I am a Windows/Web developer by profession and I have been considering a MacBook Pro as a replacement for my current development machine. I am impressed by the build quality, the uni-body construction and performance specs of the MacBook Pro. I am specifically interested in the 13.3" MacBook Pro running Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz processor with 4 GB RAM.

What I am wondering is this ... what performance can I expect running SQL Server 2008, IIS, and Visual Studio 2010 within a virtual environment (VMWare Fusion and Windows 7) on the above mentioned MacBook Pro?

I like the 13.3" model as the size is more portable, but am I expecting to much from a core 2 duo processor? Would I need to look at the next step up in MacBook Pro using the core i5 processor?


  • 2
    Why use virtualization? You can set up dual booting via Boot Camp and run Windows natively, with much better performance than virtualization would ever be able to give you.
    – hbw
    Apr 19 '10 at 2:52
  • Primarily because I don't want to have to setup email, IM, and other ancillary apps in Windows. By using virtualization I could develop in Windows but quickly switch out to OSX for email and the like. Also by running Windows natively I loose support for the track pad features and battery performance which to me are fairly important.
    – webworm
    Apr 19 '10 at 3:19
  • You can just as easily reboot into OS X for email and the like. You're going to make some sacrifices but the performance hit isn't worth it in my opinion.
    – Josh K
    Apr 19 '10 at 3:26
  • 1
    I'm convinced that the performance hit you take working a whole day in a properly configured VM will not add up to the time lost by even a single reboot.
    – Console
    Apr 19 '10 at 8:20
  • You need more RAM. Been there, done that!
    – hookenz
    Jun 15 '12 at 3:27

I'm a longtime Windows admin/developer/gamer who recently purchased a MacBook Pro - 13", 4GB RAM. Only difference between what I have and what you're looking at is the CPU (mine's 2.2GHz). I've had no issues running VMWare or anything I throw at it. I'm actually VMing my Bootcamp partition. So essentially I have one Windows Bootcamp partition that I've wrapped up in VMWare. That way I can run it when I'm in OSX or boot to it, and I only have one instance of Windows and one set of Windows apps to manage. And to be perfectly honest, the only time I ever need to boot into it directly is for gaming (3D support).

As for performance, Win7 and VS are hogs, so I might consider going with more than 4gb of ram just so you can assign 2-3 to your Windows VM and still have an adequate supply for OSX. Otherwise I see no reason why what you're intending to do won't work. Rebooting back and forth between OSes is a pain - I definitely wouldn't go 100% bootcamp unless it's absolutely necessary.

  • That is great to hear! I didn't even know that I could use the Bootcamp partition as a VM within VMWare. This would allow me to have a single Windows install and the option to use the VM or Bootcamp if I need the performance. Any chance you might have a link that describes how to setup the Bootcamp partition as a VM? Thanks!
    – webworm
    Apr 19 '10 at 15:05
  • VMWare Fusion (this is what I use): kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/… Seems like you might be able to do it with VirtualBox (and maybe Parallels) as well, though there was another discussion on SuperUser that seems to think Fusion is the best of the three.
    – ggutenberg
    Apr 19 '10 at 15:34
  • Fusion is currently the best in my opinion. I'm saving up for my 8GB RAM so I can do this on an iMac.
    – user3463
    Apr 19 '10 at 22:18
  • Setting up VMWare and basecamp so they can be used on the same partition is great advice, and will give you the best of both worlds here.
    – Stephanie
    Jun 15 '12 at 1:58

I wouldn't. I wouldn't touch that setup with a ten foot pole.

If you want to develop like that, partition the hard drive and use Boot Camp. I wouldn't be satisfied with the performance hit you're taking by running, essentially an operating system, an IDE, a web server, and a SQL server, all wrapped up inside VMWare Fusion.

Since you're buying the licences for everything to run, why not install and get the full performance from it?

  • I couldn't disagree more! And I don't even use Fusion, which is supposed to be faster than virtualbox!
    – Console
    Apr 19 '10 at 8:10
  • I'm not sure I understand you, you say you disagree? Why?
    – Josh K
    Apr 19 '10 at 18:00
  • I completely disagree. My Parallels VM on OSX has a Windows Experience index of 5.1. I use VS 2010 16 hours a day with Sql and SharePoint 2010 on the same Virtual, and it performs better then any other machine I have used to date. All this while still using OSX for all my other application as well as gaming. Jan 30 '11 at 14:09
  • I totally disagree too - I've been using Parallels Desktop for about four years and my MBP 13" runs at least as well as the Wintel workstation that sits under my desk at work. I have the same setup on my MacPro too and I've yet to find a Wintel machine that comes anywhere near it for performance. Go for it, you won't regret it.
    – 5arx
    Feb 28 '11 at 12:57

I have a 2009 13" mac, and I have used it for windows-based web development using Virtualbox for almost a year now. It works perfectly. In fact it works so well that it has triggered a paradigm shift for me - I do almost all my work in virtual machines now, even on the windows machine at work.

I often run more than one virtual machine at the same time, and my main development VM has several SQL server instances running. I develop fairly heavy enterprise web applications in VS2008 and I have no problems with the performance. There is a penalty, but I honestly don't feel it is noticeable for web development. I'm sure I could measure it, but in my daily work I never even think about it. What I do think about is that when windowsupdate wants to reboot the VM, I just pop out of it and do something else for a minute. When the corporate antivirus bogs down my main VM, I minimise it and carry on wih something else.

The same VM's I run on the mac run just fine on my windows machine at work too. The convenience of having isolated, portable, easily-cloned machines for different tasks and different setups is just awesome. I would sacrifice a lot more performance than I actually do, just to have that.

The main performance killer is heavy IO, so keep your VM's on a separate physical disk from the host OS if you can and don't let Time Machine or Spotlight do anything on that disk.


I have a MacBook Pro 15" Late 2010. Running an i7, 8GB of RAM and a 500GB 7200rpm drive the performance running Parallels in Coherence is outstanding. My Windows 7 VM reports a Windows Experience Index of 5.1 and I use Visual Studio 2010, SQL Server 2008 R2, and SharePoint 2010 on this machine every day.

I never shutdown the VM unless I am going to be gaming. I can highly recommend a virtual environment on a Mac for day to day development. I even play most Steam games on my VM with reasonable results, so overall I am extremely satisfied with my setup.


I'm surprised that nobody mentioned this, i have a macbook pro 13inch, it's able to handle the vmware just fine.

the only thing that i've notice that goes down really fast is the battery life, so when you're running VM don't expect to get the long battery life that macbook can typically provide.

from my system, i can see that the battery life was cut down by half...

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