Best Laptops For Hackathons & Codefests
One of the guidelines for every hackathon is the following:
Bring your own computer (preferably a Laptop):
Pack a laptop already loaded with your favorite development and/or design software and code writing tools. If you’re traveling from a distance, be sure to check TSA guidelines for flying with laptop, and know that they may want to inspect it further. Having your own device with your favorite tools will make your Hackathon experience that much better. If you want to create high-performance tools and apps on a hackathon you should definitely get some reliable hardware.
Nothing is worse than travelling a long way to an event and then only sit on the sidelines and watch because your laptop is not powerful enough or you are busy getting it to run. For that reason we tested three top laptops that are very well suited for every hackathon. And you do not have spend a fortune to get a good machine. Our price-performance ratio winner givers you the most performance for the many at a fair price.
Test Results: Best Laptops For Hackathons & Codefests
Ranking First: Huawei MateBook X Pro
- Pretty design, good workmanship
- Excellent mobility
- Top display, narrow frame
- Powerful hardware with Nvidia GPU
- Keyboard could be better
Huawei Matebook X Pro: Best performing Laptop for a Hackathon
The Huawei Matebook X Pro is a slim notebook in the rather unusual 13.9 inch format. The native resolution of the high-quality LTPS panel with touch functionality is a whopping 3,000 x 2,000 pixels. Accordingly, all contents are displayed sharply and without visible pixelation. The maximum brightness is very high at 505.4 candelas per square meter; the same applies to the excellent chessboard contrast of 207:1. The panel quality is excellent overall, and you can also use the device outdoors.
Huawei Matebook X Pro in test: Strong performance for a Hackathon
An Intel Core i7-8550U with a nominal clock rate of 1.8 GHz and a maximum consumption of 15 watts TDP works inside the Matebook X Pro. In addition, there is 16 GByte DDR4 memory and a 512 GByte SSD as the only drive. In addition to the integrated Intel graphics, Huawei presses the Geforce MX150 with 2 GByte of its own graphics memory into the case – this is remarkable, because dedicated GPUs are rather rare in such thin notebooks.
The Geforce graphics card cuts a fine figure as a boost for system performance, especially when it comes to mainstream gaming. It ensures that even demanding benchmark tools, such as the Sky-Diver suite of 3DMark – actually intended for potent gaming laptops – flicker across the screen almost without jerking.
The device is barely audible in normal office mode; if you load the processor more heavily, the fan turns up a bit, but the volume remains within the tolerable range at all times.
Equipment could be better for a Hackathon Laptop
The remaining equipment is only average, which is also due to the narrow construction. This means: The Huawei Matebook X Pro only offers three USB 3.1 ports (twice Type-C, once Type-A) as well as a 3.5 mm jack plug. Accordingly, we miss a LAN port, HDMI, DisplayPort, a docking station port, a card reader and all other interfaces that can make productive work easier and faster.
The model is therefore only conditionally suitable for the office, as numerous adapters are necessary in order to connect peripheral devices, such as a second monitor, in case of doubt. After all, WLAN-ac and Bluetooth are on board – but we already count that as an absolute standard in modern notebooks.
The bottom line is that the Huawei Matebook X Pro scores excellently in the test. It is recommended for users who are looking for a stylish, strong and mobile notebook, especially on hackathons.
Verdict: Best performance for a Hackathon Laptop
With the Matebook X Pro, Huawei once again shows how important the premium market is to them. The slim 13.9-inch device convinces in tests in almost all areas with excellent quality. We are especially enthusiastic about the display and mobility. Even the performance is great in view of the slim design. The Chinese only slim down a bit too much for our taste in terms of equipment. All in all, the Matebook X Pro will not let you down at any Hackathon.
