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Cheap Recommended Laptops for Coding

Elijah Trillionz
I am a full stack web developer. I program all the time and write about programming when I have the time.
Originally published at webdeverguide.com ・4 min read

Oftentimes, laptops that you will see programmers and tech experts recommend for programmers are overrated. You don't need a $1000+ laptop for coding.

There are cheap laptops that have the core requirements to serve as a laptop for coding. We will be talking about these core requirements because with them you can go to a laptop shop and get good laptops for coding.

So if you're just starting out in programming and you may not have had the money for a $1000+ laptop, am saying there is no need to wait to get that money before starting. You can start now with what you have.

I will categorize these core requirements into Speed, Storage (Memory), and Processor.

processors

1. Processors (Microprocessors):

A microprocessor is a computer processor that processes instructions on a computer in an integrated circuit. In this article, we will only look at Intel and AMD. A 32-bit processor or a 64-bit processor?

speed of a computer

2. Speed (Clock Speed):

The speed of microcomputers (laptops) is measured in gigahertz (GHz). It determines how fast your laptop process instructions. The speed of a laptop in most cases depends on the laptop's processor. An Intel 2.5 GHz is faster than an AMD 3.0 GHz.

Then there is something called overclocking your computer. It increases the speed of your laptop beyond what the manufacturer built. You can find details here.

ram

3. Storage (Memory):

How much GB of RAM (Random Access Memory) have? And what should be the size of your Permanent storage?

Just a quick recap, your RAM stores instructions temporarily while the permanent storage could be your hard disk.

We will analyze the above factors based on the aspect of programming you are into. Mobile App Developers and Web Developers. Every other one is beyond the scope of this article.


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Web Developers

This field doesn't demand a lot from laptops. What you need is a laptop that can run a text editor at the same time run a browser and at the same time run two or three more apps.

1. Processor:

A 32-bit processor would work fine. It is not the best option though, but it is the best affordable option.

There are some web development tools (apps) that only runs on a 64-bit processor (that's what most modern apps build).

But these apps either give you an option of using their websites like GitHub and Postman or they have alternatives that runs on 32-bit processors like Atom (Alternative: VSCode, Sublime)

2. Speed:

At least a 1.6 GHz Intel (2.0 GHz AMD) would perform the above tasks just fine. (Am serious).

3. Storage:

Permanent Storage:

A 160 GB Hard-disk would work fine.

Web developers shouldn't worry about permanent storage as they hardly do anything that takes a lot of storage space. If you watch movies or play a lot of songs then you could make use of external storage.

But in all these, it's not bad or wrong to have a 1TB hard disk, but it's just unnecessary if you only program with the laptop.

RAM:

A web developer needs a lot of RAM space, but nonetheless, a 2GB RAM will help you start fine. From my experience, I can say a 2GB RAM is not gonna give you a bad experience programming.

Mobile App Developers

Unlike web developers, these guys' fields require a lot from laptops for coding. What they usually do, is have a text editor running, a browser running, an emulator from Android studio, and maybe two or three other apps running.

Running the above tasks on a 1.6 GHz processor can so frustrate you that you will destroy your laptop 😅. So follow along.

1. Processor:

Same as that of web developers because Android Studio runs on a 32-bit processor but it's not recommended and is no longer supported by Android Studio.

2. Speed

Now, this is very important, I would not recommend going below a 2.6GHz Intel (3.0 GHz AMD).

3. Storage:

Permanent Storage:

At least 260GB hard-disk would do.

RAM:

Android studio requirements specify 8GB RAM or more.

Now you must have noticed I didn't mention XCode, now that's because you and I know it's not possible to get a MacBook laptop below $1000. Except you are getting a used one.

Here is a little tip:
For web developers, if you're going for Windows, use Windows 7. Don't use Windows 10 on a 1.5GHz processor (Intel or AMD). Should be 2.5GHz or more.

Also, don't buy a used AMD laptop. If you get one for free, use it but if any graphic issue comes up, don't repair it; just get a new one. Speaking from my engineering experience.

Conclusion

With the above requirements and recommendations, you can purchase cheap laptops for coding. If you want to learn to code and can't purchase a laptop yet, am glad to let you know you can learn with your phone.

More of learning coding with your phone will be discussed in another post, so stay subscribed to our newsletter to receive a notification when it is published.

If you want to see more of these, you can support me with just $5 monthly on Patreon. It means a lot. Thank you and happy hacking.

Discussion (10)

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bogdaniel profile image
Bogdan Olteanu

Don't know what to say... I'm thinking of upgrading to 32GB cuz 16GB is always at 90% on windows :-) and 3.6Ghz is not enough when you got big projects and lot's of stuff opened...

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elijahtrillionz profile image
Elijah Trillionz Author

Yeah, I agree with you, big projects will definitely require more speed. It's basically to get started

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aliasalan profile image
Alias

running on a cheap $400 AMD Ryzen 7 2.5ghz 8 core with 16gb memory the biggest drawback I've found with AMD comparatively to equally priced competitors is the graphics card. Aside from that, I've experienced only minimal issues regarding functionality or loading(MSVB & IBM SPSS) just fine even with two-three projects or large data-sets.

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elijahtrillionz profile image
Elijah Trillionz Author

wow. 16gb memory. that is unimaginable. how did you manage that? Or do you mean 160gb?

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aliasalan profile image
Alias

no, it's 20gb but with actively sits around 16.3-18gb free

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aliasalan profile image
Alias

Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 3700U with Radeon Vega Mobile Gfx (8 CPUs), ~2.3GHz
Memory: 20480MB RAM
Available OS Memory: 18380MB RAM

Display is possibly the biggest irritation

Card name: AMD Radeon(TM) RX Vega 10 Graphics
Display Memory: 11224 MB
Dedicated Memory: 2034 MB
Shared Memory: 9189 MB

NVME SSD

Drive: C:
Free Space: 442.8 GB
Total Space: 487.8 GB
File System: NTFS

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elijahtrillionz profile image
Elijah Trillionz Author

Oh I see.

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nitinkatkam profile image
Nitin Reddy

I'm curious about your experience with AMD laptops - why would one not want to buy a used AMD laptop? Also, what are your thoughts about AMD desktops?

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elijahtrillionz profile image
Elijah Trillionz Author

AMD laptops are prone to having graphics issues. It will get to a time where the laptop will completely show black when booting the device.

Usually, the solution is to heat the Integrated Circuit and it will restore and work fine. But that doesn't fix the problem permanently, it will only take a while before it comes again and then you heat the circuit again.

We have discovered that the more you heat the circuit, the lesser the period of functionality i.e you could heat it for the first time, then after a month or two, you heat it again then it reduces to weeks.

There was one time I was heating this circuit like every two hours, it's a big recurring problem when it starts. So that's why I don't recommend repairing it if that issue arises. I honestly don't know how long it takes a new AMD processor to start misbehaving.

I am only familiar with laptops, but I believe the case is the same for desktops. Because it is about the processor (IC) not the size of the motherboard

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aliasalan profile image
Alias

Heat is crucial, I run a monitor and run 4 micro fans on my laptop stand.