SystemsExpert vs Grokking the System Design Interview light text on dark background with hand sketches of Storage

SystemsExpert vs Grokking the System Design Interview SHOWDOWN

SystemsExpert vs Grokking the System Design Interview… Which prep course is better?

FAANG coding interviews are hard enough. But now more than ever, systems design questions are becoming a standard part of their interview process.

Companies like Google and Facebook are unforgiving. They want you to prove your knowledge of complex, large-scale systems that are maintainable and reliable.

Interviewer: Design Netflix.

Interviewee: Oh… Um… okay. Let me just get organized here.

How do you even begin to tackle that?

This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation if you buy something. Read my disclosure for more details.

๐Ÿฌ Unwrapped ๐Ÿฌ in 30 seconds (TLDR)

So which is the better systems design course – SystemsExpert or Grokking the System Design Interview?

Well, we recommend taking them both.

โžก๏ธ Grokking the System Design Interview is text-based. And it has more resources available for systems design basics. So you can start with the fundamentals and build a strong foundation.

There are plenty of interview questions, but the absence of a mock interview scenario may leave you wanting more.

And that can lead you towards being prepared for SystemsExpert.

โžก๏ธ SystemsExpert is video-based. Because of this, it moves at a faster pace than Grokking the System Design Interview. It provides a refresher of key terms and concepts, but the meat is in the detailed systems design interview questions.

So you can be confident with the foundation you built from Grokking the System Design Interview. And you can apply that to the SystemsExpert systems design questions.

SystemsExpert vs Grokking the System Design Interview: Comparison

Both courses were created by people that have worked at various FAANG-level companies.

SystemsExpert is a video-based, highly-interactive course. It was created by Clรฉment Mihailescu (ex-Google, ex-Facebook) and Antoine Pourchet (ex-Uber).

And Grokking the System Design Interview is a text-based course with ample media-rich examples. It was created by hiring managers from Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon.

Now let’s take a glace at some basic similarities and differences between the two courses:

Grokking the System
Design Interview
Course StyleText-basedVideo-based
Code Snippets2216
Developed by
FAANG employees
Cost~$79 for course,
$250 for platform
~$79 for course,
$139 for platform

And now let’s take a closer look at what SystemsExpert and Grokking the System Design Interview have to offer…


SystemsExpert is updated regularly with new questions, features and more.

It’s separated into 2 sections: Systems Design Fundamentals and Hand-Picked Questions.

1. Systems Design Fundamentals

You’ll start the SystemsExpert course by watching videos on 25 modules. Each covers a specific concept:

๐Ÿ”ท Leader Election ๐Ÿ”ท Peer-to-Peer Networks ๐Ÿ”ท Configuration

๐Ÿ”ท Hashing ๐Ÿ”ท Load Balancers ๐Ÿ”ท Replication and Sharding

๐Ÿ”ท Polling and Streaming ๐Ÿ”ท Rate Limiting ๐Ÿ”ท MapReduce

๐Ÿ”ท Client-Server Model ๐Ÿ”ท Storage ๐Ÿ”ท Network Protocols

๐Ÿ”ท Logging and Monitoring ๐Ÿ”ท Publish/Subscribe Pattern

๐Ÿ”ท Key-Value Stores ๐Ÿ”ท Relational Databases ๐Ÿ”ท Proxies

๐Ÿ”ท Latency and Throughput ๐Ÿ”ท Caching ๐Ÿ”ท Availability

And more.

Each module contains a video explanation of a systems design concept.

MapReduce hand-drawn data of map to data to k/v pairs, to reduce step to output
Video explanation of MapReduce in SystemsExpert

And it’s accompanied by a list of key terms you should be familiar with.

In addition, more difficult concepts include a code example for clarification.

shared screen of 3 panes of code examples
Storage code example in SystemsExpert video module

The modules are organized to build upon concepts from previous modules.

2. Hand-Picked Questions

Each question is presented in the form of a mock interview, which is an effective method of interview preparation.

There are 13 hand-picked questions. And you’ll design:

โš›๏ธ AlgoExpert โš›๏ธ Code-Deployment System โš›๏ธ Stockbroker

โš›๏ธ Facebook News Feed โš›๏ธ Google Drive

โš›๏ธ Netflix โš›๏ธ Reddit API โš›๏ธ Uber API

โš›๏ธ Slack โš›๏ธ Airbnb

Each question is neatly organized in SystemsExpert’s dark mode 4-pane integrated workspace:

Prompt: Here is where you’ll see the interview question. In addition, you’ll see recommended clarifying questions to ask the interviewer.

Scratchpad: You can write down all notes in an HTML-enabled note-taking window.