Ranking Second: Dell Inspiron 13
- Powerful performance
- Best price-performance ratio
- Sharp detail from IPS screen
- Offers USB-C connectivity at low price
- A little bit bulky
Best price-performance ratio for a Hackathon Laptop
Meanwhile, in the notebook sector, people are moving away from the classic 15.x” device and are either more likely to go to 13″ or 17″. Here, Dell enters a classic target group with the mentioned model with the Dell Inspiron 13 7000, which both want to have a powerful notebook, but are on the road a lot and therefore want to work on the go. You can read my review to see how well the notebook performs in the respective disciplines.
Workmanship and case of the Dell Inspiron 13
Visually, the Dell Inspiron 13 makes a solid impression at first sight. Dell relies on a silver metal case, which is provided with smaller accents. For example, the Dell logo is framed in silver on the lid’s upper side. There is a slight flattening or recess in the touchpad’s center in order to be able to open the display lid better. It opens without problems and stays in position without wobbling. The lid is torsionally stiff so that the display can also be opened or closed on one side. However, the problem is that you have to hold the underside tight when opening it.
In the upper right area there is the on/off switch, which also has an integrated fingerprint sensor, so that e.g. Windows can also be unlocked with a simple fingerprint. You should read up on the advantages and disadvantages of this technology elsewhere.
However, there are two smaller things that have a slightly negative effect in the area of processing:
On the one hand, the edges of the case are slightly sharp when the lid is opened. Furthermore, my test device has a slight gap in the front left and right areas. Overall, the workmanship is good. There are also two rubber lips on the underside, which even provide a secure stand on a smooth, uneven surface.
Otherwise the equipment is identical for all models. The AMD Radeon RX Vega 10 Graphics integrated on the processor is used as the graphics chip, which is more than sufficient for normal office work and watching videos.
On the left side the following connectors are installed (from left to right):
- Connector for power supply
- USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type C (display port/power supply)
- HDMI output
- USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type A
- 3.5 mm Audio
On the other hand, the following connections are located on the other side (from left to right):
- card reader (3-in-1)
- USB 3.1 Gen1 Type A
- Kensington security lock
All connections have been successfully tested. Very exemplary at this point is the possibility to charge the Dell Inspiron 13 with a more powerful USB C power supply. I tested it with a device from inateck and apart from a slightly longer charging time there were no differences to the included power supply from Dell.
As the name of the Dell Inspiron 13 already suggests, it is a device of the 13″ class. More precisely, it is a 13.3″ display with IPS technology and a glossy surface. The display is framed by a very narrow frame, especially in the right and left areas, so that as little space as possible is “wasted”.
With a maximum resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels and an aspect ratio of 16:9, this results in a very high pixel density of 166 ppi. I was directly impressed by the brightness and color rendering at my first start and this is what the current readings show:
With a maximum brightness of about 350 cd/m², the Dell Inspiron 13 surpasses many devices in a similar price range. It doesn’t come close to the absolute top rates of a Macbook in terms of length, though. The brightness in the lower and upper area is almost ten percent less than the maximum measured in the middle. I could only measure smaller gradations in the right and left areas. Despite the smaller deviations, the picture appears homogeneously and evenly illuminated in a completely black image. Due to the high brightness value it is also suitable for outdoor use, even if not in blazing sun.
With the black value of 0,37 cd/m² and a brightness value of 341 cd/m² measured in the following screenshot, a contrast value of 924:1 results, which corresponds to a good average value and thus almost comes close to the contrast value stated by Dell:
It can be stated that the color space, respectively color space coverage according to sRGB, is perhaps very good for use in the area of a normal screen activity, but not sufficient for a professional designer. With a coverage of measured 84%, it is thus rather in the lower average; this makes e.g. the Microsoft Surface better, even if it quickly plays in a different league in terms of price and is not yet available with Intel’s 8th generation processor.
Despite very exaggerated viewing of the notebook both from a lateral viewing angle as well as from above, the image can still be seen very well due to the built-in IPS panel. Only when the keyboard illumination is switched on and the viewing angle is from above, the illumination in the display reflects very strongly.
