Finding the best laptops for PLC programming can be a challenging task as PLC programming is an extensive field, and you simply can’t do it on any laptop.
Whether you’re just trying to learn PLC programming or a seasoned PLC programmer, you need a good laptop that can handle your workload. Working with CAD, SCADA, and HMI development will not be a smooth experience with the wrong notebook.
To get a seamless experience, you need a laptop with robust hardware that can handle some heavy lifting without breaking down.
You must spend days finding the right laptop for you and PLC programming in an ocean of notebooks. But we’ve created a shortcut for you. We’ve garnered a list of excellent laptops perfect for PLC programming.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at them.
- Lenovo Thinkpad T480 – Editor’s Choice
- Dell XPS 15 – Runner Up
- Surface Book 2 – Convertible Pick
- Gigabyte Aero 15 – Honorable Mention
- Acer Aspire 5 – Budget Pick
Best Laptops For PLC Programming
1. Lenovo ThinkPad T480 – Editor’s Choice
The Lenovo ThinkPad T480 is our Editor’s choice for the best laptop for PLC programming.
This laptop here is a business laptop with all the hardware perfect for PLC programming. Where are you just learning the art, or are you a seasoned programmer? This laptop will handle your PLC programming needs without any issues.
The processor we have here is an Intel core i5 processor. This is a quad-core processor from the eighth generation of Intel chips, and it comes with a base clock speed of 1.60GHz. The processor has a smart memory cache of 6MB and can go up to 3.40GHz when you need more power.
This processor is a powerful one, and that’s pretty well when it comes to handling applications related to PLC programming. You can run CAD, SKADA, and other applications without breaking a sweat. Since this is an i5 processor, it will also not affect the battery life much.
The processor comes with an integrated Intel UHD 620 graphics card. There are only graphics you will find on this laptop, and it does a pretty good job and comes to handling the graphics requirements of a PLC programmer.
You will not find a lot of portable business laptops. This Lenovo ThinkPad model is very good in portability as it weighs just around 2.9lbs. You can easily slide this laptop into your backpack and carry it on.
The display on this laptop is a 14-inch one with a 1080p resolution. The full HD resolution gives us better pixel density as we deal with a slightly smaller display. As a result, the colors are a bit more vibrant, and the pictures are as sharp as possible.
The display is perfect for PLC programming as it is a widescreen and offers more real estate. In addition to PLC programming, you can also use this display the stream all your favorite movies and TV shows. The speakers on this laptop are also pretty good, making for an excellent multimedia experience.
The keyboard on the laptop is an excellent one. The keys have a nice build quality and give you good travel when you type on them.
The layout of the keyboard is pretty good, and you get full-sized arrow keys that have become so rare on laptops these days. The keyboard also comes with backlighting, making it perfect for working in low lighting conditions.
The trackpad on the laptop has a pretty decent one and comes with three distinct buttons. It works as advertised, and there are no complaints here. You will also find a fingerprint reader right next to the trackpad. This does a pretty good job of utilizing Windows hello, and logs you into your user profile with a single touch.
For memory, we have 16GB of RAM in the memory department. This memory is of the DDR4 type and has a clock speed of 2400 MHz. It can handle multiple apps at the same time and gives you the ability to do some serious multitasking.
The laptop comes with a storage capacity of 256 GB SSD. This is a fast solid-state drive and comes with very good speed. It boots the operating system in a few seconds and helps improve computation speeds and the system’s overall performance.
The battery life of the Lenovo ThinkPad T480 is excellent. With light use, this laptop should get at least 8 to 9 hours of battery life. When you are grinding hard on this laptop, you connect with the laptop will last for about 5 to 6 hours which is still pretty impressive.
Overall, the Lenovo ThinkPad T480 is an excellent laptop that not only serves business users but also helps when it comes to PLC programming. This laptop is our best choice for PLC programming because of the hardware and the software user experience.
- Affordable laptop
- Excellent hardware
- Good battery life
- None at this price point
2. Dell XPS 15 – Runner Up
The Dell XPS 15 is the second-best choice for PLC programming.
The Dell XPS 15 is a laptop powerhouse and comes with some of the best hardware you can find on a laptop. This is Dell’s flagship device, so you can be sure you are getting the best deal it offers.
