I currently use a 2Ghz i7 x 8gb Memory 2013 MacAir. With this I am able to effectively run a windows 8 VM running Visual Studio Professional and other developement apps simultaneously, or Ubuntu and Eclipse with no issues. I get an occasional memory error in windows guest if I have too much open but this is rare.

My laptop is starting to get super beat up. I want to get the new MacBook but am concerned about the less the stellar specs on the CPU. Has anyone ran VM's on this box yet and confirmed that it is capable of such tasks, or are we dealing with a glorified chromebook here ?



Review all but saying that this rig will not run vm's smoothly

8 Answers 8


As far as I know, the new MacBooks as of today have only begun shipping from online orders, so I won't be able to speak from personal experience - but I would be very wary about the MacBook being able to handle intensive tasks like Parallels, especially in tandem with Visual Studio or Eclipse.

Parallels' recommended hardware specs for running Windows 7 include "...an Intel Core 2 Duo, Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, or Xeon processor (Core Solo and Core Duo processors are no longer supported)." The new MacBook has sufficient RAM (8 GB minimum) to fulfill their requirements, but the Core M processor (see the tech specs) will be the issue with running these types of tasks on the MacBook.

Check out the benchmark details here compared to the i7 that you are using currently and you'll see a noticeable difference - Core M running at 1.1GHz which effectively makes it a mobile processor if anything.

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  • 2
    Wow this is very underwhelming Apr 24, 2015 at 5:11
  • I just read this: gizmag.com/12-inch-macbook-vs-13-inch-macbook-pro-retina-2015/… which seems to confirm its doesn't run VM's very well Apr 24, 2015 at 5:12
  • @bumble_bee_tuna I wouldn't expect it to, especially when compared to an MBPr. If you're running developmental tools like you mentioned I can personally vouch for the benefit of investing in a MacBook Pro as your next machine - has lasted me for a while with no complaint and excellent performance.
    – Ethan Lee
    Apr 24, 2015 at 5:15
  • I have a MBPr that I use for database load testing and the like however its a pain to lug around everyday. I use my my air 90% percent of the time with now problem. I'll probably just get the 2014 air. Thanks Apr 24, 2015 at 5:36
  • It runs VMs fine - unless you want to run them in retina modes - then things begin to slow a little. (I have the 8gb mid 2016 12" MacBook) - you'll notice the CPU is about the same speed as a bottom end 2015 Core i5 MacBook PRO. It's generally speaking pretty quick for what it is.
    – niico
    Sep 28, 2016 at 14:48

The machine is slower than a MacBook Air, but definitely capable of running VMs (I remember running VMs on the first generation Intel MacBook - which was never an issue).

Try monitoring CPU usage on your Air to get an idea of how much load you put on your system. If it's frequently on the edge you probably won't be happy with the 12" MacBook. If it's in the lower percentages usually, it should work quite well.

Keep in mind that the MacBook is only available with 8GB of RAM. So if you frequently have issues with RAM usage now, you'll see a lot more of those errors..

  • its not slower than a MacBook Air - its faster than EVERY macbook air - why do people keep saying this?! It's just not true.
    – niico
    Sep 28, 2016 at 14:49
  • FYI I ran VMs on an 11" Air for years with 4Gb RAM - as its SSD there were never RAM issues but it did swap out a ton (I ran Visual Studio & SQL Server on the VM - I was pushing it hard and it was quick).
    – niico
    Sep 28, 2016 at 14:50

It runs parallels absolutely fine, I use it to run autodesk design review on external monitor whilst having Mac running excel on macbook screen, no issues and very pleased that it can do it as well as my 16Gb Ram quad core MBPro.

  • Hi I'm wondering if you can elaborate on the specs as well as what OS your vm's (and allocations) are and the memory and CPU consmption. This would really help allot of us. Thanks Sep 24, 2015 at 18:35

Yes, I'm running vagrant and docker for development and have had no problems so far. I got the 1.3Ghz version with the largest drive.

  • Hi I'm wondering if you can elaborate on the specs as well as what OS your vm's (and allocations) are and the memory and CPU consumption. This would really help allot of us. Thanks Sep 24, 2015 at 18:37

I'm running VMWare on one now, the highest spec one and it's not usable - epic CPU usage in Windows all the time, currently unzipping a file and it's doing it @ 64KB a second! Disk IO is fast, but the brain is so small the Mac part seems to leave nothing for VMWare.

  • 1
    Thanks for your anecdote. What version of Windows are you running? Sep 18, 2015 at 13:21
  • @Neil Hi I'm wondering if you can elaborate on the specs as well as what OS your vm's (and allocations) are and the memory and CPU consmption. This would really help allot of us. Thanks Sep 24, 2015 at 18:37

I use VMWare for school on my MBP on a daily basis and it works just fine. Currently, I am working with 3 "desktops" open:

  • Desktop 1: Stickies, Firefox w/multiple tabs open, & Activity Monitor
  • Desktop 2: VMWare w/SQL Server Mgmt Studio & SQL Server Data Tools
  • Desktop 3: MS Word for Mac

It is not SUPER fast but it is definitely usable with little frustration on my part.

MacBook Pro (Late 2011)

  • Processor: 2.2 GHz Intel Core i7
  • Memory: 8 GB
  • Graphics: Intel HD 3000
  • Storage: 500 GB
  • OS: Yosemite (10.10.5)

VMWare Fusion Pro version 7.1.1

  • OS: Windows 8 - 64-bit
  • Hard Disk: 60 GB (smallest option)
  • Processor: 1 core
  • Memory: 3 GB
  • 1
    He asked about the 12" Macbook, not Macbook Pro..
    – Timo Ernst
    Jun 30, 2016 at 20:54

I am still running a core 2 duo 3.5ghz desktop iMac (late 2009)...running windows 8 and ubuntu in parallels VM.....both windows and ubuntu run OK...cpu mark for my machine is 2.049....for the new macbook its 3.096.

  • good effort, but lacking more details!
    – Ruskes
    May 2, 2015 at 2:21
  • Key phrase is run OK. There is a very big difference between running the OS and running the OS with heavy development suites like Visual Studio and Eclipse, not to mention local DB instances like SQL Server/ MySQL / Oracle etc ... All these things eat memory and CPU for Breakfast May 21, 2015 at 15:49

I just installed virtualbox on a 12 inch macbook, the only problem I saw is the retina display resolution. There are several ways to downsize the screen resolution to 1440x900px (and less for streaming movies on slow internet connections). Google for the following tutorial "setgetscreenres", it will lead you to a small compilable program that allows command-line access to changing the display resolution (which in OS X 10.11.5 is no longer supported in the system preferences). Here are the instructions

Changing display resolution on Retina machines while in Command Line Mode

One can then make the whole thing "clickable" with a shell script command embedded in an apple script application

do shell script "/path/to/script/set1440x900.sh"

or alike.

the script could look like


/path/to/setgetscreenres 1440 900

To get the mac OS retina functionality back, just go to system preferences > display and select any of the options. However, performance of the VM dramatically suffers in full-screen mode, especially when handling graphics-intense tasks.

Otherwise, I can confirm that the linux VM performance of the macbook 12 inch retina is comparable to that of a macbook air 13 inch, both with 8GB RAM.

The option with the unscaled retina display output in virtualbox 5.1 works, however it is not very useful with the standard configuration of desktop environments like xfce4. One needs to adjust fonts and pointer sizes manually and still the aspect is kind of awful. It is easier to use a lower overall resolution and profit from the much better graphics performance. I am certain that there will be improvements on the VBOX side as well as more adapted desktop environments for linux some of which already support these high-res displays.

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