16 GB RAM for MacBook Air any time soon?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by ybmacbook, Nov 20, 2014.

  1. ybmacbook macrumors newbie

    Nov 20, 2014
    Hi there,

    I wonder whether anyone thinks it is possible that Apple will release a 16 GB RAM Macbook Air in 2015. I am thinking of purchasing an MBA because my 2011 late Macbook Pro (with 8 GB ram) is heavy to lug around. I am of the mindset that if I buy a new laptop, I need to upgrade on the important specs and I think RAM is a very important spec.

    On the other hand, if it is unlikely that there will be a 16 GB MBA any time soon (or if people don't think 16 GB ram would be that good/important for my computing needs), then I would rather buy an existing MBA model now without further wait, because I want to be able to take advantage of a portal, lightweight Macbook as soon as is possible.

    That's basically what I am asking. More details below (a bit long-winded, sorry!)


    I am currently using a late 2011 model of MacBook Pro (13 inch / 8 GB RAM/ 2.4 GHz Intel Core i5). I got it in 2012, so it's been a little over 2 years now. While I am generally happy with my MacBook Pro (especially how quiet it is, compared with my MacBook White 2008 that had a serious CPU whine problem), one thing I don't like about it is its weight (4.5 pounds or 2.06 KG), compounded by the fact that the battery is not removeable (so I can't remove the battery to reduce its weight).

    I use my MacBook Pro as my main computer for work (I have an office PC but I don't use it much), and I used to carry my MacBook Pro back and forth between home and office. I live in a tropical area and even a little physical exertion can be tiring. The weight of the computer made it a real pain to lug it around. So I came up with a solution. I bought a Windows Laptop and set up file synchronization between my MacBook Pro and the Windows PC, using a cloud syncing service (SugarSync).

    So, the arrangment has been: MacBook Pro is used as a desktop in office, and Windows PC is used as a desktop at home. The important files are all synced between the two. When I finish work in the office, I can go straight home and continue working on my home laptop. Any work done on the home computer will then be automatically synced to my MacBook Pro through the cloud. Seamless arragnment, as it seemed. And there is no need any more to carry my heavy laptop with me. What a liberation - I thought!

    However, recently, I discovered that the syncing software (SugarSync) has serious problems. While it works fine most of the time, sometimes it fails to sync properly without any warning, with very grave consequences (inadvertently editing on older versions of the file in the other computer, thus losing work as a result).

    So I am having to re-think my current computing arrangement. I now am of the view that I should not trust any syncing software when it can potentially wreak havoc on important files. I should perhaps go back to just using a dedicated compute at all times!

    But I can't possibly lug the 4.5 pounds MacBook Pro back and forth - that is out of the question.

    So it seems that the logical solution is to buy a MacBook Air which is intended for easy portability, with its exceptional light weight. I have been looking into this and was almost taking out my credit card to order one, when I discovered that currently, MacBook Air does not allow more than 8 GB of RAM - which is not ideal for me. My philosophy when it comes to upgrading computers is to always buy a new model that exceeds the current one in all the most important specifications. My current Pro has 8 GB, I want more RAM for my new MacBook Air.

    I will say that my current Pro works fine and is not slow when I work on it (though it takes a while to boot, I dont' know why (Perhaps too many applications?). The main software I use are Firefox, Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat Pro, and SPSS (statistics), in addition to that syncing software (SugarSync).

    However, I am now also looking into incorporating some GTD (Get Things Done) software to facilitate my academic work, including Tinderbox, DevonThink, OmniOutliner, OmniFocus, Scrivener, etc. So it looks like there will be an increase of software use and probably more memory usage (However, I also realize that some people have said more Apps does not necessarily translate into more memory use). This is the main reason I am wondering whether 8 GB will be good enough (so, get an MBA now), and or whether it might be a good idea to wait till Apple releases a new model that allows 16 GB of RAM. That, and also the sentiment I expressed above about always going for higher specs in computer upgrading...

    Mr and Ms Mac Experts, what do you think? Feel free to share your insights!!!!

  2. Dweez macrumors 65816


    Jun 13, 2011
    Down by the river
    For me it seems like the next natural progression, perhaps as a BTO offering?

    I'd JUMP on a 16 (or larger) gig memory capacity MBA.
  3. Gildarts macrumors regular

    Oct 20, 2014

    If your style is "always going for higher specs in computer upgrading" then you should definitely not upgrade right now.

