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laptop for software development for less than 700

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horacio_b92 2 months ago

Hi, could you recommend a laptop for programming in different programming languages? with these characteristics as much as possible 8 GB enough RAM portable intel core i5 or ryzen 5 storage ssd * I will not play games I'll buy it at Best Buy. This can be: Lenovo - 330S-15ARR 15.6" Laptop ASUS - VivoBook 15 15.6" Laptop - AMD Ryzen 5 I need opinions on models or changes to consider. Thanks

Comments Sorted by:

TheFu 2 points 2 months ago

I'm new here and don't know how comments are normally done. Hope I don't step on any toes.

If price is the most important, you could buy a used Dell for $300 on Ebay that was refurbished, without any OS.

The type of system needed would vastly depend on the languages you want to program in.

Scripted languages for web-app development aren't really CPU dependent. I've done RoR and Perl-Dancer webapps on chromebooks with ChromeOS purged and Ubuntu loaded. These aren't very powerful with low-end processors, 4G of RAM and 120G of storage. Not all programming languages need powerful development systems.

Small C/C++ projects would easily compile and link on that same hardware - the sort that a college student would be doing. But professional environments would need fast CPUs, larger storage, and fast networking (always wired, avoid wifi) and probably support for 2-3 external monitors. Screen real estate is very important for developer productivity.

If you are planning to do Java or Android programming, you'll want at least 2x more RAM - 16G is a minimum. The development tools for Java programming all seem to be written in Java and they are dog slow, painful to use. A faster CPU and more RAM is highly desirable.

You didn't mention which OS you'd be needing. More and more software development is done on Linux. If you are doing web-apps, Linux is mandatory, since nobody deployed to Windows. Nobody.

As for brands, I let my fingers decide based on the keyboard I can stand. I've been using IBM 101M keyboards for 20+ yrs, so I need a keyboard that doesn't wear out, is easily replaced, and has enough movement so I know the key has been hit. For me, the only brands which have workable keyboards are Dell, Asus, and Lenovo. YMMV. Swapping a Dell laptop keyboard is about 10 minutes effort and $20-$30.

On a laptop, battery life can be important. For the best battery, I'd stick with Intel CPUs and Intel iGPU. Part of that reasoning is because AMD laptops aren't famous for 8-12 hrs of battery whereas I have an Intel Core i3 from 2015 that did provide 10 hrs when new. Perhaps newer AMD CPUs are different. IDK. More research would be necessary.

For performance comparisons, it is useful to compare the "passmark" scores for the different CPUs you consider. Just google the CPU model and "passmark" to find it.

In order of priority, the things I look for in a laptop for work are: good keyboard / touchpad "feel" 1080p screen resolution or higher under 3.5 lbs (carrying a heavy laptop around the world sucks) Long battery - at least 6 hrs after 3 yrs of use Sufficient RAM Ok CPU (if I need something faster, I'll just remote into a faster computer) USB3 ports HDMI output - I give presentations around the world GigE Intel NIC; Intel NICs work better with more OSes than any alternatives. SDHC card reader for photo management * No touch screen - I hate touch screens

Your list is probably different, but you should make one to ensure any compromises are understood. For example, I'll never use bluetooth and the sound quality doesn't matter to me. I don't game, ever. Your priorities matter.

Lenovo has a reputation for being build very sturdy.

Lastly, you should have a backup solution figured out that will get you daily, automatic, backups, to at least 2 additional locations. Losing 1 day of work sucks, but losing more than 1 day is pure incompetence and completely unacceptable.

horacio_b92 submitter 1 point 2 months ago

Thank you for your response Languages for web development: Frontend and Backend (PHP, Javascript, SQL, MongoDB), in future Java/android development OS : i use Ubuntu GNU/Linux The things I look for in a laptop for me are similar to yours decent keyboard Lightweight/Portable 1080p screen resolution Long battery at least 5 hrs as minimum 8gb ram and possibility of upgrade I'm not interested in touch screen

I could have a look at the best buy store and see if it finds a model that matches my needs. It has to be in best buy because I travel a few days to the United States (Orlando) and it stays close. From now, thank you for you help

TheShadowGuy 1 point 1 month ago

Decent keyboard is the hardest, most subjective, and probably most important thing. I find most laptop keyboards right now pretty... lackluster at best, and mushy, warping junk more frequently. If you can try some out before purchase, that would be ideal.

You don't need a lot of processing power, but I would take particular interest in Ryzen 5 2500u and Intel i5-8250u laptops. The 8250u has slightly faster singlethreaded performance and a few extra features (like QuickSync) while the Ryzen 5 has much higher graphical performance. Note that just looking for a Intel i5 isn't enough- a lot of models, especially business ones, are still using the older and much less capable i5-7200u at similar price points to i5-8250u models.

horacio_b92 submitter 1 point 1 month ago

thanks, I'm always looking at last generation CPU (i5 or Ryzen 5)

TheShadowGuy 1 point 1 month ago

If you only have the option of seventh gen i5s, I'd take the Ryzen 5 2500u any day, hands down, even if it cost a little more.

horacio_b92 submitter 1 point 1 month ago

this model would be adequate dell ryzen 5 ??

ProbablyProdigy 3 Builds 1 point 2 months ago

Out of the two that you posted, I'd probably go with the Asus. Both have very similar specs but the Asus has twice the storage capacity plus, the RAM is upgradeable to 16GB if needed whereas the Lenovo looks like its maxed out at 8GB. Considering you'll be programming and if this is something that you'll have for a few years or more, the option for 16GB of RAM is a big deal if you ask me.

horacio_b92 submitter 1 point 2 months ago

thanks for answering. another option that I found would be this dell ryzen 5

ProbablyProdigy 3 Builds 1 point 2 months ago

That looks good as well. Same features and specs as the Asus and also has the option to upgrade ram up to 16GB. You'd get the benefit of the 2in1 style laptop with a touchscreen which is nice to have.