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I'm looking for a descent development computer that targets SharePoint 2010.

The computer must be a laptop and does not have to rely on a domain controller (or at least not all the time).

What are the required hardware components?

I assume that :

  • An Intel Core I5 is the minimum, I7 recommended
  • 6 GB of ram is the strict minimum. 8 Gb is good. Buying a laptop with 4 SO-DIMM bank (and then having the possibility to go up to 16GB) is a choice for the future.
  • A 7200rpm drive is absolutely necessary. A combination of a SSD drive (for programs) and a mecanic hard drive (for data). Can greatly raise the speed of the system.
  • a 15" screen is the minimum, 17" or + is good, but with a weight cost.
  • Screen resolution must be at least 1650 * 1080 pixels. More a visual Studio requirement than SharePoint, but that matters.

Of course, the ultimate laptop has a cost. Staying a correct quality/price ratio, what are your feedback about such configuration? If I have to sacrifice one component, which is the less useful in SP dev scenario?

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6 Answers 6

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The best practice for setting up development environment is to use a virtual machine. VMs are easy to manage and host operating system is completely isolated. You can tear apart VM, but host machine will not be affected. The benefit: You can have a different machine for each client/project you are working on. I love such kind of development set ups and recommend you accordingly.

An Intel Core I5 is the minimum, I7 recommended

I personally use I7 with 8 cores but I5 should be fine.

6 GB of ram is the strict minimum. 8 Gb is good. Buying a laptop with 4 SO-DIMM bank (and then having the possibility to go up to 16GB) is a choice for the future.

I would love to put money here, at least 8GB should minimal with ability to extend up till 16GB. I use 12GB with no performance glitches and run 4 VMs at the same time.

A 7200rpm drive is absolutely necessary. A combination of a SSD drive (for programs) and a mecanic hard drive (for data). Can greatly raise the speed of the system.

I would love to invest money in the external hard disk for better performance of virtual machine. See external disks with both eSATA 3Gb/s/USB 2.0 for better performance.

a 15" screen is the minimum, 17" or + is good, but with a weight cost. Screen resolution must be at least 1650 * 1080 pixels. More a visual Studio requirement than SharePoint, but that matters.

I think 15" offers 1600*900 so that is suffice for me even if go out to work onsite with customer. I would rather invest money in docking station and monitor to better work while working at Office

Update: My personal machine is IBM ThinkPad (W510) with I7 and 12GB RAM.

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I run all my SharePoint environments in Virtual Machines - as such RAM and Disk Speed are the two key factors for me in this. Any of the new Sandy Bridge CPUs are great with virtualization, i5 is OK - but really a quad-core i7 is the way to go. The reason for this is that you WILL want to run some of your development environments in a multi VM space - to allow for testing against different deployment scenarios; having the extra cores will allow multiple VMs to run alongside each other more efficiently.

All Sandy Bridge machines (including MacBook Pros!) support 8GB DIMMs which are coming down in price significantly. This means that only 2 slots are needed for 16GB, and 4 slots allows upto 32GB. In the UK you can now buy 2 8GB DIMMs for £100.

Personally I would get the biggest SSD your money can buy, running VMs off SSD is a massive time saver - do not scrimp on this. Also invest in a good automated backup solution (I use Time Machine), SSDs have a propensity to fail ;)

My personal set up is a MacBook Pro with the top i7 in it, 8GB RAM and an SSD as primary disk. I also use a FW800 1TB portable raid array for storage and on the road back up. I can happily run three VMs in parallel on this set up - my only limiting factor for more is RAM at the moment.

Hope that helps.

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Tim, your configuration is astonishing :) I wish I was that rich :)) –  Andrey Markeev Feb 1 '12 at 12:16
    
nice configuration :) –  goso Feb 1 '12 at 13:54
    
couldn't agree more @goso –  Falak Mahmood Feb 1 '12 at 14:07
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I think modern SharePoint developer's laptop actually shouldn't be that monster. Third-party services like CloudShare allows you to access your VM from virtually anywhere and provide great flexibility, because you can test your solutions in multi-server environments.

At work, there ought to be some Virtual Machine server, which takes similar responsibility.

So IMO what you really need for the developer's laptop is MS Office, browser and SharePoint Designer. And of course, it should be compatible with the forthcoming Windows 8 :)

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This solution is not always applicable. Sometimes, we are working on client site, with no (or poor) data connection, and sometimes in a hotel, train, etc. where internet connectivity can't be guaranteed. –  Steve B Feb 1 '12 at 12:24
    
Isn't that a laptop for consultant then? :) Ok, Steve, I admit that sometimes SharePoint developer really needs a good laptop and it's great if you can afford to have one. But in most cases, I reckon that using CloudShare, Office365 and local Virtual Machine Server brings great number of advantages and saves you from the neccessity of dealing with expensive and heavy laptop monster :) –  Andrey Markeev Feb 1 '12 at 12:33
    
I'd been using CloudShare for several month and found it kinda slow. I wouldn't recommend to use it as a dev environment, might be only as a test. Right now I do have 2 xeon CPU with 32G and SSD disks and it pretty much really nice pain killer and time saver. –  avishnyakov Sep 3 '12 at 0:41
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I have an affordable but extremely powerful Acer 8943G.

http://willion.net/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=1222&language=en&currency=GBP

16GB RAM, 18.4" display, i7 740QM Quad Core CPU.

It comes with 2x 640HDDs, but I ripped one out and put my 256GB SSD in there for speed, all my VMs run off that, host OS runs of the other 640GB.

Runs extremely well, but it's like having a coffee table on your lap if you ever need to actually have it on your knees.

EDIT: And it can run Crysis in 1080p :D

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Thanks for the suggestion. However, my previous experience with Acer's support (actually most of people I know that required Acer supports had problems) is not very warm (8 month of negotiation to repair a laptop, before the laptop "disappeared"). Maybe it's the French support of Acer, but I'll never buy again an Acer product, even if they have a very good quality/price ratio. A last word, this computer is nearly £300 over what I expected. Maybe targeting a 16" can lower the price, and avoid the coffee table effect. –  Steve B Feb 1 '12 at 15:51
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RAM and disk space / speed have been my bottle necks, though I have a good CPU so I can't exactly say what things would be like with a worse one but I feel like I would trade CPU for additional RAM and HDD Space.

You have to be running SQL Server at the same time you are running SharePoint and both applications are beasts, especially if you are doing any long running jobs like search crawls or user profile sync. In general you won't be doing this in a development environment but sometimes you need to try something out before doing it on a production box (of course TEST is a good place for this too). Either way, SQL Server will take as much RAM as it can get and SharePoint won't hesitate to eat up the rest.

The disk space and speed will come in when trying to replicate issues that a client is having and you need to throw up your own VMs / other disk partitions to simulate their client (and server) machines since that's the culprit in 75% of the support calls I take. Otherwise if you want a copy of a clients production DB you also need the space for it. Otherwise Page File is the other area I have seen issues with but this can mostly be avoided with proper configuration.

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I have various laptops (HP & Toshiba), desktops (HP & Dell) & Servers (Dell PowerEdge) available for development. My favorite is the Apple Mac Mini with 8gb RAM & 500gb HD. I use VMWare Fusion to create a SP dev VM - works great with that clean hardware! It's cheaper (~$600) too!

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