Ask LH: Which Mac Is Best For An App Developer?

Hey Lifehacker, Just wondering what you think is a better choice for app development: the 13-inch MacBook Air or the 13-inch MacBook Pro? Thanks, MacCode

Picture: Getty Images

Dear MacCode,

I was a long time MacBook Air user and recently switched to a MacBook Pro. When I used the Air, it was a secondary system that I used while travelling. When I was in the office, I ran a 27-inch iMac with a 27-inch Cinema Display as the second screen and a 27-inch Samsung screen as a third display.

When I was faced with a sudden change in my life I needed to downsize and went for a MacBook Pro. The key differentiators for me were the increased storage capacity. Unless you choose a BTO (built to order) option, the MacBook Pro can handle 512GB of storage whereas the MacBook Air maxes out at half that.

The MacBook Pro can also handle twice as much RAM.

If you’re planning to hook up external screens, the MacBook Pro has two Thunderbolt ports and a HDMI output. If you’re planning to demo software with clients or work on multiple displays, this is a very big deal. The MacBook Air skips the HDMI port.

Regardless of which machine you choose, you’ll need to factor in a second display. Dev work on just 13-inches of screen is very tedious.

If your budget can stretch for the extra $600 between the top end MacBook Pro over the MacBook Air – that’s where we’d invest. But if the budget was tight, you’ll probably get by with the Air although I’d still be tipping in some cash for an external screen.


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