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# Type of Computer?

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I pretty commonly have Visual Studio, MSWord, Outlook, and 1-2 dozen chrome tabs open (Chrome is a pig, frankly), alongside at least 1 VM, and Windows usually informs me that I should close some programs because I'm running low on memory at least daily.

There are increasingly many days when I'm really glad I don't have to deal with Windows :)

A dozen tabs in Chrome, Eclipse (talk about a memory hog), a large Java-driven build system, GIMP - I'm rarely able to commit more than 4 gigs all told on my Ubuntu box. Apart from its annoying habit of using the remaining 12 GB for disk cache...

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in any real-world choice scenario, it's pretty much always better to take 2x slower RAM than 1x of much faster RAM

I'm not sure I agree with this. RAM is so damn cheap these days that you can easily afford more than you can actually used.

I have machines at work and home equipped with 16 GB of RAM, and that tends to work out to 4 GB of useful RAM, and 12 GB of dubiously helpful disk cache...

disk cache is useful in that it makes frequent HDD based tasks go faster, as then they don't have to go all the way back out to the physical HDD to read/write data.

this can make things like recompiling ones' project or copying files around, or loading up apps and similar often go faster.

and is generally much cheaper than buying an SSD...

also, in cases where programs suddenly need a lot more RAM, then stuff can get pushed out to disk and the RAM is there and ready to use.

of course, if one does have an SSD, then maybe it is more plausible to have less RAM and instead have a really big swap file.

but, OTOH, if one doesn't have enough RAM, and they are using a traditional HDD, then regularly having everything go really slow and grind the HDD isn't really a great experience... in this way, having a lot of RAM is sort of the price one pays to not have their computer grind...

especially, say, if a person has the tendency to very often nearly always leave FireFox running, where it itself has a tendency to eat up a good 3GB or so (and push other things out of RAM), ... say, allowing playing a game with FF still running, ...

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You don't need high end computers to learn programming.

Started coding on a Pentium 2 ( 450 MZH ) with a massive 75MB RAM card, and 640x480 graphics. I also had a sound blaster card !

Last dev laptop I had had single core 1.8 GHz processor, with a 128 MB graphics card and 512MB ram. Had no issues, even when video editing.

The current dev laptop I have has duel core 2.8 GZh, 512 MB Intel graphics card and 4 GB ram. Again I have no issues with it.

All work environments are Windows, with Linux emulators for when it is absolutely necessary.

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Thank you everyone for your feedback. I learned so much, which definitely gave me assurance. I'm targeting an i5/i7 and a good amount of ram.

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disk cache is useful in that it makes frequent HDD based tasks go faster, as then they don't have to go all the way back out to the physical HDD to read/write data.

also, in cases where programs suddenly need a lot more RAM, then stuff can get pushed out to disk and the RAM is there and ready to use.

Recent versions of Ubuntu seem to be shipping with a pretty iffy disk caching policy. Not only will it use the entire set of available RAM as disk cache, but it'll then starve running applications of memory, rather than release portions of the cache. Every time I run a full build of our source tree, I'll end up with a nice, full 12-14 GB of disk cache, which will then persist till next reboot.

Thank god for sync; echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches, but I'd rather they made the disk cache policy tunable, and/or gave it sensible defaults...

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disk cache is useful in that it makes frequent HDD based tasks go faster, as then they don't have to go all the way back out to the physical HDD to read/write data.

also, in cases where programs suddenly need a lot more RAM, then stuff can get pushed out to disk and the RAM is there and ready to use.

Recent versions of Ubuntu seem to be shipping with a pretty iffy disk caching policy. Not only will it use the entire set of available RAM as disk cache, but it'll then starve running applications of memory, rather than release portions of the cache. Every time I run a full build of our source tree, I'll end up with a nice, full 12-14 GB of disk cache, which will then persist till next reboot.

