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Top 10 Laptops for Learning SQL in 2020

If you want to learn SQL, you’re going to need a device that’s portable and powerful. I recommend a laptop. Here are the features you’ll need, as well as my picks for laptops to get you learning SQL in 2020!

I must admit that browsing Amazon’s computer offers or entering any computer store can give you a headache. So many models, with so many options! They differ in components, workmanship, battery life, and screen size and resolution. Each of these components is important, but when you know what’s most important for your goals, it's easier to choose the right computer.

In this article, I’ll show you what to consider when choosing a laptop. I’m focusing on models that are primarily suitable for learning SQL and working with queries and databases. Yes, you can play games on them, watch Netflix, edit a video, or Photoshop images. But being SQL-friendly and relatively affordable are my main criteria.

Now, before we get started, let’s get one thing out in the open. Professional programmers would probably tell you not to buy a laptop; choose a professional workstation instead, they’d say. This advice doesn’t take several things into account:

  • You’re just starting your SQL adventure.
  • You don't want to change your home into a server room.
  • You don't want to spend a ton of cash. A new HP Z840 is about $8,500. The Dell Precision T5820 costs above $12,000.
  • You care about mobility and the ability to work anywhere. It's hard to travel with a giant box and cables.

So, a laptop it is. What features are important for learning SQL?

Learning SQL? Look for These Laptop Features

Display

Display

I know you probably expected me to start with the CPU. It's the brain of the entire computer. But the screen size determines the hardware class. On a small screen (under 14 inches), many hours spent writing code, writing queries, or reading is not an option. I wouldn't look at models with a screen size smaller than 14 inches or with a screen resolution lower than Full HD (1920x1080). Also, choose a matte display; they are much better in the sun. You still want to be able to use your laptop when you’re sitting by a window or on a park bench.

CPU and RAM

Now, the specifics. To efficiently work with databases without any problems, you need a solid processor right away. (Yes, this might be a future goal, but it’s worth it to buy what you’ll need.) Personally, I recommend Intel i5 and i7 processors, especially the 8th, 9th, or 10th generation. The i9 is rarely found in laptops; it is just too expensive. The weaker i3 is not worth considering, especially as it isn’t not much cheaper.

What about RAM? I’d say 8GB is the absolute minimum. I know people who work with 4GB of RAM, but it's like peeling a coconut with a teaspoon. It can be done, but it's annoying. If you can, get 16GB.

Graphics card

Do you need a graphics card? You do if you intend to use SQL when programming games, for example. If not, an integrated card or a basic dedicated card is enough. I’ve been a fan of Nvidia for years, but you will also find good solutions from AMD. They’ll let you work and (after work) watch Netflix or play some games set on medium detail.

Battery life

Battery life

You chose a laptop because you care about mobility. You want to be able to improve a few lines of code on the go or present an SQL report in the client's conference room. You can't always connect to your charger, so pay attention to the battery capacity. This can be very important.

Storage

Not so long ago, there was a data storage war. People were either supporters of HDD (hard disk drive) and the more modern SSD (solid state drive) solutions. SSD won and has become the standard. Why? They are faster, more durable, and more energy efficient. This means batteries will last longer and laptops will run quieter.

An SSD with 240 or 512 GB capacity will do just fine for learning SQL. You can easily fit the operating system and all the necessary programs on it. You can also buy an external drive for data and other things.

Keyboard

Keyboard

You might not think it, but the humble keyboard is a very important element. You'll be typing a lot, so the buttons must work without problems and the whole process should not be tiring. Your hands should lie naturally on the keyboard.

Operating system

This depends on what you want to do. Some people cannot imagine working on anything other than Windows. Professional developers, however, often choose Linux distributions. They are open-source and easy to modify. If you want to start working with Linux, try the Ubuntu distribution – it’s the most popular. You can download and run it in Live mode if you’re not ready to make a full switch; you won't need to install anything. See if you can leave Microsoft and join the rebellion.

