Programs load information into memory when they are first started up, so the more memory you have available, the quicker the processor can access the information. For this purpose, you want at least 4 GB minimum of memory, but preferably, 8 GB or more. Especially if you’re working with multiple browsers and multiple tabs, a common occurrence for a web developer, you want more RAM.
Storage comes in two flavors. SSD, or Solid State Drive, has no moving parts so is more durable and faster than the somewhat more cumbersome (relatively speaking) HDD, or Hard Disk Drive, which runs with a magnetic head and revolving disk much like the old phonograph. I say somewhat more cumbersome, because in reality, an HDD with 7200 RPM still can get data to the processor reasonably fast. Storage also has what’s known as a page file or virtual memory, a section set aside for the more frequently accessed information. The processor knows to go there first after accessing what it can from RAM. The SSD, while being much faster than HDD, is also somewhat limited in space for the money, so people generally choose between storage space and speed of access. There are occasions however where you can have both. An SSD has a much faster boot time, also a plus, especially if you’re using a dual boot system with both Windows and Linux. If you’re doing a lot of node.js back-end work, a Linux distribution makes more sense, but you’ll still want Windows for other work.
Whether you’re a web designer or full-stack developer, you want excellent display quality in order to see your work at its best. A display has several measurement benchmarks to check. These include resolution which is essential when testing different devices and HiDPI screens, the preferred IPS panel type, brightness measured in nits with 300 nits+ being best, contrast—1000:1+ is optimum, color gamut which measures how dense your color—best at 80%+ sRGB, and finally a touchscreen for testing out touch interactions. Of course its helpful to also have a decent graphics card to go with the display.
While not absolutely essential, especially if you plan to do your work in one setting with access to a power outlet, portability can be a plus. For this you want decent battery life and something that’s relatively lightweight.
If you want a larger screen for seeing what you get, want to add audio and video to your web development work, do some gaming on the side, you might want to have some good ports in order to add a larger monitor and various types of recording equipment, but those things are really up to you.
This Lenovo steps it up a bit, still at a decent price. You couldn’t ask for a better processor in a laptop with the i7-6700HQ, and its dedicated graphics card is also high end. When you want a break from coding to do a little gaming, this laptop can handle it. RAM and the SSD are enough to make your programming experience fast and seamless. For portability, though, you might want a different model, as the weight and battery life prevent easy mobility.
With this MSI, you’re now moving into the big leagues. The processor may not be the fastest, an i5-7300HQ, but it still handles plenty. The dedicated graphics card is high end. You get good color balance with the screen display. Combined with 8 GB memory and a large amount of storage which you can get either with or without the SSD, you shouldn’t experience any lag. As long as the HDD is 7200 RPM, the SSD can be added later, giving you a grand total of 2 TB of storage. Do you want to add peripherals? This machine has all the needed ports, USB, HDMI, and mDP.
|HP Chromebook 14||$250|
|ASUS VivoBook F556UA-AB54||$550|
|MSI GL62M 7RD-256||$1,200|
|Dell XPS 15 XPS9560-5000SLV-PUS||$1,600|