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Guide for Choosing the Best Laptop to Program

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If you are a developer and you are thinking of buying a laptop, here is everything you need to know about the best brands and models to program. Programmers need very specific characteristics in their teams so that they can carry out development and compilation tasks in the most efficient way possible.

There may be as many needs as there are programmer preferences. That is many, but in general, the base is common to all and there is always a tendency to look for a team that is as balanced as possible in every way. Later you will understand better what I am trying to say, but just stick with that you must analyze your own case to identify your needs and thus choose the team that has the most satisfactory points.

Developer Laptop recommendations

What I have tried to say in the previous paragraph is that there are different fields within development, and therefore multiple different needs. For example:

  • Web development and interpreted languages: in these cases, it is not necessary to compile, therefore, perhaps the hardware performance is not such a priority. Those who are dedicated to web development (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, …), or interpreted languages ​​(Python, Perl, Ruby, …), leave everything to the interpreter. Therefore, it is possible that it is worth satisfying the requirements that said interpreter asks or that they make you work more comfortably, such as a large screen, a good keyboard, etc.
  • Compiled languages: If you create programs with languages ​​that you must compile, that is, transform into a binary, then you will know that this can take minutes or many hours, depending on the size of the software and your hardware. Therefore, it will be vital that you have a very powerful team to reduce that time to the maximum. The same if you use cross compilation …
  • Videogames: if you develop videogames, you will work with powerful graphics engines that will demand a lot of your hardware, especially the CPU, GPU and RAM. Also, if you have to design and render, then you have to look for very specific features.
  • Specific code: it is likely that your job is to write very specific code for a specific platform or that you dedicate yourself to developing drivers for some components, etc. In this case, you have to find a computer with the operating system, architecture, or components for which you develop. This way you will do it natively, and without the problems that can have doing it through emulation or virtual machines. For example:

Well, analyze what is your case, if it is within the ones I have indicated here or if it is a different one. Look for the points you need to enhance and so you can optimize your purchase to invest in what you really need.

Hardware for programmers

Generically, almost all programmers should be looking for a laptop in which the following should take precedence:

  • CPU: You should be looking for a good team with a state-of-the-art microprocessor, such as the 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen 5 / Ryzen 7, or the 8th Gen, 9th Gen, or preferably 10th Gen Intel Core i5 / Core i7 (although there aren’t too many models that mount this latest generation currently). The way in which the software you use for development runs and also the performance when compiling or performing other tasks will depend on this element.
  • RAM: At least it should have 8 GB of main memory, although it will depend a little on what you need. It would be advisable to have 16 GB. You must check that the memory is not soldered to the motherboard, and if it is, see if it has any slot to expand it. Some teams do not have that possibility and it is a great inconvenience.
  • Screen: on a laptop it should not be less than 13 ″, since it will be more difficult to properly see the source code that you write. 15.6 ″ is a normal size and quite adequate for most users. But beyond the size, what you should look well at is the resolution, which should be at least 1920 × 1080 px.
  • GPU: The GPU may not matter too much in most cases. But if you are creating video games or need to edit video, effects, render, etc., you will need a dedicated and powerful GPU. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX and RTX models are recommended, although the AMD Radeon equivalents would also be fine (Vega 64 onwards preferably)… Now, if you plan to program for a GPGPU, then find your most suitable platform. For example, if you are going to use CUDA, you already know that you have to buy the NVIDIA product, but if you are going to use OpenCL, it can be of any type.
  • Storage: Code developers typically don’t demand large amounts of space, but there may be some exceptions. What you should seriously consider is choosing a solid state hard drive or SSD better for its performance. At least I would say 256 GB.
  • Keyboard: The keyboards on laptops and the touchpad they have may not be the best for spending long hours typing code. However, there are slightly better models than others. If you have the opportunity to be at home and you don’t want a laptop to take it from here to there, perhaps it is best to buy a separate ergonomic keyboard and mouse…
  • Connectivity: It won’t influence the least, so it doesn’t matter too much. It is a feature that may be important to other users, but not so much to a developer. Unless you are dedicated to developing drivers for a specific software or port, in that case it is. For example, if you are creating a new USB 3.0 device, and you need to test it and create the drivers, etc., you will obviously need your device to have that interface.
  • Platform (OS / Architecture): The platform is very important. In general, the architecture will almost always be x86 (AMD64 / Intel EM64T), although there are also portable computers based on ARM, PPC, etc. Cross-compilation and emulation is a very good possibility, but if you need to try something natively you should consider looking for computers with the architecture you are developing for. Same happens with the operating system, it is better to use the OS for which you develop. However, the preferred one for most developers is Linux. In that case, you may be interested in a FreeDOS or non-OS, or even one that already comes with Linux pre-installed, and thus not pay for the Windows license and then end up formatting and removing the system that it brought.

Conclusion

Thank you to all of the programmers on our team because their opinions helped us a lot in understanding and choosing the best laptops to program and code for you.

We hope that our extensive research and hard work (over 35 hours), which we have implemented to complete this guide, will help you buy the best programmer laptop based on your needs.

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