Resolved 13" MBA for development / daily use

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by michaelsviews, Jan 6, 2014.

  1. michaelsviews, Jan 6, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2014

    michaelsviews macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2007
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    #1
    Is anyone using this for programming and there full time computer ? Sales rep at the apple store said that the following would be more then enough.


    Went with this configuration, Thank you for the feedback
    1.7GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz
    8GB 1600MHz LPDDR3 SDRAM
    512GB Flash Storage
     
  2. TomBlack macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2014
    #2
    The configuration seems really ok, but some time later you will notice a need for bigger spacer and still connect an external screen. I tried using a 11" mba but later ended up using a cinemadisplay connected to a 13" mbp.
     
  3. michaelsviews, Jan 7, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2014

    michaelsviews thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Upstate NY
    #3
    I'm not really sure that 8 gig of Ram is going to be enough. I've been using a MBPr with 16gb & Quad core for now till I figure out what I'm going to stick with, this has the Retina display which is "GREAT".

    The MBA has the lightness if that's a word and portability but than again so does the MBPr 15" which I'll more than likely stay with.

    Just looking for other views

    Now if we can get apple to make a 15" MBAr with quad core, we'd be good to go.
     
  4. robvas macrumors 68020

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    USA
    #4
    Programming what? Turtlegraphics? Javascript? Database apps? Are you working on NFL 2015?

    It should be more than enough but you might be doing something crazy that needs more power.
     
  5. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    Location:
    Boston
    #5
    I think for most tasks, 8GB is more then enough for now and the future. How long are you preparing to hold onto the laptop, 3 years, 5 years?

    If you're happy with the 13" screen size the MBA is a nice machine, but have you also considered the 13" rMBP as that has a nicer screen
     
  6. michaelsviews thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Upstate NY
    #6
    Programming in JavaScript, PHP, C. MySql, I'm trying to save money is what it boils down too. The programming is a hobby and not bringing in money at this time. Do not see myself using any high end Adobe or CAD application's , as far as games go , maybe spend 15 minutes to an hour a month playing them.

    As for the 13" rMBP I have not really looked into it as of this posting, heading to the apple store later today. Spoke with a Apple rep on the phone and he recommended a rMBP , I am not in the habit of buying a new computer often, my last one was a 2008 MBP, but we all know that as soon as your happy with a new computer something bigger or better come's along and you just have to have it.

    If the MBA was retina and had 16gig of ram with an I7 It'd be a no brainer 15" would be the better.
     
  7. w00d macrumors member

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    Sep 14, 2010
    #7
    I don't understand why you'd need 16GB for development unless you want to run a bunch of VMs or are working with some application that has big memory requirements for data manipulation (and even in that case, 16GB is probably not enough).

    Source: Professional developer for close 15 years who wouldn't know what to do with more than 8GB using IntelliJ, Visual Studio, various dbs, python, javascript, node, Photoshop, etc etc etc.
     
  8. grizfan macrumors member

    grizfan

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    Location:
    Boise, ID
    #8
    For this type of coding, I think a Macbook Air would be great. I wouldn't worry too much about memory or storage, unless you get heavily into using virtual machines for testing. Even then, as long as you only have 1 running at a time, you will be fine.

    The main issue will be screen real estate. I do most of my web dev work on my 27" iMac, with a pair of 22" screens on each side :) In your case, you may want to eventually set aside a hundred dollars or so to purchase a monitor. You can always spend more on a monitor, but for basic code work, screen size is really the only concern.

    Again, if budget is a concern, you may also want to drop back to an 8GB/256GB option. When it comes to coding, you really shouldn't have need for too much storage, unless you have a big music or video library. And, an i7 is overkill, IMHO, for this kind of work; the i5 options will be fast enough.

    So, maybe price out a 13" MBA with the i5, 8GB memory and 256GB storage and a monitor for when you're at your desk... I would be very happy with that combination....
     
  9. cerberusss macrumors 6502a

    cerberusss

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    The Netherlands
    #9
    I'm developing in Groovy, Python and Objective-C (in respectively IntelliJ, vi and Xcode), and I've got the 1.5GHz/8GB/128GB version. Works great, but the 128 GB is tight.

