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myphotoyear

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Nov 3, 2022
11
4
Does anyone else think this year (WWDC!?!) or at least by the next iteration (M4) 16GB will become the base amount of RAM, or would that be silly talk?

Just thinking of both Snapdragon X Elite-based Windows laptops, shipping soon and next-gen Intel (Q3) Lunar Lake-based laptops, both start at 16GB of RAM, for good reason and go well with AI ambitions for on-device processing amongst other things. MBA with a 16GB upgrade is relatively pricey for what you are getting really, though obviously in a very nice package.
 
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Lex404

macrumors regular
Sep 15, 2023
244
416
PL (&US, JP)
Honestly, I lost hope.
Until 8GB doesn't become completely insufferable, we won't see a bump on the base specs.

The MBA 2015 shipped with 4GB RAM, 8GB was already standard for a few years.

What's annoying is that, compared with SSDs (which are apple inflated but whatever), RAM really doesn't cost much. It's a cheap thing that can drive much more performance.
 

Nbd1790

macrumors 6502
Jan 2, 2017
352
277
New York
I have a feeling that if it were to happen at all, it would be exclusive to the Pro machines and the Air would continue to have 8GB as its base configuration. This would further separate the base M series Pro machine and the Air.
 

theluggage

macrumors 604
Jul 29, 2011
7,622
7,745
Just thinking of both Snapdragon X Elite-based Windows laptops, shipping soon and next-gen Intel (Q3) Lunar Lake-based laptops, both start at 16GB of RAM, for good reason and go well with AI ambitions for on-device processing amongst other things.
The fact that even Microsoft are finally moving to 16GB base RAM ought to shame Apple into shifting. MS Surface was always the main "competitor" to Apple when it came to high prices for low specs. Now, I believe 16GB is the "recommended" RAM for the new AI facilities that MS and Intel are touting - and there's no plausible argument why Apple should need less if they're going to make a thing about running AI models locally.

However, the ridiculous $200-per-8GB price Apple wants for RAM upgrades has been baked into Apple's pricing structure as a device for product demarcation for years (even back when they wanted that for bog standard DDR DIMMs). If you look at the M3 MBP prices, they're even "charging" an extra $100 for M3 Max machines c.f. M2 (the base RAM has moved from 32 to 36GB). If Apple can wean themselves off this then I suspect the base spec will become moot - if they charged a reasonable amount for upgrades, the logistical costs of producing all the permutations of 8GB SoCs wouldn't be worth it.

On past performance, even if they move, they'll probably keep the M2 or M3 Air around as the entry-level option for people who "don't need 16GB" (in which case, they probably "don't need" M4 either).

What's annoying is that, compared with SSDs (which are apple inflated but whatever), RAM really doesn't cost much.

Neither do SSDs up to ~1TB, really - certainly nothing close to Apples price-per-GB, even for faster ones. Plus, SSDs can still potentially wear out and shouldn't be soldered in, full stop. Also, while there are technical power/performance arguments for using on-package LPDDR RAM (and LPDDR has to be soldered in until/unless the new LPCAMM format takes off) SSD is still an order of magnitude slower and doesn't have the same short-trace requirements - as demonstrated by the fact that the Mac Studio and Mac Pro do have plug-in SSD modules (albeit proprietary).
 

FreakinEurekan

macrumors 603
Sep 8, 2011
5,892
2,888
I would certainly expect any base-spec bump to come to the MacBook Pro first, e.g. the MacBook Pro had 8GB base in 2013 but the MacBook Air stayed 4GB until 2017.
 
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JPack

macrumors G5
Mar 27, 2017
12,833
24,262
At best, Apple will tout the benefits of a fast SSD for swapping. I don’t foresee a memory increase until M5 at the earliest.
 

raythompsontn

macrumors 6502a
Feb 8, 2023
606
813
I still see some computers being sold, especially on HSN, with 4GB of memory, 64GB SSD and running Windows in "S" mode. They sell hundreds, if not thousands, of those systems. People still get some work done on those systems. Reading email, web browser, light word processing or spreadsheets, watching videos seem to work OK.

People that need more memory on a Mac know who they are and will acquire such. Most of the rest of the Mac owners do just fine with 8GB on the Mac. Until that changes Apple is not going to eliminate a cash cow on the memory upgrade prices.

I did just fine on a Mac M1 Air with 8GB for a couple of years until I acquired my M2 Air. I reserved heavy duty use for my desktop and the Mac for road trips and the usual stuff associated with road trips.

