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macman4789

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jul 12, 2007
314
21
Hi,

I know this ‘dilemma’ has been done to death. I remember buying a MBP with 16GB RAM in 2013 (I think!).

I’ve read the different threads etc but just wanted to ask, with 16GB now slowly becoming the recommended memory configuration for most people unless very light usage. How long can you expect 16GB to be sufficient for general Office, productivity/web based work etc with a bit of light photo editing? (The usual ‘casual/amateur/typical’ MBA user.

Secondly, for someone who has 16GB with the new M3 chip, how is memory pressure with multiple tabs open and the usual usage case?

Many thanks
 

za9ra22

macrumors 65816
Sep 25, 2003
1,352
1,492
It really depends almost entirely on what you're doing. If Apple actually made any really 'pro' apps any longer, you'd expect these to demand much higher RAM minima that their general use applications, so for video and photo editing, as apps grow to include new features, you'd be looking at far less probable 'future proofing' than if you were using iMovie and Photos.

But since Apple still sell 8Gb base systems, they're tied to support that level of RAM for several years let alone 16. My guess is that a 16Gb system bought today will disintegrate from old age before it runs out of enough RAM for the common tasks described.

A greater 'risk' is the potential for something such as advanced AI apps to get RAM hungry, and since we don't really know what those apps will be, it's anyone's guess what their system demands would be.
 

Torty

macrumors 6502a
Oct 16, 2013
903
665
It really depends almost entirely on what you're doing. If Apple actually made any really 'pro' apps any longer, you'd expect these to demand much higher RAM minima that their general use applications, so for video and photo editing, as apps grow to include new features, you'd be looking at far less probable 'future proofing' than if you were using iMovie and Photos.

But since Apple still sell 8Gb base systems, they're tied to support that level of RAM for several years let alone 16. My guess is that a 16Gb system bought today will disintegrate from old age before it runs out of enough RAM for the common tasks described.

A greater 'risk' is the potential for something such as advanced AI apps to get RAM hungry, and since we don't really know what those apps will be, it's anyone's guess what their system demands would be.
But apple is apple and those new AI features will only work on the latest and greatest SOCs.

So if this is the case and you will need those features it’s time for an upgrade anyway.
 

za9ra22

macrumors 65816
Sep 25, 2003
1,352
1,492
But apple is apple and those new AI features will only work on the latest and greatest SOCs.
This we don't know. Nor is there any way to know - except that supposedly, the M3 SoC has enhanced AI capabilities, and they put that in quite a lot of 8Gb systems, let alone 16. It isn't much of a clue, but the only one we know.
 
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Torty

macrumors 6502a
Oct 16, 2013
903
665
This we don't know. Nor is there any way to know - except that supposedly, the M3 SoC has enhanced AI capabilities, and they put that in quite a lot of 8Gb systems, let alone 16. It isn't much of a clue, but the only one we know.
M3 has the "old" neural engine. With the A18 there will be something shiny new. I think it makes no sense to plan too much into the future with apple products. Check what you need today and if you want to get a bit more.
 

za9ra22

macrumors 65816
Sep 25, 2003
1,352
1,492
M3 has the "old" neural engine. With the A18 there will be something shiny new. I think it makes no sense to plan too much into the future with apple products. Check what you need today and if you want to get a bit more.
Whatever the M3 has, it's the latest, and specifically quoted as 'AI ready' - as per Apple's web site, which is itself fairly meaningless.

"MacBook Air with M3 leverages the incredible AI performance of the Neural Engine to deliver intelligent macOS features that enhance productivity and creativity, including powerful camera features, real-time speech to text, and visual understanding.

And with access to a broad ecosystem of apps that deliver advanced AI features, users can do everything from checking their homework with AI Math Assistance in Goodnotes, to automatically enhancing photos in Pixelmator Pro, to removing background noise from a video using CapCut."


If I'm not mistaken, the A18 will be Apple's iPhone processor. Not exactly the same thing.
 

Torty

macrumors 6502a
Oct 16, 2013
903
665
Whatever the M3 has, it's the latest, and specifically quoted as 'AI ready' - as per Apple's web site, which is itself fairly meaningless.

"MacBook Air with M3 leverages the incredible AI performance of the Neural Engine to deliver intelligent macOS features that enhance productivity and creativity, including powerful camera features, real-time speech to text, and visual understanding.

And with access to a broad ecosystem of apps that deliver advanced AI features, users can do everything from checking their homework with AI Math Assistance in Goodnotes, to automatically enhancing photos in Pixelmator Pro, to removing background noise from a video using CapCut."


