I'm going to be working on some iPhone apps so I've been given a golden ticket to buy a Mac. However the golden ticket isn't worth that much, and I'm thinking iMac. Now, Macs are great, I love 'em and use 'em at home, but I know that the iMac is geared more towards the average consumer than the professional. Is an iMac going to be powerful enough to do iPhone development on?

If it helps any, the only thing I envision doing on the Mac is running XCode and maybe a web browser.

Is there anybody out there doing iPhone development and having trouble running the required tools on their machine? If so, what do you have?

+3  A: 

I run XCode on a 17" iMac (2 yrs old) with 2GB of RAM and haven't had any trouble.

+4  A: 

I run XCode for Mac development on a 20" current-gen iMac and it works perfectly with plenty of other processes running. You can definitely use the iMac to develop software.

Brian Warshaw
+6  A: 

The iMac is a very fast machine and will be more than suitable for iPhone development. In most cases, a Mac Mini with maxed out ram is good enough.

Keep in mind that out of the box, the Mac Mini can only accommodate one monitor.

Kevin Chan
I *thinK* the newest release of the Mac Mini has two video out ports now...
Optimal Solutions
Also, there are USB monitor solutions.
+4  A: 

An iMac is easily powerful enough to use for development work.

John Topley
+5  A: 

My main Mac is a MacBook, juiced with 4GB of RAM, and I find that perfectly good for development (in either Windows or OSX). I could have got an iMac for a bit more money, but I already had a 20" LCD monitor laying around, and I wanted the portability.

The MacBooks are as powerful as the iMacs (excluding the graphics card, which may or may not be important to you; it wasn't to me), and are perfectly suitable for development.

+5  A: 

I run XCode on a current-gen Macbook with only ONE GB of RAM and it runs fine, so long as I limit the amount of total applications running.

Bryan Woods
+5  A: 

I'd say that any of the current iMac models are more that good enough for development with their dual core, 6MB cache, 1066MHz FSB cpus. You might consider going with more than 1GB of ram, but compare aftermarket prices at places like NewEgg to what Apple wants (for example, I upgraded my MacBook Pro to 4GB for hundreds less than getting installed from Apple).

Which model you picked would be more about HD and LCD size and how much you have to spend.

+4  A: 

You aren't gonna have a problem running Xcode on an iMac. Any iMac. Any development project can be done on an iMac. They're fast and modern machines. The cheapest iMac has a Dual Core Duo 2 chip with 1 gig RAM. Boost the RAM to 2 if you can (a cheap option - cheaper if you buy 3rd party RAM). Makes a huge difference running OSX.

Stephen Cox
+16  A: 

Any modern Mac will be fine. I work on a two year old MacBook (2GHz) with 2Gb of memory and its perfectly usable. The biggest constraint I find it screen real-estate. I am way more productive on my 22" external screen. Go big if you get an iMac or consider adding an external monitor to the base model.

Stephen Darlington
there are different LCD panels within the 20" and 24" inch iMac - so be warned and rather get the 24" one as it has a better panel sinde...

As with all development, screen size is paramount so I would suggest the 24" iMac if your golden ticket stretches that far or a mac mini with a large (probably non-Apple) monitor if it doesn't.

Dave Verwer
+3  A: 

In terms of power, any current Mac is fine for iPhone development. You might want to consider other factors that depend on how you like to work.

Do you like to sometimes grab the machine and just get in a different work environment (or show your stuff to people)? The MacBooks are comparable power-wise, but give you that freedom.

Can you work with glossy screens, or do they irritate you? In the latter case, an iMac or MacBook may be suboptimal and you should make sure that you get a larger, non-glossy display as main screen. A second display is generally very helpful for development, so you might want to have one anyway.

And you will indeed want to push RAM to at least 2GB (4GB are nice of course, but not absolutely necessary).

+3  A: 

I would suggest going for a maxed out Mac Mini and the best monitor you can fit in your budget.

Bear in mind that both the iMac and the Mac Mini are essentially laptops (in terms of their internal components). Admittedly, the iMac has a large screen (as laptops go) and a proper hard drive.

+2  A: 

I'm managing just fine on a Mac mini. It only has the stock 1GB RAM at the moment so thats the current bottleneck.

+2  A: 

Developing for the iPhone isn't particularly intensive work, the only way to go up from an iMac is the Mac Pro, which I assume you can't afford. The only reason to go up up to a Mac Pro is if you're doing video or image work where you really need the horsepower.

I saw a chart in MacFormat this month that suggested the base iMac was faster than the base Mac Pro anyway, although obviously there's more room for expansion in the Pro.

Buy more RAM, though, up it to 4Gb you won't regret it.


I often use my PowerMac G5. Sure, you need to hack the developer tools to install on a PPC and there are some Device SDK issues but it runs.

Oh wait, you said "good". Nevermind.

Matt Gallagher

waht about the MacBook Air?.. any suggestions if the mac book air could be used for iphone development?..

curious Larry

Biggest problem I had with the MacBook Air is its single USB port. If you want to charge your iPhone and use multiple USB devices, you need a powered hub, which negates the lightness and portability of the Air.

iPhone development is also possible on Mac Mini with its currently loaded features in the new version. I have collected few user comments on my blog -


The only other comment I have is that sometimes I wish I had the portable so I could code on the train, plane or sitting in the park!

I bought an iMac and have had no problems whatsoever developing my 'simple' app except for the scrolling thingee freezing on me sometimes.


i'm thinking about using Macbook Air, has anybody used it for iphone developer?

--Jani Syed

Jani Syed
+1  A: 

I've bought the mid 2010 Unibody Mac mini and it's a good machine to do iPhone development.

I didn't want to spend a lot of money buying a new computer. So I opted for the bare minimum necessary to develop for iPhone.

The post bellow shows my impressions about it...

Learning to develop for iPhone with a Mac mini

Leniel Macaferi