iOS Question For Local Builder: What Mac mini to get?


Licensed User
I'm thinking of getting a mac to use for local builder, Apple Configurator 2 and real iPhones (not simulator). The mac will only ever be used to compile B4i projects, absolutely nothing else.

I imagine it will make the whole cycle of code -> compile -> test -> repeat go noticeably faster and smoother than using the hosted builder. Is that a fair assumption?

For this I'm thinking I should buy a Mac mini. Here are the three currently available options:

I'm thinking the smallest one is still plenty fast for this task? And that I wouldn't gain a whole lot by getting the most powerful Mac mini. Is that a fair assumption?

Should I customize the Mac mini in any way? Would it make a lot of sense to upgrade the memory to 16GB? (I imagine it wouldn't.) Would make a lot of sense to upgrade storage? (Again, I imagine not.)

Also, as a sanity check, can somebody please confirm that a Mac mini actually works fine for my intended purpose? It seems obvious that it should, but I've seen at least one thread where there's been some issues.

Alexander Stolte

Licensed User
Longtime User
Glad to hear it. Does that mean you have a setup that looks a bit like the one I described?
Well, only almost.
M1 Pro with 32GB RAM.

When I looked at how much ram I was using, I was at 16gb, but also had a few tabs open in chrome and a windows 11 VM.

So far I have never had any performance problems.
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Longtime User
I have been using a Mac Mini 2018 (3.6 Gz, 8GB ram) and it's plenty fast enough.
From another Thread, it seems Erel was using the same model last year.
I don't find the Apple Configurator 2 to be helpful and means my phone now has to be physically tied to the mac via USB cable during development.
I regard it as a retrograde step.
I'd really like the Local Mac Builder to be able to go back to over the air install/debug like the remote builder can.
I don't really find it faster than remote building and you have the added hassle of keeping the local builder up to date, add extra libraries, etc.
NB my app is a 5.8MB IPA file (3.7MB APK) with media downloaded from internet so that might affect the process of transferring an app to the mac and compiling time.
Minor amendments with the run-time re-compile are pretty instant.

While my mac and pc plug into a Denon AV receiver and the keyboard/mouse are on a usb switch, I can move between both relatively easily.
In reality, for day-to-day debugging, I use Chrome Remote Desktop to "see" the Mac build success in a terminal and the simulator appearing. So, you don't need to have the mac easily wired up. Just powered on and networked (best wired-ethernet).

The only key advantage (other than a bigger project if that's an issue for you) is debugging on Simulators and getting screenshots for the appstore.
I don't see any advantage for debugging on physical devices and with Apple Configurator 2, that device needs to be physically attached.
I do screenshots on an iPhone 8 plus and iPhone 12 Pro Max via the simulator and that provides all the sizes the appstore needs to show for every phone version.
Also, I have to cope with users with IOS 12.5 (pre webp graphics). NB although the simulator claims to be able to run many combinations of IOS/phone, the IOS 12.5 simulator has bugfixes that are not present on a proper phone so nothing like getting a hand-me-down and turning off auto-updates for IOS.

I would not get more memory or disk as Apple charge £££ and the basic is enough.

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I was hoping to end up with a clear yes or no, but as most things in life it seems this is a grayscale. I think I'll pause this purchase for the time being and perhaps instead revisit it in the future.
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go noticeably faster and smoother than using the hosted builder.
Even though I have a MacBook, I still go for the Hosted Builder. It is faster.

Even though I am not earning for the past few months, I decided and just renew my B4i license with Hosted Builder. I don't think it is expensive. Why we pay monthly for Internet but can't afford extra $26 for Hosted Builder? (if we do the math, it just $2.17 per month or $0.07 per day) Instead of donating to B4X, why not purchase the hosted builder as a sign of supporting B4X?

Why I said hosted builder is faster?
Since my only Internet source is from the Mobile broadband in my iPhone, normally I will share the network using Hotspot. If I use local Mac then I also need to boot it up, run the Terminal and type in the command to run B4iBuildServer with a shared IP. The MacBook is using more electricity too.

With hosted builder, I don't need to do all this. Just open a B4i project and run debug. The hosted builder performance when compiling the app is faster compare to my local machine with Core i7 and 16GB RAM.

When I use a Mac:
1. Building and testing B4J app on Mac OS (for B4XPages or Cross platform UI app)
2. My hosted builder expired

Edit: Another benefit of using hosted builder is I don't need to bother about updating the library for local builder and getting errors. Hosted Builder is always working without need to worry about what libraries are not up to date. For example, the Facebook or Firebase libraries.

Edit2: After reading this post, I can think of another benefit is you don't need to "cry" if your Mac is too old to support the latest XCode. As I am using a second hand old MacBook, one day my machine may not able to run the latest MacOS. This is not happen with Hosted Builder since Erel always offer the Hosted Builder that "just work!" using the new hardware and latest version of MacOS. I don't need to spend more money on another new Macs.
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