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View Full Version : MBA 13 - 4 gb memory barely enough.....




Meric
Dec 2, 2010, 10:23 PM
I was in between getting a 2 gb or 4 gb mba then ended up getting the 4 gb one...

I dont consider myself a heavy user... Mostly outlook, quickbooks, safari or firefox, skype , msn messenger etc...

Today I was cleaning up some images in photoshop cs5, no raw..just 5 MP jpgs..had couple of chrome windows open... Msn and skype was open...

My free memory was 600 mb out of 4 gb... Photoshop was using like 750 mb's of mem..

So i thought i made the correct move by getting the 4gb one... But when run outlook and quickbooks under parallels.....whats gonna happen?

Why do yu think these apps are using so much memory?

When I clean boot... Only msn messenger and skype gets loaded on startup... Plus activity monitor... I have 3.10-3.20 gb's available... How bout u guys?



Chip NoVaMac
Dec 2, 2010, 10:53 PM
So far my 2gb MBA 13" (new) is doing well... but I haven't even thought of adding CS to it... that is what my MBP or iMac is for.

If the option had been open to me to get the 4gb MBA 13" the week after it was released - I might have gone for it. Happy so far with my 128gb SSD drive and my Seagate FreeAgent 500gb eternal HDD.... with the lowly 2gb system RAM...

neteng101
Dec 2, 2010, 10:55 PM
Couple of things - Chrome gets to be a huge memory hog with more windows open - its just how they made it with the sandboxed instances. Don't use Chrome if you ask me. Firefox 3.6.12 under 10.6.5 is actually behaving very nicely for me.

Free memory is not the best measure... add up your free and inactive memory, the total is the sum available and can be recovered for reuse. That is the available portion. Programs will behave differently if there's less memory available to gobble up, so if you launch Parallels, then a portion will be allocated away to the VM and some applications won't try to cache as much in memory. 4GB should be fine for all you do, but if you want to open hundreds of photos at once in Photoshop (well, or a whole bunch), then it might not be optimal.

KPOM
Dec 3, 2010, 12:31 AM
I have the 4GB model primarily because I use virtualization, but I had a 2GB Rev B Air before that and it was fine for most tasks. Remember, your programs will use as much memory as they possibly can. If it can avoid paging 2GB to your SSD by storing it in RAM, it will.

revelated
Dec 3, 2010, 08:41 AM
I dont consider myself a heavy user... Mostly outlook, quickbooks, safari or firefox, skype , msn messenger etc...

...

Today I was cleaning up some images in photoshop cs5, no raw..just 5 MP jpgs..had couple of chrome windows open... Msn and skype was open...

...

Why do yu think these apps are using so much memory?


I will never understand why people refuse to select the right machine for the job(s) that they do in favor of a form factor.

Anyway...

QuickBooks is a heavy app. Skype is a heavy app. Outlook (I assume 2011) is a heavy app. Firefox has memory leaks. Photoshop surely is a heavy app.

Skype is heavy for reasons nobody has been able to pin down. But it's well documented to be quite intensive when running.

Photoshop...of all apps, IMO, should not be run on a MacBook Air. Especially not with the above apps running in the background. That said, it's up to you if you feel comfortable doing so, but you should know that of every app you could ever run on the MBA, Photoshop is going to be one of the larger hogs because it actually uses RAM, and subsequently paged VRAM, to track its history and the globs of changes that you do to images and whatnot.


In summary: you should be fully expectant of high RAM usage given the apps you are using.

millerb7
Dec 3, 2010, 08:56 AM
I will never understand why people refuse to select the right machine for the job(s) that they do in favor of a form factor.

Anyway...

QuickBooks is a heavy app. Skype is a heavy app. Outlook (I assume 2011) is a heavy app. Firefox has memory leaks. Photoshop surely is a heavy app.

Skype is heavy for reasons nobody has been able to pin down. But it's well documented to be quite intensive when running.

