MBP 2011. 750GB 5400RPM HD, VMWare + Windows 7. Performance recommendations?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Whosaidit, Nov 11, 2011.

  1. Whosaidit macrumors newbie

    Aug 9, 2011
    I have an older Dell laptop with a Core 2 Duo CPU and a 256GB SSD for software development. It's *barely* fast enough to make me happy.

    I recently purchased a 17" MBP (2.2GHz i7, 8GB RAM, 750GB 5400 RPM HD) and installed VMWare Fusion 4 and Windows 7 x64. I'm using FileVault. I purchased the machine for iOS development and got the idea that it would be nice to be able to develop both sides of my applications on the same machine -- not to mention the battery life on the Dell blows.

    My Windows 7 performance would be acceptable if I were, say, editing Word documents and such, but I'm just warming up and testing things like Visual Studio 2010. The performance of the Dell sucked with the stock 7200RPM HD until I upgraded it to the 256GB SSD.

    The symptoms I'm observing on the MBP are as follows:

    When launching the VMWare instance (4GB of 8GB RAM and 4 of 8 CPU cores allocated), CPU usage seems to be pretty low. Also, the disk IO in Activity Monitor doesn't show sustained high rates of activity in terms of transfer; I suspect this may just be how slow the 5400 RPM drive performs in terms of random access.

    I get occasional short-lived beachballs and OSX lags a little. I can type out an entire URL in Chrome before it starts to show up.

    This level of performance does not justify me carrying only one laptop. I assume my bottleneck to be disk IO and possibly the "hidden" cost of FileVault. I would prefer to continue using FileVault, though I suppose I can only encrypt my user directory, move my VMWare files outside of it and then use shared paths for my personal stuff that I work with in Windows.

    My questions are: given what I've said, would upgrading to an SSD alleviate most of these issues? If not, what are the other things I can do to get performance up to the level I'm getting on my older Dell? Bootcamp is not an option as I need to run the Windows-based web stuff to support the iOS front-ends. I assume that with the i7's virtualization and additional CPU cores that the CPU running VMWare should still smoke the dedicated Core 2 Duo in the Dell.
  2. rvinny macrumors regular

    Feb 2, 2007
    did you come to any conclusion about this? I was about to pull the trigger on a similar machine (quad core i7 however). I wouldn't expect the slow performance on something with that many cores / ram.

    Makes me wonder if running Parallels instead would show a difference or if it's really just as simple as swapping a better HD.
  3. squeakr macrumors 68000


    Apr 22, 2010
    I have an early 2011, and the performance on the OEM drive was pretty abysmal. I ran a Momentus XT 500GB for several months and noticed a great improvement, but I had to switch back to the OEM when I changed positions needing more space. In the end, I had to swap to an SSD to be productive for my needs (I had constant stalling and freezes). I think you will find you will be much more satisfied with the upgrade you are contemplating. I do heavy support work and found that the SSD made huge improvements for my workflow and usage. For you situation it sounds like that will fit your needs exactly. I ended up needing to move to 16GB as my page outs were killing the SSD. I still use the OEM as a firewire drive and hate every minute I have to use it to get information, as it is slow. Look at the Hard drive benchmarks and you will see it has a speed rating of 0 on their comparison charts (not to be confused with user complaints, as the drive fairs well there).
  4. robvas macrumors 68030

    Mar 29, 2009
  5. HippieMagic macrumors 6502

    Dec 21, 2011
    I just loaded up my bootcamp partition on VMWare Fusion 4 on a 5400rpm drive and it took ~3 seconds to start Visual Studio 2010 and it seemed to have normal performance. The initial startup was slower than if I would have just used bootcamp but the performance isn't horrible. I have a late 2011 base model 15" MBP with 8GB of RAM installed.
  6. D.T. macrumors G3


    Sep 15, 2011
    Vilano Beach, FL
    I'm working on my MBP 15 (8GB, i7 quad/8mb), 500GB 7.2K HDD, and running my Winders apps in Parallels (v6) and it's working outstanding (RAM/HDD all OEM/BTO).

    Used the Parallels Migration Tool on my existing HP, it built an image out my Windows, the OS, programs (I told it not to bundle in my Pics/Music/etc., since I moved those manually). Move the external drive over imported it to my Mac (again with Parallels Migration). Poof! My existing Windows setup is totally ported over to my Mac in a VM ... no need to reinstall the OS, apps, setup my dev tools etc.

    I applied "Mac Look" which styles the windows to match OSX :) Now in Coherence (runs apps in a windows stub on the OSX desktop, pretty seamless), they barely even stand out as non-Mac apps :D

    Here's a pic, I'm running VS2010 (and in the "background" Windows session IIS, SQL), SQL EM (minimized to the dock), you can see the Start Menu, and my native OSX desktop, OSX Chrome (all on my external display), and on my integrated monitor, iTunes (plus several other things running like Mail, gfxCardStatus, terminal):



    Side-note: I still think I may want to migrate my development storage to the Mac side, to prevent it from being "trapped" in a VM ... I did notice just last night you can flag a VM to be part of a Time Machine backup, but mine is kind of huge, not sure if it does the whole thing, or just the User files.
  7. bill-p macrumors 68000

    Jul 23, 2011
    The SSD would help a bit, but not much. I think you are running into RAM issues and processing power issues, rather.

    If possible, try upgrading to 16GB of RAM, or 12GB. Then you can allocate 4GB or 8GB to VMWare and leave OSX with 8GB or more RAM to work with. With 8GB, you may want to consider allocating only 2GB, unless 4GB is a must for something else that you use in Windows.

    Reduce the CPU cores in VMWare to either 1 or 2. Ideally 1. The reason is because while you have 8 virtual cores in your computer, there are only 4 real cores, and if you allocate 4, VMWare will constantly try to hog the cores away from OSX.

    If either of the above doesn't fix your lag issues, then try an SSD. But personally, I think those are the two main suspects. VM's aren't generally taxing on storage, unless you don't have enough RAM to feed it.

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