I'm a developer working with Windows. I have some cutomers who are interested in iPhone Apps, so I'm looking for a Mac right now. The problem is, that I have no clue at all about what to buy.

I don't want to use the Mac as my primary machine, I just want do to the coding on it. So it doesn't need to be that powerful I guess. So what would you recommend? New or used ...

Does the Mac work with my USB Keyboard/Mouse? Does it work with my monitor with DVI port? Do I need adapters or completely new Hardware?

I read somewhere that I need an Intel CPU. Is this true?


The current low level Mac Mini with an upgrade to 4GB memory is probably the best bang for your buck. That's what I have except with 8GB; got my memory from Amazon for $130, cheaper than Apple memory. It's a very capable machine. If you use a lot of programs simultaneously, the standard 2GB is kinda cramped, but 4GB would do fine; it just seemed like a good deal for 8GB and I use more than your average number of apps simultaneously and lots of Safari tabs.

The new MacMini is much nicer than the 2009's. I know this because I had one before this one; with 2GB of course :).

You're gonna love OS X by the way. Don't be surprised if you ditch Windows in a year.

About your specific questions:

  1. Any current Mac has an Intel CPU. Apple switched from PowerPC back in 2006 and yes you need one, but you don't want a computer that old anyway!

  2. Just about any keyboard or mouse will work fine with OS X. If you are using some kind of fancy mouse or keyboard, then you'll probably will need some third party software to get all those custom parts working, but all the standard parts will work; left click, right click, scroll wheel, cursor control etc. There is a chance however that there is no OS X equivalent of the third party software you may be using.

  3. Finally, Macs work with standard monitors and even regular modern TV's with DVI, VGA, HDMI inputs (virtually all of them do). The most you'll ever need is a common adapter found at Best Buy, Apple Store etc.

  • 1
    Go with 8 GB, particularly if you are doing Dev Work. The additional headroom comes in handy when you have lots of stuff open.
    – Fake Name
    Feb 3 '11 at 8:51
  • The only thing against this advice is that you can't take your dev environment on the road for debugging, etc. Feb 5 '11 at 0:15
  • @HandyRandy: I'm so used to dual monitor, I wonder if mini mac supports dual screen?
    – Chan
    Nov 23 '11 at 16:59

Any current mac would work just fine. Just pick the form factor you like best at the price you are willing to pay.

I use a mac mini for iphone development and it works fine with all my standard peripherals (monitor, keyboard & mouse). I had to get an adapter for the monitor.

  • Okay, thank you so far! Would it work with a Power Mac G5 for example? What OS version do I need?
    – mseo
    Feb 1 '11 at 3:11
  • 1
    @mseo - a PowerMac G5 is not a current Mac. Apple introduced PowerMacs in 2003, and discontinued them in 2006. The current equivalent is the Mac Pro, but that's probably more machine than you need.
    – Dori
    Feb 1 '11 at 4:05
  • 1
    To support the latest version of iOS you need snow leopard. Feb 1 '11 at 6:12

I completely disagree with all Mac Mini suggestions.

Get a macbook. Used or new, depends on what you prefer. Or better yet - get the Air which is same price than the macbook.

Today a new mini is U$300 cheaper than both the notebooks (which goes for U$999) but you don't have to deal with keyboards, mouses and above all lack of battery. Any computer without a nobreak is a break dealer for developing, from my point of view. Adding all that plus the space used, power consumption and convenience we can easily sum up to macbook being a lot more worth it. Plus, with the air, the SSD makes it worth even a lot more.

The mini is good as a home server or any kind of dedicated machine. Never as a desktop nor to have frequent user input - even if it can be set up for such just like any messy PC.

Anyway, I'm a long time PC user, I never dropped windows or PC, but if you're going to develop to mac, please, go all in. Learn to enjoy the apple way, to hate it as well, and make that software really a Mac OS one, not a ported piece that doesn't fit in. There are many, many nuances to a true software made for mac that can make the difference for your software being successful on the apple market.