For the future? Who knows. Until there is a radical shift in use and needs (AI anyone) I don't see Apple changing direction and upping the base memory. I would like to be proven wrong.
 

roadkill401

macrumors 6502
Jan 11, 2015
480
104
Does anyone else think this year (WWDC!?!) or at least by the next iteration (M4) 16GB will become the base amount of RAM, or would that be silly talk?

Just thinking of both Snapdragon X Elite-based Windows laptops, shipping soon and next-gen Intel (Q3) Lunar Lake-based laptops, both start at 16GB of RAM, for good reason and go well with AI ambitions for on-device processing amongst other things. MBA with a 16GB upgrade is relatively pricey for what you are getting really, though obviously in a very nice package.

I don't see why 8gb ram is so much of an issue for a MacBook Air? sure that someone who is doing so serious computing will likely need more, but for the average user that isn't the case.

Screenshot 2024-06-06 at 9.17.58 PM.png


I have a 16gb MacBook Air and most of the time it's well below the 8gb mark. I have run it with Logic Pro and honestly haven't found the memory pressure ever get above 24% and that is with a larger of my music files. Perhaps I am just a lightweight when it comes to computer use. But by comparison, I use far more than most of the users that I have seen at the Apple Store picking up an Air for themselves. Why would Apple need to give more memory and drive up the price. Right now it's suckers like you (and me) who are willing to pay the extra $250cdn for me to get more memory that we likely do not need 80% of the time.
 

phrehdd

macrumors 601
Oct 25, 2008
4,356
1,342
I don't see why 8gb ram is so much of an issue for a MacBook Air? sure that someone who is doing so serious computing will likely need more, but for the average user that isn't the case.

View attachment 2385849

I have a 16gb MacBook Air and most of the time it's well below the 8gb mark. I have run it with Logic Pro and honestly haven't found the memory pressure ever get above 24% and that is with a larger of my music files. Perhaps I am just a lightweight when it comes to computer use. But by comparison, I use far more than most of the users that I have seen at the Apple Store picking up an Air for themselves. Why would Apple need to give more memory and drive up the price. Right now it's suckers like you (and me) who are willing to pay the extra $250cdn for me to get more memory that we likely do not need 80% of the time.
I see it this way - if Apple had put into the OS or at least Safari some quality memory management, then the "8 gig" amount should be the minimum. Reality tells a very different story for many of us. Web pages with certain scrpt behind it can sit there sucking the life out of your system to the point where other apps pause, freeze, or run slower than they should. 16 gigs is a bandaid fix in some instance and in others, a great fit to help keep things running smooth.

I don't see myself ever advocating that 8 gigs of RAM is enough. The OS and newer apps are more cpu/gpu/RAM hungry these days.
 

shakopeemn

macrumors regular
Jul 29, 2014
215
140
However, the ridiculous $200-per-8GB price Apple wants for RAM upgrades has been baked into Apple's pricing structure as a device for product demarcation for years (even back when they wanted that for bog standard DDR DIMMs). If you look at the M3 MBP prices, they're even "charging" an extra $100 for M3 Max machines c.f. M2 (the base RAM has moved from 32

It's not ridiculous. For better or worse, the 8GB RAM price is part of the Apple plan to be extremely profitable. They're counting on consumers specing more memory than the barebones.
 
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theluggage

macrumors 604
Jul 29, 2011
7,622
7,745
I still see some computers being sold, especially on HSN, with 4GB of memory, 64GB SSD and running Windows in "S" mode. They sell hundreds, if not thousands, of those systems. People still get some work done on those systems.
Sure - at $200-$400 for a complete laptop. (quick browse on Currys.co.uk - a large UK high-street retailer, not always the cheapest) - shows me a 4GB/128GB Lenovo IdeaPad for £169). No way comparable with any Mac - Apple simply don't have a dog in that race. You're not just "getting by" with 4GB RAM, you're "getting by" with a much slower CPU, slower, slower SSD, inferior display, all of which are still perfectly capable of "getting some work done" and a spot of WP/spreadsheet/email.

On the same site, looking at Lenovo products that might actually bear comparison with Macs, once you go above about £700 it's almost all 16GB/512GB, and once you get to MacBook Pro prices you're usually getting 1TB of SSD and sometimes 32GB of RAM.