If I'm not mistaken, the A18 will be Apple's iPhone processor. Not exactly the same thing.
Ok but when there is the M4, which is based on A18, the M3 is already old. And yes M3 could do it but Apple is locking SW features for older devices. At least they do it for iPhone all the time. Don’t think it’s different for Mac.
 

MacProFCP

Contributor
Jun 14, 2007
1,184
2,611
Michigan
Hi,

I know this ‘dilemma’ has been done to death. I remember buying a MBP with 16GB RAM in 2013 (I think!).

I’ve read the different threads etc but just wanted to ask, with 16GB now slowly becoming the recommended memory configuration for most people unless very light usage. How long can you expect 16GB to be sufficient for general Office, productivity/web based work etc with a bit of light photo editing? (The usual ‘casual/amateur/typical’ MBA user.

Secondly, for someone who has 16GB with the new M3 chip, how is memory pressure with multiple tabs open and the usual usage case?

Many thanks

Currently, 16 GB is my minimum recommendation. For video editing or other professional tasks, I recommend 32 GB.

My guess is that within five years, I’ll be getting 32 for basic tasks and 64+ for professional work.

I imagine my next MBA will have 24 GB.
 

Lift Bar

macrumors regular
Nov 1, 2023
138
254
Hi,

I know this ‘dilemma’ has been done to death. I remember buying a MBP with 16GB RAM in 2013 (I think!).

I’ve read the different threads etc but just wanted to ask, with 16GB now slowly becoming the recommended memory configuration for most people unless very light usage. How long can you expect 16GB to be sufficient for general Office, productivity/web based work etc with a bit of light photo editing? (The usual ‘casual/amateur/typical’ MBA user.

Secondly, for someone who has 16GB with the new M3 chip, how is memory pressure with multiple tabs open and the usual usage case?

Many thanks
If you don't think you need more than 8GB then you most likely don't. But you also probably don't need a new MacBook. Get an old MacBook. Any old laptop with an SSD will work fine for 90% of usage for most people.

As far as longevity: general office, productivity, web-based work with a bit of light photo editing... can be done painlessly on a 2014 MacBook today. With a new battery and SSD the 2014 MacBook will likely still be good for the same in 2034.
 

za9ra22

macrumors 65816
Sep 25, 2003
1,352
1,492
Ok but when there is the M4, which is based on A18, the M3 is already old. And yes M3 could do it but Apple is locking SW features for older devices. At least they do it for iPhone all the time. Don’t think it’s different for Mac.
I have to say that I have no idea. The A18 looks like less cores and designed for ultra-low power use, so I suspect it's similar, but different enough that as with all things that don't exist yet, a bit speculative.

However, I somewhat doubt whatever (probably awful) push into AI that Apple decide to do, will be hindered by the latest desktop chips. With Apple though, all things (except common sense) is possible.
 

Torty

macrumors 6502a
Oct 16, 2013
903
665
Hi,

I know this ‘dilemma’ has been done to death. I remember buying a MBP with 16GB RAM in 2013 (I think!).

I’ve read the different threads etc but just wanted to ask, with 16GB now slowly becoming the recommended memory configuration for most people unless very light usage. How long can you expect 16GB to be sufficient for general Office, productivity/web based work etc with a bit of light photo editing? (The usual ‘casual/amateur/typical’ MBA user.

Secondly, for someone who has 16GB with the new M3 chip, how is memory pressure with multiple tabs open and the usual usage case?

Many thanks
Having had a MBP for a very long time (from 2012): It came with 4GB Ram but I upgraded it to 8GB a year or so later. 16 GB was a lot back then.
8GB are still OK (it runs Mojave, never had RAM issues) but it lacks now SW support and it's more CPU limited. More demanding web sites are taking all CPU resources. 16GB 16GB wouldn't have helped.

I don't know why RAM is such a topic now, there was a time when swapping was really annoying because of the slow HDs. But now we all have the SSDs.
 

Klae17

macrumors 65816
Jul 15, 2011
1,227
1,577
This we don't know. Nor is there any way to know - except that supposedly, the M3 SoC has enhanced AI capabilities, and they put that in quite a lot of 8Gb systems, let alone 16. It isn't much of a clue, but the only one we know.
we actually 100% know that apple would absolutely keep the best features for only the newest chips and give people something to upgrade to.
 
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john123

macrumors 68030
Jul 20, 2001
2,581
1,535
If you don't think you need more than 8GB then you most likely don't. But you also probably don't need a new MacBook. Get an old MacBook. Any old laptop with an SSD will work fine for 90% of usage for most people.

