4Gb of RAM enough to run Windows & Fusion in Unity mode?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by gwsat, Oct 21, 2010.

  1. gwsat macrumors 68000

    gwsat

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2008
    Location:
    Tulsa
    #1
    I am intrigued by the new 13 inch MBA but the maximum RAM available is only 4Gb and is apparently not user upgradeable. I would love to buy a new MBA but only if I can be satisfied that its 4Gb of RAM would be sufficient to allow me to run Windows in VMware Fusion's Unity mode and simultaneously run several Windows apps and several OS X apps from the OS X dock.

    My current MBP is a Santa Rosa model so it can reliably use only 6Gb of RAM. That has been enough, however, for me to run as many Windows and OS X apps as I want at the same time. Does anyone here know whether 4Gb might be enough for that? Without some advance indication that there would be a high degree of probability that I could use a 4Gb MBA that way, too, I am unwilling to spend $1,800, plus tax on a new MBA, only to discover that it is unsatisfactory for my purposes. I would be grateful for any insights any of you might have.
     
  2. pvmacguy macrumors 65816

    pvmacguy

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2009
    Location:
    Jax
    #2
    I'm running an aluminum MacBook with 4gb or ram using parallels in q similar mode as vmware and it does just fine.
     
  3. gwsat thread starter macrumors 68000

    gwsat

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2008
    Location:
    Tulsa
    #3
    Thanks, that's encouraging. If I can get similarly positive feedback from a few others who, like you, have had real world experience, I will probably screw up my courage and buy a 13 inch 2.13Ghz MBA with 4Gb of RAM.
     
  4. jthomasa macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 6, 2010
    #4
    I'm running a 2010 MBP 2.4 C2D with 4gb RAM. I've consistently gotten acceptable performance running XP (I don't like 7) through VMWare in unity mode. I've alloted 1028mb of RAM for the vm and it seems a pretty good compromise. It takes longer than I'd like to boot the vm, and it isn't what I'd call responsive but it's enough to not get irritating while running Outlook, Word and Excel.
     
  5. Cat5e macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2010
    #5
    Same thing here. On a 2.26ghz/4GB MBP, my XP vm in Fusion, runs without issues. I have it set to use 512mb of ram since I use Unity mode and I've never had a problem with various programs including Zune Marketplace.
     
  6. thatdrewguy macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2009
    #6
    Is 64GB enough to have a decent Windows partition with the 11"? I current have Fusion installed but end up bootcamping into XP on an early 2009 macmini. Will 128GB be better for Win7?
     
  7. aberrero macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2010
    #7
    Maybe I need to reevaluate how well os x handles memory. for me in windows 7, I could do anything even with 2gb, and only upgraded to 4 for games. I've run multiple vitual machines in the background before and I was totally fine.

    Is osx really that much more ram hungry?
     
  8. aberrero macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2010
    #8

    I have found that you can get by with any sized drive you have, and that you will fill any drive, no matter how big.

    I was more or less fine using os x on a 16gb ssd. You can give yourself 32gb and be happy, but know that windows will need 32gb at least if you plan on gaming. If not, 20gb is enough for windows and office.

    Anyway, you will be glad to learn that the 13" comes stock with 128gb anyway, and the model with th 2.13ghz cpu actually has a 256gb ssd, so I think you should be fine :)

    Edit: oh, you weren't the OP, I'm assuming you will be going for the base 11"?
     
  9. stockscalper macrumors 6502a

    stockscalper

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2003
    Location:
    Area 51
    #9
    Run Parallels just fine with eye candy turned on on iMac with 4gb's of ram and I don't see any lags.
     
  10. thatdrewguy macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2009
    #10
    yes i'm not the OP and was going slightly O/T but the discussion was about Windows/Fusion and I didn't want to start another thread. :)

    The 11" would be the perfect size replacement for my current thinkpad X60 (12").

    EDIT: For the price of the 11" with 4gb ram & 128gb ssd I guess the better value would be to just get the bone stock 13 for exactly the same price. If it doesn't feel that much bigger when I test drive both of these I think I'm leaning towards the 13 now.
     
