ideally this person also relies on the entry-level gaming edge because this laptop cannot bring up towards the virtual reality setting
Although it isn’t matching the virtual reality ready laptops that cost the same and even cheaper, Microsoft Surface book is a great deal for those who switch between the tasks constantly. The drawbacks it possesses are not deal breakers in its case, because it comes with the powerful solid state drive, display that brings pictures into life and design any laptop could envy.
View full detail on Amazon.com: Microsoft Surface Book (512 GB, 16 GB RAM, Intel Core i7, NVIDIA GeForce graphics)
This is an extremely pricey laptop, but for a reason, because it silently beats the race.
For an individual who wants to create iOS masterpieces but also, extend the available game editions on Mac, Apple’s MacBook Pro is ideal for such an occasion.
If you have already used Apple’s products, MacBook Pro is an ideal opportunity to upgrade your workstation. The 15.4 inches machine is dyed in a space grey color that everyone is falling in love with, and honestly who wouldn’t.
It looks elegant and graceful, but it also carries great configuration. In terms of design it is very lightweight so if you often change your working environment, this notebook won’t stand in your way, just put it in your bag and travel in peace.
Even if you opt to use it without the touch bar, you aren’t making a terrible mistake. The laptop is powered with a powerful retina display, that makes images look extremely realistic and clear.
The colors are extremely vibrant and whole picture just feels comfortable to the eyes. The keyboard may appear to be very bouncy and uncomfortable to use, hence if you are a fast typist it will take you some time until you entirely get used on consuming it.
The touchpad is slightly better, it supports the multitouch gestures that are highly welcome on all laptops, it is responsive, useful and accurate. In terms of connectivity, MacBook pro comes with four thunderbolt 3 ports (USB Type-C) which shows us the rapid movement in technology to replace the regular usb ports with these new ports.
The performance is milding, the laptop sports Intel Core i7 with 2.7 GHz tact, with 16 GB of DDR3 memory for an enhanced using experience.
The graphics card is unfortunately the integrated Intel HD Graphics 530, but it is easily upgradable with the Radeon graphics chips The storage is secured through the 512 GB SD card, that makes transfer speeds smooth, fast as much as the accessing the data. Whether you are a devoted Apple’s fan, MacBook Pro is a machine everyone has to try at least once.
Things that I liked
- Wonderful Retina Display
- Trendy Design and Space Grey color
- Solid performance
Things that I didn’t like
- Poor-quality keyboard
Reason for Recommending
Apple’s MacBook Pro will allow you to design and program applications and games dedicated to the iOS and Mac OS, additionally it is a great addon to the people who are fond of collecting Apple’s product. In order to support the most demanding games, it will need a more powerful graphics chips, but whether is it Intel HD or Iris graphics, it will still provide sufficient performance for newer, less demanding games.
Furthermore, Apple’s MacBook’s Retina display will evoke wonderful colors, and bring the lively nature into life, the anti-glare feature prevents the constant emitting of the blue color, stopping and decreasing the headache, migraine and other negative effects that blue color causes.
The MacBook Pro may be more expensive compared to the other Windows based laptops, but it offers great variety of features that allow uninterrupted using, and multiple threads at once. There are no many laptops that can replace such versatility, smoothness and agile operating, along with the wonderful Retina display, and appearance from another planet. If you decide to opt for the MacBook pro, please keep in mind that in every aspect, it presents the value for the money.
View full detail on Amazon.com: Apple MacBook Pro MLH42LL/A 15.4-inch Laptop with Touch Bar, Space Gray
In this article, we described the basics of game development and also described which laptop should you opt for.
We had a tough time deciding for these laptops because we cover large selection of reviewed laptops, and they all aim for the better performance.
Before you go to purchase your ideal laptop, consult with yourself and close people to you which aspect of development do you need, do you also want to stream those games, and do you want to play games in general for the hobby?
Either way, we hope that you will find the laptop in our list that will resonate with all of your needs and demands.