Macbook Pro / Air / Windows Laptop for development on-the-go?

RobBoothRobBooth GBMember

I'm looking for a new 'portable' machine for development having just sold on my Dell XPS Z15 which had a great 1920x1080 resolution but was quite big and heavy.
I love the idea of a 13" Air though the lower resolution (will we see something new next week?) makes me cautious.
13" MacBook Pro Retina - seems to fit the bill...again is the resolution maybe just a little low though?
15" MacBook Pro Retina - this is what I use at work and it's a great piece of kit. Is it worth the extra ~£500 over the 13" though?
I have to admit I haven't really looked at any Ultrabooks yet. Covering all 3 platforms I really need a Mac but could get by using my work machine when I need to.
What would people recommend / what are people using?



  • KMullinsKMullins USMember, Xamarin Team Xamurai

    Hi @RobBooth,

    I've been using a Macbook Air 13" for a couple of years now as my mobile Xamarin devbox and it works great. I so expect to see a retina version of the Air next week too... that one only seems a logical move for Apple.



  • SebastianSeidel.9226SebastianSeidel.9226 DEInsider, University ✭✭✭✭

    I am using a Macbook Pro 13" if I am not in the office. It is a great development machine and already has - unlike the Macbook Air - a Retina display. ;-)

  • RichardHopkinsRichardHopkins JPMember, University ✭✭✭

    I use a 15" MacBook Pro Retina as one of my 2 main dev machines (typing this on it now). The main benefit for me has always been its ability to display retina resolutions pixel for pixel in the iOS simulator when the phone is in portrait, rather than scaling it on a conventional monitor, so you get a better idea of how it will look on the device. Plus, the crispness and clarity of the text makes editing code for long periods much nicer on the eyes. Aside from that it's just a glorious machine. Far and away the nicest laptop I've ever owned.

  • AlecTucker.2208AlecTucker.2208 AUInsider, University, Developer Group Leader mod

    I'm on a 15" MacBook Pro (sadly pre-retina). I'm quite happy with it, but I wouldn't want to go for anything with less grunt.

  • StephenHauckStephenHauck USMember ✭✭✭

    I am running a 13" MBP (non retina) with a Samsung 500GB SSD, 16GB of RAM and Parallels.....runs Windows 7 and 8 better than most desktops and laptops that are made for Windows.

    I am thinking about upgrading to a quad core I7 at some point with Retina.....

  • RobBoothRobBooth GBMember

    Thanks for the replies guys. I took a trip to the Apple Store over the weekend and had a look at the 3 candidate machines.
    The 13" MBPR seems the logical choice. The Air is a lovely piece of kit but the Retina display makes text editing that bit easier on my eyes.
    I'm just wondering how capable an i5 processor is running and WP8 emulator in parallels? If it's going to struggle and an i7 is better suited then wouldn't the 15" MBPR make more sense......

  • StephenHauckStephenHauck USMember ✭✭✭

    I can tell you that I have been using Parallels for a few years on the i5 and it has been just fine.
    I am a Windows consultant for a living and prefer my Parallels emulation over most of the customers hardware PC's as it seems more reliable.
    I run VS 2012 Pro and use TFS as well as Resharper and SQL Server 2012 with no issues.
    I can't help with the WP8 emulator ...sorry.
    I will tell you this, the ONLY time my cooling fan kicks on or the bottom feels hot is when I am running a Windows emulation :)
    In the next 12 months (or less) I will be upgrading to an i7 quad core.

    Good luck

  • RichardHopkinsRichardHopkins JPMember, University ✭✭✭
    edited June 2014

    Regarding the Windows Phone emulator, just a tip: because it's a VM itself, you have to go into the settings in Parallels for the Windows VM you're running and click "enable nested virtualization". Took me a while to figure that out. It's not 100% stable, but I've only had it crash on a few rare occasions. I can't comment on whether it runs well on an i5 (probably does) but it runs pretty well on my MBP 15" i7.

    Personally I would strongly recommend the MBP 15" over the 13" simply because of the increased screen real estate. That 2 inches doesn't sound like much of a difference, but with all the various pads/panels that modern IDEs have, you'll really appreciate the extra space for the text editor and not having to collapse everything to give you more space.

  • StephenHauckStephenHauck USMember ✭✭✭

    I agree about the screen real estate of the 15", I use my 13" in clamshell mode about 70% of the time so it's not a real big issue.

    Thanks for the Parallels tip, I had not run into that yet but it's now in deep core storage for later.

  • AndyFlisherAndyFlisher GBBeta, University ✭✭✭

    I use by 13" Air a lot for Xamarin work at home, and the power is bang on but I do like my space, more often than not I'll use airplay mirroring, or even air display just so I can use the ipad as a second screen. For day in, day out I'd need a bigger screen, but that's the only grumble, the SSD makes it a dream for all else

  • RobBoothRobBooth GBMember

    Thanks for all the helpful comments and tips too. I went for the 13" MBPR in the end. So far I've found it excellent for the Xamarin work. Windows 8 in Parallels I found the top resolution too small but once in the VS IDE increasing the font size worked a treat.

  • CihanCilCihanCil TRMember ✭✭
    edited October 2014


    I am also between 15 and 13 rMBP and I have same concerns you had.

    I have some questions and you probably can help me decide:

    1- Is 128 gb enough for win8.1 and VisualStudio in Parallels? How much free space you got after Windows and Mac operating systems?

    2- How is the Windows Phone Emulator performance in parallels?

    3- 13 inch has 1280x800 as logical resolution. Is it enough workspace for you? Have you ever tested resolution scaling (to 1680x1050 preferably)?

    Anyone has opinion can guide me as well. Thanks.

  • CedricGainesCedricGaines USUniversity

    Has anyone use xamarin on a Surface Pro 3 for on the go development. My main machine is a 15 inch MBPR fully kitted out. But I hate lugging it with me (not because it "weighs" sooo much. That's non-sense), but because it is just bigger than the SP3 and when going on short trips, I like to minimized my bag. Has / Is anyone utilizing the SP3 for dev. (I would go with the 8gb, 256gb i5 model).

  • RobBoothRobBooth GBMember


    I don't have the 13" MBPR anymore but still have a 15" MBPR so will give an opinion on both .

    There was a fair bit of space left on the 13" I seem to remember, maybe about 60GB once I had Parallels and Windows on.
    The Phone Emulator ran absolutely fine on the 13. It's very quick on the 15 too.
    The resolution on the 13" MBPR was fine though I found it a little cramped after an hour or so. Moving to a 15" MBPR I've found it a much better experience with a larger screen and keyboard making a real difference.
    The 13" MBP is more than capable if you need the smaller form factor for portability but I think the retina screen is a must, for me at least.

  • CihanCilCihanCil TRMember ✭✭


    Thanks. I think I will go with 13" unless I find a less then one years old used 15" rMBP.

    You see, my reason to choose 13" is mainly the price. I simply can't afford 15". It is good to hear that 13" capable enough. And I plan to overcome the smaller screen problem by scaling resolution manually to 1680x1050 on 13".

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