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What Mac to buy as an app dev 2020?

lankinen profile image Lankinen ・3 min read

I'm interested to buy a Mac as I need it sometimes when I want to build apps for iOS and now I'm planing to start to learn Swift better as Apple will be releasing the Apple Glasses where I want to develop content. I wrote some thoughts about MacBooks here:

ThinkPad + (Air) MacBook vs. (Pro) MacBook

but in this article I'm do the final decision.

I realized that Mac Mini is also an option to me as I don't need to move the setup anywhere. I'm not considering MacBook Air as I don't believe it to be good enough. The prices are in Euros and for students (normal ~150e more).

Mac Mini (891.56 e)

  • 3,6 GHz 4-core 8. gen Intel Core i3
  • 8 Gt 2666 MHz DDR4
  • 256 Gt SSD

This will probably get 8 years of updates. The RAM is pretty small so it's not good for real use but enough for Xcode and building the apps as I might sometimes do them on my desktop with Unity and then just build them with this.

It's a little bit annoying to hear that the Mac Mini haven't changed since 2018 except they doubled the storage (for the same price if I understand correctly). The last version was from 2012 so I'm not going to wait if there is a new version coming soon but just buy this. It's good enough and probably stays pretty good for 8 years.

MacBook Pro (1,437.16 e)

  • 1,4 GHz 4-core 8. gen Intel Core i5 (Turbo Boost 3,9 GHz)
  • 8 Gt 2133 MHz LPDDR3
  • 256 Gt SSD

When buying a laptop, I'm expecting to use it for other things too than just building stuff and in that kind of usage I wouldn't use this more than 4 years as the components become cheaper and 8Gt of RAM is probably not enough.

MacBook Pro (2,095.60 e)

  • 2,0 GHz 4-core 10. gen Intel Core i5 (Turbo Boost 3,8 GHz)
  • 16 Gt 3733 MHz LPDDR4X
  • 512 Gt SSD

This is good computer I could use for everything. Seems like Apple will support the newest OS for 8 years so that's the life expectancy for this device.


Then what I need the computer for? Basically building stuff for Apple devices but the reason why I'm even considering 2,000 euros laptop is that I might be available to use it other things too and save some money by buying better than cheap + another computer.

In the Thinkpad + (cheap) MacBook vs. (expensive) MacBook article I actually compared MacBook Air + ThinkPad vs. MacBook Pro and the conclusion was that it's better to buy MacBook Pro but Mac Mini is much cheaper than MacBook Air making it maybe better to buy cheap Mac and ThinkPad because I don't need to buy a ThinkPad right now and in two years I might get better than right now with the same amount.

Based on the things I wrote Mac Mini looks the best option because it can last for 8 years (even though I need to buy a laptop at some point) and it's cheap. It seems to be powerful enough for Xcode which is my only requirement. There is also 256 Gt of SSD storage which I can fill with some backups to benefit as much as possible from the purchase.


The next question is that when I should buy it? This is more personal as I'm trying to start iOS app development before I move to Apple Glasses and in my plans I have though something like Autumn. I just don't see any reason to wait for that long as it's not getting any cheaper. That is why I probably should buy it when ever I have time.

I don't want to think about this anymore as I feel like wasting my time. I think based on what I analyzed here, the best option for me is Mac Mini (cheapest).

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Discussion

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I've just upgraded from a 3 year old 13" Macbook Pro (dual dore 2.3Ghz i5, w/8GB RAM) to a new 16" Macbook Pro (eight core 2.4Ghz i9, w/ 32GB RAM).

Wow!

It is an amazing difference. Especially for livestreaming development on Twitch, which is what I use it for. I think one of the big differences in that case, is that the larger case gives it better cooling. Not sure if that would be as much an issue for your usecase.

 

Last year I also upgraded, 2011 single core MBP17 to a 2019 MBP with the eight core 2.4Ghz i9 and 32 gb of ram. My office computer is a 6 core xeon with 32 gb and this laptop can build my whole project in about 50% of the time my work station can, also windows vs macOS so there's that difference as well. Other than the cost I have no issues with the laptop.

On the price point, depending what you are working on/using the computer for you wouldn't have to max it out. Now that I have a remote computer from work (2015 iMac 27" with 4Ghz quad core i7 and 24 GB RAM) and I don't have to work from my laptop when I am remote, it is extremely over powered for what I use it for. My though rational was if I was going to spend that much money I would rather spend a little more and get much more processing power out of it.

 

Thanks for letting me know. To be honest I don't like the price - hardware quality ratio in Apple devices and that is why I just try to buy something as cheap as possible that's good enough. Then I will buy a ThinkPad when I need more powerful laptop. I like ThnkPad most from all non-macos because it's so durable. You can take it to beach, camping, battle zone, or actually anywhere without needing to scare that the screen cracks or the keyboard breaks.