7 Things to Consider When Buying a Laptop as a Programmer: Are you a developer in the market for a new laptop? Simply avoid purchasing any laptop that you find on the market. Examine the details more closely.
There are numerous laptop manufacturers and models available—from powerful desktop replacements and gaming laptops to thin and light ultrabooks, and from costly MacBooks to inexpensive Chromebook variants.
While certain models are clearly targeted for specific industries and users, including business, creative professionals, students, and gamers, it’s rare to find a laptop designed specifically for programmers.
Things to Consider When Buying a Laptop as a Programmer
Therefore, if you’re in the market for a new device for coding, have a look at the vital traits programmers seek in a laptop.
A programmer’s primary consideration should be the laptop display which ranks top in the list of 7 Things to Consider When Buying a Laptop as a Programmer. That is because you will be looking at this screen about 99 percent of the time while working. Therefore, do not settle for any display. Consider the following before selecting a gadget.
If portability is not an issue for you, purchase the largest monitor feasible. This is because smaller displays provide you with less working space. Additionally, this means that text, icons, and other user interface components will be reduced in size, resulting in increased eye strain.
Additionally, programming consumes a great deal of vertical space. That is why 16:10 displays are desirable. While the majority of laptop displays now have a 16:9 aspect ratio, there are some solutions that allow for the former.
Additionally, touch screen displays and 2-in-1 laptops are of limited utility to programmers. They are not cost-effective unless you intend to utilize your computer for additional reasons.
Programmer for External Display Support equipped with multiple monitors and a laptop
Additionally, most PCs support the connection of at least one external display through HDMI. This is advantageous, particularly for individuals who have numerous windows open for reference purposes. The mismatch between the small built-in screen and a larger external display, on the other hand, can make work more difficult.
Therefore, if you wish to connect two or more external displays to your computer, you must check that it supports this configuration. The majority of entry-level and mid-range devices support only one HDMI display.
If you desire additional ports, you need to have a Thunderbolt 4 connection that supports DisplayPort technology in addition to the HDMI port. This allows you to connect two displays and utilize them concurrently.
2. Comparison between AMD and Intel processors
As is the case with every application, it is always preferable to have a fast CPU. We know, however, that not everyone has an unlimited budget. Therefore, when selecting a CPU, you need to consider several choices.
Do you run numerous programs concurrently, with multiple instances of each? Do you work with a large amount of data and spend hours assembling it? If this is the case, the core count should take precedence over raw processing power. However, if you plan to use only one piece of software, a CPU with a high clock speed may be worthwhile.
However, regardless of the type of programming you do, you should purchase a mid-range processor at the very least. That’s because entry-level processors, such as the Intel Core i3 or AMD Ryzen 3, may struggle to complete the jobs you want on time. This will cause you much frustration as you look at your laptop, waiting for it to complete the compilation process.
3. A laptop’s RAM is arranged on a table.
Regardless of whether you’re purchasing a laptop for professional work, programming, or gaming, the suggested minimum RAM size today is 8GB. This amount will barely get you by, and if your budget allows, you should always opt for the 16GB version.
If you chose the 8GB option, your laptop should at the very least be upgradeable to 16GB or more in the future. Avoid models with soldered RAM, as upgrading them requires purchasing a new laptop.
If you want your computer to run swiftly, you should ensure that it has a solid-state drive (SSD). This enables your laptop to be speedy and responsive, regardless of the task at hand.
While 256GB will be the very minimum for PCs in 2022, it is still better to have a 512GB SSD or greater. If you must choose between an SSD and a hard drive, you should choose for at least a 256GB SSD drive to store your operating system, applications, and current work.
Thus, when compiling code, you will do tasks more quickly. The slower HDD can then be used to store your archived and other stuff.
5. Mac OS X Big Sur on a Windows 10 computer
Your operating system choice will be determined by the type of programming you do. Are you primarily a Mac user? Or do you also compile Windows programs? Do you prefer Linux systems or are you required to deal with a variety of operating systems?
If you’re using macOS, you’re probably better off with an Apple product. The company currently offers a broad range of products, ranging from the M1 MacBook Air to the 16-inch MacBook Pro M1 Max. Therefore, ensure that you select one that is within your budget.
However, if you prefer Windows PCs, your options are virtually limitless. Similarly, you have an infinite number of options with Linux, as it can be installed on virtually any device. Nonetheless, some manufacturers sell laptops pre-installed with the Linux operating system, so you may wish to go for that instead.
You can, however, create a dual-boot system that runs Windows and Linux or Linux and macOS. Additionally, you can use Wine to emulate Windows on your Mac, although the latest M1 Macs have a different processor architecture, which may impact the emulation.
6. Mechanical keyboard affixed to a wooden desk
This is one of the most underestimated peripherals among programmers. While they are not as flashy as CPUs or monitors, as a programmer, you will appreciate a good keyboard. That’s because you’ll almost certainly spend more than 90% of your time typing on it.
Users will have varying preferences for keyboard layouts, with some preferring a full-sized layout and others preferring a tenkeyless design. Whichever the case may be, you should select one that appeals to you. However, you should take into account your typing experience.
While a laptop’s keyboard cannot be customized, you should exercise caution when purchasing an external keyboard. There are numerous switch and keycap configurations, and you should test them all before settling on one.
7. Life of the battery.
If you’re often on the move, you’ll want a laptop with a long-lasting battery. Among the category’s current champions are the Apple M1 MacBook Pro, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1, and the HP Envy 14.
Apart from battery life, look for a laptop that supports Power Delivery. This way, you can charge it while on the road with a power bank.
The New Normal Is Mobile Programming
If you’re the type of programmer that works remotely, you’ll appreciate having a powerful programming laptop on hand. In this manner, you can work productively regardless of your location.
Therefore, if you work as a freelance programmer or if your employer allows you to work remotely, you can legitimately consider yourself a digital nomad. Additionally, COVID-19 has increased the popularity of work-at-home opportunities.
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