Buying a MacBook Pro 13 inch to run Windows 7 half the time - Is it crazy?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by maxkumar, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. maxkumar macrumors newbie

    Sep 11, 2010
    I have never owned or used a Mac before, but after falling in love with the design and functionality of the only Apple product I have owned (iPhone 3GS), I am seriously thinking about getting a MacBook Pro 13-inch. I have read really good things about the notebook - battery life, design, apple support etc.

    But I have a big dilemma. I will definitely need to install Windows 7 on the MacBook Pro along with OSX because I do Windows & Microsoft.NET development. If I bought the notebook, my usage of OSX and Win 7 on it would probably be a 50-50 split.

    Could someone kindly provide their advice/opinion on the following?
    1. Is it crazy to buy a MacBook Pro 13-inch with the intention of using Windows 7 on it half the time?
    2. How is the performance of Windows 7 on the Macbook Pro 13-inch under bootcamp? Does it run any worse compared to other notebooks that run Win 7 natively?
    3. What is the average battery life when running Win 7? Is it any worse than other notebooks which natively run Win 7?
    4. What kind of incompatibilities will I run into when I install Win 7 under Bootcamp? Can I expect all devices (USB, superdrive, trackpad etc) to run flawlessly?

    I would be really grateful for some good advice - I have been grappling with this issue for 3 weeks now and can't reach a conclusion. Thanks.
  2. lbro macrumors 6502a


    Jan 22, 2009
    1. No, its perfectly sane. I'm sure there are a lot of mac users that do that.
  3. labaom macrumors member

    Jan 24, 2009
    1.) No it isn't crazy because that is why bootcamp was created.
    2.) Windows will run the same speed as any other laptop with the same specs. For some reason Windows in some ways feels snappier. Windows 7 on a Mac is native... it is just a partition like any other computer. Remember Mac is just a name. It just happens OSX can only legally run on a "Mac".
    3.) Battery life on the apple website is shorter in real life unfortunately. It is still good. But battery life in Windows is even shorter 3 1/2 hours I think. Still good compared to most laptops.
    4.) After you install Windows it will be messed up, that is when you install Bootcamp software in Windows using your installation disk that comes with your Macbook purchase. Then everything should work.
  4. willieva macrumors 6502

    Mar 12, 2010
    You might want to consider just installing it as a vm using parallels or fusion. Unless you're doing graphics work it's probably fast enough and your setup will be much more versatile that way.
  5. maxkumar thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 11, 2010
    Thanks a lot for the all the advice so far. So I guess it's really not that crazy to use the MacBook Pro for Win 7. I am not so sure about the VM option though - I understand that it would be a more flexible setup, but wouldn't it run a lot slower than Bootcamp? Or is the difference not really that much if the VM image is given sufficient RAM? I will definitely not be doing any graphics stuff, mostly for coding and development.

    Also, what are the typical values that people get for the Windows Experience Index on their MacBook Pro 13-inch? I looked at many Windows notebook brands (Asus, Lenovo, Toshiba etc) at a computer store a few days back and I don't believe I saw any machine with a WEI score of more than 5.8 (at least for the notebooks within my budget).
  6. fishcove Guest

    I develop in Visual Studio C++ (and a bit of .NET) on a 17 inch MBP. It's the best Windows laptop I have ever used. You'll have to buy a full copy of Windows (I'm still running XP), but the upside is you get a clean install with none of the add-on software junk that all the other laptop makers insist on installing.

    Because I spend all day in Windows, I use bootcamp. I don't mind rebooting to switch from one OS to the other. So I can't really comment on the VM option, but, as far as performance and overall experience, it has been all positive.

    And when I take it home at night, it magically turns back into a Mac ;-)
  7. sicn macrumors member

    Mar 12, 2010
    It works just fine to install Windows, however, what is crazy is the fact that you (and/or your employer) invest money in a "one OS only" software development platform. If I would tell my clients (mostly banks and insurances) to use .Net they would probably send me packing.

    Oh and no, this is not intended to be MS-bashing, if Objective C would be used for anything other than toy applications with a short lifespan I would call Objective C-developers crazy, too ;-)
  8. vistadude macrumors 65816

    Jan 3, 2010
    Windows 7 works okay, not too slow, but not very quick because the graphics card is integrated on the 13 inch model. Also, keep in the mind the trackpad does not work like a normal trackpad, it is crippled and nearly useless. Expect to use an external mouse while in windows (the trackpad works fine in os x).

