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Sami13496

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 25, 2022
501
1,182
The time has come. I need to buy a new laptop. I really like the MacBook Air 15-inch, and I'm planning to get it, but since it would be my first computer with an M processor ever, I want to ask for your thoughts on whether 8 GB would be sufficient for my needs and should I choose M2 or M3.

My current computer (which I have to give away) is MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019, Two Thunderbolt 3 ports) with 8GB memory, 1.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor and 128GB SSD.

Here's a sample list of typical applications I have open at the same time:
- Visual Studio Code
- MAMP
- Freeform
- Messages
- Notes
- Pages
- Safari (About 20 tabs)
- Slack
- Mail
- Calendar

The performance of my current computer has been surprisingly good for me so far. Most of the time, the machine stays at normal temperature, and the fan doesn't make much noise. Occasionally, if there are really many programs open simultaneously or, for example, if a demanding website is open in the browser, the machine may heat up and the fan starts making noise for a while.

Considering that my current machine has 8 GB of memory, can I assume that 8 GB would also be sufficient for me in a MacBook Air M2 or M3 15-inch model? I know that getting 16 GB would be somewhat good just to have that headroom, but in my country, that upgrade would cost 230€, and I would prefer not to pay for it.

As a follow-up question, since 15-inch M2 models are still available, and one could be obtained for 130€ cheaper than a 15-inch M3 model (both with 8 GB of memory). Do you think the additional power M3 processor offers would matter for my usage?

Thanks! Excited for my first M series Mac :)
 

JonnyMacx86

macrumors regular
Staff member
Feb 10, 2024
130
302
Halifax, NS
The time has come. I need to buy a new laptop. I really like the MacBook Air 15-inch, and I'm planning to get it, but since it would be my first computer with an M processor ever, I want to ask for your thoughts on whether 8 GB would be sufficient for my needs and should I choose M2 or M3.

My current computer (which I have to give away) is MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019, Two Thunderbolt 3 ports) with 8GB memory, 1.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor and 128GB SSD.

Here's a sample list of typical applications I have open at the same time:
- Visual Studio Code
- MAMP
- Freeform
- Messages
- Notes
- Pages
- Safari (About 20 tabs)
- Slack
- Mail
- Calendar

The performance of my current computer has been surprisingly good for me so far. Most of the time, the machine stays at normal temperature, and the fan doesn't make much noise. Occasionally, if there are really many programs open simultaneously or, for example, if a demanding website is open in the browser, the machine may heat up and the fan starts making noise for a while.

Considering that my current machine has 8 GB of memory, can I assume that 8 GB would also be sufficient for me in a MacBook Air M2 or M3 15-inch model? I know that getting 16 GB would be somewhat good just to have that headroom, but in my country, that upgrade would cost 230€, and I would prefer not to pay for it.

As a follow-up question, since 15-inch M2 models are still available, and one could be obtained for 130€ cheaper than a 15-inch M3 model (both with 8 GB of memory). Do you think the additional power M3 processor offers would matter for my usage?

Thanks! Excited for my first M series Mac :)
I think based on how much you have open at once you would maybe benefit from 16GB of RAM, but you'll still see massive performance gains even with 8GB.
 

bzgnyc2

macrumors regular
Dec 8, 2023
116
139
The time has come. I need to buy a new laptop. I really like the MacBook Air 15-inch, and I'm planning to get it, but since it would be my first computer with an M processor ever, I want to ask for your thoughts on whether 8 GB would be sufficient for my needs and should I choose M2 or M3.

My current computer (which I have to give away) is MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019, Two Thunderbolt 3 ports) with 8GB memory, 1.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 processor and 128GB SSD.

Here's a sample list of typical applications I have open at the same time:
- Visual Studio Code
- MAMP
- Freeform
- Messages
- Notes
- Pages
- Safari (About 20 tabs)
- Slack
- Mail
- Calendar

The performance of my current computer has been surprisingly good for me so far. Most of the time, the machine stays at normal temperature, and the fan doesn't make much noise. Occasionally, if there are really many programs open simultaneously or, for example, if a demanding website is open in the browser, the machine may heat up and the fan starts making noise for a while.

