Should i get MBA 2018 or MBP 2017 non TB

anderson nick

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 10, 2018
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Purpose:
25%web browsing/ office work
75% Xcode

Thinking to retire my mba 2011 with only 4gb ram... but the pricing of the two came to close causing the struggle...
Mba 8gb ram+ 256 ssd or
Mbp non touch bar 8gb ram + 256 ssd

I am a rookie for xcode, started two months ago, not targeting to write gaming or garphic apps, but just some very basic apps for listing out lecture content/ lecturer info/ school timetable, etc. is 8gb ram enough for me when it going into more advanced xcdoing? Currently 4gb seems fine given i am just writing codes from beginner tutorials. Is 8gb enough or 16gb a better option? I saw the benchmark for both 8th gen 1.6ghz i5 or 7th gen 2.3ghz i5 are pretty similar, which one are better for xcoding??

Second ssd, is 256ssd enough for bootcamp+ my future xcode files? And i will download all my icloud photos into my macbook before roughly 100gb
 

Falcon80

macrumors 6502
Oct 27, 2012
373
94
We have similar requirements and I am also considering between the two. I do most of Xcode development on my iMac but would like a portable to do bug fixings, etc when I am away from my desk. I believe 8GB is sufficient if you are not looking to open multiple apps at the same time.
 

sosumi99

macrumors 6502
Oct 27, 2003
348
284
Either machine will work for you, but the keyboard on the new Air is better, so I'd go for that.

8 GB should be enough if you're not planning on running a lot of VMs. You really won't notice the processor differences either, given that Xcode compilation isn't generally CPU-bound.

I don't think 256 GB is going to be enough for you though if you're planning on keeping 100GB of photos plus a Bootcamp partition. That's just cutting it too close for comfort. I'd go up to 512 if I were you.
 
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Falcon80

macrumors 6502
Oct 27, 2012
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Either machine will work for you, but the keyboard on the new Air is better, so I'd go for that.

8 GB should be enough if you're not planning on running a lot of VMs. You really won't notice the processor differences either, given that Xcode compilation isn't generally CPU-bound.

I don't think 256 GB is going to be enough for you though if you're planning on keeping 100GB of photos plus a Bootcamp partition. That's just cutting it too close for comfort. I'd go up to 512 if I were you.
Can advise what Xcode compilation is dependent on?
 

- rob -

macrumors 6502
Apr 18, 2012
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Oakland, CA
I have run xcode on the mba while running a litany of other apps and it seems fine. I highly recommend 16GB of RAM. I am almost always using between 12 and 13 gigs. I can't believe people were suggesting people get only 8. You don't want to spend any resources on paging if you can avoid it.
 
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New_Mac_Smell

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Oct 17, 2016
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I have run xcode on the mba while running a litany of other apps and it seems fine. I highly recommend 16GB of RAM. I am almost always using between 12 and 13 gigs. I can't believe people were suggesting people get only 8. You don't want to spend any resources on paging if you can avoid it.
Funnily enough I use between 12-13GB on my 16GB machine, and only 5-6GB on the 8GB machine, same workflows, different usage...

Look at the pressure not the memory used!
 

Falcon80

macrumors 6502
Oct 27, 2012
373
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Funnily enough I use between 12-13GB on my 16GB machine, and only 5-6GB on the 8GB machine, same workflows, different usage...

Look at the pressure not the memory used!
Are you getting the same speed/performance when executing your workflow on the two machine?
 

- rob -

macrumors 6502
Apr 18, 2012
470
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Oakland, CA
Funnily enough I use between 12-13GB on my 16GB machine, and only 5-6GB on the 8GB machine, same workflows, different usage...

Look at the pressure not the memory used!
I think this is because the 8 gig machine doesn’t let you go much past 6. And on the 16, 14. It starts to manage memory at that point
 

Cosmo M3

macrumors regular
Sep 4, 2010
207
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I can't believe people were suggesting people get only 8. You don't want to spend any resources on paging if you can avoid it.
Everyone has different needs and budget. For example, I don't code but I use mine for personal and grad school work and 8GB of RAM is more than enough for me.
 
