How old is your dev laptop and is coding still comfortable?

yariman

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Hello fellow programmers,

Im trying to avoid the "what laptop should i buy" question as it doesnt age well. Im actually looking to buy used but im trying to find the sweet spot between price and age. The problem is i have no idea how well laptops age when it comes to programming. For games the answer is not good but programming (compiling and testing, no graphics) i have no idea.

so

how old is your dev laptop
was it high/mid/low range at the time you bought.
is it still fast to code on
if poss whats the processor and ram?

I know this is highly subjective but it will help me get an idea.
 

Whatsisname

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Why would you use a laptop in the first place?

Laptops have inferior keyboards, you have to hook up a keyboard and mouse to get any real work done anyway.
 

Arainach

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I use my desktop for dev work. I only use my laptop when I have to. It's a Lenovo X200 Tablet, roughly a year old, and still works great (though it's only 12" it has a full-size keyboard), but a desktop is better hands down.
 

eon

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whew i thought I was alone, I never use a laptop for development, heck I dont even own a laptop as I rarely have any situations where one would have been useful
the tiny keyboard, unuseable pointer tracker, yuck

and the spec requirements for development vary way too much
for me personally, I'd need atleast a dual core, 2gig ram laptop
 

Spun Ducky

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I would have to agree and disagree it depends on the type of programming you're doing. In most cases of pure software programming yes a desktop will be more comfortable and usable, however for someone like me who works on microcontrollers, CPLDs, FPGAs,etc I find coding on a laptop more useful. I find it more useful because its portable between the different labs I work in and generally the amount of actual code written is a lot smaller than what you would do in a full application. It is also very nice for debugging and writting code on site when working with a embedded system. I also want to mention its far nicer being able to hook up to a chip programmer anywhere the project is setup to do a chip dump of verilog,vlsi,vhdl,etc.

In conclusion if you are going as pure software design of a high level application in c++ then yea programming exclusively on a laptop sucks. If you are working with embedded stuff then I feel the laptop is more useful. I base this on my personal experiences in that if I have to write something like an accoutning program you can bet im gonna do it on my eyefinity desktop.
 

BDV

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I used to have a laptop, but for development I do there is no laptop powerful enough... hell even my PC (recently upgraded) is still crapping out on occasions.
 

Wiseguy2001

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I use a laptop at clients sites and a desktop when I work from home and I much prefer the desktop because you can add far more screen space/ ram and better cpu's. The main drawbacks with laptops are screen size and memory capacity*.

I'm currenly using [laptop] a 2ghz dual core w/ 3gigs of ram, I was going to replace it later in the year. But harddrive started failing a few weeks ago, so I just swapped it with a 64gb SSD and windows7. Now it's greatly improved, I would even go as far to say that it is a joy to work with now!

*This is coming from a guy who is about to upgrade his desktop (3ghz quad core with 8gb ram), because the sole reason is needing more than 8gb of memory.
 

maw

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where I work, most developers use a laptop exclusively because they need something portable to take to meetings, demos, and to work off-site. We decided it was a lot more cost effective to buy one very powerful laptop instead of a desktop and a laptop. One big advantage is that everything you need is on one machine instead of two, so there is no worry about forgetting to install something when you take your machine on the road for demos..
They are very powerful quad-core Lenovos with tons of RAM that sit in docking station with dual-monitors, full keyboards and mice hooked up when at their desks, really no different from a good workstation.
 

BDV

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where I work, most developers use a laptop exclusively because they need something portable to take to meetings, demos, and to work off-site. We decided it was a lot more cost effective to buy one very powerful laptop instead of a desktop and a laptop. One big advantage is that everything you need is on one machine instead of two, so there is no worry about forgetting to install something when you take your machine on the road for demos..
They are very powerful quad-core Lenovos with tons of RAM that sit in docking station with dual-monitors, full keyboards and mice hooked up when at their desks, really no different from a good workstation.

I'm jealous. Our IT would have a heart attack if I put in a request for this...
 

mikeblas

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The assertion that one can't do "real work" on a laptop is laughable. I wrote much of my book while flying, working on the code samples and text on the plane until the batteries died. Practically every presentation I've given has been similarly edited, either on the ground or while flying.

