I am a freelancer programmer and so far I have only worked on projects on Windows platform. I don't have much idea about OS X hardware. I am not looking for a very high end configuration but integrated development environment and one database server should just run fine. I have a Dell laptop i7 processor, 8 GB RAM, 1 TB HDD; I am fairly satisfied with the performance. I am mainly going to use it for app development and not for any rich graphics app development.

What are the minimum and recommended hardware requirements for Xcode development on OS X?

  • If you're not going to use Storyboard and just use code, then you can use any Apple laptops. But if you're going to use Storyboard buy yourself a MacPro 6 Core or higher. I have a MacBook Air mid 2012, SSD, 8GB, 2Ghz Intel Core i7, Intel HD Graphics 4000 1536 MB. And I have an app that has 100 plus view controllers and it run Xcode very slow. It take for ever for me to update the damn app. – Rogelio Aug 29 '16 at 5:05
  • I'd appreciate answers about minimum requirements as asked in the question, with actual experience instead of people making opinion type recommendations. Apple doesn't come out and say it anywhere apparently (I searched) and sadly none of the answers here are addressing it. For example, only write an answer if you've pushed it down to 2GB and found it was unacceptable etc. etc.. – LMSingh Nov 14 '17 at 12:21

Being a programmer myself, I think screen size and amount of memory are the most important factors to consider. The processors and graphic chips of all current MacBooks will be sufficient for this kind of work, although the MacBook Airs come standard with an Intel i5 processor, which can be upgraded to an i7 for a small price.

Memory: MacBook Airs come standard with 4 GB, which I think is not enough. They all have the option to upgrade to 8 GB though. The 13" MacBook Pros come with 8 GB standard, with 16 GB as an option. The 15" MacBook Pros have 16 GB standard.

For screen size, I like to have lots of it to do development work. Unfortunately, Apple stopped selling 17" laptops some years ago. On the other hand, almost all MacBook Pros now come with a Retina display, which means they have a much higher resolution for the same screen size. If you are comfortable working with smaller font sizes, you can switch to a "more space" option in the display settings, which gives you lots of screen real estate. You can choose between 13" and 15" MacBook Pros, but the 15" models are Apple's top of the line, so they might be costlier than what you're looking for. The MacBook Airs don't have Retina displays, and they come in 11" and 13" models.

A last point to look out for is disk size. All MacBooks, except for the 13" MacBook Pro without Retina display, come with an SSD. But with the cheaper models it's just 128 GB. On all MacBook Air models you have the option to pick up to 512 GB, and up to 1 TB on the MacBook Pros.

I suggest you go to the online Apple store for your country, and customize a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro to your liking and within your budget. Welcome to the Apple development world!


You can use all the laptops from Apple for Xcode development, so choose one that fit in your budget.

Any used Mac that can run 10.10 will really suffice to get started. From there you can measure things and decide how much $$ to spend to speed up the work you care to.

Although it is not a laptop you should also look at the Mac-mini, the $499 cost is much lower than a laptop. I am using a Mac-mini for xcode development and use a Mac-pro for my daily work. Having a separate development platform lets me always keep it clean of personal accounts and data and apps.

  • +1 Although I'll indicate that having as much memory as fits your budget is a big help when compiling and debugging. – Geoff Hutchison Nov 23 '14 at 6:03

Im working with Apple hardware for 4 years now, I started with an i5 MBP which I upgraded with an SSD and 8 GB of RAM. I come from Linux and the times I used Windows is for programming is hard to remember. I was so satisfied with its performance that I got hooked on OSX.

Screen size is defenitely an issue when working seriously as a programmer. I waited for the MBP with thunderbolt output and along the way ultimately configured my setup with two 27" ACD's with an MBP i7, 8 GB RAM and 256 GB SSD late 2013.

My backup is a MBP i5, 4 GB RAM and 256 SSD early 2014, and i can say for starters the i5 will do but i would not prefer an Air.

I can only say that performance differences is notable, but for a startup, the MBP i5 surely does the job for less ;)

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