Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Laptop for Development?

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
Share
June 20, 2011 5:04:41 PM

I am still a undergraduate in programming career (and game development hobbyist). I am looking for a laptop that is capable of handling software development and probably (in the future) game development. I need a laptop for mobility, because I need to travel back and forth between my home and university (occasionally spending most of my daytime in university). From my search around in internet, I think software and game development rely on RAM memory and cpu power but not gpu.

My Budget - around $1200

I'm still deciding on whether getting rather a "just-enough" performance laptop and probably get a desktop or workstation in future, or just get a super-powered laptop.

I want a laptop fully for development purpose, so I don't want to spend extra money on gaming parts or gpu. However, if possible, large resolution (WUXGA?) would be great =D.

More about : laptop development

a b D Laptop
June 20, 2011 8:46:37 PM

Hello,

well a significant option to consider is to get a small mobile laptop or even netbook to take with you to school. You'll be able to write code on it, but you probably won't be able to do graphics design or significant simulations. But it will be mobile and will have good battery life. at the same time at home you could get a good desktop that would be able to accommodate all of your heavy computing/multimedia and maybe even some light gaming needs. So a small laptop will run you about $300-400 and a good desktop will be around $800.

alternatively you can go with a 15-17" laptop, with about 8Gb of ram and an i5-i7 CPU. As you said you don't need a needlessly powerful GPU, so there are options out there for about $1k and slightly lower.

so whichever one you want is your choice/preference, there are advantages and disadvantages to both options, so that I feel is the first major point you need to decide on. After that we can give you more specific advice.

(if you go with the 2nd option, look at Asus, Toshiba, Lenovo, Sony, HP, Dell laptops on whether you like the casing design/look so you have an approximate feel for the models out there. As I mentioned before have a look at i5-i7 CPU, at least 8Gb Ram just to be sure, you could also get more and either an intel graphics or some low/mid range dedicated like nVidia GT5xx series or ATI Mobility Radeon 5000/6000 series in x2xx or x3xx range.
m
0
l
Related resources
a b D Laptop
June 23, 2011 9:35:41 PM

that's a great laptop, semi-gaming is possible, but for development I would expand the Ram to 8Gb.
m
0
l
June 23, 2011 10:04:52 PM

AntiZig said:
that's a great laptop, semi-gaming is possible, but for development I would expand the Ram to 8Gb.


That's the beauty of this particular model -- it can be easily upgraded to 16GB (4 slots, each capable of 4GB). For $70, you could add two 4GB sticks and be up to 12 GB.
m
0
l
a b D Laptop
June 24, 2011 12:37:42 PM

any model with that motherboard has the beauty of upgrading to 16... nothing to do with asus model.

but that's not exactly what I was getting at, I think if the OP chooses to get this model you recommended I would also recommend he upgrade the RAM on his own to at least 8gb, since he plans to be doing development on this machine.
m
0
l
June 24, 2011 1:19:41 PM

AntiZig,
I hear ya. Good point. I get by with 4GB on one of my dev workstations (but I tend not to run the local SQL Server, to keep more memory freed up for Visual Studio and debugging of services), but my other with 8 GB is much snappier.

Do you know of any other models using the same or similar 16 GB-capable motherboard -- in particular paired with an Optimus-compatible GPU?

I ask because that's exactly what I'm looking for for my use as a development workstation as well (hence the post I linked, above -- feel free to reply on that thread, if you don't want to pollute this one), and there seem to be very few models available with 4 memory slots.

Thanks!
m
0
l
a b D Laptop
June 24, 2011 6:33:32 PM

as far as I know any Intel Mobile HM65 or HM67 chipsets have the option for 4 sticks of ram.
m
0
l
June 24, 2011 7:21:39 PM

AntiZig said:
as far as I know any Intel Mobile HM65 or HM67 chipsets have the option for 4 sticks of ram.


Yeah, the chipsets support it, but almost no laptop motherboards are built with the extra two memory slots.