Considering that my current machine has 8 GB of memory, can I assume that 8 GB would also be sufficient for me in a MacBook Air M2 or M3 15-inch model? I know that getting 16 GB would be somewhat good just to have that headroom, but in my country, that upgrade would cost 230€, and I would prefer not to pay for it.

As a follow-up question, since 15-inch M2 models are still available, and one could be obtained for 130€ cheaper than a 15-inch M3 model (both with 8 GB of memory). Do you think the additional power M3 processor offers would matter for my usage?

Thanks! Excited for my first M series Mac :)

What OS are you currently running?

I've had an Intel Mac Mini run surprisingly well with 8GB of RAM under Mojave while my newer laptop with 16GB gets surprisingly bogged down despite 16GB of RAM. At one point I had SQL Server under Docker, Azure Data Studio, Excel, Mail, Calendar, Safari, iTunes, and maybe even Tableau Desktop open at the same time on the Mini and as I note elsewhere iTunes didn't skip a beat. On the other hand that laptop might get bogged down with an extended browser session. These days most of my RAM goes to browsers (followed by the surprisingly hoggish Thunderbird) despite no longer keeping 100 tabs open (these days I try to keep it under 20).

Between that and what I've seen and heard from others of Sonoma, et all, I think you're going to want 16GB. Even if it works well enough now, software doesn't seem to be getting slimmer with each version. The RAM and the screen size are the two things you are going to have to live with for the life of the computer. The processor of course too but today's processors are so fast for what you are doing I bet you'll be the bottleneck with anything recent.

If I was forced to choose, I would go M3/16GB/256GB over an M3/16GB/512GB and an M2/16GB/512 over an M3/8GB/512GB
 
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Fishrrman

macrumors Penryn
Feb 20, 2009
28,454
12,572
Repeat this to yourself 3 times:
16gb is "the new 8"...

That's the way it is with Apple Silicon.
You can buy 8 if you want, and the Mac will still run, but...
... I predict that sooner rather than later, you'll become dissatisfied and wish you had bought more RAM at the beginning.

By reading this reply, consider yourself to have been duly warned in advance...
 

jb310

macrumors regular
Aug 24, 2017
137
319
I think an M2 with 8 GB will work fine for your use case, at least for now.

Though if you plan to hold on to it for another 5 years like you did with your 2019 MacBook Pro, will it still feel enough in 2029? Who knows. 😅
 
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Sami13496

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 25, 2022
501
1,182
What's the memory pressure like on your current machine? What lifespan do you expect for the Air? And lastly, is it possible for you to find M2s with 16GB of RAM? If so that tradeoff may be worth it versus upgrading to M3
I opened all that stuff I mentioned before (with exception of 13 Safari tabs open instead of 20) and memory pressure is green. On the right side from memory pressure it says:

Physical Memory: 8,00 GB
Memory Used: 6,55 GB
Cached Files: 1,65 GB
Swap Used: 1,67 GB

And from Memory Used (if I understood UI correctly):
App Memory: 2,53 GB
Wired Memory: 2,21 GB
Compressed: 1,52 GB

I expect 5 years (at least) based on my current machine (2019-2024 and still running) and previous machine that was MacBook Air 13 2014 with 8 GB ram as well I used 2014-2019.

Unfortunately I couldn't find M2 with 16 GB as they only have base models in stock left (and very few of those).
 

Sami13496

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 25, 2022
501
1,182
What OS are you currently running?

I've had an Intel Mac Mini run surprisingly well with 8GB of RAM under Mojave while my newer laptop with 16GB gets surprisingly bogged down despite 16GB of RAM. At one point I had SQL Server under Docker, Azure Data Studio, Excel, Mail, Calendar, Safari, iTunes, and maybe even Tableau Desktop open at the same time on the Mini and as I note elsewhere iTunes didn't skip a beat. On the other hand that laptop might get bogged down with an extended browser session. These days most of my RAM goes to browsers (followed by the surprisingly hoggish Thunderbird) despite no longer keeping 100 tabs open (these days I try to keep it under 20).