  11. Jaro65 macrumors 68040

    Jaro65

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2009
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #11
    I'm trying to determine the very same thing. I run Win 7 through VMware Fusion in Unity mode most of the time, mostly to run the Office 2010 and MS Project apps. My Win 7 VM has 2GB RAM available to it, and running it off from SSD offers a nearly seamless experience. It is nearly as if it were running on a native Win machine, with apps and files loading without any delay. But...I am still running it on my MBP with 8GB of RAM, and so the OS X has plenty of RAM to run Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.

    I am deciding between 11" and 13" MBA's. They are sleek and offer great screens. At the same time, the 13" MBP would still allow me to load it with the full 8GB of RAM and twin drives. Decisions, decisions....
     
  12. DiamondGCoupe macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2007
    #12
    I believe you will be disappointed with the MBA + Fusion. I had no luck running virtual machines on my previous MBA model (tried Fusion and Parallels, never Boot Camp). Always lagged after a very short time (~5 minutes) from the HEAT, one of the major flaws (my opinion) of the MBA. It's so thin, there is no room for it to breathe! Granted I only had 2GB of ram, I had similar issues on my MBP with 4GB. RAM is not the issue, or at least shouldn't be. If you are def going with 13", there is no reason not to get a MBP. Stick to the Air if you're only browsing the web, e-mail, light office work (documents etc..).
     
  13. gwsat thread starter macrumors 68000

    gwsat

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2008
    Location:
    Tulsa
    #13
    OK, guys, thanks to the positive feedback I have received, I am on the cusp of ordering a 2.13Ghz 13 inch MBA with 4Gb of RAM. If the sleek little thing can even come close to performing as well running Windows 7 in Fusion's Unity mode as my old 2.4Ghz MBP with 6Gb has done, I'll be a happy camper. I will wait for a little while to see what the folks who take computers apart and evaluate them have to say. If their reports are generally positive, then I'll get one.
     
  14. gwsat thread starter macrumors 68000

    gwsat

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2008
    Location:
    Tulsa
    #14
    My MBP couldn't handle Fusion in Unity mode, either, when it had only 2Gb of RAM. Fusion is a RAM hog. With only 2Gb of RAM Windows apps were always slow and unreliable. But upgrading to 6Gb solved the problem.

    My MBP runs pretty hot even with 6Gb of RAM but I can deal with that. I customarily place my MBP on top of a coffee table book when I am going to be using it on my lap for an extended period. So heat with an MBA shouldn't be a problem, so long as it didn't lag too badly. As noted in another post, I am willing to make some reasonable compromises in order to enjoy the remarkable sleekness and ultra lightweight of an MBA.

    The dirty little secret of Apple gear that is bigger than an iPad seems to be that almost all of it runs hot. In addition to my MBP's heat, my Time Capsule, several Airport Express units, and Apple TV all get quite warm.
     
  15. EARL97850 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2009
    #15
    How warm are we talking here?

    Would it burn my lap as I were to use the Air?

    Do you need a "cool mat" running under the Air so as not to burn your hands and lap?

    Cya
     
  16. gwsat thread starter macrumors 68000

    gwsat

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2008
    Location:
    Tulsa
    #16
    I have had no hands on experience with an MBA, so I can't assess how hot it gets. My MBP, though, gets hot enough so that I don't want the exposed metal of the machine in my lap for extended periods. According to iStat, my internal temps are within normal limits. I have no trouble holding the MBP in my hands or even using it in my lap for a short time. It's only when I plan to have it in my lap for an extended period that I resort to the coffee table book. I have rejected the idea of a cool mat as overkill because the book is a satisfactory, albeit kludgy, solution.
     
  17. EARL97850 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2009
    #17
    Thank you for the info.

    Cya
     
  18. DiamondGCoupe macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2007
    #18
    Guarantee you will be disappointed with that setup if you're planning to use Fusion etc.. The computer can handle it, per se, but it just gets soo hot after a few minutes the performance goes to hell. The MBA can handle gaming on par with a Pro, but only for a limited amount of time. That's the issue I experienced. Happy to have sold mine and upgrade to a Pro. Now it may be a completely different experience with 4GB of RAM.. Hard to tell at this point. I would suggest holding off for a few weeks until other users have posted their experiences with VM/Fusion. Don't order anything yet!