Photoshop...of all apps, IMO, should not be run on a MacBook Air. Especially not with the above apps running in the background. That said, it's up to you if you feel comfortable doing so, but you should know that of every app you could ever run on the MBA, Photoshop is going to be one of the larger hogs because it actually uses RAM, and subsequently paged VRAM, to track its history and the globs of changes that you do to images and whatnot.


In summary: you should be fully expectant of high RAM usage given the apps you are using.
This is what I'm struggling with right now. Sell the MBP (2007 model) for a 13" ultimate, or throw a SSD into the MBP along with the 6GB ram, keep it, and buy an iMac for a main machine. Then once MBP actually dies, get the MBA.... issue is I'm being offered good money for the MBP haha.

Decisions decisions.

barrettj
Dec 3, 2010, 09:11 AM
This is what I'm struggling with right now. Sell the MBP (2007 model) for a 13" ultimate, or throw a SSD into the MBP along with the 6GB ram, keep it, and buy an iMac for a main machine. Then once MBP actually dies, get the MBA.... issue is I'm being offered good money for the MBP haha.

Decisions decisions.

I just sold my iMac (24" 2.93ghz core 2 duo and 8gb ram) and use my 13 MBA Ultimate as my (personal) main machine now.

The SSD really makes the low ram much less of a concern (virtual memory on SSD is soooo much faster than on a HD).

I have no troubles programming in Xcode or running Visual Studio 2010 in Windows 7 via Parallels. Even when I'm at work and the other choice is a Dual Quad core Mac Pro, I frequently prefer to use the MBA sitting in one of the comfy chairs - even when using things like Photoshop.

millerb7
Dec 3, 2010, 09:18 AM
I just sold my iMac (24" 2.93ghz core 2 duo and 8gb ram) and use my 13 MBA Ultimate as my (personal) main machine now.

The SSD really makes the low ram much less of a concern (virtual memory on SSD is soooo much faster than on a HD).

I have no troubles programming in Xcode or running Visual Studio 2010 in Windows 7 via Parallels. Even when I'm at work and the other choice is a Dual Quad core Mac Pro, I frequently prefer to use the MBA sitting in one of the comfy chairs - even when using things like Photoshop.

Hmm... I keep hearing this. I'm sure my current MBP even beeing a 2007 would be faster than MBA with a new SSD in it and 6GB ram, the issue is that the Grim Reaper is knocking on it now.

I think if it sells I'll bite the bullet and get the MBA 13" Ultimate. I just hope it'll be able to hold up over the course of another 2-3 years.

Hellhammer
Dec 3, 2010, 09:24 AM
600MB is still plenty. And did you include inactive memory in that? You can also limit Photoshop's RAM usage from its preferences.

Stop looking at the numbers. If you notice slow downs which are likely caused by the lack of RAM, then come back. SSD is also very fast so even if you end up paging out, it shouldn't slow down as much as with HD.

poobear
Dec 3, 2010, 09:42 AM
Couple of things - Chrome gets to be a huge memory hog with more windows open - its just how they made it with the sandboxed instances. Don't use Chrome if you ask me. Firefox 3.6.12 under 10.6.5 is actually behaving very nicely for me.
The opposite, Chromes memory management is great if you like me only have 2 GB ram. Because each tab is a process, the ram will be freed when you close that tab. In Safari and Firefox that you mention, that ram wont be freed. Thus, the browser just keep hogging more and more memory even if you only have a single tab open at every single moment.

Scottyk9
Dec 3, 2010, 09:49 AM
My understanding is that the amount of "free" memory means very little. A better metric to determine if RAM is adequate is the ratio of page in to page outs after usual use - the lower the better (and if ≤10%, additional RAM is unlikely to make much of difference)

KnightWRX
Dec 3, 2010, 09:55 AM
I will never understand why people refuse to select the right machine for the job(s) that they do in favor of a form factor.


Photoshop CS5 runs flawlessly on the MBA 13". :rolleyes:

xlii
Dec 3, 2010, 10:03 AM
Take a look at your page outs vs page ins in activity monitor. If you have less page outs than page ins you have enough memory.

neteng101
Dec 3, 2010, 10:52 AM
Thus, the browser just keep hogging more and more memory even if you only have a single tab open at every single moment.

