Recommended Laptop Sepcs for a Heavy Developer User

Posted on 2012-12-26
Last Modified: 2013-02-04
Hi Experts,

I am a developer who uses different types of programming languages VS.NET etc.., for windows and web development, SQL Server and sometimes Oracle for databases, and Flash etc... In addition to using some graphic design tools such as Photoshop and Illustrator.

What is the best recommended specs for a laptop to handle all of that? In the past, I faced performance issues, and I heard that I should be considering the highest L2 Cache possible to solve my issue, which was at that time 6MB and actually solved my performance issue with loading lots of apps.

I used to find all the high specs I need with HP laptops, but had concerns on HP's quality. Today, I have received a laptop specs from Lenovo with L3 Cache of 6MB. I do not honestly know what is L3 Cache, but I can tell that if I've been dealing with L2 Cache of 6MB in 2008 then L3 should be higher in 2012!

Please correct me if I'm wrong, and let me know what do you think of the below specs:

P# N1BBAAD ThinkPad T530 Series
Intel® Core i5-3720M Pro 2.60GHz (6MB Cache L3, 3.6Ghz)
Memory: 8GB(2x4GB) RAM DDR3 PC3-12800 1600MHz, Hard Disk: 1TBGB SATA HDD 7200rpm 6Gbps,
Battery: 9Cell 94WHrBattery High Capacity
Display: 15.6” FHD (1920 x 1080) (95% Gamut) (270 NITS)
Graphics: NVIDIA N13P-NS1 1GB Optimus
Others: DVD-Multi Burner DL+- Ready Modem, Wi-Fi, Cam, 6205ABGN, WWAN Capable, BT, FPR, Express Card
MS Windows 7 Professional 64bit with Windows 8 Pro Kit
Question by:feesu
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LVL 10

Accepted Solution

JEaston earned 84 total points
ID: 38721044
I can't say I'm an exprt in computer cache's, but as I understand it a computer with a Level 3 cache will also have a Level 1 and Level 2 cache.  Also size of a cache isn't everything. A hue cache could be slower as it requires longer lookup times etc.  Have a look at Wiki if your interest in more detail.

Are you planning running a web server and SQL server on this laptop to develop from or will you be accessing these remotely.  If you plan on running server software - particularly the likes of Ms SQL the higher he spec the better.

Likewise image editing software is usually the bigger the better.  It all boils down to the minimum system requirements of the software you will use and how patient you are.

If it was my I would look for a higher spec as I like computers to be as quick as possible within my budget.  I think if you are going to be a heavy users you should look at the i7 processors, particularly the quad core varietys.  The rest of the spec seems reasonable to me, although more RAM never hurts 8GB is what I currently use.

The last thing I would say with a laptop is the higher the spec can often result is very warm laptops.  If your working on a desk this isn't much of an issue, but if you will sit with it on your lap I can get quite hot after a while!

Author Comment

ID: 38721076
I am going to use it for developing locally (web server, database, and interface on the laptop). Migration to live server will be later.
This is 8GB RAM so you think it is fine, and the only thing is that if I can get it an I7 instead of I5?
LVL 94

Assisted Solution

by:John Hurst
John Hurst earned 167 total points
ID: 38721079
I have a Thinkpad T61p which is getting old, but runs Window 7 Pro 64-bit, has a 500 Gb 7200-rpm hard drive, and has 8 Gb of memory. It runs whatever I want.

So then in terms of the machine above (I am looking at it on the Lenovo website):

1. Get an i7 CPU (upgrade from base).
2. The 1 Tb hard drive is 5400-rpm. Get the 500 Gb 7200-rpm drive. A faster hard drive makes a difference.
3. Consider an SSD drive for the operating system and applications and a large hard drive in the bay for data. This will be faster again.
4. I use a 9-cell battery and that works fine.

.... Thinkpads_User
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LVL 25

Assisted Solution

by:Tony Giangreco
Tony Giangreco earned 83 total points
ID: 38721088
I agree with Thinkpads_user, the IBM system will probably provide better service, although I would also consider an i7 or atleast more ram. With technology, we never see anything new require less resouces.

Also consider a quick SSD for the Boot partition and a Sata drive for data.

Hope this helps!
LVL 43

Assisted Solution

Amit earned 83 total points
ID: 38721128
LVL 94

Assisted Solution

by:John Hurst
John Hurst earned 167 total points
ID: 38721153
I keep looking for the smallest machine that can do the most work.

So long as the hard drive is large enough and fast enough, and given lots of ram with a 64-bit operating system, you can get lots done.

I don't develop, but I do run muliple machines simutaneously on my T61. It does not fail me.

Screen size is important as well. You may want a larger screen (T530); I am happy with a smaller screen (T430s). That is likely my next machine.

.... Thinkpads_User
LVL 55

Assisted Solution

by:Jaime Olivares
Jaime Olivares earned 83 total points
ID: 38721909
For development purposes I wouldn't choose anything less than:
Core i7 with 4 processors (8 threads)
8 MB of RAM
A 17" screen (doesn't need an overloaded graphics card)

You are focusing too much on cache instead of having as most processing thread as possible, which is what you need to run your application and database and development tool at the same time.
The 17" screen is a must when you develop and want to run your application and debug it at the same time.
You can have an HP or other major brand with this configuration for about $900 in BestBuy or TigerDirect.

Author Comment

ID: 38760352
Thank you all for your helpfull comments.

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