If you have to procure a .NET developer laptop for under $500 what laptop would you choose? The developer would be running things like Visual Studio 2008, SQL Server Management Studio, IIS, and ideally SQL Server Express.
I only recently was working on this, and while I can't give you an answer, I can give some observations:
For $500 you won't get much of a developer laptop - $500 will get you a consumer laptop from BestBuy (or Dell if you order online). If that really is your budget all I can recommend is to look at the specs and try and fill the following which are in order of importance:
- 4GB of ram
- 7200rpm Harddrive, and without having details of your setup, at least 160GB capacity
- 1440x900 screen resolution
After that you can up the processor speed, increase the above 3 options, or add on additional extras.
However an importance question rears its head: Why only $500?
Is this a mom and pop operation with no up front capital, constantly ignoring long term costs in favor of short term savings?
The cost of licences alone is usually more then $500 - Visual Studio 2008 Professional is $800 to start.
Then there are support issues: Is it worth it to save $200 buying a consumer model over a business model, when it will later cost a minimum $1000+ in lost wages and business when something goes wrong and you get garbage support?
And finally what about the developers - are these laptops being purchased for outsourced labor in India? In the majority of businesses employee wages account for 50% of costs. Take the hourly wage of your employee (be sure to add in an estimate of benefits) and figure out how few hours of that employee's time would need to be wasted to make up the difference between a $500 laptop and a $1000 laptop. This is why big business seem adverse to adopting free software - if it costs the company even 1 day of lost productivity, the free software has cost more then the paid, supported software the employee's already know how to use.
I don't mean to rant, as you could be in the position of answering to a short sighted manager, or this may be a special procurement you haven't explained (is the laptop meant to be disposable?), but $500 for a developer laptop just seems way out of line for a critical employee tool - like saving $100 on office chairs by making $25/hour employees sit on crumbling orange crates.
I would buy smth like Vostro 1520 from Dell directly, with C2D processors and 2 gigs of ram and 7200 RPM harddrive. While this would not be a fastest pc on Earth, it should pretty much do the job. Actually it can be slightly more expensive, I found one for $570.
nowadays, any laptop, except the "netbooks" based on intel atom or via cpu, are suitable for average developing conditions.
Make sure you get a x64 OS if you put more than 2gb ram, as often OEMs likes to make "useless" computers with 8gb ram + 32 bit OS.
Remember that with $500 you will get at least a 1 year old stock (if you are lucky)