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We have an environment based on Microsoft stack (VS2010, SQL Server, etc), and I firmly believe that we could improve productivity a little bit, having more RAM and a faster secondary SSD.

What data do you advice to gather so I can solidify my request in such a way the advantages can be unbiasedly demonstrated?

Currently we have only 6GB of RAM and slower HD drives, and at home I have a 128 GB SSD in my desktop and 16 GB of RAM (I also think is the max amount of memory supported by our workstations, if we could go bigger then better), so I can feel the difference and it's real.

The issue actually is how to get a budget approval from management and spend it wisely to increase productivity.

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marked as duplicate by gnat, MichaelT, Jalayn, Martijn Pieters, thorsten müller Apr 12 '13 at 19:54

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

have you asked your manager for a pc upgrade ? –  NimChimpsky Dec 5 '12 at 15:07
That's what I'm trying to justify. A good PC upgrade for everyone here. –  Alex. S. Dec 5 '12 at 15:09
Do you know you need to yet ? Most of my managers have been reasonable enough that when I said my pc is well slow can I have new one, they said yes. Although saying that, I have a normal hdd and 5gb of ram. What the heck do you need that power for? Your not playing crysis are you ... –  NimChimpsky Dec 5 '12 at 15:11

6 Answers 6

Don't forget to include the subjective benefits of a faster development machine.

  • Fewer losses due to long context switches. Alt-tabbing to copy some input data, check the CI build status, answer a quick email/chat message, can break your flow and dump your context when it takes too long.
  • Quicker refactoring, search/replace, find usages, open resource, etc. When your machine can perform these tasks in a second or two you find yourself making use of them more often which can increase productivity further than the mere time savings.
  • Less aggravation from waiting for slow tools. The more efficient the developer, the more noticeable slow tools become, and the less they will be willing to put up with crappy working conditions.

I'm aghast to read here that any developer in this day and age should be convinced that a $200 SSD and $100 of RAM are bleeding edge. It's ridiculous to pay top dollar on good developers only to shackle them by penny-pinching on hardware.

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Aside from any productivity issues, I think it is a really bad idea to buy your developers special hardware!

The reason being that if your users are stuck with a five year old 1.6 ghz two core machine, and your developers have 3.00 ghz four core machines, then, your developers will write software that runs just fine on their machines but slows to a crawl when deployed in the real world.

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I disagree. Develop on a fast pc and test it on a slower one. Why frustrate yourself with a slow PC? –  Carra Apr 12 '13 at 15:59
Irrelevant if you're writing web apps, of course. And developers in any decent-sized organization won't be doing performance testing, that's part of the QA team's job. –  TMN Apr 12 '13 at 17:54

I would be surprised if an SSD or more RAM would make signicant differences over and above improving the improving the actual build process/contiuous integration.

I use intellij with java at home and at work, home has an ssd and 12gb ram and work has 5gb ram and a traditional hard-drive. My actual dev/build/deploy process, I notice no difference at all. They are both fast.

Sort out the slow build/dev process first before getting bleeding edge products.

Also, I would be weary of presenting a thoroughly researched and documented business case highlighting a 3 minutes saving each day; When the business case documentation has obviously taken you days to create.

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@DeadMG sheesh, I think if you work somewhere that pedantic there might be other issues. I spend longer making a cup of tea. –  NimChimpsky Dec 5 '12 at 15:26
@Arkh must have ? I'd be very surprised if anything like even 25% of developer machine has an ssd. Development used to be done on punch cards ... –  NimChimpsky Dec 5 '12 at 16:19
@Arkh I am not dissing ssd's I love my 256gb from samsung in my home pc. But saying they are a must have ignores the fact that millions, literally millions, of developers do not use them at work. –  NimChimpsky Dec 5 '12 at 17:10
@Arkh and, I use intellij with java at home and at work, one with ssd and one without. My actual dev process, I notice no difference at all. They are both pretty instantaneous,which leads me back to my the other point - sort out the build/dev process first before getting bleeding edge products –  NimChimpsky Dec 5 '12 at 17:17
@NimChimpsky You make good points, and I'm not trying to jump on the bandwagon of bashing your viewpoint, but don't forget that "sort out the build/dev process" costs money, too. Perhaps a lot more than an $80 SSD. And the SSD will improve lots of little things with very little effort. Opening big solutions, code analysis, test crunching, virus scanning, etc. are random access disk usages that will whizz on an SSD. It's foolish to always be on the bleeding edge of hardware just for funsies, but it's also foolish not to adopt hardware when its benefits outweigh its costs :) –  mo. Dec 5 '12 at 18:34

Add together the salary cost of all the developers and extract a relatively small percentage (ie. productivity gained). Showing a comparison of that to the cost of upgrading everyones machines to your boss should help your case.

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Simple. Time your common operations, prove how much the faster hardware would reduce your times, and then calculate how much money the company loses by making you wait for these operations in terms of your salary. Then you can objectively prove how much money the company saves by upgrading your hardware.

Now, I can buy a 256GB SSD for about £120. Let's say that it saves ten minutes each day for compiling, loading up my machine, and whatnot.

Ten minutes each working day is 2500 minutes for 250 working days. That's 41 hours. So unless I earn a meager £3/hour, the business profits.

It'll be easier to convince your managers to spring for new circuitry if the alternative is "I'm going to go and spend fifteen minutes every day watching porn whilst the waiting on my machine to do something and you're paying me to do that."

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how will a ssd save ten min each day compiling, surely a decent ide utilizes ram for auto comiling during dev ? –  NimChimpsky Dec 5 '12 at 15:14
Right... but depending on your salary, it could save you a lot less time and still be in profit. The point is, there's an objective, quantifiable case for saving developer time through superior hardware. –  DeadMG Dec 5 '12 at 15:17
You know how you click a button, and the thing freezes for a second? ...makes you lose your train of thought. Damn it's slow! What was I doing again? Oh yeah firguring out why the XYZProvider ain't providing. What was wrong with the data again? Let's click another button to double-check. Argh! Slow! That's it, I'm done with this sh!t. I'm taking a coffee break. It's not the compile time that kills you, it's the little things. –  MrFox Dec 5 '12 at 16:28
@BryanOakley if yr build takes 30mins you have other problems ... –  NimChimpsky Dec 5 '12 at 19:18
It's immaterial how long it takes to compile and link, what's important is how much less time it takes if you have an SSD. –  DeadMG Dec 7 '12 at 1:02

Start with Scott Hanselman's Ultimate Developer PC article. It has facts, figures, specs, costs, etc. As a Microsoft technology luminary, his weight behind how to craft a PC for developers should help hold water when making the case.

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He didn't keep it up to date (over two years old) and some of the parts have been discontinued. I did not look through any of the links except one which is in Chinese language. –  Rob Dec 5 '12 at 15:36
Nice thing is you can get a much better PC than that for $1000 now. –  Philip Dec 5 '12 at 15:43

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