Any MS Visual Studio developers happy with rMBP and virtualization?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by RoskO, Oct 29, 2013.

  1. RoskO macrumors member

    Jan 14, 2008
    Just curious if there's anyone here that uses a rMBP for Visual Studio development, and if they have the same problems I've had.

    Problem I was trying to solve: I thought it would be great to just have one computer for all of my development, instead of splitting time between my windows systems and macbook air for different software/environments. I do spend a significant amount of time in Windows 8 with visual studio 2012, but also wanted a system for web development and testing iOS devices with xcode emulators etc.

    Solution I am testing: I purchased a 15 rMBP with 16gb of ram for better virtualization, although I think I could have got away with 8gb. I installed windows 8 pro on parallels.

    Issue 1: Heat/Noise - I know a certain amount of heat is likely coming from the fact that the dedicated GPU kicks in with parallels in use. I can change that behavior and just use integrated I believe, but I was surprised how loud/hot the system got just using a virtual machine (not doing much inside the machine, it was just running idle). I guess I was hoping the fancy new vents on the sides would keep the noise down...I think I was wrong.

    Issue 2: Core speed doesn't change with processors on VM. I noticed within the virtual machine my cpu core speed never goes above 2.3ghz. Unfortunately this causes issue when I'm compiling software. On a comparable ivy bridge laptop that has turbo boost to 3.3ghz, the new rMBP builds my software in about 27-30 seconds, whereas the older windows laptop builds it in about 14 seconds. It doesn't seem like a huge difference to some, but it makes a difference throughout the day compiling and testing software....curious if anyone has a fix for this on parallels/vmware too. I'm guessing I just never noticed before, but it sucks to lose 1ghz of speed on a core that is makes a difference.

    Issue 3: Scaling on the virtual machine is a bit wonky due to the retina display. I know this is likely due to windows 8 not being quite as good as the mac at scaling, but it's a little annoying when the virtual machine looks a lot different than you expect.

    I know most people are probably thinking the best solution would be to just give up windows development :), but that's not an option right now for me. Any suggestions to improve my experience are appreciated. I'm still evaluating but leaning toward just going back to my two system rodeo with the air + windows laptop.
  2. ehfz macrumors member

    Jul 24, 2013
    I run a Windows 7 VM via VirtualBox on the latest 15" rMBP (top model with 16GB), however I haven't done too much heavy lifting with it yet. You're right that it's annoying that the dGPU automatically goes on when the VM starts, however I haven't noticed the fans spinning up at all just by opening the VM, I still have to apply some steady CPU or GPU load for longer than 10 seconds to hear any fan ramp up. The fans aren't a cure-all, but the nicest thing about them is that if you aren't pinning the CPU they are more or less completely silent.

    You're likely to get better native performance using bootcamp, but that may be annoying for your workflow I'm guessing?
  3. Starfyre, Oct 29, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013

    Starfyre macrumors 68030


    Nov 7, 2010
    Could you confirm whether bootcamp causes fans to go crazy? and if gfxcardstatus can help keep the dGPU off while running Virtualbox?
  4. LaravelNick macrumors member

    Aug 14, 2013
    I'm interested in doing exactly the same thing.

    Is this one of the new Macbooks that have just released ?

    Do you have SQL Server installed as a matter of interest please ?

  5. Animalk macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2007
    Montreal Canada
    I don't have any experience doing development on a local OS X VM running Windows because I know performance will be an issue when compiling and building substantial software.

    I've tried VM-Ware and Parallels for much simpler use cases than software development and I found the performance unsatisfactory. So I never even bothered trying software development.

    I would go with running Windows on a bootcamp partition. Also depending on what kind of software you are doing, I would look into remote/distributed compilation and building if your tools/software allow it.
  6. nathairtras macrumors member

    Oct 26, 2013
    I will be testing this out on a 13" once I get it.

    Plan is to have:

    OS X
    => Windows VM with SSMS / SSRS / SQL Server and 8GB RAM (4GB to SQL Server)

    I run a similar configuration on my work laptop, not virtualized, and my RAM never seems to break 6GB assuming I reboot it from time to time. Also a dual core, though I know the virtualization will make a bit of a difference there.

    Will report back with findings once I have a chance to test.

    My use-cases are pretty limited compared to heavy-lifting development. Thinking was if I ever needed anything beefier for building larger apps, there's always the option of setting up one of my rackmount servers as a build server.
    1. SQL development
    2. SSRS/SSIS development
    3. Occasional C# console app to either scrape or push data

    Just didn't want the 15", even though I'm sacrificing the extra two cores. Again, I'm not doing huge compiles, and I have VMs floating around elsewhere so I can just remote if I need a bit more oompf.

    I'm just not a fan of Windows, and want to branch out a bit at work towards some of the customer-facing stuff which is all Linux-based, so having OS X as my "base" OS and doing the less intensive Windows work in a VM seemed fine. If I like it enough, I may just switch my work laptop to a Macbook as well.

    Where are you working? Are you truly mobile, or just mobile in-office / at-home? If the latter, and making the assumption that your development is not primarily visual, why not just offload things like builds, and even possibly development if you don't mind remoting in, to a server you stash somewhere? Desktops are getting cheaper and cheaper, so you could have a pretty powerful Windows environment you can access remotely for not too much. I know this doesn't fit every use case, but if it can, it is worth a shot. A lot of my development is on my machine, but probably 25-50% happens on machines I'm connected to with Remote Desktop.
  7. mankymanning macrumors regular

    Jul 18, 2008
    Prior to my current Lenovo I used a Mac for several years doing C# development against SharePoint, on pretty large projects and never had any issue with compile times. I can see no difference between doing it on my host Windows machine now and inside a VM or a VM on a Mac. There might be a difference but it isn't noticeable in day to day use.
  8. RoskO thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 14, 2008
    Thanks for all the responses/suggestions.

    I'm going to try to shut off the dedicated GPU for parallels, that should help with the heat/battery life. The heat is pretty bad really...I guess it makes sense since the 750m is just a higher clocked 650m. The keyboard gets hot if you push parallels at all with DX10, I switched to 9 and we'll see how that goes.

    Another option might be to just get the iris pro version of the 15, then bootcamp can access the intel card and get good battery life while dedicated in the windows environment.

    I have a desktop that I can just use to code/RDP to, but if I'm out and about, RDP from a coffee shop isn't always the fastest/most enjoyable solution.

    As far as off loading compiles to a build server, that really isn't a solution to my problem, for someone who is writing a lot of code/compiling/testing your software before you push and integrate with a team. I setup a central build server that does some packaging and testing....but before we push software we typically compile/test a lot locally. To me the build server has multiple purposes, but compiling for me (on a blind push?) isn't one of them....and I have to compile to test what I write :). I'd assume most people do the same under visual studio/c# style WPF development.

    Unfortunately Apple has blocked windows once again from using the integrated GPU in bootcamp, so battery life/heat will be bad again.

    I'll keep testing and see if I can find some decent workarounds. Overall the performance is good, but when you spend $2500+ on a laptop, performance needs to be great/outstanding.

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