Needs and constraints
I recently quitted my job and had to give back the laptop I also used at home. Thus, I needed a new one to continue coding.
I wanted a small configuration, for several reasons:
- Keep myself from over-configuring the environment with too much things
- I mostly use a navigator and my terminal, I don't need a gamer's computer
- I'll easily see if something I code takes too much ressources
- Price, because I just left my job
If I ever need computation power, I'll be able to rent a server for the time needed.
I designed the following minimal configuration:
- 200GB of HDD
- I store mostly text on my computer
- Images, movies and music will be on another storage medium
- 4GB of RAM
- I compile a lot of things by myself, and it can take a lot of RAM
- I also do some contests (eg. euler project) in which RAM is useful
- no matter CPU power, but dual core
- As stated above, I don't need computation power
- But, I want to be able to run and test code using multiple cores.
- No regard for graphic card
- I don't play enough for this to be a criteria
With this configuration in mind, I didn't want to spend more than 250€.
Disappointement with new models
I began by searching first-hand laptops on the web and a few physical stores in Paris. I was quickly disappointed because all models sold are way more powerful than what I searched, but also way less affordable.
It's sad because most people only navigate the web or edit some documents and they don't need the new powerful computers to do that. Instead, they could buy less performant ones at a lower price if they existed.
There might be a market for that.
Turning on occassions
Disappointed by choices in first-hand laptops, I started looking on second-hand ones.
There, things started to be more interesting. They were laptops with prices I was willing to pay and all kind of configurations. Of course not too powerful for their price, but some of them are quite good. The thing that was often missing was the RAM. Only a few had what I need.
I watched out for vendors with bad reputations, and skipped announcement with unclear description.
The final choice
When I found an old Dell XPS M1530 at 160€, I immediatly bought it after seeing the description.
- 320GB of HDD
- A good chunk more than what I wanted
- double core 2.40GHz
- I had my double core and way higher frequency than I hoped for
- 4GB of RAM
- Just what I need
For that price, I think it's an excellent configuration.
My opinion on it
After trying it for a week, I can say that I'm not disappointed by my choice. The red flags are the battery which last only one hour (it was said on the announce) and a bad mousepad, but I don't use it much. Other than that, it delivers on its promises and didn't have problems with it.
You don't need a big computer for most use, head for minimal configurations. Sadly, it means you'll need to buy an used one since no one sell these anymore.