My SharePoint 2010 Development Laptop Experience

It seems like I have always struggled with the right hardware for SharePoint 2010 development. In the past I’ve used either a local desktop, remote access to a development server, or more recently a Dell Latitude E6500 laptop. In the SharePoint 2003 – 2007 world, I didn’t have too much of an issue. I typically run SharePoint using VMware Workstation. I remember starting with 4GB RAM and a single hard drive. The MOSS Development experience was “Okay” at the time. I honestly didn’t know any better.

Then SharePoint 2010 came along and my development experience went downhill from there. I had to bump my Dell Latitude E6500 up to 8GB of RAM, and use an external hard drive for running VMs. The experience was still difficult. If I wanted to run a SharePoint VM I would need to crank up the VM, go get some coffee and hope that everything would be ready to go 10 minutes later. With some optimizations to VMware and regular maintenance to my laptop, I could keep things running smoothly, however I always felt like I had to constantly think about performance. For example, I would close down Microsoft Office if I was going to run my SharePoint 2010 VM.

Fortunately, I have recently upgraded to a Lenovo ThinkPad W520. Here are some quick specks:

  • Intel Core i7-2620M Processor (2.70GHz, 4MB L3)
  • 15.6” FHD (1920 x 1080) Display
  • NVIDIA Quadro 1000M graphics with 2GB DDR3 Memory
  • 8GB Memory (with room for 2 more sticks)
  • Intel 160 GB Solid State Drive (For the primary OS)
  • ThinkPad Sata HD Bay Adapter with a WD Scorpio 500 GB 7200 RPM Hard Drive (For backups and VMS)

I’m currently running Windows 7 Professional with a SharePoint 2010 standalone install directly on the box. I’ve struggled with this decision (and still struggle with it). I enjoy having 2010 running directly on the machine for several reasons. Primarily the performance is great and I don’t need to start up a VM when I want to do some quick development or testing. However, I loose the ability to take snapshots and separate my development environment from my primary workspace. I am still running VMware with a MOSS VM for when I need to go back to SharePoint 2007 development.

Overall, the performance of the W520 for SharePoint Development has been outstanding. It is an awesome experience to be able to have a MOSS VM running then switch over to Visual Studio 2010 for some quick SharePoint 2010 development while having Office and other programs up and running in the background. The time savings is tremendous!