    That machine is a beast, and is more than enough for the coming years.
     
  10. michaelsviews thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2007
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    #10
    Mba 13"

    First off thank you for all the reply's.

    I agree with the workspace, which is a major concern. A family member is suggesting that go with a 15" rMBP with 16 gig and that way I'm not looking for a computer a couple of years down the road, which I understand but based on
    Money, and the use / use's I'm kinda in the middle.

    Once again thank all of you for your input, very much appreciated.
     
  11. Robyr macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2010
    #11
    The way I see it, as an IT/Tech sector veteran, is that these types of buying rationalizations are faulty. No matter what you buy today, you will be looking again in a few years. Much smarter to buy what is economical and able to fit your current needs now than to try and guess the market 5, 3, or even 2 years from now. The MBA you buy today will sell at damned near new prices a year or two from now. If the landscape or your needs change, examine an upgrade at that time.
     
  12. scaredpoet macrumors 604

    scaredpoet

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2007
    #12
    Consider that, except for very high volume websites where massive resources and load balancing are required, most web servers running the LAMP stack do so on far less RAM and resources than even the base model MacBook Air. You really don't need a whole lot of resources for what you describe.

    Also consider that the MBA is deceptively powerful for its light weight and small size. Since mid 2010, I had been doing much of what you describe, plus sysadmin duties, plus Adobe Creative Suite, plus the occasional game on steam, on a 2010 MacBook Pro 15 inch. And then I bought the exact model MBA that you mention in your first post, and it runs circles around that old MBP.

    I think if you buy the MBPr, it'll definitely exceed your needs for years, and you'll wonder if you overpaid. You'll be equally happy with a maxed-out MBA.
     
  13. Suraj R. macrumors regular

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    Feb 17, 2013
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    Canada
    #13
    I might just be a student, but I use the 2013 13" i5/8GB/128 MBA for Python development (I use Python and Pygame in Windows 8 in a Parallels 9 VM) and for daily school work, and it works great.
     
  14. michaelsviews thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Location:
    Upstate NY
    #14
    Yes it will exceed my needs for years and I'm already wondering about over spending, hence that's why I'm asking the question's now. The biggest thing at this point is the retina display, and I know if I buy the MBA that Apple will come out with a new one this summer with Retina display or maybe not

    As far as system configuration I'd still stay with what I posted in the OP, maybe drop the SSD down to 256 but I'm not sure.

    I called the apple store and spoke to a sale rep and explained my dilemma he suggested picking up a maxed out mba and using it for 14 day's or coming in and pulling up a stool and seeing what the differences will be. Over all he did say that the computer would be fine for my needs and by going to the I7 would exceed my current need's , usage for 2 years maybe more.

    Guess I'm getting finicky in my older age and the bifocals .

    Thank you ALL for your insight , I sincerely appreciate it.

    Michael
     
  15. iizmoo macrumors 6502

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    Jan 8, 2014
    #15
    My work computer is a 2008 MBP Core2 Duo 2.4Ghz with 4GB of RAM and I can get by on it for PHP web development. I've actually managed to get by fine on it all the way until early 2013 without really major complains until I started doing heavy Ruby on Rails.

    My 2013 MBA with CPU and RAM upgrade is so much better. For PHP, you'll be fine and wouldn't notice any slow down even with an IDE like PHPStorm or Netbeans. The new PCIe SSD really make it great to use with PHPStorm when the IDE does indexing of your projects.

    I use RubyMine, PHPStorm and Xcode on mine, and they run pretty well. But sometimes at the edge of the RAM happy zone (where no swappy occur) if I've been working a few hours. A rMBP with 16GB of RAM would probably get further on this, but at the exchange of battery life. I hang around a group of IOS developers who mostly use 15" rMBP, my battery last way longer doing the same things on Xcode. They start plugging in after about 4-5 hours, I'm still at 60-70% :cool:

    The most intensive task I've come up against is the IOS simulator in Xcode, old MBP used to struggle, the 2013 MBA get through it pretty well, not as fast as the quad core MBP, but good enough for everything I've needed to do.

