Is 4GB RAM enough for the Macbook Air?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by keshavbk, Jul 17, 2014.

  1. keshavbk macrumors newbie

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    Jul 17, 2014
    #1
    I'm thinking about buying the 13" Macbook Air and I found a pretty good deal on Amazon for a refurbished model ($800 for the base 13"). But Amazon only sells 4GB RAM models. If I decided that I need the 8GB RAM, then I will have to pay 240 dollars more for the $1040 8GB model on the Apple Store (Student discount). I'm mainly going to be using this for school and an Internship at Stanford in which I'm going to have to program in Matlab. Day to day things would include Chrome and Spotify. So should I shell out the extra 240 bucks for the 8GB model?
     
  2. Truefan31 macrumors 68040

    Truefan31

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    #2
    You could prolly get a better deal at bb. I used my 150 off education discount plus 10% movers coupon from USPS. And bb was selling the base 13 MBA for 100 off, at 899. After tax I paid 714 and got 6% rewards back (before they announced the 10% promo). Which was like 45 dollars.
     
  3. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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  4. capathy21 macrumors 65816

    capathy21

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    #5
    No need for you to shell out the extra cash. Originally, I was in your shoes. I thumbed around these and other forums and had convinced myself that I needed 8GB of ram for basic use. To make a long story short, I now have two 4GB models in my home (1 Air and one rMBP) and they are both simply amazing. With the PCIe SSD, the overall speed of the machine is night and day from a standard hard drive. Mavericks also does a wonderful job of managing memory. I tried to max my memory out and was able to have iMovie, iPhoto, Spotify, iTunes, Safari(25 tabs), Chrome (25 tabs), iMessage, Garage Band, Word and Excel all open at the same time. What's more, switching between them and picking up where I left off was seamless, as if I had much more ram than I really did. With all of that going, I was finally able to push my memory pressure into the orange level but even then, I had no hesitation or lag from the machine.

    tldr;Ram in modern MacBooks with PCIe storage, coupled with Mavericks ability to manage memory, means the base model's 4GB of ram is plenty for most users who aren't professional video editors etc.
     
  5. keshavbk thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #6
    Thank you very much. But another question. Will 4GB RAM be enough to make sure it doesn't become slower in the future? Especially with the release of newer versions of Mac OS X?
     
  6. capathy21 macrumors 65816

    capathy21

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    #7
    How long do you realistically expect to use this machine?

    The minimum ram requirements for Mavericks is 2GB. Yosemite will be the same. I am not a developer, nor have I used Yosemite, but I've read from those who have that it manages memory just as efficiently if not more efficiently than Mavericks. I would guess that the soonest Apple would bump the minimum requirement to 4GB would be Yosemite's successor in late 2015. Now you really don't necessarily want to have the minimum amount of required ram, but it also depends on usage. I don't believe Apple would sell a machine with a configuration that would become outdated for the purchased task within a couple of years. Could they? Sure, but there is a reason people keep buying their products. Overall, they support their devices better than any other company.

    Several things have happened. Technology has hit a plateau, and what was once a race for speed and power has now become a race for battery life and reduced power consumption. Apple is clearly moving in the direction of making OSX more memory efficient.

    In my opinion, you will be able to do roughly the same with a 4GB machine in 2 or 3 years as you can now. There are still many users who have 2GB Macbook Air's and they are able to do the same things on Mavericks as they did on prior versions. I think we have a while to go before we see anything that would require more for basic tasks.
     
  7. keshavbk thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #8
    3 years is the minimum, until I graduate from high school. I would love to prolong its life as much as possible though.
     
  8. capathy21 macrumors 65816

    capathy21

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    #9
    I've always viewed "future proofing" largely as a waste of money in the long run. Buying something to grow into is good, but by the time you get to a point where you can utilize the extra ram, or storage space you bought, you will have a processor or other internal components that are 3-5 years old. At that point, the things you paid extra to future proof are no longer as effective due to the age of the machine.

    User's needs change, I understand that. If you are more comfortable, and feel it's justified to spend extra to up your ram, go ahead. At the end of the day it's your machine and you need to be satisfied with it.

