Apple store recommended i7 not i5 if adding Windows in parallels - any advice?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by EffieJ, Aug 30, 2011.

  1. EffieJ, Aug 30, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2011

    EffieJ macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2011
    I am proposing to switch from a pc and want a 4GB 13" but will still want to use Windows with parallels. I will mainly do light stuff - Office (excel, word, outlook) and surfing.
    The store guy said definitely get 256 drive if installing Windows and to get the faster i7 processor not the i5.
    Will this make much difference? I am quite prepared to pay the premium for the i7 but don't want noisy fans or overheating (or reduced battery life) especially if it won't make much difference. I presume he is right about the 256 drive compared to 128.
    I'm new to this and have looked at the other threads but would appreciate your sage comments.
  2. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    More power definitely comes in handy if you are running Windows in Parallels, since you are running 2 operating systems at at time. If you are getting the 11", I'd recommend it. If you are getting the 13", it's less important, since the 1.7GHz i5 is noticeably quicker than the 1.6GHz in the 11" anyway.

    There is no noticeable difference in battery life between the i5 and i7 (Macworld and AnandTech noted this in their tests). The i7 can run a little hotter, but I don't notice anything unusual on mine. I had a 2010 11" MacBook Air and now have a 2011 11" i7. The i7 runs a little hotter, but it isn't bad at all.
  3. sloan47 macrumors member

    Aug 3, 2011
    Hmmm... overall yes I would recommend the i7 if you're going to be using VM's but if your needs are just Office and some light activities I'd recommend buying Office 2011 for mac. It's actually much better than iWork and it's a pleasure to use. If those are your only uses than an i5 would be just fine.
  4. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    Why were you expecting them to recommend i5, out of curiosity?
  5. appleguy123 macrumors 604


    Apr 1, 2009
    15 minutes in the future
    Apple employees have told me that I'm buying too much computer for my uses before. They're not on commission.
  6. Fernandez21 macrumors 601


    Jun 16, 2010
    While the employees may not work for commission, the store probably has a quota to meet. Someone correct me if i'm wrong.
  7. vitzr macrumors 68030


    Jul 28, 2011
    With just 4GB ram, if you run a VM it will be laboring & slow. However you can probably make do if you don't run anything more than the application you're using. You will definitely want the i7 / 256 model.

    I have the same model, ran Win 7 in a VM but just didn't have the patience for it. However I'm used to running that same setup in my i7 / 8GB / SSD equipped 15" MBP.

    That one is a rocket, so I'm used to the speed.

    Depending on your point of reference you may find it acceptable.

    One things for sure, the 13" MBA is a great model.
  8. Tae.One macrumors newbie

    Aug 13, 2011
    Virtual machines do require a bit of processor power but the Core i5 will have no problem doing this. I currently run Parallels with no problems what so ever...aside from the initial problem with parallels not working with update fixed that.

    I think the recommendation comes from the fact that it's safer to say use a Core i7 rather than saying, usually due to not having first hand experience.
  9. New2MacOS macrumors member

    Apr 7, 2008
    I have a 2011 11.6/4/128 i5, and Office 2010 on Windows 7 on Parallels runs very well. No speed issues. Hope this helps.
  10. Mr. Retrofire macrumors 603

    Mr. Retrofire

    Mar 2, 2010
    I do not see a big difference regarding virtualization between the Core i5 and the Core i7, at least not on the data sheets. But you should try to get as much RAM as possible (my own experience with VMware Fusion, Virtual Box and Parallels). Both processor types support Turbo Boost 2.0, so that if you give the VM only one processor core, it should run much faster, even on a i5.
  11. alecgold macrumors 65816


    Oct 11, 2007
    I have the same uses as you do and it did run fine on my 2010 13" ultimate and it runs even better on my 2011 11" ultimate. So because the c2d processor could run it very smoothly, I wouldn't expect any trouble with the i5.
    If you have the money and plan to use the laptop for a long time, buy the i7 as it might be just that little bit better in the future, but for the moment the i5 is really fine.
  12. ybz90 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 10, 2009
    It'll work just fine with the i5, if you can't afford or don't want to pay for the i7. Otherwise, I think they're just trying to upsell you.
  13. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    You're wrong. ;)

    Anyway, you should be perfectly fine with the i5. Assuming no ill intent towards you, the employee may have been referring to the virtualization technologies that intel started building into their chips. I think every i7 has the tech, but only certain i5's have it. In this case, the 1.7 i5 in the 13" Air does have the technology. However, neither Parallels nor Fusion have implemented this technology as of yet. (All of this I learned in another MR thread from earlier today).

