If I don't do anything taxing...

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by James.K.Polk, Feb 25, 2017.

  1. James.K.Polk macrumors 6502a

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    #1
    ... is 8 GB of RAM enough to run a laptop for 4-5 years? Or will the RAM be the first thing 'to fail' (in terms of obsolesce) on an 8 GB machine?

    Most of my work is PDF, Word, etc. Very occasional heavier work (i.e. molecular modeling) but I could always do it on a different machine. I'd think even the 12" Macbook would be okay, but I'd appreciate more ports and a little more screen real estate.

    I picked up the 15" MBP and love it... but I'm wondering if I wouldn't love the 13" just as much as save a little cash (plus portability).

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Mefisto macrumors 6502

    Mefisto

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    #2
    I managed almost seven years on the MBP 2010 with 4GB. I did music stuff and some photo editing, and while there was some lag and stutter here and there very occasionally, it was nowhere near intolerable.

    Granted, the software of today (not to mention the future) is, and will be more RAM-hungry, but I am confident that I will manage just fine with the 8GB that I have. Considering the work you do, I would imagine you will as well.

    That being said, if in doubt, it is wise to pump up not only the volume, but also RAM if possible.
     
  3. casperes1996 macrumors 68030

    casperes1996

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    #3
    Well, I'd say it's enough, but not optimal. In five years, I'm imagining 8 will be like what 4 or even 2 is now. On Snow Leopard, I would say to most people that 4GB was enough, but I wouldn't say that anymore, and I think the same applies here. 8 works well right now, and probably will the next 3 years. Beyond that, I'd say 16 is where it'll be at
     
  4. James.K.Polk thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    Makes sense. I got the 15" at a good price (only paid the difference from a 2015) so I can't even complain (too much) about that. And the new form factor makes it an even closer comparison w.r.t. carrying them around. I'll keep my current machine (even if it's overkill for right now!).

    Thanks guys!
     
  5. Count Blah macrumors 68030

    Count Blah

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    #5
    I would say yes. For lite use, the browser is the biggest memory hog. Given past performance, the browser makes don't seem very concerned with cleaning up their memory footprint. Given that, you may be forced to restart the browser regularly, and not keeping 10+ tab open, constantly.

    Other than browsing, the biggest obstacle will be the hobbies you pick up along the way. Say you get into photography, programming, databases, etc... then memory could get to be an issue.

    I would go with the 15" as the CPU will afford you the ability to dabble, and molecular model much more efficiently. But if daily portability is more important ...
     
  6. ZapNZs macrumors 68020

    ZapNZs

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    #6
    Mr. President, for the tasks you are describing, 8 GB will likely be ample for a very long time, unless Microsoft decides to do something very strange, or you like having 50 large spreadsheets open at once. I'm a big advocate for 16gb if someone thinks they may use more resource-intensive software in the future, but for such general usage, I think the base 13-inch MacBook Pro will work great.

    I can't speak to how molecular modeling will work in regards to RAM or CPU needs. But I can say that the MacBook Pro 13 is a MUCH more capable computer than the MacBook. The difference between the MacBook's m5 and the MacBook Pro 13's i5 is, to me, tremendous. Where as the MacBook struggled with some of the multi-tasking I did, the MBP-13ntb handles it like a champ.
     
  7. James.K.Polk thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #7
    Thank you for respecting my authority :D

    I'm used to carrying around a 15" Macbook, so the size isn't such an issue, either. I have a couple bags that all fit 15" laptops no problem. I used a 12" Macbook for work a little and I agree - sweet little computer, but not enough even for multiple (large) PDFs.

    I transport the computer every day, but I think I can bear the weight of the 15" in return for future-proofing and a bigger display!
     
  8. lobo1978 macrumors 6502

    lobo1978

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    Sep 22, 2011
    #8
    Trust me - with macOS + combo of 8 GB + SSD is more than enough to keep you covered until your mac die or you decide to change it.
    No matter if it is MacBook or MacBook Pro.
     
