Can I get away with 4GB or do I need the 8GB?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by .:R2theT, Nov 15, 2012.

  1. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2007
    Location:
    VR6
    #1
    Hi Everyone-

    So I am standing on the verge of ordering an 11" Air to help with my schooling.

    I am currently working off of an iMac from about 5 years ago(2 GHz CoreDuo, 2GB RAM). We are going to be ordering one of the new 27" iMacs once they are available in December or January, probably go with the 1TB Fusion.

    So I am wondering if I really need anything more than the 1.7/4/128 Air for my school stuff. I am a philosophy major with minors in languages so I mostly write papers. I may end up adding another major, still undecided on that.

    Considering what I have now and what we will have in the new iMac does it make sense for me to spend the extra money on the 8GB RAM upgrade? Plus, if I went with 4GB I could probably go refurbished and save a few extra bucks.

    Opinions?
     
  2. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2008
    #2
    If you're pretty certain that your main machine is going to be the iMac, then you should be fine with 4 GB on the Air. If all you really do is write papers and use the web to research stuff, than 4 GB should be able to handle what you throw at it.
     
  3. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2012
    Location:
    Dubai
    #3
    You could even take the 2011 base 11" model.
     
  4. macrumors 6502

    Rob.G

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2010
    Location:
    NW Oregon
    #4
    Spend the extra money on the 256 gb SSD instead. 4 GB is fine for just about everything. My last two 11"s were 4 GB and they worked great.

    Rob
     
  5. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2012
    Location:
    Dubai
    #5
    Don't spend any additional money on upgrades, for your purpose the base base model is more than sufficient. No need for any upgrade.
     
  6. macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2004
    #6
    I rather have a souped up 11" MBA + Thunderbolt Display vs. low-end MBA + high-end iMac. Both are about $3000, give or take few hundreds depending on taxes or educational discount.
     
  7. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    May 8, 2010
    #7
    Yes, you can absolutely get away with 4GB RAM. The base model MBA 11 will work great for how you plan to use it.
     
  8. macrumors 6502a

    iAppl3Fan

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    #8
    The base model that's refurb would be perfect for you! Save you money that you would have upgraded on your next big purchase.
     
  9. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2009
    #9
    So here's a follow up question.
    If you have the 4GB model and the application needs more RAM, it swaps it out to disk. In this case the disk is SSD and very fast. Now, i know pure RAM without swapping would be faster but is there such a huge difference between swapping out to SSD vs the 8GB of RAM?
     
  10. macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2004
    #10
    While flash storage is indeed 3-6 times faster than hard disk (300-500 MB/sec vs. 80-100 MB/sec), RAM is in entirely different performance category (12800 MB/sec).

    And there's the issue of wear and tear. Each block on typical MLC-based flash storage (such as the one in MBA and MBP) have about 10,000 write cycles, after which the block will become unavailable for writing new data.
     
  11. macrumors 6502a

    dcorban

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2007
    #11
    4GB is more than enough. Based on your description, you are a much lighter user than I, and based on my random checking of Activity Monitor over the past months, I almost always have at least 1GB RAM unused. I have the 2012 Air with 4GB.
     
  12. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2011
    Location:
    uk
    #12
    The only time you need lots of ram if you are doing video or photograph editing or virtual machines or if you have lots of programs open all at once if you don't have many application open at once then its a bit pointless buying the ram and putting inside the machine if you aren't going to use it with the money from the ram you could be something else instead for you mac air or something completely different.

    i have iMac 2.66ghz early 2009 model
    and there is sometimes i have needed the extra ram for doing something on my machine but i could count the times on my fingers that i have needed to
    use that extra bit of ram for things

    if you aren't doing anything from above you be fine with 4GB of ram i should of thought
     
  13. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2010
    Location:
    Michigan
    #13

    Even *IF* 4GB is enough today, and that's *IF*, it will not be enough for very long. Memory requirement always increase over time. I'd spend the $100 bucks and get the 8 GB. If possible get the get the larger SSD as well. It will last longer and perform better. Running out of memory or storage is very painful. However, I understand that money doesn't grow on tree. Since I don't see memory upgrades for MBA on OWC's web site I assume that it cannot be upgraded after purchase. If that is true, get the memory if you can only do one. You can always added external storage. There is no good way to make up for memory.
     

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