8gb ram or i7?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by iimac, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. iimac macrumors member

    Sep 1, 2008
    Hey all, i'm going to be ordering a 13" MBA today. I have opted for the 128gb one. I'm going to upgrade it, however I can only choose one. Either go for 8gb ram or upgrade to i7.

    Which one would you recommend?

    I'm a causal user. Only use it for: internet browsing, netflix, word/powerpoint etc. Sometimes games such as WoW etc but not often.
  2. simsaladimbamba

    Nov 28, 2010
    The i7 will you give a slight speed increase during CPU intensive tasks, 8 GB RAM will give you more room for memory intensive applications and will allow you to multitask better with more applications open.

    I would advise for the 8 GB RAM upgrade.
  3. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    I'd go for the RAM as you have to this at time of purchase...~With your needs, the I7 isn't really going to make a lot of difference.
  4. borgqueens macrumors member


    Aug 10, 2013
    Hi my advise to you is go for upgrading the RAM. That is what you´ll need most in every day life.

    The i7 in the MBA is not even an quard core anyways so you´ll properly never notice the difference. 8 GB RAM is gonna do you much more good. Even if it was an quard core i7 I still advise you to go for the RAM in your case.

    Congrats on adwansce on your new MBA. I´m sure you will enjoy using it.
  5. AXs, Sep 9, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2013

    AXs macrumors 6502a


    Sep 7, 2009
    my advice would be to stick with i5/4gb ram and opt for 256GB SSD.

    You're getting twice the SSD speed from 128GB, and the storage space is going to be the most noticeable for you and your usage.

    For your purposes, 4GB ram and i5 and way good enough. It's just this internet myth that 4GB isn't enough to run a computer in 2013. That's ridiculous.

    Mavericks is being released as well, it will free up to half your memory usage by compression.
    Apple seriously isn't going to sell 4GB RAM in their machines in stores if it can't handle the weight.

    The thing is 8GB Ram is good if you want to run windows/linux on parallels.. or even both.
    but just to run OS X, especially Mavericks 4GB is plenty. Also, people that do music/video/photo editing and so on sometimes prefer more RAM. not the case here.

    For i7 - you won't notice any difference for your stated usage.

    tl;dr- If in budget (just $50 on top of the i7 upgrade you're considering) - get 256GB SSD. Right now you think you will manage with 128GB, but it will be a real pain in 6 months or a year.

    Ask anyone with experience in using a 128GB machine. And as said, 256GB = 2x speed of 128GB.

    Good luck!

    Edit: Despite the myth being that newer OS means more RAM needed, Mavericks actually works with just 2GB RAM due to memory compression:
    Good Read

  6. PDXPean macrumors member

    Apr 12, 2012
    I agree about SDD upgrade, though it can be upgraded later. The RAM cannot and between the RAM and i7, for your needs, RAM would be the best upgrade.
  7. lamboman macrumors 6502

    Aug 13, 2011
    Frankly for your usage I wouldn't bother with the i7. Small expenditure but in your case you won't notice the difference.

    As for the RAM compression in Mavericks, I wouldn't necessarily rely on it in the long run - the 8GB RAM upgrade I'd still recommend.
  8. Boyd01 macrumors 601


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I'd also vote for the 256gb SSD. It's true that you can upgrade the SSD, but it isn't very cost-effective. I had a 2011 i5/4gb/256gb MBA for almost two years and it handled everything I threw at it - including Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro and other powerful programs. I never had any problems with 4GB RAM, and that was with MacOSX 10.7. Sounds like Mavericks might help even more.

    In a perfect world, I would also get 8GB of RAM (I currently have a 2013 i7/8gb/512gb MBA), but if you can only upgrade one thing, then the SSD is the obvious choice. Aside from the additional space, the 256gb SSD is supposed to be faster than the 128.
  9. Lord Hamsa macrumors 6502a

    Jul 16, 2013
    If you're only going to upgrade one, I'd go with the RAM. I think it's the best combination of bang-for-your buck and future-proofing.
  10. Steelseries macrumors member

    Aug 2, 2013
  11. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    Generally people don't buy a computer to be just good enough for the here and now. Especially at $1100 or more. They expect it to still be useful and perform well five years from now. Insufficient RAM coming with a computer is the primary reason why so many people's fairly new computers become so slow after just one or two years.

