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Specific Computers for Programmers?

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The best specs depend exactly on what you want to do.
If you want to learn to program the Cell, get a ps3 with linux support.
the psp? get a psp capable of homebrew.
the ps2? same.
the xbox? get the xna development kit.

the pc? get something with the hardware you want to deal with. If you care about graphics programming, get a high end graphics card, otherwise just get something cheap.
Learn about threading? get a dual or quad core.
Learn about networking? mostly doable on one box. but consider getting something super cheap as a second box to test as a server.

There is some evidence that not all SSD drives are good for programming (small file writes aren't optimal), so be careful and make sure you spring for the right drives if you go the SSD route.

Until you really get the hang of what you are doing, there is little chance that you will really push a cheep computer. And if you ARE really pushing it, time to learn about optimizations and algorithms that can help speed things up before jumping the gun and throwing more hardware at it.

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Like KulSeran said, it really depends what you are going to do.

Assuming you are going to do PC development, the general rule is that you want something that meets your target requirements, plus the requirements of the dev tools with some room to spare.

Generally speaking there isn't such a thing as too good of a system, so for amateur development you should really look at how much you want to spend, and work backward from there.

IMO the most essential 'specs' of a good rig are:
Good quality comfortable, durable chair.
Good quality keyboard.
Good quality dual monitors, low glare, preferably identical to reduce eye strain when looking back and forth.
Comfortable desk with plenty of room.

From experience I can tell you that these are more important than the PC tower itself.


For the PC tower...

CPU -- Core 2 Quad is the biggest bang for the buck last I checked. What ever you do, don't buy a CPU with only one core.

RAM -- Never enough ram. I'm running 8GB and I wish I had more.

GFX card -- Find something that is good for the price. Don't worry about the top end, most people won't have that card anyways.

HDD -- Don't bother with SSD, the lower cost ones are slow, and the money required to build a good setup with the expensive ones is better spent elsewhere. Instead, buy a couple 750GB drives and mirror them with RAID 1, which will both give you a faster drive setup and help protect your data against drive failure.

A few months ago I built a home server and spent a couple weeks getting everything setup correctly, then a couple days later it had a drive failure. Thankfully it was running with RAID, so I pulled the drive out, put in a new one, and RMA'd the broken drive. Quick and painless, no data lost. I will never build a machine without a RAID array again, and I would highly advice anyone serious about their data to use one as well.

But again, it all comes down to your budget. You could go find an old 486 at a garage sale and accomplish plenty programming on it :)

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I would suggest some sort of backup solution for your code, like an external source control service. You could also make backups by yourself. RAID only protects against drive failure.

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A Pc with a very good qualety sound card and sound system.
As for the specs it depends on the type of programming you're doing (it has to be a fast Pc), but the 2-3 really big motors (not wide) ,good sound system and lots of Hdd Storage are essential.
also the Pc sould be very quiet so that it woulden't desrupt the music.

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I'd say the best thing is to buy each component individually. Think on each of them how much do you need.
For instance I have laptop with 2GB RAM,Core 2 Duo 2.2GHZ, 120GB HDD, and nvidia 8600GM. I'm perfectly happy with it. I also have a stronger desktop if necessity should strike but in the meanwhile I like to work sitting in bed :P

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Spend your money on the best keyboard you can afford along with a comfortable well lit environment. A large bookshelf is essential.

As for the computer itself, RAM and good quality monitors are probably the most important components.

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If, for example, you have a budget of say 500 for a system and 500 to make it "go", I'd spend the entire second 500 on the fastest pair of HDD's money can buy. Put windows and apps on one, and your dev stuff on the other (don't raid them).

I did this with our works machines and it made a tremendous difference to compile times, batch tool execution, etc.

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Quote:

If, for example, you have a budget of say 500 for a system and 500 to make it "go", I'd spend the entire second 500 on the fastest pair of HDD's money can buy. Put windows and apps on one, and your dev stuff on the other (don't raid them).

I did this with our works machines and it made a tremendous difference to compile times, batch tool execution, etc.


Seconded. We also have setups like that at work. It does make a difference. BUT at that point I also suggest you look into source control, like GIT or Perforce, and keep your code on a more stable drive. We've had more than a few HDD failures at work. (bound to happen, there are lots of computers there and lots of HDDs, most constantly building and rebuilding assets throughout the day as people change things. My home HDDs don't get nearly that amount of throughput, but I still think better safe than sorry.)

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