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seems like the microprocessors market is in a turning point. I'm going to need to buy a C#/java developer's laptop soon, and I wonder if now is the best time to buy it.

yes, obviously the longer you wait the better computer-money ratio you get, but are there "seasons" when it's considered smarter to buy a new laptops? are prices going to drop in your opinion?

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8 Answers 8

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Well, there are seasons and special dates when equipment goes down in price:

  • After, or On a holiday (maybe be looking for a memorial-day sale near you or online)
  • Back to school sales (Doesn't help you much since you'd need to wait a few months)
  • Also, whenever a new model comes out, the older model goes down in price (sometimes substantially.
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This is the eternal question, but there is only one simple answer: It is always the wrong time. Whenever you buy anything remotely technical (computers, cars, ...) you will always have the "new model" available relatively shortly after your purchase, or the prices just drop.

However there is some "soft" advice:

  • Do not buy the latest and greatest products, because they usually have a "bleeding-edge premium" price
  • Buy a "current generation" product. This will give you at least a little more time, before you get completely out of date again.

The most important point IMHO howver is:

  • Get a clear idea of what you really need !

Avoid kitchen-sink products which try to be everything to everybody. Usually they make too many compromises. For a developer machine you will hardly need Blu-Ray drive, maximum 3D game performance and water cooling. Instead, strive for a fast hard drive with low latencies, high screen resolution and lots of memory. CPU power is not as important, because most of the time you will be typing text and for compilation it does not really matter if you have 2.8 or 3.0GHz clock speed.

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true, but i think a good cpu is a must! it allows for heavy multitasking and virtualization... –  Sander Versluys May 20 '09 at 10:40
    
That's what I meant with "current generation" product. This will make sure you get a decently fast CPU. Assuming that memory is paramount IMHO. But this is a rather academic discussion in the face of current hardware power :) –  Daniel Schneller May 20 '09 at 11:51
    
What? I noted that compilation time, tasks that process gigabytes of data, number crunching and virtually everything I do would benefit from higher CPU clock. It might be not worth the premium when going to the high end of the CPU range, but CPU should not be overlooked. –  Dani May 20 '09 at 12:31
2  
Make absolutely sure you get a laptop with a good keyboard. Most netbooks are entirely unsuitable for any kind of long-term use, as the keyboards are rather small and cramped. –  Jonathan Prior May 20 '09 at 12:49

The prices will always drop in the week after you made your purchase.

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4  
The soloution that of course is to convince someone else to buy a laptop, then buy ten of the same model a week later. Bargin! –  Richard Slater May 20 '09 at 10:49
    
first time I LOL-ed in serverfault :) –  Amir Arad May 20 '09 at 17:35

There are no such seasons that are easy to detect beforehand.

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Dell will sometimes have crazy specials right before the end of their fiscal quarters, but those specials can be hard to find/time. I agree with the other answers. Try to determine what you need, check prices, and buy when you're ready. As also stated, whatever you buy, it will be cheaper a week later.

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Well, currently the ThinkPad T61 with WXGA+ or WSXGA+ resolution screen is available ridiculously cheaply, and I can vouch for it as a fantastic dev machine. So I would say now is a good time :)

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Tomorrow.

Depending on production of certain components, the computer may be cheaper, but it won't be by much.

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Usually you can buy high-end models cheaply, shortly after the new version comes out. Being high-end, they by far not yet obsolete.

For example about a year ago decently equipped XPS M1530 would cost 1000€, right after the new XPS line came out, it's price dropped to 600€.

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