    With just about every other computer you could upgrade the RAM if you hit this wall and double the useful life of a computer. With the Air this isn't the case when you hit the wall you have to dump the computer, live with beachballs or scale back the number of programs running or tabs open.

    For less than a 10% price increase. 8GB of RAM can make that computer last it's full five years expectancy or even more. It should be able to provide at least a 50% useful life increase if not double it. For most people an eight or nine year old 3Ghz Pentium IV or 2Ghz Athlon 64 offers plenty of computing power if they have enough RAM.

    The need for a 256GB SSD is more user specific. Very few people use more than 10GB for data. Data being all documents, photos, databases, video and any other file or media stored on their computer.

    How an $1,100 computer can only include 4GB of RAM is another issue altogether. RAM is cheap it should be a choice between 8GB and 16GB.
  12. robvas macrumors 68030

    Mar 29, 2009
    Remember that the i7 is now a 20% increase in speed, in previous iterations of the MacBook Air it was only 10% of a boost.

    Much, much more noticeable than before.
  13. AXs macrumors 6502a


    Sep 7, 2009
    I'm sorry but what are you talking about. If Mavericks (newest OS) is designed to use even less RAM and give same performance - What are you going on about?

    Are you understanding this part? Look at the chart. Read the source.

    Mavericks is designed for Apple computers to compress memory and free RAM.
    Basically, the newest technology needs lesser RAM to run.

    So what is this myth going on and on that future releases will require more and more RAM?

    Please don't use the previous decade as a benchmark or statistical reference. Technology doesn't work uniformly like that. Innovation isn't a straight line graph.

    As you can clearly see with Haswell, efficiency has been the key priority with Intel and Apple... not power and performance.

    Basically a 1.3ghz dual core cpu and 4GB ddr3 ram will run Mavericks flawlessly... and more.That's the whole beauty of this year's innovation.
  14. Boyd01 macrumors 601


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I find that a little hard to believe if we're talking about members of this forum. 10gb would be a very small iTunes library in my experience. I had about 100gb free space on my 256gb MBA, and that did not include another 30gb of photos that I keep on an external drive, 40gb of work related files from before my recent retirement and several terrabytes of pro video files on external drives.
  15. jadAce macrumors regular


    Aug 10, 2013

    AXs, I know I was recommending 8 GB of RAM to someone in another thread, but this is basically the essence of Mavericks - efficiency.

    It's interesting, you know - we all consider that 10 years from now, we will have very powerful computers with double digit RAMs and heavy processing power. But Apple, with Mavericks, demonstrated that we could go the opposite way. Maybe software will/can be optimized to use less and less computer resources, so heavy power isn't even necessary. It's somewhat analogous to fuel efficiency research for automobiles, etc.
  16. Compile macrumors member

    Aug 30, 2013
    I'd opt for 8gb of ram because it's not upgradable at all.

    The ssd can be upgraded in the future when PCiE SSDs are cheaper.

    You can always use more ram.
  17. Tarrou8 macrumors member

    Jun 10, 2013
    This question has already been asked and answered countless times in this forum. Get either 8GB of RAM or spend a little more and upgrade to the 256GB SSD.
  18. AXs macrumors 6502a


    Sep 7, 2009
    Exactly! You hit the nail right on the head.
  19. jamesjingyi macrumors 6502a


    Dec 20, 2011
    Just a thought for you to just hang on for a while since the new MacBook Pros should be coming out in a bit with Haswell chips... Just wait until tomorrow evening before you upgrade...

    Anyway, as an 11" MBA owner with 128GBs of SSD, 4GB of RAM and an i5, I feel I have a good stand on this!

