Price Advice Xcode Dev Mac Under $1500?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by apnance, Feb 25, 2016.

  1. apnance macrumors newbie

    apnance

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    Feb 25, 2016
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #1
    Hi,

    first time poster here. I plan to wait for the next release cycle but in the meantime I'd like to get some advice on the best Mac for building iOS apps in Xcode. My poor 2012 Mac Mini struggles valiantly under routine dev work.

    Ideally I'd like to keep it under $1500(pre-tax) and I'd like it to be portable.

    Thanks,
    Aaron
     
  2. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

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    Zurich, Switzerland
    #2
    What are the specs of said Mini?
    I would think a 2012 QC Mini with 16GB RAM + (decent) SSD has a lot of grunt left.
    Of course, it's only portable in the sense that the system itself is portable. Not the display.
    On your budget, a low-end, 16GB 13" MBP is available (with basic 128GB SSD).
    But maybe you can find a used, non-Retina 27" i7 iMac (with SSD and Apple Care) somewhere?
     
  3. apnance thread starter macrumors newbie

    apnance

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    Feb 25, 2016
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    Los Angeles
    #3
    Thanks, I appreciate the reply. It's a late 2012 with 2.5GHz i5 and 4GB.

    May I ask if you use Xcode and if so which Mac(s) you develop on and how happy you are with the(ir) performance?
     
  4. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    No, I don't use Xcode, so I cannot help you on that data-point - sorry.
    But I would seriously advise you to at least upgrade your RAM to 16GB.
    It's cheap and does not void any warranty.
    As for the SSD - you should keep in mind that a single SSD can handle the I/O of hundreds of hard-disks combined.
    This will especially help in compiling and handling code, as those are most often lots of very small files.
     
  5. thisisnotmyname macrumors 65816

    thisisnotmyname

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    #5
    There's no question that SSDs are much speedier than mechanical drives but not 100s of times. IOps of 15K mechanical vs SSD probably have a 15 or 20x multiple. In any case, unless you have a horrendously large application I wouldn't worry much about drive speed as it relates to compilation. I'd suspect your bottleneck is more likely in CPU or memory running the IDE itself and/or emulators. A newer Mac Mini would be fine given your budget. I've coded with Xcode on a mini in the past, it wasn't a rocket ship but it got the job done. I did load up the RAM (16GB in my case too) and went with the biggest processor option at the time though.

    You do mention portable, obviously the mini is meant to be a desktop but it's plenty small and easy to pack and move. If your "portable" means you want to move it between two locations that you can "dock" it (monitors and keyboards and cables and such at each) I'd consider it portable. If you want a laptop your budget will be a bit trickier. I've run Xcode on rMBPs before just fine but that's not a $1500 machine. The MBA and MB lines would get you there but I've never tried to run Xcode on either of those. Someone else would have to chime in there.
     
  6. apnance, Feb 25, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2016

    apnance thread starter macrumors newbie

    apnance

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    #6
    I appreciate the suggestions and insight.

    Sounds like Xcode is a resource hog? Except for building, I don't think I've ever seen Xcode use more than about 1/4 of my system resources. I'm fairly new to Mac so I'm likely missing something, but I'm often perplexed by my machine choking on Xcode while showing only moderate resource use in Activity Monitor.

    MRainer, you're definitely right, upgrading the RAM is fairly inexpensive and worth a shot. I'll give that a whirl while I ponder my options.
     
  7. dan1eln1el5en macrumors 6502

    dan1eln1el5en

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    Copenhagen, Denmark
    #7
    Xcode isn't really taking that much load, in my opinion.
    unless you are óut and about in 3D views and loadss of screens etc.
    I am currently on a rather well spec'ed mac, but thats for other reasons. I've done app dev. on mac mini server.

    I think Adobes programs take up more system resources.
     
  8. jeremysteele macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2011
    #8
    One more vote for get more RAM and an SSD.