Every new 1-2 yearly Apple Silicon release trumpets a 20%+ boost in processor speed, an extra CPU/GPU core or two, some sort of display improvement, faster I/O - none of which are strictly needed by "many people" - yet somehow these are celebrated, but Apple get a free pass for having frozen the base RAM 10 years ago... despite all of those other improvements increasing the need for RAM.

I have a 16gb MacBook Air and most of the time it's well below the 8gb mark.

So, some of the time it's at or above the 8GB mark...?

With all of these things, efficiency starts to plummet as soon as you get close to maximum capacity, so using 7.9 GB on a 16GB system is one thing, using 7.9 GB on an 8GB system is quite something else...

...but on any other system, adding that bit of breathing space would be a no-brainer, esp. if it couldn't be upgraded after purchase. It's increasingly - out of the top 5 PC vendors - only Apple that wants $200 for $50 (retail, ball park) worth of extra RAM.

Maybe one day far far in the future it will happen.

Microsoft - who, on their Surface range, were the go-to example of copying Apple's low default specs & sky-high upgrade prices - have now made 16GB the default RAM for their new AI PC features (which the industry hath decreed that you want) - including the new Snapdragon Elite-based Surfaces which are very much focussed on competing with Apple Silicon & we know that, with the M4, Apple are responding with their own AI hype. That might be the nail in the coffin for £1200+ laptops only coming with 8GB RAM. MS aren't a top 5 PC vendor, but where they go, HPDellnovosus will follow - probably at lower prices.
 

DaveEcc

macrumors regular
Oct 17, 2022
126
213
Ottawa, ON, Canada
For M4? No. We already have 8GB M4s for sale right now, as iPads.

I don't care what the lowest spec system is, as long as I can increase it, and Apple has some non-custom non-lowest spec options, so other stores will carry it... and we already got that with a standard 16GB Air configuration.
 
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raythompsontn

macrumors 6502a
Feb 8, 2023
606
813
Sure - at $200-$400 for a complete laptop. (quick browse on Currys.co.uk - a large UK high-street retailer, not always the cheapest) - shows me a 4GB/128GB Lenovo IdeaPad for £169). No way comparable with any Mac - Apple simply don't have a dog in that race. You're not just "getting by" with 4GB RAM, you're "getting by" with a much slower CPU, slower, slower SSD, inferior display, all of which are still perfectly capable of "getting some work done" and a spot of WP/spreadsheet/email.

I realize that. These $400.00 machines also have touch screens which people think they want. The people that buy these machines are indeed "getting by". As long as that continues to be true I don't see Apple increasing the base memory. The people here arguing for more memory are a trivial minority of Mac users.

The average Mac user probably does little more than email, some minor photo editing, small documents, a spreadsheet with the weekly budget. Those tasks will run fine on 8GB. These users are not buying Macs because they need processing power. They are buying Macs for overall system integration into their other Apple devices. Many of these users also believe a Mac is easier to use. For many that is true. Others just hate Microsoft.

Those that do more, need more, know they need more, and will purchase the resources and will buy more resources. That is money for Apple and the stockholders. I don't see Apple changing that stance.
 

leifp

macrumors 6502
Feb 8, 2008
404
385
Canada
Is there a need you have for 16GB to be the base memory amount? It sounds like you’re advocating your use case scenario as “minimum spec”. If Apple does not sell a RAM amount that you require, that is an issue. If you require more than the base amount of RAM, they offer that. I’ll repeat here what I have elsewhere: I’m responsible for computing decisions for about ten people (some share their machines) and of those, only two require more than 8GB RAM, and one of those is me… and the other is an egregious tab creator in browsers…
 

theluggage

macrumors 604
Jul 29, 2011
7,622
7,745
If you require more than the base amount of RAM, they offer that.
...but at an enormous price. Upgrading a base MBA to a more sensible 16GB RAM/512GB SSD configuration - the default on most credible competitors - increases the price by 40%! It also rules out a lot of discount offers on the base machines from retailers, increasing the effective price even more.

Reducing the upgrade price would help - but would make 16GB a no brainer upgrade and probably not worth Apple's while to make 8GB SoCs.

and the other is an egregious tab creator in browsers…
Sure, I wouldn't do that, but I don't think someone paying over $1k for a laptop should have to worry about opening browser tabs. Also bear in mind that many modern sites don't work so well with bookmarks, and many applications now run either in the browser or via browser tech like electron.
 

