A laptop is the first thing that the future programmer needs. Its performance will depend on the speed and convenience of the work. The laptop will have to be taken with you to study, so its dimensions also matter. For practitioners, the laptop often becomes a mobile addition to the main PC.
What Parameters You Need for a Laptop
The novice programmer doesn’t need the most expensive device, but you shouldn’t choose the cheapest model either because the future expert won’t only have to write code but also to run a virtual machine and work in several open apps.
A laptop must be fast, have optimal size and a convenient keyboard, preferably an island keyboard with backlit keys. A quality display is important to work without excessive strain on the eyes for a long time, so it’s worth looking at models with an IPS-matrix. Battery life is also important, especially if the laptop is used at school or on the road. It’s worth choosing models with a working time of 6 hours – this time will be enough to work a bit, play 30 minutes at the Bob casino, and watch one episode on Netflix.
To connect additional devices, such as an external monitor, you will need the appropriate connectors. If the laptop is not equipped with them, you must buy a USB hub or adapters to connect. The programmer can also need a LAN port, through which the laptop can be connected to the wired Internet or a local network.
If most of the time the laptop is on the desktop or at home, its weight isn’t important. For those who value mobility and the ability to work or study from anywhere, the weight and size of the laptop will matter. Lightweight, but productive are characteristics of laptops weighing 1.5-1.8 kg. Performance and gaming laptops can weigh over 2 kg.
The most inexpensive laptops usually have a TN matrix, which often distorts colors when you change position, so you need an IPS matrix to work comfortably. Sometimes there are models with an OLED matrix, which has a quality color rendering, rich black color, and good viewing angles.
The larger the diagonal of the laptop – the more comfortable to work, especially when you consider that programmers have to look closely at the code. On the other hand, larger size means more weight. If you plan to use the laptop as an additional tool, you can buy a laptop with a diagonal of 13-14 inches. Look at models with a larger diagonal. If desired, you can buy a monitor – most programmers prefer to work on two monitors simultaneously.
You don’t need a 4K resolution display for programming – a standard Full HD display is enough, or a little larger: such models are offered by Apple and other manufacturers.
Speed is important for programmers, so an SSD with at least 256 GB is a good choice. A hard drive can be installed as additional storage for files. The optimal memory size is 1TB.
The amount of RAM depends on the performance and speed of processing operations, especially when you need to compile code. The minimum amount of RAM for this is 8 GB, but it’s better to choose models with 16 GB or a free slot for future expansion.
Game developers will need at least 16 GB of RAM.
The graphics card isn’t the most important component of a laptop for programmers. It’s worth investing in a laptop with a more powerful processor, which will process information quickly and has good built-in graphics.
The memory capacity of the video card for game developers – at least 4 GB, for the rest of this parameter doesn’t matter much.
Minimum processor specifications for programming are 4-core Intel Core i3 or 6-core AMD Ryzen 3 latest generations. But in order for the laptop for a long time to retain its original performance, it’s better to choose models with more efficient processors: Intel Core i5 or AMD Ryzen 5 and above.
Apple’s M1 or M2 processors will also do.
Many programmers prefer laptops without a preinstalled operating system, preferring to install it themselves. The main types of operating systems:
There are laptops running the ChromeOS operating system, the so-called Chromebooks. They differ in the fact that most of all operations are performed in the cloud services.
This is the main working interface of the programmer, so it should be comfortable. Professionals advise to look for models with a full-size island keyboard, the numeric block is also handy. For comfortable work in low light conditions, choose models with built-in key illumination. Ideally, the selected lap should be checked in the store: key layout, how they move, the presence of function keys.
The laptop battery should be able to handle at least 4-6 hours of battery life, but ideally it should be longer – 8-10 hours. The latest versions of MacBook are capable of working up to 18 hours, and ASUS – up to 22 hours without recharging. If the battery life of the laptop is important for work on the road or away from the outlet, choose options with a more powerful battery, good energy efficiency. A Type-C connector with Power Delivery lets you recharge your laptop with an external battery.
You will need several connectors to connect your external drive and other devices. Laptops are usually equipped with USB 2.0, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, Type-C, and a 3.5 headphone jack. To connect to a wired network, you need an RJ-45 connector. HDMI will be needed to connect a monitor, and sometimes Type-C connectors support the optional connection of one or two more monitors.