    I cheat in my development environment by offloading database operations to a home server or work server. Turn on MySQL locally when necessary, and for very small DB. If you're heavily reliant on MySQL, that will be a bottleneck, especially if you have large DB that uses innodb. I don't like to limit the InnoDB RAM usage, so will normally allocate 2GB for MySQL when it run, but that really cut down on the RAM available for IDE and background processes.

    The other major bottleneck in the MBA is if I try to run unit tests in RubyMine with profiling for code coverage. Most laptops are really short here once you get to several thousand tests. That's why I'm getting a nMP for work to run testing. If you've got quite a collection of PHPUnit tests, might run into a similar bottleneck.

    Other than those few limitations, I've found it to be an excellent development platform, with the understanding this is machine has a 3 years useful lifespan in how it's being used.
     
  16. michaelsviews, Jan 10, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2014

    michaelsviews thread starter macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2007
    Location:
    Upstate NY
    #16
    Thank you for the reply, for starters, what is your MBA's configuration? Also when you say that I would not notice any slow down in PHPstorm could you break that down a little more, because I'm using Webstorm now and thinking of going to IntelliJ. Battery life is important, and the people in your office that are using the rMBP on battery do not have the timeframe that the MBA does.

    I went to the apple store last night and once again explained my situation, the result was either the maxed out MBA I7 512HD 8GB Ram, or a 13" rMBP or 15" rMBP. I was also told that the i7 was an overkill for my current needs and that the I5 would be fine with 8gig of memory out of which is special order or BTO. I mentioned that the MBA would probably be getting a retina and that was shot down because of the battery life. On the MBA the screen was fine although a 15 inch would be the better, just can't believe that Apple does not have a 15" MBA, although if I buy the 13" then it's a no brainer that this summer there is going to be a release of a 15". Was going to bring one home and try it out this weekend but figured I'd sleep on it some more. Over all they said just return what your not happy with.
     
  17. iizmoo macrumors 6502

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    Jan 8, 2014
    #17
    I have the i7, 8GB and 256GB SSD. Even with an edu discount the 512 would have put it above 2K and I needed to save some beanies. You need the RAM, and my researched showed some possible lag or freezes with the i5 CPU. The max turbo is also a noticeable difference between the 2, I would not consider the i5 or 4GB to be workable, especially if you're keeping it 2-4 years.

    IntelliJ is used for Java/Scala/NodeJS development, Web & PHPStorm are for PHP isn stuffs, completely different footprint when you're actually running.

    For basic editing there are no slow down in editing mode, the problem with any jet brains IDE is they're java base and start having problems when your project get larger. For example, Rubymine has to keep all of Rails and any associated gem source code and your project's code in index for code auto completion, that can get to be around 400K+ lines, and the indexing process is longer and autocomplete more jerky unless you've raised the delay a little bit (I use 0.5 second). PHPStorm projects are much smaller and usually snappier for things like auto complete. In any IDE I've used, I would consider them all to be very responsive during editing, no lag or freezing that are noticeable.

    The slow part for Jetbrains IDE is during project indexing, that still take a little while, but a very acceptable amount of time on the i7 and SSD.

    The only time you will notice any lag at all is when starting IOS simulator in Xcode, that take a couple of seconds, not like 7-10 like on my old MBP, but still like 2-5 and it's a delay you'll notice.

    The i7 is not overkill. Apple uses different vendors for the SSDs, at 256GB and 512GB it's Samsung (the good one). The weight difference between the rMBP and MBA is incredibly small, 0.5 lbs. The choice is yours based on your screen need, budget, and if you need that extra 8GB. The real choice is the battery life.

    There will not be a rMBA because if you look at the rMBP, it's not really thicker by that much, the problem is the battery doesn't fit the MBA, that's why they called it the MBP. The difference in the 2 as a design compromise is really the battery, I got 6+ hours doing some heavy stuff before 10.9, now, I can probably get 8-10 hours in a real life developer usage mode.