Thank god for sync; echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches, but I'd rather they made the disk cache policy tunable, and/or gave it sensible defaults...

fair enough...

I was mostly thinking Windows here, where it seems to work fairly well, though it does have the tendency to push programs out to disk after a while, so even with a lot of RAM it still grinds occasionally, but usually this is when switching back to an app which has been left in the background for a while.

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Thank you everyone for your feedback. I learned so much, which definitely gave me assurance. I'm targeting an i5/i7 and a good amount of ram.

Techy game developers who are fans of good hardware aren't an accurate measurement of the average gamer (Unless you're making software for game developers).

Instead, check Valve's publicly available automatically collected monthly hardware survey that they get from their pool of millions of average PC gamers.

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Thank you everyone for your feedback. I learned so much, which definitely gave me assurance. I'm targeting an i5/i7 and a good amount of ram.

Techy game developers who are fans of good hardware aren't an accurate measurement of the average gamer (Unless you're making software for game developers).

Instead, check Valve's publicly available automatically collected monthly hardware survey that they get from their pool of millions of average PC gamers.

FWIW, most people have been right on the money.Consider that you need a tier or two above the average gamer in order to be a very productive developer (assuming you're targeting those specs, obviously).  RAM is particularly important.

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Shippou has the right idea - I think any computer will do. In fact something low spec could be viewed as better, since if your game runs well on that then it will run on anything. My old computer broke a few years ago (fried capacitors made it rather unstable ;) ) and I upgraded to a dual-core Celeron with 1GB memory. It's really all I need. I suppose I'm making a fairly small game.

The only thing that I think makes a difference is a big monitor (or even 2), so you can see more code. But isn't widescreen worse than 4:3 unless you can rotate it? I'd rather see more lines and less of the blank space to the right.
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The only thing that I think makes a difference is a big monitor (or even 2), so you can see more code. But isn't widescreen worse than 4:3 unless you can rotate it? I'd rather see more lines and less of the blank space to the right.

Sometimes it's nice to have two applications side by side (Win key + Left arrow / Right arrow), especially if your IDE of choice lets you split the IDE to view two source files in parallel, or when moving files and organizing them between two separate folders.

I actually wish I had an ultra-wide monitor. I have a ~22" 1680x1050 (16:10), but I wouldn't mind another two inches (with accompanying pixels) horizontal length. A 24" 1920x1200 (also 16:10) monitor would probably suit me a bit better.

I wonder if the current multi-monitor setups will eventually give way to larger (~2 feet) and wider (~3.5 feet horizontal) monitors with slightly curved screens that curve towards you on either end?

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I wonder if the current multi-monitor setups will eventually give way to larger (~2 feet) and wider (~3.5 feet horizontal) monitors with slightly curved screens that curve towards you on either end?

You mean like the newest crop of OLED TVs?

I'm pretty happy with my 27" 2560x1440 IPS panel, from South Korea by way of ebay. It's a metric ton of pixels, so you would need one hell of a GPU to run the latest games at full resolution, but that's not what I have it for - it is absolutely amazing for throwing up walls of text.

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Having big monitors is a nice proposition, though it can get expensive. At home and at work I have a 30" Dell U3011 as my primary monitor, which is 2560x1600. I have it flanked by 20" Dell 200nFPs (One 2001FP on either side at home, One 2007FP to the right at work) in portrait mode as secondary monitors with 1200x1600. The screen size and dot-pitch is such that the extended desktop is essentially flawless (just a couple millimeters off -- you can't notice because of the bezels).

Its begins to border on extravagance for sure, but its really nice to be able to have VS open in the main monitor, a bunch of chrome tabs in the screen to the left (research), and Outlook on the right. The primary monitor is plenty wide enough to diff two source files side-by-side, even if they lines might extend out to 120 characters. A screen that large is also nice because you can have a 1920x1200 remote desktop session open without taking over the screen entirely. A large monitor, or a pair of 1920x1200s is probably one of the bigger things you can do for your own human productivity, right up there with a comfy chair and good ergonomics.

