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Old Dec 5, 2012, 12:57 PM   #1
roguefury
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MBA 11" 4gb vs 8gb ram

So, I've been wondering whether it makes sense to purchase additional ram on an an MBA 11" that I plan to get. Here's some background:

I currently have an MBA 13", Late 2010 with 4gb ram. I don't remember ever having been 'ram' challenged, as I'm mostly a business user. My main apps:

- Chrome (8-10 tabs)...Safari has gotten to be too unstable
- full screen tweetdeck
- Full screen Reeder
- Mail
- Evernote
- Reminders
- Adium
- Calendar/Fantastical
- 1password

I also run a few 'background apps':

- Google Drive
- Hazel
- popclip
- Skitch
- Textexpander

I'm probably forgetting a few, but my current system memory usage indicator shows (roughly):

Free: 104 MB
Wired: 871 MB
Active: 1.58 MB
Inactive: 1.45 GB
Used: 3.89 GB

I don't quite understand the usage metrics here, but again, I don't ever remember being pressed for ram. I don't expect my typical MBA usage to change all that much for the next 24mos - the planned time until I do a refresh.

So, does continuing with 4gb RAM make sense?

If you're curious as to why downsize from an 13" to 11", well the more mobile I become, the more I'm looking for smaller devices. I just switched to an iPad Mini from an iPad3, and boy that was a huge positive on many fronts. I'm willing to live with a smaller screen and less battery life in the MBA 11".
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Old Dec 5, 2012, 01:18 PM   #2
Beanoir
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roguefury View Post
So, I've been wondering whether it makes sense to purchase additional ram on an an MBA 11" that I plan to get. Here's some background:

I currently have an MBA 13", Late 2010 with 4gb ram. I don't remember ever having been 'ram' challenged, as I'm mostly a business user. My main apps:

- Chrome (8-10 tabs)...Safari has gotten to be too unstable
- full screen tweetdeck
- Full screen Reeder
- Mail
- Evernote
- Reminders
- Adium
- Calendar/Fantastical
- 1password

I also run a few 'background apps':

- Google Drive
- Hazel
- popclip
- Skitch
- Textexpander

I'm probably forgetting a few, but my current system memory usage indicator shows (roughly):

Free: 104 MB
Wired: 871 MB
Active: 1.58 MB
Inactive: 1.45 GB
Used: 3.89 GB

I don't quite understand the usage metrics here, but again, I don't ever remember being pressed for ram. I don't expect my typical MBA usage to change all that much for the next 24mos - the planned time until I do a refresh.

So, does continuing with 4gb RAM make sense?

If you're curious as to why downsize from an 13" to 11", well the more mobile I become, the more I'm looking for smaller devices. I just switched to an iPad Mini from an iPad3, and boy that was a huge positive on many fronts. I'm willing to live with a smaller screen and less battery life in the MBA 11".
For the apps you've listed and the usage you've shown, and if you only plan on keeping the computer for the next 2 years then you don't need to worry about "future proofing" with 8GB.

Save your money and stick with 4GB.

If you were keeping it for longer then i'd say go with 8GB.
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Old Dec 5, 2012, 01:42 PM   #3
Mrbobb
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roguefury View Post
Free: 104 MB
Wired: 871 MB
Active: 1.58 MB
Inactive: 1.45 GB
Used: 3.89 GB

The most relevant metric for this situation is PAGE OUT. If it stays sub 1gig, you are good as you are.
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Old Dec 5, 2012, 01:50 PM   #4
roguefury
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Originally Posted by Mrbobb View Post
The most relevant metric for this situation is PAGE OUT. If it stays sub 1gig, you are good as you are.

Hmm, I'm showing Page outs: 12.58 GB

VM Size: 352.51 GB
Page ins: 26.52 GB
Page outs: 12.58 GB
Swap used: 3.36 GB
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Old Dec 5, 2012, 02:30 PM   #5
limesmoothie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roguefury View Post
Hmm, I'm showing Page outs: 12.58 GB

VM Size: 352.51 GB
Page ins: 26.52 GB
Page outs: 12.58 GB
Swap used: 3.36 GB
Don't worry - it depends how long it is since you rebooted and refreshed that stat.

Your workflow and major task usage is similar to mine. I went with 4GB, as I'm planning to go Haswell if it brings battery life improvements. I'm really not noticing any problems, Memory Clean is showing 1.32GB free and I'm running a whole bunch of stuff.

3-4 years from now, 8GB will likely be the norm for laptops but if you are not planning to keep the machine that long, and are not using massively resource hungry applications like video editing, then 8GB is not an essential.
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Old Dec 5, 2012, 05:14 PM   #6
roguefury
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Originally Posted by limesmoothie View Post

3-4 years from now, 8GB will likely be the norm for laptops but if you are not planning to keep the machine that long, and are not using massively resource hungry applications like video editing, then 8GB is not an essential.
Yea, that's my general sense too, it'll be a while before that much ram is needed in my work environment. Probably the most resource intensive application that I use is Powepoint. I hate it, but that's the company norm, and I build lots of decks. It sails though today, and I don't see much CPU usage within either.

