Which MacBook should a freelance programmer get?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by wdq, Jun 22, 2013.

  1. wdq macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2013
    #1
    So here's my situation. I'm sure there are similar threads on here already, but most of them don't take into account Apple's most current product lineup.

    Basically I have been using a Hackintosh desktop over the past few years. It's a monster of a machine that has a Geekbench score that beats out the Mid 2010 6-core Mac Pro. The machine still works great, but I'm getting a little tired of maintaining it, and I'm also looking for something a little more portable.

    Obviously I'm not going to be able to get a MacBook that beats out my desktop system. However I do want something that I can use to offload the majority of my work to. I want something that I can use as my primary day to day machine.

    I'm a programmer that uses Xcode as well as Sublime Text 2, and IntelliJ IDEA on a daily basis. Some of my programming involves web design and web development which usually means I'll also have programs like Photoshop open when I'm working.

    The programs that I use on a daily basis brings me to my first question. How does the MacBook Air handle only having 8GB of memory? On my current system with 16GB of memory I always have maybe one hundred web browser tabs open at any given time spread across four web browsers, Photoshop idling in the background, SSH connections to various servers, several different IDEs open, occasionally a virtual machine open, as well as simple things like Sparrow. I'm not always using all 16GB of the memory on my system but currently I'm using 12GB. Does the Air use its really fast SSD as a swap file? How does that swap file perform?

    With my Hackintosh I have three smaller monitors connected. From my understanding the Air supports one external monitor, and the Pro supports having two external monitors. With my Mac I'm planning to get at least one 2560x1440 monitor and was wondering how something simple like a MacBook Air handles higher resolution monitors. I haven't used Intel graphics in quite a while, do they still eat up a lot of system RAM? Can the MacBook Air handle HD video on a 1440p monitor? How about simple games like Minecraft at a 1440p resolution? And on that same note how can a MacBook Pro handle those same sorts of things but with two 1440p monitors?

    My Hackintosh has several different hard drives inside of it. There is a smaller SSD to boot from, and then some larger hard drives for storing all of my data. I'm going to get most likely a 256GB SSD in the MacBook that I'm planning to get. Since 256GB isn't enough for all of my files how do most people go about external storage with a MacBook? I'd most likely need a solution that could provide support for several drives at once and offer real world speeds that match drive performance directly through SATA. Is this even possible? I wouldn't need the external storage to be portable.

    Another thing I'm looking around for is a docking solution for a Mac. I want something that will allow me to connect my Mac to all of my monitors, printers, microphones, keyboards, mice, headphones, and everything else, but only with one cable, or not even really one cable but one action. I don't want to get home and have to plugin a dozen different cables. Are there any dock suggestions for the MacBook Air, how about the MacBook Pro?

    For the most part those are my questions I have at this point in time. My three options are the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro Retina, and MacBook Pro. I don't mind opening up the system to install RAM, upgrade hard drives, and those sorts of things which makes the MacBook Pro appealing, but the seven hours of battery life, and the thicker design turns me off a little bit.

    Please note that I probably won't be ordering the Mac until later this summer, or maybe early into the fall. So by that time we might see updated MacBook Pros that might have Haswell chips that might also bring increased battery life. They might also have newer solid state drives just like the new Air that could decrease the price just a little bit.

    Thanks for all the advice. Let me know if you have any questions.
     
  2. Jedi Master macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2013
    Location:
    ar the moment on the Death Star
    #2
    Here you go

    http://store.apple.com/us/configure/MD761LL/A?


    Promise Pegasus is the first high-performance hardware RAID Solution designed to unleash the raw power of Thunderbolt. Pegasus features four or six 7200-rpm hard drives for up to 12TB in a compact hardware RAID enclosure (supporting RAID 0, 1, 5, 50, 6, and 10). This ultra-quiet solution comes preconfigured out of the box—simply unpack, connect the power cable, connect the Thunderbolt cable (sold separately) to your Thunderbolt-enabled Mac and you're ready to store music, photos, videos and documents, ingest and edit video or run a Time Machine backup. Delivering up to 500MB/s (R4) or up to 800MB/s (R6) of disk performance, Pegasus is compatible with Mac systems with Thunderbolt and required Thunderbolt cable (sold separately).


    Apple Thunderbolt Display
    Connect your Mac to the 27-inch Apple Thunderbolt Display.
    Thunderbolt I/O technology lets you move data between your devices and your computer with unprecedented speed. With two channels of 10-Gbps throughput in both directions, it’s up to 20 times faster than USB 2.0 and up to 12 times faster than FireWire 800. And it allows you to connect as many as six devices through a single, compact port built right into your display. Which makes the Apple Thunderbolt Display so much more than just a pretty screen.

    With its 27-inch LED-backlit screen, the Thunderbolt Display delivers a brilliant viewing experience. But connect it to any Thunderbolt-enabled Mac, and it becomes a plug-and-play hub for everything you do. You get 27 inches of high-resolution screen space, high-quality audio, a FaceTime HD camera, three USB 2.0 ports, FireWire 800, and Gigabit Ethernet. All through a single connection. The Thunderbolt Display includes a MagSafe to MagSafe 2 Converter and a MagSafe connector that powers and charges your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. So you can keep your notebook’s power adapter in your bag, ready and waiting for when you’re on the go.

