Any experience from MacBook Air 2018 as a developer's machine

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by vroy71uk, Nov 29, 2018.

  1. vroy71uk macrumors newbie


    Jul 27, 2016
    I am looking to buy a Macbook Air 2018 with 16Gb of RAM to use as my (secondary) dev machine.

    At the moment, I develop using (IntellJ) Java + SpringBoot + a couple of
    docker instances (e.g. postgress image). I will also use it for creating LaTeX documents and the occasional keynote presentation.

    By secondary dev machine, I mean that I will use it when I am travelling for a meeting, or trying a new idea and I am not on my desk.

    As a reference I am using a Mac Mini (2012 model with a i7 Quad Core "Ivy Bridge" 2.3 GHz processor , 16Gb RAM) and I consider its performance ok (albeit it *is* showing its age).

    On the other hand a windows machine with Intel Pentium CPU G2130 @3.2HGHz is completely inadequate (CPU usage goes up to 100% when compiling)

    This is going to replace an aging 2010 Mac Air (11") which obviously I am not using anymore for development, but just for browsing, but for what it is worth, it perfectly fit my development needs until 2015.

    Ideally, I would like to buy a laptop that would be usable for at least 4-5 years. Do you think it will be ok, or do I need to pay +500€ for a 13" Macbook Pro to get a machine that meets my needs?
  2. Ma2k5 macrumors 68020


    Dec 21, 2012
    I am sure it will handle things fine - there is a saying you can develop on a potato...

    What I do wonder though is, the battery life is all well and good when merely doing video playback and potentially some light browsing, however how does it handle when the CPU is under some load (not max load, not talking about benchmarks)?

    Some have said that 15W+ CPU's when under mild loads are more energy efficient than a 7W Y processor which is having to work hard to do some loads which a 15W will do comfortably. I don't know the technicalities behind this but I did notice some people mention their Air's don't seem to give them the battery life during productivity (which is usually not measured in review benchmarks). So if true, it could be a machine which doesn't really hold charge well if you're doing a lot of builds/compiling often.

    Of course the build/compile times will be longer than the alternative Pro's or other 15W+ CPU laptops, but not unworkable I would imagine. There could be some slow downs/beach balls from time to time if you have a lot of things going, but again, it is down to individual users how much of an issue that is. There are developers who use the even weaker 12" MacBook and are perfectly happy with it, while other developers find it unworkable. It is hard to gauge whether you will be fine with it or not as everyone has different expectations.
  3. Barna Biro macrumors 6502a

    Barna Biro

    Sep 25, 2011
    Zug, Switzerland
    #3 My use case is very similar to yours. Then again, the final verdict is subjective, just because I find it nice and it works for me, it doesn't mean that it will also live up to your expectations. If possible, get one and try it out for a couple of days and then decide for yourself (to me at least, that's the most reasonable way of approaching this; we could spend days/weeks/months looking at benchmarks and review videos and asking for opinions, but at the end of the day you just need to try it for yourself and throw your stuff at it and see how it handles it).
  4. - rob - macrumors 6502

    - rob -

    Apr 18, 2012
    Oakland, CA
    I do a lot of python dev on the new MBA, including some docker instances. I can def suggest going with 16GB of ram since docker eats up 3+ GB if it is available, which would be half of what MacOS would have available to allocate w an 8GB machine.

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3 November 29, 2018