What's the best configuration for running a VM?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by GoldenJoe, Apr 26, 2011.

  1. GoldenJoe macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2011
    #1
    Howdy, all.

    My company is going to purchase a Macbook Pro for me in order to develop an iPad application. Currently, we do alot of BlackBerry work, and since the BB developer environment is designed for Windows, I need to either run bootcamp or run Windows in a virtual machine. Can anyone comment on how well the VMs run on MBPs? Is it possible to run a development environment like Eclipse in a VM pretty well, or should I stick with bootcamp? If I can go with the VM, what upgrades should I consider for the MBP to improve performance?

    Thanks,
    Joseph
     
  2. Manacit macrumors member

    Manacit

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    Feb 19, 2011
    Location:
    New York, NY
    #2
    Honestly, are you sure a windows laptop wouldn't be a better choice, considering you will be developing in Windows?

    Lenovo has some awesome laptops.
     
  3. Detrius macrumors 68000

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    Asheville, NC
    #3
    Depends on your actual usage. More RAM is good for programming and for VMs. If you'll be focusing exclusively on Windows for a while. use bootcamp. If you'll be multitasking between Mac and Windows, use a VM.
     
  4. Detrius macrumors 68000

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    #4
    Can't develop proper iPad apps in Windows.
     
  5. cube macrumors G5

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    May 10, 2004
    #5
    I think 4GiB RAM can be a bit tight. I would say 8GiB RAM, no need to overdo it.

    Better invest in an SSD. I did not get hyped about this, but I see now how it might be a HUGE improvement when running a VM (I don't have one yet).
     
  6. GoldenJoe thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Apr 26, 2011
    #6
    Thanks for the advice. I'm definitely gonna go with the RAM upgrade, just trying to decide whether the SSD is worth the extra cash or not. I'll sniff around the archives a bit.
     
  7. blevins321 macrumors 68030

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    Dec 24, 2010
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    Winnipeg, MB
    #7
    I did some C++ programming in college and we were required to use MS Visual Studio. I have to say that the SSD made Windows 7 FLY. Boot time was about 16 seconds (mac 7), and there was hardly any lag when using the apps. I had 4GB at the time, so 8GB would be great especially if you're developing more substantial things.

    Edit: Forgot something :). The best option is to install Windows as a boot camp partition and use it to boot back and forth when doing all-Windows tasks. In addition to this, get Parallels or VMWare and set it to boot your Boot Camp partition. You get the best of both worlds this way; switching if necessary or simultaneous if desired.
     
  8. GoldenJoe thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Apr 26, 2011
    #8
    Great advice, Blevins. I'm having trouble finding information on Apple's site...is there room for a second drive? That is, could I order the 15" model with stock 500GB drive and add a second SSD drive, or is that only in the 17" model?
     
  9. blevins321 macrumors 68030

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    Dec 24, 2010
    Location:
    Winnipeg, MB
    #9
    I think that's possible in the 15 as well (13 too?). Search the forums for "Optibay." The way that it's done is to remove the Superdrive and put a mounting bracket in its place. I haven't done this personally though, but I've heard it's not terribly difficult.
     
  10. squeakr macrumors 68000

    squeakr

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    Apr 22, 2010
    #10
    I develop on one every day and have no problem. I do have BootCamp on the system (Win7 Pro), but I rarely use it and just remain booted into OS X and use VMWare Fusion for driving my images (with 2 cores, sometimes 4 set aside for the VM and 2-4 GB of Ram set aside for the VM). I have the new 2011 2.3 i7 Quad core and a 500GB Momentus XT. This setup works great for me.
     
  11. Pentad macrumors 6502a

    Pentad

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    Nov 26, 2003
    Location:
    Indiana
    #11
    I have to agree with Squakr on this.

    I have Boot Camp but I prefer VMWare because it does 99% of everything that I need it too.

    MEMORY is the big thing. I have 8 Gig but if I could afford it I would go to 16 Gig. I develop in XCode, VS 2010, and Eclipse (iOS, Windows, Java, Android) and you can never have too much memory.

    When you have a few of these open plus one or two VMs the memory goes pretty fast.

    Having said all of that, I think the MBP is the best developer machine you can have (well I guess Mac in general). I can run all of these environments, I can test in all of these environments, and I never have to leave my machine.

    I can bounce from VS 2010 to XCode and back without missing a beat. (I'm also thankful for Spaces...God, I love Spaces.)

    -P
     
  12. Manacit macrumors member

    Manacit

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    Feb 19, 2011
    Location:
    New York, NY
    #12
    I'm an idiot. I skipped over iPad and went right to Blackberry


    NEVERMIND.

    I would go with the high end 15" (2.3 if possible, if not 2.2), and 4GB of ram. Once you get the laptop, buy and install at least 8GB of ram (it's much cheaper), and give at least half of that to your VMs.
     
  13. brentsg macrumors 68040

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    Oct 15, 2008
    #13
    If you will be opening and closing different VMs frequently then the SSD is a must. If you'll be working with multiple VMs at once, you'll want the quad CPU.

