How To Choose A Laptop For Programmers
Choosing the right laptop for programming can be a difficult process. It’s easy to get confused while researching the various options. There are many different notebook models out there, each with a different set of trade-offs.
You can write code on most laptops. However, your productivity will improve if you use a machine suitable for the type of tasks you perform.
There are different types of development, and several tools are required with each specialization. Therefore, there is no single approach to buying a development machine.
I made the following assumptions in this article:
- You are a web developer
- Your laptop is your main development machine
Laptops come in all shapes and sizes. You need to figure out how portable you want your laptop to be.
If you do not need to carry your laptop often, you may want to consider a 15-inch laptop. These typically have better specs and more display properties for multitasking.
If you work in different places or travel a lot, a 13 or 14 inch laptop may be better for you. They are lighter and provide longer battery life.
Unless you are buying a 2-in-1 laptop, a touch screen does not offer enough benefits to justify the additional cost. I suggest you avoid the touch screen.
The display of a laptop is one of its most important features, especially for programmers. Developing applications involves looking at the screen for long periods. You need to pay close attention to the details.
Most budget laptops ship with a 1366 x 768 screen, which I find to be mediocre at best. The screen does not have enough screen properties for multitasking. Also, the text is not sharp enough to have a comfortable reading experience.
A 4k screen is excessive for a laptop, especially when you consider the additional costs and drain the battery you will encounter.
Whatever you do, do not buy a laptop with less than a Full HD 1920 x 1080 (1080p) screen. If you have to pay a little more to get 1080p, do it.
Also make sure the screen has good viewing angles; The screen of your laptop should not duplicate like a mirror!
Processing power (CPU)
Your laptop’s CPU has a huge influence on performance so you can not afford to skimp on this one. There are many different types of processors with different specifications. Be sure to consider these specifications. Some of the most important are the size of the cache, the number of cores, the frequency and the power of thermal design.
In general, a good Intel Core i5 or i7 processor with a frequency of 3GHz or more should be enough for most people.
I do not think any serious programming can be done on a laptop with less than 4GB of RAM. My recommendation for smaller RAM is 8GB. Even that is becoming just enough with the advent of electron applications, which love to consume large amounts of RAM. If you have extra money out there, invest in 16GB of RAM.
Type of storage and capacity
Obtaining an SSD (Solid State Drive) should be near the top of your priorities. This will give you significant performance improvements over a standard hard drive. Each operation will be much faster with an SSD: including operating system startup, code compilation, application launch, and project loading.
A 256 GB SSD should be the baseline. If you have more money, a 512GB or 1TB SSD is better. If cost is a factor, opt for a smaller SSD where your operating system will live next to your frequently accessed applications and documents (such as project files). Remaining things, such as music or videos, can rest on a larger external hard drive.
You can not afford to compromise the quality of your laptop’s keyboard, as that is what you will use to get code all day long. I tend to go for laptops with a more compact keyboard layout.
The most important thing is to test the keyboard of a laptop thoroughly before buying. Make sure the keys are comfortable and easy to reach with a good trip. A backlit keyboard is useful if you intend to work in low light conditions often.
Good battery life may not be as important to you if you spend most of the time near a power outlet. However, shoot for at least 6 hours of battery life.
Do not rely on the expected battery life as directed by the manufacturer. Read third-party reviews of trusted websites and see what real users are saying about the product in forums and reviews.
Your choice of operating system will determine which laptop to buy heavily. Windows users have many options, but if you prefer macOS, you’re limited to one of the Macbook offerings.
Linux will run on most hardware, but it is better to buy laptops that have official Linux support. Some vendors, such as Dell and System 76, provide premium machines with preinstalled Linux. You may want to look at the first ones.
Otherwise, do your research to make sure that the laptop you intend to buy plays well with your preferred Linux distributions.
Dedicated or integrated graphics?
A dedicated graphics card (also known as discrete) is not very important for coding purposes. Save money with an integrated graphics card. Invest the money you save into an SSD or a better processor that will provide more value for money.
I would love to know what factors you consider to be most important for a development machine and how it affects your day-to-day work.
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