    Apple Thunderbolt Display
    Connect your Mac to the 27-inch Apple Thunderbolt Display.
    Thunderbolt I/O technology lets you move data between your devices and your computer with unprecedented speed. With two channels of 10-Gbps throughput in both directions, it’s up to 20 times faster than USB 2.0 and up to 12 times faster than FireWire 800. And it allows you to connect as many as six devices through a single, compact port built right into your display. Which makes the Apple Thunderbolt Display so much more than just a pretty screen.

    With its 27-inch LED-backlit screen, the Thunderbolt Display delivers a brilliant viewing experience. But connect it to any Thunderbolt-enabled Mac, and it becomes a plug-and-play hub for everything you do. You get 27 inches of high-resolution screen space, high-quality audio, a FaceTime HD camera, three USB 2.0 ports, FireWire 800, and Gigabit Ethernet. All through a single connection. The Thunderbolt Display includes a MagSafe to MagSafe 2 Converter and a MagSafe connector that powers and charges your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. So you can keep your notebook’s power adapter in your bag, ready and waiting for when you’re on the go.

    http://store.apple.com/us/product/MC914LL/B/apple-thunderbolt-display-27-inch?

    The ultimate docking station.
    With just one cable, connect any Thunderbolt-enabled Mac and get 27 inches of high-resolution screen space, high-quality audio, a FaceTime HD camera, FireWire 800 and Gigabit Ethernet ports — and a Thunderbolt port you can use to daisy-chain additional high-performance peripherals such as hard drives and video capture devices.
    Made for the new MacBook family. A bigger display for your biggest ideas.
    Connect your Thunderbolt-enabled Mac to the Thunderbolt Display for a panoramic viewing experience unlike any other. This huge 27-inch glossy widescreen display features a cinematic 16:9 aspect ratio and an astonishing 2560-by-1440 resolution. That gives you more room to work with apps on your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. And a worthy desktop companion to your iMac or Mac mini.
     
  3. Essenar macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2008
    #3
    I think you should get a 15.4" Pro non-Retina.

    1) You can upgrade the ram yourself up to 16GB now and theoretically 32GB in the future (Ivy Bridge supports memory allocations up to 32GB)

    2) The system has removable storage and optical drives. You could use an optical caddy and install two hard drives. You can also go with Samsung SSD's up to 512GB each to maximize storage or a combination of an SSD and an HDD and enable Fusion drive.

    3) The GPU is strong, the resolution is high enough. The 650M in the fully upgraded 15" Pro is the same "higher clocked" GPU as the Retina which operates more like a 670M.

    4) Non-Retina MacBook Pro operates Windows a lot better than the Retina does. So Boot Camp is better.

    It also has a quad core, combined with the ram and GPU makes it quite a powerful device. Good luck.
     
  4. wdq thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2013
    #4
    Thanks for that small bit of information. Having a machine that I can buy, upgrade to 16GB of memory, and a few years down the road upgrade to 32GB of memory when 16GB DIMMs are available is really appealing.
     
  5. wdq thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2013
    #5
    Now moving things forward. Are there any good docking stations for the 15-inch non-Retina MacBook Pro?

    This is something I found for the Air that I really like: http://landingzone.net/products/pro-2/

    That's the sort of dock I'm looking for (easy to connect/disconnect, and handles all of the cables). The only thing that it's missing is audio, but I can probably just buy a cheap Mac compatible USB sound card type of thing.

    I would prefer not to get a Thunderbolt display since I have a Windows system that I might like to be able to connect from time to time. I'm planning to get the ASUS PB278Q.
     
  6. technowar macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2011
    Location:
    Cebu, Philippines
    #6
    I am on the same ship as you are.

    I just want to know if you are going to wait for Macbook Pro's refresh this coming November, or just buy the 2012 version?
     
  7. wdq thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2013
    #7
    I'm going to wait until November. The performance increase probably won't be incredible, but I might as well wait since my system right now works just fine. My plan is to jump on a new MacBook Pro this fall when 10.9 comes out.
     
  8. technowar macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2011
    Location:
    Cebu, Philippines
    #8
    Ahh thanks for the input. Will try to hold on to my unit until November for .ac and HD5xxx upgrade.
     
  9. Essenar macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2008
    #9
    Most of the improvements you'll see in the fall will have to do with the battery life. Haswell is only about 10-15% faster than Ivy Bridge but much better on thermal and power properties.

    I don't see them going too much powerful on the GPU end. Maybe the equivalent of a 670M or 750M but again, we're talking 10-15%.

    The jump to Retina was quite a leap and not traditional of Apple at all. Usually every year is about 10-15% to avoid giving the year before buyer's remorse.
     
  10. technowar macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2011
    Location:
    Cebu, Philippines
  11. philosopherdog macrumors 6502a

    philosopherdog

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2008
    #11
    Get the retina 15. It's the best machine in the lineup hands down. Don't fall for the upgrade argument. Just sell the thing when you're ready to upgrade. Macs hold their value. 16 gbs with ssd will be more than enough power for anything you can throw at it unless you're editing feature films with it. Once you work with a retina display you won't be able to look at anything else. I'd wait though. They're about to release a new one with the updated chipset that will probably seriously extend battery life. The air is ok, but not durable enough for a pro IMO, also the screen is junk and too small. The other option is the 27 inch imac. They're nice machines, but the retina is so much better. The worst thing is to buy the old mbp. Such a clunky machine. Unless you are using adobe crap and can't get retina versions you'd be better off passing on that dinosaur.
     

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