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- rob -

macrumors 6502
Apr 18, 2012
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Oakland, CA
Everyone has different needs and budget. For example, I don't code but I use mine for personal and grad school work and 8GB of RAM is more than enough for me.
I get that. I just think over the lifetime of the device and to increase its value at resale that 16GB is a much better move. I think this could end up similar to the old 16GB iPhone where the minimum laptops go to 16GB in the next year or two.
 

Ma2k5

macrumors 68020
Dec 21, 2012
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How many years do you plan to use it? The longer you plan to use it, the less that can go wrong with buying more RAM than you need now and may or may not need in the future.
 

Howard2k

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Mar 10, 2016
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Funnily enough I use between 12-13GB on my 16GB machine, and only 5-6GB on the 8GB machine, same workflows, different usage...

Look at the pressure not the memory used!

It's almost as if you're suggesting that the more memory macOS has available, the more it will use. Like it can somehow "manage" its memory.

That's nonsense. Surely. No OS would ever be designed like that. Crazy talk.
 

- rob -

macrumors 6502
Apr 18, 2012
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Oakland, CA
It's almost as if you're suggesting that the more memory macOS has available, the more it will use. Like it can somehow "manage" its memory.

That's nonsense. Surely. No OS would ever be designed like that. Crazy talk.
Sarcasm aside, since the new air does have a lesser capable processor, the less stress you put on the cpu and ssd the better. I think that’s what the extra ram offers, more of the session in memory—less paging.

I honestly think this matters a lot, but people don’t realize it until it’s too late.
 

Howard2k

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Mar 10, 2016
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Sarcasm aside, since the new air does have a lesser capable processor, the less stress you put on the cpu and ssd the better. I think that’s what the extra ram offers, more of the session in memory—less paging.

I honestly think this matters a lot, but people don’t realize it until it’s too late.

Lesser capable process than what? (that's rhetorical).
I don't entirely disagree, more memory doesn't hurt except the wallet and (arguably) batter life. But it would be foolish to choose more memory over a backup system, or more memory over rum. :)
 

- rob -

macrumors 6502
Apr 18, 2012
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Lesser capable process than what? (that's rhetorical)
An Apple designed ARM SOC, is effectively the next and only high capability low power processor to go into the mac. So ya, I'd say given an architecture with an Intel chip at its center more RAM makes a big difference.

I don't entirely disagree, more memory doesn't hurt except the wallet and (arguably) batter life. But it would be foolish to choose more memory over a backup system, or more memory over rum. :)
What I don't get about this is that it is $200 to double the ram in the machine. If you amortize the machine at 3 years, it will have _way_ more potential buyers with 16 GB so you can probably price it at least $50 higher than someone selling the same condition machine with 8GB of ram. So an effective additional $150 when you've already spent a grand to come to the table--I just don't think it makes a lot of sense.
 

Howard2k

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Mar 10, 2016
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An Apple designed ARM SOC, is effectively the next and only high capability low power processor to go into the mac. So ya, I'd say given an architecture with an Intel chip at its center more RAM makes a big difference.


What I don't get about this is that it is $200 to double the ram in the machine. If you amortize the machine at 3 years, it will have _way_ more potential buyers with 16 GB so you can probably price it at least $50 higher than someone selling the same condition machine with 8GB of ram. So an effective additional $150 when you've already spent a grand to come to the table--I just don't think it makes a lot of sense.
Sure. There's almost always something a bit more expensive though right?

I consider Apple products to be luxury devices, so if price is a big factor I think going with Apple is a mistake. I wouldn't consider financing an Apple product, for example. I guess we all draw the line somewhere, and all our lines are different. I wouldn't want to consider "16GB or backup strategy" but people do.
 

- rob -

macrumors 6502
Apr 18, 2012
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Oakland, CA
Sure. There's almost always something a bit more expensive though right?
There is, and I think the question is whether the product is inherently flawed if sold at 8GB. A lot of people would say it wasn't. But I think a lot of people now think the most recent 16GB iPhone was--including Apple who discontinued it.
I consider Apple products to be luxury devices, so if price is a big factor I think going with Apple is a mistake. I wouldn't consider financing an Apple product, for example. I guess we all draw the line somewhere, and all our lines are different. I wouldn't want to consider "16GB or backup strategy" but people do.
I actually think this is the guts of a flawed argument for not choosing apple--which is that people are focused on their initial capital expenditure instead of looking at the lifetime cost of choosing other products.