The design of the Dell XPS 15 deserves special mention as Dell has managed to make significant progress. Even though this is a 15-inch laptop, it is much smaller in size, thanks to the reduced bezels around the display. As a result, the laptop is also a lot lighter, which makes it easy to carry around.
The display on the Dell XPS 15 is probably one of the best you will see on a laptop. We have a 15.6-inch display that comes with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels. This is ultra high-definition, and it packs a ton of pixels on this display, making it one of the most pixel displays on the market.
The picture quality of the display is simply outstanding. You will be hard-pressed to find individual pixels, even one setting closer to the laptop. Thanks to this resolution, even simple web browsing and reading are much better. The speakers on the Dell XPS 15 are also outstanding, and along with the display, they give you a complete multimedia experience.
The processor that powers the Dell XPS 15 is an Intel Core i7 processor from the ninth generation of Intel chips. This processor comes with an Intel smart cache memory of 12MB and can clock up to a maximum of 4.5 GHz. With six cores and 12 threads, this is one of the most powerful processors out there, which gives you the perfect platform for PLC programming.
The memory department on this laptop comes with 16GB of DDR4 RAM. This is more than enough memory when it comes to PLC programming. You can run several applications side-by-side without any restrictions. Even if we have to run virtual machines, this memory will be super helpful and ensure you have a smooth experience.
The storage on the Dell XPS 15 is made up of a 1TB solid-state drive. This is a very generous solid-state drive from Dell and is insanely fast regarding speed and performance. This solid-state drive gives you all the storage you want and brings in many performance enhancements. And
The laptop comes with a dedicated graphics card in the form of an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card. This upper mid-range graphics card comes with 4GB of reliable GDDR5-type RAM. You can run pretty much any mid-range game on this laptop. You can also run some high-end games, if you are willing to battle down the settings.
The Dell XPS 15 also does well when it comes to battery life. You can easily use the laptop for at least 8 to 10 hours with light use. You can start your day with a fully charged laptop and a new day with a little bit of juice left. Having said that, if you have an intense session of PLC programming, the battery life might not be that long.
Overall, the Dell XPS 15 is an excellent flagship laptop from Dell. It has a gorgeous display, a beautiful design, and outstanding performance. This is undoubtedly one of the best Windows laptops for PLC programming.
- Gorgeous screen
- Dedicated graphic card
- Solid performance
- Bit expensive
3. Surface Book 2
If you’re looking for the best convertible laptop for PLC programming, then the Microsoft Surface Book 2 is your best option.
The Microsoft Surface Book 2 comes in two sizes, so you can quickly select a 15-inch model and a 13-inch model. We think you can go with a 15-inch model as it brings a bit more power to the table.
Regarding convertible laptops, not all models have the same level of flexibility as the surface book 2. You can completely detach the keyboard from the laptop, and you have a pure tablet in your hands which is not something you can say about every other convertible laptop.
The laptop weighs 4.2 lbs, but when you remove the keyboard, the weight of your tablet is just under 2 pounds, making it one of the most portable devices out there. This tablet is portable and comes with a boatload of power, which is perfect for PLC programming.
The display we have here on the 15-inch model comes with pixel sense resolution. The picture quality is super sharp, and you will love reading on this display. The display is also a great fit for video streaming, web browsing, research, and other daily needs.
PLC programming is a smooth experience on the Surface Book 2, thanks to the processor in hand. We have an Intel Core i7 processor that does a fantastic job when it comes to handling related applications. You can also run any software on this laptop without affecting performance.
The processor gets ample support from the memory department, equipped with 16GB of DDR4 RAM. You can run virtual machines on this convertible laptop like a dream which is not something you can say about every other convertible laptop out there. This also means complete freedom for multitasking which is nice.
The graphics card on the Surface Book 2 is an Nvidia GeForce 1060 GPU with 4GB of dedicated video RAM. This is an operator in the graphics card from the 10th generation of Nvidia GPUs, and it does a pretty good job when it comes to handling most games.
Since GPUs don’t affect the performance of PLC programming, it doesn’t impact this laptop much. However, if you are a game, you will be thrilled to have that GPU in this laptop.
The battery life of the Surface Book 2 is probably the best selling point ever. You can get up to 17 hours of continuous use with light use, which is crazy. Even with PLC programming, the laptop can last for about 6 to 7 hours which is mind-blowing.