That's my only hang-up is that I'd rather buy this ASUS because it was the best fit for my intended usage, not because it was the only one I could find with the matching specs.
m
0
l
a b D Laptop
June 24, 2011 11:05:00 PM

? :confused: motherboards are built with no ram, ram gets plugged in when the system is put toghether...

so I think what you're saying is that you weren't able to find a preconfigured laptop model that comes with maxed out ram (which currently is either 16 or 32). and that's understandable, but that's exactly where custom builder boutiques (like xoticpc) come into play.
m
0
l
June 25, 2011 3:52:30 AM

AntiZig said:
? :confused: motherboards are built with no ram, ram gets plugged in when the system is put toghether...

so I think what you're saying is that you weren't able to find a preconfigured laptop model that comes with maxed out ram (which currently is either 16 or 32). and that's understandable, but that's exactly where custom builder boutiques (like xoticpc) come into play.


No, what I'm saying is that the vast majority of laptops only have the sockets on the board to add two sticks of ram. It's very rare to find one that's actually got all 4 sockets on the board.

Do some searches, you'll see what I mean.

For instance, go to a site like NewEgg.com, a site carrying 74 models of 2nd gen i3, i5, or i7 CPUs, using the HM65 or HM67 chipset, with a 15"-class screen, and you're looking at 4 (out of the 74) that actually have 4 slots on the board (only one MSI configuration comes with more than 8 GB installed, but we're talking about capacity -- only 4 out of the 74 have the physical slots present to install 4 sticks of memory).

Then if you take away the ones with more gamer-oriented GPUs (560M/460M/etc. -- cost more, and shorten battery life), and lower-res (not 1080p) screen, and you're down to just the ASUS N53SV... I'm guessing that the ASUS is probably a Clevo-based system, and there are other vendors (Sager, XoticPC, CyberPowerPC, etc...) that carry similar builds, but not very many options...
m
0
l
a b D Laptop
June 25, 2011 5:52:00 PM

asus is not clevo based that's for sure. I've looked into this question a lot recently trying to pick out my next laptop and asus gets their cases from some ODM other than clevo.
m
0
l
June 27, 2011 10:15:21 PM

Biloon,
As a software developer myself, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a better solution than the Asus I mentioned above (link newegg.com). The quad-core w/8-threads and the ability to run 16GB of RAM, and a mid-range GPU that disables itself when not in use (nVidia Optimus) to save battery life and keep temps down all contribute to meeting your current needs, and can expand a bit beyond your stated needs if needed.

Even without knowing specifics about what you'll be doing (Which host OS, which development technologies, etc...), I feel confident that you'll be able to get it done with that machine.

As AntiZig mentioned, spend some money to upgrade the RAM, you'll be glad you did, and even if you spend $70 to buy two more 4GB sticks (putting you at 12 GB usable), you'll be under your $1,200 budget.

If you wind-up doing much work with virtual machines, you'll definitely appreciate the extra headroom. If you primarily use windows as your OS, you can easily setup Linux instances in the free VMWare Player, and use them when there's a need (or go the otherway, uses Linux as your host OS, and virtualize a Windows 7 workstation if you ever need one). I use VMWare a lot to virtualize client environments when consulting and experimenting.

Since it doesn't fit within your current budget, I would save-up for an SSD (keep that spare $130 from your current budget, and put a hundred more (or more) with it and get yourself at least a 128 GB, potentially larger, SSD. That will address your next biggest bottleneck, in terms of performance on large projects (especially distributed projects that are running between the host OS and one or more services running in virtualized servers running on the same laptop), is Disk IO. I use a 128 GB SSD in my current dev workstation (laptop), along with a 500GB 7200RPM drive in the optical bay, and would never go back to a standard hard-drive for hosting my OS, SQL Server DBs, and source code. It makes builds of large projects many times faster, and database queries many times faster as well, and makes virtual machines feel like dedicated hardware.

Good luck.
m
0
l
!