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RegularGuy09

macrumors regular
Original poster
Feb 20, 2015
177
94
I'm gonna buy a MacBook Air, and I have been considering the base model. My requirements will be basic net browsing, watching movies, and streaming stuff.

I was thinking of spec-ing it out to 16GB RAM to future proof it, but now that ARM Macs are the future, I'm wondering if that's a good idea.

Will I be fine with a base MBA with 8GBs of RAM, for basic usage for the next 5-6 years?
 
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deeddawg

macrumors G5
Jun 14, 2010
12,260
6,412
US
No. For what you describe, 8GB will be more than enough for the life of the system - even without ARM on the horizon.

The concept of "future proofing" is bullsht made up by salespeople trying to get folks to spend more than they need to.

Buy the specs that meet your current and expected needs, with a little bit of headroom. If your needs substantially change you'll probably be replacing the system for other reasons anyway. Not wasting the money today will put you in a better spot tomorrow. Upgrades rarely return more than a small fraction of value in resale.
 

Tekguy0

macrumors 6502
Jan 19, 2020
306
361
For 5 years and your requirements, 8 will be fine. When it is obsoleted by ARM completely in 5 yrs or so, you can put that $200 that you saved towards a newer ARM machine.
 

maflynn

macrumors Haswell
May 3, 2009
73,682
43,717
Future proof is marketing scam to get consumers to spend more then they ought too.

Do you really think watching a movie or streaming will require more then 8GB? I'd say your usage is fine for 8gb
 

Marshall73

macrumors 68030
Apr 20, 2015
2,688
2,779
I'm gonna buy a MacBook Air, and I have been considering the base model. My requirements will be basic net browsing, watching movies, and streaming stuff.

I was thinking of spec-ing it out to 16GB RAM to future proof it, but now that ARM Macs are the future, I'm wondering if that's a good idea.

Will I be fine with a base MBA with 8GBs of RAM, for basic usage for the next 5-6 years?
8GB is fine. 16GB is only really required for running games or VM’s And you don’t do either. The entry model is fine as it isn’t as badly effected by the poorly designed cooling although you can quickly and cheaply fix this with a couple of thermal pads If it’s an issue.
 

370zulu

macrumors 6502
Nov 4, 2014
350
311
I have the 2020 MBA i5 8gb 512gb model and I run a couple of Linux VM's fine on Fusion Pro 11.5.5 with no trouble. Admittedly, that is the extent of my heavy workload. The rest is email, web browsing, terminal, IRC, Pages, Numbers and Keynote. I considered the 16GB version, but could not see cost benefit for my case. I agree with others, future proof is a rubbish phrase used to reach into a customers wallet.
 

VineRider

macrumors 65816
May 24, 2018
1,372
1,177
I agree 8gb is enough. I just bought a Mac mini with 8gb. Basically same type of usage and it will be fine for years to come.
 
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scooterspud

macrumors member
May 30, 2003
31
5
I have the 2020 MBA i5 8gb 512gb model and I run a couple of Linux VM's fine on Fusion Pro 11.5.5 with no trouble. Admittedly, that is the extent of my heavy workload. The rest is email, web browsing, terminal, IRC, Pages, Numbers and Keynote. I considered the 16GB version, but could not see cost benefit for my case. I agree with others, future proof is a rubbish phrase used to reach into a customers wallet.
I have the same configuration, similar usage, and I'm SO glad I didn't pay the extra for the 16gb. I debated it for a long, long time, and decided to save my money. Since the .5 Catalina update it's been running like a champ - even Zoom barely makes the fans pop into gear. I'd get the 8gb and don't worry about it.
 

Erehy Dobon

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Feb 16, 2018
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If you typically run Google Chrome with 20+ tabs open, you are best getting a Mac with 16GB of RAM.

Google Chrome is a well-known resource pig.
 

dmccloud

macrumors 68040
Sep 7, 2009
3,026
1,783
Anchorage, AK
For most computer users (both Mac and Windows), 8GB of RAM is more then enough to handle their daily usage. While there are exceptions (gamers, photo/video editors, etc.) who can benefit from 16GB or more, that 8GB mark is the proverbial sweet spot. On the MacOS side, Apple uses advanced memory management that Windows has not implemented, so that 8GB RAM actually goes further than it would on a Windows 10 machine. Case in point: I can run Firefox with multiple tabs open alongside Photoshop on this i3 MBA and Activity Monitor shows memory pressure well within the green range. If I do that on my 16GB Windows machine, it will show somewhere between 12 and 14GB of RAM in use, and may start slowing down from time to time, despite that machine also having a GTX 1660Ti videocard with 6GB of GDDR6 onboard which Photoshop should be using instead of system RAM.

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If you typically run Google Chrome with 20+ tabs open, you are best getting a Mac with 16GB of RAM.

Google Chrome is a well-known resource pig.

I use Chrome exclusively for school and my coursework/research, and Firefox for everything else. I never have been a big fan of Safari, even when they still had a Windows version.
 

