Software Development on an Air

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by hvgotcodes, Jun 25, 2012.

  1. hvgotcodes macrumors member

    Feb 2, 2011
    Anyone have an Air and use it primarily for software development? If so, would you recommend it?

    I have a 2010 17" MBP. I love the 1920x1200 res; allows me to comfortably put two editors next to each other (e.g. class and its test, js and css, etc). I use Intellij as my IDE.

    I'm thinking Im going to wait for Haswell to get a rMBP. If I look at the benchmarks correctly, I think a decked out 2012 Air is faster than my early 2010 MBP. Is that correct?

    Currently I have one cinema display and another external display. I use a LOT of pixels for work. IDE, browsers, debuggers, mail, issue tracking software, gitx, keynote/word, colloquy etc. My typical ram usage is around 8GB. When I do get a uMBP, 16GB all the way.

    If I did get an Air, I would get 2 cinema displays (the 2012s can drive 2 right?) and work primarily off that. Im primarily concerned about how it would go when I do some light work in front of the TV; right now the 17" display works ok, I'm worried that a 13" screen wouldn't cut it.

    Anyone with similar workflows use an Air?

    My 17" is fine; I think I'm just looking for a reason to get a new computer ;).

    Oh, and is diablo3 ok on an Air? I'm happy with the way it plays on my 2010.
  2. titanflyer macrumors member

    Mar 15, 2011
    I think the Air can only run one external display.. but someone will undoubtedly correct me if I am wrong.

    I was in a similar boat, but with a twist. My company is all windows PC's, and I have had mine for 2 years... its a little long in the tooth and not fullfilling my everyday needs, even for my job. I bought a MBA 11 inch to replace my iPad as it just didn't cut it for me, and ran a VM image of my PC laptop on it. I am pushing the limits on the MBA for sure (4GB/128SSD i5) but it works well enough.

    To your question, the 11 inch, and even the 13 inch Air will work for you, but from your requirements I would suggest something with more screen real estate if you ever do this stuff remotely as I do. The stuff you will be doing will require staring at that screen for long periods and I can tell you from the 11 inch aspect, it SUCKS. Wonderful machine that does what its designed for, which I don't believe is development.

    Just my 2 cents.
  3. photosaurus macrumors regular

    Jun 22, 2012
    An 8 gig 2012 air would get the job done, I think. For now.

    But so would the 17 inch pro you already have, and with more screen real-estate to work with, which is important for dev work. If I were in your shoes, I'd just wait another year before upgrading. An air is barely passable as a dev machine, and the only reason I'd ever want to use one is if ultra-portability was my absolute top priority.

    The Retina seems to have enough of both worlds (portability / power and desktop real-estate), but I don't think you've played your 17 out as long as I would.
  4. hvgotcodes thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 2, 2011
    Yeah, I'm not considering an 11" at all. And yep, it seems screen real estate is definitely the biggest sacrifice here.


    Yes this is the most logical thing to do. I do like my current computer. I just want to buy something. As you said, a decked out 13" will "get the job done, for now".

    One benefit I can see, from here

    is that the new airs seems to be about 50% faster than my computer.

    given that while Im sure things would be nicer if they were faster, the speed of my computer is completely fine. I really am just looking for excuses here.

    Another, bigger benefit would be that the air can drive 2 cinemas, which would result in net increase in the number of pixels i have on my desktop. Of course, I would be sacrificing pixels when I'm mobile....
  5. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    The 2012s can power 2 external displays, plus the internal display. The 2011 was limited to 1 external display because of the HD 3000 chip. The HD 4000 is more powerful.
  6. titanflyer macrumors member

    Mar 15, 2011
    Good to know... I run mine (2011) into a 42 inch 1080p LCD monitor. It runs at max 1080p, which works much better than the 11 inch air

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