Is 4GB RAM enough for a MBA?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by cheesyappleuser, Sep 7, 2013.

  1. cheesyappleuser macrumors 6502a


    Apr 5, 2011
    Hi everyone,
    I'm thinking about getting a 13" MBA, because a huge $500 sale is happening in my country.

    The catch is the promotion only aims the lower i5/4GB setup.
    Are the 4GB enough for a computer I want to maintain in the long run (7 years at the very least)? I don't want demanding tasks either, just word processing and such.

    Best regards,
  2. user-name-here macrumors 65816

    Aug 31, 2013
    Just word processing and light tasks? Yes, 4GB will be more than enough.
  3. cheesyappleuser thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 5, 2011
    And what about future-proofing?
  4. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I had a 2011 13" 4gb i5 MBA for almost two years and it was very happy. I used some pretty powerful programs too, like Photoshop, Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro. I replaced it with a 2013 11" 8gb i7, and although the new machine is clearly faster, I doubt you would notice the difference with "less demanding" software.

    7 years is a long time to keep something as your primary computer. I still have my 2008 MBP but it is much, much slower than the MBA. I also still have my Aluminum PowerBook G4 which is maybe 8 years old. It's no more than a paperweight at this point, although it still works fine. I will keep it so I can use some antique software if I need to open really old files, like MacDraw and AppleWorks. :D
  5. flowrider macrumors 603


    Nov 23, 2012
    Since I have a Mac Pro for my main home machine, 4Gb in the Air is just fine. However, if it were my only Macintosh, I have 8Gb.

  6. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    I think 7 years will be a big ask for 4GB. What did most computers have 7 years ago? I think 8GB is the minimum requirement for the next couple of OSX releases. Unless of course you plan to run it's current OS for the next 7 years, but that will cause other issues.
  7. entropi macrumors 6502

    May 20, 2008
    No such thing really exists in the computerworld! Sure just use light wordprocessing and do not update to any bigger revisions of its software and it will be fine for at least three years...
  8. user-name-here macrumors 65816

    Aug 31, 2013
    I am perfectly fine using my 2013 MBA on Mountain Lion until it breaks.

    Will I update to Mavericks? Probably. But I'm not a slave to updates and don't require them.

    In that regard I don't have to worry about "future-proofing" since the 2013 MBA with Mountain Lion already runs perfect. If an update comes out that doesn't mess with performance then I'll update. Otherwise, I'll simply keep my machine on the OS it already has and be happy.
  9. ZBoater macrumors G3


    Jul 2, 2007
    Sunny Florida
    That's going to be tough. Remember the computers from 7 years ago? Imagine them today.

    Tough. Good luck!
  10. cheesyappleuser thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 5, 2011
    I have a 5yr-old desktop which I still use as my main machine. Fairly quick for everything.
    Not hard to imagine it working good two years from now.

    The RAM is sort of an issue because my desktop also uses 4GB RAM
  11. Idarzoid macrumors 6502

    Mar 15, 2013
    4GB is fine, it's the absolute minimum I'll go with.

    Had a 11" MBA with i5/4GB/128GB, performed fine even with a VM running (Windows XP with 1GB RAM assigned)
  12. jadAce macrumors regular


    Aug 10, 2013
    For a $500 sale, that i5/4GB setup is a very nice price (I'm assuming $1099 - $500 from the sale = $599). If that is indeed the price, I would go ahead and buy it.

    7 years, however, is quite a long time for any laptop so far. I have seen people carrying old PowerBooks. But, the rate at which tech innovation is going means that in 7 years, we might see 8GB RAM as a lower end spec, and most heavy software is going to require more. Plus, you have to remember that you can't really open up the MacBook Air and upgrade it yourself.
  13. Saltymac macrumors member

    Aug 19, 2013
    Rocky Mt State
    Four works well as a base in most of my machines - two gb ram works for most basic operations. Your being given what sounds like a very good deal. Take it and run. Future proofing is way to demanding.
  14. Fifteen20s macrumors regular

    Jun 9, 2012
    I have the base i5 / 4gig / 128 MBA

    My current setup is the MBA for portable use and my iMac as a main machine. I could not have asked for anything better. The MBA handled all my day to day tasks with no problem, however I did not expect it to do any amount of storage.

    I am now in need of a Windows machine for work and the base model is not stout enough for bootcamp. It may work but I will be pushing its resources too much.

    If this is your only machine I would not get the base model, I now wish I had bought the 8gig / 256 or even a maxed version.

    Base model to complement an iMac is a great idea but I would advise against it for a primary machine.
  15. cheesyappleuser thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 5, 2011
    Is 4GB RAM enough for a MBA?

