Can I get away with 4GB or do I need the 8GB?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by .:R2theT, Nov 15, 2012.

  1. .:R2theT macrumors 6502

    Jul 1, 2007
    Hi Everyone-

    So I am standing on the verge of ordering an 11" Air to help with my schooling.

    I am currently working off of an iMac from about 5 years ago(2 GHz CoreDuo, 2GB RAM). We are going to be ordering one of the new 27" iMacs once they are available in December or January, probably go with the 1TB Fusion.

    So I am wondering if I really need anything more than the 1.7/4/128 Air for my school stuff. I am a philosophy major with minors in languages so I mostly write papers. I may end up adding another major, still undecided on that.

    Considering what I have now and what we will have in the new iMac does it make sense for me to spend the extra money on the 8GB RAM upgrade? Plus, if I went with 4GB I could probably go refurbished and save a few extra bucks.

  2. Mafamaticks macrumors member

    Nov 22, 2008
    If you're pretty certain that your main machine is going to be the iMac, then you should be fine with 4 GB on the Air. If all you really do is write papers and use the web to research stuff, than 4 GB should be able to handle what you throw at it.
  3. MacPat333 macrumors regular

    Sep 16, 2012
  4. Rob.G macrumors 6502


    Jan 17, 2010
    Spend the extra money on the 256 gb SSD instead. 4 GB is fine for just about everything. My last two 11"s were 4 GB and they worked great.

  5. MacPat333 macrumors regular

    Sep 16, 2012
    Don't spend any additional money on upgrades, for your purpose the base base model is more than sufficient. No need for any upgrade.
  6. nutmac macrumors 68040

    Mar 30, 2004
    I rather have a souped up 11" MBA + Thunderbolt Display vs. low-end MBA + high-end iMac. Both are about $3000, give or take few hundreds depending on taxes or educational discount.
  7. MacSignal macrumors regular

    May 8, 2010
    Yes, you can absolutely get away with 4GB RAM. The base model MBA 11 will work great for how you plan to use it.
  8. iAppl3Fan macrumors 6502a


    Sep 8, 2011
    The base model that's refurb would be perfect for you! Save you money that you would have upgraded on your next big purchase.
  9. bods macrumors newbie

    Feb 10, 2009
    So here's a follow up question.
    If you have the 4GB model and the application needs more RAM, it swaps it out to disk. In this case the disk is SSD and very fast. Now, i know pure RAM without swapping would be faster but is there such a huge difference between swapping out to SSD vs the 8GB of RAM?
  10. nutmac macrumors 68040

    Mar 30, 2004
    While flash storage is indeed 3-6 times faster than hard disk (300-500 MB/sec vs. 80-100 MB/sec), RAM is in entirely different performance category (12800 MB/sec).

    And there's the issue of wear and tear. Each block on typical MLC-based flash storage (such as the one in MBA and MBP) have about 10,000 write cycles, after which the block will become unavailable for writing new data.
  11. dcorban macrumors 6502a


    Oct 29, 2007
    4GB is more than enough. Based on your description, you are a much lighter user than I, and based on my random checking of Activity Monitor over the past months, I almost always have at least 1GB RAM unused. I have the 2012 Air with 4GB.
  12. pommie82 macrumors 6502

    Jan 4, 2011
    The only time you need lots of ram if you are doing video or photograph editing or virtual machines or if you have lots of programs open all at once if you don't have many application open at once then its a bit pointless buying the ram and putting inside the machine if you aren't going to use it with the money from the ram you could be something else instead for you mac air or something completely different.

    i have iMac 2.66ghz early 2009 model
    and there is sometimes i have needed the extra ram for doing something on my machine but i could count the times on my fingers that i have needed to
    use that extra bit of ram for things

    if you aren't doing anything from above you be fine with 4GB of ram i should of thought
  13. Penn Jennings macrumors 6502

    Apr 22, 2010

    Even *IF* 4GB is enough today, and that's *IF*, it will not be enough for very long. Memory requirement always increase over time. I'd spend the $100 bucks and get the 8 GB. If possible get the get the larger SSD as well. It will last longer and perform better. Running out of memory or storage is very painful. However, I understand that money doesn't grow on tree. Since I don't see memory upgrades for MBA on OWC's web site I assume that it cannot be upgraded after purchase. If that is true, get the memory if you can only do one. You can always added external storage. There is no good way to make up for memory.

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