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Old Jan 21, 2013, 09:46 PM   #1
jonfarr
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MBA with parallels? 4GB Ram enough?

I am planning on getting a MBA 13" and was wondering if 4GB of RAM is enough for basic usage and parallels desktop? I mainly surf the web, listen to music and email from my laptop. I also use parallels desktop while on the road to Remote into our company server. Would i be best off to upgrade to the 8GB of Ram or will 4GB work with Parallels running windows 7 minimally?
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Old Jan 21, 2013, 10:05 PM   #2
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I am planning on getting a MBA 13" and was wondering if 4GB of RAM is enough for basic usage and parallels desktop? I mainly surf the web, listen to music and email from my laptop. I also use parallels desktop while on the road to Remote into our company server. Would i be best off to upgrade to the 8GB of Ram or will 4GB work with Parallels running windows 7 minimally?
I have an 11" MBA and I have run a keyboard/mouse/24" Dell monitor with no problems. I don't do a lot that would really tax the processor or ram, the most intensive thing I'd do is upload pics from a camera, not even videos. I did watch a few movies on it too.
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Old Jan 21, 2013, 10:14 PM   #3
jonfarr
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I have an 11" MBA and I have run a keyboard/mouse/24" Dell monitor with no problems. I don't do a lot that would really tax the processor or ram, the most intensive thing I'd do is upload pics from a camera, not even videos. I did watch a few movies on it too.
Do you use Parallels to run Windows 7?
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Old Jan 21, 2013, 10:20 PM   #4
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You can run it. Ive tried it few times but dont expect to do much from it.
Only having 4GB of RAM means you have to share that with you Windows and Mac.
Lets say 2GB Win and 2GB Mac, you can run it and do light work.
If you're expecting to do CPU and graphic intensive games/photo/video editing, it just wont work.
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Old Jan 21, 2013, 10:27 PM   #5
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When I buy a new Mac I focus on two things.

What I'm going to use it for today, and how much extra resources I need for unexpected future use.

8GB will be a far better choice than only 4GB.

Nothing worse than finding you're enjoying your Mac more than you expected and three years later wishing you'd spent a little bit more to have the resources you need then.
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Old Jan 21, 2013, 10:39 PM   #6
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Also if you are thinking to run Windows 7 often on your MBA, Id suggest getting a MBP or iMac.
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Old Jan 21, 2013, 10:39 PM   #7
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When you run Parallels or VMware Fusion, these carve out the resources you've assigned them. They don't play nice with the Mac side of the house in this respect. So if you assign your Win 7 VM to be 2 cores and 2GB RAM, then these are essentially unavailable to the Mac side while it's running. If you're planning on doing real work on this side (like big Excel or Outlook or video editing) then you'll probably be disappointed. Note that Win 7 seems to do well enough with virtual memory, and the swap disk in this case is a fast SSD. But 4GB strikes me as too little.
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Old Jan 21, 2013, 10:58 PM   #8
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Do you use Parallels to run Windows 7?
Nope, sorry. I do have 1 Windows machine, but its running Vista haha
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Old Jan 21, 2013, 11:06 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by jonfarr View Post
I am planning on getting a MBA 13" and was wondering if 4GB of RAM is enough for basic usage and parallels desktop? I mainly surf the web, listen to music and email from my laptop. I also use parallels desktop while on the road to Remote into our company server. Would i be best off to upgrade to the 8GB of Ram or will 4GB work with Parallels running windows 7 minimally?
I was working with 4GB RAM for a very long time and it was just painful. Normal Mac was working fine but with parallels running it was just unacceptably slow. Switching between the Mac and windows windows used to be very difficult.
I finally ended up upgrading. Got a great offer so just went to 16GB. Couple that with an SSD and you will see a totally different Mac altogether.
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Old Jan 21, 2013, 11:28 PM   #10
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I run Parallels with W7 and 4GB. It works in a pinch, but I definatly wish I had 8GB. My MBA is a 2010 model and topped out at 4GB.
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Old Jan 21, 2013, 11:36 PM   #11
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Also if you are thinking to run Windows 7 often on your MBA, Id suggest getting a MBP or iMac.
Not if your usage in Windows is light. I have the higher-end 13" MBA 2012 model with 8GB RAM, and when I run an office app (Hanword - Korean equivalent of MS Word) along with VNC playing a clip (non HD), I see no issues whatsoever.
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Old Jan 21, 2013, 11:41 PM   #12
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Not if your usage in Windows is light. I have the higher-end 13" MBA 2012 model with 8GB RAM, and when I run an office app (Hanword - Korean equivalent of MS Word) along with VNC playing a clip (non HD), I see no issues whatsoever.
Thanks for the reply! I can afford the 8GB upgrade, I just am not certain any apple store around me will have it in stock.
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Old Jan 22, 2013, 12:14 AM   #13
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Thanks for the reply! I can afford the 8GB upgrade, I just am not certain any apple store around me will have it in stock.
You could order it online - that way you don't have to hunt a store down.
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Old Jan 22, 2013, 12:29 AM   #14
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Just curious as to whether you are related to the Jon Farr in His Dark Materials?
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Old Jan 22, 2013, 12:54 AM   #15
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Is this your first Mac? I'm wondering what kind of program you will be using for Remote Desktop? Because the Microsoft Office for Mac comes with Remote Desktop.

If you have the money and you're also planning to use it for at least 3 years then more ram would be great.

