VM Performance on MBA 13" 4GB i5

joshlalonde

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jul 12, 2014
422
0
Canada
I'm here to report that running Windows 8.1 with 2GB of RAM allotted to it in VirtualBox works great!
With no OS X programs open except for Safari and Skype, I am still in the green zone.

Take that 8GB RAM people!
Well, more RAM is better for VMs so I'm not going to argue that. But both Windows and OS X run just right. Only slight stutter when switching back and forth between Start screen.

But ya, just goes to show that 4GB goes pretty far.
Oh and then fan is running, but not loud like when I play games. Just slightly noticeable. So if you want to run VMs, the Air does a good job. I'm only running Microsoft Access and Visual Studio though. No games

Also, its just barely in the green zone. But that's okay. Not trying to say 4GB is good for everyone. Just saying that it's not as bad as you think.

Proof:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/jpgzk2woe7zm6fb/Screenshot 2014-09-20 20.42.20.png?dl=0
 

joshlalonde

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jul 12, 2014
422
0
Canada
Well ya, SSD does play a part.
There was about 500MB of Swap.

But the current-gen MBA did pretty good. I'm not necessarily trying to start a 4vs8 RAM argument, but I think a lot of people don't appreciate what 4GB can do on this machine. On any other machine, I wouldn't recommend 4GB. Windows-based machines would need at least 6GB since they lack swap and RAM compression. Paging is meh.
 

crawler1975

macrumors regular
Mar 22, 2011
208
4
I'm here to report that running Windows 8.1 with 2GB of RAM allotted to it in VirtualBox works great!
With no OS X programs open except for Safari and Skype, I am still in the green zone.

Take that 8GB RAM people!
Well, more RAM is better for VMs so I'm not going to argue that. But both Windows and OS X run just right. Only slight stutter when switching back and forth between Start screen.

But ya, just goes to show that 4GB goes pretty far.
Oh and then fan is running, but not loud like when I play games. Just slightly noticeable. So if you want to run VMs, the Air does a good job. I'm only running Microsoft Access and Visual Studio though. No games

Also, its just barely in the green zone. But that's okay. Not trying to say 4GB is good for everyone. Just saying that it's not as bad as you think.

Proof:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/jpgzk2woe7zm6fb/Screenshot 2014-09-20 20.42.20.png?dl=0
that's great news... but i have a question about virtualbox. i've read somewhere that virtualbox is somewhat primitive/lacking more features/difficult to configure than fusion or parallels? have you tried these other vm's? how true? i'm using virtualbox on a win7 machine and to me it works well - i don't know on macs though.
 

joshlalonde

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jul 12, 2014
422
0
Canada
I'm not sure, to be honest. It does a pretty good job on OS X, actually. I can see live previews from the dock (so i can do stuff while I'm waiting for windows to install its many updates), it works with spaces so I can just swipe back to OS X when its fullscreen. Though, i can't swipe back in. I have to click the dock icon. Weird bug.

But it runs smoothly and I don't see what could be better about it. It has fullscreen support (after you install something on the guest OS). Idk. What else do you want?

https://www.dropbox.com/s/7c4l4y40jlqlrd6/Screenshot 2014-09-21 14.54.30.png?dl=0

So far, I've installed Linux and Windows.
It wasn't hard at all really. Just load an ISO and boot to it, then install OS, and then remove ISO. It's basically the same. I could move that to a separate Space and then watch youtube videos on the host OS while waiting. I could see a live preview on the dock so i didn't have to guess-check every few minutes. Just a quick glance. And my fan doesn't run at all.

The whole ordeal is quite impressive. I'm happy with my setup.
 
Last edited:

yosemit

macrumors regular
Jul 19, 2013
167
0
I'm running Windows 8.1 on my MBA i7/8GB/256GB. There is no stutter when switching back and forth between Start screen. I guess 8GB does make a difference! :D

I'm here to report that running Windows 8.1 with 2GB of RAM allotted to it in VirtualBox works great!
With no OS X programs open except for Safari and Skype, I am still in the green zone.

Take that 8GB RAM people!
Well, more RAM is better for VMs so I'm not going to argue that. But both Windows and OS X run just right. Only slight stutter when switching back and forth between Start screen.

But ya, just goes to show that 4GB goes pretty far.
Oh and then fan is running, but not loud like when I play games. Just slightly noticeable. So if you want to run VMs, the Air does a good job. I'm only running Microsoft Access and Visual Studio though. No games

Also, its just barely in the green zone. But that's okay. Not trying to say 4GB is good for everyone. Just saying that it's not as bad as you think.