If you can live with a single tab, then its fine. People using tabs don't typically close them, they just get reused for something else on pages you don't want to have open all the time. The whole idea of having tabs is to have what you want open all the time, in which case Chrome is a huge hog. I typically have 5 open windows that are pretty much up all the time and 2-3 that are re-used. Chrome would be horrible for that.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/firefox-chrome-opera,2558-4.html

Hellhammer
Dec 3, 2010, 11:34 AM
Take a look at your page outs vs page ins in activity monitor. If you have less page outs than page ins you have enough memory.

That is not right. You will ALWAYS have page ins, no matter how much RAM do you have because page in means that data is written from HD to RAM. Page out means that data is written from RAM to swap file (i.e. HD). You can't have a page out without having a page in first, thus you cannot have more page outs than page ins.

Phil A.
Dec 3, 2010, 11:42 AM
As others have said, you need to be looking at paging activity, not free memory: OS X and apps will typically use a lot of memory if it is available because otherwise it's just a wasted resource.

If you are getting a lot of page outs then you possibly don't have enough memory. As an example, I have 8GB of RAM in my iMac and Activity Monitor currently shows I have 112MB of free RAM. However my Page Outs are only 41MB so clearly I don't have an issue with the RAM in my machine.

foiden
Dec 3, 2010, 11:57 AM
I noticed that windows does the same thing on PC and Mac alike. Even though it and certain applications work well with a certain limited memory space. If you add in more, in general, it'll take more (up to something a little under the maximum allocation the system can take).

poobear
Dec 3, 2010, 12:05 PM
The whole idea of having tabs is to have what you want open all the time, in which case Chrome is a huge hog.
Wait what? No that's what bookmarks are for. You're supposed to close tabs after you have read them.

JasonR
Dec 3, 2010, 12:08 PM
Right tool for the right job. If you aren't experience slowdown, then don't worry about it.

A Macbook Air is not designed to be a process intensive PC. Yes, it's very capable, but it's not designed for that. Personally, I want one, but I have a 27" iMac that's the workhorse. I'll use the iMac to run process intensive apps and I'll remote in using the Air if I need to work in those.

However, one exception is I will have Photoshop and Illustrator on the Macbook Air as I use them all the time, and from what I've see they will run fine on the Air.

pfjellman
Dec 3, 2010, 01:45 PM
yeah, run the CS5 suite on a macbook pro or mac pro. if you want to work with images, use pixelmator on your mba.

gwsat
Dec 3, 2010, 02:35 PM
Take a look at your page outs vs page ins in activity monitor. If you have less page outs than page ins you have enough memory.
That's right. I am running several Windows 7 apps in Fusion's Unity mode, simultaneously with 6 OS X apps. Although all those apps are open on the OS X desktop all the time, my page outs have never amounted to as many as 2 percent of the number of page ins. An even more significant test to me has been that the setup I am running on my 13 inch Ultimate MBA runs just as fast and with as much stability as the identical setup it does on my Santa Rosa MBP, which has 6GB of RAM.

neteng101
Dec 3, 2010, 02:52 PM
Wait what? No that's what bookmarks are for. You're supposed to close tabs after you have read them.

You assume totally static content - the Web has progressed far beyond that. ;)

And even with static content, say you're working on a paper - you keep pages open for reference for a while that you need to look at. Constantly closing/re-opening it would be a total waste of bandwidth and time.

4GB is plenty and good - but I wouldn't recommend 2GB.

Boston007
Dec 3, 2010, 02:58 PM
I agree with other users. If you are using Photoshop CS5 get a damn macbook pro and even macbook with more ram. 4g ram won't cut it, especially if you are running so many other programs.