    While the current Haswell processors are good, they're already outdated. Windows OEMS are already rolling out Broadwell laptops. And the Skylake processor coming late next year is expected to be a huge game changer.

    Apple is expected to do a complete redesign of the MBA so if I were you. I'd wait. I'm waiting myself too.

    I'm also of the opinion that the RAM (in any notebook you buy right now) should be at least 16GB. That is, if you want it to last you more than two years.

    More importantly, you never know how use might change. So if you want a laptop that will last you for a long time then I'm in agreement with you that you should spec out so that if you ever decide you want to do video editing or something else than you won't have to buy a computer specifically for that purpose.
  4. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2010
    Does you current MBP have an HDD or an SSD? If it's an HDD, forget about RAM - going from HDD to SSD is the biggest real world upgrade you can get.

    If 16GB RAM had been offered when I bough my MBA, I would have opted for it, but in no way do I need it. I have 8GB, and the only reason I would stick to even that amount in my next MBA is because I use a Virtual Machine every day and I want the extra 'headroom'.

    With an SSD, memory swaps are so fast that extra RAM is less important than it used to be. Unless the programs that you are actively running at any given time require or could use additional RAM, you won't be able to tell the difference. Granted, SSPS can operate on large data sets, so it's possible that more RAM could actually be worthwhile in your case. If you aren't seeing any issues with your current MBP, that is probably not the case though. The last time I used SSPS, RAM was still being measured in MB, so 8GB is probably going to be quite roomy.

    That said, others have pointed out that there will be other updates that will be offered in the next MBA even if the max RAM stays at 8GB. The current MBA is a great system. If you need a new computer now, there's no reason to wait, but if you can hold out until next spring/summer the next version will undoubtably be even better. that's the nature of all computers.

    The tools you mentioned adding to your workflow are not going to be resource hungry.
  5. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I usually buy the top spec myself… in 2011 I got 4gb RAM and 256gb SSD which were the max. In 2013 I got 8gb and 512gb. But I would have to think long and hard about the cost/benefit of taking the next step to 16gb and 1tb if/when it is offered. I believe my 2013 11" i7/8gb/512gb MBA cost $1700. I would find it hard to justify spending much more than that "just in case" I needed the extra capacity at some future date.

    I retired a few years ago but still use Final Cut Pro to edit Sony XDCAM-EX HD video, Logic pro, Filemaker Pro, Vectorworks and other demanding software. I am really quite content with my current MBA for all of this at the present time.
  6. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    Easy and obvious solution: get the software you think you might use in the future now and then run it on your laptop and see what the memory usage (pressure) is like using Activity Monitor.
  7. ybmacbook thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 20, 2014
    Well, let's hope that Apple will offer 16 GB customization soon....


    Thanks everyone for replying!

    Panch0, my current MBP has HDD, and when I do buy MBA, I'll get as much SSD as I can afford! I think you are right that 16 GB probably will not make much of a difference in my case, but given the other important upgrades Apple is likely to offer in 2015, it looks like it's better to wait ...


    Thanks. Your last point is exactly what I was thinking as well. Even though I have not had to do any resource demanding tasks on my computer like video editing, nobody knows what future needs might be...

    Given that Apple might do a complete re-design of MBA, it does look worth waiting now...

  8. tentales macrumors 6502a


    Dec 6, 2010
    8GB will be enough for the workload your proposing.
    Consider this, despite humans' claim to multitasking, we're really just task switchers and you keeping all those Apps opened in parallel is really not practical since with the MBA's built-in SSD, starting any App is so fast that your need for additional RAM is really just a luxury.

    Also, even if your opened Apps force swapping to disk, your MBA "disk" is now north of 500MB/s fast vs a HDD averaging 50-80MB/s.

    Alternatively, switching your existing MBP hard disk for an internal SSD and removing the SuperDrive, will lighten the load quit a bit.

    There's always something new around the corner and to wait for. Go with what you need today.

    It boils down to 2 choices. Buy MBA and max out the specs (i7, 8GB, 512SSD) or upgrade you MBP with SSD drive and wait another year.
  9. ybmacbook thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 20, 2014
    Thanks Tentales for replying. Actually, it does not make that much sense for me to install SSD for my MBP. The thing I don't like about my MBP is not really its speed, it's the weight. That's why I am thinking about buying an MBA, to make it less of a pain to carry my computer around ...

