MBA For Web Dev?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Kliphten, Jul 7, 2012.

  1. Kliphten Guest

    Sep 20, 2009
    Hi all,

    I'm looking to get a new MBA as my current one (last MacBook Pro before the Unibody) seems to be nearing its end. I have a gift card from Best Buy so I was thinking of getting the base 13" model which only has 4GB of ram.

    Do you guys think this would be sufficient for running a typical web dev setup? Coda, Photoshop, Parallels (for testing), Chrome, Firefox, MAMP, etc. Or would it be better to go with the base 13" Pro (which also only has 4GB ram but is at least upgradeable)?

    I didn't know how much I would love the weight/thinness/portability of the Air, but after playing with it and comparing to the 13" Pro, I was pretty much sold. The only thing I am worried about is performance but I'm not willing to spend too much more and I don't have too many options by going through Best Buy (since I can't customize the ram).

    What are your guys' thoughts?
  2. tERS09 macrumors newbie

    Jul 3, 2012
    I bought my base 13" MBA for the same reason, its my machine for on the go. I dont have photoshop on it yet and no parallels but it seems to be handling everything i throw at it with ease. The only problem you may encounter is storage space, since you will be running Windows 7. Other then that i think it will be fine for you.
  3. Kliphten thread starter Guest

    Sep 20, 2009
    How long have you had it? And when you say "for on the go", does that mean you have another computer you use when at home/office? The MBA would be my only machine and that's my biggest worry.
  4. tERS09 macrumors newbie

    Jul 3, 2012
    I have only had it for a few weeks now, so not long. Yeah i have my main desktop where i do my photoshopping. I think the MBA would handle photoshop, i am just hard drive space conscious.
  5. VentureBro macrumors newbie

    Jul 24, 2009
    As a software engineer, I recently got the 13" Air i7 8GB as my personal computer for side projects (mostly web development). The machine has breezed through everything I've thrown at it. It is an incredible machine and I still can't believe just how thin and light it is.

    Some very high profile software engineers use airs: Linus Torvalds uses an 11" air (although he isn't using OSX:rolleyes:). The creator of ruby on rails uses an 11" air as his primary computer. I wouldn't second guess yourself.
  6. Kliphten thread starter Guest

    Sep 20, 2009
    Do you think I'd be good with 4GB? That seems a bit meager to me but I can't upgrade it going through Best Buy. If I could, I'd go with a high end customized with the 8GB.
  7. kodeman53 macrumors 65816

    May 4, 2012
    What is so unique about the MBA that causes people people to ask question like this? Other than people doing in depth mathematical calculations, why wouldn't an MBA be good for any other task?
  8. dpc macrumors newbie

    Oct 19, 2008
    OC, CA
    MBA works great for webdev. I run just about everything you've mentioned as well, (vmware fusion instead of parallels though), and i haven't encountered any problems yet. I'm running 8GB ram though. If you can you should go for 8GB.
  9. tiwizard macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2010
    Get the 8GB of RAM-- especially if you're working with Parallels. Even without it running, with all of the different stuff I have running at once (several Sublime Text 2 windows, Photoshop, Illustrator, Aptana Studio, MAMP, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Tower, Sparrow, Terminal, Mou, Forklift, and several other misc things), I have over 5.2 GB of RAM active at any one time.

    There's no way I would go any lower-- it's worth the extra $100, and even if you can't upgrade it through Best Buy, I'd say it's better to wait and find a deal on the Air w/ 8GB RAM.

    Of course, I currently am using a 2010 MBP w/ 8GB of RAM (which has a Core 2 Duo), so the Air would be even faster due to the new processors and SSD.

    If you have a BB gift card, you could always buy accessories for your Air if you end up purchasing the computer itself from somewhere else-- a case, an external drive, TB Display, or whatever. Or you could always try and sell it to someone else.
  10. Barna Biro macrumors 6502a

    Barna Biro

    Sep 25, 2011
    Zug, Switzerland
    Yep, get the 8GB memory. MBA is more than enough for web development.
    I can handle even more complex tasks really well...

    It might not be lightning fast when compared to some serious desktops ( or even better notebook, semi-desktop replacements ), but it gets the job done. You'll sure be happy / satisfied with your purchase! ;)
  11. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    It's probably because it's so thin. Some people find it hard to believe that such a small computer will handle their work. Or something.
  12. Red Wolf macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2012
    I also ordered a MacBook Air to use it as my primary workstation. I'm on the road six days a week so the Air is perfect for that. I also hope the power will be enough, but after reading this thread I have faith :) I wont expect it to be as fast as my current laptop, but the maxed out 2012 13" will certainly do the job. I'll post my experience once I've recieved it this week!
  13. mikeray macrumors regular

    Jan 17, 2006
    Brooklyn, NY
    The Air is NOT a workstation!! It is the opposite in fact! The only Mac that is a workstation is the Mac Pro, possibly the 15" Macbook Pros but that is kind of a stretch imho.

    That being said...I love my 2012 11" Macbook Air!! I am a web developer, and it does everything I need it to do.

    PLEASE get the 8GB RAM or you wil regret it down the road! You are running VMs!
  14. asting macrumors 6502

    Jun 10, 2012
    Another thing to consider is screen resolution. I assume you want to be able to display the pages at a multitude of resolutions that clients might, and you'll be limited by the 11" display pretty severely. The 13" is pretty decent at 1440*900, and the 13" Macbook Pro is much worse in that aspect.
  15. ohbrilliance macrumors 6502a


    May 15, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    The latest MBA is definitely fit web dev, but make sure you get 8GB. Over time software will require more ram, and this can not be upgraded after purchase on the MBA.

    My primary and only machine is a 2007 MBP, with 4GB of ram and an Intel SSD running at Sata I (limitation of the laptop). I put it through its paces for web development work, running MAMP, Tomcat, Ubuntu server in VMWare, XCode, Adobe Lightroom, NeoOffice. It's more than up to the task.

    The latest MBA is perhaps twice as powerful. In my case I can't justify upgrading over a machine that serves me perfectly well.

    In what way is your MBP nearing its end? Have you upgraded to SSD? This can rejuvenate a machine.
  16. Red Wolf macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2012
    I think that my choice for the word "workstation" was misplaced. I think that "a portable machine where I can do all my work on" is more in context.. I primarly do webdeveloping and mobile app developing. I got the 13 inch maxed out with 8Gb and i7, so VM's should run reasonable! I don't need to do video editing or other demanding stuff on it.
  17. robvas macrumors 68030

    Mar 29, 2009
    We have guys that were running 4GB Airs and Pros here (web dev shop) but I'd go with the 8GB model. All of our iMacs have 8GB (and the new ones have even more). I'm using 6098MB used (1,708MB inactive) according to MenuMeters, and I don't use PhotoShop or have any VM's open right now. Just all 3 browsers, 2 text editors, a bunch of terminal windows and one Ruby on Rails app running in development mode on my machine.

    When I first fire my computer up from a cold boot, I'm only using like 3GB, but as time goes on the memory use goes up. The browsers go over 1GB each in no time flat.

    The big problem is you might not need all 8GB, but once you need 1 megabyte over 4GB you start swapping. The SSD makes that less of a drag than a regular HD but it's still a slowdown.

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