    For developers, I would suggest the 15 inch model, the extra screen estate and better specs let you multi-task while on the 13 inch model, you can't really see 2 windows at once.
  9. Jethrotoe macrumors regular

    May 24, 2009
    Somewhere over there.
    I switched to Apple after buying an iPhone 3G. I was so impressed that I had to check out the line. Been with PC's before they were called that with the TRS-80 Model 1 and so forth.

    I then got a MBP 15" with these specs:
    Model Name: MacBook Pro
    Model Identifier: MacBookPro5,3
    Processor Name: Intel Core 2 Duo
    Processor Speed: 2.8 GHz
    Number Of Processors: 1
    Total Number Of Cores: 2
    L2 Cache: 6 MB
    Memory: 4 GB
    Bus Speed: 1.07 GHz

    and this graphics board:
    NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT:

    Chipset Model: NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT
    Type: GPU
    Bus: PCIe
    PCIe Lane Width: x16
    VRAM (Total): 512 MB
    Vendor: NVIDIA (0x10de)
    Device ID: 0x0647
    Revision ID: 0x00a1
    ROM Revision: 3448
    gMux Version: 1.8.8

    This is an off the shelf model mid 2009.

    I installed Win7 in a bootcamp partition and then use Parallels to run both OS's as I need them without re-booting. But if I seriously have to crunch I can boot in only windows and give it all it needs. But...I have not needed to do that yet. Windows runs as fast as any PC laptop I have ever had.

    Great having both available at the same time. After using Apple products I will never buy a PC only machine again. Just no need to.

    Hope this helps a little. Good luck.

    BTW, there is a bit of a learning curve with OSX. Not any harder, just different. After all these years of using PC's I feel like a virgin again. :rolleyes:
  10. willieva macrumors 6502

    Mar 12, 2010
    For running an ide and doing some compiling the difference in speed won't be tremendous. I do lots of development on vm's(not windows on Mac though) and run several windows vm's on macs. Speed has not been a concern short of running something like googleearth.

    If you're really going to be doing development on this box I would recommend getting a monitor as well. Developing on a 13" would be frustrating. If portability isn't a huge concern and you have the cash the 15" would make your life easier.
  11. DiamondGCoupe macrumors 6502

    Nov 12, 2007
    Still haven't decided to throw Win7 on my new 13" MBP. I curious to see how much better certain games will run with the Windows drivers and how much faster it is with SSD HD vs. 7200RPM on my desktop.
  12. Jethrotoe macrumors regular

    May 24, 2009
    Somewhere over there.
    I would not recommend the 13" if your opening many windows. Like I posted, I got the 15" and it's very usable. A 13 would not cut the mustard, but even with that I'm learning Obj. C and using the iPhone SDK and kinda wish I got the 17" for the screen area.
  13. maxkumar thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 11, 2010
    Wow! That's a lot of good advice, thanks a lot. So looks like Win 7 works as well on a MBP as on a windows notebook. And I should be prepared to use a mouse when using Win 7 due to trackpad issues (which would leave me with just 1 USB port free I gues).

    I would love to get a 15 inch but it's really out of my budget right now (even the refurbished one). I looked at a 15-inch MacBook Pro at a store nearby and it did feel a tad big to me - probably because I have always used a 13 or 14 inch notebooks at work for coding (Lenovo). I have a 21-inch LG monitor at home, so I can hook up the MBP to it. If screen size was not a concern, is there a remarkable difference in Win 7 performance on a 15-inch MBP compared to a 13-inch one?
  14. peapody macrumors 68040


    Oct 7, 2007
    San Francisco, CA
    Personally I thought the 15" looked big, but I love the extra space to work.
  15. mdatwood macrumors 6502a

    Mar 14, 2010
    Denver, CO
    I'm a .net developer in my day job. I use VMs for development even when on windows because of their flexibility.

    My current main machine is an i7 MBP. It runs win7 in a VMWare VM just fine for development with all my usual tools open (VS, MSSQL, RDP sessions, etc...). I still only have the 4GB of ram and I keep meaning to order 8GB mainly for when I need to run 2 VMs at once in order to debug a particular client system.
  16. stradale33 macrumors member


    Aug 27, 2010
    I vote not crazy - you can run Win 7 on a Mac but you can't run OSX on a PC of course so go for it.

