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staticVoid2

Laptop or PC for development?

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staticVoid2    381

Hi,

 

I was thinking about getting a new PC for developing some Linux based applications but I'm at two minds as to whether to a get a PC or laptop. My previous experience developing on laptops has been pretty painful to say the least; built in keyboards are generally quite difficult to use and if you don't have an external mouse then it gets extremely tedious :(

 

At the same time I wan't something that is portable and that I can take to work etc.

 

What setup do you have at home? and if you use a laptop are there any tricks to ease the pain of development?

Do you find it easier or more difficult?

 

Cheers.

 

 

 

 

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tstrimp    1798

Laptop. Never going back to desktop after my MacBook Pro. Perfect blend of performance and portability for me.

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slicer4ever    6760

I use laptop 100% of the time.  It's nice to have the flexibility to move around at will.  I can't really suggest any tricks, mostly because i'm just too used to it, that to work at a desktop feels more awkward than anything to be honest.

Edited by slicer4ever

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tstrimp    1798

I used a laptop for several years. When I went back to desktop + 2 large monitors, it was like the world opening back up. Don't think I could ever go back to laptop.

 

If only there were some way to attach said monitors to a laptop! ;)

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JTippetts    12950

I used a laptop for several years. When I went back to desktop + 2 large monitors, it was like the world opening back up. Don't think I could ever go back to laptop.

 

If only there were some way to attach said monitors to a laptop! ;)

That would require buying a new laptop I don't need...

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slicer4ever    6760

 

I used a laptop for several years. When I went back to desktop + 2 large monitors, it was like the world opening back up. Don't think I could ever go back to laptop.

 

If only there were some way to attach said monitors to a laptop! ;)

That would require buying a new laptop I don't need...

most laptops in the last 10 years have had vga out cables=-)

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minibutmany    1998

With the weather warming up, I sometimes wish I could take my computer outside and program on the back porch. If you ever want to may your programming seem less gloomy by going outside, a laptop would be really nice. You can buy a laptop that you can use a dock with(such as Dell Latitude) so that when you need a real mouse and monitor it is all right there, but if you need to move just unplug from the dock.

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Ectara    3097

For the past couple years, I have used only a laptop for development, my beloved T60p. A touchpad is my favorite input device, by far; I rarely take my hands off of the keyboard, but having highly sensitive and precise cursor movement is like an extension of myself. Additionally, the portability is an immense factor. I program in 5 or 6 different places regularly, amongst everything else I do. I can turn idle time into productive time any time I want by changing window focus, rather than waiting to go home. I happily forego external monitors for a built-in one with a decent resolution (my 1400x1050 is the biggest I've had, other than my TV), and fast peripheral devices.

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Talroth    3247

I have a windows 7 system configured with an Intel i5 and 16 gigs of ram as my main work horse, and a macbook Pro as my secondary portable system for lighter work. The macbook is very underpowered for some tasks I need out of a computer, but does well enough for lighter work on the go.

 

Personally I could never stand to have just one system, and so the desktop will continue to receive updates every few years as required. I really don't see the point in paying out the nose for high performance laptops either. They are hot, cost several times that of similar specs in a home built desktop system, and high horsepower systems tend to have crap all for battery life.

 

Unless you normally find yourself on the move most of the time and [i]need[/i] to work anywhere, then I would say focus your funds towards a solid desktop system, and pair it with a low cost laptop. I would [i]Not[/i] suggest apple unless you are planning to work with developing for that platform. The only way I justified the Macbook Pro was because I needed a portable system for photography and astronomy work, and was planning to pick up the cheapest option for a mac that I could to get more experience on the platform. Given that I already have a vastly superior desktop that would be used for anything I needed while sitting at my desk, buying a mac mini [i]and[/i] a 800-900 laptop did not make sense. 

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tstrimp    1798

I have a windows 7 system configured with an Intel i5 and 16 gigs of ram as my main work horse, and a macbook Pro as my secondary portable system for lighter work. The macbook is very underpowered for some tasks I need out of a computer, but does well enough for lighter work on the go.

 

i7 2.6Ghz

16GB RAM

512GB SSD

 

Seems enough to replace a desktop to me. Hardly underpowered except on the GPU front, but even that is more than enough for most purposes.  The battery life is also excellent. But I travel a lot for work and I need to be mobile which justified the cost for me.

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BeanDog    1065

I use a Dell Precision M6700. It will run up to 3 external monitors simultaneously--at work I have two 1920x1200 and one 2560x1440 monitor attached to it, plus its own 1920x1080 screen. You can get a little more maximum horsepower with desktops than laptops, but a laptop i7 with 16GB of RAM is quite good even for very heavy development work. If you have the budget (approximately $2000 for a nice one, $1500 on the cheap, $5000 fully loaded), a mobile workstation from Dell, HP, or Lenovo is the way to go. Just be ready for a heavy brick of a laptop :-)

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Hodgman    51234

My previous experience developing on laptops has been pretty painful to say the least; built in keyboards are generally quite difficult to use and if you don't have an external mouse then it gets extremely tedious
 
At the same time I wan't something that is portable and that I can take to work etc.
 
