Buying Help for a virtual machine needs

Posted:
in Genius Bar
Apologies in advance for the length and detail but thought better to try and head off follow-up questions doe to lack of data :)

Currently laptop:  13” mid-2012 MB Pro with 2.9 Ghz i5, 4GB  RAM and 500 GB Drive utilizing only 60 GB of data (primarily working data only as I have an NAS with mirrored 2TB drives containing about 1TB of data - mostly music collection and personal pictures).  Generally try to use Apple productivity suite apps but have Office 2011 for Mac due to business use of Word/Excel (Lord Office runs slow on this machine - although this MB has always seemed pretty slow in general compared to the business class i5 Lenovo ThinkPad I was running with a hybrid drive prior to the MB.  Of course the MB is infinitely more stable and I’ve become a fan of the form/function and whole Apple ecosystem over the past several years).  Only other app i use regularly is dBPowerAmp for OSX as part of an ongoing project to transfer a large collection of a few thousand CD’s to a lossless digital archive/music server (use an external CD drive). 

New laptop laptop will mainly used as a business machine as majority of browsing, media, and email is done via ipad mini & iPhone.  Despite future need for Windows based software plan to stick with the Apple ecosystem due to functionality across devices.

New laptop needs: Xactimate 28 (an insurance adjusting/estimatics program) which is Windows based so I’ll have to also install Parallels 12 to facilitate the Windows virtual (insurance professionals are generally pretty old school so due to legacy systems but I do know of some people running older versions Parallels/Windows and Xactimate on MB’s.   While there will be no real photo editing I will import e a large number of images into the Xactimate files as well as some 2D building sketches/floor plans.

Here are the recommended requirements the for the Xactimate 28 software (which as indicated above will be running on a virtual windows machine using Parallels):
  • Processor: A dual core processor 
  • Video Card: Open GL 2.0-compatible graphics with 512 MB of VRAM 
  • Memory: 4 GB of RAM or more 2 GB of RAM
  • Hard Drive: 10 GB of continual free space is recommended to run Xactimate.
  • Monitor resolution set at 1280x900 or higher.
  • Require IE or Chrome
Definitely going with the 512GB SSD regardless of machine I choose as I don’t see any need for a larger working drive and with the savings by forgoing the 1TB I can pay for Parallels and Windows, or certainly justify adding another NAS down the road if needed.  Definitely think I’ll go with 16GB RAM either way (unless the consensus is that it’s just overkill) as it seems like a cheap upgrade to ensure plenty of RAM for the virtual machine as well as some future proofing. 

Leaning towards a 15” due to the added screen real estate (in a form factor not much larger than my current 2012 13” MB), but may still go with a 13” if there is no real benefit to the i7/GPU cost given my needs.

Questions I would appreciate thoughts on:
  1. Screen real estate aside is there any real technical benefit in my case to the 15” with its i7 and GPU?
  2. If I should not really need the GPU benefits does the GPU actually provide performance cons vs. just going with a 13” i5?
  3. At the end of the day which model/specs should i be focusing on?
  4. MC Office or Office 365? Anticipate still using OS mail app instead of Outlook. I may be in the field frequently working from my vehicle without reliable internet - unless I tether to my mobile data. I’ve heard that 365 may be better to avoid needing to get both Office for MAC and MS Office for the virtual? But, perhaps with Paralles I can just go with Office for MAC and then store my documents to share between OS and Windows?
Thanks in advance for your input!

