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  • Writer's pictureTim Buchalka

What Computer Specs Do You Need for Programming?

Updated: Aug 2, 2019

Computer hardware. What's the minimum spec computer you need to go through a typical programming course and just to program in general? Let's talk about that today.

Today, we're talking computer hardware and what a typical configuration is or the minimal configuration to be able to go through a typical programming course and just to program in general. Well, I'd say in general these days that most modern computers that have been manufactured over the last three or four years be they Windows machines, Linux machines or a Mac you should be fairly safe with those. The only stipulation I would make there is to try and aim to have at least eight gigabytes of RAM in your computer.

Now a lot of computers these days still come with four gigabytes as a base but with today's software using lots of memory, they're quite complex tools 'cause they help you to produce rich applications they need a lot of memory to operate. So try and make sure that you spec'd sufficiently for eight gigabytes or even more of RAM. I got a bit crazy I guess because I'm a geek I've got 128 gig of RAM in my computer which is definitely overkill for most people. But eight gigabytes of RAM I would say to me that's the minimum amount of RAM you wanna have just to make it a no-brainer that you're not gonna have problems.

So if you running less than that if you've got like four gigabytes of RAM what's gonna happen? Well, depending on the platform you're targeting you might find things are really really slow. So things will take a long time to load, there will be noticeable delays when you type and it will just be a very frustrating experience. So it's not to say that you won't be able to program but the experience won't be nice. So I would suggest for that reason eight gigabytes of RAM and a relatively modern computer and you'll be good to go.

Now if you're talking specific configurations of Windows, I'm not gonna go into video cards or processes any more than to say that a relatively modern CPU perhaps an i5 or higher something like that of that nature will be fine. And if you don't know what that means just try and target a relatively recent computer and make sure you're not choosing the bottom of the rung computer. In terms of laptops, I would go for a relatively new one but it's got basically got enough memory that's the most important thing. And if you're on a desktop I would do the same thing again make sure that your memory's there but also getting back to the desktop and laptop, screen size is important as well. This is a factor when you're learning how to program, the more screen real estate you've got, in other words, the larger the screen, the better it's going to be.

So you've got to factor in that too you're gonna be watching a video and hopefully typing along. So it would be great if you had a monitor in a sufficient resolution to be able to watch the video and to have enough space left on your screen to be able to type it in. Now, it's not to say you can't watch a bit of the video, pause it and tab over to your IDE, the editor you're using to type in the code and do it that way but it's a lot better if you've got a large monitor. So if your budget can afford to spend extra on a monitor I would certainly recommend you do that.

If you're on a laptop consider buying a cheap external monitor and plugging that in. That way you can actually watch the video on the external monitor and do your programming on the laptop screen itself. And likewise for a desktop if you haven't got a large monitor consider getting a second one or invest in a large one but obviously see how you go first. But in an optimal scenario I would suggest you had two monitors or one monitor large enough that you can actually see both things at once.

So that's important, memory is important but also to a degree it's dependent on what you're targeting so in other words if you're targeting Apple's iOS, the iPhone, the iPad or even targeting Mac itself to write Mac applications that would generally necessitate the need for you to have a Mac and that's because the Apple development tools to produce iPad, iPhone and Mac applications are Mac-based. So keep that in mind, do some research before you basically know what you're going to program in or program for, make sure that you've got the right hardware for that so in the case of Mac, buy a Mac if you wanna target Mac, iPhone or iPad.

There are exceptions to that part but I don't wanna get too far off track, you can build something called a Hackintosh which is a cheap way to get into a Mac but there is legal issues there which I won't go into but you can search for the term Hackintosh if you want more information on that. But memory is really the most important thing I would focus on that first and your screen size and other than that if you've got a relatively modern computer you should be good to go.

If you've got any other questions relating to computer hardware feel free to leave a comment and I'll do my best to address those here as well. I hope that helped. If you've got any questions feel free to leave a comment and I'll get back to you.

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