What setup do you have at home? and if you use a laptop are there any tricks to ease the pain of development?
Do you find it easier or more difficult?

My home office desk is below right (desktop), my collaborator's desk is below left (laptop). From a usability point of view, they're both the same. Big main screen, decent keyboard and mouse... The main difference is that he can easily unplug his from the peripherals and take it home if needed wink.png

eewKJCw.jpg

If you get a laptop, just get an external keyboard/mouse/monitor to go with it!

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nutc24ck32    101

Hi! You can try the latest Python S3 from Ekoore to solve your problem choosing between a laptop, tablet or desktop PC. You can choose to install Ubuntu, Android or Windows 8 without worrying whether it will support those operating systems.

 

For more info you can visit my site here -> Ekoore Pyhton S3 Tablet PC Can Boot Ubuntu, Android and Windows 8

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SymLinked    1233

I used a desktop for 10 years and had been trying different laptops:

 

* Acer Ferrari, $1900

* Some Lenovo model, $600

* Some HP model, $700

 

I was so disappointed by the Acer which ran hot so fast, and the other two were a bit slow when compiling and testing games.

 

But I got persuaded to buy a ASUS G74SX and now I'm never going back to a desktop again. It's so fast and never runs hot. The only downside is that it's huge, which I guess is why they call it a desktop replacement. So it's quite bulky to carry around.

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japro    887

I'm also perfectly fine using my laptop for almost anything (with external monitor/keyboard if available... external mouse is implied anyway). Heck I even did quite some coding on my crummy netbook. But then again, peoples tolerances for slightly suboptimal screen sizes/keyboards etc. seem to vary a lot... So I guess you have to know yourself where you are on that scale.

 

Another issue I'd like at least bring your attention to is the GPU situation if you want to use linux on a laptop. When my old laptop died recently I had a really hard time figuring out which laptops with discrete GPU are reasonably usable under linux. The whole switchable graphics trend resulted in linux support once again being all over the place. You can always use the builtin intel IGPs but that has you stuck with open source drivers and OpenGL 3.1 or so at this point. To use the OpenGL 4.2/4.3 capabilites of the discrete GPUs you have to really figure out what is possible with a specific model. From what I gathered with Nvidia Optimus there are two cases. In some cases you can switch to the discrete GPU hard in the bios. Not all laptops allow that though and I found it borderline impossible to find info on which ones do or don't. The alternative is to use the Bumblebee stuff which apparently comes at a significant performance drop (since it pretty much renders on the discrete GPU and then copies over the result to the IGB framebuffer).

As a result I for the first time went for a laptop with an AMD GPU. There I'm now stuck with the discrete GPU when running Linux (at the cost of battery life) but at least i can use the full OpenGL features set supported by the hardware (well the part that isn't buggy in the driver unsure.png ).

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mdwh    1108
I find doing development fine on my Clevo Vortex laptop, which I recently switched to from a laptop. Also I happily code on my Samsung ultra-portable. You do have to pay more than a desktop, but it's worth it to sit on the sofa smile.png And I don't find heat a problem.

I don't think laptop keyboards or touchpads are worse than desktop keyboards or mice, but the problem is it's a lot harder to change if you don't like it. Ideally try out before you buy.

And as someone said for monitors - the same applies to keyboard and mouse, you can easily plug them in if you're using a laptop at a desk, getting the best of both worlds.

The main problem for me is that there isn't a nice compromise between "power" and "portability" - to get a high performance laptop competing with desktops
  • means something big and heavy, with a brick of a power supply (albeit, still more portable than a desktop - I could take my Clevo to work if I wanted), that has poor battery life. Meanwhile, I still love having an ultra-portable laptop when travelling - I barely notice my 10" Samsung, where as 15" laptops (let alone 4Kg 17" ones) feel big and heavy by comparison. And the 8 hour battery life is nice.
  • I'm talking things like decent GPU, 2 hard disks, 17" screen.

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Dynamo_Maestro    769

I prefer desktops or workstations, I generally hate the way the keyboard feels on a laptop or that touch pad crap (if im going to use an external keyboard, mouse and monitor then what is the point of using a laptop tongue.png). Also hardware upgrades aren't as fun on a laptop. Besides if I ever used a laptop at home the cat would just sit on it and try to pull out all the keys

Edited by Dynamo_Maestro

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Talroth    3247

I have a windows 7 system configured with an Intel i5 and 16 gigs of ram as my main work horse, and a macbook Pro as my secondary portable system for lighter work. The macbook is very underpowered for some tasks I need out of a computer, but does well enough for lighter work on the go.