  9. Fishrrman macrumors G5

    Fishrrman

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    Feb 20, 2009
    #9
    I think you'll be fine with 8gb.

    If the OS "needs more", it "goes to the swap file" on disk.
    And since the drives on the new MacBook Pro's are VERY speedy, there isn't too much of a performance hit even then.

    I'm thinking that this is why Apple has (to this point) relied on proprietary designs for their SSD flash drives -- to obtain the fastest speeds possible, particularly where VM is involved...
     
  10. casperes1996 macrumors 68030

    casperes1996

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    #10
    DDR4 speed with the Skylake processor - 34.1GB/s
    Fastest SSD I've seen so far: 3.8GB/s.

    Now that's still a pretty massive difference. Now, it's not at all like with the spinning platter that could be a 100 times slower than RAM, but it's still a lot. Going to swap still means a big performance hit.

    Regarding proprietary SSDs, there's been no performance gain with the components used by Apple relative to standard connection methods.
     
  11. lobo1978, Feb 27, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2017

    lobo1978 macrumors 6502

    lobo1978

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    #11
    From my experience: with regular tasks even more taxing than OP is going to use his mac I have never put enough pressure on 8GB to force MacOS to cache (this is NOT Windows for god sake). Don't forget about Maverics which brought memory compression and optimisation, process sleep etc..

    Trust me again: Apple is much, much smarter with memory management than Windows (where this fear/prejudice originates I suspect). I highly doubt OP could flood 4 GB RAM (current MacOSX) with Word/Excel/Mail/Safari combo.

    BTW: MacOS is using all ram available at all time. Please find attached Activity Monitor for 8GB, 16GB and 32GB Macs (I've just made those snaps from Macs I have available at hand) - all of them were taxed to a medium level (Office/Mail/Safari + some other apps):

    Activity Monitor (All Processes) Activity Monitor, Today at 18.14.45.png
    Activity Monitor (All Processes) Activity Monitor, Today at 18.12.52.png
    Activity Monitor (All Processes) Activity Monitor, Today at 18.13.49.png
     
  12. xWhiplash macrumors 65816

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    #12
    I think it will be fine. We still have computers at our work that get by with 2GB of RAM really well!
     
  13. casperes1996 macrumors 68030

    casperes1996

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    #13
    Believe you meant swap, not cache there.

    I am normally not one to defend Windows, but I have to here. Windows in no way uses more RAM than macOS. In fact, on a clean boot of both, macOS will have 700MB more RAM wired than Windows on my iMac.
    "Maverics which brought memory compression and optimisation, process sleep etc"
    All of what Mavericks brought to the table both regarding processing and memory optimisation, is also available on Windows, including memory compression.

    When it comes to memory management, there is one thing I'd say macOS does way better than Windows, but it's a mostly subjective thing and not an objective fact that it's better. It depends on how you use the computer.
    macOS loves to use RAM. Got 16 gigs but you're only using 4? Well let's fill the rest with things you might want to use in future. We'll leave a bit of buffer space so if we predicted wrong, you'll still have some memory to put your files in.
    This method is brillant, since a lot of the times, your data is already in memory before you need it.

    The downside however, is if you need to open something massive that was not what the system cached for you. The penalty is rather small, but there is a penalty, in that you then have to flush the data before you can repopulate the memory with the correct data. By default, Windows only populates memory with active tasks. Regarding usage however, Windows itself uses less memory than macOS.

    Personally, with medium-light usage, I fill 5 GB of memory. Now that's not "5GB of 'used' memory". It's 5GB of active memory. So I'm not counting the cache, only app memory and wired memory. This is Mail, Spotify, Safari, System Preferences, my MenuBar applications and that's it. Albeit that this is on a 5k screen, so visual assets stored in memory will take up significantly more memory than on normal-DPI screens. (bitmaps, not vector graphics).

