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macrumors 65816
Original poster
My current Mac is a 2011 MacBook Air (13") and I'm starting to look at options for an upgrade. No rush, but with the current pound/dollar exchange rate I suspect prices will be going up here in the UK. I have a 6% discount through beloved employer. A retina MacBook pro seems the obvious choice for me, as I need two USB 3 ports for backing up one 2TB disk to another. As I edit photos (Lightroom and Photoshop), the retina display seems to make sense. I think the 13" model should be fine for me.

But here's a question: How well do MacBook's run VMs? My corporate Dell From Hell struggles to run more than one VM at a time. I have in mind a small lab setup. Nothing heavy - I'm talking of running two Linux VMs at a time, to test out various ideas. I'm not a software developer (well haven't been, since the turn of the century), but I do a lot of shell scripting (Bash, with awk, expect and other common UNIX tools). How well is a MacBook with a dual core processor going to cope with this?


macrumors Haswell
May 3, 2009
I think the 15" MBP would be a better choice in running VMs, first its a quad core, and its an i7. I think you may need something better suited to running more then one VM.

My 2012 rMBP which is a 15" model, runs VMs very nicely.

Count Blah

macrumors 68040
Jan 6, 2004
US of A
My 15" 2012 cMBP also runs VMs very well. If my initial requirement in buying a machine, is running multiple VMs, I'd do a little research into how well dual cores perform - regardless of MAC/PC. I doubt you will get a good feel, by simply asking in here, as most local folks I recall talking about multiple VMs, pretty much went with the 15" model.

Good luck!!
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Reactions: Internaut


macrumors newbie
May 19, 2016
Go with the 15". Although I mainly run 1 VM which is a Windows 10 work VM with MS Direct Access for seamless internal network access, I do run an Ubuntu VM at the same time and it's pretty smooth.


macrumors regular
Feb 8, 2011
Would recommend the 15" over 13" myself, @Internaut.

@ErnstStavroBlohard: VMware Fusion on an OS X host; VMware ESXi on bare metal. Though looking at Hyper-V Server or Windows Server w/ Hyper-V to take advantage of functionality only available with a 4-digit VMware vSphere license.


macrumors Core
Oct 14, 2008
It depends on what you want to do. If its a light server in one VM and some testing in another one, a 13" with 8GB might be absolutely sufficient (especially if you choose an appropriate distribution and avoid running GIU in the VM), even though 16GB might be a safer choice. I think that the dual-core will be a limitation only if you want to do a lot of stuff in the VMs at the same time.


macrumors 603
Mar 14, 2008
VM's like RAM. Unless what you do in them is very processor intensive, a dual core should fare quite well.
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