Win32 programmer looking for Apple/Mac advice

I am a Win32 programmer and have never touched an Apple product nor code.
I have a plugin that I build under Windows and of course need it to also run-on Mac’s.

So, I need a Mac development machine:
– I understand I need to use Xcode.
– I have plenty of monitors so screen size is not an issue.
– The only thing I will use the Apple machine for is to build the plugin (and install) and perform some light testing within a DAW.

If one has an Intel based Mac can Xcode perform builds for both Intel and Apple Silicon targets?

I am not rich and cannot justify dropping $6000.00 on a new Mac Pro.
On the other hand, I am not looking for the cheapest solution.
I see lots and lots of refurbished iMac’s and such, but refurbs scare me, am I crazy?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance.

If one has an Intel based Mac can Xcode perform builds for both Intel and Apple Silicon targets?

Yes, but obviously you can’t test it but that could be said both ways, i.e with an Apple Silicon based Mac you can’t test Intel (well you could run it under Rosetta I guess).

I see lots and lots of refurbished iMac’s and such, but refurbs scare me, am I crazy?
I guess it depends where it’s from but honestly any reputable retailer doing this is probably fine, better still Apple do it themselves ( In my experience, generally speaking, Macs tend to going on working for quite some time. Just be conscious that you’ll probably want something where you can always test the latest OS which would sway me towards Apple Silicon as intel will be completely phased out at some point in the near future.

Honestly when it comes to the Apple Silicon devices the cheapest Mac mini is probably fine. I’ve gone from a top spec MacBook Pro Intel to a bottom spec MacBook Air and the MacBook Air walks all over the MacBook Pro! So on that link I provided there was a Mac Mini for £589, probably the biggest downside that jumps out to me is 256GB storage, but if you really end up needing more you can always get external storage or I suspect on a mini it’s probably not crazy to change it out later. To be clear you can also build both Intel and Apple Silicon from an Apple Silicon device too.

The SSD chips are soldered on to the circuit board so it’s not trivial to add more internal storage later.

My suggestion would also be a (refurbished) Mac Mini M1, or a MacBook Air M1 or even the new M2.

Another choice is to look at Amazon’s AWS M1 services (just announced):

Here’s a bit from the announcement: EC2 M1 Mac instances are powered by a combination of Apple silicon Mac mini computers—featuring the M1 chip with 8 CPU cores, 8 GPU cores, 16 GiB of memory, 16 core Apple Neural Engine—and the AWS Nitro System, providing up to 10 Gbps of VPC network bandwidth and 8 Gbps of EBS storage bandwidth through high speed Thunderbolt connections.

I think it’s about $0.65 per hour, so that seems like an effective way to get going.

Thanks All.
Allan, AWS would be my perfect option save for the fact that I live in a very rural area where my bandwidth is maybe 19mbps down. That would not be a problem save for the fact that my wife is retired and spends all day streaming HGTV while YouTubing ‘How to install ship-lap’.

Anthony, An Apple Refurbed Mac Mini M1 (1TB SSD, 16GB Ram) for $1099.00, $39.00 for a keyboard, and use one of my monitors I have sitting around is what I will do.

Thanks all.

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If it’s mainly about building the Mac binaries another option would be using a CI (continous integration)/auto-build service like AppVeyor or GitHub actions and a CMake based build system.
For open source projects it’s even free.

E.g. here is a template for that workflow.
I’m using it for my own plugin (well, a fork of it) and it works fine, creates Win/Mac/Linux binaries on GitHub push.

For actual testing on a Mac, that would be a different matter of course.

I’m not sure if signing/notarizing the Mac version could also be done this way, I don’t do it currently for my plugin.

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Yes I did wonder as I was typing - should have checked first, thanks for pointing that out. As you say easy enough to buy some more storage.

Tangent, don’t wanna hijack the thread, but glad Pamplejuce (mostly) worked for you. Any interest in sending a PR for the clap additions? The pluginval linux stuff will be fixed this week, we are working on a 1.0 pluginval release. Also, almost done with a pamplejuce release that does code signing and notarization.

On topic: +1 for any M1, they are great!