Entry Level 13inch Air

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Jnardis, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. Jnardis macrumors 6502a

    Jun 2, 2010
    I'm looking for a light portable laptop that I can use windows on for work (heavy usage (10 to 12 hours a day) and then use mac OS for pleasure (mostly at night and weekend). I have the 27 inch imac now, but want something portable. The iMac is great and runs like a beast. Never have any issues. I'm running xp. My question is, will the MBA 13 inch entry level be OK for what I'm looking to do? I partitioned the iMac, but am looking to use vmfusion for the MBA. Thoughts and suggestions are much appreciated.
  2. itszackry macrumors newbie

    Jun 10, 2010
    The MBA will have trouble running Windows through VMWare or Parallels, especially if the program requires a fair amount of power. However, I think the MBA would be perfectly fine running Windows through bootcamp. If at all possible, borrow one from a friend, or at the very least, buy one with the intent to return it shortly after in case you are satisfied with it.
  3. kjlake macrumors member

    Jul 15, 2010
    I have no issue running Windows 7 as a VM using Fusion. You do take a slight performance hit, but in my normal usage, I see no significant degradation. Of course your milage may vary based on what you need to do in Windows...

    Hope this helps...

  4. KylePowers macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2011
    I virtualize XP using VirtualBox (free) on my 2011 11in 4GB/128GB MBA. I give it 1GB of RAM to use and maybe 10GB of hard drive space since I don't use it that much. It runs just fine and I always accomplish what I need to do without a hiccup. I run a few different circuit and digital logic simulation programs, Matlab, and Microsoft Office.

    What programs will you be using?
  5. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    10-12 hours using VMware on an underpowered machine sounds like a nightmare to me.
  6. hh83917 macrumors 6502

    Jun 30, 2005
    The current MBA i5/i7 are beats compared to the 2010 MBA. You will want 4GB memory on your air and at least 128GB of SSD. Give VMware/Parallels 1GB of memory and 2 CPU cores and you'll be set. Why? Because SSDs are extremely fast and will not be speed bottleneck like normal hard drives in your desktop Macs. Even 10,000rpm drives are slow compared to SSDs.

    So you will not notice slowdown in your VMware/parallels on the MBA. Unless you need to run specialized programs that requires full power of the drivers (ie. Maya, 3D studiomax...etc.). Most normal applications will run fine on your virtual environment (IE, office, quickbooks...etc.). If you are running games, which I doubt you will be, look elsewhere for something with a dedicated graphics card.

    Currently, I run win7 on my VMware fusion 4 on my 13" i7 MBA as its own space/virtual desktop most of the time. And I can just do four finger swipe and switch between Mac and PC environment. Just a heads up, running any virtual machine will decrease of your battery life very fast. So if you are planning to take it on the road running VM windows all the time, I suggest you getting a PC laptop.

    And once you go SSD, it's hard, at least for me, to turn back and normal hard drive. Even my 27" iMac, I had to add the extra 256GB SSD as my boot/application drive and keep the 2TB hard drive as a secondary storage drive. Everything is much much snappier and fluent with SSD... :)
  7. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    Honestly, I think you need more RAM than what the MBA can provide.

    I'd be looking at the base 13" MBP, (bumped to 8GB, min).
  8. johnhurley macrumors 6502a


    Aug 29, 2011
    If you can survive in 4 gb of RAM it should work fine.

    My mba 2011 has my vm setup with 1 gb of memory for win 7 and works well. If you are really pushing it on the windows side running directly in bootcamp might get you a little more oomph but the new mba's have plenty of horsepower.

    I would seriously think about upgrading to the model with 256 gb of SSD storage space ... gives you a lot more flexibility.
  9. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    What type of heavy usage? It's not so much the amount of time spent as the processing power required. I run Windows 7 in Parallels Desktop 7 on a Core i7 MacBook Air, mostly to run Quicken, and it works well for that. I wouldn't recommend that setup for CAD.

    Note that both VMWare Fusion and Parallels 7 are capable of using a Boot Camp partition as a virtual machine. You lose some features, notably the ability to "suspend" the VM, but otherwise it works the same, except you have the ability to boot into Windows natively if you need the extra speed.

    I would recommend getting the 256GB SSD model, however, since Windows can quickly expand. I did make 128GB work on my 2010 MacBook Air but it was a tight fit.
  10. Jnardis thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jun 2, 2010
    Thanks for all the posts. I went to apple this weekend to purchase it and backed out. I'm going to think about it a bit more. The Apple employee told me I wouldn't have any issues with the MBA 13 inch. The Windows side would be running programs in Access as well as modeling and graphic charts. I'm in the finance world. On the Mac side it would be just internet browsing and photo/music storage etc. Mostly to keep my iphone up to date.
  11. johnhurley macrumors 6502a


    Aug 29, 2011
    I don't push the win 7 side much ( setup with 1 gb of virtual memory ) on my mba 2011.

    If you are a heavy access/finance user it might really make sense to go with a machine like the macbook pro with 8 gb of virtual memory ... you can then run a vm that has 4 gb of virtual memory allocated to it.

    A lot of us are hoping to see a macbook air 15 next year that might have an option of going up to 8 gb of RAM ... as sweet as the current macbook air's are a lot of us would like a machine that allows more memory.
  12. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    Which iMac model do you have? Is it the 2011 27" model? If so, note you'd be going from Quad Core to Dual Core. That would likely make your Monte Carlo scenarios take about twice as long, as they are mostly processor intensive.

    Access might benefit from the SSD, particularly if you are dealing with big databases that access the disk a lot. Thus the slower processor might be less of an issue. A 15" Pro with an SSD would give you the Quad Core, but you would lose a lot of the portability.

    Note that Apple has a 14 day return policy. Perhaps buy one and try out some of your more complex models. If it doesn't work out, perhaps that will change in a few months when the Ivy Bridge models are released. They will have better graphics, as well as faster processors, though I doubt we'll see quad-core in the MacBook Air anytime soon.

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