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Gintoki-kun

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 7, 2012
89
10
Hello everyone

So unfortunately my rMBP 13” late 2013 died :(

And I have to buy a new MacBook. Now, ideally I’d go for the 14” m1Pro but 2000€ right now is a lot for me.

So, I’m torn up between the M2 MacBook Air and M2 MacBook Pro.

The air has all the cool things, but the actual cooling system and 2 less GPUs.

I’m a junior iOS dev, so I simply cant go out without a Mac.

My question is, the Air looks very promising, but can insure Xcode, browser tools for coding explanations, VLC with code videos and be ok? Or would the lack of fan kill me? If so, if MacBook Pro the option? Or am I super stuck that I have to foto 2000€?

Thanks a lot
 

Bento.Box

macrumors regular
Sep 10, 2022
224
121
I found the new MacBookAir almost perfect. Except for the missing fan.
(now my customer got me an M1 pro after 2 years of discussion, so I took it)

Question is: How long does it take to compile your stuff? And how often do you do long video encodes?
If you have huge projects that compile/encode for hours, I would definitely go for an actively cooled solutions. Same if you plan on playing games.

Otherwise, the Air will probably suffice. Actually typing stuff and browsing isn't demanding.

In any case, expect a huge performance boost :)
 
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Gintoki-kun

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 7, 2012
89
10
I found the new MacBookAir almost perfect. Except for the missing fan.
(now my customer got me an M1 pro after 2 years of discussion, so I took it)

Question is: How long does it take to compile your stuff? And how often do you do long video encodes?
If you have huge projects that compile/encode for hours, I would definitely go for an actively cooled solutions. Same if you plan on playing games.

Otherwise, the Air will probably suffice. Actually typing stuff and browsing isn't demanding.

In any case, expect a huge performance boost :)
I won’t compile any video.

Also, any compiling will be done on Xcode. That will be the only program used in terms of programming.

Also, is 8gb ram enough? Apple still likes to charge 200€ for the added RAM :(

All that in consideration, the Air is a better option than the MacBook Pro?

Thanks
 

Bento.Box

macrumors regular
Sep 10, 2022
224
121
8 GB is not enough in my view.

Personally, I'll always go with the maximum RAM available/affordable if it's feasible.
Got the older m1 macbook with 32GB RAM now. I'm also doing a bit of scripting with xcode and pycharm and of course I use macports so I compile a lot of open source stuff I use everyday.

If you only code for iOS (I have no experience in that), you might get away with 16GB in my opinion - please confirm with other iOS developers. But once you start running any VMs in Parallels, you'd be comfortable having more.

Keep in mind that you cannot upgrade the RAM afterwards, like on other laptops.

How long does your compiling usually take? Is it done in seconds? Minutes? or hours?
If it's the latter and you really optimize your makefile/configure options to keep all the cores utilized, then an actively cooled mac will likely be faster (but to be sure you'll need to try it out anyway).

As an example: for my work, a macbook air m2 would have been totally fine, since the actual time it has a heavy load is very low.
 

Gintoki-kun

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 7, 2012
89
10
8 GB is not enough in my view.

Personally, I'll always go with the maximum RAM available/affordable if it's feasible.
Got the older m1 macbook with 32GB RAM now. I'm also doing a bit of scripting with xcode and pycharm and of course I use macports so I compile a lot of open source stuff I use everyday.

If you only code for iOS (I have no experience in that), you might get away with 16GB in my opinion - please confirm with other iOS developers. But once you start running any VMs in Parallels, you'd be comfortable having more.

Keep in mind that you cannot upgrade the RAM afterwards, like on other laptops.

How long does your compiling usually take? Is it done in seconds? Minutes? or hours?
If it's the latter and you really optimize your makefile/configure options to keep all the cores utilized, then an actively cooled mac will likely be faster (but to be sure you'll need to try it out anyway).

As an example: for my work, a macbook air m2 would have been totally fine, since the actual time it has a heavy load is very low.
I see. I don’t need to use VMs fortunately. Just Xcode, iOS simulator , and browser of course.

Yeah, 16 should be enough. I was just trying to see if 8 would actually be enough. Apple Prices in Europe skyrocketed unfortunately… :/

What about the SSD speed ? Storage wise the 256gb is more than enough. Is it’s speed the same as 512gb?
 

Bento.Box

macrumors regular
Sep 10, 2022
224
121
There was an article saying that the M2 air 256GB option is particularly "slow":

however, I would argue that this will have very little real world impact.