If you choose a Mac, you'll work on OS X.

What Laptop to Choose for Learning SQL

Below are my laptop suggestions for anyone learning SQL and working with databases in 2020. They’re based on my personal experiences and insights. I wanted you to see real product prices, so I’ve included links to Amazon in the title.

1.  Acer Aspire 5 Slim

1.	Acer Aspire 5 Slim

My list starts with one of the most popular laptops on Amazon: the Acer Aspire 5 Slim. This is a budget version for less demanding users. For someone who wants to learn SQL and start writing queries and creating projects, it’s a good choice.

For a reasonable price (the main reason for the popularity of this product) there’s a quite sensible hardware configuration – 15.6” Full HD IPS display, 10th Gen Intel Core i5-10210U, and 8GB DDR4 of RAM. Your data will be stored on a 256GB SSD, so you won't run out of space soon. You can buy an external disk for the money saved. This equipment is at least worth considering.

PRICE: $370-700 (depending on configuration).

2.  Acer Swift 3

Acer Swift 3

This Ultrabook is a 14-inch lightweight laptop with interesting components. The CPU is an AMD Ryzen 7 4700U octa-core mobile processor. It ships with Radeon graphics, 8GB of RAM, and a modern 512GB SSD. A version based on an Intel processor is also available.

If you decide to buy this laptop, you won’t complain about the build quality: it’s almost entirely made of aluminum. It’s also very light, about 2.65 pounds.

PRICE: $610-740 (depending on configuration).

3.  ASUS VivoBook

ASUS VivoBook

I have to admit that I’ve been a fan of ASUS for years. The company has a reputation for making great computers and components, and the Asus VivoBook 17 is one of them.

This laptop is based on solutions from AMD. There’s a 2nd-gen Ryzen 7 processor paired with an integrated Radeon Vega 8 graphics system. This is an interesting alternative to Intel cards.

The screen is 17.3 inches, which provides a pleasant viewing experience when writing SQL queries. Add to this 12GB of RAM, a 512 GB SSD, and good-quality finishing elements and it’s quite a package. If you're an AMD fan, don't hesitate; this is something for you. If you’re not, consider it anyway because it's really a decent laptop for the money.

PRICE: $670-1,400 (depending on configuration).

4.  Dell Vostro 15 5590

Dell Vostro 15 5590

Vostro is a classic, a common business model. If I had to find its equivalent in the automotive world, it would be a Honda Civic: a reasonable, reliable, and trouble-free car that transports you from point A to point B for a moderate price. I can say the same about this laptop – nothing crazy, but it does the job. It works for many tasks, including learning SQL.

This particular model has 10th Generation Intel Core i7 with an 8MB cache, a 15.6” Full HD display, 16GB RAM, and a solid and fast 512GB SSD. The icing on the cake is the Nvidia GeForce MX250 2GB GDDR5, a budget graphics card that will allow you to play games on medium detail.

PRICE: $1,000-1,200 (depending on configuration).

5.  DELL Latitude E7470

DELL Latitude E7470

The Latitude series from Dell has been a recognized line of business laptops for years. They are very well made and worth considering. It’s available as renewed instead of brand new, but thanks to this we’ll pay a bit less for a decent configuration. I’ve used this type of laptop myself.

This one belongs to the Ultrabook genre. The screen is 14 inches and Full HD. Inside you will find a nice Intel i5-6300U processor, a fast 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM, and an Intel HD Graphics 520 card. You really need nothing more.

PRICE: $850-950 (depending on configuration).

6.  HP 15s-eq0017nw

HP 15s-eq0017nw

This is an interesting proposition from Hewlett Packard. It has a nice 15.6’’IPS Full HD display. It also has a brilliant keyboard. You have to get used to it at first, but then it’s great. It's really a big plus for this model.

