Have you ever maxed out your Air's 4GB RAM before?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Chiisuchianu, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. Chiisuchianu macrumors newbie

    Jan 25, 2011
    If so, what did you have open? Or if you had tons of stuff open and still didn't max it out, I'd like to know that as well.

    I know the consensus is to get 8GB, but I'm just curious. Thanks.
  2. Warhawk15 macrumors regular


    Feb 1, 2012
    Yes, but I have Freememory Pro.
    I had the free version before and I don't think I could set a setting to automatically free up space like the paid version did.
    So I would see it at 24mb in red text and freaked out and freed up space using the app.

    I can't remember how I got so low, I think I was playing a game with mail, spotify, adium, and chrome opened with 6-10 tabs.

    Also for general use, I am almost always <1gb, but usually >500mb, so 8gb would be nice for me.
  3. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    It really depends on what workload you run, which can be vastly different between users. To determine if you can benefit from more RAM, launch Activity Monitor and click the System Memory tab at the bottom to check your page outs. Page outs are cumulative since your last restart, so the best way to check is to restart your computer and track page outs under your normal workload (the apps, browser pages and documents you normally would have open). If your page outs are significant (say 1GB or more) under normal use, you may benefit from more RAM. If your page outs are zero or very low during normal use, you probably won't see any performance improvement from adding RAM.

    Mac OS X: Reading system memory usage in Activity Monitor

    You don't need that app. Instead, you need to understand how memory works in Mac OS X. Read the link above to learn that there's more to the picture than free memory.
  4. Booji macrumors 6502a


    Nov 17, 2011
    The only time the 4GB becomes maxed out is when I run Windows on Parallels. I use Free Memory so it often goes to red when I'm running a VM. Main issue issue is that the usually gets the fan going pretty good and if I have too many other applications open I may have to shut one down.

    I only use Windows XP to run Quicken and sometimes Explorer for and occasional stubborn ecommerce site. Maybe if I was running Windows 7 it would be more of an issue.

    Other than that, the 4GB is rarely a constraint.
  5. Chiisuchianu thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 25, 2011
    Thanks for all the great replies, still hoping for more stories!
  6. ZipZap macrumors 603

    Dec 14, 2007
    I run windows on my MBA 2010 and it works fine with just 2 gig. 4 gig will serve you well but I am with everyone else...get 8 gigs.

    I cant really see whats next for MBA improvements that would make much of a difference (other than a CHEAP retina display) so I would expect that the 2012 MBA is a keeper for a long while.
  7. Stingray454 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2009
    How do people NOT max out the 4Gb? I do all the time when working, and I don't run that heavy apps, but got a bunch open an the same time - browser with a couple of tabs, code editor, word and/or excel, skype, twitter, email client and similar stuff. No virtual machines, games or such. I max out (to the point where it starts swapping) pretty quickly. Ok, the SSD is very fast, so you don't really notice it, but it IS swapping, making the experience a little slower, wearing on the SSD and so on.

    I ran 8Gb in my iMac for quite some time (just upgraded to 16), but 8Gb is plenty for some heavier work and games. I would recomment 8Gb to anyone, it's not a major price bump.
  8. dcorban macrumors 6502a


    Oct 29, 2007
    I agree. It is very easy to consume all 4GB. I have done it many times, and I run virtually nothing but standard Apple apps (Safari, iTunes, iMovie, iPhoto, Pages, Numbers, Mail).
  9. Redbull916, Jun 13, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2012

    Redbull916 macrumors member


    Mar 27, 2012
    Brighton, UK
    I use my mac every day for work mainly using 2xVMWare images (Win7Pro and 2008 server). I set 1GB for win7 and 2.2GB for the server (which is running Oracle 11G). I have no performance problems at all.
    I know that VM machine uses the SSD for a swap file to increase its ram but to be honest windows writing to the macs fast SSD chips or a memory chip is not a great real world difference for the applications I'm running.

    I'm very happy and I'm not planning to upgrade at all until the 2013 version. But only if it's using intel Haswell/Broadwell next gen chips and hopefully Retina. And if it is retina I'm going 11" ;-)
  10. ziresta macrumors newbie

    Oct 12, 2011
    Yes. I was running iTunes, iPhoto, and had about 20 tabs open in Safari, two of which had flash games and one of which had a youtube video.