I personally would go for more storage, but if you are only going to develop on it, I don't see a problem (depending on your projects). Again, it's afaik not upgradeable later on.
 

Gintoki-kun

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 7, 2012
89
10
There was an article saying that the M2 air 256GB option is particularly "slow":

however, I would argue that this will have very little real world impact.

I personally would go for more storage, but if you are only going to develop on it, I don't see a problem (depending on your projects). Again, it's afaik not upgradeable later on.
Yeah. I remember hearing that somewhere. Storage wise , 256gb is always enough. Any heavy folders/files I keep those on cloud.

So as far as I see, the RAM is what’s more important and the Air should be a good future proof machine ?
 

bmustaf

macrumors 6502a
Jul 6, 2007
604
1,174
Telluride, CO
Hello everyone

So unfortunately my rMBP 13” late 2013 died :(

And I have to buy a new MacBook. Now, ideally I’d go for the 14” m1Pro but 2000€ right now is a lot for me.

So, I’m torn up between the M2 MacBook Air and M2 MacBook Pro.

The air has all the cool things, but the actual cooling system and 2 less GPUs.

I’m a junior iOS dev, so I simply cant go out without a Mac.

My question is, the Air looks very promising, but can insure Xcode, browser tools for coding explanations, VLC with code videos and be ok? Or would the lack of fan kill me? If so, if MacBook Pro the option? Or am I super stuck that I have to foto 2000€?

Thanks a lot
If you are ever going to consider doing backend work, AI/ML workflows (even just light model training to play around with things, anything serious you'd no doubt do on actual clusters with real TPU/GPUs, etc), etc, I would frankly not even go into the M2 (yet) and say no to either and stick with an M1 Pro or Max with as much RAM as you can throw at it (esp b/c Docker is going to take an allocated chunk of it while running whether idle or not, unlike other processes, it mallocs its full allocation at startup and keeps it b/c uses a VM on macos).

Even if you aren't doing that and are just doing native front end development, even maxed out at their current 24GB of RAM, both these machines are a bit light for any appreciable use of Xcode/VSCode (in case you're using Flutter, MAUI, React Native/Expo, etc) and any attendant tool chain will use up that 24GB pretty fast on any non-trivial product or workflow, esp if you have a lot of deps/libs.

You *can* be happy with either, but, really, those machines are not developer boxes IMO (yet, they will be when they can sport more RAM). I don't even code often any more (I am the CTO of a SaaS product with a relatively complex backend) and I still end up using a good portion of the 64GB on my M1 Max just building and testing our stack (frontend and backend), but I still ask my managers to spec maxed out machines for everyone on my team unless they really, really want otherwise and we will not bring the M2 into the org until it can have 64GB of RAM or more.
 
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Gintoki-kun

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 7, 2012
89
10
If you are ever going to consider doing backend work, AI/ML workflows (even just light model training to play around with things, anything serious you'd no doubt do on actual clusters with real TPU/GPUs, etc), etc, I would frankly not even go into the M2 (yet) and say no to either and stick with an M1 Pro or Max with as much RAM as you can throw at it (esp b/c Docker is going to take an allocated chunk of it while running whether idle or not, unlike other processes, it mallocs its full allocation at startup and keeps it b/c uses a VM on macos).

Even if you aren't doing that and are just doing native front end development, even maxed out at their current 24GB of RAM, both these machines are a bit light for any appreciable use of Xcode/VSCode (in case you're using Flutter, MAUI, React Native/Expo, etc) and any attendant tool chain will use up that 24GB pretty fast on any non-trivial product or workflow, esp if you have a lot of deps/libs.

You *can* be happy with either, but, really, those machines are not developer boxes IMO (yet, they will be when they can sport more RAM). I don't even code often any more (I am the CTO of a SaaS product with a relatively complex backend) and I still end up using a good portion of the 64GB on my M1 Max just building and testing our stack (frontend and backend), but I still ask my managers to spec maxed out machines for everyone on my team unless they really, really want otherwise and we will not bring the M2 into the org until it can have 64GB of RAM or more.
Thank you for a very well detailed explanation.

Since I’m a junior dev I suppose I won’t have huge projects to compile.

Now that ML light testing did scare me.

The only reason why I didn’t consider the M1Pro 16gb is because it goes to 2000eur and that really blows my budget. I can buy it, but I really wish I didn’t have to.

So you’re saying a 16gb M2 Air would really not last long term?

