13'' MacBook Pro Non-Touch Bar Configuration Options for Programmer

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Juneauu, Nov 9, 2016.

  1. Juneauu macrumors newbie

    Nov 9, 2016
    Hi everyone,

    I am studying computer science in college next year, and I have decided to purchase a 2016 13'' MacBook Pro without the touch bar. I personally don't care for the touch bar, and I have decided the 2.9 GHz processor isn't worth it for me.

    I do however have a question about the configuration options. Like I said earlier I don't think I will be needing a faster CPU than the 2.0 GHz i5, so I will keep that. I keep reading of people that have upgraded to 16 GBs of memory. Since I will most likely be programming and running VMs next year will the RAM upgrade be worth it or will I be able to get by with 8 GBs? Secondly, will 256 GBs of storage be sufficient or is that worth considering upgrading to 512 GBs? I use Spotify, so I won't have music downloaded. I will not have movies or shows downloaded either. I will have a few pictures but not an excessive amount. Obviously I will have programming software, but no video editing software or any of that.

    Thanks for the help, and sorry for the long post!

    TL;DR Future Computer Science student about to purchase 13'' MBP w/o touch bar. 8GB vs 16GB of RAM? 256GB vs 512GB storage?
  2. catportal macrumors regular


    Aug 11, 2016
    get the ram and storage because you can't really upgrade them later
  3. dark_mark Suspended

    Nov 5, 2016
    As someone who studied Computer Science and now works in the industry. You DON"T want 8GB of ram!!!
    16GB is the absolute minimum you must have to get a decent developing experience.

    VMs take a lot of storage space and with 256 SSD you will always be hitting the limit having to delete your personal files just to get some school work done.

    Also I used the 2016 Macbook Pro without touchbar for a couple of days and my windows VM ran very very slowly on it with constant stutters just scrolling in Chrome. It probably has something to do with GPU throttling. I returned it and bought a 2015 Macbook Pro 15" with 512SSD, 16GB RAM and Radeon M370X and my developing experience is now excellent!
  4. justinf77 macrumors 6502

    May 18, 2003
    Did your non-TB MBP have 8GB of RAM? If so, that's probably the reason for the stutters. 4GB for the VM will tend to do that.
  5. dark_mark Suspended

    Nov 5, 2016
    No it had 16GB Ram. It's not the RAM. It is the GPU throttling since it uses low watt CPU/GPU. Scrolling stutters is a big indication that GPU is struggling to render enough FPS for a smooth scrolling experience.
  6. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Realistically, you don't need more than 8GB, even when running VM with visual studio. However, 16gb could give you a bit of a breathing space if you want to play around with some more demanding stuff. Similar, 256gb SSD should be sufficient if you don't have a large media library and show some restraint.

    Personally, I'd probably get the 16gb/512gb version, even if it's a bit of an overkill. But it's good to have a buffer.
  7. dark_mark Suspended

    Nov 5, 2016
    As a fellow .NET devleoper, it's very very painful to run a VM with visual studio on a machine with 8GB of ram. You will be dealing with page swaps daily.
  8. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    There shouldn't be any throttling. Windows VMs run beautifully on a 12" mb and first-gen rMBP, with weaker CPUs, so that's certainly not a problem. You likely experience a software bug, probably with your hypervisor. Which one were you using?
  9. dark_mark Suspended

    Nov 5, 2016
    I am not talking about performance in general. i am talking about GPU performance and scrolling in browsers such as Chrome or Edge. Try scrolling a webpage say "theverge.com" on your 12mbp and let me know.

    The reason why it will stutter is because there's an extra overhead involved in translating Direct X to OpenGL commands which VM performs
  10. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Is visual studio really that memory-inefficient these days? Used to run great two years ago when I last used it. Anyway, a different question: why does a .NET developer use a Mac in the first place? Wouldn't native windows environment make more sense?
  11. dark_mark Suspended

    Nov 5, 2016
    Yep, loading our project in Visual Studio takes 2.5gb of RAM alone. I use .NET for legacy back-end web service. We have switched to Node.js for new projects. I really hate having to use VMs, but such is life.
  12. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Ugh... that's terrible. Oh well, MS was always great at producing software that needs disproportionate amounts of memory.
  13. Softwarez macrumors member

    Oct 29, 2016
    I'm in a related field (computer engineering), and my advice is to definitely get the 16GB of ram. You never know when you'll have to run multiple VM's (although considering you're just starting undergrad, probably not very high :p). Furthermore, the future is moving towards higher ram usage. For example, Microsoft is planning to scrap svchost in Windows 10 soon, which will increase ram usage.

    As for storage space, it's best you weigh your own usage and make an informed decision. Outside opinions may help, but don't base your purchase off of someone else's usage scenario.

    That said, I personally went with 256GB because I simply don't use much. I store most of my small files on the cloud, and I have an external flash drive for the larger files like photos and videos. For engineering work, I tend to ssh into workstations which reduces the amount of storage I need on my mac.

    So yeah, make the best decision for your own unique case!
  14. David58117 macrumors 65816

    Jan 24, 2013
    You're a student - you'll be fine with the base configuration for four years.
  15. Antairez macrumors regular


    Mar 17, 2015
    I got by my 4 years for a CS degree in an Air with 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM, so yes you will survive just right. If budget isn't an issue yeah get the 16GB first if you like to play with VMs.
  16. cerberusss macrumors 6502a


    Aug 25, 2013
    The Netherlands
    Just add up your usage on your current computer. Here's some numbers from my laptop:

    macOS 30 GB
    Hibernation file 16 GB (it's double your memory)
    Swap files 2 GB
    Applications 10 GB

    My home dir has a 25 GB Library folder after two years of usage, and then there's some pictures, documents and music. You already have those, so you can add them up.

    Let's say a Linux VM is ~20 GB, and a Windows VM is ~40 GB.

    I think you'll do fine with the SSD that's 256 GB. I've got 8 GB of memory and I've run two Linux VMs, plus Xcode and assorted apps. I think I'd take the 16 GB because you can never expand it.

    Drive space is very easy to add; just get an external SSD for your VMs if you don't have enough. Yes, it's annoying if you have to carry an additional external SSD but there's a big chance you'll have enough internal space. Plus you can always sell it and get a newer model by that time.
  17. hj576 macrumors regular


    Oct 31, 2016
    I spent 2 years of my Bachelors in Software Engineering with a 1st gen i3 with 4GB ram and the rest 2 and my first year of Masters with a 3rd Gen i5 and 8GB of RAM, both windows machine.
    I never felt RAM was a bottleneck for me at least for my study related work, Of course I wasnt running any VM (i am dual booting with linux).
    I have ordered the base line MBPr 13 inch (should be delivered on Tuesday). I still dont need to run any VM speically not Windows (might have to run linux). And I wont really be using visual studio so i think 8 GB should suffice.

    But I guess, if you need to work on Visual Studio (which you might), 8GB might be less

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