2GB vs. 4GB dilemma

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by diablo900t, Oct 26, 2010.

  1. diablo900t macrumors newbie

    Oct 26, 2010
    Hey guys,

    Long time lurker, first time poster. I'm considering purchasing the 13" MBA, and i have a bunch of BestBuy credit i want to use to purchase it.

    Only problem is BestBuy doesn't carry any of the 4GB models...and i'm not sure they'll ever carry the 4GB in the lower end 13"s

    My question, for those that have the machines, is if i'd regret not getting the 4GB model...I really don't see myself spending the whole $1399 at the Apple store just to get the extra RAM, so purchasing at BestBuy makes the most sense.

    I'm mainly going to be using this for travel, so movies, a little photoshop and maybe some video editing in iMovie here and there. I could use it as my every day machine here at work for Office and web surfing too, but I don't see myself making a render farm with a MBA

    Thoughts? Suggestions?
  2. ghileman macrumors regular

    Feb 4, 2008
    not an expert on ram vs. processor for what you're describing, but the main reason i've heard people desiring the 4gb of ram is because they plan to install windows.
  3. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    That's odd that Best Buy isn't carrying any of the 4GB models. Are you sure they can't order them?

    Anyway, 2GB will be fine for viewing movies, light Photoshop etc.
  4. montblanc1 macrumors member

    Jun 18, 2009
    If you don'y plan to install Win on your MBA, GO FOR 2GB version
  5. jfulcher macrumors regular

    Jun 11, 2009
    I have the same dilema - I'd rather buy through best buy, but I don't know that they'll offer any 4GB models at all ever.
  6. kurzz macrumors 6502


    May 18, 2007
    I got the 2GB version of the new Air and I've been using it the way I would with my MBP with 4GB. Here are my observations so far:

    I usually have iTunes, Safari with several open tabs, Evernote, Mail,
    Looking at Activity Monitor, I'm noticing that there is a lot of paging in/out activity to virtual memory. It's not really noticeable though, since the SSD is so fast.

    So, I can only conclude that 2GB isn't actually enough for my regular multi-tasking needs yet it is also not affecting performance much even if it uses virtual memory.
  7. mac jones macrumors 68040

    Apr 6, 2006
    Obviously, Apple thinks that 2GB is enough, as that's standard. And I would think they have given some thought about average use.

    So therefore, I would think that if you are an average user that 2GB is enough.

    Make sense? :D
  8. WardC macrumors 68030


    Oct 17, 2007
    Fort Worth, TX
    I went with the 4GB for several reasons:

    1. It's just $100 more (and this is to max it out)

    2. The RAM isn't upgradable in the future, so I should do it now.

    3. OS X Lion (and future OS X releases) might not fare well with only 2GB

    4. Virtualization

    5. I have a Mac Mini with 2GB of RAM, and it fills up fast and goes to VM when running 2 web browsers, Photoshop, and iPhoto
  9. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    Well, previously there was no 4GB option, now there is (and it's available in many of the retail stores), so Apple must think that a lot of people will want more RAM.
  10. lucidmedia macrumors 6502a

    Oct 13, 2008
    Wellington, New Zealand
    I have a MacAir Rev. B with an SSD.

    I am not an average "light" user. I use this machine for my design practice when I am traveling / in studio. I had been using the CS4 creative suite - Photoshop / illustrator / Flash / Flash Builder / (light) After Effects for about two years with no major complaints.

    CS5, however, has brought the machine to its knees. I am seeing a lot of pageouts.

    In my opinion the 2GBs of RAM is a large limitation. I will probably buy a new MBA, but will def. spend the extra money to get the additional ram.
  11. JimmyTheKnife macrumors member


    Mar 1, 2010
    Oregon, USA
    If you are even asking the question, that means you should get the 4GbE RAM.
  12. barefeats macrumors 65816


    Jul 6, 2000
    I was running a Photoshop CS5 Action file of typical actions when editing a RAW image. It took much longer on a 2GB MBA than a 4GB.

    Even if you set Photoshop's memory usage to 1GB, OS X will use remaining RAM for a virtual scratch drive. I tried that on the MBA with 4GB of RAM. When the action file was finished running, the total real memory in use with just OS X and Photoshop running was over 3GB -- way more than had been allotted to Photoshop. So a Mac with only 2GB of RAM is going to be "under water" during a typical Photoshop session.