    Otherwise just a bunch of RAM and you'll be set.
     
  14. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2008
    Location:
    NYC
    #14
    Any 15" or 17" MacBook Pro will do; you don't really need the 2.3GHz upgrade, but certainly get at least the higher end 2.2GHz model because it comes with a better dedicated GPU. You'll want 8GB or more RAM.

    Basically that's how my VM runs. It works very well and I don't experience any performance penalties.
     
  15. cube macrumors G5

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    #15
    When using a hard drive, if there's a lot of fragmentation, the VM will crawl.

    With a hard drive you have to make sure both the real and virtual drives are not fragmented.

    You must not defragment SSDs.
     
  16. snaky69 macrumors 603

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    Mar 14, 2008
    #16
    You can add a second hard drive to all three sizes, you need to lose your optical drive for it to happen, though.
     
  17. GoldenJoe thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Apr 26, 2011
    #17
    Thanks again for all the advice. I think I'll go with the 8GB and 128SSD upgrades.
     
  18. Ccrew macrumors 68020

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    Feb 28, 2011
    #19
    It's worth it. I run Windows VM's on a 2011 and the best bang for the buck was the SSD. 8gb of mem was a necessity, but the SSD made it pleasurable. I do it in Fusion rather than Parallels. I'm a sys engineer, so for me bouncing back and forth between windows boxes and *nix ones is such a necessity that the VM makes it almost seamless.

    Advantage to the SSD is also that you can do it in VM with no noticeable disc thrash, and don't have to dedicate potentially unused space to a bootcamp partition.

    And i'm doing it in a 120gb SSD although I can see that changing. I'd opt for 240 but I'm not pressed for space, currently still have 50+gb free. .
     
  19. lemonpeazy11 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2008
    #20
    VM Ware Upgrades

    Replying to OP i have macbook pro 13" mid 2010 model 2.66ghz Penryn and i've been looking at upgrades recently for VMWare running ubuntu 10 as a virtual and bootcamp of W7. with 4gb ram 320 gb 5400 rpm hdd the machine struggles to swap back and forth when running heavy tasks on either end with VMware. both run great solo (booting W7). Have good control over process cores and memory to devote to machine though.

    Anyway, you definitely can upgrade the ram and its an easy swap to get your performance running quick just download mactracker from mac app store to find correct ram for your model. 2 x 4gb ddr3 runs about 85 right now newegg for my model.

    For the ssd you will find your machines running great for all environments especially with upgraded ram running VMware or parallels just read up on the parallels vs vmware articles. check out data doubler http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyuQJE-Z9cQ thats an install of one. If you decide to go small you can install os on ssd and set save locations to original hdd with data doubler but lose ability to cd/dvd if thats your kinda thing. mount is 75 dollars easy to do. http://eshop.macsales.com/item/OWC/DDAMBS0GB/ Get ssd off website or newegg etc. If able to spend more, buy larger ssd and use it solely (Could use old to put in external case)

    regarding ssd, Industrial SLC will provide you with better battery life and longer performance but higher price tag whereas MLC is mainstream commercial to keep costs down.
     
  20. GoldenJoe thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Apr 26, 2011
    #21
    The reason I went with 128SSD is because I'll only be using this computer for work. Aside from OSX, Win7, and the Eclipse/BB and iOS dev environments, there won't be much on the machine. I won't be downloading any videos or music. Now, I'm assuming 128 would be fine for this, but if you've found otherwise, please let me know.

    I've read a bit about parallels and vmware. It seems like Parallels is faster, but VM is more popular. Why is that?
     
  21. squeakr macrumors 68000

    squeakr

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2010
    #22
    ATM Parallells is faster, but they leapfrog each other. I run VMWare products (so I can't really comment on Parallels), but I think VMWare has been at it longer than Parallels, hence the popularity and the trust/ confidence.

    VMWare products are available for many different OS, whereas Parallels is just for OS X. Withe VMWare Fusion, I can run any of the images that my company uses on my MBP without any issues (we use lots of images within Windows environments). I would have to convert from VMWare platform to Parallels to run on my MBP, and even that isn't insured that there will or will not be issues. I have had no issues, nor needed conversion using VMWare Fusion.

    Some people claim VMWre is more stable, but I can't say it is or is not (and each iteration of each gets better and more feature packed) due to I have only used VMWare products.

    Hope this helps a little bit.
     
  22. GoldenJoe thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Apr 26, 2011
    #23
    One last question: does the cpu/gpu upgrade between the base and high end 15" models make a significant difference outside of gaming? I'll only be using this for development environments, running mobile simulators, and running VMs.
     
  23. brentsg macrumors 68040

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    Oct 15, 2008
    #24
    No, for those purposes I wouldn't worry with the 2.2 model's upgrades.
     
  24. snaky69 macrumors 603

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    Mar 14, 2008
    #25
    Since you'll be running mostly in a VM, the GPU won't change much, and the CPU bump might help for large compiling when running in OS X. Otherwise I'd have to say it's not really worth it.
     

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