A beginner's struggle

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by Jester_, Jun 23, 2017.

?

Which configuration suits me the best, now and in the future

  1. M3, 256gb, 8gb

    8 vote(s)
    30.8%
  2. M3, 256gb, 16gb

    4 vote(s)
    15.4%
  3. I5, 256gb, 8gb

    5 vote(s)
    19.2%
  4. I5, 256gb, 16gb

    9 vote(s)
    34.6%
  1. Jester_, Jun 23, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2017

    Jester_ macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2017
    #1
    Hello there,

    First of all, an apology for what will probably feel as a 'here we go again'..

    I am a simple teacher and student. I would use my mb for tasks as:
    - PPT/Prezi multiple instances
    - Word multiple instances
    - PDF multiple instances
    - 20 or so tabs in Safari
    - All of the above at once
    - Worth mentioning I have a 1TB online storage with STACK

    Would a base mb last me for ~4/5 years with my usage. (Ofcourse newer things will come out doing it faster, but that is not my concern as long as my mb is up to the task)
    Would you advice going for an i5?
    Would you advice going m3 with 16gb?
    Basically, what would you advice me?

    Thanks in advance for your time and patience.
     
  2. Graham Perks macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2003
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #2
    Are you OK with 256GB local storage? Or would you require 512GB?

    If OK with 256GB, a fair choice would be to get the base model, and put the savings towards an earlier upgrade in 3-4 years. Better yet, a nice vacation, or AAPL stock.
     
  3. Jester_ thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2017
    #3
    Well I don't really know how much space the basic apps I would use take up. That would be the only reason for upgrading to 512gb seeing I got 1TB easy accesable storage for documents and such.
     
  4. Ixidor macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2016
    #4
    Seems like you do a lot of multi-tasking. Perhaps the 16 GB RAM will be the most beneficial for you.

    I have a near identical use case but I bought my mb last year so only 8 GB RAM was available. At the moment, multitasking works fine but Safari tabs tend to refresh from time to time.

    I have the core M7 (Intel renamed it to i7 this year) from last year. The only speed issue I face is when handling Excel files with thousands of data, and Word documents with lots of high resolution images, hundreds of pages, hundreds of references (I use EndNote as my bibliography manager, and updating the reference list with hundreds of references each time takes like a minute). Since the i5 and i7 are fairly similar, I think the same can be said for the i5. As for PPT, I encounter lag when I have lots of high resolution images in the file.

    Every now and then, Office hangs/crashes, so it's annoying but that's my use case. I love the mb for its portability. I also have an iMac at home which handles most of these tasks much quicker and if I recall correctly, has never hanged or crashed once.

    Not sure what type of Office documents you work with, but if they are relatively simple, you should be able to get by with the m3.
     
  5. Jester_ thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2017
    #5
    PPTs would use lots of images. Word max 50 pages, sometimes lots of images sometimes none. So 8gb ram gives you lag with these tasks? Sounds like I really should opt for the 16gb, as I can't stand waiting on a computer doing simple tasks. Thanks for your reply.
     
  6. EugW, Jun 23, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2017

    EugW macrumors 68040

    EugW

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    #6
    Your usage is like much of my usage. I often have PowerPoint presentations with 50 high resolution images. The m3 is good for that. I recommend the 16 GB though since with somewhat heavier usage than yours (but not necessarily super heavy use) it is possible to use all of the 8 GB and hit the swap file, esp. if you ever decide to use an external monitor (which encourages more multi-tasking).

    It isn't the end of the world to hit the swap occasionally but like you I hope to keep it 5+years, and at that time 16 GB will be the sweet spot I predict, and 8 GB will be a little tight. Remember, by then we will have gone through FIVE generational updates to macOS.

    I went with the m3 / 256 / 16 GB, but if you want more storage, then go with the i5 / 512 / 16.

    ----

    BTW, speaking of presentations, we need to be mindful of getting the right dongles. My VGA dongle works fine but the HDMI dongle I got that was confirmed to work with both the 2015 MacBook and the 2016 MacBook doesn't work at all with the 2017 MacBook. It doesn't work with the 2017 MBP or 2017 iMac either. Apple changed something in 2017 with regard to their USBC implementation.
     
  7. Rigby, Jun 23, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2017

    Rigby macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2008
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    #7
    The size of your PPT and DOC files should give you a rough estimate. I think I have never seen an MS Office document of more than a few tens of MB in size. IMO, an m3/8GB will be plenty for the type of usage you describe.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 23, 2017 ---
    When was the last time the the memory requirements for MacOS went up? According to Apple Sierra still runs on 2GB of memory. If anything, newer OS features like memory compression may have reduced the memory footprint.
     
  8. EugW, Jun 23, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2017

    EugW macrumors 68040

    EugW

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    #8
    I have PowerPoint presentations that are over 100 MB.

    2 GB hasn't been a viable minimum for several years. 4 GB is usable but even with light-moderate usage it's easy to hit the swap file. It's much harder to hit the swap with 8 GB but I've occasionally hit the swap with what I consider moderate usage so I'd say 8 GB is the sweet spot for the average user but I got 16 since I plan on keeping my laptop more than a couple of years.

    IOW, despite so-called minimum specs, real memory usage has increased over the years.
     
