Help Me, LAPTOP: Programmer Needs Notebook With Long Battery Life

Users write to all the time asking for notebook buying advice, and most focus on gaming, student tasks, media consumption, or video editing. However, today reader Oleg asks for a system that's good for programming in Visual Studio. He writes:

I'm in a search for a laptop for myself. I need the laptop to have an i3 or i5 processor, discrete graphics and, the most valuable, over 5 hours of battery life. I've considered buying a Mac but I'm not sure if it's ok, because I'm using Visual Studio. 15 inch screen is preferable, but 14 will also do well.

First off, forget about Mac, because Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 doesn't have an OS X version. You can always run Windows on a Mac using bootcamp, but then you have to buy a copy of Windows to use on your Mac and, if you're going to use Windows-only software a lot, it seems silly to buy a MacBook.

When it comes to 15-inch notebooks that offer plenty of performance and battery life for professionals, we like Dell's Latitude E6510 for its high-res screen, 5 hours and 41 minutes  of endurance, and powerful processor. Though our review unit cost close to $2,000 at the time, you can now get an E6510 for a starting price of $749, with a decked out version around $1,000. We recommend configuring it with a full HD screen ($129) so you can see more code while you work and you'll want the Nvidia graphics as well. If you want it to look good too, spring an extra $30 for the gorgeous Regatta Blue color.

A 14-inch notebook is likely to offer more battery life and portability than a 15-incher. Amongst 14-inchers, we really like the Lenovo ThinkPad T410, which has one of the world's best keyboards, blazing fast speeds, and  over 6 hours of battery life with the 9-cell battery. When configuring the T410, make sure you go with the Nvidia graphics chip, the higher-resolution 1440 x 900 screen,  and that extended battery.

Avram Piltch
Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master's degree in English from NYU.