Can only choose one upgrade to 11": RAM or SSD?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by BigDave48, Jan 21, 2011.

  1. BigDave48 macrumors newbie

    Jun 5, 2007
    I'm in the market for a new MBA 11.6." I'm wondering what is the most effective upgrade to the base 11.6" MBA. I suppose I mean "effective" in terms of performance, speed, longevity, etc.

    If you could only pick one, would it be:

    1) RAM: 2 to 4 GB

    2) SSD: 64 to 128

    I plan to use the MBA for average web (pandora, facebook), iTunes, iPhoto, and Office (LOTS of writing...I'm a grad student).

    I also own a 13" MBP, which will be handed over to my wife. I plan for the 11.6" MBA to be my main machine.

    (Slightly off it reasonable to expect that, coming from the 13" MBP, I can use the 11.6" as my primary machine? I'm a little worried about the smaller screen.)

  2. Icebreaker117 macrumors newbie

    Jan 16, 2011
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    Ram, without a doubt. You can always plug in and external hard drive, you can't upgrade ram without buying an entire new logic board (currently in excess of £650) for the 4gb version...... External hdd, £50-100 dependent on spec.
  3. jdavtz macrumors 6502a

    Aug 22, 2005
    Yes you can use it as a primary machine.

    I'd choose the SSD size upgrade over the RAM. Carrying an extra external hard drive changes the whole portability factor.

    But how long would it really take to save the cash to upgrade both, if you think that you might need both upgrades? Once you've bought it you're stuck with the specs you buy.
  4. fs454 macrumors 68000

    Dec 7, 2007
    Los Angeles / Boston
    I'd choose the RAM, because you may be able to afford an SSD upgrade in the future, which is upgradeable. The RAM is soldered to the board and cannot be upgraded ever.
  5. St. G macrumors member

    Nov 29, 2010
    I went with the RAM. My fiancee went with the SSD. This is her primary machine, whereas it's my tertiary one. I game; she doesn't. I multitask like it's my job; she's more reasonable about what she asks a machine to do.
  6. St. G macrumors member

    Nov 29, 2010
    Also, I added a 16GB LaCie MosKeyTo to mine for spillover storage. Good place to hold media that I can access from either the OSX or the Win 7 installs.
  7. fibrizo macrumors 6502


    Jan 23, 2009
  8. Kachadurian macrumors newbie

    Dec 22, 2010
    Traverse City, Michigan
    I have 4gb of Ram but have menu meters installed which gives me my readout of ram usage.

    With Safari, mail, itunes, Skype, ichat and Word all running at the same time I am using 711mb of ram with 3128mb free. It seems to me like 2gb would be plenty.

    I have to open a 45mb image with photoshop cs-5, with all the other stuff running before I even get into the 3rd gig of RAM.

    I'd buy storage if I could have only one.

  9. j_maddison macrumors 6502a


    Mar 31, 2003
    Nelson, Wales
    I'd go for RAM every time, as has been previously mentioned you can always upgrade the SSD at a later date

    Are you taking advantage of the student discount Apple offers? Seeing as you are a Grad student.
  10. tom vilsack macrumors 68000

    tom vilsack

    Nov 20, 2010
    ladner cdn
    this is easy.........Lion-Ram

    as for living with 11.6"...might depend on your older so would also want external monitor for desktop use. (i use my ibook with a cheap acer 193w-walmart $100-works just fine)
  11. macproguy77 macrumors newbie

    Mar 1, 2009
    Another vote for RAM.

    Ram is what you need, and OSX uses it over time for cache to make the system faster, even if you don't use it.

    For storage, there are other options. Like cloud, Network (NAS) storage appliances, 16gig USB sticks, and flat out USB external drives.
    But when ya got 2 gig.. ya only got 2 gig...

    (If you're gonna virtualize or dual boot.. I think you need BOTH upgrades)
    But if not, then ram ram ram.
  12. ggf macrumors member

    May 24, 2008
    Ssd for me

    I went with the ssd - no regrets- saves carrying another drive.
    2gb has been enough but I am not a gamer and have another mac for heavy lifting like video editing.
  13. SandboxGeneral Moderator emeritus


    Sep 8, 2010
    RAM. RAM will have more of an impact on your overall usage of apps, especially if they require a lot of it. The SSD will only help you on boot time and load time of apps. While having an SSD over a HDD will boost performance, the SSD is still slower than RAM, so if your computer needed to use virtual memory it would slow down (just not as much as with a HDD).

    The more RAM you have will allow you to run memory and CPU intensive tasks better than having less RAM and an SSD.

    Some folks may dispute the speed of an SSD to RAM but if I recall correctly, MR member Hellhammer had posted some numbers regarding this not too long ago.
  14. iPhoneCollector macrumors 6502a


    Nov 30, 2010
    Go for the ram. The ssd size is not so important IMO
  15. bobr1952 macrumors 68020


    Jan 21, 2008
    Melbourne, FL
    I suppose if it were me I would wait and save my money a bit since I really would not that kind of compromise. Personally, I would opt for the 128 SSD and 4GB RAM.
  16. rhinosrcool macrumors 65832


    Sep 5, 2009
    This is a good point. Third party manufacturers probably (we've already seen an example that's been pulled) will come up with better (faster) upgrades.
  17. Scottsdale macrumors 601


    Sep 19, 2008
    You cannot upgrade the RAM later. The NAND Flash storage can be upgraded to 128 or 256GB later. Spend $1099 and get the low-end but upgrade the RAM, and it will do most everything you could want from an MBA. Thebest thing I have found with the 11" MBA is that it's so portable, yet it has an mDP and Nvidia 320m enabling it to easily drive a 27" LED ACD. I love how these Mac notebooks can all drive 27" ACDs. I don't see any reason to own two computers nor a desktop. A $1099 MBA and $849 refurb 27" ACD is an incredibly capable setup that focuses on portability when needed and speed and amazing display when at the desk.
  18. Apple OC macrumors 68040

    Apple OC

    Oct 14, 2010
    the answer is Ram ... you may need it one day :cool:
  19. drkstar macrumors member


    Nov 29, 2006

  20. bobr1952 macrumors 68020


    Jan 21, 2008
    Melbourne, FL
    Really? Didn't realize you could upgrade the SSD--so that makes for a very easy decision then--of course upgrade the RAM. :)
  21. h00ligan macrumors 68030

    Apr 10, 2003
    A hot desert
    You can't add ram via usb or an upgrade kit... you can add hdd space

    Get RAM.
  22. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Up to 360GB from OWC ;)
  23. Beaverman3001 macrumors 6502a

    May 20, 2010
    Definitely RAM, but I'd be hesitant to order it without upgrading both

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