Between that and what I've seen and heard from others of Sonoma, et all, I think you're going to want 16GB. Even if it works well enough now, software doesn't seem to be getting slimmer with each version. The RAM and the screen size are the two things you are going to have to live with for the life of the computer. The processor of course too but today's processors are so fast for what you are doing I bet you'll be the bottleneck with anything recent.

If I was forced to choose, I would go M3/16GB/256GB over an M3/16GB/512GB and an M2/16GB/512 over an M3/8GB/512GB
I’m on Sonoma 14.4.1
 

casperes1996

macrumors 604
Jan 26, 2014
7,488
5,650
Horsens, Denmark
I opened all that stuff I mentioned before (with exception of 13 Safari tabs open instead of 20) and memory pressure is green. On the right side from memory pressure it says:

Physical Memory: 8,00 GB
Memory Used: 6,55 GB
Cached Files: 1,65 GB
Swap Used: 1,67 GB

And from Memory Used (if I understood UI correctly):
App Memory: 2,53 GB
Wired Memory: 2,21 GB
Compressed: 1,52 GB

I expect 5 years (at least) based on my current machine (2019-2024 and still running) and previous machine that was MacBook Air 13 2014 with 8 GB ram as well I used 2014-2019.

Unfortunately I couldn't find M2 with 16 GB as they only have base models in stock left (and very few of those).

You could get by for a while with 8GB I would estimate. I think you'd get better performance wins buy getting 16GB than by going M2->M3, so I would advice sticking to M2 and putting the saved money towards the upgrade fund five years from now so you can upgrade in the earlier part of the five year lifespan rather than 7-10 years from now. The move to M3 instead of M2 wouldn't be beneficial enough to really matter in that timespan for your usage, assuming it doesn't change dramatically, I think. If you could get a good deal on 16GB I would definitely recommend it, but I think you can be a happy user for a while with 8
 

picpicmac

macrumors 65816
Aug 10, 2023
1,071
1,522
What kind of projects will you be doing in VS Code? And do you think you might add Apple's own developer environment to your interests?

I'm a defender of the 8GB starting spec because most people on this planet just consume web pages, YouTube videos, do email, etc.

If you happen to be among the minority of users who want to do big software projects, especially if you are going to use virtual machines, then you might want more RAM and at least 512GB SSD.
 

Sami13496

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 25, 2022
501
1,182
What kind of projects will you be doing in VS Code? And do you think you might add Apple's own developer environment to your interests?

I'm a defender of the 8GB starting spec because most people on this planet just consume web pages, YouTube videos, do email, etc.

If you happen to be among the minority of users who want to do big software projects, especially if you are going to use virtual machines, then you might want more RAM and at least 512GB SSD.
Just simple web development, same I’ve been doing on my current machine. It’s not for work, it’s just a hobby. I like learning (front-end) web development so I make simple website projects for myself, for example, lately I’ve been working on a blog website with php (backend) + bootstrap (frontend). My plan is to learn React and Node in some point. Haven’t planned using Apple’s own developer environment (if you mean building apps).
 

Sami13496

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jul 25, 2022
501
1,182
I ended up buying a 13-inch M1 MacBook Air with 8GB of memory. It was significantly cheaper than the base model 15-inch M2/M3 device. While the 15-inch would have been nice, the one I purchased suits my needs well for now. I want to test the M-chip more to see how it performs compared to Intel processors, and how 8GB of memory will suffice for me in the long run. Plus, since this machine was much more affordable, I can upgrade a bit sooner next time. By then, I'll also have more firsthand experience with how the M-series machine and its memory perform for my specific use cases. Thank you to everyone for the help!
 
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