Buying a laptop for programming comes a little easier than for other purposes especially if you are you an experienced programmer and know exactly what you will be working with. The only problem is even some very experienced programmers fall victim to wrong choices due to tempting spec’s from high-end laptops that may not necessarily be important to his/her programming jobs. A classic example is a programmer going for a laptop with a high-end GPU (Graphical Processing Unit) while sacrificing seemingly unimportant feature like keyboard-lighting. They graphics card may not necessarily be important especially if you not into gaming stuffs. Being faced with different laptops that do not come packed with all the good spec’s you need for programming, the first and most important question is; “what type of programmin are you looking to do?” Certain types of programming require acertain set of hardware and software so that is the first question you need to answer. Then comes the issue of weight, processor, RAM,keyboard layout/lighting etc. Extensively elaborating different programming fields and suitable laptops will quite frankly seem very herculean, but the below listed points should be paramount when shopping for a laptop for whatever reason;
I personally love windows OS, but since this isn’t a game of personal choice, its important to clearly state that either Linux or OSX will also do the job well. The probability of heating bottlenecks when using Windows is high, though loopholes are not absent in Linux or OSX but as per my personal experience, they are relatively low especially in areas of programming it excels in. But again if you have some extra bucks, running the two OS on different laptop is nothing close to a bad idea.
Weight of a programming laptop is very Important. Of course unless you are looking for a laptops to use as a heavy military backpack training kit, you might want to pay attention to portability. Less than 2 kg of weight is ideal. 1-1.5 kg is best. You will definitely move around a lot as a programmer, belive me you definitely will.
Its no more news that lots of laptops give out lots of heat, even the big names are sometimes guilty of these crime. Its there important to go for a laptop that doesn’t give out lots of heat. Sometimes you may what to put the laptop on your laps, but a laptop that constantly overheats is both uncomfortable and a health risk. Being uncomfortable while on the job is a no! no! , because you will definitely need all the comfort you can get to ensure maximum concentration.
Keyboard Layout and Lighting
Keyboards that offer Clean separation of alphanumeric keys, function keys, cursor keys, and numeric keypad are ideal. With a clean separation, Getting your hands into the right position is never a problem. The keyboard should also not be too bulky to avoid a longer displacement of the mouse to the right. But hei! Its laptops we are talking about here, so getting a detached or separate keyboard will do. The keyboard should also importantly have backlighting to easeprogramming during the nnight Any of the below listed can do;
IBM’s model M compact
Microsoft comfort curve 2000
Kinesis advantage pro
The ideal minimum RAM for a programming laptop should be 8gb. 16gb is certainly much better and you could go as high as you wish. The funny thing is that in some scenario even a 1gb laptop would do just fine especially for college programming. All you really need is a good processor speed and viola! you are as good as gone.
A screen resolution of -1600×900 or 1920×1080 pixel is a good idea. Screen size of 12 to 14 inches is a good starter, but personally I go for a 17.3″, reason being when developing with an IDE there are lots of stuffs that needs to be visible at the same time. Having to collapse and enlarge tabs and windows is not really fun during coding, so a big srceen that accomadate lots of stuffs is the best.
Are the laptops specifically made for programming ? The answer is probably NO! After considering the above listed points, any programmer can chose a laptop to program with, so I will refrain from speculated assumptions to avoid imposing unrealistic targets as very few laptops come with all the good spec’s needed.