MacBook Air 2018 - right one for development?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by kaardowiq, Apr 14, 2019.

  1. kaardowiq macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2018
    Location:
    Zürich, Switzerland
    #1
    I'm still stuck with my MacBook Late 2008 (Unibody) on Mojave which is now 10 years old. It still works without any problems but the overall performance is really annoying. That's why I'm looking for a new one - everything should get a bit snappier:

    My usecase is:
    - office (via google), browsing, youtube (finally more than 480p), RSS
    - development (xcode, python, c), where the IDE won't take that much power, I also need temporary more power for compiling and running smaller linux VMs (mostly they run with 1-2GB ram and need only 5gb disk space)

    The MacBook Air 2018 is in stock for 1299CHF here but I could get a cheap used one (2 times charged only) for 950CHF or new from a reseller for 1150CHF. But all models are only with 8gb ram and 128gb ssd. Since the SSD won't ever get a problem for me (I don't store my documents locally) I'm unsure for 8GB ram (my old MacBook Late 2008 got upgraded from 2 to 4 and later to 8gb ram). Unsure if 8gb will be enough in a long term usage like my one or better to take 16gb which won't get "cheap".
     
  2. Ghost31 macrumors 68020

    Ghost31

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2015
    #2
    Whatever you end up getting will be a hell of a lot better than a 2008 MacBook. Thats for damn sure. And yes. Development is done quite often and well on MacBook airs. It really just depends on the type. Game development? Helllllll no. Writing scripts or using Xcode for relatively light stuff? Sure. I think you'll be fine.
     
  3. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    #3
    I've done that type of thing with 8GB RAM, no problems. I'd be more worried about the SSD - System and Apps will take quite a bite out of 128G, Xcode is a fairly big install, and those 5GB VMs soon add up... you don't want to let your system disc get to 90% or more full - that could cause performance problems. I guess you know from your existing Mac how much space you need, but if I were paying for a new-ish Mac I'd want a bit of room to grow.
     
  4. kaardowiq thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2018
    Location:
    Zürich, Switzerland
    #4
    Thanks you two, my only worry is RAM - SSD with 128g is fine for me, if really needed I can still connect an external drive, but never done before. My local CI/CD will just spawn small target Linux/FreeBSD VMs via Vagrant, test deploy and destroy (and clean up everything). Mostly there'll be only one VM but in some test cases there may be more VMs present at the same time. Since everything is slow on my old lady, I'm not sure where my bottle neck will be on a new one.
     
  5. auxbuss macrumors regular

    auxbuss

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
    Location:
    UK
    #5
    fwiw: I have MBP 16/512 and MBA 2018 8/128. I agree, 8/128 is fine for most dev. However, the extra cores in the MBP are useful when you've got, say, a couple of db engines, a web server, a mail server, etc. running to support dev and test. Ditto when running VMs, which, as I understand it, usually pin (processor affinity) CPUs. If you are running large VMs, then the extra memory is obviously useful.

    I really like my MBA, and I use it far more than my MBP, but if I were buying a single machine, and dev was a requirement, then I'd plump for the MBP. ymmv, etc.
     
  6. GoldfishRT macrumors 6502

    GoldfishRT

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2014
    Location:
    Somewhere
    #6
    Since you have both - Would you go for a new MacBook Air with 16gb of ram or a refurb Pro with 8gb (both 2018 models, so quad core for the MBP)? They're both $1529 for me.

    My 15" is going back due to the time-table it will take my local Apple store to fix it properly and I'd like to save the cash

    I'm not in dev, and my needs are light, but I will end up chipping away at an aerospace engineering degree over the next few years but I really don't know what that entails yet.
     
  7. auxbuss macrumors regular

    auxbuss

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
    Location:
    UK
    #7
    Frankly, I think if you need 16Gb – and if you don't know you'll need it then you don't – the MBA is the wrong machine. (I'm sure there are edge use-cases for 16Gb, but again, you'd know.) Reason: If you need 16Gb, then you'll benefit far more from the extra cores in the MBP.

    re: the unknowns of your aerospace engineering degree: Well, I dunno :)

    However, I'll speculate for fun:

    I'm guessing that during an aerospace engineering degree – nice choice btw – you'll be using some funky simulation software and all kinds of mathematical doodads (I did mathematics way back, so I have some idea). Again, cores are going to be your friend here. Unless the problem spaces you are going to be working with are huge, then 8Gb should be enough. (fwiw, 8Gb is a huge amount of memory, and macOS manages it very well.)

    So, I'd go with the MBP, today.
     
  8. pika2000 macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2007
    #8
    Going the less popular route, I would actually recommend you to get a refurbished "old" Macbook Air (2017 was the "latest" I think, although the design is much older). Why? The keyboard. If you'll be typing a lot, you may want to wait it out for Apple to really tweak out the butterfly keyboard. Plus, that old Macbook Air has handy USB-A ports and an SD-card slot. People scoffed off its TN panel, but Apple actually use a high quality TN panel, and "retina" is just a marketing buzz to get you to spend more money.

    So check to see if Apple offers this older Macbook Air (I recommend refurbished to save even more money) in your country.
     
  9. auxbuss macrumors regular

    auxbuss

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
    Location:
    UK
    #9
    I didn't buy the old Air because of the lack of retina. It's not marketing, it's a substantive difference. You can't go back. And having had retina for five years, I wasn't going to.
     
  10. kaardowiq thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2018
    Location:
    Zürich, Switzerland
    #10
    At least it‘s one of the most important features for me, together with an external 4K display. More space for IDE and terminals...
     
  11. GoldfishRT macrumors 6502

    GoldfishRT

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2014
    Location:
    Somewhere
    #11
    It's a bit hard for me, since I've had machines going back to 2011 with 16GB of ram (when it was cheap and easily up gradable). Maybe I'm just gullible.

    It's worth saying, I'm less concerned about the RAM for the degree stuff and more for the spreadsheets I'll be working with at work. The machines I have there are older quad core i5 systems with 16GB for the record. They don't require much in the way of CPU power but they're big sets of data - and I often watch YouTube and use Jabber while working with them. I was reading about the MacBook Air's CPU and while it's not a tire burner it appears to be as fast as a 2016 nTB MacBook Pro (sans graphics).


    Of course, outside of work, I can use anything. I've got a Surface Pro 2 that's just a trooper. It sits in my car's map pocket throughout the week and with 4GB of ram and an terrible i5 from 5 years ago and it handles the normal stuff adequately.

    BH Photo has a sale where it looks like it's only about $100 more for the RAM upgrade. Might just bite the bullet for that price.
     
  12. kaardowiq thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2018
    Location:
    Zürich, Switzerland
    #12
    TL;DR I didn‘t buy it, I try to least with it one more year and take a look again. In a showroom the Air 2018 got laggy on an external 4K screen in HiDPI Mode.
     

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