2012 8 GB vs 2015 4GB


macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 16, 2012
I have to choose between two Macbook Airs for college. Both are 13" and 250 GB.
One is from 2012 with
- 2.0 ghz i7
- 8 GB of ram
The other is from 2015 with
- 1.6 ghz i5
- 4 GB
Does the extra four GB justify staying with the 2012 model? The battery is much better for the 2015 model. I would mostly use it for movies, web, and playing RTS games from the mid 2000s like Age of Mythology and Battle for Middle Earth 2. Sometimes for research I have a lot of tabs open and I have made my 8 GB model crash. This happens infrequently. Does the newer model's faster SSD negate the need for as much ram? Do the HD6000 graphics vs HD 4000 graphics make any difference?


macrumors 68020
Aug 29, 2009
SSDs dicate how fast files can be accessed, RAM dictates how many things can be run at once.


macrumors G4
May 16, 2015
I would say if you have a chance to use them at least a week before deciding, then that would be super great.
For me, more RAM means more app can run at the same time.
CPU performance may be on par between each other.
Better battery is a bonus.
I may choose later model because I can install a few more future versions of OS X.


macrumors 68020
Jan 8, 2008
Tampa, Florida
It sounds like for your uses, it comes down to RAM vs. battery life. For the games you play, the GPU won't make much of a difference at all. It also sounds like most of your work is not CPU-bound, so that is not going to be a major player in your decision. If you keep lots of tabs open while researching, I would go for the machine with 8GB of RAM; it may be older, but it may end up lasting you longer and more productively by having more RAM. Besides, the 2012 Airs are still wonderful machines with very speedy SSDs, USB3, etc.
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Moderator emeritus
Dec 10, 2008
I vote for the 8GB model as well. Apps are constantly using more RAM, so 4GB will definitely not be smooth in a few years.


Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
New Jersey Pine Barrens
SSDs dicate how fast files can be accessed, RAM dictates how many things can be run at once.
If you don't have enough RAM, the operating system will swap files to the SSD. The 2014 MBA will have a much faster SSD than the 2012, so that might make swapping less noticeable. Not sure how much real world difference this makes though. I had a 4gb/256gb 2011 MBA and am sure it was swapping when I ran software like Final Cut Pro, Photoshop and Logic Pro at the same time. But I was never really aware of it. I now have a 2013 8gb/512gb MBA that has a much faster SSD and twice the RAM. Frankly, I don't see a big performance difference in the software I use. Rendering in Final Cut Pro is faster, and there is less latency in Logic Pro however.

Getting back the the original question, there are a couple reasons why the 2012 MBA wouldn't interest me today. One of them is the lack of 802.11ac wifi. I really appreciate the speed difference working with big files on the LAN. I get over 60MB/sec writing to a shared drive over wifi.

The other thing is that battery life on the 2012 model is not nearly as good as the newer models that have more power-efficient CPU's. For me, battery run time is one of the most important specs for a laptop.
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