MBA 13 - 4 gb memory barely enough.....

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Meric, Dec 2, 2010.

  1. macrumors regular

    Nov 24, 2010
    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?
  2. macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Dec 25, 2003
    Northern Virginia
    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...
  3. macrumors 6502a

    Jan 7, 2009
    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.
  4. macrumors G4

    Oct 23, 2010
    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.
  5. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 30, 2010
    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.


    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.
  6. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2010
    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.
  7. macrumors newbie

    Jul 30, 2010
    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.
  8. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2010
    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.
  9. Moderator emeritus


    Dec 10, 2008
    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.
  10. macrumors 6502a


    Nov 20, 2009
    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.
  11. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 18, 2004
    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)
  12. macrumors Pentium


    Jan 28, 2009
    Quebec, Canada
    Photoshop CS5 runs flawlessly on the MBA 13". :rolleyes:
  13. macrumors 68000


    Sep 19, 2006
    Millis, Massachusetts
    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.
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Jan 7, 2009
    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.,2558-4.html
  15. Moderator emeritus


    Dec 10, 2008
    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.
  16. macrumors 601

    Phil A.

    Apr 2, 2006
    Telford, UK
    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.
  17. macrumors 6502a

    Dec 13, 2008
    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).
  18. macrumors 6502a


    Nov 20, 2009
    Wait what? No that's what bookmarks are for. You're supposed to close tabs after you have read them.
  19. macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2008
    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.
  20. macrumors 6502


    Aug 3, 2010
    Naboo Land
    I thought this was a bit odd, too. I mean, yes, I have several tabs open at once (four right now), but I close them when I'm finished. :confused:
  21. macrumors regular


    Mar 18, 2010
    yeah, run the CS5 suite on a macbook pro or mac pro. if you want to work with images, use pixelmator on your mba.
  22. macrumors 68000


    Apr 12, 2008
    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.
  23. macrumors 6502a

    Jan 7, 2009
    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.
  24. macrumors 6502


    Apr 9, 2010
    Heavy apps

    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.
  25. macrumors 68000


    Apr 12, 2008
    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.:)

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