    The Mac actualy costs $980, which is already cheaper than in the US. Not $600 but pretty good, I think


    And yes, I'm thinking of having it as my father's main machine.
    He has a Windows 7 laptop, 4GB RAM, no SSD, 1st gen i5 setup right now.

    It's just hard to figure out because of the price. I'm quite undecided if this really is a good deal (and future-proof) myself.
  16. andrewlgm macrumors 6502


    Feb 16, 2011
    I went from a previous macbook with 8GB-RAM and SSD to an Air with 4GB RAM. Here's my daily use with some open applications at the same time: iTunes, Word, Safari (5-6 tabs), dictionary, mail, etc. Or handbrake (for DVD encoding), safari, iTunes playing, word, mail, etc. I see not ONE hiccup. The Macbook air (2013-2012 versions) are fantastic machines even with 4GB of Ram. I also do some aperture work, and see no delay.

    Future proofing is useless for me. I'm never happy with a machine that's 4-5 years old, or older. I spent a lot of money on my previous Macbook Unibody 2009 and wanted to sell it and buy another 2 years later, but didn't due to my initial, extended investment. As a matter of fact, I couldn't even find a decent price for it a month ago, so I ended up not selling it, and have gifted it to a very happy niece. Hope my experience helps.
  17. HarryWarden macrumors 6502a

    Oct 27, 2012
    Same experience here. Have a 2009 MacBook Pro that I decided to keep because selling it really wasn't worth it to me because of the low price I'd have to charge to even get a sniff.
  18. vicynic macrumors member

    Aug 25, 2013
    New Jersey
    Yes. I run Parallels and play games with 4GB. More than enough, and I like to use my money's worth instead of paying for an extra 4GB that I won't really need.
  19. Wispy macrumors newbie

    Sep 5, 2013
    My MB have only 2GB, but SSD help with everything, so I think that 4GB good for Air. I have an iMac with 4GB and he works perfect.
  20. tom vilsack macrumors 68000

    tom vilsack

    Nov 20, 2010
    ladner cdn
    I think you mean 8gb storage not mem...

    I run a 2008 black macbook 2.4GHz with 2 gigs mem and running snowleopard (could run lion,but I prefer sl) runs great! So being as it's almost 6 years old and handling the most common laptop programs (browser,open office ect)...You should be just fine with a system that has 4 gig mem...add to this your using a ssd!
  21. magbarn macrumors 68000

    Oct 25, 2008
    SL is much better than ML when it comes to basic memory usage. Just having a number of heavy websites like Facebook/verge and my previous 4gb MBA was already down to <1 gb of free memory. Yes, Mavericks has memory compression, but it seems to be more hype than substance. If you plan on 'flipping' your machine in 1 year like many here do, the 4gb is more than adequate. Keep it for 5 years, get 8gb.
  22. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    No I meant memory. 8gb of RAM will not get you through the next 7 years IMHO.
  23. QuarterSwede, Sep 7, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2013

    QuarterSwede macrumors G3


    Oct 1, 2005
    Colorado Springs, CO
    If you want it to last 7 years you HAVE to max out the RAM and get an SSD (I realize it has one). Period.

    My '05 PowerBook G4 has maxed out RAM and it still can't perform well enough. It couldn't even when hitting the 7 year mark. It's now relegated to being my print server.

    A good lifespan for a computer is 3-5 years. Anything beyond that and you'll want to rip your hair out. The web will just become too much for it to handle. Seriously. Anyone who says differently hasn't used a modern machine.

    I've got an '07 MacBook that needs to be replaced. It can't playback 1080p video. I guarantee the MacBook Air won't be able to playback 4K smoothly and that's the future in 7 years for sure.

    Expect a Mac to last 3-5 years. No more.
  24. AXs macrumors 6502a


    Sep 7, 2009
    See, Apple isn't going to put a product in stores that cannot run properly.

    RAM doesn't determine what apps you can or cannot run. It only determines how many things you can clog up to run simultaneously.

    4GB is plenty enough for a Macbook Air. I only got 8GB because I run parallels.

    The only catch is you're saying 7years. That's a stretch for any modern laptop. Things aren't really being built to last like they were years ago. But even the difference from 4GB Ram to 8GB ram ddr3 is going to be negligible. We're going to see ddr4 ram next year, and in 5 years probably DDR5... let alone 7 years.

    So yea... it's up to you, but $500 discount is big for an Air
  25. KUguardgrl13 macrumors 68020


    May 16, 2013
    Kansas, USA
    I have the 13" Macbook Pro from mid-2009, and I've started looking into a replacement with either a new MBA or waiting for the rMBP refresh. I'll probably hang onto this one though for extra storage. The current HDD is only a few months old, and I just put 8gb of RAM into it.

    I'm thinking the replacement will be either an MBA or an rMBP i5/8/256. Depends on what I can convince my parents to spend on me for Christmas, graduation, and my next birthday.

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