Which Mac should I get if I want to take programming seriously?

Discussion in 'iOS Programming' started by banapple, Nov 4, 2014.

  1. banapple macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2013
    #1
    I apologize if I'm in the wrong thread I'm fairly new in these forums. I'm asking for a recommendation on which Mac I should get because I have to consider some things. I'm always on the go and I work in a place where I need windows OS.

    Mac Mini / iMac - Not a good choice since I'm always away from home so I'm looking for portability.

    Macbook Air 11 Inch - Cheapest option for me but I've heard people say that the 11 inch is not ideal for programming. Yeah you can hook it up to a bigger monitor but I'm always away from home and I wont be able to hook it up with a monitor all the time. The processing power is also another issue, based on my research there are mixed opinions on whether it can handle xcode with some saying it can and some say it can't.

    Macbook Air 13 Inch - Screen is better than the 11 inch, portability is a great plus especially there will be times I'll be bringing my windows laptop and macbook air at the same time. Processing power is better than the 11 inch but I'm not so sure, will the 13 inch processor be enough?

    Macbook Pro / Macbook Pro Retina 13 inch - I honestly think this option is an overkill unless the 13 inch Air is underpowered. It costs around 300$ more than the macbook air and it's less portable.

    What do you guys think? getting a Pro and using bootcamp is also an option but i've tried that before and it's troublesome to swtich between two operating systems with one device especially when you have a lot of windows open in another os.

    Im leaning towards the Macbook Air 13 inch my only concern is that it might be underpowered for xcode. Please help!
     
  2. CheesePuff macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    Location:
    Southwest Florida, USA
    #2
    Processing power is identical on the 11 vs 13 inch MacBook Air's. Same CPU, GPU and memory. It's enough to run Xcode and compile, but any large projects will slow you down. I would only go with the 13-inch, and it has the higher 1440x900 resolution then the 1280x800 on the 13-inch MacBook Pro.. but that leads me to:

    On the MacBook Pro Retina you can scale the resolution to be 1440x900 or 1680x1050 which is what you want when developing on the go. You get a much more powerful CPU, and more standard RAM. I would recommend the middle of the road MacBook Pro Retina ($1499 USD model) so you have adequate screen real estate, CPU and GPU power, and storage space.
     
  3. banapple thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2013
    #3
    Thank you for your reply CheesePuff.

    What do you mean when you say "large" projects? Can you use apps as reference since I do not know the definition of a large project. Do you mean apps that use heavy graphics like console game / pc game ports like bioshock, limbo, or even maybe temple run or minion rush? Apps like that are out of my league and I'm just planning on developing some utility apps for the mean time. A macbook pro retina is nice but it's really out of my budget but if it's a necessity then i guess I have to start saving up some money :p.
     
  4. firewood macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2003
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #4
    If you really want to take programming seriously, also get an Arduino or other simple embedded processor kit and the software tools required to make them do something. Otherwise you may end up with very little idea of how any of your code actually works.

    These days, many embedded processor kits require a Linux or Windows environment in a VM on your Mac, so you will need a Mac with plenty of DRAM and storage for these.
     
  5. CheesePuff macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2008
    Location:
    Southwest Florida, USA
    #5
    But he's posting regarding iOS application development - why would he need any of that? He just needs a machine to run Xcode 6 sufficiently and to learn a high level language such as Objective-C or Swift.
     
  6. Pootan macrumors member

    Pootan

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2014
    #6
    I use an 11" baseline mba for development, using parallels and visual studio. It depends on your workflow, but I find it perfect for working on sofas and hiding in closets at a social event, since most of what I'm doing is typing or doing research. The main benefit is that it's so small I can take it anywhere.

    The speed isn't an issue with what I do since I only do simple dev testing, if I need a full build I do it remotely at a build computer. If i'm working on something small like a unity game I'm working on, I can do everything in the system, very responsive.

    I had a 13 rMBP i5/16/512 that was complete overkill. The 13" mba is good too but I take the 11" everywhere and end up using it far more.
     
  7. banapple thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2013
    #7
    So simple apps will be ok with the MBA, correct? Can you give me an example of an app that would be difficult or impossible to program in a Macbook Air? Temple Run? Minion Rush? Clash of Clans?
     