This particular laptop has a new Intel i5-1035G1 processor and 8GB of RAM. Added to this is a 256GB SSD and integrated graphics. According to HP’s engineers, it also has an exceptionally good set of microphones (yes, there are two); teleconferences and brainstorms on Zoom or Google Meet will be an even better experience. That’s always a plus.

PRICE: $650-690 (depending on configuration).

7.  Lenovo 2020 IdeaPad S340

Lenovo 2020 IdeaPad S340

This is something for reasonable people, a business laptop that's perfect for home use and available at a good price. It will also be great for learning SQL. Lenovo engineers have put an Intel i5-8265U processor, a dedicated Intel UHD 620 graphics card, 8GB DDR4 RAM, and a 128GB SSD drive into the chassis; there really is nothing to pick on, although better-quality plastics could be used. Still, it’s a laptop worthy of attention.

PRICE: $500-750 (depending on configuration).

8.  Apple MacBook Pro

Apple MacBook Pro

This list couldn’t not include a laptop from Cupertino, although I have to admit I'm not a fan. The MacBook is beautiful and has a great Retina display, but we’re paying mostly for the design. And when you’re learning SQL and writing queries, design is not very useful. Still, Apple is making really good (if really expensive) stuff.

To avoid bankruptcy, skip the 16-inch model. In the "reasonable" version, the MacBook Pro has 10th-generation Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost up to 3.8GHz, fast SSD, and 16GB of RAM.

What makes this different? First of all, it has a unique screen. Retina is like something from a completely different planet. You really will notice the difference. It is no accident that these laptops are often chosen by graphic designers and video editors.

In addition, it has a great keyboard and an interesting additional display where we can set the necessary shortcuts and links. The Apple laptop is beautiful and well made. There is nothing to fault, apart from the price…

PRICE: $1,300-1,900 (depending on configuration).

9.  MSI GS75 Stealth

MSI GS75 Stealth

As Monty Python used to say, “... and now for something completely different!” No more business moderation and calm design. Here's something for people who like to play games – and very much so!

The new MSI GS75 is a performance monster. There’s a 10th-gen 8-core Intel i9 processor. The image from the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Super Max-Q 8G GDDR6  graphic card is displayed on a brilliant 17.3” FHD display that dazzles the eyes. There is also 1TB NVMe SSD and 32GB of RAM, at an extremely fast DDR4 2666MHz.

This is no joke. You can do almost anything on this thing. Of course, you have to pay a lot. Can you afford it? Then have fun. Just remember to learn SQL between Call of Duty and The Witcher.

PRICE: About $2,500

 

10.  HP ZBook Mobile Workstation

HP ZBook Mobile Workstation

I’ll finish with something on the edge of the world of professionals and dreams: a mobile workstation from HP. Of course, if you are just starting with SQL or programming, you don’t need this machine. However, it’s worth knowing that they exist! Maybe someday you'll work on one. I used both the desktop and mobile versions, and each was a real experience. I wrote lines of code that compiled at unprecedented speeds. When I was rendering videos, it seemed to me that sometimes the laptop knew what I wanted to do and started working before I turned it on. These are toys for big boys and girls.

Let's just say that this particular laptop has an Intel Xeon E-2186M (2.90 GHz) processor, 64GB of DDR4 RAM, a giant and superfast 2TB SSD, and a professional NVIDIA Quadro P5200 graphics card. This laptop is very heavy and is not suitable for, say, typing while walking in the park. Professional-grade equipment is what this is.

PRICE: $4,000+

Next Steps for Learning SQL

Those were the 10 laptop models that I can recommend if you want to take SQL more seriously. The choice of the specific model is up to you. However, remember that the learning process is more important than equipment. At LearnSQL.com, you need nothing more than a web browser. You don't need to install or set up anything. Just log in and you can immediately start any SQL course.

For rookies, I recommend SQL Basics, a great course that will introduce you to the world of SQL. And what’s next? Career options are open. See how much you can earn someday if you learn SQL. And don’t forget to stay healthy while learning SQL. Why wait any longer? Start learning today!

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