Windows & Visual Studio development on MBP

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by hyperN, Dec 14, 2016.

  1. hyperN macrumors newbie


    Dec 14, 2016
    Hello everyone!

    I've been using PCs and Windows for almost 20 years and now I'm thinking of buying MBPr TB 15".
    Main reason for considering this switch is machine itself - many friends are saying that it has superb build quality, great battery life, amazing screen etc.
    My biggest concern is will it perform flawlessly under my workload.
    Usually I am running 2 Visual Studios (2015) , SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS), Slack, Skpye and ofc. bunch of tabs in Chrome.
    The biggest problem here are VS and SSMS which take a lot of memory (especially in combo with Chrome), so add to that Parallels, MacOs and Windows ... not sure if 16 gigs of memory will be enough (especially in let's say 2 years) . Also I'm not sure if processor is powerful enough for virtualisation, running MacOS and compiling code in VS.
    I'm hesitant to buy Windows laptop like Dell XPS or Precision or Razer Blade because I'm not sure how good they'll be after let's say 2 years of use (and I'm not talking just about raw performance, but for example will battery still work, will touchpad still work etc.)

    So can someone please share their experiences with using MBP and Windows + VS ?
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I think you can find a capable machine for less. The MBP is a great machine, but you're spending over 2k, where as you can find a windows machine that will offer you the memory you think you need for a fraction of the price.
  3. jakespeed macrumors member

    Jul 22, 2002
    Ever since Apple switched to Intel, I have used parallels for all windows development. I use mostly VS with some SQL Studio stuff. In the last 10 years, I have developed all of our client applications and embedded (QNX) applications on Parallels with Windows (XP-10) and its worked well. I give the VM 4-8 Processors and 8GB of ram and the performance is very good. After a couple years of developing this way, most of my dev team switched to this as their "platform" as well..some preferring to use Linux vs Windows. Since we also develop Mac/iOS/Linux/Embedded applications this platform is really the "best" for us and worth the extra cash when its time to budget for new machines.

    There are a couple of gotcha's I have run into. Some (mostly proprietary ) usb drivers don't run as well on Parallels. We had a CAN (Car/Vehicle networking) USB Connection driver that always performed slower on VM than native. For those rare occasions when it was a problem or bother, I could always boot into native Bootcamp and get full performance. 99% of the time I use Parallels though.

    There are some really good benefits to a windows developer in using a pro VM tool. For example. You can test clean installs over and over by using snapshots in a VM. In addition you create multiple "VM's" all based on one base VM image to allow supporting tools that don't coexist well. For example, I have a couple of different versions of embedded tools that both kind of want their own machine. I use the Linked Clones to put both on their own instance of the VM so they only take up the space of a single VM.

    In the end, if you are developing applications/services that can run on typical client machines and don't require LARGE data sets you will have a great experience. If you are doing large data sets or high end media/games or truly need > 8GB-12GB you might consider alternatives.....or just consider how you use RAM in your apps ;)
  4. hyperN thread starter macrumors newbie


    Dec 14, 2016
    Money is not issue :) My company is buying it, and I can basically choose whatever I want. My criteria is:

    - Firstly great performance and speed
    - Something that will age well, i.e. still be good enough in 3/4 years
    - High build quality
    - Fast SSD
    - Preferably around 2kg (4.4 lbs) or less
    - Good battery life, preferably around 6hrs (or more)

    As I understand MBP meets all of those requirements, but as I said, I'm not sure about performance and speed when running windows as VM and VS inside it
  5. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Wel it will depend on how many resources you allocate to each VM. If you want to get full performance in Windows then install Windows in boot camp and just reboot to swap between the two. When it's 20 seconds to reboot it's often a good option.
  6. hyperN thread starter macrumors newbie


    Dec 14, 2016
    Thanks for your answer :)
    I'm mainly working on the web projects, currently my main project is Azure Cloud Service (and in foreseeable future will be)
    (which consists of couple "Domian" projects i.e. pure C# library projects and couple of MVC and Web API projects). Those usually are not to hard on memory and processor (especially because I am connecting to DB on Azure, not locally) ... most demanding thing in this scenario is when I run Cloud Service locally which yields running some emulations like Azure Storage etc.

    I guess if I just run VS inside windows and everything else like Chrome, Slack etc. in MacOs I don't have to allocate a lot of resources to the VM ... this scenario should be okay if I can run MacOs on one screen and windows on another.
  7. poorcody macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2013
    I've done Visual Studio development on my Mac for years. I used to have both a Windows and Mac, but switched everything over to Mac. I think it's actually a dirty little secret that Windows development is better under a VM on Mac. Isolating the development environment from your work and personal environment is definitely a plus. You have so many scenarios for using VMs for customized setups and testing, as jakespeed exemplified.

    One nice thing with web development on the Mac is that it's the only platform where you can test web pages across everything: Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and Linux.

    I would definitely lean toward doing your Chrome, Slack, etc. under the Mac. I think you would be okay with 16Gig RAM, although you would be pushing it if you run two Visual Studio instances simultaneously (curious why you do that?). I think VS is still 32-bit though, so you can only give it so much RAM anyway.

    In cases where you may run low on RAM, remember the SSDs scream on this machine, so swapping is pretty fast.