    The way I view it is; I am realistically going to use my machine for 2 maybe 3 years until something better is out that I will want to get. Since Mac's have great resale value, I will sell my current machine and put that towards the purchase of the new one. My difference will hardly be more than I would have spent to "future proof" my current machine, and in the long run, I have an entire machine that is up to date every 2 to 3 years, not just one or two components.
     
  9. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #10
    I agree with capathy21... you will be fine with 4GB. The latest OS release Mavericks actually improved memory management so Macs with less memory worked even better than before. I don't see Apple coming out with an OS that all of a sudden needs 8GB to work properly.
     
  10. Ray Brady macrumors 6502

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    #11
    I'm currently using a 2008 MacBook Pro with 4GB RAM as my primary computer. It's running Mavericks with no complaint.
     
  11. kingalexthe1st macrumors 6502

    kingalexthe1st

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    #12
    I've had my 4GB macbok air for 3 years now and it's still flying. I expect it to last a couple more years, and I wouldn't be surprised if it kept going beyond that too. I use photo editing apps like lightroom and it's fine with that still.

    Alex
     
  12. imaccooper macrumors regular

    imaccooper

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    #13
    You Should Be Fine with 4GB

    I have a 2011 Air with 4GB of Ram and it rarely if ever holds me back. Considering the usage described you will have no problem with 4GB. As far as looking into the future for this machine, my advice remains the same. As i see it, you will still be able to sell this machine in 3 years for a good portion of what you paid for it. You can then turn around and buy something new and only spend a few hundred dollars (my idea of future proofing). I suppose i am in consensus with the group in saying that you will be more than happy with 4GB.
     
  13. ioannis2005gr macrumors 6502

    ioannis2005gr

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    #14
    OK!!!! But, if you buy a new 13" MBA, JUST add more RAM to feed your future needs.... it doesn't cost too much and you will never regret....:apple:
     
  14. capathy21 macrumors 65816

    capathy21

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    #15
    Ram is soldered and not able to be upgraded.
     
  15. imaccooper macrumors regular

    imaccooper

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    #16
    Unfortunately correct. The ram in the air cannot by upgraded (and thats not just apple saying you shouldn't).
     
  16. ioannis2005gr macrumors 6502

    ioannis2005gr

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    #17
    Correct, this is my advice... buy the higher available RAM from the beginning because you can't upgrade it later!
     
  17. citivolus macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    I agree with capathy21 as well. In fact I thought I needed 8GB ram when I was shopping for my MB and did buy one, but realized that it wasn't necessary even given my profile of running VMWare. So I downgraded to a 4GB model to save some money and have not noticed a single blip of difference.
     
  18. capathy21 macrumors 65816

    capathy21

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    #19
    Yea there isn't a lot the 4GB model can't accomplish. Many who either haven't used a base model, or are still in the old hardware mentality, like to say you must have more ram!! Unnecessary hardware upgrades at time of purchase are a cash cow for Apple.
     
  19. citivolus macrumors 6502a

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    #20
    When I originally bought the 4GB model, I looked at the OSX performance monitor for memory, saw swap levels high, etc...and got the mindset that somehow performance was being limited, so I exchanged it for the 8GB model. Well the numbers were "different" in those screens on the 8GB model, but I didn't see a lick of difference in the user experience, so I downgraded again to the 4GB and purposely have made it a point to not look at those screens again and have been happy ever since.
     
  20. capathy21 macrumors 65816

    capathy21

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    #21
    Mavericks will swap from time to time even when it isn't being pushed hard. Nothing to worry about.
     
  21. keshavbk thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jul 17, 2014
    #22
    But that's the thing it does cost more. In my case I have to pay like 240 more for the extra RAM
     
  22. Meister Suspended

    Meister

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    Oct 10, 2013
    #23
    thats what some people dont get.
    The 4gb models tend to be much cheaper.

    On another note: Avoid chrome! i had some really bad experiences with it on my rmbp.
     
  23. ioannis2005gr macrumors 6502

    ioannis2005gr

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    #24
    I guess you mean additional $100, correct? If it's too much for your pocket size, I cannot disagree...
     
  24. keshavbk thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jul 17, 2014
    #25
    No I mean $240. I found a refurb deal for $800 for the base model on the Apple website. If I want the 8GB RAM model, its $1040 with my student discount.
     

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