Dell completely does without a touch display in the Inspiron 13. The model is also only available with a glare display, which ensures that working on the notebook in direct sunlight is only of limited pleasure despite a good contrast value and very high brightness.
Nevertheless, Dell has managed to build in a good display, which produces a detailed and yet colorful picture. The illumination looks very harmonious and the measured black value also produces a much darker value in reality.
Sound and input devices
The Dell Inspiron only comes with two very quiet loudspeakers, which use Dell’s own ‘Waves MaxxAudio Pro’ technology. The bass turns out very meager, especially at higher volumes. However, the high and mid frequencies in the mid and lower volume range come across very sonorous and really not tinny or similar.
As usual for notebooks of this size, the keyboard does without a number pad. The keys themselves turn out smaller than usual, but you have a sufficiently large distance between them. The pressure point of the keys is very pleasant and the keyboard can be typed very well – typos are eliminated. Merely the Enter key turns out a bit small.
The keyboard itself offers a two-stage brightness control, which can either be turned off completely or switched between the two brightness levels by double assignment of the F10 key. Thus, working in low light and for those who aren’t familiar with the 10-finger system, it’s a lot of fun and annoying searching for the keys is made much easier:
If the Dell Inspiron 13 isn’t used for a while, the keyboard light turns off automatically to save energy.
The touchpad is not quite centered in the lower area. The operation works reliably and operation with several fingers is also no problem. The size is average and the position is very well chosen, so that writing doesn’t always hang on the touchpad. The optical indication of the two pressure points for the left and right “mouse button” is still very nice.
With the AMD Ryzen 7 2700U processor, the Dell Inspiron really has a lot of computing power on board and has a pretty new and fast 2nd generation AMD processor for the notebook world. The processor from the Ryzen 7 series has the pleasure of being able to operate eight threads simultaneously with its four logical cores thanks to Hyper-Threading Technology. The processor clocks up to 3.8 Ghz due to the turbo boost. Due to the maximum 15 Watt TDP the processor also works very economically.
Because a separate graphic card was waived in favor of the battery life, the performance in graphics-heavy applications, games and accordingly also test programs turns out rather meager. The integrated graphic processor on the processor chip in form of an AMD Radeon RX Vega 10 is used.
RAM: Enough for any Hackathon
Two DDR4 PC4-19200 modules from Hynix are installed. These have a maximum speed of 2.4 GHz and should theoretically achieve up to 19.2 GB/s. The memory bandwidth test by SiSoftware Sandra confirms that these values are reached or even exceeded in parts.
As already mentioned at the beginning of this section, you shouldn’t expect any big bangs from the built-in graphic performance. But this is also due to the fact that a potent graphics performance isn’t the argument for this purchase and isn’t needed by the target group. Nevertheless, I’d like to say a few words about it and have thrown in 3D Mark 11.
In the Fire Strike test run of 3DMark 11 (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) a value of 1,011 points is reached:
Both values are not surprising and speak clear words in the area of 3D performance. Older games could perhaps still run smoothly on low resolutions and with low details; newer titles with demanding graphics don’t even need to be tried.
SSD: Enough room for your Hackathon projects
The first results of my systematic benchmarks were very sobering and in no way reflected the promised values (long access times, bad values when testing with 4K block size). However, the error could be found quickly after a little research. Main problem was an old or wrong driver. After updating the driver the hoped-for results came out.
Both the following CrystakDiskMark 5 test run and the AS SSD benchmark showed usual values for a SSD hard disk connected via S-ATA3.
The battery has 36 Wh, runtimes of up to 9.5 hours are supposed to be possible according to Dell.
The following tests were conducted with BatteryEater, which spits out both a minimum and maximum runtime of the Dell Inspiron. A brightness of about 150 cd/m² was set for the long-term run test in order to have a comparable value with other notebooks in the future.