 

i7 2.6Ghz

16GB RAM

512GB SSD

 

Seems enough to replace a desktop to me. Hardly underpowered except on the GPU front, but even that is more than enough for most purposes.  The battery life is also excellent. But I travel a lot for work and I need to be mobile which justified the cost for me.

Yeah, except that isn't the macbook I own. They make more than one model you know... The only one with that option costs about double what I (over) paid for with my 13 inch system. Which I love for portability and does all I can ask for it while I'm in the field. And it costs nearly triple what I paid for my desktop. Price wise the comparison gets better if you include the large calibrated dual screen setup, but then the laptop falls short on display space and quality. The desktop is also two years out of date, so those numbers get a little screwy. 16 gigs is bare minimum for a few of my projects. Without it disk thrashing stretches what is a weekend long computing job out to about three months.

 

If you absolutely [i]Need[/i] the mobility, then you have few options but to go a quality laptop. However you are going to be paying more for less if the system spends 99% of its time sitting on your desk anyway, and isn't really needed to be moved.

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tstrimp    1798

If you absolutely Need the mobility, then you have few options but to go a quality laptop. However you are going to be paying more for less if the system spends 99% of its time sitting on your desk anyway, and isn't really needed to be moved.


Agreed. I commute on a motorcycle 4 days a week and I work out of at least three different locations each week (sometimes three in one day!). The premium was worth it for my use case. I could have saved about $1,000 and went with a Clevo laptop with equivalent SDD, CPU and RAM but a much faster GPU. However I have owned one before and they run much louder / warmer, they have a fraction of the battery life and they weigh literally twice as much when you factor in the massive power supply as well.

That being said, the only reason I need 16GB of RAM is to run Parallels without and hickups, and I would happily switch to one of the new i7 ultrabooks (Asus or Lenovo) if PC laptop manufacturers could come even close to the MacBook trackpad experience. Edited by tstrimple

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benryves    1999
I've never really got on with laptops - they're not really small or light enough to be practically portable (unless you lug them around in a large bag) but they are still small enough to suffer lousy ergonomics (dodgy keyboard and mouse). That's why I prefer to have a desktop as my work machine and use a tablet (effectively throwing away the dead weight of an awful keyboard and mouse) when I need to be mobile.

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Promit    13246
You laptop people are crazy.

I work often on my Macbook Pro, primarily because it's the only Mac I have at hand. Was thinking of buying a Mac Pro once it's refreshed, but that plan's not going well. There are two classes of problems with working on a laptop:
* Ergonomics issues
* Technical spec issues

Ergonomics: The key here is to have separate keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Unfortunately my older MBP only supports a single external screen; I guess the newer Thunderbolt ports can chain/multiplex. Whether this is a problem depends on the individual I guess, but I like having three screens. There's a lingering problem that OSX's multimon handling is moronic, but c'est la vie.
Tech specs: Macbook GPUs suck. Other laptops offer GPUs that suck less, but they still suck. We're running machines with a variety of high end GPUs here (7970, GTX 690, GTX Titan, some older ones) and doing high end development. There's simply no laptop in existence that is appropriate for this. My MBP also shipped with 4GB of memory, which is far, far too small. I upgraded to 8 and it's passable. 16GB is reasonably workable, but Apple will charge you dearly for it and I'm not sure if other manufacturers price that fairly or not. The laptop CPUs actually seem fine, and IO performance is fine if you have an SSD. The prices on those have mercifully dropped and 512 GB is easily affordable. Before the SSD thing, 5400rpm drives were a real buzzkill.

In general I prefer to have a powerful desktop and a lightweight ultrabook style laptop, and it will cost you the same or less as one of those ridiculous desktop replacement laptops. Naturally, we just ordered one of those ridiculous desktop replacement laptops at work: an Alienware comfortably north of $3,000. Edited by Promit

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Talroth    3247

I don't find the keyboard on my 13" MBP-9.2 all that bad. The only thing more I really want from it is a proper delete key. A toggle-able thin-film keypad in the lower right beside the track pad would also be sweet, or even just have a toggle on the trackpad itself that turns it into a basic usage keypad. Key repeat doesn't go up as high as I would like, which can make backspace and the arrow keys a little slower to use than I'm accustomed to, but it is close enough to not be a complete deal breaker. The physical key shape and texture is something that I just learned to ignore after awhile.

 

Really looking forward to swapping the super drive for an internal storage device, but of course that is just upping the cost even more for the benefit of working on the go. 

 

I really don't like the retina bodies for removing the optical drive way. I used both a 13" retina and non-retina for at least a week or more at work before I noticed they had a different thickness. Even if you're not going to use the bay for an optical drive, they could have at least kept the negligible amount of extra thickness to offer users the option of a SSD+HD secondary, and I'm not at all a fan of the apparent inability to upgrade the factory ram in the retina bodies. 

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