13" Recommendation? (Portability and Virtualization)

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by ms960, Sep 12, 2013.

  1. ms960 macrumors newbie

    Apr 14, 2011
    Looking for insight and advice from the gathered experts here.

    I have a 17" MBP, which I love of course, but it's far from portable. I need something portable, and am considering the MBA 13 or the cMBP 13.

    The reason the cMBP 13 is on the radar screen is because of upgradability. The MBA 13 for obvious reasons -- light and very portable. 11" is too small for my eyes.

    My uses: Internet, email, and Office applications. I have a need to use Microsoft Access for one of my projects (not by choice), and would therefore need to run Parallels to use it. Therefore, virtualization is also a requirement.

    Can a 2012 or 2013 MBA 13 run Parallels sufficiently? Is 4/8 GB RAM sufficient? Is 256GB (the largest SSD available in these) large enough for Win 7/8 virtual machine?

    Liking the cMBP 13 for it's ability to be upgraded to 16GB, but not liking the screen.

    Liking the MBA 13 for the same reasons everyone else likes it. Just not sure if 8GB/25GB SSD is sufficient to run Parallels. I've never used Parallels before so am just not familiar with the real world requirements to run it efficiently.

    Not that interested in the rMBP 13. Can't justify yet the cost for it.

    Would appreciate insight/comments/experience/suggestions.

  2. Atomic Walrus macrumors 6502a

    Sep 24, 2012
    You're probably going to want to pick them up and assess the weight as far as portability. The cMBP 13" is a full 1.5lbs heavier than the MBA, putting it in the same weight class as the rMBP 15". Coming from the 17" anything will feel portable, but you want to make sure you consider your needs. For example, the MBA can be easily used for an extended time held in one hand without any strain, but the 4.5lbs cMBP might push that limit.

    MBA comes in up to 512GB SSD this year. 8GB should be enough for what you're doing (using a VM but not for anything too seriously taxing as far as memory). That said, by the time you upgrade to a 512GB SSD and 8GB (+ i7?) on the MBA you could do quite a bit with the cMBP for the same cost. In fact if you're in that price range you're already pretty close to a 13" rMBP.

    Screens on cMBP and MBA are both relatively poor quality in terms of colors, brightness, uniformity, but at least the MBA is 1440x900 instead of 1280x800.

    I'm going to return my 2013 MBA tomorrow and wait for the Haswell rMBP refresh (cannot unsee high quality IPS panels), but if that wasn't in my price range I'd definitely stick with the MBA over a cMBP simply because of the portability. Between battery life and weight it's really a great choice if you need to be extra-mobile.

    Random note, I'm not sold on the MBA form factor. The weight is great, but that tapers to a knife thing... I feel like that's an ergonomic flaw IMO. You don't feel safe holding it from the thin edges because of metal flex, and it seems like it has more bezel than it needs to (it's actually a larger footprint than the rMBP 13", and I think even the cMBP 13"). I also felt unsafe using it a the car the other day (not driving in case you're wondering) because of the blatant "this is a knife" impression I got from the front edge.
  3. Krazy Bill macrumors 68030

    Krazy Bill

    Dec 21, 2011
    Either machine will be fine for this. Even boot camping into Windows with that MBA say... a 50GB partition will work. But I have to say... your biggest hurdle will be getting used to the smaller display.

    Both machines have their advantages and you already hit on them but as a portable user I'm envious of the new Haswell Air. It has some serious battery-ass-kicking power.
  4. MathBunny123 macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2012
    Toronto, Canada | Sibiu, Romania
    I personally find that virtualizing an operating system is not quite as intensive, and will be surprisingly easy to use. Even if you use only Microsoft Access, and you do not need Windows 7, then you could virtualize Windows XP which will require less RAM.

    For example I sometimes only use around 256MB of RAM, only because Windows XP will not use all of the RAM required.

    So therefore, I believe that you do not need a very powerful processor / RAM, nor will you need a lot of hard drive space because Windows XP will not use a lot of hard drive space.

    If you are further interested in this, I also have a YouTube tutorial that may help you.


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