Laptop for development

brrrr

Estimable
Feb 8, 2014
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4,510
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I'm going to a IT university soon and need a laptop for development, namely programming. I'll be doing lots of stuff for Windows, Windows Phone and Android.

My budget currently is 500€, but I might be able to get bit more money to buy something even better (600-700€). But for now 500€ is the main number.

I don't play games that much any more, but a dedicated graphics card would be a plus.

I don't want to pay for the OS, because I already have DreamSpark Premium and I'll use Windows from there.
 

Guavas

Honorable
Sep 24, 2013
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10,570
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Dear brrrr,
First of all, congrats on applying to university. Secondly, the most important thing to think about when buying a laptop for a specific purpose is to envision yourself in the situation in which you will fulfil that purpose. I, like you, was pondering about which laptop to buy for university. I had the exact same requirements in my head as the ones you listed (good graphics, not too expensive, at least an amd a10 or i5/i7, etc.) and had settled upon an Asus N750jv {codename the BEAST}. However, as I thought deeper and deeper about it, I thought of some other requirements that one will definitely need at university; chief among which is that it needs a good battery life (at least 4 hours and still healthy after 3 years) and that it should not be too heavy (you'll be carrying this thing around a LOT).
Working as a computer repair technician/salesperson at a huge consumer electronics warehouse (like BestBuy /mediamarkt /saturn /darty) in my gap year, I started programming and found out that you don't need all that power. Hell, even a Chromebook would suffice (good battery life too!) for a little programming, or a 1 GHz (slow for compiling though).
What I did was look at all the computers in my store and tried 'em out. Eventually, I ended up buying a Macbook Pro Retina, which, even though it cost me a lot of money (initial budget was 750€, laptop cost me around €1500), was completely worth it as it fulfilled all my needs.

Now the thing I'd advise you to do is look at the deals at your local retailer. They will always have deals. Don't let the salesperson fool you. Sometimes they'll have great deals, and sometimes they'll have ok deals.
If you'd have to ask me, I'd reckon you could easily score a PC with an i7 (probably will be 3rd generation though, so I'd advise going for an i5 4th gen for a better battery life and graphics), an Nvidia GT740 (eating away at your battery if you set it to ON all the time), at least 4 GB ram, 500 GB HDD in budget. REMEMBER: it doesn't matter which manufacturer makes it (just be careful with it)
For example, if you buy a Sony laptop, you're almost guaranteed it'll have NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, an awesome design, but those features do cost more.

If you still have a laptop from like 2009 or later, you'll be fine at university. Not everyone has brand new hardware at university, some people wait for more than 3 months after they've started uni before they even think about buying a laptop, trust me!
Another point = You don't just need to program, you need to take notes. Now that's where the ergonomic keyboard and long battery life are important.

All in all, just think about it deeply and discuss it with friends, tech students and possibly with a salesperson (generally, there will always be at least one salesperson at a large retail store who is willing to advise a budding tech student on what laptop will suit you best)

If you have any questions, just ask.

- Guavas

PS: You're buying a laptop because you want to be able to do anything you need and want to do. If there's a really nice laptop which is 100€ over your budget, it's worth spending the extra rather than ending up with your second choice.
 
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