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I was just going through some all-in-one desktop PCs (Dell Studio One, HP Touch Smart, Lenovo IdeaCenter, etc.) and their specs really look good (4 GB RAM, 2.x GHz Core 2 Duo, etc.)

Are there any disadvantages of such PCs as a developer machine? I mostly do Java (Eclipse + MySQL + Tomcat / JBoss) or .NET (Visual Studio + MsSQL) development.

Edit: One common question I could see is harddrive size and that's around 320 GB 7200 RPM.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Three things you need to check:

  • Make sure there's a good user-replacable hard drive
  • Check the maximum supported ram vs what's actually installed
  • Make sure it's a 64-bit OS

Regarding the 2nd item: If you do any virtual machine work, 4GB is the bare minimum and will feel constraining. Since you do both open source and MS-based development, odds are at a bare minimum you'll want to use VM's to manage separate environements for each platform at some point. That means you will want to add ram to that configuration.

On the other hand, if you're sure you won't be using virtual machines, that's more than adequate to run visual studio, and I'd just worry about the hard drive.

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How much RAM would you suggest if I would need to run at least one Ubuntu Linux VM (mostly for Mono testing) using Sun VirtualBox. – user6900 Sep 16 '09 at 21:27
It'll work for one VM with 4GB, but that's the minimum where it will work well. But once you get used to that you'll want to be able to do more. – Joel Coehoorn Sep 17 '09 at 3:52

From the specs you quote they would seem to be capable of running Visual Studio etc. They have enough memory and the dual core processors are virtually required these days.

You don't say how large the hard drives are, or if there's room in the case to add a second drive - that it an important consideration too.

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Nothing in the current machines would stop you from development, but I would make sure that there is the ability to get into the box to do things like upgrade memory, or replace hard drives. With todays systems, almost everything you would need to add can be added via USB so as long as it has at least 4 high speed USB ports, you should be set...and if not you can always add a hub later.

Touch on the desktop is starting to get warm, so you might want to consider a machine that has that capability. Some of the newer development tools (like Embarcadero's RAD Studio 2010) are including full support for these new hardware input devices.

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I'm using an Asus G50VT for my main developer box, and it has the same specs you mentioned above. IMHO, hardware won't be your major issue using those kind of specs. Your main consideration would probably be the OS. Personally, I'd stay away from Media Center, etc. and use a more versatile OS such as Vista, Windows 7, or your favorite flavor of Linux, such as Ubuntu.

My dev box is a powerhouse, and I've had no issues whatsoever with Visual Studio, Eclipse, Netbeans etc. on Vista Ultimate x64.

Hope this helps :)

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First, you'll need to examine the physical accessibility of the hardware for possible updates. Most should provide access to harddrives and RAM similar to removable panels to access the guts of a laptop.

Second, research the availability of drivers. You'll feel constrained if you need to change from the OEM OS and there is bad drivers support for the destination OS.

When its all said and done, developing from an all in one desktop should be identical (except for being a desktop) to developing on a laptop.

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