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I plan to replace my old MacBook with a new MacBookPro or Air but I am not exactly sure what I need. I work as a windows software developer so I need to run Windows with Visual Studio 2010. I am very sure this is no problem on any new machine and Bootcamp but I would like to run my windows only in a virtual machine. So I will be working with Visual Studio while still be able to use all the OSX tools the same time.

Is a MacBookAir powerful enough to do that?

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closed as off topic by bmike, Nathan Greenstein Oct 3 '11 at 13:52

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Subjectively - you might not be happy, but any mac with 2G of RAM can run both OS X and Windows - you will get your work done. You also will be able to run enough apps to cause RAM pressure and swapping which even on an SSD is less than ideal. – bmike Sep 30 '11 at 18:00
Welcome to Ask Different! Hardware recommendation ("let's go shopping") questions are off-topic for this site. Please take a look at the FAQs for more info. Thanks. – Nathan Greenstein Oct 3 '11 at 13:52

With 4GB of RAM max, an Air would work, but you'd get tremendously better performance with 8GB in a Pro (ideally with an SSD).

I upgraded my Mid 2010 2.4GHz i5 to 8GB and an OWC 120GB SSD, and Windows (XP and 7) VMs under VMware Fusion 3 are much, much more responsive, along with the rest of the system.

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I concur. 4GB RAM, total, is not nearly enough to run OS X and Windows 7 in a virtual machine, unless you are willing to put up with the Windows virtual machine running quite slowly. – user9290 Sep 30 '11 at 18:17

I'm hoping the next model of Air's will be able to handle more than 4GB. This is especially key with VM's. The SSD is such an awesome upgrade to any machine. Apple has a great return policy, so I'd get the Air and try it out for a week or so and then return it for the Pro if it doesn't work out.

Don't forget that VMware just released version 4 and it's better than ever!

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Not to get OT but did you create new VMs for Fusion 4, or did you just upgrade and use your existing ones? – da4 Oct 3 '11 at 13:40
Both. I created a new one for OS X (since 3 didn't support it). My existing 7x64 is erroring out and VM says its a known issue. I loaded up a fresh XP, though. – Bradley Chambers Oct 4 '11 at 13:11

If you can develop on a Windows PC with 2 GB of memory, than a VM on a MacBook with 4GB should work just fine. A MacBook Air with its standard built-in SSD will most likely compile/build noticeably faster than a MacBook Pro or Windows laptop with just a stock HD. And there seem to be lots of software developers (Mac, Windows, linux, iOS, etc. development) using MacBook Airs recently.

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The Air is powerful, and the SSD does make it feel way faster than any Macbook Pro without SSD, however, I'd recommend you get a Macbook Pro with 8GB of RAM and then add a cheap SSD. I have an 11'' Air upgraded to the i7 1.8 & 256 GB SSD and it's way faster than the Macbook Pro 13'' with same ram (4gb) and a regular hard drive. Both were new machines, but the SSD is godsend.

That said, Parallels and VMware are not memory friendly, you need ram… lots of RAM. on the Mac Pro with 10 GB (and also SSD) things are super fast, but on a constrained machine like the AIR you might be in troubles (despite the SSD mitigation).

The best you can do is get one and try it.

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