Retina or MacBookAir 11" to Run Parallels Desktop 10?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by kevhui, May 12, 2015.

  1. kevhui macrumors regular

    Apr 24, 2008
    I am thinking of buying MacBook Air 11" with 512GB SSD because I can use it for Target Display Mode with my iMac 27".

    But at 512GB SSD, the price difference is not that much (I mean, affordable) between rMB and MBA 11", then I think "Why not the greatest model?"

    Would 256GB enough to run Parallel? I will be running Visio and Office on Windows 8.1 within Parallels.

    If 256GB is OK, then I will be more incline to by MBA.

  2. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Why not Retina MacBook Pro? It's much more powerful in every aspect and comes with more RAM as standard. RAM's going to be the real bottleneck when running a VM.
  3. kevhui thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 24, 2008
    Because I need it for traveling, so light weight is very important.
  4. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    It's extremely thin and lightweight, though. Practically the thinness of a USB port, and no real thicker than the thickest part on the MBA. Plus you get more ports, quicker RAM, more RAM, a better GPU, a better CPU, a better display, and the new Force Touch trackpad.
  5. blesscheese macrumors 6502a


    Apr 3, 2010
    Central CA
    I have my wife set up with the latest 11" MBA, with 8GB RAM and 512GB SSD. She runs MS Office in a Parallels VM, but uses primarily only Word and Excel. She loves the light weight and the long battery life of the MBA; you can definitely take it with you just about anywhere you want to go.

    Two things to think about...
    i) it sounds like you are comparing the price point of the 11" MBA 512 SSD to the 13" rMBP 256 SSD?

    ii) if you are going to hook up the MBA to your iMac (or any other external display), you essentially are bypassing any issues with the display when working at home. On the road, the MBA displays will be 13xx by 768 and the scaled display of the 13" rMBP will be ? I think 1440x900, so, not much of a difference, but the rMBP will be sharper...
  6. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Jul 1, 2004
    In my mind, the biggest concern would be the CoreM processor. I'm sure it can handle running most tasks on either OS just fine, but I have some doubts as to whether it can run both OS X and Win7/8.1 sufficiently.

    It's an extremely low powered chip and I worry about the CPU throttling, heat build up and the degradation of battery life once you start pushing it. The MBA should handle it better, and the rMBP better still, but you stated aren't considering the rMBP.

    As far as other specs, those can be evened out by upping the RAM & storage on the Air. This is one of those times where I'd say that 8GB would be beneficial.
  7. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    The rMBP is pretty lightweight but it's still 3.5 lbs which is almost 50% heavier than an 11" MBA. Not to mention the footprint difference.
  8. LittleLuth macrumors member

    Oct 27, 2014
    FWIW - Parallels runs on all of them...

    In my household, I have a '13 MBA 13" with 4GB of RAM and 128GB SSD, a '14 rMBP 13" with 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, and I just picked up the new base model Macbook (1.1/8/256) as an iPad replacement for when I travel - or rather a replacement for carrying both the iPad and the Air. I have parallels running 8.1 on all of these machines. I don't use Visio, but I do use Word, Excel (a lot) and PowerPoint and have had no problem with any of these machines. The MBA with only 4GB of RAM has given me a few issues bogging down with large complex spreadsheets and data analysis, but I've not had that problem with any of the other machines - including the new Macbook (though admittedly I've only had it now a couple of weeks). From what I understand, the 8GB of RAM and a minimum of 256SSD are more than enough for Parallels, unless you have to run other resource intensive apps simultaneously. Personally, I think all the hubbub over the Core M processor is way overblown for the VAST majority of what the VAST majority of us do.
  9. kevhui thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 24, 2008
    Sorry I did not not make myself clear because of my poor English.

    I want MacBook Air 11 if 256GB SSD can get the job done (Parallels Desktop 10 + Viso), if not then I'd like to consider:

    1. MacBook Air 11 with 512GB SSD, or
    2. The new Retina 12 MacBook with also 512GB SSD, but it does not support Target Display Mode.

    My "struggle" is if their price difference is not that much, should I buy the latest new Retina MacBook?

    I have not thought about the Core M CPU though - would this affect running Parallels + Visio?

    The 13" is too heavy to me because I will be traveling a lot.
  10. helveta macrumors regular

    Mar 31, 2012
    I've been running parallels and OS X on an 11" 2013 macbook air with 8GB and a 500GB SSD with no problems. Before that I was running both on a 2011 13"MBA with 4GB and a 250 GB SSD, also with no problems. I only changed because I wanted a smaller MBA.

    The only issue with the SSD will be how much you want to keep on the hard drive. I upgraded the 2011 MBA from 100GB to 250 GB because 100GB wasn't enough with both systems. You should be ok with 250.
  11. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    The new MacBook isn't going to run a VM particularly well compared to the MacBook Air.
  12. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    Sure it is. Why wouldn't it?
  13. tillsbury macrumors 65816

    Dec 24, 2007
    It runs them very well indeed. The base model is far more capable, as it has 8Gb RAM and that's your main requirement for a VM. You can only compare it with an Air upgraded to 8Gb, at which point the price difference changes.

    In addition, the higher resolution of the screen is really significant if you want to run VMs in windows.
  14. blesscheese macrumors 6502a


    Apr 3, 2010
    Central CA
    Sorry, I misunderstood, I got confused and thought you meant retina MBP, not plain (and new) 12" retina MacBook (not Pro).

    I would go with the 11" for several reasons:
    1) least important, but still...the 12" is a 1st generation product, never ever buy the 1st gen of anything
    2) the lack of ports, like USB...yeah, you won't be using USB a lot, but when you need it, you will have to hope you brought along that cable (you did buy that new $30 - $50 USD cable, right?)
    3) The Core M is a great chip...but, it emphasizes low power for longer battery life. It basically has about the same power as the regular 2011-2012 chips, which even then would be ok for most apps, but, if you want to run a VM, you will want to have as much power as you can get, right now.

    When I looked at the new 12" rMB at the store, the display was nice, but it didn't seem like it was really a lot better than the 11" or 13" MBA. Sure, with photo's it looks nice, but for dealing with text, it functions just as well as the 11" display.


    It actually *does* support target disk mode (which I was happy to see).

    See this link

    You just need (yet another new) cable...and careful, one cable allows you to migrate data, but the other doesn't (?wtf?). If you scroll down that link, you will see this:

  15. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    2) It does have a USB port. That's basically the only port it has. Granted, it's USB-C instead of USB-A but it's still USB. You can get an adapter cable for $10 on Amazon no problem.

    3) VMs use a lot of extra memory (you have to have enough memory to run two OSs simultaneously) but they don't necessarily use a lot of extra CPU power. It just depends on what you're doing inside the VM.
  16. MyopicPaideia macrumors 68000


    Mar 19, 2011
    Trollhättan, Sweden
    He actually did mean target display (not disk) mode so he can use the new MB with an existing iMac as an external monitor.
  17. kevhui thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 24, 2008
    Thanks a lot guys for your advices.

    I think I will buy MacBook Air 11" for its portability and flexibility.

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