Invest in the tools for the job!

Photo by Cesar Carlevarino Aragon on Unsplash

Over my time in various industries, there have always been extremely important topics regarding what people need to do various jobs. For jobs that require hand tools, a majority of what you would ever need is basically above in the picture.

For Software Engineers it is a bit different and that is what we are going to take a look at today. You need to make sure that you are in a position to quickly, and efficiently build out applications and software.

The reality is pretty simple. You do not need a whole lot to get things functional. You need a computer from basically the last decade that can run the applications that you need to build the projects.

An i3–7 or an equivalent AMD processor
A few gigs of RAM
and a 1920x1080 display

That really is it, and to be clear I am sure that you can do it with even less than that on the processor side of things. But, you do not want to.

Let’s talk about what I use.

I run the following:

Home Office

AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
1TB Western Digital Blue m.2 SSD
GeForce RTX 2060
2x 34" ultrawide monitors (one is a gaming monitor the other is not) (HDMI Switch to using MacBook when needed)
Astro A50

Mobile Office
MacBook Pro 13" (2019)
Magic Keyboard & Magic Touchpad
CalDigital TS3+
AirPods Gen 2
1 TB Lacie External HDD

Now, let's be very clear here. I have been a gamer for far longer than I have been interested in software, and the home build reflects that. It is a low-mid-range gaming build. But this build has given me a leg up when it comes to not only programming but also the ability to dive into content creation.

You are the only one who knows where you are financially. You are the only one to make the choice of computers for you. Here are your choices to consider:

Operating Systems:

For Linux & Windows, you get to choose what hardware you want with very few limitations.

For Mac, you need to not even bother trying to build a homebrew. Simply buy one of the Macs at an Apple store.

From here out I am going to ignore mac until the end. This is because you can literally buy any of the prebuilt macs of the current year and be fine from MacBook air all the way to the top-end Mac desktops.

I would argue that 8GB is the minimum.
16–32 GB would be far far better.
128 GB Would be amazing (been drooling)

Hard Drive(s):
I would advise an SSD or M.2 SSD for your system drive ( you can get away with 128GB for this since the system installer is very small)
For storage, I would advise 1TB so that you have enough storage for everything.

The Minimum that I would suggest would be at MINIMUM (Like bare minimum) is a 9th Generation i3 or AMD equivalent.
This will be the bottleneck of a computer. i3s are not very powerful in comparison to the i5 & i7s. I would aim for them or the Ryzen 5/7.

Graphics Card:
Well… This is on you. Personally, I would run a dedicated graphics card, but it is not required. If you want to have large monitors, do any sort of video gaming, or really anything beyond crunching code I would get one.
RTX 1660 would be a great option for an entry-level card that would give you a bit of oomph but still be mainly work-focused.

Keyboard: Spend the cash and get a mechanical keyboard. Brown or blue are great for typing, but I personally run red switches.
A comfortable mouse. I run a wireless Logitech Pro.
A Good Monitor that is 1920x1080
USB Hub to have additional plugs

If you are still reading and have not figured it out yet. You can run almost anything. You are the one that gets to figure out what you enjoy working on, and some employers will require certain OS’s based on their infrastructure, but usually will provide a laptop to run off of.

Even if you cannot afford a computer right now look up online IDEs and run with them until you can get there. Take the time and learn, that is the important thing. Do not wait to start your journey.

I hope this has helped, and if you enjoy this content then take a look at my podcast JavaScript LifeStyles where I educate people on getting into the industry and how to be more successful once you are there. I certainly would appreciate the support on Spotify & YouTube as we build a community!

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Full Stack JavaScript Engineer