Proof:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/jpgzk2woe7zm6fb/Screenshot 2014-09-20 20.42.20.png?dl=0
 

joshlalonde

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jul 12, 2014
422
0
Canada
I'm running Windows 8.1 on my MBA i7/8GB/256GB. There is no stutter when switching back and forth between Start screen. I guess 8GB does make a difference! :D
Actually, I would hazard to guess the CPU is the culprit here. Remember, I said my memory pressure was green. More RAM for VMs is a no-brainer, but in your case, you have a better CPU.
 

motrek

macrumors 68020
Sep 14, 2012
2,428
150
Actually, I would hazard to guess the CPU is the culprit here. Remember, I said my memory pressure was green. More RAM for VMs is a no-brainer, but in your case, you have a better CPU.
Memory pressure for OS X... what does it look like for the guest OS?

I have a Win8 machine with a Haswell and 2GB RAM as an HTPC. There is sometimes some stuttering going to the Start screen. I think it might depend on your definition of "stutter." One man's stutter might be another man's "silky smooth." :)
 

sracer

macrumors G3
Apr 9, 2010
8,667
9,378
Prescott Valley, AZ
that's great news... but i have a question about virtualbox. i've read somewhere that virtualbox is somewhat primitive/lacking more features/difficult to configure than fusion or parallels? have you tried these other vm's? how true? i'm using virtualbox on a win7 machine and to me it works well - i don't know on macs though.
I ditched Parallels quite a while ago and switched to VirtualBox on my MBP and iMac. For what I use it for, it runs BETTER than Parallels did. I did not find it primitive or lacking in features nor more difficult to configure than Parallels.
 

crawler1975

macrumors regular
Mar 22, 2011
208
4
I ditched Parallels quite a while ago and switched to VirtualBox on my MBP and iMac. For what I use it for, it runs BETTER than Parallels did. I did not find it primitive or lacking in features nor more difficult to configure than Parallels.
that's great to hear. i don't want to spend $$ when I could get an open source alternative for vm. thanks!
 

iir

macrumors newbie
Sep 3, 2014
5
0
Miami, FL
I've been using the lates vmware (7?) to run a linux machine off my mba. for some reason ubuntu only ran decently, so i switched it up for my fav minimalist distro, crunchbang, and it works beautifully! now i just need to get clipboard sharing working!
 

ha1o2surfer

macrumors 6502
Sep 24, 2013
386
34
Well ya, SSD does play a part.
There was about 500MB of Swap.

But the current-gen MBA did pretty good. I'm not necessarily trying to start a 4vs8 RAM argument, but I think a lot of people don't appreciate what 4GB can do on this machine. On any other machine, I wouldn't recommend 4GB. Windows-based machines would need at least 6GB since they lack swap and RAM compression. Paging is meh.
What?? Windows does fine with 2GB (Dell Tablet) of ram even with OSX being run as a VM in workstation on top of windows hehe ;)
 

yosemit

macrumors regular
Jul 19, 2013
167
0
Hmm... i7 is about 20% faster than i5. To most people, 20% slowdown won't show up as "stutter." :cool:

Actually, I would hazard to guess the CPU is the culprit here. Remember, I said my memory pressure was green. More RAM for VMs is a no-brainer, but in your case, you have a better CPU.
 

joshlalonde

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jul 12, 2014
422
0
Canada
Hmm... i7 is about 20% faster than i5. To most people, 20% slowdown won't show up as "stutter." :cool:
1. This wasn't a topic to discredit the valid reasons for having 8GB RAM.
2. The actual point was that 4GB goes a long way... the VM still runs well, just the start screen was stuttery. Nothing else was amiss.
3. I'm not sure where you pulled 20% from... There are more cores available and a max clock speed increase of .6. A i7 will make a huge difference, don't be ridiculous.
 

yosemit

macrumors regular
Jul 19, 2013
167
0

n1tut

macrumors regular
Having 4GB on my present 2014 11" MBA is a luxury for me, as I ran VM Fusion for three years on my 2GB 2011 model.

I only need Windows 7 for running Quicken 2004 so it is not exactly challenged, but both OS worked fine with instant changeover between them, just a little snappier now with the 4GB.

Many of you run far more intensive programs, so 8GB would obviously make a difference.

tut
 
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