(Disclaimer: The below inferences and suggestions are entirely based on my 2-year stint as a programmer and my never-ending love for gadgets)
Since work-from-home has become the new normal, most of you would be contemplating an upgrade to a better laptop for work as well as home needs. Let’s go through all the factors that make a good laptop.
- Minimum: i5 7th Gen Dual-Core (old is still gold)
- Ideal: i5 10th Gen Quad-Core (latest and the best)
Anything above the ideal configuration does not exhibit a marked difference during normal tasks. (PS: I am still confused about the whole AMD range of processors, so wisely not including them here)
- Minimum: 8GB DDR4
- Ideal: 8GB DDR4
16 GB would definitely be a big plus but is not normally required for daily tasks.
Do not go for HDD. I repeat, do not go for HDD. (This entire post was devised to emphasise this point)
- Minimum/Ideal: 256 GB SSD
Take my word for this, A 256 GB SSD will give you a lot more peace of mind than a 1 TB HDD. If you need more storage, get an external hard disk.
SSD is about 4X faster than an HDD and the effect can be felt very clearly in your tasks. Side note: SSD costs more.
If you are planning on getting a laptop instead of a workstation, you must be at least a bit concerned about the portability. (Who wouldn’t love to work in the balcony for a change 😉)
- Ideal: 1.5kg
Get a laptop that weighs less than 1.5kg. You’ll thank me later.
- There are 13, 15 and 17-inch options and its entirely your personal preference.
- Personal preference
Keep in mind that as the screen size increases, the weight of the laptop also increases considerably and the battery backup nosedives. As for touch screens, be prepared to lose a few hours of battery backup.
Ideally, a 13-inch laptop will give you an ideal balance between portability and power.
- Depends on the applications you use.
Protip: most of the normal programming tasks can be done with Intel Integrated Graphics. Choose a dedicated graphics card only if you have to run graphics-intensive applications.
This is probably the most contentious issue. In my opinion, use
- Linux: For programmers who really mean business (or want to show-off)
- Windows: Good enough for most of the users. You just have to bear with the occasional bugs.
- macOS: Essentially a pricier and smoother version of Linux.
Additional factors to note:
- A good, ‘clicky’ keyboard is essential. This is important people, don’t buy older Macs with butterfly keyboards. They were the worst.
- The larger the trackpad, the easier your life will be.
- Type-C port is a nice addition (future-proofing).
- An HD (720p) camera is the least you could do for your manager’s sake. Do not scare him away with a pixelated face of yours. As of now, the only laptop with a 1080p camera is the Surface Book 3, which starts at $1600, a blasphemy, if ever there was one.
- A battery backup of at least 6 hours. After all, the word ‘portable’ must mean something.
Keeping all these factors in mind, which laptop should you get?
If you are willing to shell out some money,
- The Macbook Pro 13 (2020) starts at $1300
- The New Dell XPS 13 starts at $999
If you are looking for a more budget-friendly option
- The Lenovo Yoga series offers some pretty nice 360° action
- The HP Envy lineup has a few good laptops that give value for your money. (I can personally vouch for these, as I own one)
- Lenovo Ideapad line-up has some good options.
Consider your next laptop as an investment, not an expense.
PS: That quote is copyright owned by Vishnu Prasad aka ME.