However, if you don't need to run Windows, you could save the money!
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Old Jan 22, 2013, 12:56 AM   #16
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Not if your usage in Windows is light. I have the higher-end 13" MBA 2012 model with 8GB RAM, and when I run an office app (Hanword - Korean equivalent of MS Word) along with VNC playing a clip (non HD), I see no issues whatsoever.
I mentioned that in my first post.
Powerful machine if you plan on running heavy apps and use it often.
MBA if its something light.
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Old Jan 22, 2013, 03:11 AM   #17
kylera
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I mentioned that in my first post.
Powerful machine if you plan on running heavy apps and use it often.
MBA if its something light.
Ah, yeah, I see that now. Sorry, I only saw that quoted bit.
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Old Jan 22, 2013, 05:16 AM   #18
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I run Parallels for Win7 64-bit on my MBAs. My older MBA, a 11"/4GB/128GB SSD, always impressed me how it performed very much like my rather powerful PC for the tasks I do. I am a tech translator and have to run Excel, Word and Powerpoint 2010 concurrently, a dozen PDF windows open in Reader and a somehow heavy translation memory manager app.

But I always wondered if doubling the virtual environment RAM (4GB for each OS) and spicing up the CPU would make things way faster (despite my job tasks do not demand so much speed, but a lot of memory, virtual and non-virtual, when reindexing DBs...) and I upgraded to an MBA 11"/i7/8GB/256SSD. Funny enough, the ONLY difference I really noticed it was, in fact, that 256GB SSD "slowed" things a little!!!! Although the newer system pages much less (RAM to SSD), I cannot feel that in normal work...

Coming from a PC background, I am amazed at how efficient is OSX in managing hardware resources. Bottom line: I wouldn't notice the diff between my older MBA and the new, maxed out machine, in terms of performance (for the tasks I run, of course).

Edric
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Old Jan 22, 2013, 06:19 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by jonfarr View Post
I am planning on getting a MBA 13" and was wondering if 4GB of RAM is enough for basic usage and parallels desktop? I mainly surf the web, listen to music and email from my laptop. I also use parallels desktop while on the road to Remote into our company server. Would i be best off to upgrade to the 8GB of Ram or will 4GB work with Parallels running windows 7 minimally?
When you use Parallels, you want enough RAM for a Macintosh, PLUS enough RAM for Windows. 4GB is very tight for that.

Why do you need Windows to get into your company server?
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Old Jan 22, 2013, 07:56 PM   #20
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Get 8gb. Its worth it. You cant upgrade later.
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Old Jan 22, 2013, 08:41 PM   #21
jonfarr
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Originally Posted by edricfilho View Post
I run Parallels for Win7 64-bit on my MBAs. My older MBA, a 11"/4GB/128GB SSD, always impressed me how it performed very much like my rather powerful PC for the tasks I do. I am a tech translator and have to run Excel, Word and Powerpoint 2010 concurrently, a dozen PDF windows open in Reader and a somehow heavy translation memory manager app.

But I always wondered if doubling the virtual environment RAM (4GB for each OS) and spicing up the CPU would make things way faster (despite my job tasks do not demand so much speed, but a lot of memory, virtual and non-virtual, when reindexing DBs...) and I upgraded to an MBA 11"/i7/8GB/256SSD. Funny enough, the ONLY difference I really noticed it was, in fact, that 256GB SSD "slowed" things a little!!!! Although the newer system pages much less (RAM to SSD), I cannot feel that in normal work...

Coming from a PC background, I am amazed at how efficient is OSX in managing hardware resources. Bottom line: I wouldn't notice the diff between my older MBA and the new, maxed out machine, in terms of performance (for the tasks I run, of course).

Edric
Thanks for the post. I appreciate your input. I doubt I would be as intensive as you.

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Originally Posted by gnasher729 View Post
When you use Parallels, you want enough RAM for a Macintosh, PLUS enough RAM for Windows. 4GB is very tight for that.

Why do you need Windows to get into your company server?
We have company docs that are stored on our company server that multiple people need access to for editing purposes (excel files to be exact) and I need a windows based version of office to be able to open it and save it back to the server file.

For some reason, when the file is opened on in OSX version of excel, it becomes a local document and any saves are made to the local hard drive, not the server based document. We have worked with our IT tech about the issue and the only way around it is to either have a PC, or run bootcamp/VM to edit this remote file as I do a TON of traveling for work.
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Old Jan 22, 2013, 09:02 PM   #22
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For some reason, when the file is opened on in OSX version of excel, it becomes a local document and any saves are made to the local hard drive, not the server based document. We have worked with our IT tech about the issue and the only way around it is to either have a PC, or run bootcamp/VM to edit this remote file as I do a TON of traveling for work.
Sharepoint is your issue, for the record. Only supports live editing on a Windows based system, with proper Office support.
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Old Jan 22, 2013, 09:08 PM   #23
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Do you use Parallels to run Windows 7?
I'd go with 8. I used to run Windows 7 within Parallels on a 4GB 2011 Air, and it worked OK, but it paged out to the SSD a lot, and I was only able to give about 1GB of RAM to Windows. With 8 you can give Windows a little more RAM (2 or 3GB) and still have enough to run Mac programs side by side.

The performance hit is a little less noticeable with an SSD, but it is still there. RAM is faster than any SSD.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 09:35 AM   #24
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4GB + Windows 7 VM sucks. Definitely get 8GB. 4GB is somewhat doable but you're going to hate it in a couple/few years.
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Old Jan 23, 2013, 09:49 AM   #25
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4G with Win7 will be fine as long as you are not trying to do intensive work. For word processing and Excel, 4FG will work; I am running Win7 on Parallels and several year old MBA without a problem. XP ran fine also. Just do not expect blazing performance. Disappoint is a function of expectation. Obviously, if you have a chance to have 8G go for it. Memory is not that expensive and more is always better.
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