Erehy Dobon

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Feb 16, 2018
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I'm just pointing out that some users here who frequently use Google Chrome with lots of tabs open do have memory pressure issues.

OP provided scant information about how he/she browses the Internet so this was general advice since the topic comes up here on a regular basis.

In any case OP can just buy whatever configuration desired and use it normally until the 14-day deadline for no-questions-asked customer satisfaction returns.

That said, it is rather likely that web browsers and operating systems will get porkier and more resource hungry in subsequent years.
 
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ltb7

macrumors 6502
Nov 5, 2010
493
14
the beach
FYI - only one tab open using Safari and since yesterday keep getting "this webpage is using significant memory" at the top while loading YouTube video - MBA 2020 base, a week old

I am planning to upgrade to i5/16RAM and considering 512GB.

No heating issues, no fan issues but a single tab open in Safari should not cause that message on brand new MBA.
 
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r6mile

macrumors 65816
Feb 3, 2010
1,004
504
London, UK
No. For what you describe, 8GB will be more than enough for the life of the system - even without ARM on the horizon.

The concept of "future proofing" is bullsht made up by salespeople trying to get folks to spend more than they need to.

Buy the specs that meet your current and expected needs, with a little bit of headroom. If your needs substantially change you'll probably be replacing the system for other reasons anyway. Not wasting the money today will put you in a better spot tomorrow. Upgrades rarely return more than a small fraction of value in resale.

I would generally agree with this, but I'm very glad I paid the extra £80 or so to go from 4GB to 8GB RAM in 2013 for my Macbook Air. Runs great to this day, and will even run Big Sur! Not sure it would run so well if it had 4GB.
I do agree that 8GB is plenty for your usage.
 
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deeddawg

macrumors G5
Jun 14, 2010
12,260
6,412
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I would generally agree with this, but I'm very glad I paid the extra £80 or so to go from 4GB to 8GB RAM in 2013 for my Macbook Air. Runs great to this day, and will even run Big Sur! Not sure it would run so well if it had 4GB.
I do agree that 8GB is plenty for your usage.

You do raise a good point regarding "life of the system" and "expected needs" -- I personally figure on a five year turnover, and you're looking at an over eight year turnover if not more. This also needs to be factored into the decision and whether it is individually worth spending the additional £200 or $200 or whatever for the memory upgrade.

Personally I would lean to a shorter system turnover timeline if buying right now, as I anticipate the ARM systems will be quite attractive - in the second iteration if not the first.
 
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sundialsoft

macrumors regular
Sep 2, 2010
171
63
Scotland
My 2015 MBA had 4Gb and never gave a problem. With my new 2020 MBA I got 16Gb & 1Tb because I could afford it but 8Gb & 512Gb would be sufficient for many years.
 

slooksterPSV

macrumors 68040
Apr 17, 2004
3,543
305
Nowheresville
I have the 8GB 256GB so while for development 16GB would have been great I know the tools I use for my main development won’t be hitting performance too much at the moment.

However with that said, I’ve seen the Surface 7? Start at 4GB RAM for $800. Not cool. All systems should be minimum 8GB at this day and age.
 

gaanee

macrumors 65816
Dec 8, 2011
1,433
244
Considering that Apple will be switching to ARM in the next 2 years means Intel MacBooks may receive future updates for 3-4 years, so look only future proofing in the short term after that may have to switch to ARM Mac.
 

ThisIsAbuse

macrumors newbie
Jul 28, 2020
10
3
on the i5 or i7 quad core option - doesn't the IRIS Pro graphics make use of the system ram? If so your going to get better graphics performance with more system ram.
 

deeddawg

macrumors G5
Jun 14, 2010
12,260
6,412
US
on the i5 or i7 quad core option - doesn't the IRIS Pro graphics make use of the system ram? If so your going to get better graphics performance with more system ram.
Please quantify exactly what you’re suggesting would be the real world differences and which applications this would affect.

My understanding is the VRAM is dynamic, using only what’s needed, and I’d never suggest an MBA for a (serious) gaming system - which is usually the main scenario where you’d see all 1.5G VRAM used.

Thus my curiosity as to the specific scenarios where you feel this would impact the user in real world usage.
 

ThisIsAbuse

macrumors newbie
Jul 28, 2020
10
3
Please quantify exactly what you’re suggesting would be the real world differences and which applications this would affect.

My understanding is the VRAM is dynamic, using only what’s needed, and I’d never suggest an MBA for a (serious) gaming system - which is usually the main scenario where you’d see all 1.5G VRAM used.

Thus my curiosity as to the specific scenarios where you feel this would impact the user in real world usage.

Its my view after reading other reviews that it will help in the future proofing. I dont have any benchmarks other then perhaps a view towards enhancing basic lite photoshoping or basic lite video editing. Also history with computers has personally shown me when you can choose a upgrade which enhances graphics processing in a computer it helps with future proofing. Lite gaming is diffierent than serious gaming.
 
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