Hardware Suggestions for the Beginner?

Meezermouzer

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 5, 2017
44
12
I was hoping to get into iOS development but I didn't want to make a major investment before I was sure I would stay committed. I already have an iPad Pro and a desktop.

Several people have suggested getting MBPs with at least 8GB of RAM, preferably 16GB, and a SSD if at all possible. But this gets into the crazy expensive terroritory real quick...

So I had a few questions:
  • Is the baseline Mac Mini (2014) sufficient for Xcode and programming smaller apps and games?
  • How much of a difference will 8GB or a SSD really make for a beginner?
  • Do you code with a mobile device on your lap to make the MacBook Pro worth it?
  • Is the MacBook 2017 good for programming?
I appreciate any suggestions or input.
 

keysofanxiety

macrumors G3
Nov 23, 2011
9,471
24,220
  • Is the baseline Mac Mini (2014) sufficient for Xcode and programming smaller apps and games?
Yes, in that it'll work. It'll feel quite slow though due to the mechanical HDD. 1 minute boot time, a little time to load applications, etc.
  • How much of a difference will 8GB or a SSD really make for a beginner?
SSD is pretty much the single best upgrade you can do to almost any computer. So a big difference.
  • Do you code with a mobile device on your lap to make the MacBook Pro worth it?
What do you mean? A phone? What do you mean by "to make it worth it"?
  • Is the MacBook 2017 good for programming?
Oh yes.

Personally I'd get any MacBook/MBP/MBA Apple are currently selling. They'll have super quick SSDs as standard, 8GB RAM standard, have great battery life, and they'll be portable so you won't need to be chained to your desk. That way you needn't worry about BTO'ing to a certain spec and you'll know you're getting a great computer out of it.

You'll find some real reasonable deals on the used market for those models too, especially seeing as the 2016 models will be much cheaper.
 

Meezermouzer

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 5, 2017
44
12
  • Do you code with a mobile device on your lap to make the MacBook Pro worth it?
What do you mean? A phone? What do you mean by "to make it worth it"?
Sorry, I worded this question poorly. What I meant to ask is how do you prefer to program? Do you program and use your notebook while sitting on the couch often?

Do you think a Mac Mini with 8GB of RAM and 256GB PCIe Flash Storage would work well?
 

keysofanxiety

macrumors G3
Nov 23, 2011
9,471
24,220
Sorry, I worded this question poorly. What I meant to ask is how do you prefer to program? Do you program and use your notebook while sitting on the couch often?
It's a good option to have. Different strokes for different folks. If you can see yourself doing that, there's no reason why you couldn't.

Do you think a Mac Mini with 8GB of RAM and 256GB PCIe Flash Storage would work well?
Yeah that'd be fine. But I'd probably suggest a portable for the obvious reasons stated above. Also the Mac Mini hasn't been updated for some time so you'll get a little more for your money with a notebook with regards to hardware and pricing. Especially the Retina models (MacBook, MacBook Pro). Screen is gorgeous. Real joy to work on.
 

deadworlds

macrumors 65816
Jun 15, 2007
1,020
746
Citrus Heights,CA
I think that if you are just trying to get your feet wet with iOS programming then you should get a Mac mini. It will work just fine for Xcode and programming of any sort really. The only time you're going to see the mac mini struggle with programming is if you're running a complicated program in the iOS simulator.

I understand that you want to get something affordable especially since you're not sure if you'll stick to iOS programming.

As for your questions about programming on a laptop, I bought a MBP w/TB in 2016 because I'm a computer science student and spend hrs at a time typing away. That being said, I really prefer a desktop setup, thats why I have an external mouse/display/keyboard for when I am at home. The MBP can function as both a mobile device and as a decent desktop replacement. I like the desktop setup because using a laptop for a long time starts to hurt my wrists, maybe its just the way I type.
 

jord22

macrumors newbie
Jun 24, 2017
7
5
Im planning to get the MBP2017 13" nTB with 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM for learning Xcode. I did some research and saw most people recommend to go for 16GB RAM. As it is a huge investment to me, I wish to know more about RAM requirements on the mac machine.

Is there any significant difference between a 8GB and 16GB RAM machine while using Xcode?
Does each new macOS become more RAM demanding than the previous one?
If I don't do video editing and VM, is 8GB RAM enough for Xcode in the coming 5 years?

Thanks!
 

Meezermouzer

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 5, 2017
44
12
I think that if you are just trying to get your feet wet with iOS programming then you should get a Mac mini. It will work just fine for Xcode and programming of any sort really. The only time you're going to see the mac mini struggle with programming is if you're running a complicated program in the iOS simulator.

I understand that you want to get something affordable especially since you're not sure if you'll stick to iOS programming.

As for your questions about programming on a laptop, I bought a MBP w/TB in 2016 because I'm a computer science student and spend hrs at a time typing away. That being said, I really prefer a desktop setup, thats why I have an external mouse/display/keyboard for when I am at home. The MBP can function as both a mobile device and as a decent desktop replacement. I like the desktop setup because using a laptop for a long time starts to hurt my wrists, maybe its just the way I type.
Which Mac Mini would you recommend?
 

deadworlds

macrumors 65816
Jun 15, 2007
1,020
746
Citrus Heights,CA
Do you think a Fusion Drive or SSD is necessary?
As others have said, an SSD is going to give you amazing speed when reading/writing files, this includes booting up. Hard disk drives have been around for many decades now and have been considered acceptable for as long. Upgrading to a SSD is great but not necessary or always practical when it comes to cost.

If you can live waiting a little longer with tasks to complete like opening applications and booting up, then just go with the standard HD. If waiting a few extra moments is unacceptable then get the SSD or fusion drive.
 

kage207

macrumors 6502a
Jul 23, 2008
961
8
If you're looking to get into iOS development. Don't go with a mechanical HDD (pick one with an SSD), don't pick one with less than 8GB of RAM and don't pick the MacBook. Now the MacBook Pros are a different story and they are great.

Why SSD over HDD? Having an SSD will make Xcode load much more quickly. And yes, sometimes you have to open Xcode a few times a day because it crashes. That's just one reason to have an SSD over an HDD.

Why 8GB or more of RAM? Because Xcode is a memory hog. Same with most modern browsers after you have 3+ tabs open researching how to solve problems you'll come across while writing code.

Why not the MacBook? Because the processor for compiling purposes will bottleneck after doing simple applications like a calculator or a to do list. You'll see your build times increase as your app becomes more complex. Also you start throwing in cocoa pods or carthage and you'll really start to feel some pain with less than 8GB RAM and an HDD.

I've been doing iOS development off and on for almost 3 years professionally. I also did iOS dev in college on a 2012 MacBook Air i5 8GB RAM. It was decent but my build times did start to increase towards the end of both projects. I've also done iOS development on a 2014 15" Retina MacBook Pro i7 16GB RAM, 2015 13" Retina MacBook Pro i7 16GB RAM, and 2016 Retina MacBook Pro with TouchBar i7 16GB RAM.

I've spanned 7 iOS apps with those computers. I hope that gives you a good idea of Mac's you can use. Any of the iMacs should be fine from the last few years.

EDIT: Also, don't build on the device until you're ready to test with a device, otherwise your builds will take longer vs. just using the simulator.