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I would like to buy a laptop to install Visual Studio Professional Edition on it. I have a friend who has got a laptop with Vista Home Premium 32-bit with 2 GB RAM but he said that Visual Studio is quite slow sometimes when he is moving between pages and when he is opening the program as well.

For those who have installed Visual Studio on their machines, could you recommened me some features that will make working with Visual Studio quick and enjoyable :)?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Nov 21 '10 at 4:28

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

You might consider asking this question on SuperUser.com, as it isn't directly programming related. You might find better responses there. –  Brad Nov 21 '10 at 3:58
I think developers are the most appropriate people to answer this question. Computer enthusiasts might know what makes a good computer, but developers know first hand what hardware can make VS hum. I don't understand the down votes myself. –  Dave White Nov 21 '10 at 4:13
I agree with Dave White. This may not be strictly programming-related, but programmers are a far better bunch to ask about computer hardware for that purpose than general computer experts (read: gamers). +1 from me. –  Cody Gray Nov 21 '10 at 4:26

2 Answers 2

There are several things that can impact Visual Studios performance, I'll list them in order of how I feel they should be addressed.

  1. Ram - Don't cheap out. 4GB is pretty cheap now a days and will improve your development (and overall) experience. Get 8GB if you can. A developer's machine rarely runs only Visual Studio (SQL Server, MongoDB, IIS, Personal Oracle, MySQL, etc etc)
  2. Hard Drive - Get the fastest HDD you can in your laptop. Visual Studio does a lot of writing to disk and a fast HDD can really help with all that disk I/O. (SSDs are coming down in price and are really fast!)
  3. CPU - Get a nice i5 and up. I believe there are aspects of VS 2010 that are multi-threaded so I'd make sure it's dual core minimally. This will also help if you are running other things (DBs, IIS, etc) while developing.
  4. GPU - VS 2010 is (at least partially) a WPF application that benefits from hardware acceleration.

I'd address these from 1-4 until I run out of budget in your laptop. If you can afford all 4, you'll have no problems running VS 2010. :)

That's my two cents.

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These 2 cents need a large budget. –  harrymc Nov 21 '10 at 9:58

The MacBook/MacBook Pro's killer feature (aside from the design and other minor touches) is its ability to run OS X and Windows at the same time. If you're a web designer, you might find that even more useful than the average developer.

Otherwise, you'll want to consider the following:

  • Lots and lots of RAM. There's hardly such a thing as too much (although if you have more than 4 GB, you'll want to run a 64-bit version of Windows). 4 GB is the absolute minimum for development nowadays.

  • The fastest hard drive [your] money can buy (note I didn't necessary say the biggest). Preferably an SSD, but you need to at least get a 7200 rpm drive. Ignore anything that doesn't let you upgrade from the standard, low-end notebook speed of 4200 or 5400 rpm.

  • A CPU with multiple cores is nice, and the Intel Core i5s and i7s have some nice power management features for notebooks, but you don't necessarily need the best processor money can buy. The raw speed of the CPU is less important than you might think. Most compiles, and certainly most software suites, are not particularly CPU-intensive. Opt for a nice, middle-of-the road CPU, speed-wise, from a quality processor family.

  • A large screen is very nice to be able to see more things at a time. I'm so spoiled with dual and triple monitor setups that using my notebook away from a desk is almost torture. Unless you need hypermobility, don't get anything less than a 15" screen. 17" is very nice, but starts approaching the "too big for a notebook" category. Do yourself a favor and keep a second monitor on your desk to plug into when you get home.

  • If at all possible, test out the keyboard before settling on a unit. It may be that I'm picker than most, but there are far too many notebook keyboards that I just can't stand to type on. But even if you're not as picky as I am, you're going to be spending a lot of time typing on this computer: you need something that you're fast, comfortable, and efficient with. (For me, this is a MacBook or ThinkPad.) Be very cautious of small, netbook-sized keyboards, especially those missing "uncommon" keys that aren't so "uncommon" for us developers.

  • Battery life is entirely up to you. If you spend most of your time mobile, you want a solid, long-lasting battery. Otherwise, it's not all that important.

Generally, brands are irrelevant: buy for features and price. People probably have opinions on this, but they're based more on experience than objectivity.

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