God I LOVE Chrome but you have a few windows or tabs of it open and the memory just goes through the roof.

gwsat
Dec 3, 2010, 03:21 PM
If you can live with a single tab, then its fine. People using tabs don't typically close them, they just get reused for something else on pages you don't want to have open all the time. The whole idea of having tabs is to have what you want open all the time, in which case Chrome is a huge hog. I typically have 5 open windows that are pretty much up all the time and 2-3 that are re-used. Chrome would be horrible for that.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/firefox-chrome-opera,2558-4.html
I routinely have 5 or 6 tabs open in Chrome and it is anything but horrible. At the moment, I have 6 tabs open in Chrome and the Activity Monitor tells me that it is using less than 1 percent of the CPU's capacity. I did just install the newly released version 8.X of Chrome this morning but version 7.X was working just as well. My only complaint about Chrome's memory management was that it caused kernel panics a couple of times on my MBP but those were few and far between. Nothing like that has happened in the 6 weeks I have been running Chrome on my MBA. If you want to talk about a real memory hog, let's discuss VMware Fusion, which at the moment is sucking up between 10 and 60 percent of my CPU's capacity. But that's a story for another day.:)

neteng101
Dec 3, 2010, 04:46 PM
I routinely have 5 or 6 tabs open in Chrome and it is anything but horrible. At the moment, I have 6 tabs open in Chrome and the Activity Monitor tells me that it is using less than 1 percent of the CPU's capacity.

How much memory total is those 6 Chrome tabs costing you? 328MB with 8 open tabs (and 4 of those with Javascript heavy elements) in Firefox for me, which has been running for a few days, and has a bunch of addons installed as well.

Just curious. I've tried Chrome in the past and the memory usage was just too much for what I do. I swear something changed recently with Firefox though - I think its 10.6.5 actually - that reduced its memory footprint.

revelated
Dec 3, 2010, 09:17 PM
Photoshop CS5 runs flawlessly on the MBA 13". :rolleyes:

Put it this way.

If I owned a Ford F350 and a Chrysler T&C, and I wanted to buy a 65" flat panel, I'm not going to take the T&C to get it home. Could I finagle it? Sure. But why bother when the F350 has plenty of room to deal with it?

Could I cook pancakes in a boiling pot? Sure. Is it easy? No. That's what skillets are for.

Could I put water on my cereal and eat it? Sure. Why bother when I could just use milk which tastes better?

If my job is 50 miles away, there's no logical reason to get a SMART car.


Paging is NOT good for any drive. I don't care if it's platter based or SSD. Paging should be minimized at all times. Paging is a decrepit holdover from the days when the strongest machines maxed out at 512MB of RAM. In this era of relatively inexpensive RAM, paging should be minimized and ideally eliminated, as it is a strong contributor to the short lifespan of most drives.

The Air is designed for casual users. Despite whether its hard drive happens to be strong enough to deal with intensive processes that is not what it's designed for. That's why the Pro line exists. That's why the iMac and Mac Pro exist. Again though, if you want to use it that way, do you.

gwsat
Dec 3, 2010, 09:52 PM
How much memory total is those 6 Chrome tabs costing you? 328MB with 8 open tabs (and 4 of those with Javascript heavy elements) in Firefox for me, which has been running for a few days, and has a bunch of addons installed as well.

Just curious. I've tried Chrome in the past and the memory usage was just too much for what I do. I swear something changed recently with Firefox though - I think its 10.6.5 actually - that reduced its memory footprint.
Right now with 6 tabs open, Activity Monitor indicates that All Chrome processes add up to about 380MB,, which doesn't seem excessive.



The Air is designed for casual users. Despite whether its hard drive happens to be strong enough to deal with intensive processes that is not what it's designed for. That's why the Pro line exists. That's why the iMac and Mac Pro exist. Again though, if you want to use it that way, do you.
I am anything but a casual user and after 6 weeks of heavily using a 13 inch Ultimate MBA I have concluded that it runs a suite of both Windows apps under Fusion and OS X simultaneously as speedily and with as much stability as my MBA with 6GB of RAM does. Keep in mind that "Macbook Pro" is a term of copy writers, not one of art.

