New 12" Macbook fine just for coding?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by patent10021, Apr 13, 2017.

  1. patent10021, Apr 13, 2017
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2017

    patent10021 macrumors 68030


    Apr 23, 2004
    I love my 15" rMBP but it is way too heavy for backpack commuting. I carry it in my backpack with other things around Japan, Korea and China for work. It's doable on its own but when you have other things like chargers, water, snacks, books etc the backpack can get crazy heavy. I end up holding my backpack from the handle instead of carrying it on my shoulders. Really not good on the shoulders.

    I love the new light 12" MB. Crazy light and the other advantage is it's USB-C and there are plenty of new cool USB-C powerpacks on Amazon so I don't always need to find wallworts.

    Of course there's no comparison for performance and I know 12" MB GPU and processor are underpowered but this would not be my main machine. It's just for quick on-the-go iOS, Android, and web development. Also if we use code injection in Xcode 8 (yes it still exists) we actually don't need fast processors for many builds/quick tests. I'm not worried about small screen real-estate either.

    I would normally buy one and use it for a week to try it out but I'm in Japan and they don't allow that here.
  2. Canubis macrumors regular


    Oct 22, 2008
    Vienna, Austria
    I cannot say anything in specific about the 12 inch MacBook. But I've been using for years the 11 inch MacBook Air (2011 model). I think it has similar performance compared to the current 12 in MacBook and is still a great machine I am using daily for coding and web development but also all other office & web related stuff. I even did and do graphics work with Photoshop and Indesign and some occasional Final Cut Pro and After Effects editing. When I bought it in 2011 I never expected it to become my main machine, it was just thought to be more of a mobile "typewriter" for university back then. My main machine at that time was a 2009 Mac Pro. However, I am still using both machines today but over times I in fact started doing most tasks – even ones considered "pro" work - on the little MBA and it surpassed all my expectations. A secondary screen is of course appreciated for many task when at home/office. So in my opinion, go for it!
  3. -Jodorowsky- macrumors newbie


    Apr 14, 2017
    First off, I'm no coder. But I'm using a 2016 MacBook professionally since the day it came out, to send mails, write reports, attend meetings, review PDF... that sort of "light" work.

    I'm everyday amazed by the speed at which it fires up, and ready to work with. Which is pretty much instantaneous.

    Battery life is great, as long as you disable some unnecessary services (like Dropbox).

    I don't know how CPU-intensive code compiling is, but I imagine it's only "punctual" in your day, and as long as you're using the laptop to type in code, then you should have only the good side of it!

    Anyway, this is a great machine, but only for specific needs, in which your requirements seem to fit in.

    Keep us posted on what you choose to do!
  4. merkinmuffley macrumors 6502a

    Dec 3, 2010
    It'll be a great machine for what the uses you describe.
  5. 960design macrumors 68030

    Apr 17, 2012
    Destin, FL
    My office coding machine is an iMac27" 5k, my mobile is a MBPr15, my daughter uses a MacAir13 for light coding with no issues. Actually, I'm a little jealous of how light and small it is.

    I have not played with a MacBook12", but I would imagine it would be great for long term or short term coding.
  6. vatter69 macrumors 6502a


    Feb 4, 2013
    Definitely check out the 13" nTB. It's about the same in price and just does about everything right where the 12" fails (1 port, cpu/gpu power/scren realestate). Smaller footprint than 13" Air.
  7. Idarzoid macrumors 6502

    Mar 15, 2013
    I've had 12" rMB for a bit, it's fine for coding, even with a VM and MAMP server running, 12" screen can feel cramped at times though and you can only go up to 1400x900 effective resolution, so you don't get too much space (unless you use something like to get 1650x1080 or higher or you connect an external monitor).

    Consider getting nTB 13" MBP instead, it's not too much more expensive when you consider the price/performance ratio, you get extra port, you get slightly bigger screen and you get much better iGPU performance.

    But if it's just for on the go use and you're not bothered about 13" MBP, you can get 2015 12" rMB at a decent price if you look around, it's not too far behind the 2016 model.
  8. Digger148 macrumors regular


    Aug 8, 2010
    I used a rMB for coding for about 5 weeks. It had no problems doing the job, however, I never became truly comfortable with the shallow keyboard travel. I went back to a MBA.
  9. Starfia macrumors 6502


    Apr 11, 2011
    I can't think why not. I do Xcode and web dev plus all kinds of more intensive stuff, so I live with an iMac. If I only worked with web dev apps and Xcode and wasn't concerned about a small screen, it's possible it could be my main Mac.
  10. mdbradigan macrumors regular


    Oct 28, 2014
    Nashville, TN area
    I use a rMB as my daily driver, programming, mostly attached to a 27" monitor and external keyboard and mouse, using the computer as a second display. When I'm mobile, it goes into a tiny backpack with an ipad air2 as a second display. This is a fantastic computer for mobile. The keyboard definitely takes some getting used to, but it's not horrible. If I could buy any computer for mobile programming, I'd probably get the 13" MBP, because not that much more heavy, and better keyboard, better specs, but, honestly, the 12" rMB has been the best laptop I've ever owned. My work laptop is a 15" dell, 24GB ram, maxed out. It's a beast. and it's 7 pounds. I hesitate before I put it on my lap, let alone in my backpack. My macbook? Is as light as a friggin' notepad - it has seriously changed the way I think about "mobile" computing. Couldn't recommend it highly enough.

    Yeah, it bogs down when doing anything heavy in p*shop or excel, but that's ok - it's supposed to. For what it is - it's amazing.
  11. smallcoffee macrumors 65816

    Oct 15, 2014
    North America
    I think you've convinced yourself, and you're looking for more validation that it is the right decision.

    I switched from a MacBook to MacBook Pro recently and I write code. If the most important thing to you is lightness, then you can't do much better than the MacBook. If you're not worried about screen size, again, MacBook is fine in that regard.

    If you're doing much more than just writing code (rendering any images, running Simulator) or any intensive work in Xcode at all you will see a huge performance degradation. If you're really just doing lightweight development work it will mostly be fine, but be prepared for some slow downs.

    If you're buying USB-C accessories these are going to ad weight. A 15'' rMBP weighs, what, 5 pounds? How much do those power packs weigh? Can you carry fewer books?

    I don't know your income level, but for me, personally, I'd be hard-pressed to justify a new MacBook based on what you've written here.

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