Cheapest possible computer for writing apps?

Discussion in 'iOS Programming' started by filmbuff, Feb 12, 2011.

  1. filmbuff macrumors 6502a


    Jan 5, 2011
    I've got a little (tiny) bit of experience writing programs and I think it would be fun to try to write some apps for the ipad... but I have no money. What is the cheapest possible way to do this? Specifically what is the oldest mac capable of running the software neccessary to write apps? I could afford a really old macbook on eBay but I'm not that familiar with macs so I don't know if one from 1999 will work.
  2. IconicM macrumors regular

    Jan 30, 2011
    Houston, Tx
    I am not very knowledgeable on this, but I believe the Mac you use has to be able to use the latest OSx, which means that it must be a machine with an Intel chip set. If that is correct, then you can't use something from 1999.

    If you want a better answer, I would think the SDK has minimum requirements listed or you could also check the system requirement for the latest OSx. Another option is to talk to someone at the Apple Store in person or on-line.
  3. ExnomenDei macrumors regular

    Mar 2, 2010
    If it's a Macbook and not an iBook or Probook, it should be fine. I can't say it'll be perfect, but a Macbook (So an Intel processor) can run 10.6, and I believe even 10.6.6 and work properly.
  4. Evgenyy macrumors regular

    Jun 23, 2010
  5. MadGoat macrumors 65816


    Jul 30, 2007
    A used intel Mac Mini from craigslist, local pickup not something that's shipped from Nigeria
  6. mgipe macrumors demi-god


    Oct 6, 2009
    Has to be a Mac.
  7. pward macrumors member

    Nov 26, 2008
    Also, if you want to install any apps you write onto an actual device you will need to register as a developer at $99 per year.
  8. Kadin macrumors 6502a


    Jun 16, 2009
    I think the point of their post was that the two machines mentioned are very common 'hackintosh' systems...
  9. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    2006 or later for Intel Macs.

    You'd certainly be best off with a real Mac, but beyond the aforementioned netbooks you can build a brand new Hackintosh-capable desktop for a few hundred bucks that will outrun an older Intel Mac and if you already have a capable PC you can also run OS X in a VM to get started.

    As others have pointed out you would still need to pay $100 to install your app on actual hardware and have the possibility of uploading to the app store.

  10. firewood macrumors 604

    Jul 29, 2003
    Silicon Valley
    Anything running Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) with a dozen or so GB free disk space left. That can be a 4 or 5 year old used Intel Mac Mini or MacBook.

    If you can find a used Intel MacBook with a completely smashed display but otherwise still running (look on eBay, etc.), that may be the cheapest possible computer you can buy (cheaper than hacking a new PC even!) for iOS development. Just hook it up to your monitor.
  11. balamw, Feb 16, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2011

    balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    FWIW I got the bits for my current PC desktop for just under $300 and it's easily Hackintosh-able even though I currently run W7/Ubuntu on it. I'm not seeing any broken Macbooks for less than that.

    Here's my parts list.

    I reused an older HDD and didn't buy the video card or ODD until later.

    EDIT: looks like older Intel iMacs tend to go for ~$200, cheaper even than a broken Macbook.

  12. 1458279 Suspended


    May 1, 2010
    The used Mini is probably the cheapest _Mac_ way to go. The VM is the cheapest way to go, it runs OSX in a Virtural Machine Window. The Dell netbook is the cheapest NEW way to go.

    I'm building a high-end Hackintosh and the cost is about $1K not counting monitor. I could have done it for 1/2 that price.

    Notice: If you want your app on Apple's store, you MUST have an Apple computer. And you'll need that unless you install on jailbroken devices.

    So the cheapest way to get started, get OSX $29, get VM (?<$100? guessing)

    I could be wrong on Apple's requirements, but I'm pretty sure it must be developed on an Apple computer to get on their store.
  13. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    Minis hold their value too well. The broken Macbook or imac seem to be a cheaper Mac choice. I've never seen a working used mini for less than $400ish.

    And the current Dell netbooks are no longer Hackintoshable, so the recommended ones would be used as well.

    If you use Virtualbox, the VM approach would cost no more than $29+tax.

  14. noahgolm macrumors member

    Aug 18, 2010
    If you want a really cheap one, you can get a Mac Mini. Cheapest official Apple computer out there, and can run moderately well! Especially if all you want to do is programming. Also, don't forget to install Xcode and the iPhone/iPad SDK!
  15. adamryan, Feb 20, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 20, 2011

    adamryan macrumors newbie

    Feb 20, 2011

    Have you considered any of the System 76 laptops? Kidding, of course (Though you should definitely check them out!) In any case, I agree, definitely a Mac Mini. You just can't go wrong.

  16. ctyhntr, Feb 23, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2011

    ctyhntr macrumors 6502


    Jul 21, 2010
    For less than $300, and the price of a retail OS X CD, you can build an up to date hackintosh on a Dell Mini 10v netbook. Gizmodo has a step by step guide. Treat it as a mac mini, meaning you'll need to hook it up to an external monitor, keyboard and mouse in order to be useful. Unless you're content using a tiny screen, subsized keyboard and a non-apple touchpad. I built one and it works great with XCode and the iOS SDK.

    FWIW, if you don't feel like building one, check ebay or craigslist for listings.


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