  17. maxkumar thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 11, 2010
    I just read through the forums and realized that there is a way such that I can install Win 7 in bootcamp and then also use Parallels/VM on the OSX to point to that same Win 7 bootcamp partition to boot up as a Win 7 VM. If this is really possible and work without hassle, then I might just do that.

    I also read that people face problems with the NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics drivers in their Win 7 partition of MBP 13-inch. Is it a widespread problem? If that's the case, then I wouldnt really want to purchase a MBP 13-inch. Is the support for NVIDIA GeForce GT 330M (in MBP 15-inch) much better?
  18. Sounds Good macrumors 68000

    Jul 8, 2007
    I too am impressed with the intuitiveness (is that a word?) of my iPhone, and I too have been on PCs since the good ol' Trash 80.

    While I'm tempted to try a Mac, I'm very nervous about this learning curve that I hear so much about.

    Jethrotoe, would you mind outlining what this learning curve entails, exactly, and how bad it is? Listing some of the overall positives to switching would be helpful too.

  19. willieva macrumors 6502

    Mar 12, 2010
    If you're really set on bootcamp then this is definitely an option. I've never done this, so I can't comment on how good it is.

    One of the advantages of going the full vm route is that your windoze box is now a folder in the mac filesystem. This makes it a snap to backup or move to a new machine. Plus you can take a snapshot of the vm which makes uninstalling software really easy if something goes wrong.

    I'm a little fearful of having windoze being able to touch anything on my mac by being another partition. All I need is some stinking virus to infect my mac from the windoze size. But I'm paranoid:)

    You might want to see what vm best practices are out there before committing one way or another.
  20. Jethrotoe macrumors regular

    May 24, 2009
    Somewhere over there.
    I still think I have one or two TRS's around somewhere. I'm waiting to donate them to the Smithsonian! ;)

    The learning curve isn't a big thing. The basic things that you do on a pc are just done a little differently on a Mac but they are all the same things.
    Instead of using Explorer to deal with your file structure you use Finder (or an externally written one). It operates and looks different but is doing the same thing. If your an experienced computer user the curve is smaller because you already know what you want to do. So it's a matter of doing it like this now, not like that. With a little experimenting you get it down in no time. To tell the truth it's a gas learning a different OS from the start. Refreshing.

    The great thing is that the hardware and software really works and works well. It's such a pleasure to operate. The help that Apple provides is solid compared to anything you can get from MS. Both for the OS and for development and that's what really got me. I registered as a developer on the site and the online help is in abundance. I got the feeling that they really wanted to get me going. Of course there is also a ton of help outside of Apple too.

    I can honestly say that you can't go wrong trying it out. Of course there is the initial investment and they are more money but worth it. I have had a lot of laptops in my time and none of them feel like this MBP. Solid.

    So the curve learning the machine and OS is nothing to worry about. Have fun with it, I am.

    It did take me a little while to accommodate the software to my needs. This was the only real work part. I did a lot with MS Office and had to get it for the MBP. File type compatibility needs to be looked at. But like the iPhone and iPad, if they can't deal with a file directly there are programs that will like Docs to Go and many others.

    I did run both the PC's and the MBP concurrently till I got the MBP up and running the way I needed. But now it's pretty much the Mac. There is some development stuff that I do with MS that I have to keep up so I guess I will still have one of those boxes around for awhile.

    Hope this helps. It's just my experience.
  21. maxkumar thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 11, 2010
    Thanks for sharing your experience of switching to Mac from a PC platform. I am not really worried about the learning curve - yes, I have been exposed to the Windows way of doing things ever since I first got my hands on a computer, so naturally I have developed hard to kick off habits. But I have read and heard good things about the way OSX goes about accomplishing similar tasks and wouldnt mind changing my habits to learn the OSX way.

    Actually my dilemma of getting a MBP has become worse after I starting following the IDF 2010 news on AnandTech website. Looking at all the promising new things coming out of Intel next year (SandyBridge, LightPeak) and given that MBP is already half-way through its average refresh period, I am beginning to think that maybe now is not a good time to get a MBP 13 inch (maybe still ok for MBP 15 inch but it's not in my budget).