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Having big monitors is a nice proposition, though it can get expensive.

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They have another often-overlooked advantage: no scaler.

It's incredibly hard to find an IPS panel in the US without a scaler, and for a computer monitor, I'm not sure why you would ever want one. They add ~8ms of latency to the display, and your GPU is capable of scaling to the full resolution anyway.

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... its really nice to be able to have VS open in the main monitor, a bunch of chrome tabs in the screen to the left (research)

Of course, research.

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As long as you are satisfied with your PC's hardware capablities (try Tom's Hardware), a field in which I am no expert, your PC is fine.

But for me, the most important piece of any modern conventional computer with good hardware is the software. I would use OpenBSD or Arch Linux, but no one uses BSD for gaming, and I am selling games, so I just use Linux Mint (I will never use Ubuntu) for development. If you really want "baptism by fire" and want to learn how a good system works from the ground up (and have an environment that will ultimately make you a better programmer), choose Gentoo. It is good for learning, but no one games on Gentoo. Choose Windows if you are a square conformist. Choose Mac if you want to go against every single logical choice ever.

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so I just use Linux Mint (I will never use Ubuntu)

You do realise that Linux Mint is just Ubuntu with minor modifications to the graphical shell, right?

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You do realise that Linux Mint is just Ubuntu with minor modifications to the graphical shell, right?

Yes. I won't use Ubuntu because of the Unity shell. It is shit.

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Yes. I won't use Ubuntu because of the Unity shell. It is shit.

Meh. It's a graphical shell. No more, no less.

Never quite got the obsession with particular desktop environments. As long as there is a file browser and a way to launch apps, what else matters?

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Yes. I won't use Ubuntu because of the Unity shell. It is shit.

Meh. It's a graphical shell. No more, no less.

Never quite got the obsession with particular desktop environments. As long as there is a file browser and a way to launch apps, what else matters?

though not all that fussy, I personally prefer things using the traditional desktop UI design.

well, and the window-manager not stealing various keyboard keys for itself (the application may need them for things like shortcuts, and it isn't good if the window-manager renders an application mostly unusable, say, by having lots of random stuff pop up when trying to use an app...).

like, informally, the Windows keys belong to the OS/WM, as do CTRL+ALT+whatever and a few other special shortcuts.

most other keys, and most combinations of CTRL+whatever and ALT+whatever presumably belong to the app (well excepting the F-keys and similar).

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Yes. I won't use Ubuntu because of the Unity shell. It is shit.

Meh. It's a graphical shell. No more, no less.

Never quite got the obsession with particular desktop environments. As long as there is a file browser and a way to launch apps, what else matters?

a good desktop enviroment enhances productivity, things like virtual desktops, window grouping, etc are all nice to have, the HUD in Unity is pretty darn useful when your applications support it. (last time i tried Ubuntu the application support for the HUD was kinda crappy out of the box though so it definitely needs more work before i'd consider switching).

My main problem with Unity is that its a pain in the ass to get window groups to work in a flexible way. (it groups windows by the owning application(like MS Windows does)), with Mint&compiz i can easily group my windows manually and for example have a group per project (Which is far more productive when you're working on multiple projects and need several different applications for a single project)

Edited by SimonForsman
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things like virtual desktops, window grouping, etc are all nice to have

Hah. I knew there was a reason other people spent less on monitors than I do

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things like virtual desktops, window grouping, etc are all nice to have

Hah. I knew there was a reason other people spent less on monitors than I do

I use multiple monitors at work anyway, the DE helps me jump between projects. (My boss would never agree to give me 3 monitors per project and an office large enough to hold them all, i got far too many projects on my hands for that)

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As long as there is a file browser and a way to launch apps, what else matters?

What else matters is that Unity uses typically 3x more resources than XFCE and 4x - 5x more resources than OpenBox

Edited by FlyingSatin
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