MBA with parallels? 4GB Ram enough?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by jonfarr, Jan 21, 2013.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    jonfarr

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2012
    Location:
    Portland
    #1
    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?
     
  2. macrumors 6502

    JoshMKB24

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Location:
    Midwest
    #2
    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.
     
  3. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    jonfarr

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2012
    Location:
    Portland
    #3
    Do you use Parallels to run Windows 7?
     
  4. macrumors 68030

    yusukeaoki

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Location:
    Tokyo, Japan
    #4
    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.
     
  5. macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2012
    Location:
    Southern California
    #5
    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.
     
  6. macrumors 68030

    yusukeaoki

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Location:
    Tokyo, Japan
    #6
    Also if you are thinking to run Windows 7 often on your MBA, Id suggest getting a MBP or iMac.
     
  7. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2010
    #7
    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.
     
  8. macrumors 6502

    JoshMKB24

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Location:
    Midwest
    #8
    Nope, sorry. I do have 1 Windows machine, but its running Vista haha
     
  9. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2012
    #9
    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.
     
  10. 2IS
    macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2011
    #10
    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.
     
  11. macrumors 65816

    kylera

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Location:
    Seoul
    #11
    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.
     
  12. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    jonfarr

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2012
    Location:
    Portland
    #12
    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.
     
  13. macrumors 65816

    kylera

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Location:
    Seoul
    #13
    You could order it online - that way you don't have to hunt a store down.
     
  14. macrumors 6502

    7thson

    Joined:
    May 13, 2012
    Location:
    Six Rivers, CA
    #14
    Just curious as to whether you are related to the Jon Farr in His Dark Materials?
     
  15. macrumors 65816

    henry72

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2009
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #15
    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!
     
  16. macrumors 68030

    yusukeaoki

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Location:
    Tokyo, Japan
    #16
    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.
     
  17. macrumors 65816

    kylera

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Location:
    Seoul
    #17
    Ah, yeah, I see that now. Sorry, I only saw that quoted bit.
     
  18. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2010
    #18
    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
     
  19. macrumors G5

    gnasher729

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2005
    #19
    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?
     
  20. macrumors 68000

    nick_elt

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2011
    #20
    Get 8gb. Its worth it. You cant upgrade later.
     
  21. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    jonfarr

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2012
    Location:
    Portland
    #21
    Thanks for the post. I appreciate your input. I doubt I would be as intensive as you.

    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.
     
  22. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2010
    #22
    Sharepoint is your issue, for the record. Only supports live editing on a Windows based system, with proper Office support.
     
  23. macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2010
    #23
    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.
     
  24. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2007
    #24
    4GB + Windows 7 VM sucks. Definitely get 8GB. 4GB is somewhat doable but you're going to hate it in a couple/few years.
     
  25. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2011
    Location:
    New York suburb
    #25
    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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