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What computer do I need for programming?

The minimum requirements for your system to get you through a Coding Academy (and beyond).
Johan Krüse
Developer & Operations @ Codaisseur
25 June 2020
So you decided you want to switch careers and get into coding, that’s awesome!  However, one of the first questions that immediately comes to mind is: can my current computer handle it? 
Using your computer for coding is something completely different from using it for emails or web browsing. Therefore, a computer for coding has some absolute minimum requirements:If you go for an apple system anything from 2018 onwards should do the trick (But those of you who are looking for something new (and cheaper) or perhaps even something more performant, read on)We will elaborate further on the necessity of the various component specifications in this article.

What computer components should I pay attention to?A computer needs at the very least three components to work, and a motherboard connecting them all.The three essential components are:
  • CPU (Central Processing Unit)
  • System Memory (Memory)
  • Storage to boot from (Storage Device)

Important considerations when using your computer for Programming
The computer you need depends on your workload. For the Codaisseur Academy, there are a few things that are important:
  1. During the academy, your computer will be compiling, compressing, and transpiling code, which is a CPU intensive task.
  2. You will be using the web browser quite a lot, this is a CPU and memory intensive task.
  3. Reading and writing millions of files, a storage device-intensive task.
  4. Tools to record and share your desktop screen for remote support, which is a highly CPU-intensive task. undefined
What should I consider when allocating a budget to buy a computer for programming?It goes without saying that the more money you throw at something, the higher your expectations from that product will be. However, when it comes to technology, throwing more money at it does not always work, especially in computing, mainly due to the high initial price tag on the release date of new products.Like a race car, a computer may be built for speed, budget, durability or a combination thereof, but they all have one thing in common: depreciation.Hardware and software both get better and more secure, however hardware is fixed to the date of purchase and the software is not. This means that software will continue to evolve, costing more system resources with every update, while the hardware is getting “slower.”
Price ranges for programming computersSo you already have a computer, great! Think back to the day of purchase, which tier computer did you buy back then? If your computer falls in the budget-tier and it's over 2-3 years old, it is probably not worth upgrading as hardware manufacturers are very creative on saving money on their budget line.Of course, you can always upgrade, but the right balance of components is important, it's like putting in a fast engine and smaller wheels on a car, it won't result in a quicker race.I am not claiming that every hardware manufacturer works like that, but it is very likely to happen on every decision made when assembling a computer part by part.
When your system falls into the mid or high-end range, you probably don’t need to upgrade, but do check that it meets the minimum requirements. To check your system for the minimum requirements and/or which components need an upgrade, you can use Speccy: https://www.ccleaner.com/speccy/downloadMy computer is outdated and I need to buy a new one, what should I look for?
During the academy, you will be using Linux. Some specific hardware that is optimized for other operating systems does not work “fluently" with Linux.An example is the nVidia graphics card that can only be turned on or off instead of having a hybrid functionality (that does exist within Windows) to turn on when in use. Not having this functionality available in Linux can drain your battery, in some cases completely and within mere hours, much fewer than the “advertised” battery life of 10 hours.
Strictly speaking, the issue here is that the hardware works, but Linux cannot communicate properly to the graphics card due to the proprietary drivers nVidia ships with their product. You have 2 options here:
  • Go for a computer with only an Intel CPU without an nVidia graphics card
  • Go for an AMD Ryzen 5 or higher CPU, with any AMD graphics card
The latter is probably your best option as the AMD CPU delivers both speed and graphics performance for a good price.
Here is a list of computers with recommended specifications for our bootcamp. Even the cheapest computer on this list is more than enough to get you through the Academy.

You made it!This article was compiled by Johan Krüse, Developer & Operations Manager at Codaisseur. If you have any questions or comments about the article, feel free to contact us at support@codaisseur.com

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