Surface Book 2 has a solid-state drive with a capacity of 512 GB for storage. This SSD is way faster when you compare it with a mechanical drive. It boots up the operating system in just a few seconds and launches applications quickly. Even if you have a lot of computations to do, this solid-state drive will give you an optimized user experience.
The Microsoft Surface Book 2 has excellent hardware and is probably the best convertible laptop for PLC programming. You can altogether remove the keyboard from the laptop, making it more flexible than other models.
- Excellent design
- Brilliant performance
- Incredible battery life
4. Gigabyte Aero 15
Sometimes, you want to have all the bells and whistles on your laptop to get the best performance. If you are considering getting one such laptop, the best option is the Gigabyte Aero 15.
This Aero 15 model comes with excellent hardware in pretty much every aspect of the laptop. To our surprise, the laptop didn’t cost as much as we thought it better. Pay attention if you’re looking for a high-performance laptop without paying for an arm or leg.
The laptop is powered by an Intel Core i7 processor from the 10th generation of Intel chips. This is a high-performance processor, and it comes with six physical cores and 12 threads. It has a base clock speed of 2.60GHz and can go up to a maximum of 5.0GHz, which is a crazy amount of power.
If you are going to work on computation-heavy programming, then this processor is something you would love to have in your arsenal. It can run almost any application made for the Windows operating system without breaking a sweat. It is that good.
The memory department on this laptop well supports the processor. We have 16GB of DDR4-type memory. This memory is high-speed and comes with a clock speed of 3200 MHz. Together, this processor and RAM can handle almost anything you throw.
With such a high-end processor and memory, the laptop can get heated if you push it too much. Luckily, the Gigabyte Aero 15 has an excellent cooling system that handles the temperature rise. When the cooling system kicks in, the temperature will be maintained at an optimum level giving you more power over a prolonged time.
The display on this laptop is a 15.6-inch one that comes with a 4K resolution. It also has a refresh rate of 144 Hz and a response time of 3 ms, making it a stunning gaming display. It supports a hundred percent of the P3 colour gamut, giving you extraordinary picture quality regardless of what you are doing.
The laptop also has a dedicated graphics card like an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti. This is a high-end graphics card, and it comes with 6GB of dedicated RAM. If you are a game, you will love this GPU. If you’re not a gamer, then you probably aren’t going to make the most of it.
Overall, the Gigabyte Aero 15 is a solid laptop if you are seeking high performance. It doesn’t cost you a lot of money, making it even more attractive to heavy users.
- Value for money
- Extraodinary perfomance
- Gorgeous display
- Can get a bit hot
5. Acer Aspire 5 – Budget Choice
The Acer Aspire 5 has been our go-to laptop whenever we want an affordable laptop, and the same is true here.
This Acer laptop is a complete package when you’re looking for an affordable device that can handle your workload without many compromises. You get a good processor, adequate memory, and a fast SSD that can enhance performance whenever necessary.
The display on this laptop is a 15.6-inch LED-backlit display that comes with full HD resolution. This resolution lets you see images with excellent clarity and displays super-sharp text. The display is perfect for PLC programming as it is widescreen and gives you a lot of real estates to play with.
The keyboard on this laptop is an impressive one. We have a full keyboard that has a dedicated number pad. The keys feel a bit plasticky and make A lot of noise when you type faster. It may not be the best choice when working in public places like libraries or cafes. The keyboard is backlit, which is sweet, considering this is a budget laptop.
Another major selling point of this laptop is its battery life. With light use, you will easily get at least 9.5 hours of battery life which is stunning. Having said that, this number will go down drastically when you’re doing some serious PLC programming. But you are at least guaranteed a decent amount of battery life when you are not blasting all your guns.
Overall, the Acer Aspire 5 is an affordable laptop with all the essential features. If you are willing to do PLC programming on a budget, then this laptop is probably your best choice on the market.
- Solid display
- Incredible battery
- Slightly heavy
What To Look For In The Best Laptop For PLC Programming?
Here are some critical criteria you should consider before you make the final decision to select a laptop. This will help you avoid less powerful machines and will give you the best performance for your money.
Portability & Durability
Having a portable laptop is excellent, but when you seek a high-performance laptop, there’s a good chance that you’re not going to end up with one.
Most laptops in this list of 15.6-inch laptops carry a decent amount of weight. In this category, the standard weight of laptops is around 4.5 to 5 pounds which do not go well with portability.
