Running 1 SQL Server instance (2005, 2008), sometimes an Oracle DB, Visual Studio, Communication applications (Email, IM, ...), and a couple of Virtual Machines at the same time.

Notebook or Desktop PC? What about the rest of the environment to make devs most productive? 2 monitors?


I run an almost exact set of applications on my developer workstation, and I'm very satisfied my setup:

  • Workstation (Not laptop)
  • 2 SATA harddrives 10.000 RPM. OS and applications on one, code on the other. This makes the compile/build very fast.
  • 4 GB RAM (Windows can not use more than this if you are running on 32bits)
  • 2 monitors, 22" widescreen. One horizontal as main screen (VS), and the other set up vertical on the right side for documentation/MSDN/outlook/VM.

I'm surprised nobody mention SSD...


2 hard drives configured in as a stripped array (RAID0) - Get latest and builds are IO intensive, as long as code is stored in some type of source control.

Scheduled system state backup, in case things do go bad.

Lots of RAM to host those VMs.

Local administrator rights, pretty much a give.

Windows x86 if you are running Visual Studio - VS is a 32bit app and although it can be WOW'ed on a 64bit OS it still slower (same with MSBuild).


This is for windows based development (as suggested by the apps listed in the opening post).

  • OS: Windows 7 RC1. x64bit a must.
  • CPU: Any dual or quad core
  • HD: Raid 0 if u can afford it - but make sure u don't have any important info on the - machine. Keep it on a network drive or backup device.
  • Monitors: 2x 22" min. 24" are sweet. 30" are generally faaar to big.
  • RAM: as much as possible. 4GIG minimum.

If u can, try getting a RAM DISK and putting stuff on that, like IO intesive stuff (code for builds, etc).

Don't buy a branded computer. Make it yourself. Save some $$$ and u get premium parts. Notebooks are the exception here, if u're going down that path.

If u're really lucky, grab SSD hard disks instead. Lastly, don't install crap u don't need. less bloat on a windows os, the better.


Notebook may be not fast running such applications simultaneously, so I'd recommend a desktop workstation.

  1. Multi-core CPU with VT support for Virual Machines
  2. As much RAM as you can afford - it's cheap now. I'd recommend 3-4 GB for 32-bit OS or 4+ GB for 64-bit.
  3. Fast HDDs. 10000 RPM are fine but some modern 7200s are good too. And yes, separate drives for OS and work files. RAID 0 may increase disk speed but beware of possible data loss.
  4. Widescreen monitor or two. See Espo's comment.
  5. Good big case with proper cooling and powerful and reliable power supply unit. Believe me, it's important for the health of all the system components!

My home rig has a Core2Duo 3.2GHz, 4 GB RAM, 3 7200 RPM HDDs (non-raid) and a 24" monitor. It runs applications similar to yours rather smooth, I'm satisfied.


This article on Stackoverflow has a discussion of workstation-grade hardware from various manufacturers. The material in it may be of interest. (Disclaimer: I wrote the accepted answer). This article discusses buying machines of this sort secondhand off ebay.

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