    Now if we go five years back, we're at what? Lion?
    Think about how much, not necessarily macOS itself, but the apps that you run on it too, have grown in terms of memory footprint, from Lion to Sierra. Is 8GB enough right now? Yes. Definitely. But 5 years down the line, it'll still be enough, but not "plenty" as it is now. You'll start having occasional swaps to disk and you'll lose all the benefit of caching files to RAM since your active RAM usage will take more space so there'll be less for caching.
     
  14. James.K.Polk thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    I'm back. Absolutely love the 15" MBPTB, but am 'meh' on the TouchBar (it's not bad, it's just useless!) and realize I just don't need anywhere near the power on here. Realized I can get the 12" MBP, 4k Display, and keyboard/trackpad at essentially the same price.... Worth it? I'd love the computer to at least last me 3-4 years.
     
  15. casperes1996 macrumors 68030

    casperes1996

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    #15
    Well, the screen and keyboard/trackpad will at the very least last a while, so even if the MacBook starts feeling sluggish, at that point you could get a new low-end MacBook.
    I think for a price/value ratio I would recommend the 13"MBP instead though. In terms of the performance boost and price difference, I'd say that's more bang for your buck. Albeit at a cost of size and weight, if portability is an important factor.

    Entirely agree with you with regards to the TouchBar. Don't want to look away from my screen and down on my keyboard.
     
  16. James.K.Polk thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    For sure could go for the 13" MBP, and maybe I will.... but the 12" form factor definitely appeals to me, and because I do the bulk of my work at home... might be nice to have the ports 'expanded' by the 4k display... I'm an indecisive person :)
     
  17. casperes1996 macrumors 68030

    casperes1996

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    #17
    If you find the form factor appealing, I'm saying that you're gonna want to go with the MB. Though if you do the bulk of your work at home, would the portability and form factor really come into play much? I mean, being connected to a monitor and all? Oh, and remember that for the 12" MacBook to run 4k at 60Hz, you need to hack the USB-C port to use all the high bandwidth lanes for display. Otherwise Apple limits it to 30hz.
     
  18. James.K.Polk thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    Just picked one up! Base MB + 4k Ultra Fine + Magic Keyboard and Trackpad gave me $262 back from the base 15"! Maybe it won't have quite the same lifespan, but I can't wait!
     
  19. BarracksSi Suspended

    BarracksSi

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    #19
    I heard the 12" MB will be updated next week.

    *ducks and runs*
     
  20. James.K.Polk thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    No, definitely possible. But I don't *think* it'll ship next week, and my return period would have expired. Now I have a new two weeks so on the off chance it is... I'll be covered!
     
  21. casperes1996 macrumors 68030

    casperes1996

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    #21
    Hope you'll be happy with the setup - Also, regarding what I said earlier, the tweak is no longer necessary to get 60hz on the MB. Apple apparently changed that in a Sierra update :)
     
  22. James.K.Polk thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #22
    Yep, definitely running okay on the Ultrafine - what a beautiful (if overpriced) monitor! Thanks for the help.
     
  23. casperes1996 macrumors 68030

    casperes1996

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    #23
    Spectacular situation that a MacBook with a 4.5W processor and on-die GPU can run a 4k display. Obviously not exactly gaming, but still. It is still impressive.
    I wouldn't call the UltraFine overpriced though. On the contrary, it is a 4k screen that as far as I know hits 99%P3 with rather good accuracy, and it also functions as a port hub with a mic, speakers and a camera too. That's a great screen and a lot of bonus stuff and for all that the price isn't that high all things considered. Of course expensive, but in relation to what you're getting, not that bad. Though I'm still not a big fan of the physical design of it.
     
  24. zarathu macrumors regular

    zarathu

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    May 14, 2003
    #24
    Of you use Dr. Cleaner, it will recover memory after after each closing of an application. I was up to 59% of the 16 gb RAM, but when I closed a bunch of apps, Dr. Cleaner recovered back to 36% usage of RAM.
     
  25. James.K.Polk thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    #25
    How does it work? It just runs in the background?
     

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