Certainly, a laptop is never going to be as good as a workstation; you might get close with CPU and memory, but the I/O subsystem in a laptop is going to be lacking. Depending on what kind of work you do, that might not matter. It's also going to depend on your work and preferences to decide if you can justify the cost of a desktop-replacement laptop compared to a real workstation with a similar (or faster!) configuration.

The fastest ThinkPads and Macbook Pro computers can be fast enough for some kinds of development work.
 

ann0yanc3

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I exclusively develop on a MacBook Pro (2.53ghz core2, 4gb ram), mainly due to its portability and I would never buy a desktop Mac. However, I always hook up to an external monitor, keyboard and mouse, unless I'm on a plane.

The only gripe I have is the HDD speed, but once I put an SSD in it, it'll fly.
 

FreiDOg

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Why would you use a laptop in the first place?

Laptops have inferior keyboards, you have to hook up a keyboard and mouse to get any real work done anyway.

It's pretty easy to hook up a mouse, keyboard and secondary monitory.
It's a lot more difficult to carry your desktop around from meeting to meeting.

If you can get away with using just a desktop, its at the very least much cheaper than a comparable laptop. But a lot of us simply can't do that.


For me, I got to upgrade my laptop last fall. Went from a pretty much unusable P4M that was a good 5 years old to a maxed out Studio 15, and added a 24 inch secondary monitor. I'm sure in a few years it'll be a dog again, but for now I haven't a single complaint about it.
 

yariman

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I do use my desktop for development but when im out of the house (quite often) Id like to develop on a laptop. I dont like buying laptops for new and rather go 2nd hand. But how old can i go? If the laptop is too old then before you know it ill be looking to buy another and add the cost of the two togehter and it turns out uneconomical.

Im just developing in ruby and ruby on rails. Its not intensive like direct x programming but having 200 unit test run in a fraction of a second rahter that 2 or 3 is the difference between getting on with coding or gettinig distracted on delicious.com
 

amromousa

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Macbook Pro (late 2k8 unibody) for coding exclusively. I use my desktop to check email and play an occasional game. It's aging well. I did put in a decent SSD to help w/ build times (and it did help by about 15-25% depending on the build script I run). I don't plan on upgrading until next year or the year after.
 
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Mine is old enough to take a really long time to compile fairly small projects. Though I am still using Borland C++ Builder 6, :\
 

odoe

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I'll probably pick up a mbp later this year as I do stuff all weekend long and don't like being held up in my office all day.
It will be nice to have for downstairs while kids are playing and stuff
Posted via [H] Mobile Device
 

PTNL

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I've used an IBM T42p for about 5 years, and it was about 2-3 years old when I picked it up. Been working very well after upgrading to 2GB RAM. I've used it for mostly Visual Studio programming projects of various sizes, and performance has been great.

When I'm at my desk I will attach it to a larger monitor and full keyboard/mouse, but it's been comfortable using its own keyboard and touchpad when I'm at home or offsite.


Edit: Laptop specs
P4 1.6GHz (Centrino)
2GB PC3200
80 GB 7200rpm hard drive (not sure of vendor)
15-16 inch screen @ 1600x1200
Gb NIC
Battery life is about 30-60 minutes, but it is ~8 years old.
 
Last edited:

PrincessFrosty

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Ugh, I can't code on a laptop, the main reason is the screen and overall speed of the system.

I use a 24" 1920x1200 Dell monitor at work, and I have a 30" 2560x1600 Dell at home, coding on large screens is so much nicer to work with, I can have a very large amount of screen space set aside for Visual Web Developer and still have my website open on the same screen as well as other windows/tools.

Speed is also important, I have a habit of frequently testing my code in small steps to make sure what I've done is working as expeted so I want the VWD to launch the test site quickly and load the page so I can see what's happening then get back to my code as fast as possible.

I'd go with a fast desktop with a large screen and comfy keyboard, then a cheap laptop for doing presentations on.
 

