Programming is a broad niche, and there are a lot of programming languages which you can use to code. So, a programmer’s laptop should be adequately specced to run all programming language compilers, interpreters, local servers, and code editors efficiently. But, what should be an ideal configuration of a laptop that will be used specifically for “programming”? or what are the essential things, that all programmers should know before they buy the laptop for coding and programming?
1.What is the best Operating System for developers?
When it comes to coding and development, Microsoft Windows and Apple macOS have been the most used operating systems for years. The OS which we prefer most for the programmer’s laptop is – ‘Microsoft Windows’ because it supports most of the programming languages and also MacBooks are costlier than Windows laptops, so not everyone can afford it.
Well, If you are an iOS or any other Apple’s ecosystem developer or if you are planning to learn it and going to become one then you’ll have to buy a Mac for yourself. Because Objective C and Swift requires Xcode which is only available for Mac right now and Apple has no plans to make it available on any other operating systems yet.
Linux is also an excellent option for Python, Ruby on Rails and PHP developers, but Windows also supports them all. So, overall Windows is preferred OS for all programmers and developers work machines, but for Apple developers, the Mac is a must.
2.Choosing processor of a laptop for programming –
‘CPU aka processor is the brain of every computer, ’ and whether you’re developing a website or a mobile app, you’ll undoubtedly need a laptop with a powerful processor to run all those demanding programs you use to code and to run that code. We think laptops with Intel i5 processor will be able to suffice requirements of most of the programmers, but if you are into something intensive like game developing or programming in graphics, then we recommend laptops powered by Intel i7 processor to you (hexa-core if you can afford).
For beginners in programming and budget buyers, even laptops with Intel i3 processor will get the job done but try to buy an Intel i5 powered laptop for programming if you can. That would make your purchase future proof.
3.How much RAM should your computer have to run your code?
Well, that doesn’t mean you should spend all your hard earned money to get the most RAM on your computer. But, it’s always good to have more RAM on a laptop to efficiently run local servers, compilers, code editor and a web browser simultaneously. We recommend at least 8GB of RAM for programming laptop but again, if you’re into game developing or graphics programming then you’re going to need 12 or 16GB of RAM.
4.Hard Drive or Solid State Drive on a laptop for programmers?
Let’s keep it straight and simple, HDDs are slower (but completely usable) hence they are found mostly on cheaper laptops and SSDs are faster (a lot faster actually) than HDDs which are mostly found in laptops priced higher than $600. Well, if we talk about laptops for programming specifically, then SSDs are really beneficial to programmers. They significantly decrease the booting time of a laptop, and it also helps in quickly loading your previously saved project to continue work from where you left off.
Most of the laptops with hard drives will give you a 1TB of storage whereas laptops with solid state drives in same price range offer significantly less storage (256GB or 512GB) compared to hard drives. So, we leave this on to you. If you want blazingly fast storage and can work with lesser space, then go with SSD and if you want more storage space which operates at lower yet reasonably good speeds, then go with HDD. Simple!
5. Do you need dedicated graphics for programming?
It’s good to have it but not necessarily because integrated graphics on new coffee lake and kaby lake Intel CPUs are more than enough to run most of the programs that you will be using for coding on your laptop.
Still, it’s good to have it, if you also like to play games occasionally on your laptop. 2GB dedicated graphics are enough for programming and gaming but again if you are into game developing or coding graphics, then you will need better graphics backed laptop for yourself.
Apart from these aforementioned 5 important things, a programmer’s laptop should also have a comfortable keyboard with decent traveling keys and good display (IPS recommended) to reduce eye strain while prolonged late night coding sessions. Good battery life and lightweight design will also be a huge plus in a laptop for programming.