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 2
    nhtnht Posts: 3,423member
    Apologies in advance for the length and detail but thought better to try and head off follow-up questions doe to lack of data :)

    Currently laptop:  13” mid-2012 MB Pro with 2.9 Ghz i5, 4GB  RAM and 500 GB Drive utilizing only 60 GB of data (primarily working data only as I have an NAS with mirrored 2TB drives containing about 1TB of data - mostly music collection and personal pictures).  Generally try to use Apple productivity suite apps but have Office 2011 for Mac due to business use of Word/Excel (Lord Office runs slow on this machine - although this MB has always seemed pretty slow in general compared to the business class i5 Lenovo ThinkPad I was running with a hybrid drive prior to the MB.  Of course the MB is infinitely more stable and I’ve become a fan of the form/function and whole Apple ecosystem over the past several years).  Only other app i use regularly is dBPowerAmp for OSX as part of an ongoing project to transfer a large collection of a few thousand CD’s to a lossless digital archive/music server (use an external CD drive). 

    New laptop laptop will mainly used as a business machine as majority of browsing, media, and email is done via ipad mini & iPhone.  Despite future need for Windows based software plan to stick with the Apple ecosystem due to functionality across devices.

    New laptop needs: Xactimate 28 (an insurance adjusting/estimatics program) which is Windows based so I’ll have to also install Parallels 12 to facilitate the Windows virtual (insurance professionals are generally pretty old school so due to legacy systems but I do know of some people running older versions Parallels/Windows and Xactimate on MB’s.   While there will be no real photo editing I will import e a large number of images into the Xactimate files as well as some 2D building sketches/floor plans.

    Here are the recommended requirements the for the Xactimate 28 software (which as indicated above will be running on a virtual windows machine using Parallels):
    • Processor: A dual core processor 
    • Video Card: Open GL 2.0-compatible graphics with 512 MB of VRAM 
    • Memory: 4 GB of RAM or more 2 GB of RAM
    • Hard Drive: 10 GB of continual free space is recommended to run Xactimate.
    • Monitor resolution set at 1280x900 or higher.
    • Require IE or Chrome
    Definitely going with the 512GB SSD regardless of machine I choose as I don’t see any need for a larger working drive and with the savings by forgoing the 1TB I can pay for Parallels and Windows, or certainly justify adding another NAS down the road if needed.  Definitely think I’ll go with 16GB RAM either way (unless the consensus is that it’s just overkill) as it seems like a cheap upgrade to ensure plenty of RAM for the virtual machine as well as some future proofing. 

    Leaning towards a 15” due to the added screen real estate (in a form factor not much larger than my current 2012 13” MB), but may still go with a 13” if there is no real benefit to the i7/GPU cost given my needs.

    Questions I would appreciate thoughts on:
    1. Screen real estate aside is there any real technical benefit in my case to the 15” with its i7 and GPU?
    2. If I should not really need the GPU benefits does the GPU actually provide performance cons vs. just going with a 13” i5?
    3. At the end of the day which model/specs should i be focusing on?
    4. MC Office or Office 365? Anticipate still using OS mail app instead of Outlook. I may be in the field frequently working from my vehicle without reliable internet - unless I tether to my mobile data. I’ve heard that 365 may be better to avoid needing to get both Office for MAC and MS Office for the virtual? But, perhaps with Paralles I can just go with Office for MAC and then store my documents to share between OS and Windows?
    Thanks in advance for your input!
    Yes, 16 GB is recommended even if you don't need it now given you replace laptops every 5 years.

    1. Not really. The 13" Core i5 should be fine given none of your apps are CPU intensive. 
    2. Not really. The 13" should be fine given none of your apps are GPU intensive.
    3. The 13" MBP Core i5 with 16 GB gives you TB3 which provides more futureproofing for you over the MacBook or MBA. Whether up opt for touchbar is up to you.
    4. A Office 360 subscription should also provide the desktop apps for offline use. I've heard that sometimes it forgets that you have a subscription and forces you to connect more than the once every 30 days it should but if you can tether you should be able to fix this even in the field.  If you let your subscription lapse then the apps go into read only mode.

    I prefer the standalone desktop apps but YMMV.
  • Reply 2 of 2
    Thanks for the input, I appreciate your response!  Definitely going the MBP route over MB or MBA, considering maybe a refurb unit but will probably go new at the end of the day since I tend to keep my laptops for awhile.
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