Can we get away with 4GB RAM?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by andyp350, Jun 3, 2014.

  1. andyp350 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 14, 2011
    Apologies for another 4 vs 8GB RAM topic but it's always helpful to get advise based on your specific requirements.
    I've finally managed to persuade my mum to convert from Windows, after having to send her 14" Dell laptop back after endless problems with it, and get a 13" Macbook Air instead. She definitely needs the 256GB storage so the problem is that this has already taken her over what she would ideally have liked to spend, so we are really hoping that we don't also need to upgrade the ram to 8GB.
    It will only be used for web browsing and for photos, probably just iPhoto organising/viewing and very minor editing.
    I'm pretty confident that 4GB will be fine for this but she will want this machine to last for the foreseeable future so i'm a bit worried about how 4GB will hold up in 4+ years time.
  2. clunkmess macrumors 6502a


    Jul 28, 2011
    My 2011 MBA still kicks ass with 4GB RAM! Just the other day I was running Netflix out to my hotel TV through the Thunderbolt/HDMI port while playing Counter-Strike!
  3. Boyd01 macrumors 601


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    My crystal ball isn't so good, so I can't tell you what you will need in 2018. ;)

    But I had a 2011 i5/4gb/256gb MBA and it was a very capable machine. I pushed it much harder than your Mum is likely to - I used Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro, FileMaker Pro, Vectorworks, Photoshop, etc and it worked fine. I now have a 2013 MBA with the i7 and 8gb, and for the kinds of tasks you describe, I see very little if any difference. So you should be fine.

    If the current MBA does everything your Mum needs today, it will still do those same things 4 years from now. It is not carved in stone anywhere that you need to update your software, and somebody who isn't very tech-savvy would probably prefer that you just leave it alone so she doesn't have to learn how to use anything new. :)
  4. andyp350 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Aug 14, 2011
    Thanks for the advice, I understand that of course none of can see what's going to happen in the future but you can make an educated guess. She has an iPad and will probably be getting an iPhone soon so I think she would benefit from the new features in Yosemite. Updating beyond that I suspect you're probably right she won't even know/care when a new version os OSX is released.
  5. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Jun 14, 2010
    Is she a commercial photographer, a professional video editor, or developer running multiple large virtual machines?

    If none of the above, she'll be just fine with 4GB memory.

    Yes of course it's better to buy as much ram as possible when you can't change it later on down the road, but you already said you're banging against the top of your budget.

    Alternate idea -- have you considered buying a refurb Air and leveraging the price difference to allow for more memory? Still get the same warranty, and I've never seen an Apple refurb that you could distinguish from new if you didn't have the box.

    (BTW, my mid-2011 MBA with 4GB works great)
  6. andyp350 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Aug 14, 2011
    I did consider that but there aren't any refurbished macbook airs on the UK store at this moment. Also I may be wrong on this but don't the older models not have SSD's/Flash storage. I sort of believe nowadays that it's a mistake to get a machine with an HDD. They just seem so slow once you've been on a machine with a sold state.
  7. ZombiePete macrumors 68020


    Aug 6, 2008
    San Antonio, TX
    My 2013 MBA w/4GB of RAM is a perfectly capable machine. I use it primarily for school which means lots of Safari tabs open when doing research along with a word editor like Pages or MS Word, along with Mail and other apps that I tend to leave open frequently and I have never had a stutter or a slowdown. I will occasionally play World of Warcraft and it runs great as well. I love my MBA and have never second-guessed the amount of RAM. You should be fine.
  8. Bah-Bah macrumors member

    Jan 28, 2013
    I'm amazed at how well my Air does with 4GB. The PCIE SSD must help on the odd occasion when I'm pushing the machine's physical memory management beyond it's capability but seriously, Mavericks is awesome with the way it handles the memory side of things.

    I'd say you'll be fine with 4GB
  9. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Jun 14, 2010
    No worries about HDD, you'd have to go back to something like a 2008 or 09 model to find anything but SSD. 2010 and newer models are all SSD, no HDD option available. Doubt you'd find anything even as old as 2010 in the Apple refurb store.