Thanks for the input from everyone.
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Old Dec 5, 2012, 06:15 PM   #7
cedwhatev
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The 8GB RAM is nice.. totally worth the extra hundred bucks.
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Old Dec 5, 2012, 09:02 PM   #8
durruti
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don't forget that the RAM for the 11" MBA is onboard and not user replaceable.
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Old Dec 6, 2012, 09:57 AM   #9
wolfpuppies3
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Max the RAM. That has been my personal preference for thirty years and it has stood me well. You do not know what software is coming down the line in a day, week or few months but you do know that software demands more and more RAM to give you greater speed and more features.

Yes, of course, you can limp along with less memory but your are, in fact, limping. And as some have noted above, you may not add RAM later with this machine, it is now or never.
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Old Dec 6, 2012, 10:41 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by wolfpuppies3 View Post
Max the RAM. That has been my personal preference for thirty years and it has stood me well. You do not know what software is coming down the line in a day, week or few months but you do know that software demands more and more RAM to give you greater speed and more features.

Yes, of course, you can limp along with less memory but your are, in fact, limping. And as some have noted above, you may not add RAM later with this machine, it is now or never.
Thats great advice, if you have plenty of money to burn.

Good advice is not about just future proofing for the sake of it and wasting money, it's about looking at the specific needs of the individual and lookinig at past trends in particular apps and forming judgement from there.

Looking at the OP's list of apps, I can't imagine any of those are likely to be replaced with something that suddenly becomes a RAM hungry monster given what they are, they certainly haven't in the past and I doubt they will in the future.
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Old Dec 6, 2012, 10:53 AM   #11
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It is cheaper to plan ahead for the future then to not have enough for something you need down the road and have to purchase a whole new machine because it no longer does what you want.

8 gb of ram is never a bad thing and honestly the best upgrade the air has to offer
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Old Dec 6, 2012, 11:45 AM   #12
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I'm curious about what looks like intensive use of Chrome. I find FFox and Chrome to be real memory pigs once video gets involved, especially across lots of tabs. I rebooted last night and have a single window with 2 tabs - the PepperFlash player is consuming 300+ MBs of Real Mem, and will easily double in the next few days.

Memory requirements are a function of how you use the system. If over the last few years you've found that 2GB works for you, then 4GB is probably plenty for the next few years (assuming you have future clarity). MBAs have a bit of a safety net for running out of real memory -- they swap to SSDs, which are fast.

For my use, 8GB is barely enough for today's office environment. I have 16GB and run out every 2 - 3 weeks. The pigs are browsers with video, VMware, PPT, and Outlook in that order.
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Old Dec 6, 2012, 03:28 PM   #13
roguefury
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Originally Posted by wolfpuppies3 View Post
Max the RAM. That has been my personal preference for thirty years and it has stood me well. You do not know what software is coming down the line in a day, week or few months but you do know that software demands more and more RAM to give you greater speed and more features.
It's funny, my general requirements for the last thirty years have been buy the processor that's one level below the top line, max out ram, and get the 2nd largest hard drive available.

The processor logic is that paying premium for incremental gains doesn't make sense. Ram, going back to the WinTel days, used to make or break a machine, and drives usually were replaceable.

Processor logic still holds true (I think), drives aren't swappable (at least on MBAs) but I keep most files in the cloud so the need to have a massive hard drive isnt' there anymore.

I'm rethinking some of this, given my work requirements nowadays

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Quote:
Originally Posted by kohlson View Post

For my use, 8GB is barely enough for today's office environment. I have 16GB and run out every 2 - 3 weeks. The pigs are browsers with video, VMware, PPT, and Outlook in that order.
VMWare, that's probably the killer because it siphons away memory to run VMs. I finally got free of the MS requirements at work, save for MS Office (for which the OSX version is adequate), so I don't need to load up a VM. That saved a huge chunk of drive space and RAM
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Old Dec 6, 2012, 03:37 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by kohlson View Post
I'm curious about what looks like intensive use of Chrome. I find FFox and Chrome to be real memory pigs once video gets involved, especially across lots of tabs.
Definitely. I recently switched back to Safari because my MacBook couldn't handle running videos on Chrome.
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Old Dec 6, 2012, 04:19 PM   #15
Beanoir
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I just got rid of my 2010 MBA that I had for 2 years, it was a release model with base spec 2GB RAM, 64GB hard drive.

I got rid of that because I wanted a bigger hard drive and I was able to pick a refurb 2011 model for very good money.

If it wasn't for that i'd still be running a 2GB MBA with no problems at all 2 years after it was released, with ML, using photoshop and Lightroom etc and still no problems with RAM.

So yes, 24 months with 4GB will do fine.
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