This rMBP 2013 did last me +8 years to be honest ahaah
Thanks
 
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bmustaf

macrumors 6502a
Jul 6, 2007
604
1,174
Telluride, CO
Thank you for a very well detailed explanation.

Since I’m a junior dev I suppose I won’t have huge projects to compile.

Now that ML light testing did scare me.

The only reason why I didn’t consider the M1Pro 16gb is because it goes to 2000eur and that really blows my budget. I can buy it, but I really wish I didn’t have to.

So you’re saying a 16gb M2 Air would really not last long term?

This rMBP 2013 did last me +8 years to be honest ahaah
Thanks

I think you hit the nail on the head in this decision: longevity vs upfront savings. That's a tough call to make for most people b/c why pay for something you won't use immediately but then on the other hand, you have the question of how long do you need/want to hold on to a machine to "make it worth it"? The answer will vary for people based on their work, their budget, and their own perceived value of their time/work. And that's just fine, you gotta find where you fit on that spectrum.

For us, the pay off in developer productivity is easily there to just max out everything but the SSD (but we still spec 1TB SSDs, 256GB barely holds OS + runtimes + assets, and with SSDs, you want free space to allow wear leveling to do its thing, which is actually important in even junior developer workflows).

I'd also let go of the assumption that just as junior dev you don't have needs: your title may not relate to your machine needs. Your time is still valuable, and if you're compiling even a "simple" project but it has many libs, you have the same needs as a senior dev: especially if you're working in a team where you're building a larger project, but even a small "hello world" that uses graphics, etc is pulling in a LOT of deps/libs and has to link them, etc even if you didn't write that "advanced" code.

CPU technology and evolution is less important for devs for the most part, esp as heavy lifting of things (AI/ML training, even some large builds) are happening on hosted services, but what IS very important is I/O and caching of large data structures (modern IDEs do this for auto-complete, etc) and the name of that game is RAM, RAM, RAM. And that will only grow, and I'd be confident saying that need is going to grow way faster than the needs of a continually faster CPU or more efficient CPU, so based on how much you can afford, I would max out the RAM to keep the life of the machine you buy today as long and productive as it can be.

I really think you will end up replacing this machine b/c you are starting to hit RAM maxes before limitations in your CPU/GPU (and are swapping, basically killing performance, esp in highly parallelized workflows, which most builds are), so I'd maximize that, and I'd go above the 24GB.

If $$$ is a factor, if I had to make this decision, I'd sooner buy a refurb/lightly used M1 Pro/M1 Max with 32GB or 64GB than a new M2, really.

But, you CAN use the M2s with 16GB, but I think the toolchain RAM footprints are only going to grow and you'd be well served going with a minimum of 32GB if you can at all afford it.

Waiting on builds is one of the least productive times developers have but also largely the most preventable/optimizable to a point, even if it is taking a build from 60s to 30s (an incremental build on a hot reload style system maybe faster, but even then 20s vs 10s) but 100x times a day, even that 10s adds up...that is how I justified that decision in my budget as what our machine config baselines would be for developers.

Put a $ value on your time, then think about the $ value you may save, and think about the price diff up front and hopefully that can help guide you! Also, think about the "brain damage" you have sitting and waiting that, even if your time was "free" (it isn't, even as a jr dev, it is worth more than most people think!), it is proven that distractions (what do you do or where does your mind wander while you wait) hurts productivity beyond just the time you waited. There is some VERY good research out there that is very academic and well studied that proves it's WAY more than just the time you save!

Your "right" answer today is likely different than your "right" answer at a different time, and your "right" answer is likely VERY different from mine or others (or maybe not), but just saying that to really think more about what TRULY is an investment that has a pay off vs "new and shiny" emotional appeal (sexy new M2 vs used 1 yr old machine maybe not the same "shiny new" adrenaline hit, but likely a much better choice as the asset itself has depreciated and is still very powerful, maybe MORE powerful for what you need for what you'd spend on shiny and new), OTOH, maybe you don't "need" that much RAM, but I suspect you do or will. If you look into how Xcode and other tool chains like Expo, Flutter, etc compile, even simple projects are highly parallelized and can benefit greatly from not paging things out and having higher memory bandwidth (remember, the M1 Max has 400Gbps of memory bandwidth, the M1 Pro has 200Gbps, the M2 is currently only 100Gbps, this is not trivial, this makes a big difference in RAM-intensive workloads, which programming is: how quickly you can get that AST from memory the compiler uses to convert high level code into byte code to the CPU for a lookup/traversal/whatever and the result back into RAM, etc, etc is WAY more important than straight line CPU speed many times as are caches, which, again are much smaller on the M2 [for now, until the higher end variants of the M2 make an appearance]).
 