As far as longevity: general office, productivity, web-based work with a bit of light photo editing... can be done painlessly on a 2014 MacBook today. With a new battery and SSD the 2014 MacBook will likely still be good for the same in 2034.
Unless, of course, you're cool with the possibility of security risks and exploits. Oh and of course not being able to use apps and their updates when they go full-Silicon. In which case, 2014 FTW!
 

ifxf

macrumors 6502
Jun 7, 2011
375
626
Google is recommending 8 GB for its AI and for speed of response it should always be resident. Don’t know what other AI models would require but it should be similar. Always in memory should be the same for other models since multiple apps will eventually take advantage of AI.
 
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joeblow7777

macrumors 604
Sep 7, 2010
7,033
8,656
This is the eternal question in tech; "how long before my current specs are obsolete?"
No one can ever answer this question as no one can tell the future.
If I had to guess, I expect that 16GB of RAM will be sufficient for most users for some years yet.
 

ForkHandles

macrumors 6502
Jun 8, 2012
457
1,098
Hi,

I know this ‘dilemma’ has been done to death. I remember buying a MBP with 16GB RAM in 2013 (I think!).

I’ve read the different threads etc but just wanted to ask, with 16GB now slowly becoming the recommended memory configuration for most people unless very light usage. How long can you expect 16GB to be sufficient for general Office, productivity/web based work etc with a bit of light photo editing? (The usual ‘casual/amateur/typical’ MBA user.

Secondly, for someone who has 16GB with the new M3 chip, how is memory pressure with multiple tabs open and the usual usage case?

Many thanks
Go for 16gb but you really won’t notice the difference between that and an 8gb version. It’s milliseconds at best, and small seconds when rendering video projects.

As others have said it’s good to future proof yourself.
 

spamabyss

macrumors newbie
Dec 4, 2021
28
86
Hi,

I know this ‘dilemma’ has been done to death. I remember buying a MBP with 16GB RAM in 2013 (I think!).

I’ve read the different threads etc but just wanted to ask, with 16GB now slowly becoming the recommended memory configuration for most people unless very light usage. How long can you expect 16GB to be sufficient for general Office, productivity/web based work etc with a bit of light photo editing? (The usual ‘casual/amateur/typical’ MBA user.
As long as they are still selling MacBook Pro! with 8gb base ram I don’t think you‘ll have a problem with general Office and productivity for the foreseeable future. I‘d be surprised if you‘ll see more than 16gb base ram within the next 10 years. You‘ll be fine.
 

TechnoMonk

macrumors 68000
Oct 15, 2022
1,591
2,106
But apple is apple and those new AI features will only work on the latest and greatest SOCs.

So if this is the case and you will need those features it’s time for an upgrade anyway.
Not true, my M1 Max works great with pretty much all Apple AI/deep learning and ML tools. It may not be as fast as M3 Max, but does pretty much anything M3 max does, may be slower depending on use case.
 
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TechnoMonk

macrumors 68000
Oct 15, 2022
1,591
2,106
16 GB is pretty good configuration, my family uses a base M2 MBA with 8 Gb, and they love it. How often do you upgrade, for me I usually upgrade RAm before storage to fit with in my budget.
 

bluedoggiant

macrumors 68030
Jul 13, 2007
2,564
51
MD & ATL,GA
If you don't think you need more than 8GB then you most likely don't. But you also probably don't need a new MacBook. Get an old MacBook. Any old laptop with an SSD will work fine for 90% of usage for most people.

As far as longevity: general office, productivity, web-based work with a bit of light photo editing... can be done painlessly on a 2014 MacBook today. With a new battery and SSD the 2014 MacBook will likely still be good for the same in 2034.

No way lol. My 2013 loaded MBP became useless this year. The fans spin constantly even with the computer in sleep mode with lid closed, spotlight and mail app search is non functional, has not received MacOS updates in years. Zoom and Teams calls overload the computer at best, assuming the other line can hear you over the fan noise.
 

Allen_Wentz

Suspended
Dec 3, 2016
2,683
2,967
USA
Having had a MBP for a very long time (from 2012): It came with 4GB I don't know why RAM is such a topic now, there was a time when swapping was really annoying because of the slow HDs. But now we all have the SSDs.
What does one buy a computer for? I buy to compute with. RAM has always been the best way to compute, but costly. RAM needs always increase over time and anyone who thinks that is no longer the case should take note of Apple making 128 GB available in laptops.

The Mac OS will make low RAM work. It just depends if one wants to cripple their pricey box with less than ideal available RAM. Each buyer chooses.
 
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