4-pane integrated workspace with top left prompt, top right scratchpad, bottom left video solution, bottom right solution walkthrough
4-pane integrated workspace in SystemsExpert

Video Solution: This is where you’ll hear the mock interview take place. Clรฉment asks the interviewer clarifying questions. And from there, he writes and draws out solutions as if an actual interview was taking place.

Solution Walkthrough: This list of walkthroughs is used to clarify the explanations in the video. Plus, these are great as a reference point when revisiting the question.

And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s an expandable glossary with about 100 key terms you can easily reference throughout these systems design questions.

New! SystemsExpert now has a 50-question quiz and a systems design certificate.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Cost:

You can get SystemsExpert for about $79 for an annual subscription.

Or you can buy the SystemsExpert & AlgoExpert bundle for about $139 for an annual subscription.

Check out SystemsExpert here. ๐Ÿšจ Use coupon code realtoughcandy at checkout and save 10%. ๐Ÿšจ

Want to know more? Check out our full SystemsExpert review.

Grokking the System Design Interview

In contrast to SystemsExpert, Grokking the System Design Interview is geared towards engineers in the earlier stages of systems design.

In addition to a thorough explanation of fundamentals, they also recommend various resources to get more in depth with key concepts. And from there you can graduate to navigating systems design problems.

The course is separated into two sections: System Design Problems and Glossary of System Design Basics.

1. System Design Problems

System Design problems include:

๐ŸŸข Web Crawler ๐ŸŸข Facebook’s Newsfeed ๐ŸŸข Ticketmaster

๐ŸŸข Dropbox ๐ŸŸข Facebook Messenger ๐ŸŸข API Rate Limiter

๐ŸŸข YouTube ๐ŸŸข Typeahead Suggestion ๐ŸŸข Twitter Search

๐ŸŸข Uber backend ๐ŸŸข Yelp ๐ŸŸข Nearby Friends ๐ŸŸข Netflix

๐ŸŸข URL shortening service ๐ŸŸข Pastebin ๐ŸŸข Instagram

Each section is broken down into multiple parts using:

๐Ÿ”ป text explanations ๐Ÿ”ป code snippets ๐Ÿ”ป illustrations ๐Ÿ”ป playgrounds

For example, let’s look at Web Crawler.

You’ll learn:

โœ”๏ธ what a web crawler is

โœ”๏ธ requirements and goals of the system

โœ”๏ธ design considerations

โœ”๏ธ capacity estimation and constraints

โœ”๏ธ high level design

Detailed component design Web Crawler example in Grokking the System Design Interview

โœ”๏ธ detailed component design

โœ”๏ธ fault tolerance

โœ”๏ธ data partitioning

โœ”๏ธ crawler traps

And more.

2. Glossary of System Design Basics

This section covers:

๐ŸŸฃ Key Characteristics of Distributed Systems ๐ŸŸฃ Load Balancing

๐ŸŸฃ Caching ๐ŸŸฃ Data Partitioning ๐ŸŸฃ Indexes ๐ŸŸฃ Proxies

๐ŸŸฃ Long-Polling vs WebSockets vs Server-Sent Events

๐ŸŸฃ Redundancy and Replication ๐ŸŸฃ SQL vs. NoSQL

๐ŸŸฃ CAP Theorem ๐ŸŸฃ Consistent Hashing

Here you’ll find extensive explanations and uses for each concept.

For example, Load Balancing looks at:

  • benefits of load balancing
  • load balancing algorithms
  • redundant load balancers
  • backend health check methods
Example of redundant load balancer in Grokking the System Design Interview

And more.

New in October 2020!
SystemsExpert now has a 50-question quiz and a systems design certificate.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Cost:

You can buy the Grokking the System Design Interview course for about $79 for lifetime access.

Or get complete access to over 150 courses and learning tracks on the Educative platform for about $21 per month.

Check out Grokking the System Design Interview here.

SystemsExpert vs Grokking the System Design Interview: Conclusion

We recommend taking SystemsExpert and Grokking the System Design Interview when preparing for your systems design interview.

With the expansive resources available on Grokking the System Design Interview, you’ll build a strong foundation of fundamentals.

Plus there are plenty of systems design questions for you to work on. But the lack of mock interview scenarios is something this course is lacking.

However, the questions on SystemsExpert are all mock interview scenarios. And with their refresher of key terms and concepts, it’s a well-rounded course.

So our SystemsExpert vs Grokking the System Design Interview recommendation: Prepare for your systems design interview using both SystemsExpert and Grokking the System Design Interview.

Up Next: Is AlgoExpert worth it in 2020? [ review]