Blazestorm

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Ugh, I can't code on a laptop, the main reason is the screen and overall speed of the system.

I use a 24" 1920x1200 Dell monitor at work, and I have a 30" 2560x1600 Dell at home, coding on large screens is so much nicer to work with, I can have a very large amount of screen space set aside for Visual Web Developer and still have my website open on the same screen as well as other windows/tools.

Speed is also important, I have a habit of frequently testing my code in small steps to make sure what I've done is working as expeted so I want the VWD to launch the test site quickly and load the page so I can see what's happening then get back to my code as fast as possible.

I'd go with a fast desktop with a large screen and comfy keyboard, then a cheap laptop for doing presentations on.

Well that's why I stuck a 1920 x 1200 screen in my Lenovo T500... actually higher resolution than my desktop which is a 1080p screen (waiting for 2 more for eyefinity / programming :D )

But yea, I was against laptop for programming but going back and forth from school and trying to work on school computers was always a pain. They're fairly old desktops, this laptop is faster.

And thinkpads have fairly good keyboards it's not as much of an issue to type on for longer periods. With the 9-cell battery and turning down the brightness I get 6-8 hours of battery life depending on what I'm doing, there's usually outlets where you work so you can plug in if you need to, but I usually don't bother because I'm not there long enough to need it. Plus it does have an ATI 3650 which runs Source games fine at lower resolutions and most other 3D games like it.

I think it all depends on your situation, in mine it made more sense to just have a decent business-class laptop than to try to work between 2 desktops (school and personal). I have it setup now so I can program on both the desktop or the laptop and use SVN to keep the files the same.
 

Crash250f

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1920x1200 packed into a 17" screen just isn't the same as 1920x1200 on a 24" screen. That said, if I had the extra cash I'd spend it in an instant for a nice laptop I could take to school.
 

Blazestorm

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It's actually a 15.4" screen...

But I agree, it's not the same, but I still am able to have a webbrowser up on on one side and my editor on the other side for programming (usually for assignments / research while programming).

It's handy.. I like using portrait mode for reading text though, so having 3 1080p screens in portrait will let me fit a lot of stuff for editing.

And the T500 was pretty cheap ~$700 after cashback and then I bought the screen off ebay for $50 and fit it in, kept my old screen for warranty purposes if I really need it but it was a fairly easy swap.
 

Banko

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I use a Dell laptop to do all my coding however when I am in my office it is docked and hooked up to two monitors, keyboard and mouse but I do go on-site a lot which it makes it really easy to debug. However when I am programming on the laptop with no monitor and keyboard yes it does suck.
 
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I have a MBP 13" from 12-08 that still runs strong. I'm looking at upgrading from DDR3 2GB to DDR3 4GB soon though, just so I can speed things up a little. It's stock except for a 320GB hard drive. I also run Windows 7 on it. When I'm in my dorm room I've got it hooked up to a 24" monitor and keyboard and mouse. At home I keep it plugged into a 19" monitor with keyboard and mouse. It however isn't too bad coding on just the laptop, but I'd never give up my 24" monitor.
 

noobman

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I have a 14.1" screen on my Dell Latitude E6400 (I think that's the model).

I can use vi or some other simple editor in Linux without a problem, but I struggle to use VS2008 or even Eclipse.

If I need to use an IDE, I always code on my desktop... or at the minimum connect my laptop to my 24" monitor.
 

NickTheNut

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I haven't had an actual workstation for probably 4 years. I do all my work on a Dell 710m. It has an 12" monitor.

I have apache + mysql installed on it. I have photoshop, dreamweaver, among others. I've even done video editing on this machine. It's not much, but it gets the job done.

The resolution on it is high enough that I don't suffer too much from the small screen. From time to time it definitely causes a problem, but not often.
 

mikeblas

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If you had kept typing, NickTheNut, you could have said even less.
 

elektronisch

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I used to do all my development on my laptop. Was just much easier at the time because I was constantly traveling. I guess it is just personal preference, but I loved my lenovo thinkpad. Comfortable, good size keyboard, and could handle all the compiling jobs I threw at it.
 
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