  10. jjhoekstra macrumors regular

    Apr 23, 2009
    My experience is that unless you have a very specific reason for having lots of RAM, f.i. running 2 or more VMs for testing network protocols between two different OSs, there is no reason to get more than 8 GB. On the contrary, 16 GB delays waking up from sleep state noticeably. My MBP with 16 Gb never actually uses more than 8 Gb and that is including editing of 90 min HighDef videos. My advice would be to get a nice MBA and enjoy it.
  11. tentales macrumors 6502a


    Dec 6, 2010
    I understood that, but I also understood that you're contemplating waiting for the MBA to allow 16GB RAM, which may or may not happen with next year's version. Hence, my suggestions to lighten the load on your MBP. Loosing the SuperDrive & HDD for just an SSD makes that wait a bit easier if you choose that.

    If it was my choice, I would go with the maxed out MBA now.
    11" if you really want to go light.
  12. Woochoo macrumors 6502

    Oct 12, 2014
    This makes sense. You'd be surprise how much weigh could you loose changing the superdrive and the HDD. But anyways I know what you say. I've a cMBP 13" and after some time walking with it on your back + magsafe + shell to protect it, it's a pain in the ass.
    I'm also waiting for the next MBA, hope that they carry 8GB in the base model (at least the 13") up to 16GB. I doubt there will be a retina MBA with 4GB RAM since the integrated graphic shares the system memory with the CPU so it takes more memory to allocate all graphics (the double) to display (up to 1,5GB in actual integrated gpus, maybe more in the next ones) + 800MB/1GB of System Wiring, you'd only have 2GB to work with.
  13. Nee412 macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2010
    Sunny England!
    Apple used to sell the base rMBP with 4GB of RAM. So they might sell the first-gen rMBA with the same. It's at least a possibility.
  14. crazzapple Guest

    Oct 19, 2014
    I would absolutely get 16GB at this point. My 6 year old macbook has 8GB and I cannot see getting a new computer with the same amount of ram. As it is I am often bumping against the limit (swap), fortunately the ssd keeps things smooth.
  15. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    I have a MBA that I ordered (a CTO) in 2013 which has 8 GB RAM, and 512 SSD. It is blazing fast, utterly solid, has amazing battery life, and is extraordinarily portable. For what it is worth, it is easily the best computer I have had in my life - a superb machine.

    In fact, it has travelled abroad a lot with me - I live and work abroad and travel a lot which is the main reason I got a MBA, and the weight, speed, and battery life make it a dream to work with.

    Now, I must add that I agree completely with Panch0's post; the SSD - the larger the better - makes an extraordinary difference to the actual speed of the computer and makes an increased RAM somewhat less important. So, while I would argue that the option of 16 GB RAM would be rather nice, if available, I would argue that as things stand now, a generous amount of SSD memory will make a significant difference to the speed of your machine.

    The difference between the old HDD (and I used to have a 2008 MBP) and the stability and speed afforded by a decent SSD drive has to be seen to be believed. It is so striking that I, personally, will never go back to a computer that does not have a SSD drive, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
  16. ybmacbook thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 20, 2014
    I guess the question is how long we would have to wait for the 16 GB option to become available (perhaps plus the processor upgrade that others have talked about). The longer one waits, the more one loses in terms of enjoying the convenience of having a ultra portable machine. I guess anything more than 6 months would probably not be worth the wait for me...

    Also, the Windows laptop I talked about above also has 8 GB (and SSD!). So it's psychologically a little difficult for me to buy another yet 8GB laptop (ending up with three 8GB ram laptops, none of which would be upgradable).

  17. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    I suppose it's nice that you're honest with yourself and understand that your desire for more RAM is psychological and not justified technically.
  18. ybmacbook thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 20, 2014
    Hi there,

    Thanks for this and the subsequence input. I went ahead and did what you suggested. I installed the software that I have been contemplating adding to my workflow. I opened most of them, as well as the software that I usually use. And I took a screenshot of my Activity Monitor (see the attachment as well as the inserted image below).

    It shows 'Memory Used' to be at 6.78 GB. That seems a bit high, or does it? (I don't know what kernel_task (697 MB) and com.apple.IconServicesAgent (230 MB) are. But they seem to use quite a bit of memory...).


  19. Carlos840 macrumors member

    Nov 5, 2013
    Your memory usage is more than fine!

