Novice, what computer?

Hey like many I’m looking to make a career switch. I plan on focusing on web web design. I have an old Mac from 2009 that’s on its last leg. I’m looking for something under $200 since I only plan on using it to learn to code. Any suggestions?

go on amazon and buy a refurbished small factor pc. You can get a i5 series quad core with goodies for under $200. I’ve bought a few of these for various servers. They aren’t going to blow you away but for your use case it’s all you need.

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You don’t need any particular hardware to do web programming. Just choose one that you like in terms of size, keyboard, features, etc.

Okay will do, thanks for the quick responses!

I did the refurb as @placidseven mentions and can only recommend in terms of value for money. Any recent CPU will do and RAM can usually be added cheaply.

Did however end up with a 1280x800 12" laptop display which later on made it a bit tricky to check how responsive templates behave on resolutions from mobile to 1080p. If you connect an external 1080p display or TV that’s not an issue of course but keep it in mind if not.

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Okay yeah I’m a long way from that being an issue haha. Any models you might suggest? I’ve been looking at some HPs and Dells for $189 that seem like good deals.

I’m in EU where numerous companies are competing in refurb market. 30 days return (postal free) and 1 year warranty makes it a very good buyers market.
Prices in direct sale vs. ebay and amazon are typically 10-15% lower.

While some of the points below hopefully are useful for you none of them are really that big a deal for coding and web developement. There are loads of free tools online that can replace installing all kinds of stuff locally so if you already have high speed internet and a tablet, chromebook or phone that can connect a monitor, keyboard and mouse that’s really enough to get started.

Look at it from a workspace POW instead of hardware dependant, as in: ‘in this space where I’m gonna spend a lot of future hours, what I need to be productive is…’. My experience now is that chair, table, light(s), monitor size and quality, keyboard, headphones/speakers, snacks (!) are more important than CPU, RAM, disk, software.

If you already have a nice TV or display that’s convenient to use as monitor and don’t need a laptop to lug around and work with anywhere consider a small desktop PC instead and get started for maybe 100$ less.

That being said - I wanted a touchscreen with digitizer pen and chose a HP 2760p to save 30-50€ vs. a Thinkpad. 2 years after thoughts:

  • the older TFT (?) displays are quite dull, some are glossy, newer IPS or similar are much much better

  • but if it will stay connected to a 20"+ monitor most of the time anyway they’re OK as a small 2nd display

  • VGA and HDMI output. The 2760p only has VGA and needs a dock, which only has DisplayPort out, and therefore a extra adapter to connect to a TV by HDMI (or a DP to HDMI cable).
    VGA resolution is good enough for text, images, video tutorials, HDMI best for tv/movies and video editing. My TV had a VGA input already, and I can stream 1080p movies and series from tablet or phone to it, so the dock and adapter turned out to be a silly 30€ extra cost to add to a 125€ laptop. Oh well.

  • the dock did bring a eSATA port which is twice as fast as the built in HDD, but also need a 20€ cable and disk enclosure thingy

  • for even higher speed HDD could have been switched to a SDD, but that would at least double the base price

  • most of the models on sale only had USB 2 ports and a PC Expresscard slot (PCMCIA). There are Expresscard adapters for firewire and USB 3 available. I tried two USB 3 models, neither worked so maybe my slot is gone and done

  • if it is used as a desktop most of the time (hooked up to a monitor or TV that you already have) save some bucks on a model with keyboard and display wear and tear and buy a nice, large keyboard and mouse instead for all those hours working at it

  • I added 8 GB RAM for 25-ish euro money and that’s been great for VMs especially

  • remember the power cord in the train to avoid a 15€ bill for a off-brand replacement

So - if buying a new old one again I’d prioritize:

  1. USB 3 port or a working Expresscard slot with a USB 3 adapter and install OS on that instead of HDD
  2. cheap and easily upgradable RAM
  3. if I was commuting daily or regularly or switching location often a 3 hours (at least) replaceable battery
  4. HDMI or DisplayPort out for those rare but crucial times per year connecting to the nearest available TV/monitor somewhere
  5. if budget allows, a model with fanless CPU
  6. if using Windows, a Win 10 license
  7. or wait and see if the market shaves of 15-20% more for models stuck on Windows 7 (which reaches end of support soon)
  8. Linux is superior in any case :slight_smile: and free, so check if models without a Win license are cheaper

Sorry for info overload! I’m a gearhead and a bit hardware OCD…ask away if anything is unclear.

I suggest you take a look at Lenovo t420/t430 laptops, you can find them used on eBay
they are good and cheap. but if you want to spend more then 200$ you should consider Lenovo’s
t440 / t450 especially the 1080p - i7 ones, they are great

Whoa thanks for all the info! It’ll take me awhile to absorb all this but I’m super thankful! Haha