Vmware Fusion and Bootcamp on Macbook Air

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Aboo, Sep 1, 2010.

  1. Aboo macrumors 6502a

    Jul 7, 2008
    Hi Folks,

    I am thinking of getting a used/refurbished 1.86GHz w/ 128GB SSD MBA. I wanted to ask a couple of questions - I will be using this notebook primarily for a clinical information system software that is windows only. Currently, I have been using this software through VMWare Fusion on my MBP, but given the RAM limitations on the MBA, I wonder if bootcamp may be a better choice. Thus, I wanted to ask the following questions:

    How well does the MBA run VMWare fusion with just 2GB RAM. The CIS program that I use is not very memory intensive, and I plan on using Windows XP as my OS to save on memory requirements.

    How well does the MBA run bootcamp (i.e. how is the battery life, and is there any disadvantage to running the MBA on windows for majority of the time?)

    P.S. I am a converted mac user and the main reason I am looking at the MBA is for portability. Please don't suggest I get a Windows netbook instead.

  2. agaskew macrumors 6502

    Dec 3, 2009
    I've used both ways - Bootcamp into Windows and VMWare Fusion to run XP.

    The VMWare (Parallels, whatever) method is by far the more convenient. I have a 'lean' build of XP running as a VM with just 256Mb RAM allocated. It runs fast enough for me to connect to the office for remote working, as they don't cater for Macs properly. I run the VM in full screen mode in one Space, and regular stuff in the other, so I can flip back and forth between the 2 environments using hotkeys.

    Dual booting was ok but inconvenient when email etc is all in OS X.
  3. Scottsdale macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    I would plan on using BootCamp if you want to use Windows right. With the MBA, it's limited to 2 GB RAM. Even with XP, it's just not enough RAM to share out. OS X needs 2 GB by itself, and it's not even getting that as the MBA has the first 256 MB to the video card.

    I love the MBA, but until it has 4 GB or even 8 GB RAM, I would advise that you use BootCamp and not a vMachine.
  4. Aboo thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 7, 2008
    Thanks for the replies guys. My XP build will probably just be the MS Windows XP Professional CD with the bare minimum. I just need to be able to use our electronic medical record program on the machine (which is Windows only). I intend to take the MBA on rounds with me so that I can quickly type up a note or look into a patient's record for whatever reason. Hopefully the MBA will do the trick.

    As far as pricing goes, I really can't afford a new one. I am thinking about getting the 1.86 GHz w/ 128 GB SSD from the Apple Refurb store for 1349. What do you guys think about this machine? I do have a coupon from Apple so it will end up costing me 1249 shipped (no taxes in my state). That would make this unit 450$ cheaper than a new 2.13 GHz with SSD. For my purposes, I don't think the extra 0.27 GHz will be making that much of a difference. Would I be able to get a better deal elsewhere?

    Also, I realize that the 1.86 GHz model is a "Rev B". Other than the processor upgrade to 2.13, are there significant differences between the Rev B and Rev C?

    Thanks again for all your help!
  5. cleric macrumors 6502a


    Jun 7, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    I also use a slim version of winxp that uses about 150mb of ram. VMWARE is convenient and performance is acceptable for most programs. Obviously bootcamp will win in performance, but is less convenient.
  6. MrFlynn macrumors member

    Jul 13, 2010
    XP runs great as a vm because it has a relatively small footprint. Give the VM 768 megs of ram, and set it up as a fixed disk space in the VM prefs. The fixed space will increase performance by a huge margin (200-300 percent).
  7. SammySlim macrumors member

    Jul 7, 2010
    I run XP in a Fusion virtual machine on my older Macbook with only 2 GB of ram; I find that XP works fine with as little as 512 MB of RAM. 768 is better, 1 GB each works too. OSX runs pretty well in as little as 1 GB if you don't have too many programs open at once. And installation is much simpler. Plus with a VM you can have the OSX and Windows things going simultaneously.

    In short, you'll be fine with an XP virtual machine unless your Windows program requires heavy graphics usage. You should also consider using Sun's VirtualBox instead of Fusion as it is free and works fine with XP (although I have not tested it with smaller amounts of memory). I use Fusion rather than VB mostly because I also run VMs of Linux. But for a single-user install of XP, that program works well. I actually gave up on Boot Camp because the rebooting was annoying and I only used MS Office, IE and poker apps - no real need for the native hardware access.

    Don't forget to install an antivirus too - Microsoft Security Essentials is free and is pretty quick, as is AVG's free version. There are others too - but definitely use one.

  8. erostratus macrumors newbie

    Jun 18, 2006
    I've had better experiences using VMWare than most, I guess. I had a Rev C 1.86 Air that I put a 64GB Runcore SSD in. With that, VMWare was lightning quick. I saw larger performance gains than with any other app in VMWare, and I think you could run XP successfully without resorting to Boot Camp. One thing to keep in mind is that if Mac OS X has to start paging memory, it's still paging to the SSD, which is much faster than a hard drive.

    You can't expect to run Photoshop, Safari, Office, and Final Cut in addition to Fusion, but if you just need to get into Fusion for a while to do a few things, it'll be great. It's also been my experience that with the SSD, you don't need to dedicate as much RAM to Windows because, again, paging will be done to the SSD, and you won't notice the performance lag as much. All of this assumes, however, that you're not trying to run high end games on the Windows side.

    On your issue of whether to get the Rev B: if it's $1349, I would highly recommend spending the $200 extra to get the Rev C refurbished. It's got the Nvidia 9400M graphics, which will make a big difference if you plan on keeping the Air for a while. Scottsdale previously said new MacBook Airs are getting the Toshiba SSDs in them, which are much faster than the Samsungs. I don't know if the refurb models are getting them, too, but I'm going to assume they'll put those in the Rev C refurbs before they Rev Bs.

Share This Page