You can even use bootcamp to install windows on it if you wish, but like everyone else said, as a developer you are going to fall in love for the mac OS and the amazing hardware (which won't happen if you go Mini).

  • 4
    There have been several discussions about which Mac to buy for beginning iOS development on the various SE sites and the Mac Mini is the favorite choice by far. Even a Mac Mini has more upgradeable parts than an Air. Just the screen sizes on the Air alone would make software development of reasonable complexity more difficult than it needs to be. Feb 1 '11 at 15:39
  • @Philip nothing keeps you to get an external monitor and keyboard and everything else on the notebook if you will, but you can't take the mini or the iMac on your lap and do some work wherever you go. It sure is a matter of taste in the end and I am just surprised nobody mentioned all the advantages we can get by going "mobile". But from my point of view, screen size is the only considerable downside! :P
    – cregox
    Feb 2 '11 at 1:56
  • 2
    @Everybody The Mac Mini simply packs the most power for the buck of any Mac on the market right now. For $300 less than a MBA you will get a 2x faster processor and bigger HDD and more RAM, better graphics, et cetera. Feb 2 '11 at 7:35
  • @SeniorShizzle what's the point of bigger HDD and 2x faster processor for developing? I vow for SSD.
    – cregox
    Feb 2 '11 at 15:37
  • 1
    A portable Mac gives you the ability to debug location-based problems, for example "are we there yet?" apps. Feb 5 '11 at 0:14

Honestly any Mac on the market right now (that is currently being sold by Apple) will do you just fine. Choose based on price, honestly. I would not, however, recommend a Macbook Air if you're not going to be using it like a regular computer. Your best option would probably be a Mac Mini, which has an Intel CPU and plenty of speed and compatibility for what you're trying to do. They are a lot cheaper than alternative Macs, and you can use them with your preexisting monitor/mouse/keyboard setup. This is really nice if you buy one of those little switcher things that allows you to use a single monitor/mouse/keyboard setup with two or more computers. The Mac Mini will work with a DVI port, and if the model you purchase doesn't support DVI on the box, Apple sells a $20 adapter that'll get you what you need cheaply.

In summary, Mac Mini is the way to go, imho. The next best option is an iMac, which you might like better (it has a more "Mac" experience which I guarantee you'll fall in love with).


Agree with the Mac Mini suggestions but just to let you know, if you want a laptop, there'll be no problems either. I have successfully developed 4 apps on a 2009 white Macbook with no issues (I did max out the memory to 4Gig and replace the 120Gb hard drive with a 500Gb one though.)

  • I did exactly the same thing, but only later in the game. 2 gig and 120gb were quite enough for developing. Problem was also using it as my only personal computer.
    – cregox
    Feb 6 '11 at 16:02
  • @Cawas Same reasons for the upgrade myself.
    – gnuchu
    Feb 17 '11 at 13:21

I would go wit the Mac Mini first and hook up my keyboard and monitor to that and would use Remote Desktop to connect to my Windows PC.


I think for practical reasons you want to use a Mac that has a display large enough to display the entire iPhone4 (or iPad) simulator. It is annoying when you have to move the simulator window up and down on the display to see what's there.

You also need a USB port to sync between a real iPhone or iPad and the development machine.

Any of the machines that Apple sells will run the developer tools (Xcode) admirably, but do a little homework to see how many pixels you need to display the simulator (and the other tools) comfortably. Most of the developers I know use multiple displays, and so tend to use machines that allow you to hook up a second or even a third display. I am using a 4 year-old MacBook Pro 17".


I just started iOS development and bought a Mac Mini, it's actually pretty powerful for such a small machine. I did upgrade to 4 gigs of ram though.

  • @Dori, my comment link was not spam it was a relavent link to a post that addresses the topic question at hand from someone who was recently in the same position of early iOS development as the topic creator.
    – user3513
    Feb 28 '11 at 4:20

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