How well does your MBA operate with 4GB of RAM?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by RobertoooMac, Feb 14, 2013.

  1. RobertoooMac macrumors newbie


    Jan 22, 2013
    Hi guys,

    I'm definitely going to be buying a MacBook Air soon, but I just don't know how it would work with 4GB of RAM. Does the OSX 10.8 use a lot of RAM in the background, and if so is the system slowed down? Does anyone think it's worth going for the 8GB option? If anyone has either the 11" MBA or 13", I'd love to hear from you how smooth your system is, or is not. I'm running 8GB of RAM on my 2012 iMac now and it's great. I'll be using the MBA for word editing, internet use and also some light music production. Any replies would be much appreciated.

    Thanks a lot for your time,

  2. imac5 macrumors newbie

    Dec 5, 2012
    I've got a 2012 13" w/ i5 and 8 GB of RAM. I don't think I've ever seen my RAM usage go above 4 GB with my regular use (which is not particularly heavy: web browsing, iTunes, iPhoto, a few simple games). You wouldn't have any issues with only 4 GB but really at just an extra $100 I think it's probably the most cost effective upgrade you can choose when ordering.
  3. Saberon macrumors 6502a

    Sep 16, 2008
    Seriously, don't even consider NOT doing it. It's 2013, you're spending 1000+ on a notebook, do not settle for 4GB. In a year from now you will kick yourself for getting 4GB.
  4. SnowLeopard2008 macrumors 604


    Jul 4, 2008
    Silicon Valley
    Well, when the physical amount of RAM is used up, it will start using hard drive space instead. But since the hard drive in a MBA is an SSD, it won't be as bad as if you had a mechanical hard drive. Neither is evenly remote close to RAM transfer speeds but the SSD would be much faster than HD.
  5. David58117 macrumors 65816

    Jan 24, 2013
    I've got 4 gigs, currently I have 1.71 gigs free (according to Memory Clean), just using Safari with 5 tabs open.

    I also have about 8 apps installed on the menu bar, including facebook, a weather app, Radium and istat menu.

    When I had Safari closed, I had about 2.5 gigs free.

    Just for tests I opened Finale 2012 ( a piece I'm working on), Steam, and XBMC in the background (in addition to Safari with 5 tabs open, and 2 news extensions running at top). It's staying steady at 1.13 gigs free, with them running in the background. 1.02 gigs free when I was browsing through Steam..

    But that's not regular usage. I always close apps I don't use, and regularly browse activity monitor in an attempt to max battery life. Usually approx 5 tabs in Safari and Finale on a second desktop view is my setup. Or everything else closed and XBMC running.

    Down to 643 MBs free (I'm streaming a talk radio station from Radium), with XBMC, Steam, Finale 2012, Radium (streaming) and 5 tabs in safari (plus 2 news extensions) the 8 or so menu bar apps. Radium and Steam are huge memory hogs..

    Closed everything but Safari and Radium (streaming), and the 8 menu bar apps, ran Memory Clean, and currently at 1.76 gigs free, while listening to my stream.

    Anyway, that's my experience. 11" 2012 64 gig MBA.
  6. yanksrock100 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 30, 2010
    San Diego
    Runs pretty well! I have about 1.5 gb available most of the time, having a bunch of apps open.

    I chose 4 gigs because it was either: 4 gigs for $1024 at Best Buy, or 8 gigs for $1299 at Apple. For me, it wasnt worth an extra $300-ish dollars. By the time 4 gigs is not even acceptable, it will probably be time for a new laptop anyway.
  7. Cheffy Dave macrumors 68030

    Cheffy Dave

    Feb 5, 2007
    Sunny Florida, on the Gulf Coast in Homosassa Fl
    54 C2D 11" MBA's purchased for me/friends working perfectly,All working perfectly with 4 MB of RAM
  8. arefbe macrumors 6502


    Sep 11, 2010
    My 2011 13" Air works well with 5 apps open most of the time. About 1.80 megs free.
  9. rbrian macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2011
    Aberdeen, Scotland
    I generally have less than 1GB free RAM on my 2011 11" Air, and that's without very much running - half a dozen tabs open in both Chrome and Safari, Outlook 2011, Mail, iTunes, Lync, Messages. When I open up iPhoto or Excel then I start paging, and my swap file is usually at least 2GB.