  8. firewood macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2003
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #8
    One can always plug an MBA 11 into a large 27" monitor (or two?), if needed for a large graph of storyboards, or full-resolution pixel-perfect iPad Retina or iPhone 6 Plus graphic design and Simulation.
     
  9. ArtOfWarfare macrumors 604

    ArtOfWarfare

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2007
    #9
    Programming is not the same as running. Compiling doesn't take place in real time. You hit the run button and if you have a small project on a quick computer, it'll be ready to run in less time than it takes to blink, or you hit it on a large project on a slow computer and it'll be ready to run after an hour. Either way it'll finish eventually.

    You don't even have to build/compile on the same computer where you program it. As someone else suggested, you could program on your laptop and then have another machine that just pulls the latest code and compiles it.

    So there's not a huge difference between programming any different apps. Fewer files can be cached in memory if you have less RAM, but that's not a huge problem.

    A machine suitable for programming one iOS app should be suitable for programming any iOS app, it seems to me.
     
  10. Boris-VTR macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2013
    #10
    Don't listening to this cheese puff. Don't think because it says pro on laptop that all of sudden it has some mega power processors. Air have lower clocks, but when turbo boosts it would be almost on same clock than "real" computer with pro in its name.
    Reality is that air would run and compile projects almost identically as pro model. You don't HAVE to buy retina mac for coding.

    ----------

    I don't think there is ANY iOS app that air could not run. Let me put it this way...if air could not run it, be sure that 1.5k$ retina mackbook would not run it either.
     
  11. CheesePuff macrumors 6502

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    Sep 3, 2008
    Location:
    Southwest Florida, USA
    #11
    Right.... http://barefeats.com/mba13b.html
     
  12. Boris-VTR macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2013
    #12
    rMBP had 16G of ram, dedicated graphics card and quad-core. And twice the price of macbook air. TS asked for basic 13 retina......that have NONE of this goodies. And I compared it to base 13 retina MBP. There are close to price.
    Nice try.
     
  13. kage207 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2008
    #13
    MBAs work just fine for iOS development. I've used it for my iOS and Mac development. I do have 8GB of RAM in mine though. I do recommend more but it is not really needed.

    Now in terms of processors of the Pros vs. MBA is completely over blown. You will only see about ~17% difference when compiling code which isn't much in terms of the price to me. Unless you have large libraries, compile time isn't that bad.

    Trust me, if you are starting out doing projects that are quiet large, then you are doing it all wrong. Start small, work your way up as your needs change. The resale value of Macs are quiet strong.
     
  14. moonman239 macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2009
    #14
    Buy a MacBook Pro. The Air is designed for more lightweight tasks.
     
  15. Pootan macrumors member

    Pootan

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2014
    #15
    Having said that, programming can be heavy or lightweight. For example, a full content management and administration addin integrating dropbox and iCloud might be pretty heavy, but a flappy bird clone might be very light. I think it depends on the context, and from the examples given by OP (iPhone apps), I think they are pretty lightweight.
     
  16. kage207 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2008
    #16
    That is just not true. I work on iOS Apps with my Air and I have no problems whatsoever.

    If you are starting to learn how to program, buy a MBA and save yourself the money. Figure out what kind of Apps you want to be developing and you will see how your resources are being used; this allows you to save your money or sell your MBA for a more powerful machine if you end up developing large Apps.

    Remember, Macs hold their resale value really well.
     
  17. lefooey macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2009
    Location:
    Spokane, WA
    #17
    At this point I really recommend something with a Retina display (13" rMBP works well). If you're doing iOS development, it's extremely helpful that the simulator displays Retina devices at "native" size on a Retina display. On non-Retina displays it shows them at actual pixels. Basically no current Apple device fits on the standard 13" screen without scaling down the simulator (which is both ugly and slow).

    While the non-Retina 13" is usable (I'm still using a 6 year old 13" Unibody), the Retina will look more accurate and work much better.

    If cost is an issue, go with the base 13" rMBP and BTO 16gig of RAM.

    I'll be upgrading my own before the end of the year.
     

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