Thus, almost 1:50 h are possible, which corresponds to a mediocre result. Other notebooks such as the Surface from Microsoft do this better, which is not least due to the larger battery.
On the other hand, I arrive at a little more than 6:45 h when testing with WLAN enabled and reduced display brightness.
Overall, not a bad battery life, but the competition does much better. Dell should have chosen a larger battery here and thus quickly achieved runtimes in the range of 8 or 9 hours.
Verdict: Best price-performance ratio for a Hackathon Laptop
The Dell Inspiron 13 tested here is consistently a very good notebook, which can be a loyal and mobile companion. The Dell notebook really has a lot of processing power on board due to the built-in AMD processor of the 2nd generation. As there is no dedicated graphics card, there is a marginal graphics performance, which should be more than sufficient for many people, especially for people going to hackathons. In return, the built-in display convinces with a very good brightness and also a good contrast ratio. Only the color range could be better. Due to the very strongly reflective display, it’s difficult to use the display in direct sunlight despite the high brightness values.
Apart from the two gaps in the front area, the workmanship is otherwise on a very high level. No creaking or the like is noticeable even under stronger pressure. A number of connections are also available for the connection of other devices. Especially the USB C port is still “forgotten” by many manufacturers, also a card reader is often not installed or only connected with USB 2.0.
We don’t need to talk about the very sluggish loudspeakers in the upper performance range anymore, and the camera is also really only sufficient for a simple video chat and is nothing for the demanding eye. The battery life isn’t enough to bridge a working day with it, even though the device is very mobile due to its weight of 3.8 lbs. All in all you get a great Hackathon notebook for a very fait price. The Dell Inspiron 13 wins our best price-performance ratio award for the best Hackathon Laptops Test.
Ranking Third: HP Elitebook 840 G5
- High working speed
- Low weight
- Good keyboard, accurate touchpad
- Mobile Internet via LTE possible
- Many connections
- Display with somewhat low color fidelity
Great Hackathon Laptop for lower budgets
HP’s EliteBook 800 model series is primarily aimed at business customers: Therefore, they should be tough, offer a lot of steam, an all-around carefree equipment and a long battery life. Now the manufacturer, which is also known for its printers and multifunction devices, is putting the retouched Windows 10 model, EliteBook 840 G5, on the market. How well does the notebook do in the test?
HP EliteBook 840 G5: 14 inch display
The EliteBook 840 G5 weighs only 3.3 lbs. and is beautifully compact – with its dimensions of 9.30 x 13.30 x 0.74 inches it is about the size of a sheet of paper, but at 0.8 inches it is not too thick either. And thanks to the 14-inch screen, it’s not too puny. The display shows web pages, tables and graphics beautifully sharp on its 14.4 inch screen diagonal. The drawback: The color fidelity of 77.4 percent is expandable. This isn’t a serious problem in office programs or Hackathon applications, but if the user wants to correct the colors in pictures using photo and video editing, for example, this display isn’t much help.
HP EliteBook 840 G5: CPU, RAM and SSD
However, the installed components are a great help when working or hacking on a Hackathon or Codefest: The EliteBook uses the upper class processor Core i5-8250U from Intel’s Kaby-Lake refresh series as drive. Its four cores clock with up to 1.8 gigahertz, a single core even works with up to 3.4 gigahertz for a short time if necessary. More is not possible: The processor is supported by a lower 8 gigabyte RAM – more can not be installed on the motherboard. It’s not surprising that the expensive EliteBook has a fast M.2 SSD instead of a slow hard disk. It offers comparatively much memory for an SSD with 256 gigabytes.
HP EliteBook 840 G5: A lot of steam for Hackathons
Fast processor, a nice amount of RAM and a nimble SSD: The HP achieved consistently high speed values in the speed measurements. No matter whether it was simple office tasks or complex graphics processing – the HP performed all calculations without annoying waiting times. But the EliteBook also made it clear that it is meant for working and not for playing. Business notebooks are generally not a good choice for gamers: instead of a separate, strong chip, graphics calculations are performed by a less powerful unit in the processor – this is fast enough for work, but much too slow for games. Even with a reduced resolution (1366×768 pixels), a maximum of 17 frames per second are possible. That is too little for a smooth display.