    Also, you can even use the TouchBar with Visual Studio: just get that app "BetterTouchTool", and you can create custom touch bars for Parallels with customized macros. It is really quite a nice feature to have custom "keys" when programming.

    Also note Microsoft just recently released Visual Studio for the Mac -- more limited than the Windows one, but I think it is good for C#-Web-Azure work...
  8. jakespeed macrumors member

    Jul 22, 2002
    For Azure development and web tasks, I don't think you will not even feel the difference in native vs VM. SQL Management Studio is the same. Honestly, you probably don't even need 16gb for a single VM to run this type of task. A single VM with 4-6 would run fine. BUT having 16 is nice as it allows you to more easily run Multiple VM's. In my past jobs, when I use to do services development (WCF mostly) I would run multiple VM's to isolate my client/service applications better and having enough ram to give each 4-8 was nice. Azure makes that much easier though so these days I rarely run multiple VM's.

    If you are not running any thing taxing on the Mac side while your VM's are running you can safely leave it only 2-4gb of ram and not see a performance hit.

    I have been VERY happy with this setup for years. I use only ONE computer for everything I do. I carry one MacBook Pro 15 around and when I'm "working" I launch VM's which contain all work/business. My Mac then contains all of my personal stuff. If I leave the company I work at, I can delete/give back the VM's and I'm done.
  9. poorcody macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2013
    I was wondering, do you happen to use the Business Version of Parallels Desktop? If so, are there any significant advantages for Visual Studio development with that? I know they have a VS plug-in, but I wasn't clear on what it actually did. Just wondering if it's worth the extra money?
  10. clangers23 macrumors regular

    Oct 27, 2016
    I do a fair amount of .Net VS based development using SharePoint, Dynamics and SQL. It's dependent upon the size of the VM's required, you'll be limited to around 12gb in total realistically. Natively under bootcamp it should be fine for most Window's developer requirements. Personally I preferred VMWare to Parallel's (although the latter is superior in many ways)

    I still use my new 13" MBP to remote desktop onto VM's hosted on more powerful Window's based workstation laptops and dedicated servers. In the end I switched away from a 15" MBP with 16gb RAM to a Thinkpad P70 with 64gb RAM (desktop replacement) and a Dell Precision 5510 with 32gb RAM. Both have NVMe SSD's.

    Ultimately with virtualisation disk throughput and RAM are king. I still use my Macbook Pro to actually develop on remotely just because it's such a nice machine to work on. Remote Desktop Manager is available free for both Windows and OSX. It's a great tool to manage both VM's and remote session's.
  11. poorcody macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2013
    Totally agree... maybe I should add I was running Visual Studio on a 2013 MacBook Air with only 8GB RAM for years. Never swapped once with that.
  12. jakespeed macrumors member

    Jul 22, 2002
    I run the Pro version (since it was released) with a subscription. I think "Pro" is the sweet spot for developers like me as it gives you unlimited processors etc and support for linked clones and advanced network setups. I have never used the VS Plugin....haven't had a use case for it I guess. Business edition mostly adds the IT features like Volume License and Central Management so not something I needed there either
  13. KarmaRocket macrumors regular


    Jan 4, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Microsoft is porting Visual Studio to the Mac

    The caveat being it's not the full Windows IDE. It's basically Xamarin, so you're primary and only language is C#. Things might change later, but for now this is a really good sign if you code in C#. Though, I'm not entirely sure if you can develop apps for windows on it. The description is a little vague and only mentions cloud and mobile

    You can probably just run SSMS through VM which will help with reducing CPU load by not having to run two apps. I'm not too familiar with it, so I can't comment on how much resources it will need.

    I recommend getting the top end CPU, 1TB HD and 16GB. Not sure if the dGPU will help much, but if your company is paying for it why not just get the 460 pro as well :)
  14. hyperN thread starter macrumors newbie


    Dec 14, 2016
    One VS is for Azure Cloud App and the other is for our mobile app (developed using Apache Cordova and Telerik's Appbuilder). Technically I don't have to use VS for mob app project but guys from Telerik created good integration and I'm used to VS :) So when I create some backend changes and I want to test API i run 2 VS in parallel. (one for API and one for simulator for mob app)

    Are you happy with your Dell Precision 5510 ? In fact I cannot decide between MBP, Dell Precision 5510 and Razer Blade 1060, but I am leaning towards MBP :)

    I've tried it for a bit but for me difference is HUGE (and my primary language is C#), I don't think it will be nearly as good as VS on Windows for at least a year or two.
  15. clangers23 macrumors regular

    Oct 27, 2016
    Yes it's great, about the same size as the last generation 15" MBP, very quick (xeon cpu, fast NVMe, quadro). I have the 84wh battery installed which is crucial as they also offer a smaller 56wh battery. Battery life is around 6 hours.

    It has had a lot of issues, it's taken Dell much of the last 12 months to iron those out. It's now completely stable but it's taken along time. The number of issues which have had to be resolved make the new MBP look flawless.

    The Razor does look good as well.

    If you're used to working in OSX and Mac environment you'll probably be happiest with the Macbook Pro.
  16. hyperN thread starter macrumors newbie


    Dec 14, 2016
    I'm not, that's the thing, I've never used MacOs, I've been on windows my whole life. Only reason I'm thinking of buying MBPr is because of the machine itself (build quality, battery life, durability etc.)

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