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Tomorrow I'm going to purchase a laptop, as a part of my research today I decided to go for Intel's i3/i5/i7 processors and RAM 4GB decided. I'm puzzled with the processor selection. Simply because of lack of knowledge and exposure to clock speed and other terminology, basically I'm a programmer.I see laptops with same processor with different prizes, when compared found cache, clock speeds etc. Also same intel processor but different generations, I think we must choose latest generation, correct me if I'm wrong here.

My usage includes two operating systems, any linux distribution & windows7 OS.Developing applications using Java & Eclipse IDE(I don't know how much memory they eatup).

I have a notion that a system performance is purely based on processor and RAM. So should i choose a processor with more clock speed and more cache for better performance ?. What are the key areas that I should focus on while purchasing a laptop for better performance. Any concise specs could enlighten my thoughts.

Looking for some suggestions and please share your views.

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closed as not constructive by soandos, Journeyman Geek, Canadian Luke, 8088, Sathya Aug 10 '12 at 7:41

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

"I have a notion that a system performance is purely based on processor and RAM" -> there's also front side bus and other bus speeds that matter a lot, since they connect everything together – stijn Aug 10 '12 at 6:57
drop by Super User chat to discuss these questions; such questions aren't good fit for Q&A model. – Sathya Aug 10 '12 at 7:44
Higher number are almost always better. The intel i-series processors are split into 3 classes: i3 are the budget class, i5 are the midrange class and i7 are the performance class. Within each class higher clocks and cache will be faster but there may be overlap in that the high end of one class may well be faster than the low end of a higher class. As it stands this is essentially a shopping/recommendation question which is off-topic on main Stackexchange sites, though as Sathya says people are more than happy to help in chat. – Mokubai Aug 10 '12 at 7:44
up vote 1 down vote accepted

For developers, we have typically provided the highest-end machines that we could afford. However, I assume you're asking because of cost constraints, so I'll respond with that in mind.

As far as I know, all i3 processors out on the market right now are dual-core. In most cases i5 and i7 will be quad-core. This will be your biggest contrast between the three product lines and, for development work, I think this clearly removes i3 as a candidate. The primary differences between Core i5 and Core i7 are, as you said, processor cache and clock speed. For very processor-intensive tasks, the i7 will definitely give you a leg up.

So, if you are on a budget, I would suggest that you examine your specific use-case to determine how to purchase:

  • If you'll be developing math-intensive applications, get the i7.
  • If you'll be developing IO-intensive applications, get the i5 and purchase a SSD hard drive.
  • If you'll be developing memory-intensive applications, get the i5 and upgrade to 8GB RAM.

I use a Core i5 laptop with 8GB of RAM, and it is a good performer, especially for the price (I paid just over $500US). I do some programming but more of my time is spent on video processing and sys-admin tasks. I've found this hardware combination to be a good fit for me.

Since you'll be dual-booting Linux/Windows, I would say the next thing to look at would be driver support and BIOS. Use caution if your new computer uses UEFI firmware for the BIOS. Dual-boot can be difficult to configure in these cases.

A list of manufacturers/product-lines that historically have good Linux driver support:

  • Lenovo ThinkPad
  • Apple MacBook (yes, I know)
  • some Dell laptops

For laptops that come preconfigured with Linux, you could purchase directly from one of these sellers:

If you're unconcerned with 3D graphics (will you do gaming on this laptop too?), go with an Intel Graphics chipset. It works seemlessly with most Linux distributions, and sometimes the newest graphics hardware from ATI and nVidia. If you want, you can google the graphics hardware for Linux compatibility before purchasing.

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