I've seen this over and over again with friends or family who have gotten Android devices and then they can't install apps two years later and the things freeze up and don't scroll properly. Sure, they saved some money a few years ago but now what? They have to go get another one that will have the same problem. Whereas if they had bought an apple device, the software would be less likely an issue and it would last an extra year at least.

I think the same is true probably with mac versus windows machines, given the grief people put up with in trying to get them serviced or deal with problems when there are multiple vendors involved in "whats wrong."

But some people would rather have a little more money and deal with the grief. Maybe the lack of that condition is a luxury. It just shouldn't be.
 

Howard2k

macrumors 68030
Mar 10, 2016
2,539
1,818
There is, and I think the question is whether the product is inherently flawed if sold at 8GB. A lot of people would say it wasn't. But I think a lot of people now think the most recent 16GB iPhone was.

I actually think this is the guts of a flawed argument for not choosing apple--which is that people are focused on their initial capital expenditure instead of looking at the lifetime cost of choosing other products.

I've seen this over and over again with friends or family who have gotten Android devices and then they can't install apps two years later and the things freeze up and don't scroll properly. Sure, they saved some money a few years ago but now what? They have to go get another one that will have the same problem.

I think the same is true probably with mac versus windows machines, given the grief people put up with in trying to get them serviced or deal with problems when there are multiple vendors involved in "whats wrong."

But some people would rather have a little more money and deal with the grief. Maybe the lack of that condition is a luxury. It just shouldn't be.

Agreed on both counts (16GB iPhone and false economy of saving $1 now and wasting $10 of time to mitigate issues)
 

sosumi99

macrumors 6502
Oct 27, 2003
348
284
Can advise what Xcode compilation is dependent on?
I should have been clearer.

In the old days, the general rule was that compilation -- since it involves processing a large number of files and intermediate objects -- tends to be I/O bound. However, this is no longer true given modern SSD speeds (though you should still look into things like disabling Spotlight indexing of build directories).

In the case of Swift, there is quite a bit of evidence that the compiler is not optimized, and benefits significantly from CPU upgrades. Since compilation tends to benefit from parallel processing, having more cores and more threads *should* have a significant benefit, even more than raw single-thread performance. But as the linked article shows, having too many threads will actually slow down compilation.

In reality, given incremental builds and the small size of most single-programmer projects, compilation is unlikely to be the bottleneck for most Xcode projects. Things like running the simulator (if you use that) or general UI responsiveness and available screen space matter a lot more to productivity. My personal experience is that the MBA and MBP do not feel significantly different in actual usage for Xcode, so upgrading the CPU for Xcode is not a great way to spend money (unless you're building very large projects all the time).
 

anderson nick

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 10, 2018
3
0
I should have been clearer.

In the old days, the general rule was that compilation -- since it involves processing a large number of files and intermediate objects -- tends to be I/O bound. However, this is no longer true given modern SSD speeds (though you should still look into things like disabling Spotlight indexing of build directories).

In the case of Swift, there is quite a bit of evidence that the compiler is not optimized, and benefits significantly from CPU upgrades. Since compilation tends to benefit from parallel processing, having more cores and more threads *should* have a significant benefit, even more than raw single-thread performance. But as the linked article shows, having too many threads will actually slow down compilation.

In reality, given incremental builds and the small size of most single-programmer projects, compilation is unlikely to be the bottleneck for most Xcode projects. Things like running the simulator (if you use that) or general UI responsiveness and available screen space matter a lot more to productivity. My personal experience is that the MBA and MBP do not feel significantly different in actual usage for Xcode, so upgrading the CPU for Xcode is not a great way to spend money (unless you're building very large projects all the time).

thanks for the info, yes the apps i am trying to build on is just listing out lecture timetable/ lecture info for students to access.:95% text, 5% garphics..., so got it, 8gb ram is fine, but it would good to upgrade 16gb for future resell or future 3-5 years personal uses.