DaveEcc

macrumors regular
Oct 17, 2022
126
213
Ottawa, ON, Canada
Upgrading the Air's RAM to 16GB costs CAD$250, but includes the CAD$125 GPU upgrade. So the RAM, while overpriced, sure, is not as overpriced as it initially seems...

The forced bundling of a GPU upgrade to get RAM is kinda annoying, but I understand Apple's desire to limit the number of variations they need to build and stock too. You're getting something for that money, just perhaps not exactly what you needed. That's been standard Apple since forever. The value is good for what you get, you just can't choose exactly what it is you get.
 

EugW

macrumors G5
Jun 18, 2017
14,197
11,970
I'm predicting the base configuration to go to 12 GB (not 16 GB) by 2025. (I used to say 2025-2026 but I'm growing more optimistic it will be sooner rather than later).

For M4? No. We already have 8GB M4s for sale right now, as iPads.
Ironically, teardowns show that they are actually 12 GB, with 4 GB deactivated (or at least some of them are).
 
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krspkbl

macrumors 68020
Jul 20, 2012
2,192
5,294
The next Air is gonna be M4 and I think 12-18GB will be the standard on the M4 Air. Of course Apple will still sell an M3 with 8GB at the entry price of $999. 8GB is not great but it's still good enough for most people.

With their focus on AI then the RAM and possibly storage base specs need to increase. Not so much storage but AI programs will eat all the RAM you through at it... if it's demanding enough. MacOS will probably see a significant increase in size due to the size of models which can be as small as ~30GB and anywhere up to ~300GB for more advanced models.

There's a reason that the GPUs that every AI company use has RAM in the 100-400GB range now (or soon). My PC gpu has 16GB VRAM (+64GB RAM) and that's no where near enough. Even if I bought a 4090 then 24GB wouldn't be enough for some AI things.

Of course it depends on how demanding the on device AI is but with Apple using unified memory I think even 18GB would be too little. It might do fine for the M4 Macs for now but I suspect over the next few years we'll start to see RAM increase significantly if this whole AI boom keeps going.
 

EugW

macrumors G5
Jun 18, 2017
14,197
11,970
The next Air is gonna be M4 and I think 12-18GB will be the standard on the M4 Air.
I think we can be 100% sure it won't be 18 GB.

Of course Apple will still sell an M3 with 8GB at the entry price of $999. 8GB is not great but it's still good enough for most people.
Yup. I wouldn't put it past them to just keep the M2 though, and discontinue the M3.
 

DaveEcc

macrumors regular
Oct 17, 2022
126
213
Ottawa, ON, Canada
There's a reason that the GPUs that every AI company use has RAM in the 100-400GB range now (or soon). My PC gpu has 16GB VRAM (+64GB RAM) and that's no where near enough. Even if I bought a 4090 then 24GB wouldn't be enough for some AI things.
Nobody is expecting the low-end entry level 8GB system to run the same AI models that a PC w/ 64GB + 4090 w/ 24GB can't even run. I mean, it's insane to expect it to. Why would anyone look at a fully loaded high-end desktop PC rig, admit that even it can't run some heavy AI processes, then turn around and complain that since the lowest-end base-spec Macbook Air laptop can't run such things either, therefore Apple is doomed.

The M4 systems can be focussed on AI without needing to run and train the highest-end largest AI models that exist.

The benefit of Apple Silicon is that if you do buy a system w/ 64GB, that 64GB can be system memory, or NPU memory, or GPU memory as needed. You're not capped at the GPUs 24GB.

A fully-spec'd out Air will also be limited to 24GB, sure, but if you're doing heavy AI work, get a Pro, Max, or Ultra that suits your workflow. Don't expect the lowest-tier laptop CPU to match the specs of the highest-tier desktop PC.
 

lowendlinux

macrumors 603
Sep 24, 2014
5,446
6,762
Germany
I don't see why 8gb ram is so much of an issue for a MacBook Air? sure that someone who is doing so serious computing will likely need more, but for the average user that isn't the case.

View attachment 2385849

I have a 16gb MacBook Air and most of the time it's well below the 8gb mark. I have run it with Logic Pro and honestly haven't found the memory pressure ever get above 24% and that is with a larger of my music files. Perhaps I am just a lightweight when it comes to computer use. But by comparison, I use far more than most of the users that I have seen at the Apple Store picking up an Air for themselves. Why would Apple need to give more memory and drive up the price. Right now it's suckers like you (and me) who are willing to pay the extra $250cdn for me to get more memory that we likely do not need 80% of the time.
because people see screen shots like this


Screenshot 2024-06-08 at 1.02.59 AM.png

And see 13GB used even though I'm using very little RAM
 

arcite

macrumors 6502a
I think many in here have a fundamental misunderstanding on how OSX utilizes RAM. OSX will use the RAM that is available. If it’s 8, it’ll use it up, if it’s 16, it’ll use that up too. There isn’t much point having unused RAM just sitting there doing nothing.