    It can get that hot. Cool mats only help so much but like I mentioned before, the casing doesn't allow the Air to breathe very well. A mat wouldn't really draw the heat away in that case. I always found myself using it for 30-40 minutes and shutting it down for a while to "cool off". Hardly something you will want to do when investing that kind of money in a computer. Better to get an iPad or MBP.
     
  19. Cat5e macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2010
    #19
    6gb is plenty for XP, 7 takes around 11-14.
     
  20. mr0c macrumors regular

    mr0c

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Location:
    Virginia, US
    #20
    OP: I'm in the same boat, using a 2007 MacBook Pro (although 15") but not keen on the weight. Would be very interested to hear your experiences.

    I also use VMWare heavily due to Windows requirements and have learnt to managed/reboot when needed.

    I'm keen on the 13" with 4GB, as it would match my current display size and should speed up significantly with the SSD - just need to see if performance would last for 3 years.

    (Think I need to get myself to an Apple store and play for a bit as well)
     
  21. gwsat thread starter macrumors 68000

    gwsat

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2008
    Location:
    Tulsa
    #21
    mr0c -- I suggest that you call the Apple Store first. I just called the Apple Store in Penn Square Mall in Oklahoma City and the guy I talked to knew absolutely nothing about the new MBAs, not even when the store would be receiving them.

    Although the 13 inch MBP, upgraded to 8Gb of RAM and a 256Gb SSD, would serve my needs in most ways, I, like you, am not crazy about its weight. Compared to the new 13 inch MBA's svelte 2.9 pounds, the 13 inch MBP weighs in at a considerably porkier 4.5 pounds.
     
  22. kevink2 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2008
    #22
    I had been planning to buy the MBP once the event passed, in case there was an upgrade provided.

    But the Macbook Air, which I thought looked neat when it came out awhile back, but was too limited to me, sounds appealing now. Especially with the improved pricing.

    And considerably cheaper than the MBP I would probably buy. I'm thinking that, for a few years at least, the performance will be good enough.

    I would likely install Windows 7 on it, either boot camp or vmware, probably with vmware, but only for some office type applications and Quicken.

    My biggest issues with Vmware on my Mac Pro are the following:
    multiple cores show up as multiple CPUs in vmware. So, since I had bought the Home version of XP, I only get 1 core for Windows even though I have 8 cores. The Pro version would have made an additional core available.

    The other issue is I didn't dedicate a hard drive for Windows on it. Since it was boot camp, heavy disk usage in Windows and Mac really affects performance due to seek time. The SSD in the MBA should eliminate this as an issue.
     
  23. gwsat thread starter macrumors 68000

    gwsat

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2008
    Location:
    Tulsa
    #23
    Another advantage of the SSD in the new MBAs would be that even if a memory shortage caused a lot of page outs, there would be less of a performance hit because of how much more quickly the SSD could transfer data between the disc and memory than a conventional hard drive could do. For that reason I am about to decide to buy a 13 inch MBA with a 2.13Ghz CPU and a 256Gb SSD. I now believe it's likely that such a configuration would give me satisfactory performance running Windows 7 under Fusion in Unity mode in tandem with OS X apps.
     
  24. mr0c macrumors regular

    mr0c

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Location:
    Virginia, US
    #24
    Thanks for the reply:
    I can understand the MBP with 8Gb would do wonders but my other consideration is the screen size:
    13" MBP = 1280 x 800
    13" MBA = 1440 x 900

    Very tempted by the Air, not 100% convinced it will last me 3 years :confused:
     
  25. gwsat thread starter macrumors 68000

    gwsat

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2008
    Location:
    Tulsa
    #25
    How I would accommodate to the 13 inch screen size on what would be my every day computer remains to be seen. I am cautiously optimistic because I had the opportunity to use my college student grandson's 13 inch MBP this summer and liked it. As much as I like the large 17 inch screen on my MBP, I am much less sanguine about its weight, more than 6.5 pounds. Thats why the prospect of the very thin and very light, 2.9 pounds, MBA is so exciting.

    If there is anything I have learned about laptops over the years it is this. As they become smaller and lighter they contain more compromises. Thus, the MBA probably has a larger risk factor than a more mainstream computer but I am tempted to take the chance and get one.
     

Share This Page