    I also came close the time I accidentally told Preview to open about 1000 images at once.
  11. jgc macrumors regular

    Feb 21, 2012
    Think of it this way: you're not sure whether or not you'll max it out now, but what about in 2-3 years? Programs continue to be more resource hungry than ever and while 4 gb of ram might be good now, in a year or two it may not be enough for you. You can't upgrade it in the future. I suggest that most people who seriously question whether or not they will need it should probably just go ahead and get it.
  12. jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

    Nov 10, 2008
    I've had my 4gb MBA powered on for two days now doing routine things like mail, calendar, address book, IM, browsing, web and video conferencing, and various Office talks.

    I'm using 2.5gb, have about 1gb free, but have a couple of page files and 500 or so page outs which indicate I was low on memory at some point at least briefly. As long as I'm doing light work like this 4gb is really fine.

    But if I open a large spreadsheet, or execute a sizable db query, or open any virtual machine, then 4gb is not so attractive and I start to see much more significant swapping.

    If I do the same kind of work on my 16gb Mac Mini I'll typically be running around 5gb used for routine work and more heavy stuff with a single VM hovers around 7-8. Multiple VMs and I can easily creep up past 10-12. Haven't hit 16 yet.

    So for my usage patterns I know 2gb is unacceptable from a performance perspective, 4gb is acceptable but not optimal for general use, and I need more than 4gb for optimal performance or heavy use. Each version of OSX and newer apps seem to demand more and more memory so I would not buy a machine I wanted to keep for more than a year or so with less than 8gb of RAM at this point.

    Every ones usage patterns and software set very quite a bit so my needs are not likely yours, but as a generalization it might be helpful.
  13. natekettles macrumors member


    Aug 9, 2010
    Cape Town, South Africa
    4GB is plenty. And with the SSD swapping if you do need virtual RAM - it's just as fast! If you needed 8GB you would know it, since you would be a bigtime film editor or running 3 VM's at once. But for the rest of us, 4GB is just right.
  14. AlanShutko macrumors 6502a

    Jun 2, 2008
    I don't have a 4GB Air right now, but I do have a 2GB air which typically uses 2.5GB of swap. That's why I ordered a 4GB model.

    What I normally have running all the time:

    Mail, Knox, Safari, Omnifocus, dashboard with half a dozen widgets, Fantastical, Font Explorer X pro, Growl, 1password, TextExpander, Hazel, BetterTouchTool, BetterSnapTool, FastScripts, DEVONagent Express, DEVONthink Pro, Air Display.

    Other apps on an as-needed basis: Xcode, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Emacs, iWork. When I'm running a couple or more of these, I really get swapping.

    Natekettles is right that the SSD swaps really fast. It's perfectly fine if you aren't deep into swap. If you're using a gig or less of swap, you'll be OK. When I've been 6GB into swap, that was very, very slow.

    Swap also starts to slow down if you've got a lot of other disk-intensive things going on. When I'm in heavy swap AND I have a time machine running, the machine is very, very slow and I'll often just leave it a while to settle down.
  15. Stingray454 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2009
    I'd like to classify it as follows:

    2 GB - For light use, like surfing and checking email, skype, writing a paper, watching a movie and such.

    4 GB - For "standard" use. As above, but working with more apps open at the same time - surfing with a bunch of tabs up, doing spreadsheets, writing papers, maybe lighter photo editing.

    8 GB - For quite heavy-duty work. Enough for most professionals. Run all the stuff you need in parallel, run Windows in a VM while working. Good for things like photo editing, heavier apps like XCode, CS6 suite and similar.

    16Gb - Mostly only for the hardcore users. 3D / CAD rendering, heavy photo editing, video editing, running many VM's.

    That's about how I classify the memory needs of macs today.
  16. Logos327 macrumors 6502

    Sep 15, 2008
    While I rarely "max out" my 4gb of RAM in my MBP, I usually run around 3gb. Because of that, and considering future OSs will likely use progressively more RAM, 8gb is probably a good choice.
  17. kamgr macrumors newbie

    Sep 1, 2008
    What a great tool this is! For me 4 GB is sufficient (a few Safari tabs open, Diablo 3 for a bit, Keynote open, iPhoto open, iTunes Airplaying)...but like several other posters have mentioned, 8 GB might help with the future proofing for the annual OS upgrade.

    FYI, I experienced page outs only after I activated PhotoStream in iPhoto. After the few hundred photos downloaded, I restarted iPhoto and did not experience any additional page outs.

Share This Page