    The way the ram is used, osx will always try to use as much ram as possible, between the App Memory, the File Cache and the wired memory.

    When something needs more ram, the os will start by getting rid of the File Cache and letting apps use that.

    When there is no more available ram and the cache is gone, the os will start compressing ram, compressing what is not currently important.

    Only after no more file cache can be freed and nothing can be compressed will you start paging. Considering you have a fast SSD, paging will not even be as detrimental as it would be on a regular HD.

    I got my first MBA with 4gb of ram and could pretty easily get it to start compressing and paging (memory pressure orange and red) with basic tasks, like web browsing while having other apps opened.
    I returned it and got 8gb of ram, and on this one i can literally open every single app on the computer and still memory pressure stays green.
  20. bniu macrumors 6502a

    Mar 21, 2010
    I'm pretty sure rMBA would start at 4GB RAM, though I doubt it'd go to 16GB.

    What I would like the line to look like with starting and upgrade options:

    rMBA12: Dual Core, 4GB RAM (8GB MAX), 128GB Storage (512GB MAX), HD6000 Graphics
    rMBP13: Dual Core, 8GB RAM (16GB MAX), 256GB Storage (1TB MAX), Iris Graphics
    rMBP15: Quad Core, 16GB RAM, 256GB Storage (1TB MAX), Iris Pro Graphics (Discrete Optional)

    Very clean and simple. 8GB RAM available for all machines, Pros have at least 8GB, 16GB option on the 13", 16GB Standard on the 15". Decent integrated graphics on all machines, Iris on the mid-level, Iris Pro on the high end. Discrete optional on the high end. 256GB minimum on Pros. 1TB option on Pros. 2nd Thunderbolt on Pros, HDMI on Pros, USB 3.0/SD Card standard on all machines, magsafe 2 standard everywhere.

    This also gives some separation between the rMBA and the rMBP13. Pro starts at double the memory and storage of entry air. Pro also gives upgrades double the max air. Pro also has better integrated graphics.

    Pro 15 already has enough to separate itself from Pro 13. Quad core, Iris Pro, and discrete graphics, not to mention 16GB memory standard.
  21. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    LOL. No.

    OS X does everything it can to use all of your physical memory. Most people run enough software and have enough files open that their 'memory used' is very close to the amount of memory that they have.

    What you're seeing is that your memory requirements are SO low that even with a ~2.5GB file cache, OS X still can't figure out how to use all your physical memory.

    With your memory needs, you could switch to 4GB and not notice any difference at all. 16GB would be a complete joke.
  22. crazzapple Guest

    Oct 19, 2014
    I agree. I like to wait for a big leap in technology before upgrading. The "problem" is that when apple made my 6 year old laptop, they made it to be upgraded and so it was trivial to add modern ssd and max 8GB ram. I know the newer processors are much faster and retina is great, but I would not upgrade without at least double the ram I currently have. I am also not thrilled about the new machine not lasting as long because they're not upgradable.
  23. brdeveloper macrumors 68020


    Apr 21, 2010
    I'd like to know how much people still use their 2010 MBAs with 64GB of storage and 2GB of RAM in a daily basis. If it could be easily upgraded to more storage and RAM, they would still be pretty decent machines, but I guess these Macs keep swapping most of the time wearing the SSD. Maybe Mavericks can make 2GBs behave as 3GB, but even then it's a bit tight for anything other than just browsing.
  24. crazzapple Guest

    Oct 19, 2014
    I think those machines would be tough to keep using. Maybe if they stayed on ML, but osx seems to be getting more and more bloated. Lots of features I personally don't need or want (though I know many are happy with).
  25. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Mar 2, 2007
    What I notice is that your Firefox load is almost abnormally low. As it stands here with only a moderate load, I am north of 1.6GB used. Don't take these numbers for cash money.

    That's not my experience with ML-Yosemite. Paging starts before cache is completely freed, and doesn't go back to zero when load decreases.
    Opening apps don't make much of a difference. Loading them does. Web browsers typically seem resource-lean, until you start to open many tabs. Please make your test reflect real-world usage.

    Otherwise, I would agree with the general advice here. OP should get as large a SSD as he can afford. Performance gain is undeniable, but this upgrade unfortunately costs far more than maxing out the RAM. There's a reason why I haven't yet made the jump to SSD as 500GB ones are still very expensive.

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