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Gintoki-kun

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 7, 2012
89
10
I think you hit the nail on the head in this decision: longevity vs upfront savings. That's a tough call to make for most people b/c why pay for something you won't use immediately but then on the other hand, you have the question of how long do you need/want to hold on to a machine to "make it worth it"? The answer will vary for people based on their work, their budget, and their own perceived value of their time/work. And that's just fine, you gotta find where you fit on that spectrum.

For us, the pay off in developer productivity is easily there to just max out everything but the SSD (but we still spec 1TB SSDs, 256GB barely holds OS + runtimes + assets, and with SSDs, you want free space to allow wear leveling to do its thing, which is actually important in even junior developer workflows).

I'd also let go of the assumption that just as junior dev you don't have needs: your title may not relate to your machine needs. Your time is still valuable, and if you're compiling even a "simple" project but it has many libs, you have the same needs as a senior dev: especially if you're working in a team where you're building a larger project, but even a small "hello world" that uses graphics, etc is pulling in a LOT of deps/libs and has to link them, etc even if you didn't write that "advanced" code.

CPU technology and evolution is less important for devs for the most part, esp as heavy lifting of things (AI/ML training, even some large builds) are happening on hosted services, but what IS very important is I/O and caching of large data structures (modern IDEs do this for auto-complete, etc) and the name of that game is RAM, RAM, RAM. And that will only grow, and I'd be confident saying that need is going to grow way faster than the needs of a continually faster CPU or more efficient CPU, so based on how much you can afford, I would max out the RAM to keep the life of the machine you buy today as long and productive as it can be.

I really think you will end up replacing this machine b/c you are starting to hit RAM maxes before limitations in your CPU/GPU (and are swapping, basically killing performance, esp in highly parallelized workflows, which most builds are), so I'd maximize that, and I'd go above the 24GB.

If $$$ is a factor, if I had to make this decision, I'd sooner buy a refurb/lightly used M1 Pro/M1 Max with 32GB or 64GB than a new M2, really.

But, you CAN use the M2s with 16GB, but I think the toolchain RAM footprints are only going to grow and you'd be well served going with a minimum of 32GB if you can at all afford it.

Waiting on builds is one of the least productive times developers have but also largely the most preventable/optimizable to a point, even if it is taking a build from 60s to 30s (an incremental build on a hot reload style system maybe faster, but even then 20s vs 10s) but 100x times a day, even that 10s adds up...that is how I justified that decision in my budget as what our machine config baselines would be for developers.

Put a $ value on your time, then think about the $ value you may save, and think about the price diff up front and hopefully that can help guide you! Also, think about the "brain damage" you have sitting and waiting that, even if your time was "free" (it isn't, even as a jr dev, it is worth more than most people think!), it is proven that distractions (what do you do or where does your mind wander while you wait) hurts productivity beyond just the time you waited. There is some VERY good research out there that is very academic and well studied that proves it's WAY more than just the time you save!

Your "right" answer today is likely different than your "right" answer at a different time, and your "right" answer is likely VERY different from mine or others (or maybe not), but just saying that to really think more about what TRULY is an investment that has a pay off vs "new and shiny" emotional appeal (sexy new M2 vs used 1 yr old machine maybe not the same "shiny new" adrenaline hit, but likely a much better choice as the asset itself has depreciated and is still very powerful, maybe MORE powerful for what you need for what you'd spend on shiny and new), OTOH, maybe you don't "need" that much RAM, but I suspect you do or will. If you look into how Xcode and other tool chains like Expo, Flutter, etc compile, even simple projects are highly parallelized and can benefit greatly from not paging things out and having higher memory bandwidth (remember, the M1 Max has 400Gbps of memory bandwidth, the M1 Pro has 200Gbps, the M2 is currently only 100Gbps, this is not trivial, this makes a big difference in RAM-intensive workloads, which programming is: how quickly you can get that AST from memory the compiler uses to convert high level code into byte code to the CPU for a lookup/traversal/whatever and the result back into RAM, etc, etc is WAY more important than straight line CPU speed many times as are caches, which, again are much smaller on the M2 [for now, until the higher end variants of the M2 make an appearance]).
Once again, thank you for one more very well detailed explanation towards my decision.

The reason why I mentioned M2 is really money. I just bought a house and everything that comes with it etc. So I really just discarded the M1Pro out the door due to prices.

