Let me tell ya something, care more about key and mousepad orientation, monitor size, and quality than specifications. I hate my laptop since the mousepad is offset to the left (not in the middle which is stupid) so my left hand accidentally clicks when I type (even though I properly raise my hands when I type unlike most people).
A real pain when coding... you're typing and next thing you know, you accidentally copy-pasted code wherever your cursor was.
$800 laptop for coding? That will be painful for anything except toy projects. How can you do any serious coding without a good SSD, fast 4-core CPU, at least 16 GB RAM, ability to connect an external FHD+ monitor or two? Additionally most of $800 laptops build quality is very poor. I do not recommend. I bought a laptop from that price range once and it was terrible. Better spare more money and buy something better. You can get a good laptop for about $1500.
You can code on anything, choose something that you like the looks of and think will last for some time. Compiling time can be an issue but unless you are doing a big project you don't need that good of a computer. You can even ask someone else to compile it for you if its too big. Keep in mind that desktops are cheaper.
$800 dollars are fine for a decent coding laptop. Ignore rapidcoder you don't need to spend $1500 on a laptop to "code" on. Generally the only time you need what he says is for big projects which generally you won't be doing on a laptop more likely a desktop computer. The only time I use my laptop for coding is when I want to make some minor changes in a certain part of a program and usually I'm never compiling the whole project so it is never very big.
But anyways just get what you think you will need. Consider all the things you will use it for like do you game on it? Or are you just browsing the web and doing minor projects? Most of the time you won't need huge RAM or processing power. Though I do agree on getting a SSD for the laptop (Which only cost like $70 for a 64gb good one).
@rapidcoder shouldn't you code on a computer you expect your customers to use?
Nope. At least this is not the way professional software companies work.
Generally the only time you need what he says is for big projects which generally you won't be doing on a laptop more likely a desktop computer
Desktop computer and a poor laptop is not as good solution as one good laptop and external monitor.
For $800 it sounds more like you're after a high-end machine that can play games well...
$800 laptop being high-end? Nice joke. :D
$800 is low-end, or at best, middle-range. High-end are laptops built for professional market segment, e.g. MB Pro or Dell Precision Series. They cost usually something between $2000-$3000.
However, if you're not a professional coder (no big projects), I'd recommend something middle-range (sometimes called "business laptop"), like Toshiba Tecra, IBM ThinkPad or Dell Latitude. Solid laptops for good price. Don't buy low-end laptops. They can't even do Internet browsing experience smooth.
I will agree with Zereo and LB, You can get a very good coding laptop for less than $800. I’ll admit I prefer my desktop for bigger project, but so far my laptop has been able to keep up nicely and the only thing my primary desktop can do better is run high-end games.
I think people get spoilt with high end systems. When I have to do work on other systems in the company I can't believe that they use such slow clunky machines as a result I am with rapidcoder in thinking that you need a beast 'cos that is what I'm used to, your milage may differ.
One year ago. The newer model, although cheaper, still costs more than about $2500.
Wait, these prices sound suspiciously like Apple prices. Am I right? Cause otherwise I'd like to point you in the direction of every ultrabook on the market and how much lower their prices are compared to what you're describing. And keep in mind ultrabooks are premium laptops.
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That is a rip off :( you don't even get a SSD for $2300... You could build a custom desktop computer with 2 times the power for less then that. That is why I'm a strong believer in buying a cheap laptop for doing little things on the go and having a powerful desktop for when you want to game or do other things that require power.