    Depending on how quick you have to buy, see if a site like will work for the UK store and notify you when a selected model comes in stock.
  10. Cheffy Dave macrumors 68030

    Cheffy Dave

    Feb 5, 2007
    Sunny Florida, on the Gulf Coast in Homosassa Fl
  11. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2013
    100$ is still 100$. If she wouldn't see any improvement, which she realistically won't, then she might as well save the 100$.
  12. friedkimchi macrumors regular


    Aug 13, 2011
    5 years ago, I remember people asking if 2GB RAM will be enough. I upgraded my Black MB to 4GB back then, thinking it would 'future proof' my laptop.

    Guess what?

    It's still running fine with 4GB RAM. So I did future proof it.
    It's the slow HDD that's the bottleneck.
  13. majkom macrumors 65816

    May 3, 2011
    4gb is enough. Future proifing with 8 gigs is myth. Save your 100 bucks.
  14. Carouser macrumors 65816

    Feb 1, 2010
    The cost, that's why not.

    (I hope one day Apple will offer near-infinite upgrades of RAM for $100 a tier - half the posters here will lose all the money in their bank account because, hey, future proof, it's only $100 for the next tier, bla bla bla).
  15. MartinAppleGuy macrumors 68020


    Sep 27, 2013
    Finally! Well put.
  16. MikeVera macrumors regular

    May 5, 2014
    You can get away with it, however it may be limiting if you plan to keep the machine for a long time (depending on what future OS requirements are).

    On my air, I have two partitions, and even run fairly "large" games (scale wise), like Old Republic, and it handles it with descent fluidity, even with some settings higher.

    So, if your doing primarily pedestrian tasks, I would imagine that 4GB will be sufficient for several years to come. Obviously more intense usage warrants revaluation...
  17. SmOgER macrumors 6502a

    Jun 2, 2014
    Hm... Today I launched virtualbox with WIN8.1 machine with 2GB ram reserved for it just to see what'll happen.

    What happened was above 1GB of swap memory and high memory pressure. Not good, but that's probably just the lack of Yosemite's DP1 optimization at this point. I mean, there wasn't really any other apps running, and given the fact that 2GB for the OS alone is more than enough, there were no reasons for it to use swap file.

    So borderline, under normal conditions 4GB should be enough and shouldn't be a limiting factor, but 8GB can be great idea to outweight poor programming and have some reserve when using memory-hungry apps.
  18. Poncho macrumors 6502


    Jun 15, 2007
    Don't know if this helps but I'm running a 2008 iMac here on 4GB of RAM and have caned it day in and out since I got it from the box running a whole bunch of CAD and design apps for a living and it has never skipped a beat.
  19. 617aircav Suspended

    Jul 2, 2012
    OP always buy the best you can afford. If the $100 extra is too much don't spend it, if it's not spend it. Simple.
  20. PBG4 Dude macrumors 68030

    PBG4 Dude

    Jul 6, 2007
    Been using my 2012 11" MBA with 4GB RAM since day of release. Haven't had a single RAM-related issue yet, and that's including a week of solid video recording and editing using iMovieHD (the old version), doing recording with my buddy in Logic Studio 9, programming in Xcode, plus all the regular stuff, surfing, email, music, Nutflix, whatever.

    Most relevant post in this thread :)
  21. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    Why not a bigger ssd? And a cpu upgrade? Why not the rmbp? The 15" 16/1tb with dedicated gpu?
    Why not ...... :rolleyes:


    Its a resistant myth. :D
  22. andyp350 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Aug 14, 2011
    Thanks for all the advice. Think i'm going to stick with the 4GB
  23. Orr macrumors 6502


    Oct 8, 2013
    The base Haswell Air will be overkill for your stated usage. And for the next 4 years.
  24. ZombiePete macrumors 68020


    Aug 6, 2008
    San Antonio, TX
    EDIT: Posts deleted so my response is now unwarranted.

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