    For me, the SSD is not an issue as I use a USB 3.0 WD Passport with 2TB so I just transfer all my docs and stuff that I'm not using onto it... My hard drive at one point was carrying about 3,000+ photos, 1,000+ songs, 2 movies, 1 season of NCIS, and 24 GB of apps-including FCP, Aperture, Logic and all of CS6, Driver San Fransisco and Skyrim (the port)... (btw all legally bought apart from Skyrim but that's their fault that they didn't make a Mac version :) ). Anyway it still had about 10GB of space until I unloaded the photos and some old stuff. Documents take up virtually no space because of the cloud and at the moment my hdd looks like this:

    Imho, the processor is fine for everything. Skyrim runs at 30+fps at max everything and Minecraft 100+ at max also. The only thing that bothers me about the machine is Safari/Chrome and tabs... They will forget what they were doing or crash frequently... Hopefully a bug fix soon... But this also would be improved with more RAM (correct me if I am wrong). If I look at memory usage its fine however for future proofing I would go for that... RAM is the first to be outdated imo as its the one which applications need the most to run.
  20. OneMike macrumors 603


    Oct 19, 2005
  21. clyde2801 macrumors 601


    Mar 6, 2008
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    Extra RAM or larger SSD? Agree with previous posters about i7: Photoshop and FCP will be noticeably snappier, not Safari, Mail and Word.

    Do you also have another computer with more storage such as an iMac? Can a lot of the data you'll be using be stored on it, on network storage or the cloud (i.e., iCloud, Dropbox, Box, etc.)? Will you have a lot of apps or information, data, documents, etc., that you have to keep on your Air? Can you foresee this being a necessity in the near future? If so, upgrade the SSD to 256 gb.

    Do you do a lot of multitasking? Do you use one or more virtual machines for Windows, linux, etc? Do you require multiple programs to be running at once or have to have 8 tabs open on your browser? Can you see this being a necessity in the near future? If so, spring for the 8gb of RAM.

    If you answer in the negative to both questions, get the base model and save the cash.
  22. Lord Hamsa macrumors 6502a

    Jul 16, 2013
    I'm not worried about disk size for my upcoming MBA purchase because I'm getting it as a second computer. My iTunes library is on an NAS, so I'm not worried about local storage there, and frankly, I can use my iPhone the purpose of an "away from home" copy. Ditto for photos, etc. - my iMac (only 500GB there, by the way) and the NAS handle the "storage" jobs. (Though if I do any serious traveling, I'll probably load up a 128 GB SDXC card with movies and have an alternate iTunes library on the MBA that points to the card., or use an external HD as I happen to have a 1TB portable drive lying unused at the moment.)

    Documents I work on are synced via DropBox, so that has a built-in size limitation.

    I imagine the biggest space hog on my SSD will be Parallels running XP so I can play old Windows games I purchased from GOG.

    I may not be the most typical user, but that 128 GB "entry level" option is more than sufficient enough for my uses. RAM would be my #1 priority, followed by CPU, with disk a distant third. For use profiles similar to mine, the priorities will be similar. Obviously, different usage will dictate different priorities.
  23. AXs macrumors 6502a


    Sep 7, 2009
    This is exactly what I want to warn buyers not to do.

    please don't buy 128GB SSD and then opt for 64GB/128GB SD card.

    30mbps VS 700mbps. Just world's apart for a very small price difference.
  24. robvas macrumors 68030

    Mar 29, 2009
    It's a good solution if you're going to just keep your iTunes library on it, not to store applications and such on.
  25. Lord Hamsa macrumors 6502a

    Jul 16, 2013
    Exactly. I routinely run iTunes over the network as the library is stored on an NAS. No way is an SDXC card going to be slower than that. As I was trying to be very clear about - I don't need more than 128 GB for "workspace" on an MBA that will be used as my "computer I'm using when not at a desk" computer. If I were trying to use it as a full desktop replacement, I'd have far different priorities.

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