  9. Rigby macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2008
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    #9
    OK, but even if you opened 5 of these giant documents at once that's still just half a gig ...
    I wasn't suggesting that 2GB is very practical. The point is that MacOS' memory requirements haven't really gone up at all in years.
    Not in my experience, at least not for the type of applications discussed here. Some other types of applications consume more memory now than they used to because the content got bigger (e.g. video editors which are now commonly used to work on HD and UHD videos), but Office-type stuff really doesn't.

    I'd say for the type of usage described by the OP, 8GB will very likely be plenty for longer than the lifetime of a Macbook (unless you're an antique collector ;)).
     
  10. Ixidor macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2016
    #10
    In my case, my PPT documents are usually around 200 MB or more. And my Word documents go up to 700 MB at the moment. There is some lag involved but that has nothing to do with RAM.

    I do hit the RAM ceiling very occasionally (verified with Activity Monitor). For all intents and purposes, 8 GB is more than sufficient.
     
  11. EugW macrumors 68040

    EugW

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    #11
    My MacBook Pro 2009 shipped with 2 GB RAM. It was OK back then. Not awesome, but definitely OK for light usage. But then it became really problematic over time, so I upgraded to 4 GB. Now in 2017, with 4 GB it's usable, but I often hit the swap file even with just light-moderate usage. 8 GB would be fine, but I didn't bother upgrading that machine to 8 GB. Instead, I put to the money into a new 2017 MacBook.

    Overall, over the lifetime of my MacBook Pro, IMO real RAM requirements have more than doubled, so that really you need 8 GB minimum even for an entry level machine. And that's even considering the fact that during that era, Apple introduced RAM compression into OS X. Without it, even 8 GB could be problematic with moderate usage.

    Give it another 5 years, and 8 GB will be restrictive. Hell, even my iPhone running the memory-sipping iOS has 3 GB RAM.
     
  12. Rigby macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2008
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    #12
    Holy mackerel. :eek: What's in those documents? I deal with Powerpoint and Word documents every day at work and have never seen anything like this.
     
  13. EugW macrumors 68040

    EugW

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    #13
    Lots of images in my case. On my old machines with low RAM those PowerPoint documents were a real pain. Lots of lag. Luckily with modern machines and lots of RAM, no more such lag.

    It's when I start dealing with large documents and a fair bit of multitasking that I start to hit the 8 GB RAM ceiling. But this is still mainly just Office type work, not anything hardcore like professional multimedia design or video editing. Admittedly though, it's easier to hit that RAM ceiling if you have hooked up an external display and have screen real estate to actually look at all those applications. And as mentioned elsewhere, if you have a second user that seldom logs out, that also can significantly increase RAM usage.

    But, that's in 2017. Who knows in 2022 just how RAM hungry macOS (and its applications) will get? Back in the old days 16 GB was for scientists and 3D animation jockeys, but now in 2017 I have it in my "entry-level" Mac laptop.
     
  14. Jester_ thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2017
    #14
    Thanks all! Ive decided to go with the I5 256gb 16gb. Thanks for all of your input, greatly appreciated.
     
  15. Rigby macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2008
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    #15
  16. EugW macrumors 68040

    EugW

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    #16
  17. Ixidor macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2016
    #17
    Not sure why it says that you can't open a file larger than 512 MB. My 700 MB word file is indeed a PhD thesis. It's filled with many high resolution images (each several MB in size). Word (Office 365, 2017) works fine opening it.
     
  18. MyopicPaideia macrumors 68000

    MyopicPaideia

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2011
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    #18
    macOS will use as much memory as it can, regardless of how much system has available. With 32GB of RAM on an iMac, having FCX, Safari, iTunes, and Pages open at the same time will use up almost all the RAM.

    The same applications with the same website, projects and documents open on a rMB with 8GB of RAM will similarly use up almost all the memory. The system memory pressure will be more than fine in both cases and macOS has excellent memory management. Even if you end up in a swap file situation, totday's SSD's that Apple use are incredibly fast. Gone are the days when a swap file meant grinding the system when spinning a HDD to access it.

    Real actual memory requirements have not increased very much in reality. If it's there, though, macOS will take full advantage. People saying that they need 8GB to run essentially Safari and MS Office, exclaiming, "Look, activity monitor says I am using all 8GB of RAM!! I need more RAM!" - well, they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about...
     
  19. EugW, Jun 25, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2017

    EugW macrumors 68040

    EugW

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2017
    #19
    As mentioned, some people will notice slowdowns with moderate usage on a 4 GB system, because it periodically hitting the swap. I see this not infrequently on my MacBook Pro with 4 GB.

    This was usually not the case 5 years ago unless you were a more heavy user. What does this mean? It means that RAM usage has gone up over time, and this is despite the fact that Mavericks in 2013 added RAM compression support during that time period.

    In 2017 it seems the sweet spot is 8 GB, but don't expect that to be true in 2022. Furthermore, with heavy usage, 8 GB can be problematic even in 2017. In the past, this really didn't matter that much, because you could always upgrade the RAM later. Now with Apple's laptops, you can't. If you want to upgrade the RAM, you buy an entirely new machine. Thus, while 16 GB might be a little bit of overkill in 2017 for most people, it is a reasonable idea to make that upgrade nonetheless, if they plan on keeping the machine for a long time, and if they periodically have more heavy usage (for example when the laptop is attached to an external display).
     

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