Matt RaibleMatt Raible is a Web Architecture Consultant specializing in open source frameworks.

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Over 10 years ago, I wrote my first blog post. Since then, I've authored books, had kids, traveled the world, found Trish and blogged about it all.

A New 17" Powerhouse

Yummy On my current project, we're using SQL Server as the backend database. To make this work on my MacBook Pro, I have to run Parallels in the background. While this setup works, it does have issues. The main problem is things slow down a fair amount when running two operating systems. Last week (or was it two weeks ago?), Parallels came out with their latest release, which includes a Coherence mode. If you're a Mac user, I highly recommend this software. It basically lets you run Windows and OS X at the same time, all integrated into the same screen, which the same dock and everything. It's really slick the first time you see it in action.

After working in this mode for a few days, I knew it was the perfect programming platform for me. I tend to use Windows and OS X each 50% of the time, so having them both running side-by-side rocks. But as I worked, I thought to myself, "I need more RAM and more real estate". It seems liked a no-brainer: it was time to upgrade to the 17" MacBook Pro - with all the performance goodies I could get. Against Ben's advice, I bought a new 17" MacBook Pro last week. 3 GB RAM and the fastest disk they had (100 GB 7200 RPM version). Sure, it'd be great to have more disk space, but I'm not going to give up speed for space. If this bad boy really is 40% faster than my current MBP, life is going to be very good.

Of course, my real reason for getting a new laptop was because Julie dropped her PowerBook a couple months ago. I was going to spend $1000 to get it fixed, but it didn't seem like a worthwhile investment. Julie's renovating a new house, so with me working from home, it can get contentious for her trying to get some computer time. So she needed a new laptop. She mentioned she wanted to buy a PC laptop. I shrieked when I heard this and knew I had to buck up and get a new one so she could have my MBP that runs Windows. Did this reasoning work with her? No, not at all. However, when she gets a new computer later this evening, I'm willing to bet she'll be pretty pumped. ;-)

I'll try to post some performance comparisons this evening after I get it all setup.

Update: It's gonna be a while before I can post any performance comparisons. I got the box setup thanks to Apple's "import from another box" feature. However, I'm wwaaaayyyy behind on a lot of commitments, so I'm scrambling to catch up. With any luck, I'll post something this weekend.

Posted in Mac OS X at Mar 13 2007, 10:20:35 AM MDT 11 Comments

You lucky b@@*** !!

Posted by Grego on March 13, 2007 at 10:49 AM MDT #

Let me know what you find - I just did something similar, but with a twist: went from a 2GB/7200RPM Core Duo MBP to a 3GB/5400RPM Core 2 Duo MBP. The disk speed doesn't seem to be an issue, since I'm not really doing sustained large file transfers, and the seek time on both disks is the same. But I'd love to see your analysis on where it ends up.

Posted by Patrick Lightbody on March 13, 2007 at 11:07 AM MDT #

Just sold my G4 PB and am waiting to see if they revise the 15" MBP with the LED displays for power savings. For a contractor/consultant like yourself who travels a bit, I don't see how you manage to pull that 17" out on a plane. My 15" wasn't exactly ideal when sitting in economy. Oh and 40%?! That sounds a bit overzealous but good luck.

Posted by Wayland Chan on March 13, 2007 at 12:24 PM MDT #

Wayland - I expect they'll come out with new laptops in June and then I'll be kicking myself. As far as 15" vs. 17", I've had both and while the 15" is nice for traveling - traveling in general sucks. Now I have another excuse to avoid it. ;-)

If you can believe this, 6 months go, I took Julie's 17" into the shop to get a new keyboard. While it was there, they gave it a full cleanup. For some reason, I fell in love with huge screen all over again and have been longing for a 17" ever since. If you've had a 17 and you go to 15, you probably know the feeling.

The beauty of buying two laptops w/in a year (I received my last one on February 23, 2006) is I can always leave my 17" with the wife and take hers on the road. My 15" still rocks, I just need more horsepower. ;-)

Posted by Matt Raible on March 13, 2007 at 12:39 PM MDT #

If you want fast disk just do RAID 0 across a couple drives. You get essentially linear speedup, ie 4 drives is 4x faster (with ttmf roughly 4x lower...).

Posted by Alonso on March 13, 2007 at 07:32 PM MDT #

Hope you enjoy your new purchase. I had a friend that got the 7200 RPM hard drive and he said it made the laptop much hotter. I've got the 2.16ghz core 2 duo with 2 gigs of ram. I currently am running Firefox, thunderbird, adium, itunes, parallels, intellij, xcode, an instance of tomcat, Skype, terminal, mysql, and navicat. And I still have 600megs of ram available. It doesn't feel sluggish at all. I've only allocated 144MB ram for parallels as I was told my computer will take a performance hit if I do more. Even with 144mb ram windows is still very zippy. The worst thing going on in my system right now is parallels is using up 25% of my cpu. It used to be less with the older versions of parallels. Anyway have fun with your new toy.

Posted by Darren Salomons on March 14, 2007 at 05:24 AM MDT #

I can post my experience - I just got my 3GB upgrade and it is like night and day. Running IDEA + Parallels + Safari + iTunes is now actually possible. Matt - I'm sure you'll be very happy with the difference.

Posted by Patrick Lightbody on March 15, 2007 at 10:05 AM MDT #

I concur with Patrick , with 4G ram, have not seen the beach ball (or as I call it: The Spinning Wheel of Death) in a while. Quicksilver, IDEA, Netbeans, FF, Safari, Resin, iTunes and Parallels all humming away happily. No spotlight thought, nothing could make me turn that back on.

Hardware Overview:

  Model Name:	MacBook Pro
  Model Identifier:	MacBookPro3,1
  Processor Name:	Intel Core 2 Duo
  Processor Speed:	2.4 GHz
  Number Of Processors:	1
  Total Number Of Cores:	2
  L2 Cache (per processor):	4 MB
  Memory:	4 GB
  Bus Speed:	800 MHz 

P.S. These math questions are tough.

Posted by Vincent Stoessel (GhettoJava) on July 19, 2007 at 01:11 AM MDT #

Its been a year. I'm in the market for either new a windows or mac laptop and thought I'd check in on how you still like your setup. Since you still need windows, what advantages do you like about working in mac world?

Posted by Ron on February 28, 2008 at 09:29 AM MST #

I no longer still need Windows - I've gone fully Mac now. However, I still have a Windows box that I keep around and I have Parallels when I need to do testing on IE. I couldn't be happier. Currently, I use a 15" MacBook Pro with 4 GB RAM to do most of my development. I recommend Macs to all my friends. It works for some, doesn't for others. I would choose whatever you think you can be most productive with. If you're a long-time Windows user, you might not want to switch unless you have a Unix background.

Posted by Matt Raible on February 29, 2008 at 07:44 AM MST #

[Trackback] Someone referenced this post to answer question "Is upgrading RAM or the Processor a better investment?"...

Posted by Copious-Systems on December 01, 2010 at 01:50 PM MST #

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