If you value your portability, we recommend purchasing a 13-inch laptop that understands your travelling needs. You may not get the same level of performance as a 15.6-inch laptop.
The durability of your laptop is also essential. Your laptop should have a good design and should come with excellent durability. The laptop should survive a few physical hits; you might lose all your work in a flash.
You might want a convertible laptop for your PLC programming needs. If that is the case, make sure the head of the laptop is smooth and can last the test of time. Once your hinge malfunctions, the entire point of a convertible laptop is gone.
The processor is an essential component of any laptop for PLC programming.
Any component on your laptop can be replaced or upgraded, but you cannot do that but the processor. This is why choosing a processor that can stand the test of time and give you excellent performance is super important.
The two most important factors when selecting a processor are the number of physical cores on the processor and the clock speed.
The more cores you have on your processor, the more computations it can perform at a particular time. This is why we always recommend using a quad-core processor as a minimum. A Hexa core processor will be a better fit if you deal with many computations.
Let’s talk about clock speed. It is important to have a processor that comes with a decent base clock frequency. This way, the laptop will perform in its base mode without increasing its temperature and deliver a good performance level. If your processor comes with a low base clock speed, it will quickly boost itself to a higher clock speed, increasing the overall temperature of the laptop.
Your processor should have at least a starting clock speed of 2.0GHz. The processor should also be able to utilize turbo boost and reach much higher clock speeds.
Regarding model names, You will be fine with a quad-core Intel Core i5 or an i7 processor. These processors have excellent processing power and can handle your PLC programming tasks without any issues. If you are working on super high-end projects, we recommend going with an i9 processor, which is even more powerful.
As always, you can save a lot of money by opting for an AMD processor with a similar performance to your Intel processor of choice.
However good your processor is, you need excellent memory to complement its performance.
If you are working on entry-level programming, you should be fine with 8 Gigabytes of RAM. Even in this case, you should make sure that the laptop comes with upgradability so that you can upgrade your memory at a later point.
You need a minimum of 16GB of RAM for running projects that will be more resource-hungry. Going for DDR4 RAM will be a better choice as you will get more bandwidth and much higher clock speeds. If you want to save some money, you can go with LPDDR3 RAM, which can also do a pretty sweet job.
You can also go with 32 GB of RAM if you are sure that your PLC programming tasks will require that.
In any case, it is very important to ensure that you can upgrade your RAM in the future. This will remove doubts and will give you peace of mind as you can increase your memory as and when required.
As a PLC programmer, you will spend days in front of your laptop for every project. It is only fair that you get a good display which is great for your work and your health.
Let’s talk about the screen size. We believe a 15-inch display would be the best choice as it gives you all the screen real estate you want. A 13.3-inch display would be a bit too small, and you won’t be able to see all the elements on the screen. In a 15-inch display, you don’t even have to squint your eyes to see what’s going on on the screen.
You can also go with a 17-inch screen, but that will make a laptop very heavy, and it will not be a machine you will take with you outside. For that reason, we do not recommend a 17-inch screen.
The resolution of the display is as important as its size. As a minimum, you need a 1080p resolution for PLC programming. With this resolution, you can see everything clearly, especially the text on your display. If possible, we would recommend even going with a QHD display or a 4K display so that you can work on more things with excellent clarity.
Make sure that you get an anti-reflective display. An anti-reflective display will not show any of your reflections on the screen. This is very important if you work in a place with many lights. Seeing your face on the screen can you really distract you, and you may have to increase the brightness to tone down the reflections, which can end up harming your eyes.
You also need a good level of maximum brightness on your display. Most affordable laptops come with a maximum brightness of at least 300 nits. We recommend a maximum brightness of at least 400 nits to work even under a bright sun.
Having a dedicated graphics card does not have a huge effect when it comes to PLC programming. It can help give you a smooth graphics performance, but that wouldn’t be significant in PLC programming.
The processor does most of the heavy lifting of PLC programming. That’s why we recommend getting an excellent processor to handle all the computations without any issues.
If you are a gamer, you need a dedicated graphics card for running all the games of your choice. If you don’t give a damn about games, then a laptop with a dedicated graphics card should be more than enough.
