MBA for software development

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Barche, Oct 27, 2012.

  1. Barche macrumors newbie

    Oct 27, 2012

    For the first time ever, I'm considering buying a Mac, more specifically the Macbook Air 13" with 8GB RAM and i5 CPU.

    My main workload is software development in C++, which I currently do using GCC on linux but on the MBA I'm willing to give Clang on OS X a try, possibly also switching it to linux in case it disappoints.

    The MBA fits my needs perfectly in terms of specs and portability (and price!), but there is one concern: some reviews mention that the CPU will throttle under heavy load. Since a C++ compile can take up to 15 minutes, I'm wondering if throttling is likely to happen? Is anyone here using the MBA for similar work, and do you observe throttling?
  2. jbzcar, Oct 27, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2012

    jbzcar macrumors regular

    May 11, 2012
    I build Android on my 11" Air with i7, 4GB, 256GB, and it never throttles, even under full load my temps don't go above ~180F.

    Edit: Just to be more informative, they use GCC to compile, and without CCACHE, the builds run just short of an hour. Cut that in half with CCACHE. :)
  3. tiwizard macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2010
    I don't usually compile things that require 15min+, but it works great for iPhone and web development (not that web development requires compiling...).
  4. firewood macrumors 604

    Jul 29, 2003
    Silicon Valley
    My longest compile is about 2 minutes, and I've never heard the fan turn up on my MBA 11. The SSD in the Air will often more than offset the advantage of compiling on a server with a faster CPU but running off of HDs.

    CLang/LLVM seems to give more informative warnings and error messages than gcc in many cases. But one can always run ones favorite Linux distro in a VM, and use both.
  5. Barche thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 27, 2012
    OK, thanks for the replies. If a faster CPU in a smaller package can handle a longer compile, then I'm reassured that the throttling won't be a problem. It agrees with what I see on my desktop: compiling runs about 15°C cooler than a stress test.
  6. NutsNGum macrumors 68030


    Jul 30, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    A snip at double the price.
  7. jsw Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    I do intensive Java development with long compile times on a 2011 Air with an i5 without issue. I bought it as an interim purchase to tide me over until the then-rumored retina displays, but I'm sticking with it for now.

    However, if you have the option, I'd recommend the i7 for $100 more. I don't mind the i5, but for major development, the additional speeds of the i7 would pay off, I think.

    Retina displays are nice, but I don't think they're worth it in many cases - save the money and put it towards a nice monitor and use that when at home.

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