need advise for buying a laptop for web development

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by iCorei, Jun 5, 2015.

  1. iCorei macrumors newbie


    Jun 5, 2015
    hey there!
    it's my first post here and and it's going to be my first mac too!
    my needs / conditions are:
    • a portable laptop for web development (front & back)
    • maybe android development in the future (not sure at the moment)
    • very light Photoshop & illustrator uses (for web designing purposes).
    • i plan to use the device for at least 3 or 4 years (no upgrade in near future)
    • & as quiet and cool as possible !!

    what do you suggest rmbp13 or 15?
    is 8mb enough or should i go for 16

  2. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    Any laptop sold by apple right now will fullfill your requirements.
  3. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    As Meister says - the days of "I'm a web developer" giving you an excuse for buying the top-of-the-range model are sadly gone. Not sure I'd get a 12" MacBook or a 11" Air for the job but any of the Pros will be up to it. However, If you've got the money to get a nicer system, go for it: you'll be spending a significant fraction of your days staring at it.

    Apart from the screen size, the 15" advantage is quad-core processors and (on the high-end version) a discrete GPU (as opposed to Intel's integrated graphics) - but those are only really going to start paying for themselves for video editing and more serious graphics work.

    I'd go for 13" if you're going to be carrying it around, or the 15" if its going to be "commuting" between desks in a car - that said, the 15" isn't exactly big and heavy.

    One thing you might need for web development is to run multiple virtual machines (Linux for backend servers, Windows, Android, iOS for testing front-ends) - 8GB RAM is probably fine for that (I've been doing perfectly well with 8) but since you can't upgrade, if you can afford 16 will give you some future-proofing. For the same reason, I'd avoid the cheapest 13" with only 128GB SSD - virtual machine images can get fairly big - although you can always use an external drive.
  4. iCorei thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jun 5, 2015
    Thanks for your extensive answer.
  5. superscape macrumors 6502a


    Feb 12, 2008
    East Riding of Yorkshire, UK
    There is some great advice for you there, but I'd just reiterate an important point that theluggage made briefly. Namely, get the highest specced Mac you can afford. It may be overspecced to start with, but when that cool new app that everyone's raving about comes out next year, you're more likely to be able to use it. Plus, I've never heard anyone complain that their Mac is *over* equipped. So, if you only need 8Mb of RAM but can afford 16Mb, then go for 16Mb!
  6. 960design macrumors 68020

    Apr 17, 2012
    Destin, FL
    As already mentioned any Apple laptop will work well for you.

    If I may recommend, since you are starting I would suggest something with a long battery life and very portable. Something like the Mac Air 13, would probably be best for just starting out. This is a fantastic middle of the pack tool that will help you better determine what you may need 3 or 4 years down the road. I do recommend the highest RAM you can get. Having Image Editing software, at least 4 browser tabs open, local server running, text editor of your choice, ect will have an impact on your performance. I had an 8G laptop that only occasionally topped out memory pressure, my 16GB has never hit max memory pressure and only rarely jumps above 8G. If you are thinking 4 years down the road, it may be well worth it to go ahead and pick up the 16GB.

    After a couple of years, you will have more experience and understand better what you need. For example, you might feel that a 15 inch screen is worth the higher price, or not.

    For what it's worth, I use both a maxed out 15" MBPr and a maxed out iMac 21.5 for work.
  7. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    One final point: don't dash out and buy on monday morning. The annual Apple developers' conference (WWDC) is on Monday and, in the past, the keynote speech has been used for major product announcements. This year, big Mac hardware announcements seem unlikely (discussed ad nauseum in other threads) but with Apple, nothing is ever certain, so its worth waiting one more day.

    I think that's too simplistic. In reality, "afford" depends on need and utility, not just available cash or credit rating. You can "afford" to spend more on your house than on your car, and more on your car than you spend on coffee. If you're planning on taking up web development then you need to be able to afford a computer suitable for web development. If you're earning a living doing 4k video production then a $10k MacPro system may be money well spent - if you're doing web development then at least $5k of that is pure indulgence.

    Back in the 1990s, specs were doubling every year and getting the top model might mean that it was 2 years rather than 18 months before you started struggling to run the latest software. Those days have long gone. 4 years out of a midrange computer is not unreasonable - and its quite likely that the eventual obsolescence will not be something that spending more could have fixed.

    I'm still rocking an early-2011 17" MacBook Pro 2.2GHz i7 - I do some web development and, frankly, its still perfectly good. The only reason for obsolescence is lack of USB3 and the single Thunderbolt/DisplayPort output - not the fact that I didn't get the faster 2.3GHz processor.
  8. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    As everybody has said - this would do the job - and we all know that people love their Airs.

    However, I wouldn't recommend it for the following reasons:

    First, start with the 1.6Ghz/4GB/256GB SSD Air (see previous post) and add $100 to bring it up to 8GB ram: cost $1299. That's only $200 behind the 2.7GHz/8GB/256GB 13" Macbook Pro.

    For the extra $200 you get:

    + a Retina display which means:
    (a) you can preview your web pages in HiDPI mode without resorting to an iPad
    (b) you can use 'More Text' mode to get more screen real estate when you are coding
    (c) everything is generally nicer...​

    + a significantly better processor

    + the option to choose 16GB RAM which we've all agreed would be prudent, but not essential. I haven't included that in the cost but, with the Air, 8GB is the max.

    + better connectivity, particularly for connecting external displays (extremely useful for web development). Particular issue with the Air: you have one shared Thunderbolt/Displayport - if you want to connect a display then this rules out lots of the cheaper TB devices such as disc drives, Ethernet/extra USB3 dongles

    - The downside is that its slightly thicker and 2 beefburger patties heavier, although the footprint is actually slightly smaller than the Air (which uses tapered edges to make itself look thinner) - its certainly no brick.
  9. 960design macrumors 68020

    Apr 17, 2012
    Destin, FL
    Very well thought out and too true. Much better than my 'throw a dart at it' answer. Thumbed up!
  10. iCorei thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jun 5, 2015
    Thank you all for sharing your experiences with me.
    not every tech forum is so kind to a newbie !;)
  11. mrdoil macrumors newbie

    Jun 18, 2015
    It depends mostly on your development environment.

    Are you using a "light" IDE or a heavy one like Netbeans/Eclipse?
    Are you using VMs (Vagrant, Docker)?
    Photoshop? etc.

    From my experience, 8GB is the minimum RAM needed. For my next mac, i'd go with 16GB.
    Currently i'm working on a 13" rMBP late 2013, and i can say that for me, the 13" screen is NOT enough, and my only buying option at the moment is a 15" rMBP... but i'm waiting for the next model.

    Also, i currently have a storage of 250GB, which i can say is also not enough for me, as the projects i'm working on are quite large scale, and take up a lot of disk space.
  12. any-key macrumors member

    Sep 12, 2012
    I develop with a 13" MBA (2013) 8GB RAM + 256GB SSD. It's totally fine. Perfect machine for web development.

    Because you said portability is a factor 13" rMBP sounds like its going to be a good choice for you. Go with the Air only if you *really* need few extra hours of battery life on the road. Otherwise the price difference to the rMBP 13" is too minimal to justify getting a Air IMHO.

    With the rMBP you get a faster machine with current features like the Force Touch Trackpad.

    Go for 256 GB SSD minimum (more if you keep your projects on the local disk). You should be fine with 8GB RAM atm. But since you said you want to keep it for few years investing in 16GB upgrade wont hurt. A CPU upgrade is totally unnecessary for web development, invest the money in the RAM instead.

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