For PLC programming, we mostly recommend high-performance laptops. When you expect high performance from a laptop, you indirectly do not expect good battery life,
Most laptops on the list give you excellent battery life when you’re doing something light. The scenario is entirely different when you are programming, and the battery life will dwindle.
In most cases, The laptops on the list can last for about 4 to 6 hours, depending upon the complexity in your court.
In our opinion, always go for a laptop with all-day battery life. This way, the laptop will have a good “heavy work” battery time when you are doing some serious programming.
We can’t blame the laptops for having poor battery life as they have to power high-resolution displays, a powerful processor, and other high-end hardware. So before you start programming, ensure you have an accessible power outlet nearby to charge your laptop whenever necessary.
When it comes to PLC programming, you are required to have a serial port on your laptop. Most modern laptops do not come with this port, but you can easily get a USB-to-serial converter that solves the problem.
You can also get yourself a Female-Female Modem Serial RD232 cable that can help you communicate with most PLC processors and other devices. When you have a USB port on your laptop, you can get an adapter for anything that involves PLC programming.
It is also important to have the latest USB 3.2 type C port to transfer data at a very good speed and use it to charge your laptop. If you want to continue programming on a bigger screen, then an HDMI port would be necessary to materialize that connection.
We also need enough USB ports so that you can use one for troubleshooting while the other one can handle connectivity. Having the most recent USB standards will give you better speeds and save you a lot more time.
Make sure that the laptop comes with support for the recent wireless standards. Having 802.11 AC Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2 is a pretty good start and will give you excellent wireless connectivity without adding a lot of clutter to your desk.
Windows operating system is the best choice for PLC programming. Pretty much all the industry software programs are made for Windows OS.
The other popular operating system is macOS, and it’s not like you can’t do PLC programming on the Mac. The problem is that most programs might not be compatible with the OS, creating a problem. You can, however, install windows on your MacBook to get around it.
Even with windows, the latest operating system version is incompatible with some older PLC software. For this software, Windows 7 is the best choice. Unfortunately, Microsoft is ending support for Windows 7, and it will be interesting to see how the software evolves to meet this change.
It is very important to have a good keyboard on your laptop. A good keyboard will give you an excellent typing experience making your life much easier as a programmer.
The keys on the keyboard should have a nice layout and decent travel. Mechanical keyboards have set the standard for keyboards, but certain laptops have keyboards that are just as good.
Ensure your keyboard comes with backlighting to use your laptop even in dark situations. Some laptops will also allow me to play with the bank leading to customize it and making it unique.
The trackpad on the laptop should be a Windows precision trackpad. Ensure that the touchpad’s surface is smooth and gives you a nice feel when touching it. The last thing you need is a surface with more friction than sandpaper.
You need to spend some money on your laptop to get the best performance for PLC programming. A laptop that costs more than $1000 will probably give you the best PLC programming experience.
If you are on a budget, pick a laptop with the bare minimum to give you decent PLC programming experience. The Acer Aspire 5 laptop on this list is a good choice for those on a budget.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is MacOS A Bad Choice For PLC Programming?
macOS is a reliable operating system, but most PLC software is not compatible with macOS making it a not-so-good choice for this field.
If you are an ardent fan of macOS, you can install Windows via Boot Camp and do your PLC programming on Windows. This way, you can have both operating systems and get the best.
I Cannot Afford 16GB, Is 8GB Enough For RAM?
If you are a beginner or if you are going to be dealing with small and medium-sized projects, then 8GB will be more than enough in most cases.
But if you’re dealing with complex projects where you have to multitask and run virtual machines, then a minimum of 16GB could be the right choice. In some cases, you might even need 32GB of RAM as a basic necessity.
Do I Need A Dedicated Graphics Card?
Most PLC software does not require a dedicated graphics card to run properly. They mostly utilize the processor for all the computations, which is why you need to have the absolute best CPU on your laptop.
If you are a gamer or do a lot of graphics work, having a graphics card and a laptop will be absolutely necessary. For purely PLC programming, you don’t need a dedicated graphics card.
Can I Use A Laptop Without A Serial Port?
Every new laptop that comes to the market nowadays does not have a serial port. You can get an adapter from Amazon or any other online place and use it on your laptop.
That’s the curtains for this post.
PLC programming can be complicated without the right tools, and your laptop is one of them. Finding the best laptop for PLC programming could easily make or break your user experience.
If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will get back to you at the earliest.