    In any case, the CPU will likely be plenty fast regardless of which model you buy. The more important things to consider are RAM and Hard Drive (capacity in this case as an SSD will be very speedy anyway).
  14. Mr. Retrofire macrumors 603

    Mr. Retrofire

    Mar 2, 2010
    With the current VM-solutions on Mac OS X, you cannot use VT-d on Sandy Bridge CPUs, but you can use the EPTs (Extended Page Tables) on all Sandy Bridge CPUs, which makes the memory management within VMs much faster.
  15. kettybear macrumors member

    Mar 30, 2011
    Get the i5. i7 for $100 more is not worth it considering only about 10% performance increase. (The benchmarks are there) The i7 also runs a lot warmer. Also when you're running a VM, the 4GB memory would be the bottleneck.
  16. chapmac macrumors member

    Dec 30, 2007
    Agree with all the above. I use VMware (very similar to parallels) with Windows XP every day and have done for the last 3 years or so. I mainly do MS Office stuff (I do a lot of MS Access). It was fine on my core2Duo Macbook and I have just upgraded to a i5 13" Air. The whole experience is a quick as you'll every need it if you are doing nothing more extensive than MS Office and pause/resume takes about 5-6 seconds with the SSD which makes it really easy to dip in and out if you need to rather than have running it permanently.

    RAM is much more of an issue than processor. Use XP if you can as you can get away with allocating less RAM than Win 7 but if you are worried about the performance of the VM then a better bet would actually be a MBP with 8GB RAM than spending the extra money on an i7. Its a non issue IMO.

    My typical use would be VMware open running a few office programs (I have 756Mb allocated to the VM) + OSX mail, a half a dozen tabs open in Chrome and probably Word and Excel for OSX. 4Gb RAM is enough for this, but I think I'd be pushing it if I had to allocate another 1/2 Gb to the VM for Win 7.

    Don't necessarily bother about the 256Gb either, obviously this depends upon your use but don't think its a must. My VM takes up about 18Gb if you can live with that don't spent the extra money. 128Gb + a portable usb hard drive is a LOT cheaper!

    Hope this is useful.

  17. Azathoth macrumors 6502a

    Sep 16, 2009
    256GB and stock i5 would be fine IMO.

    I run VMWare and Windows 7 on my 4GB MBP15 2010 (which as *roughly* (within 20%) the same CPU processing power as the new Core i5) with an 160GB SSD. Unless you plan to store no media at all, and manage the SSD space, then you will need 256GB SSD.

    The configuration is memory bound, not CPU bound.

    Win7 runs firefox with 256MB RAM, other apps with 512MB - So I would allocate 768-1024MB of RAM to the VM (I run engineering programs with 768MB RAM allocated to Win7, no problem)

    OS X slows down to a crawl with <2GB in my experience, so let OS X keep most of the memory.
  18. TheRealDamager macrumors 65816

    Jan 5, 2011
    I run Win7 on my 2011 MBA (and ran it on my 2010 MBA) with 4GB of ram, and it worked just fine. In fact, I was amazed how well it ran. I wouldn't do heavy duty gaming or anything, but for internet and Office use, you would be hard pressed to know you were actually running a VM.
  19. Pipper99 macrumors 68020


    Aug 14, 2010
    Fort Worth, TX
    I was running Win 7 in Fusion on my 2010 13" Macbook Air Core 2 Duo in order to run Quicken, and I found the overall Windows performance to be responsive. Granted, Quicken isn't a program that requires a lot of speed, but the VM ran nicely without any issues.
  20. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    Regarding the SSD size, it really depends on what you are running. I had the 128GB model MacBook Airs since January 2008 and have been running Windows VMs since then. Windows 7 takes up about 16-20GB depending on whether you install the 32-bit or 64-bit versions. Add your application and data space, and also a few GB for Windows to use as a swap file. 32GB may well be enough for Windows 7 and Office 2010. Note that the 128GB model has 120GB of actual usable space (112GB the way Boot Camp Assistant sees it since it uses the 1024K system rather than the 1000K system), so subtract your OS X needs from that.
  21. optmi macrumors member

    Jun 19, 2011
    I just bought parallels for my 2010 MBA 128/4g/1.86 C2D so I can run Win 7 in tandem. I have to say, allocating 2 gig to each OS, both OS's fly. I also have coolbook running undervolting which brings down the heat. My guess is that the i5 will be fine for the purposes of running Win 7 under Parallels. I'm having no problems and very very little lag. Then again, I'm not gaming, just running office, project, and the usual work applications.

    Of note, I really really wish I had bought the bigger hard drive now that I have both OS's running. Running out of space quickly if I want to have my pictures and documents there as well. I keep all my videos on my home network but I'm still pretty close to full.
  22. ZipZap macrumors 603

    Dec 14, 2007
    Finally, the correct answer.
  23. accessoriesguy macrumors 6502a

    Jul 8, 2011
    yeah OSX Lion loves RAM and 4GB can be too little without swapping. save yourself some money, and instead of virtual machining just use built in bootcamp, little more inconvenient but its free and it wont use up your RAM or processing power as much.
  24. dubels macrumors 6502

    Aug 9, 2006
    You are wrong. It's all about the loyalties. Having big numbers without loyalties is not good. Apple employees are taught to listen to the customer and advise them on the solution that is best for their needs. I have recommended many customers away from more expensive machines.

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