so what about the harddrive volume? is these kind of xcode file eat a lot harddrive space? i am targeting to buy 256gb:
100gb for my icloud photo original bakcup
50gb bootcamp window 10 for my wife basic MS office installation
100gb left for mac OS + xcode files?
 

lambertjohn

macrumors 65816
Jun 17, 2012
1,025
1,006
Everyone has different needs and budget. For example, I don't code but I use mine for personal and grad school work and 8GB of RAM is more than enough for me.
I agree. I write for a living and 8 GB of RAM is plenty for me. I run Office 365 and Photoshop and iAwriter, and that's pretty much it. Zero issues with 8GB of RAM.
 

in2tech

macrumors regular
Aug 23, 2012
131
6
thanks for the info, yes the apps i am trying to build on is just listing out lecture timetable/ lecture info for students to access.:95% text, 5% garphics..., so got it, 8gb ram is fine, but it would good to upgrade 16gb for future resell or future 3-5 years personal uses.

so what about the harddrive volume? is these kind of xcode file eat a lot harddrive space? i am targeting to buy 256gb:
100gb for my icloud photo original bakcup
50gb bootcamp window 10 for my wife basic MS office installation
100gb left for mac OS + xcode files?
So your photo's are stored in iCloud correct? But apparently you are a big photo person and want them right away at your finger tip's. Maybe an external thumb drive or something? Or you always want them on your rMBA? Your computer mean's you get what you want and need. Was just wondering. Another reason I say this is sometimes for me only, Bootcamp can take up everything I give it, cause ONLY in my case, I try a Windows game, program, etc... I must also tell you I code very light stuff, a little Laravel learning, mostly HTML, CSS, Bootstrap, kind of stuff, and I have 4 GB RAM and a 2012 MBA. But in the end it's up to you. I do wish at times, and not always, that I had 256 GB SSD, instead of 128 GB SSD, but I make it work. When I remove my Windows partition at times when not in mode playing games, I NEVER, EVER get near using the 128 GB, at least not for 6 years now! But I would still recommend at least the 256 GB SSD as you can't change it after the return period, well not unless you can install it yourself :)

Good luck, and let us know what you get!
 

anderson nick

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 10, 2018
3
0
So your photo's are stored in iCloud correct? But apparently you are a big photo person and want them right away at your finger tip's. Maybe an external thumb drive or something? Or you always want them on your rMBA? Your computer mean's you get what you want and need. Was just wondering. Another reason I say this is sometimes for me only, Bootcamp can take up everything I give it, cause ONLY in my case, I try a Windows game, program, etc... I must also tell you I code very light stuff, a little Laravel learning, mostly HTML, CSS, Bootstrap, kind of stuff, and I have 4 GB RAM and a 2012 MBA. But in the end it's up to you. I do wish at times, and not always, that I had 256 GB SSD, instead of 128 GB SSD, but I make it work. When I remove my Windows partition at times when not in mode playing games, I NEVER, EVER get near using the 128 GB, at least not for 6 years now! But I would still recommend at least the 256 GB SSD as you can't change it after the return period, well not unless you can install it yourself :)

Good luck, and let us know what you get!
Yes i sync all my iphone photos onto icloud , and then for safety i back it up in my computer harddrive becasue they are my kids photos dont wanna miss any pictures. Yeah external harddrive for the backup is a very good suggestion, so that i could plug in the external harddrive twice a month to do the back up.
256 gb should be fair enough for my use:
80 gb for boot camp window. + office
and the rest 170 is left for mac os and xcode. Sounds everything is fine! Thanks for all the information here.
 

in2tech

macrumors regular
Aug 23, 2012
131
6
Yes i sync all my iphone photos onto icloud , and then for safety i back it up in my computer harddrive becasue they are my kids photos dont wanna miss any pictures. Yeah external harddrive for the backup is a very good suggestion, so that i could plug in the external harddrive twice a month to do the back up.
256 gb should be fair enough for my use:
80 gb for boot camp window. + office
and the rest 170 is left for mac os and xcode. Sounds everything is fine! Thanks for all the information here.
Sounds like a plan, and you have plenty of room now, with the photo's on the external drive. Let us know when you get it and if you like it.