    I am hoping that with SandyBridge, Apple could release a MBP 13 inch with much better specs, yet not losing much on the battery front. Even if the Apple-Intel relationship hits any roadblocks, I read that even AMD is going all out to release its Fusion multiprocessor as soon as possible. So either way, it looks like 2011 might be well worth a wait to see the implementation of new architectures in MBP. Does anyone concur with my thoughts above?

    I know the general advice in this forum regarding the eternal question "Should I buy a MBP now or wait?" is "If you need one now, buy one, otherwise if you can wait, then wait". I am thinking of joining the wait queue and maybe just get a netbook or something for the time being (or just use my work notebook). I just hope Apple refreshes its MBP 13-inch line next year with significant changes - I am surely not going to wait beyond 2011 to get a MBP:)
  22. InfoSecmgr Guest


    Dec 31, 2009
    Ypsilanti, Michigan
    It depends on who you ask. I know hardcore Mac users that NEVER use windows, ever, period. Then I know some that just like the hardware and run windows all the time, period. Looks like you fit in the middle somewhere.
  23. unixperience macrumors regular

    Jul 21, 2010
    From what I've read online, going this route makes the vm slower than it would be if you just install it fresh. I don't know how critical that is to you,but its food for thought.

    You also commented earlier about trackpad issues, If you install the drivers off the SL cd that came with the comp it works fine, my only complaint is that the right click (if you actually use the lower right corner, not two finger tap or something) is a bit spastic. I also often find myself trying to do trackpad gestures only to remember they don't work in windows. haha

    As for the learning curve of a mac, I'd say it's pretty small, i mean after a day with my mac I was good to go and never touched my pc again. I mean I did really play with settings/preferences, and read a bit online, but honestly you can be more than proficient in a day I think. It is ridiculously intuitive

    I myself run windows7 as well (I'm a college student doing Electrical Engineering and theres quite a few programs we use that are windows only in fact I do most of my school work in windows) and windows 7 runs great on the mac. Better than anyone else I know with windows7, but it should also be noted, that ALL those i know with win7 bought comps before win7 was released and got the free upgrade coupon, when they installed win7 they all had tons of hardware compatibility issues. My windows experience is about 5.8 I think, the graphics card being the weakest point, of course my comp is also 2 years old, so the new ones I would guess are much faster. The win7 Works great, everyone says its a really great OS, but I love OSX so much more I don't play with win7 much besides school stuff

    In the end I highly recommend the mac. O yes last note, my battery life is the same win7 or osX.
    also note that macs run hot, especially when doing vms. I don't know if you ever use your laptop on your lap, but macs get warm for sure. FYI I would definitely suggest just going the bootcamp route rather than vms

    hope that helped

    *EDIT* also note I am using an aluminum macbook not MBPro. and more fun info, after using osX when you boot into windows, you realize how slow and clunky windows is, even on a fast computer, its slow compared to osX
  24. joris538 macrumors member

    May 15, 2010
    You say you are going to use Windows 50% of the time, I say it is easier for you to stick to one OS rather than two. On your Windows partition (which runs really fine in BootCamp, just like any other laptop with the same specs), you will not only want to develop, but also to check your e-mail, play music, a word processor, etc. You will need to maintain them both, not even mentioning license costs for the software.

    So maintaining two operating systems will be your biggest problem, but that can be solved! With software as Parallels on Mac OSX you can not only use your BootCamp partition (so you can still run Windows natively if you want to), but you can also run Windows windows within OSX. So not only one screen with an "emulator", but you can actually have different programs along your Mac windows, which will appear in the dock as well. That would solve the problem of having two operating systems.
  25. Sounds Good macrumors 68000

    Jul 8, 2007
    First off, thanks for your detailed reply (above). Much appreciated. I'm not really sure if I'll ever actually buy a Mac. Sounds crazy to people here, I know, but I'm very comfortable with Windows -- no problems, no crashes, no viruses, etc. And the thought of "starting over" at my age makes me nervous, not to mention the added expense of Apple hardware + VMWare or Parallels + Windows software, etc. However... I will be eternally curious about using a Mac and forever tempted to see what it's like, so who knows?

    I'll tell ya, for their time, those TRS-80s were all pretty darn good. Model I, Model II, and let's not forget the COLOR version! :)

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