HP EliteBook 840 G5: Battery life
The HP handles the available energy carefully: When working, the battery provided energy for four hours and 41 minutes, and for video playback it was four hours and 20 minutes. These are very respectable values. Also good: The charging time was at a bearable level with two hours and seven minutes.
LTE for mobile surfing on board
Also important for business customers or Hackathon attendees: HP connects to the network at home via fast WLAN-ac (2.4 or 5 Gigahertz) and on the move via LTE – local network coverage and a corresponding contract required. Users insert the necessary SIM card into the slot on the left-hand side. The HP also has Bluetooth in version 4.2 for synchronization with fitness wristbands and Smartwatches. Also good: The EliteBook offers many connections.
Secure View and long warranty period
Great: If desired, the display can be protected against prying eyes. The switchable Secure View technology restricts the viewing angle so that only the user can see content directly in front of the screen. This means that confidential documents can be worked on in trains or planes without the person sitting next to you being able to read texts, figures or other information. Also good: HP grants a three-year warranty as standard. However, more warranty can easily be purchased in addition. For example, HP offers a five-year warranty for just under 350 Dollars extra; a service technician will even come to the house if there are problems.
Verdict: Solid performance for a Hackathon Laptop
Sure, the HP EliteBook 840 G5 is not the cheapest, but also pretty fast. It also offers a rich feature set – including an SSD with an OK amount of memory (256 gigabytes) and a switchable privacy screen for the display. So users can work undisturbed even on trains or planes – without the prying eyes of the neighbor or Hackathon competitors. All in all a solid option, but we rather recommend our second rank or our first rank if you have a bit more money to spend, in order to get the most Hackathon Laptop out of your budget.
The Ultimate Hackathon Guide
Hackathon: Just spin around
A hackathon is not a darkened room full of computer specialists and hackers who try to design the new Facebook, wear hoodies and live exclusively on caffeine and fast food. Rather, it is a modern concept where innovations are created, solutions are worked out or products are designed. The emphasis is on a relaxed atmosphere and great creativity. More and more companies are using hackathons, which in the best case help to outdo the competition and at the same time motivate their own employees. We explain what a hackathon is, how it works and why hackathons should also exist in your company…
What is a hackathon?
The term is a composition of the words hack and marathon, which aptly illustrates the original idea behind the concept of a hackathon. In the beginning it was an event that was exclusively related to software and hardware development. Programmers, technicians, computer enthusiasts, engineers and software developers were the first target group of the classic hackathon. The first hackathon is the JavaOne conference, which took place in 1999.
But don’t worry, hackathons have evolved since the beginning and are no longer just for hackers and IT specialists. Rather, the basic idea is used to develop creative solutions and new ideas together as a team.
A classic hackathon lasts between 24 and 48 hours, which are dedicated to a specific topic or question. The participants get together in groups and use the given time to first generate ideas and then develop prototypes of products.
The hackathon is much less formal than daily office work. The event should be informal, fun and encourage creative thinking. No restrictions, instead plenty of space to develop yourself. In addition, there is usually plenty of food and drinks provided by the organiser of the Hackathon to ensure the physical well-being of the participants.
With a good mood and a relaxed atmosphere, a Hackathon should invite you to get active outside of the classic office and working conditions together with colleagues (also from other departments) and to get involved beyond the normal level. It is important that there are no further specifications for the projects outside the topic. Anyone can be completely free, unbiased, creative or sometimes even completely offbeat. This is the only way to achieve the most diverse results.
At the end of each hackathon exactly these results will be presented to a jury. This jury can be made up of experts on the topic, other colleagues or even company executives and managers. Not only the direct benefit that the products and ideas can have for the company is evaluated. Inventiveness and the final presentation are also included in the evaluation.
