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I'm in the market for a new Mac notebook, and I really like the form factor of the 13" MacBook Air, as I'll be biking with it every day. I currently have the 2009 15" MacBook Pro, which is powerful but too heavy. I will either get a 13" MacBook Pro or a 13" MacBook Air. My question is, will the MBA be enough to use as a development machine running a full LAMP stack in a VM, or will I need to get the MBP? Specs and prices:

13" MacBook Air:

  • 2.13 GHz Core 2 Duo
  • 4GB RAM
  • 256GB SSD
  • 1440x900 px
  • $1,907.00 (including external USB SuperDrive and Ethernet adapters)

13" MacBook Pro:

  • 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo
  • 8GB RAM
  • 320GB 5400RPM
  • 1280x800 px
  • $1,899.00

So, essentially the same price, but the MBP gets better CPU and RAM, while the MBA gets a much faster HD and more screen resolution, the same as the 15" MBP (crazy, right?). The benchmarks I've seen so far indicate that the MBA feels much faster than the MPB for everyday tasks, due to the SSD, but for hardcore use like Photo & Video editing, the MBP wins out.

My question: for LAMP development in a VM (Slackware with LAMP stack), is the bottleneck CPU + RAM or disk I/O? Parsing lots of PHP files and executing them seems to indicate disk I/O. Also running TextMate, FF+Firebug, Chrome, iTunes.

Thank you for suggestions! I really want the MacBook Air, it's so sexy.

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closed as off topic by Sathya, Arjan, Diago Dec 17 '10 at 21:22

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1 Answer

I presume you mean 4GB and 8GB or RAM, instead of 4MB and 8MB?

You should be more than OK for running VM's on a MBA or MBP. Bear in mind the size of the keyboard with a MBA, Mac's are also know to get hot while running cpu-intensive tasks such as VMs and wanting one because it's sexy? Well, I don't blame you but spending $1900+ on a laptop is pretty excessive in my mind (unless it's not your money).

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Indeed! You could a regular laptop with a faster CPU for 500... but hey, I think Apple lovers mainly go for the brand and all. Though I must admit that size and weight do matter. But if you are using this laptop always in three different - but fixed and safe - locations, why not buy three regular laptops and keep them where they are? You could just carry your files around on a thumbdrive. And still be saving money. Just saying. –  Cerberus Dec 16 '10 at 12:42
    
Yes, whoops, GB not MB. These are not the dark ages. Keyboard size is a good point to look into. As far as price, it's not my money, it's my employer's, and as indicated above, the MBA doesn't cost any more than a maxed out 13". Heck, my coworkers are getting maxed out 17" MBPs, which is in the $3000+ range, so I feel relatively modest with this. Re: getting 3 different laptops and carrying around files on a thumbdrive -- you must be kidding. –  frontendbeauty Dec 18 '10 at 1:07
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