    Here's another example. I boot up the MBA with 2GB of RAM. A total of 700MB of real memory is in use. I launch then quit several apps. Now just Finder is running and 1.8GB of real memory is in use. And Activity Monitor shows that there were pageouts to virtual memory. So again, the MBA with 2GB is quickly "writing checks it can't cash."
  13. cleric macrumors 6502a


    Jun 7, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    It's a no brainer, I would go to Best Buy and talk to the mac employee in the mac section they can probably at least order you one and use your gift card. Last choice would probably be to go to one of those gift card swapping sites and swap best buy for apple.
  14. jmazzamj macrumors regular

    Jun 11, 2009
    I'm in the very same boat as you.

    I can have a € 200 discount on any stock Mac, whenever I want (this retailer will have new MacBook Airs avalaible next week) and I'm considering using my student discount to buy my sister a 4 GB upgraded 13".

    The point is I know she will be very happy with it anyway, that thing will fly compared to her previous Windows garbage (Celeron 1.7 GHz, Intel 950, 1 GB RAM, 80 GB 4200 rpm drive, Win XP) which died on her last week (perfect timing), but I'm considering resale value...

    Why the heck Apple didn't give us the option to upgrade the RAM later down the road and why not a backlit keyboard (she enjoys mine quite a lot)?

  15. eldo33 macrumors regular

    Mar 24, 2010
    I've spoke with 3 Bestbuy in sacramento CA area and all of them only has 2gb. I even asked them if i could order from them to get the 4gb but the answered was 'No'. they went by sku number in the system which doesn't include the 4gb version. Kinda dumb but i was hoping to buy from them.
  16. wirelessmacuser macrumors 68000


    Dec 20, 2009
    Apple could give a rats ass about the customer. They've proven that with their supreme arrogance time and again ("Your holding it wrong").

    That said, it's a very typical trick in the computer industry to equip a new machine with a very small amount of ram. It allows them to increase their gross profit per machine. Not one other company worships the dollar as much as Apple. Greed is a very nice way of saying they want all our money.

    I ordered a new MBA the day they were released and upgraded to 4GB with nary a thought. Reason being that I expect I will enjoy this computer more than anticipated as it's ideal for all the air travel I do. Secondly, if in fact I do really like it, I'm sure I will keep it longer than anticipated. If there is one universal truth, it's that newer software, especially VM's, gobbles up ram. You can never have too much unless you are not using the full power of the computer.

    Cheers.. :)
  17. Compile 'em all macrumors 601

    Compile 'em all

    Apr 6, 2005
    Future OS releases will demand more resources. Also, photoshop = MORE RAM. Doesn't matter how much you use it.

    2GB is not enough.
  18. trip1ex macrumors 68000

    Jan 10, 2008
    Buying an MBA means you aren't going to do much heavy lifting to begin with.

    And the SSD is going to help make you feel like there is 4gb of RAM in there.

    I only have 2gb in my 2009 imac and it's been fine 99% of the time. I've made vid clips, watched videos, played Starcraft 2, do iphoto work, .... It's fine. Maybe Safari could use more ram or something because I swear it pages the hard drive way too much. I switched to Chrome though and it seems to play nicer.

    I'm surfing now while ripping my kid's DVD in the background. And iTunes playing. Email is open. NO problem.

    I think you'll be fine with 2gb.
  19. tomacintosh macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2005
    On a machine like the Air, which is non-upgradeable, I think maxed out RAM is the only way to go.
  20. MikePA macrumors 68020


    Aug 17, 2008
    Maximizing profit isn't greed. No one, least of all Apple, is forcing you to buy anything. If you don't like the company, don't buy from them. Simple solution to your (You're holding it wrong) problem.
  21. Lone Deranger macrumors 68000

    Lone Deranger

    Apr 23, 2006
    Tokyo, Japan
    There is no dilemma. PhotoShop = instant upgrade to 4GB.
  22. silverblack macrumors 68030


    Nov 27, 2007
  23. Lone Deranger macrumors 68000

    Lone Deranger

    Apr 23, 2006
    Tokyo, Japan
    Oh it'll run alright. And it's awesome we can do this on a base 11.6" MBA, but for the small price, 2 extra GB's of Ram it's a no-brainer in my opinion. Venture out just a little beyond running a filter or two on a photo and the difference between having 2 or 4GB will become very clear very quickly. Especially if you have more than just PhotoShop open at the same time.
  24. silverblack macrumors 68030


    Nov 27, 2007
    I'm with you that 4 GB will surely be beneficial, but at the same time, stock models will not become unbearably slow when doing light photo editing, or light Windows virtualization.
  25. Lone Deranger macrumors 68000

    Lone Deranger

    Apr 23, 2006
    Tokyo, Japan
    Let's just say I'd like to keep the beachballs at bay for as long as possible.

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