Then again, if I can make the effort to pay 2349€ for the 16gb, quite expensive in Europe (I truly can’t afford the 32gb. That’d set me back 3000€) it’d literally have to be the 16gb.

Unfortunately I’m here apple doesn’t have refurbished :/ and there aren’t a lot of official store that do sell refurbished. :(

Im really “stuck” in what to do

Thanks
 
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bmustaf

macrumors 6502a
Jul 6, 2007
604
1,174
Telluride, CO
Once again, thank you for one more very well detailed explanation towards my decision.

The reason why I mentioned M2 is really money. I just bought a house and everything that comes with it etc. So I really just discarded the M1Pro out the door due to prices.

Then again, if I can make the effort to pay 2349€ for the 16gb, quite expensive in Europe (I truly can’t afford the 32gb. That’d set me back 3000€) it’d literally have to be the 16gb.

Unfortunately I’m here apple doesn’t have refurbished :/ and there aren’t a lot of official store that do sell refurbished. :(

Im really “stuck” in what to do

Thanks
Well, I think then you got the decision made: buy what you can, use it to work hard, and you'll be able to afford what you want!

OTOH, if you work for an employer and are not a freelancer/work for yourself, push your employer to invest in the RIGHT (not cheapest) capital equipment for you to do your job most efficiently, there's a law of diminishing returns to this so I don't think you should push them to buy the highest priced or highest end machine, but the sweet spot will actually benefit them, too, to spend more!

Good luck regardless!
 

Gintoki-kun

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 7, 2012
89
10
Well, I think then you got the decision made: buy what you can, use it to work hard, and you'll be able to afford what you want!

OTOH, if you work for an employer and are not a freelancer/work for yourself, push your employer to invest in the RIGHT (not cheapest) capital equipment for you to do your job most efficiently, there's a law of diminishing returns to this so I don't think you should push them to buy the highest priced or highest end machine, but the sweet spot will actually benefit them, too, to spend more!

Good luck regardless!
Thank you :)
 

butnothere

macrumors newbie
Sep 16, 2022
1
2
Hey! I'm also an iOS Developer from Europe and I have a personal MacBook Air M1 with 16GB RAM and had a i9 with 32GB RAM for work and my M1 was way faster.
I totally understand your feeling about the costs, so I would advise you to pick the one you can afford better - but don't pick less than 16GB RAM!

I would probably go to the M2 Air to be honest. I've read about the "slow" SSD speeds but like other person said, I really doubt it you'll notice it in the daily use.
Here is a website with Xcode benchmarks for the different models: https://github.com/devMEremenko/XcodeBenchmark
 
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murdoc2k

macrumors regular
Oct 23, 2009
167
249
I'm re-learning web dev with the intention of moving into iOS development space in the future and I think the M2 Air would suffice as long as the Air has 16GB or more. I personally just built at 24GB M2 Air with 1 TB HDD space. That should be sufficent for most tasks.

While I can appreciate bmustaf's arguments and agree when it comes to purchases from a company perspective where large IT investments are done once every half a decade, if this is a personal laptop, I would purchase a mac that meets your immediate needs and scale up later. Meaning, if you can't see yourself doing AI/ML right now, there's no need to buy a mac that is optimized for that type of workflow.

Your next question will probably be: What do you mean by scale up later? Aren't macs non-upgradable?

When I say scale up, I mean trade in your existing mac and get a newer one with new specs you need. The reason is because tech is always advancing. Last year, the M-series Macbook Airs had a memory bandwith of 50gb/sec. This year, it got upgraded to 100gb/sec.

By the time you need to do AI/ML, the specs of CPU, RAM, and even the NVME drives would have improved. You will get some of the value back from your old machine to reduce the cost of your new purchase while minimizing current up front cost. This will give you the best bang for the buck.

That's my 2 cents.
 
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Gintoki-kun

macrumors member
Original poster
Sep 7, 2012
89
10
@bmustaf just bought the M1Pro :)
1h ago

Seems like a great machine! I know M2Pro is coming out, but it's not like we can always be on top of everything that's shiny and new. And even though this is a 2021 machine, I am sure (and hope) this lasts for quite a bit

Thanks for all the help
 
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georgeang

macrumors newbie
Jan 29, 2023
1
0
Hi @Gintoki-kun,

I am in the same position like you experienced, don't like it at all and I need a laptop this week. My question is what specs do you have it on your m1 pro?
 
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