Only time will tell whether the paging that is required for my setup will ultimately cause the speed of the MBA's flash memory to degrade. Considering though that even slower flash memory will still be exponentially faster than the fastest electromechanical hard drive, I am not very worried.

neteng101
Dec 3, 2010, 10:10 PM
Right now with 6 tabs open, Activity Monitor indicates that All Chrome processes add up to about 380MB,, which doesn't seem excessive.

Not bad at all... 4GB is really plenty for a lot of applications given a person that knows what they're doing or looking at.

This is for Skype users - please turn off animated emoticons if you text Skype chat a lot. Those emoticons are a huge CPU drain.

xlii
Dec 4, 2010, 07:27 AM
This guy has a great explanation of what page outs & page ins are.

http://macosx.com/forums/mac-os-x-system-mac-software/47648-page-ins-page-outs-could-somebody-please-explain-me-idiot-fashion.html

gwsat
Dec 4, 2010, 09:10 AM
Not bad at all... 4GB is really plenty for a lot of applications given a person that knows what they're doing or looking at.
I can't tell you how relieved I was to confirm that my MBA's 4GB of RAM could handle a bunch of Windows apps and another bunch of OS X apps, including Chrome, running simultaneously with as much speed and stability as my MBP with 6GB of RAM does. Flash memory is a game changer. Although I have a few page outs, they rarely amount to more than about 1 or 2 percent of the number of page ins and the flash memory's great speed makes them completely unnoticeable.

This guy has a great explanation of what page outs & page ins are.

http://macosx.com/forums/mac-os-x-system-mac-software/47648-page-ins-page-outs-could-somebody-please-explain-me-idiot-fashion.html
Thanks, that was a very interesting thread. Unless I missed it, no poster to the linked thread claimed that paging could damage a hard drive. In fact I had never seen such an assertion anywhere until a poster to this thread claimed that paging was damaging to both hard drives and flash memory. I suppose it's possible but I remain unconvinced.

Hellhammer
Dec 4, 2010, 09:20 AM
Thanks, that was a very interesting thread. Unless I missed it, no poster to the linked thread claimed that paging could damage a hard drive. In fact I had never seen such an assertion anywhere until a poster to this thread claimed that paging was damaging to both hard drives and flash memory. I suppose it's possible but I remain unconvinced.

Paging is just normal read and write activity. Write data (page out), read data (page in). It doesn't matter is it a page or any other file.

Heavy paging may, however, decrease the lifespan as the HD/SSD will wear out sooner. It's not something that I would worry about though since the amount of data that is used due to paging is relatively small. In the end, HDs and SSDs are made for use.

gwsat
Dec 4, 2010, 10:01 AM
Paging is just normal read and write activity. Write data (page out), read data (page in). It doesn't matter is it a page or any other file.

Heavy paging may, however, decrease the lifespan as the HD/SSD will wear out sooner. It's not something that I would worry about though since the amount of data that is used due to paging is relatively small. In the end, HDs and SSDs are made for use.
This has always been my understanding, too. My swap file always starts out at 128MB and never exceeds 1GB. As a 1GB swap file represents less than .25 percent of the MBA's 250GB total usable storage space, I can't imagine that it presents a serious problem. Spare us all from those who are frequently wrong but never in doubt.:)

bniu
Dec 4, 2010, 07:00 PM
I was going to buy an Air to replace my Pro, but after seeing my Pro speed up significantly after going to 8Gigs of RAM, I knew I was better off just buying a SSD and put that in my Pro. While the Air is nice, you just can't beat 8 Gigs of RAM! (unless you have 16!)

2pxbTony
Dec 4, 2010, 10:25 PM
13inch Macbook air 1.86, with 4GB ram

A typical scenario for me on a given day will be, I have Photoshop cs5, fireworks and dreamweaver running, itune is playing music, iCal open, Address book open, Billing open , safari ( at least 5 tabs), fontbook open, adium open for IM. My macbook air can handle this flawless:D