    If battery & budget isn't an issue, go for a rMBP. If it is, I think a maxed out MBA will serve you just fine until 2017. Just don't be one of those people with 3 browsers that has 20 tabs each opened while you're trying to use PHPStorm on a massive project that's connected to a 20GB InnoDB backend running with MySQL hogging 4GB on the same machine...
     
  18. michaelsviews, Jan 10, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2014

    michaelsviews thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Upstate NY
    #18

    Budget is limited by me and by that I mean sitting there using a $Power machine or keeping it with in reason on both dollars and what use it's actually going to get. In your last paragraph you got me thinking because I am one that sits there an has maybe 8 or more tabs opened in a browser, and if your running Apache server along with MySql and lets say using Webstorm, too me that's going to eat memory and I say this based on seeing something close on a 15" rMBP with 8GB Ram and not running the 2 extra services, through Activity monitor. We had 8GB on the system and running Chrome and Safari with numerous tabs opened, along with webstorm and I had less then 3GB free , rebooted and closed the browser and had 5GB free.

    I'm taking everything I am getting from people on here and some of the Apple people that I have know for a few years and figuring it out from there. Monies are tight which I know everyone on here knows. I could go for a TOL 15" rMBP, but in the end, I have the feeling that I'll never come close to using the system for what it was designed for . Sorry if I'm repeating myself.

    Thank you all for the reply's , I was just told by a mac expert that I should have quad core and not dual core, dual core will not work or work properly for what I listed my requirements as.
     
  19. FrozenDarkness macrumors 65816

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    Mar 21, 2009
    #19
    i think ssd is the one thing people waste too much money on. Would you really use 512gb of space? It's possible with VM I suppose, but not likely. save some money, get a flash drive or something. put things in the cloud.
     
  20. iizmoo macrumors 6502

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    Jan 8, 2014
    #20
    Have you consider the mobility requirement aspect? It sound like being budget conscious is a priority and it sound like this will be your work machine, does it necessarily need to be a laptop?

    I hand upgraded a Mac Mini 2.3GHz i7 quad cores with 256GB Samsung 840 Pro, 500GB WD Caviar Black, 16GB RAM and it came out around $1250. And I had the original 500GB HDD as an external backup drive.

    I know most people are all into the whole laptop thing nowaday, but you just can't surpass the raw power performance to price ratio of a desktop, even if it's a tiny Mini. And once upon a time, none of us had laptops or iPhones, and we were still able to do works. A laptop is convenience, it's only as much of a necessity as you think it is, and come at a huge cost and performance price.
     
  21. robvas macrumors 68020

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    #21
    Hard to do if where you live or work, you can only get DSL or other slow internet
     
  22. iizmoo macrumors 6502

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    Jan 8, 2014
    #22
    It's reasonable if he's got a lot of projects on it. SSD have around an 80% utility rate before major diminishing returns (Raw estimate, I know). So that's around 400GB of effectively usable spaces. I have a 256GB on mine and use around 150, with World of Warcraft (30GB) and SimCity (5GB). But subtracting those out, once you consider someone's musics, pictures, and this is a developer's real work machine (lots of big software), a 256GB will just barely get you by.

    Upgrading via 3rd party vendor has it own expenses. I only run on 256GB because my work computer is a 120GB (not fun) and I'm used to being extremely space conscious. If I was using a computer normally, I would be close to the using 250GB. That's why my nMP on order has 512GB SSD. :D
     
  23. michaelsviews thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #23
    Staying mobility is where I"m at and I'm not doing money making programming at this time, maybe down the road, but for now, getting back in to the whole deal.
     
  24. AppleFanatic10 macrumors 68030

    AppleFanatic10

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    #24
    The specs are alright, the only thing that you might want is a bigger screen down the line. I used to use the Macbook in my sig for programming when I was a CS major, and I always wanted more than a 13" screen.
     
  25. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    #25
    I'd go with 8gb, I don't see the need for 16gb based on your stated usage :)
     

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