    If 8GB was available in 2011 I definitely would have got it, and since it's impossible to upgrade after the fact it's definitely worth getting it now.
  10. iSmack macrumors newbie

    Jul 26, 2006
    It's only a $100 upgrade. It's a no-brainer if you ask me. I didn't hesitate getting the 8GB model when I bought my 2012 MBA. And when the time calls for an upgrade, you have the upper hand on the 2nd hand market because you opted for a more future proof solution. Only downside is you have to wait a couple of weeks because it's build to order.
  11. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    I have 4gb of RAM, with 900mb free and photoshop open, among other things. If I used this as a work machine and regularly used VMWare I'd want 8gb, maybe 16. Otherwise, for daily use, 4gb is fine. Probably even 3 if the OS is pre-iCloud.
  12. rufhausen macrumors regular

    Jul 5, 2007
    Littleton, CO
    4GB doesn't seem to be an issue for me at all. I have 326MB of page outs since rebooting 7 days ago, and that number hasn't changed for several days, so maybe I did something extra heavy a few days ago.
    If the refurb store had had the 8GB version of the 13" when I bought it, I probably would have spent the extra $100, but it didn't.
    This thing still feels smoother than my 2011 iMac with 16GB of ram.
  13. rhinosrcool macrumors 65816


    Sep 5, 2009
    With 4gb, my 2012 air works well. However, at present, I am not using VM ware. As with all of my tech, I bought it used and saved a lot. If I had found a used one with 8gb, it would have cost several hundred more; I am very happy with 4gb.;)
  14. Abazigal macrumors G3


    Jul 18, 2011
    4gb ram is pretty sufficient for your case. Unless you see yourself possibly needing more in the future, don't bother paying extra for the upgrade you will never need.
  15. konicky macrumors regular

    Mar 20, 2012
    For your uses 4GB will be fine, my 2010 13" runs 10.8 on 2GB without any problems. So it all depends how much the price difference means to you. Here in the UK the 8GB is £80 extra which I would probably pay just for a bit of extra future proofing.
  16. Amplelink macrumors 6502a

    Oct 8, 2012
    I've got a late 2010 with 4GB. My next MBA, probably later this year with the new releases, will definitely have 8GB. I don't do anything insanely intensive, but 4GB shows its limits. If you're going to buy a laptop, I'd suggest at least trying to future proof it to some degree.
  17. Abazigal macrumors G3


    Jul 18, 2011
    What future proof solution? The extra ram is going to earn you less than what you paid for if you do sell it off. The only upside is that you benefit from more ram during this time, assuming you really do have a legitimate need.
  18. cjgonzales1900 macrumors regular

    Jan 10, 2009
    Right now Using 4gb of ram on the MBA is perfectly fine. But in the next year are 2 your going to wish you got 8gb of ram. I do! I strongly recommend upgrading your ram to 8gb to future proof your air. Especially if you plan on keeping it for a long time.
  19. KiwiAdventure macrumors 6502a

    Dec 7, 2010
    New Zealand
    I would run 8 if you are going to use parallels and back up to a time capsule. 4 just works but can slow down at times.
  20. neteng101 macrumors 65816

    Jan 7, 2009
    Still on my 2010 13" MBA with 4GB... it does all things fine for the most part, the main issue with the lack of extra RAM for me is when you fire up a virtual machine via Parallels/Fusion.
  21. Miat macrumors 6502a

    Jul 13, 2012
    I run 4GB on a current model 13" Air. It is enough, if you don't want a lot of programs and windows open at once, or don't work with large databases/calculations, or run VMs.

    For me most of the excess RAM use is from browsers, and a simple quit - reopen of the browser usually fixes that. Running the 'purge' terminal command can also help a lot.

    Mainly just don't try to do too much at once with it, and you should be fine.

    The next round of Air upgrades will almost certainly include 8GB, and probably IPS screens, plus cheaper (ie bigger) SSDs. If you can wait until the middle of the year. :D
  22. PraisiX-windows macrumors regular

    May 19, 2011
    I think most people who have written here don't really have a clue.
    Not that I do either, but my 2011 mba with 4 gb of ram is fine, I doubt I would feel any difference what so ever, if I had 8 gb ram - yet it would still be nice to have (peace of mind), but it is hardly a necessity.
    - If you run several operating systems virtually you might want more, so I've heard at least, but I don't know.
  23. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I also have a 2011 MBA and 4gb was the most available then. I have not noticed any problems using programs like Logic Pro, Final Cut Pro, VectorWorks, Photoshop, Filemaker Pro and all the other usual stuff.

    I don't leave tons of programs open at the same time but, for example, it's no problem to record 4 channels live audio in Logic pro while Photoshop, Safari, Mail and Skype are also open.

    One nice thing about the SSD is that you can open programs quickly, so there's not a lot of need to leave them open unless you're actively doing something.

    However, if I were buying a MBA today I'd go for the max configuration - 8gb RAM and 512gb SSD. :)
  24. Mak47 macrumors 6502a

    Mar 27, 2011
    Harrisburg, PA
    I'm shocked at how well it works. I have an 11" entry level model. When I bought it I had no intention of using it how I am now.

    I hook it up to an external 1920x1080 display, with the internal open. Run Photoshop, Pixelmator, Adobe Muse, Safari with multiple tabs, iTunes etc. Often 3-5 of these apps are running at the same time with multiple large files open.

    It chokes occasionally, but clears up fast. I'd love a bigger screen at this point, but the processor and RAM performance really hasn't been an issue.
  25. thadoggfather macrumors G3


    Oct 1, 2007
    yeah my 2011 air has still been running quite well.

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