Do You Need a Good Computer to Learn How to Code?

As technology continues to drive our world forward, programming and coding have grown into popular and invaluable skills. However, many people wonder if they need a powerful computer to start their coding journey. The short answer is: no, you don’t.

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Key takeaways

  • You don’t need a high-end computer to start coding
  • Online tools and cloud-based solutions can supplement limited hardware
  • Learning with modest hardware can teach efficiency

Not About Hardware, But The Will To Learn

A common misconception is that learning to code requires top-of-the-line equipment. Some might be discouraged from starting to learn because they are using an older computer or a budget-friendly device like a Chromebook. However, according to various coding enthusiasts and professionals, the hardware is far from the most important aspect of learning to code.

In reality, learning to code is about understanding algorithms, logic, and problem-solving. You can learn to code even on a 20-year-old potato of a computer, as long as you have an internet browser and the capability to install some basic software. In fact, many coders recall starting their programming journey on old machines with limited power and resources.

Some believe this limitation can even be beneficial. For instance, when writing code on older machines, any inefficiency or misuse of resources is much more evident. A slow program or one that consumes too much memory can prompt a beginning coder to optimize their code and form better habits, learning to write more efficient, resource-light programs.

The Humble Beginnings

You may be surprised to know that many renowned programmers began their journey with modest equipment, and some even on machines that could be considered ancient by today’s standards. This is because the core of programming lies in logic and problem solving, not in the hardware you use. Therefore, a basic computer, including a cheap Chromebook, could be enough to get you started. The key is your dedication to learning and problem solving, not the specifications of your device.

The first version of LISP, for example, was developed in 1958 on 16-bit machines that ran at around 120kHz, had 64KB RAM, and filled an entire room. Today, we have significantly more powerful devices at our disposal, and you don’t need a machine as powerful as a modern gaming PC to start coding.

The Tools For Learning

With the advent of online integrated development environments (IDEs), the barrier to entry in coding has been lowered significantly. Platforms like, Glitch, and others offer an entire coding environment in a web browser, allowing you to write, run, and debug your code without installing anything on your computer. This makes coding accessible even to users with low-end hardware or restrictive operating systems, like a Chromebook.

Learning to code is more about understanding the principles and concepts than about using complex tools. Input, transform, and output are the core stages of any program: you read some data, perform calculations, and then output a result. Even simple text editors with syntax highlighting can serve as effective learning tools. As your skills advance and your needs grow, you can then upgrade your tools and computer.

Understanding the basics of coding does not require you to have a machine capable of heavy computational tasks. You’re not going to be creating high-end games or running deep learning models when you’re just starting out. All you really need to learn the basics are tools that allow you to write, edit, and run your code. Even if you want to do something a little more complex, there are cloud-based solutions that can handle the heavy lifting for you.

Do Upgrades Help?

While you don’t need a powerful computer to start learning to code, there might be benefits to having more capable hardware. For instance, a bigger screen can help by allowing you to have your code and learning material open at the same time. A comfortable keyboard can also make your coding experience more pleasant.

Depending on the kind of programming you want to get into, there may come a point where an upgrade makes sense. For instance, if you’re interested in graphics-intensive programming or game development, you might eventually need a more powerful computer. Similarly, specific tasks like emulating an Android phone for app development can be resource-intensive.

Beyond the Basics

While basic hardware is sufficient for learning the fundamentals of coding, there may come a point in your coding journey when more powerful hardware could be beneficial. For example, if you are interested in developing graphics-intensive applications, running complex simulations, or working on machine learning, you might need a more powerful machine.

However, by the time you reach that level, you would have hopefully got a solid grounding in programming and will be in a better position to invest in the necessary hardware. It’s also worth noting that even for these more intensive tasks, there are cloud-based solutions that can provide the computational power you need without you having to own high-end hardware.


The takeaway is this: you do not need an expensive, powerful computer to learn how to code. What you do need is a desire to learn, a willingness to persevere through challenges, and a curiosity to understand how things work. With these qualities, even a basic machine can be the launchpad for your coding journey.

So, dust off that old laptop or boot up that budget Chromebook. Your journey into the world of coding is ready to start, no matter your hardware. It’s your passion, curiosity, and determination that will really power your coding adventure.

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