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What to Look for in Programming Desktops?

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Any experienced software programmer should already know what they need to do the job. The same cannot always be said when someone is still a student, or when they are just getting started in their career. Given how important the choice of computer is to their profession, software developers should be ready to invest in a good build that will last them for a few years at least. Let’s take a look at the essential features of a decent programming desktop so that our readers can make an informed choice.

Big, High-Resolution Display

Technically, a monitor is not part of a desktop build by default. That changes when it comes to dedicated all-in-one programming desktops like the IdeaCentre AIO series from Lenovo. This combines scalable desktop hardware and a 27-inch, 1440p, touchscreen monitor into a single unit. If you’re wondering why a bigger, higher-resolution monitor might be needed for programming, we have a list of reasons for you here:

  • Higher resolution equals crisper, clearer, easily legible text on a large monitor.
  • High resolution on a small display will make text appear too small for the enhanced clarity to be of any use.
  • Higher resolution equals more on-screen real estate, but a larger display makes that extra space useable.
  • Multiple windows can be kept open simultaneously, without losing visual clarity.

One can argue that a 19-inch QHD display will provide the same virtual space as a 27-inch QHD panel, which is true. However, the smaller display will be comparatively less legible to the human eye. Due to the reduced real space (19” < 27”), text will be harder to read, and everything will look more cluttered when multiple windows are open on the smaller screen.

Meeting Minimum Requirements

There are two sets of hardware requirements for programming desktops in reference to each programming language. The computer must be able to meet both sets of the recommended specs, if not exceed them by a good margin.

The first set specifies the minimum hardware needed for running the primary programming languages which the programmer is expecting to use most often. For example, we can look at the minimum hardware needed to run Python, as stated below:

  • Windows, macOS, Linux, Ubuntu.
  • 64-bit CPU equivalent to Intel Core i3/AMD Ryzen 3 (contemporary generation preferred)
  • 4GB RAM
  • 5GB of storage for installation.

These specifications are so elementary that almost any laptop or desktop can meet them in 2022. They do not show us the full picture, though, because the hardware requirements will scale much higher, depending on the kind of work one plans to do with Python.

Meeting Recommended Requirements

The second set are more directly related to the types of projects which the user expects to handle with their new computer. The secondary requirements are directly related to the work. It’s also going to be more demanding since it builds on the minimum hardware requirements mentioned previously.

A Python programmer who needs to work with graphical user interfaces (GUI) and/or deep learning algorithms should aim for a much more powerful configuration. Check out the suggested build:

  • Windows, macOS, Linux, Ubuntu
  • Intel Core-i9/AMD Ryzen 7/AMD Threadripper CPU (contemporary generation preferred)
  • NVIDIA RTX A5000/Tesla v100/Tesla P100 GPU
  • 16GB – 32GB RAM
  • Recommended internal storage: 1TB M.2 SSD

Note that a dedicated GPU with tensor cores is not a requirement for coders who do not work directly with deep learning algorithm development/testing or applicable graphics interfaces.

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