As an incentive and motivation to really put their best foot forward, the winner is usually awarded cash prizes, but other rewards are also possible. Sometimes enormous sums of money are involved, for example in America several hundred thousand dollars are sometimes offered for the winning project of a hackathon.
The course of a Hackathon
A hackathon should be relaxed and enjoyable, but still requires a lot of organisation and early planning. A suitable location has to be found, food is needed (usually in the form of a budget, but food trucks are also modern, which supply participants on site), of course a suitable theme and a minimum number of participants, without which the whole event cannot function.
Companies should therefore advertise internally, invite employees and motivate them to participate in the Hackathon. Once the planning has been completed and the date of the hackathon is set, the course of events usually follows a very similar pattern:
Greeting. Obligatory for a hackathon is the initial greeting by the organizer or managers of the company. This includes a thank you to all participants and a short explanation why the event was organized. Presentation of the topic. The first real part of the hackathon starts with the presentation of the theme. What will the participants focus on? What is the question? What is the problem to be solved? Brainstorming: Afterwards the participants have time to collect their ideas and prepare them. The teams have either registered together in advance or can now get together in small groups to work on a project together.
Now the real hackathon begins. Depending on how long it is scheduled for, the participants have time to put their ideas into practice, to realize ideas and to develop products. For hackathons of several days, accommodation and sufficient sleeping places should be provided accordingly, even if some participants consider sleep to be overrated at these events.
When the time is up, all products and ideas will be presented to the jury. This can be a small scale presentation, which only takes place for the jury – but it can also be exciting to have all the participants present to see how creative the other teams were and what different concepts were created.
Last but not least, there will be an awards ceremony, where the best participants will be honoured for their ideas and implementation.
Hackathons have become very popular and are very trendy. It is no longer just young and modern start-ups or companies in Silicon Valley who organize Hackathons and invite their employees to simply spin around and develop creative ideas.
Not only global corporations or companies in the technology industry benefit from a hackathon. It can also make sense for smaller companies to organize a hackathon. If the topic has never come up in your company before, you can also make the suggestion yourself. We will show you why a hackathon for employees is worthwhile in any case:
You can contribute your ideas.
In everyday work life itself, there is often far too little time to become really creative. There is simply not enough time to deal with unusual solutions or suggestions. Everything always runs strictly according to plan and the to-do lists are completely filled.
At the Hackathon you can finally implement everything that has been floating around in your head for a long time. Many employees have very different ideas about how problems could be solved or which innovation would facilitate and improve the work – until now, the only thing missing was the chance to present and realize them.
You look beyond your own little bubble.
Colleagues from other departments know many employees only from the telephone or through e-mails. This can often lead to frustration as different points of view collide. Often there is a lack of understanding of how the other person works, what goals he or she is pursuing and what ideas they bring with them.
By running a hackathon in your company, you can work specifically with employees from other departments. Not only via detours, but directly in a joint team. This is certainly a challenge, but it also allows you to look beyond your own nose. How does another department approach problems? What are the advantages? And what can you learn from each other?
The benefits go far beyond the time of the hackathon, because in the future you will have a better understanding of how other departments react and thus you can improve your cooperation in the long run.
You make valuable contacts.
A large network offers many advantages. During a hackathon you come into contact with many new people you might never have met in your everyday work. Suddenly you are sitting together with a project manager, a programmer, a designer, a marketing expert and a middle management executive and are looking for common ideas and solutions.
You learn to implement ideas and concepts quickly.
During a hackathon you can also learn a lot for your own way of working. Time is short and yet, in the end, results should emerge that can be presented. Designing and producing functioning products within one day is not child’s play.
In a hackathon you learn to concentrate on the essentials and really move a project forward. There is simply no time for dawdling and unproductive trivialities. Once internalized, you can also use this for yourself in your normal job.