    I developed quite a few apps on my mac mini (before it died... RIP) back in the day and those two upgrades were my savior.
     
  9. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

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    #9

    Consumer SSDs have a about 100k IOPs (give or take, depending on make or model).
    A typical SAS HD has maybe 200 (without a k).
    Typically, you've got 6 or so in a RAID6 and some 2 or 4GB cache and you'll get 3k-ish IOPs from it.
    In a server.
    The typical 5400 RPM MacMini 2012 HD ain't doing 200 IOPS.
    No Sir.
    I think in raw terms of transfer speed, my Crucial M500 (500G) is faster than the HD in my 2008 iMac by a factor of 30x-40x.
    But for small files, and random reads/writes, the SSD will be much, much faster.
    That, and the response-times going from milli-seconds to micro-seconds.
     
  10. thisisnotmyname macrumors 65816

    thisisnotmyname

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    #10
    Until you reach the MTBF and the firmware throttles the hell out of your SSD so you don't make a warranty claim; then their performance falls on its face. True story.

    It's been a while since I was involved in the SAN industry so I don't have current numbers but I recall good mechanical (5400 RPM is not good mechanical although you are right, more typical in this scenario) being in the 1/15x to 1/20x range. It's been a long time though so maybe I'm recalling mixed sequential and random or such. I'm too lazy to go look it up.
     
  11. apnance, Mar 10, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2016

    apnance thread starter macrumors newbie

    apnance

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    #11
    [TLDR] Upgrades did the trick. Thanks.

    So I quadrupled the RAM(probably overkill) and switched to SSD. Increasing the RAM seemed to offer the most noticeable improvements. Prior to this I would spend probably 2-3 minutes a day watching the color wheel spin. Now I can go an entire work day without seeing that beautiful little irritant more than a second or two. So that's definitely progress. I still find it odd however that prior to upgrading the RAM I never really saw high memory pressure.

    The SSD has definitely helped make my Mac feel snappier as expected. So that's nice. If forced however, to choose only one of the two upgrades it would definitely be the RAM. Assuming, arguendo, that the performance gains were exactly equal, the cost difference clearly favors the memory upgrade over the HD swap.

    One caveat to anyone reading this thread and considering the upgrade. Go with an OWC cable. I fumbled for two weeks trying to switch to a Samsung EVO drive. The install went perfectly and everything would work fine for the first boot, then things started getting funky. My machine wouldn't let me log in, or more accurately let me log in but then immediately kicked me back to the log in screen. The next time I'd try to boot the SSD would have vanished. New to Macs I thought maybe this was due to the drive being converted to Fusion drive with the old mechanical drive. Long story short, the cheap SATA was defective. I switched to an OWC cable and things couldn't be better. Obviously my experience is anecdotal however it is also consistent with a great number of the comments on Amazon.

    Thanks for the advice. I can honestly say that now for the first time since I purchased my Mini brand new in 2013, it is finally usable and I'm finally able to start appreciating the Linux-y Mac difference.
     
  12. CptSky macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2013
    #12
    I'm really not convinced by how Apple calculates the memory pressure. I've seen a lot of issues related to having not enough RAM (beachballs, everything is taking forever to launch to the required swap, etc), but the memory pressure was between 10-20%, which doesn't make sense as the system had already started to slow down... (on a Mac Mini with 4 GB) On my Mac Pro, with a VM, tons of tabs, iTunes, Mail, Unity3D, etc. I reach about 3 GB of swap and I know the RAM usage is way over 16 GB, but the memory pressure never really goes up. I'm always at like "3 GB of RAM used" if I use the new calculations of Apple, which is illogical. At least the PCIe SSD is fast enough to limit the effect of swaping.
     
  13. andiwm2003 macrumors 601

    andiwm2003

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    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #13
    OSX has become a RAM hog somehow. In the past the RAM management of MACs was really good. In the last few years however it seems to me that 8GB RAM has become a minimum. Running a MAC with 4GB as a developer is a no go.
     

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