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I have three days to get a new laptop that can run Visual Studio 2010.

Normally I have two instances open, an instance of SQL Management studio, IIS and a few web browsers.

What are the specs I should look at targeting?

I haven't bought a laptop in over 5 years, so I'm way out of touch with where they are at as far as specs go.


ps. Budget isn't a huge concern, but I'm trying to keep it reasonable.

pps. I am used to running on a blade with dual Intel Xeon 3.00GHz processors and 8GB RAM, so I prefer a responsive system.

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migrated from Nov 17 '11 at 16:27

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

closed as not constructive by sblair, slhck, Sathya Nov 17 '11 at 18:34

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...ah yes, close votes start rolling in without comments. lovely. – CaffGeek Nov 17 '11 at 16:24
Get lots of memory, a decent quad core CPU and an SSD that is large enough for both OS + your projects / code. – driis Nov 17 '11 at 16:25
I'm gonna guess the close votes are for "Off Topic".. – Mike Christensen Nov 17 '11 at 16:26
PS, I would guess the close votes migrates to, since this isn't really a programming question (as defined by the site). – driis Nov 17 '11 at 16:26
@driis, yes, that makes sense... I had seen other hardware questions on SO, however they were all a few years old it didn't click that there was probably a different site this should have been asked on. That's the one downside to the SE don't always know where a question is considered on topic as it can change when a new site pops up. I thought SuperUser was more for general application questions, not hardware (specifically related to running a tool for a programmers job), apparently I was mistaken. And perhaps they should have the close and migrate button separated? – CaffGeek Nov 17 '11 at 16:32

Get lots of memory, a decent quad core CPU and an SSD that is large enough for both OS + your projects / code. 160 GB SSD minimum would be my recommendation, and get a good, high quality one. An SSD is the best investment you will ever make when buying or upgrading a laptop.

If you are going to use the laptop on-the-go, go for a long battery lifetime and a good high-res screen. If this is going to be docked most days with external monitors, that is not so important.

You probably don't need an optical drive anyways, so perhaps you would want a large HDD instead for things like backups, VMs, etc, that won't fit on the SSD that you really, really want.

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Good ideas. Very true that I don't really need an optical drive. Never thought of it but, I hardly ever use it anymore. USB drives get way more use. – CaffGeek Nov 17 '11 at 16:36
I'd counter the SSD advice with the fact that SSDs have significantly lower life expectancies. So long as you keep everything backed up very regularly and keep in mind that SSD won't last so long as the reliable old-school HDD, it should be OK. But you should at least take the reliability into consideration and keep it in mind. – music2myear Nov 17 '11 at 16:39
@music2myear, yes, reliability is a valid concern. It is getting better though (and it is also why I would recommend a high quality one - I have a 1½ year old Intel SSD in my laptop that still performs flawlessly). As always, make sure data is backed up and is easy to restore. – driis Nov 17 '11 at 16:41
If you think you'll have this laptop for a long time, consider USB 3. – jftuga Nov 17 '11 at 16:51
@music2myear: I'd counter the SSD lower life expectancies as being [outdated]( tl:dr version is if you made 20GB worth of writes to a Corsair SSD (Sandforce), it would take 33 years to die. Plus Tom's Hardware has an article that SSD reliability aren't any higher or lower than mechanical harddrives. The longitudinal data is just too low to make a sound arguement for SSD reliability (non-write endurance) vs mechancial harddrives. – surfasb Nov 17 '11 at 18:06

I'm going to buck the trend and go against a Quad core i7. I'd put my money on a fast harddrive or SSD and even an always on internet connection. Plus an i7 is heavy on the battery life. Might as well rdp into a more affordable workstation if you need that much CPU for builds.

Web developement isn't particularly CPU heavy as it doesn't require long build times. Aftermarket RAM is a cheap upgrade.

Disk access seems to be the bottleneck with web devs. They tend to start and close a lot of programs at a time along with trying to debug more than one process at a time. Also, if your development is heavy with the databases, database versioning is disk intensive and that would again make the CPU a less than favorable upgrade. The extra $100 by going with an i7 would be better spent on the biggest bottleneck, which from what my perfmon observations point to is disk access.

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I have a desktop, this isn't my primary dev machine, but I'm not always at my desk. – CaffGeek Nov 17 '11 at 18:42
In that case, the scope just broadens as it is no longer a primary dev machine, but it is now a portable convenience. I'd suggest you narrow your specifications. – surfasb Nov 17 '11 at 19:17
the machine is used for development. That's it's only purpose. It's the primary dev machine when I'm not at a desktop. I'm saying that getting a workstation isn't an option here, as the purpose is to be able to develop away from one. – CaffGeek Nov 17 '11 at 19:49

As suggested by @driis... RAM and a good Quad core i7 or similar. SSD is nice but we use a standard 7200RPM drive and a second 7200RPM drive in a media bay adapter. Some vendors offer this as an option, some are third party devices. We use thenm on Dell Latitude and Lenovo T Series. Some user have one for backup and a second to run VMs as needed. The adapters run about US50.00 from these folks. Service from them has been great Very fast shipment Media Bay Adapters

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