Minimum Mac for development?

Discussion in 'iOS Programming' started by techguy15, Jan 12, 2017.

  1. techguy15 Suspended

    May 24, 2015
    I tried researching and got different results/answers. If I want to learn iOS development I know I need to download Xcode. My question is what's the minimum specs I need? I've looked online and I see that 2009 seems like the cutoff for not being able to use the latest version of Xcode. Then I see those white plastic body Macs that are running Sierra. They look older than the 2008-09 aluminum body Macs. So ultimate question is what year Mac would I need for learning and how long would it last for having the latest version of Xcode? I don't want to buy for example a 2011 MacBook Pro or Air and then next year it's obsolete and I can't use the latest version of Xcode.
  2. Zazoh macrumors 6502a


    Jan 4, 2009
    San Antonio, Texas
    Everything you mentioned is a laptop? If you get a MacMini you can save some money. You are right to consider the longevity of the machine. As a developer for iOS you will always be battling the last OS, Count on your development machine and iOS to release a major update once per year.

    I'd say the service life of a computer as an end user can be several years, 5-7. I think as a developer, about 4 years would be my quick educated guess. If you are releasing apps you are going to have to keep up with the latests and greatest as that is what your users will expect. Right now if a machine will run Sierra 10.12.xx, and Xcode 8.2, you will be fine, how long, the question you are asking, is not set in stone, If it were me, I wouldn't go beyond 2012. If you find anything earlier it may hold you for a year. So you can determine your ROI from there. If you can produce, or learn what you want before the next upgrade great. But easily within two years you will be buying again.

    You are probably looking for a hard fast answer. But the reason you found different answers is Apple has changed the upgrade path and shortened it as of late. It will also matter what processors are available, sometimes the path ends when there is a major processor change.

    I had a 2011 Powerbook that I recently sold. While technically capable of running the software, it was just too slow for my likes. I actually downgraded to a 12 inch screen and rMB, which is a lot faster and because of the clearer resolution just as capable of viewing all of Xcode that I need to see.
  3. techguy15 thread starter Suspended

    May 24, 2015
    That's the exact type of insight I was looking for; pretty much your whole answer. I was looking online at Craigslist and Offer Up and saw a 2009 MacBook white plastic body running what they claim is Sierra which surprised me. I'm trying to aim in the ballpark of 2012 which you said. The thing is these Macs hold their value like no other machine I've ever seen lol! I saw a 2010 for $500 I'm shocked at how much they're going for. I appreciate your answer, friend!
  4. BarracksSi Suspended


    Jul 14, 2015
    MacTracker lists the mid-2010 MBPs as being the oldest to be supported by Sierra. But, there's a lot of reading in this thread:

    I was at an Apple Store yesterday to give my aunt some ideas on what she might need to learn programming. There's always an argument to be made for the best-spec'd powerhouse, but then again I said, "If an app doesn't run smooth on the base model, it's too complicated anyway."
  5. PhoneyDeveloper macrumors 68040


    Sep 2, 2008
    I would look for a Mac with SSD and 16 GB Ram. Other details are mostly personal preference. Core i7 would be preferred. A couple 20+ inch screens would be nice.
  6. KALLT macrumors 601

    Sep 23, 2008
    I am using Xcode on a 2008 MacBook with the ‘hack’ mentioned above. I would recommend having at least 4 GB of RAM, better 8 GB RAM to use Xcode comfortably next to a browser and other applications. Depending on the size of the project, the biggest bottlenecks tend to be huge Interface Builder files as well as some slow processing of new projects (which need to be indexed). Compiling large software may also take a lot of time due to the slower processor. If you are mostly working on your own projects, then you will be fine.

    The only worry is that Apple restricts Xcode to the last two releases of the OS currently, which means that the clock is ticking for older hardware now, especially if you are not willing to use any hacks.
  7. techguy15 thread starter Suspended

    May 24, 2015
    I kept looking online and saw a mid 2010 for $700. Seven hundred. "Matte screen, i7 and a SSD" were his reasons for the price I mean cmon now for a I'll keep looking I guess
    --- Post Merged, Jan 13, 2017 ---
  8. firewood macrumors 604

    Jul 29, 2003
    Silicon Valley
    That's only needed for future proofing. Currently, fairly large iOS projects can be built on a Core i5 with 8 GB of RAM and an SSD. Most beginning programming tutorials would run just fine on a Mac as low as a Core 2 Duo with 4 GB.

    The only thing I would not recommend would be a Mac with a 5400 RPM HD. Xcode builds really drag on those.
  9. bytecurious macrumors member


    Jan 25, 2017
    Assuming I can plug in an external HDD from time to time, is there anything that would be restricted by only having a 256 GB internal SSD?
  10. BarracksSi Suspended


    Jul 14, 2015

    If you have an app that's two hundred gigabytes in size, you need to redesign the app. ;-)
  11. wolfaaron macrumors regular

    Jul 31, 2012
    Not when it comes to programming. But if you do other things on the computer other than just programming then maybe there will be a constraint.
  12. webeindustry macrumors newbie

    Dec 8, 2017
    I picked up a hand me down from fam late 2009 imac. First thing I did before getting it was snag a $14 external enclosure from Fry's. It took me a while, but I got high sierra installed on it, then remembered there was some spare 2GB so-dimm modules lying around along with my SSD. So by end of lastnight I had an external SSD, 8GB ram, and the original 1TB handy if I decide to stuff files on it (doubt it).

    Oh, xcode 9.2 installed fine of course since this is the latest OSX version (at the time of this writing). It looked like I would require a 2010 imac, but besides a few oddities on install (had to give it plenty of time and it stuck I think 3 times at different parts of install requiring reboot) everything is going smoothly today.

    Now, will I be able to run xcode 10? Honestly I doubt it. I plan on pushing this on someone for $300 and upgrading to a late 2013 for maybe $600 within the year. Just don't get the kind with soldered ram.
  13. bela541 macrumors newbie

    Jan 3, 2018
    The thing is these Macs hold their value like no other machine I've ever seen lol!
  14. dpalme macrumors newbie

    Dec 20, 2009
    ++++++ for that advice :)

    My development laptop is a mid 2013 model with 16gb ram, Retina display, 500GB SSD and an i7 2.3. I do wish I had more processing power. It does a decent job but it could definitely be faster.

    On a side note, I lease my equipment from MacHq, with their mac for life program; so, every two years I take it back in, pick up the new one and go about my business. Pay a monthly lease and no harm no foul.
  15. mhxnahid macrumors newbie

    Jan 23, 2018
    I'm also trying to figure out what should I get. Mac mini looks like an alluring solution. But these are not upgradable anymore. I can get a 2012 one and spec up with ssd and more ram. Not sure if it's a good idea for my usage. Portability is not my greatest concern but it'd be nice to have that. Newer macbook pros with comfortable spec (16gig) are too pricey for me. They charge way too much for ram and ssd upgrade. Even though I haven't started learning swift yet and owned zero apple products so far, I'm looking for some kind of stable solution.

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