What computer/laptop do big tech companies give to their engineers & programmers

One of the big questions facing a prospective computer or laptop buyer is which brand PC/laptop he/she should buy.

Most of us go by the reviews published on different websites to make an informed choice but it is a fact that most of these reviews are paid for and don’t give the correct picture to the prospective buyer.

Sometimes, going by such reviews might land the PC/laptop buyer with a dud/non-performing gadget causing not only monetary loss but data loss as well.

So what should such a buyer do in such cases?

The best idea would be to buy the very same computer or laptop which big tech companies like Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Twitter, etc. give to their engineers and programmers.

The reason for this is that most big companies have a dedicated quality control team that vets all buys including systems and laptops and when they make purchases it is bound to be good. And what is good for them should be good for you!

In this article, I have collated data from Quora to find out exactly which PC/laptops big companies give to their engineers and programmers.

What computer or laptop do software engineers or programmers at Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, etc. use?

1. What laptop/computer does google give employees?

We will start off with the big daddy of them all, Google.

According to Alex Wiesen, Engineering Manager, Voice Products Group, Google employees are given a variety of desktops, laptops, mini-desktops like Chromeboxes, and even tablets. 

Developers at Google typically choose a desktop and a laptop, and they can choose what they want.

Wiesen says that most Googlers choose lightweight laptops like MacBooks; while other people will opt for the beefier laptops.

On the desktop side, it depends a lot on what the developers are working on; iOS programmers are given Mac Pro, while Googlers working on the cloud have to work with Chromebooks.

Google engineers get beefy workstations running a modified version of Ubuntu. Benson Leung a Chrome OS Kernel Engineer says that his team works on Chrome OS and they are given Chromebooks to be secure enough for access to Google’s corporate network.

He himself uses Chromebooks to SSH back into my Ubuntu workstation to code. He also uses a Chrome Remote Desktop to run a UI driven app.

Leung says that most of Googlers are given MacBooks and Ubuntu laptops for running local applications but Chromebook is the most used laptop at Google.

2. What laptop/computer does Facebook give employees?

The social networking giant trusts Apple’s MacBooks and Lenovo Thinkpads for its employees.

Facebook front-end engineer, Daniel Baulig says that when you join Facebook you are provisioned with a laptop and a phone.

The choices  usually are Mac Book (15″, 13″ or Air) or Lenovo Thinkpad (T-series) and current iPhone or any flagship Android. He says that Facebook employees are rarely given desktops except for the VR guys.

He says that Facebook employees can  ask for anything that will help the job done. E.g. lots of Android engineers will have several phones for testing.

Some engineers working on VR software will have powerful desktop rigs. And lots of engineers will have two or even three monitor setups.

3. What laptop/computer does Microsoft give employees?

Microsoft unquestioning trusts Lenovo for its computer and laptop needs. Wirawan Winarto, ex-Technical Evangelist at Microsoft says that all employees are given two laptops.

Both Lenovo! One was used for daily administrative stuff (e-mail and presentation), while another one was used for engineering/programming.

Winarto says that he was given Lenovo W530 beast with Core i7 and 32 GB of RAM that ran Windows Server with a multitude of VMs running.

4. What laptop/computer does Adobe give employees?

At Adobe all employees are given a choice of owning any machine from the approved list.

Nathan Hoover, Senior Engineering Manager, Adobe says that if the engineer wants something more powerful,  the cost center manager has to approve it.

For engineers, the standards are a choice of top-spec 15? MacBook Pro, top-spec Lenovo W series, Mac Pro desktop, or Dell Precision Workstation.

5. What laptop/computer does Twitter give employees?

At Twitter, all engineers are given Retina Macbook Pros. Almost everyone has the 13″ version but the 15″ version is used in some cases where the developer needs a bit more power.

Samuel Maskell, Android Engineer at Twitter says that the company gives Macbook Airs to PM’s/managers/designers.

6. What laptop/computer does Amazon give employees?

Venkat Balabhadra from Amazon says that an SDE gets a choice of high-end Mac 14? Retina display i7 processor laptop or equivalent HP/Lenovo Windows laptop, a big 34? monitor or two 24? monitors, not just that any number of EC2 high-end machines as per requirement.

As you can see most companies prefer MacBooks for laptops and Macs for desktops while Lenovo PCs and laptops are the second choice.

Next time you decide to buy a computer or a laptop, do keep this article in mind.

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  1. At Trimble we most use Dell Workstation laptops, I use a Precision 7510 currently, I know there are some Macs and Linux machines around but for my work on our windows software I never use them. You can choose a lighter laptop or a desktop machine if you wish but most of us like to work remotely.

  2. These companies live on a different plane of existence than the population in general. I almost never see an Apple laptop at work (only at Starbucks).
    The only company provided Apple devices I see around are iPhones.
    Reliance on Windows is so strong that most company don’t even see Apple laptops as a choice.

    • I work for an ISV providing engineering software for Nuclear plants. Our product runs only on Windows and we develop on Windows with Visual Studio 2015 using MacBook Pros. We run a Windows VM on macOS using VMWare Fusion.

      Some benefits are being able to snapshot your development vm, roll it back, and a DR plan that can get us back up and running on a new MacBook Pro in under 5 minutes.

      • Since you’re VMing, you’re actually losingl the performance gain that the Mac is providing over a native Windows alternative, and are actually receiving a sub-par experience…

        Just thought you should know that :p

  3. I would have been interested to know this info for different sectors than “cloud”. Why not include some variety like including gm, ford, 3m, boeing, pfeizer etc…

  4. not nit picking here just letting you know on the last paragraph under Amazon you have lenono instead of lenovo unless that was intended if so my apologies.

    other than that great article, I my self use a dell precision m3800 that is about 3 years old now currently running windows 10 however I have had Linux on it as well.

    I have recently started trying out a mac mini (old used and slow for my tastes) just to get a taste of the mac ecosystem and see if I would really enjoy a macbook pro.

    I have seen Macs in place in the rural area I work, while the majority is windows there are exceptions which is surprising usually given the special software that these companies have that does not run on a mac natively, at least one client is using parallels to run windows to run their software and they claim to like it, also sadly they do not call me for issues as much as they once did (good for them bad for me) .


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