Honestly, so many of these threads about 8 or 16 gigs is just whining. Most people don’t need more than 8 gigs….Apple knows this. If you want more, pay up.
 
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theluggage

macrumors 604
Jul 29, 2011
7,622
7,745
Upgrading the Air's RAM to 16GB costs CAD$250, but includes the CAD$125 GPU upgrade. So the RAM, while overpriced, sure, is not as overpriced as it initially seems...
Sort of - If you wanted the extra GPU and didn't want a larger SSD. Otherwise it's rather offset by the $200 they want for an extra 256GB of storage:

(A) M3 Air, 8 CPU, 8 GPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD 30W PSU = US$1099
(A+BTO) M3 Air, 8 CPU, 10 GPU, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD 30W PSU = US$1299
(B) M3 Air, 8 CPU, 10 GPU, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD 35W dual PSU = US$1299
(C) M3 Air, 8 CPU, 10 GPU, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD 35W dual PSU = US$1499

Nobody is expecting the low-end entry level 8GB system to run the same AI models that a PC w/ 64GB + 4090 w/ 24GB can't even run.
If you look at what Microsoft/Qualcomm are promoting with the new Snapdragon systems, what Apple have said so far about the M4 iPad and the speculation for WWDC, the "next big thing" is running AI models locally (no spies-in-the-cloud) on thin'n'crispy ultraportable devices, using the dedicated "neural engines" on the SoCs rather than GPUs alone. The AI applications they are talking about are largely "personal productivity" things aimed at regular users - better searching, automatically writing emails etc. and not developers training AI models. Microsoft's recommended minimum RAM for these wonderful (/s) new features is 16GB, and there's no reason to expect that to decrease on Macs (...since in many cases they're going to be buying in the exact same software). Now, I'm struggling to get excited about the monstrous lovechild of ELiza and Clippy - but it's where the market is heading.

Ironically, teardowns show that they are actually 12 GB, with 4 GB deactivated (or at least some of them are).
Highly plausible - economies of scale are everything with electronics, and as the industry moves to larger RAM capacity (esp. 16GB now being the minimum for son-of-Clippy), smaller capacity chips/dies will start to become disproportionately expensive as demand decreases - plus there are economies in using the same 6GB chips across more products, so 12GB with 4GB disabled could easily become cheaper (for Apple) than "true" 8GB machines.

Of course, those sorts of shenanigans really don't play well with consumers when they find out...

And see 13GB used even though I'm using very little RAM

Well, no, if you're using 13GB of RAM, you're using 13GB of RAM but the data shows that the system is already having to compress some application data and "only" has 3GB spare for caching files. For comparison, my 32GB machine (which is overkill, but that was the minimum on the M1 Max Studio I got for other reasons) with a few Chrome tabs and Logic playing multi-track audio is showing no compressed RAM, 15GB of cached files and minimum memory pressure.

The "green" memory pressure is confirming that you don't have a RAM shortage that might be significantly slowing things down - by some arbitrary threshold between green, orange and red decided by Apple - but it ain't at minimum. Overall, I'd read that screenshot as saying that you have an appropriate amount of memory - including a bit of headroom - for what you're doing. Which is what you want. Your 16GB RAM is working for its keep. You certainly don't need a system to be running with orange or red memory pressure to justify having so much RAM - it's an almost universal rule that running any resource at 100% is ineffective.

If you want more, pay up.

If it were just the entry-level $999 M2 Air or $600 M2 Mini that came with 8GB that might be defensible... but by the time you pay $1200 for a "better" M3 Air - and certainly $1600 for a MacBook Pro then, sorry, "good enough for many" doesn't cut it. A refurb M1 Air, or even a $300 Chromebook is "good enough for many".

The root problem is the cost of the upgrades (esp. paired with the equally overpriced SSD bumps). It's just that if Apple weren't trousering such huge upgrade fees it would probably cost them less - after logistics and economies of scale - to standardise on 16GB. Nobody is asking for the base price to go up to pay for 16GB.
 
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