Is my laptop too slow for development?

We are in the year 2017, and I’m struggling with one big problem for me: My laptop feels way too slow for Development purposes. Should I go back to the PC era?

So I thought. My one year old Lenovo T450S with its beautifully patient 11 to 17 hour battery and its mediocre Intel Core i5 5200U processor, 20 GB memory and 500 GB SSD are simply too .. slow? It cost me around 2000 €.

What I run on my laptop is something quite normal, I think. I run one Hyper-V vm with Windows 2012 Server, plus a Hyper-V with Windows 10 in it. The purpose for the latter is to run Juniper Network Connect within it – because it would otherwise cut my internet connection on the host machine – better let it do it in the isolated Hyper-V environment, and let me continue working on other things on my laptop simultaneously.

Once I have those Hyper-V’s running, I open two different Visual Studio (2015) projects, plus word, a few browser instances – turns out building or running applications is now really slow. Mostly the memory is reserved at around 12-16 GB of 20 GB. Basically it comes up to having more processor power. Visual Studio needs a lot of it to execute, plus all the browsers and other applications running demand the remaining. A quick look at Lenovo’s website revealed to me that I need to pay some 2200+ € to get me another, faster Lenovo laptop, maybe a T460p with something close to an 6600K. I was not happy about the price, plus I had some bad experience with laptops running on high performance processors. My HP’s EliteBook with an Core i7 tends to overheat very fast.

I then decided to do the ‘unthinkable’, and..

.. i decided to give the PC a try. After running some benchmarks I realized how slow the Core i5 5200U was. Very slow. I compared it to the 6600K, and noticed just how much more processing power I could get +126% !

Another option for me was to simply upgrade my old PC which was running on an older AM3+ processor. A quick look on the internet revealed to me that the latest (2014!) AMD processor for the AM3+ socket was the AMD FX 8370. It only cost around 200 €, and by buying it I could simply bring back the life to my old PC with its 32 GB memory and the SSD + RAID 0/1 hard disks.

The old AMD FX 8370 from 2014 made my PC 50% faster than my new laptop for only 10% of the cost. For development, even an old eight core old processor outperforms most of today’s laptops used for development.

I checked the gain in processing speed on the site site and noticed it had +54% more processing power, which is not comparable to the +126% for the 6600K. But its good enough for a semi-dead processor technology, so I gave it a shot. At least I could keep my old components, like the DDR3 memory and only change the processor.

Ever since I have now had my revived PC, my motivation and efficiency to work have improved considerably. The difference is amazing – the way how fast my PC hardware responds as a development platform is outstanding, and compared to a 2000 € laptop, I have to say, I get much more performance and ease of mind.

So my suggestion to anyone working on processor- or resource intensive applications – consider upgrading your old PC if you can (or buy a new one). You will be amazed how cheap processing power on a PC is. It increased my own productivity remarkably as the ‘let me get myself a coffee while it builds’ -moments were gone, and I no longer needed to wait long times for a Virtual Machine to respond or an app being debugged to hit a breakpoint.






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