Macbook Pro or Air for running Windows VM

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by alp9, Aug 1, 2014.

  1. alp9, Aug 1, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 1, 2014

    alp9 macrumors newbie

    Aug 1, 2014

    I have option to choose between these two:
    1. Mac Pro Macbook Pro, 2.0GHz quad-core Intel Core i7, 8GB RAM, 15.4" Retina display
    2. Mac Air, 1.3GHz dual-core Intel Core i5, 8GB RAM, 13.3" display.

    I understand given a choice Pro is the best option. But I was thinking of opting for Air due to better portability.

    But I absolutely need to run Virtual Machine with Windows-64-bit on whatever I choose. So wanted to know whether with the above configuration Mac Air will be sufficient for this or not?

    how is the performance of Air + VMs with 8GB RAM? Will quad-core with same RAM improve the performance considerably? I will be using Windows to run few applications only may be 3-4 hours per day.

    appreciate any inputs
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I think you mean MacBook Pro and not a Mac Pro.

    I'd opt for the MBP over the MBA, if you'll be running VMs. Between the quad core CPU, better GPU and more ram. I think its a better machine for the stated purposes.
  3. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    The Mac Pro is going to run Windows VM 1000 better than the air. You're trying to compare apples to oranges. Also, the Mac Pro doesn't come in those specs.
    I'd buy a MBP personally.
  4. alp9 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 1, 2014
    I am referring to MBP and not Mac Pro, sorry for the confusion.

    thanks for the reply.
  5. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2010
    What you run INSIDE the Windows VM will make a difference as well. I run a Fusion VM everyday with Windows 7 (32 bit). The only programs that I need to run on Windows are IE and MS Remote Desktop. These are not exactly processor intense, so my MBA barely sees anything running. Every so often, an Anti Virus Scan will kick off and Windows task manager will show the vCPU at 100% - at which point my CPU Fan will kick up to the point that I can tell it's spinning.

    My opinion is that the RAM is the most important consideration for virtualization. Since those are the same in the two configs, I would say they are equally capable of running a VM. Make sure you don't over allocate the VM. I use a single vCPU for my VM, which reduces resource contention - it is easier to get one core/thread allocated than two. The VM will sit and idle until the host can give it all of the resources it wants, so less resources means less idle time.

    If you need to run CPU dependent tasks in Windows, then certainly the more powerful i7 becomes more important. For simple stuff - like IE, RDC, Office Apps - you probably can't type/read fast enough to notice any difference. If you want to do things like compiling code, processing audio or video that are purely CPU bound, then you will notice.
  6. capathy21 macrumors 65816


    Jun 16, 2014
    Houston, Texas
    If portability is a concern, why don't you consider the 13 inch rMBP?
  7. DistantOrigin macrumors newbie

    Jul 28, 2014
    North Carolina
    I run a Windows 7 (64-bit) virtual machine in VMware Fusion almost every day for many hours at a time.
    My notebooks stats are: MBA 2013, I7 1.7 (turbo up to 3.3) GHZ, 256 GB storage with the 8 GB RAM
    I have never had any issues where memory was not in abundance. To be quite frank, my MBA VM runs Windows a lot better than any of my native Windows laptops have in the past.
    Given, I don't do anything super intensive; most of my intensive tasks such as video editing and video conversion are left for OS X to do.
    What I do on my VM: Use Microsoft Word and Outlook; browse the web (for sites that don't render quite perfectly in Safari); remote desktop; manage my remote Linux box via SSH (sometime I have to port my public keys to OS X, but todays not the day) and that's about it.
    And for the record, using a VM doesn't dent my 13" MBA's battery too horribly. I just lose about 2 to 3 hours at mid screen brightness.
    The only thing the MBP really has above the MBA is the faster processor; though the air can clock to 3.3, so this isn't really an enormous issue. The retina screen is also largely understated -- this helps with clarity or so I hear. A point to the MBP on that.
    In conclusion, the MacBook Air is cheaper and will probably get you exactly the speeds/memory management you need to handle a VM. (Edit: I just saw that you said 1.3, not 1.7. Try to get 1.7 GHZ if you can.) The MacBook Pro is *not* that much bigger than the air. Imagine the thickest part of the Air (on the back) plus about 0.04 inches. If I remember correctly, the thickest part of the MBA is 0.68 while the pro is 0.72. MBP does not taper off into the wedge shape like the MBA does, however.
    Buy the MacBook Pro if you have the extra money and Retina is important to you. The extra processor is nice, but processor speeds, especially when the MBA can turboboost, aren't that relevant unless you're doing heavily intensive things like Video or Photo rendering.
  8. Dweez macrumors 65816


    Jun 13, 2011
    Down by the river
    This is my use case for a VM. I have a mid 2013 i7 / 8 gig / 512 gig 13" MBA and most of the time I'm running a corporate 64 it windows 7 image in a Fusion VM. I gave the VM 4 gig of ram and it's very happy. The windows VM does VPN, Outlook, Visio, Lync, IE for those (way too many) windows-only internal websites.

    Virtual Box was a consideration, but I wanted support for the virtualization product, just in case.

    I sync my Documents to network storage in my home office from a work-provided windows laptop, then again to the windows VM. Once I return from traveling the sync goes the other way. A bit of a PITA, but I don't mind a bit as I very much prefer the portability and look/feel of the MBA to the HP "mobile workstation" laptop. Which feels like a few bricks in my messenger bag if I must take it with me.

    As to the OP's question, either will make a great host for running your VM. Which one you choose is a decision for you to make.

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