is 8gb RAM 13 inch Macbook Air enough?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by cdubb80, Aug 2, 2014.

  1. cdubb80, Aug 2, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2014

    cdubb80 macrumors member

    May 15, 2011
    I have been waiting to purchase a new laptop (MBA or rMBP) for the past year. I currently have a 2011 13 inch MBP that I upgraded with a SSD + optibay HD, and recently upgraded to 16gb RAM.

    I would be leaning towards MBA for portability/battery life (disappointed it hasn't had a major update yet), except I am wondering if 8GB ram is enough for me.

    I don't do any heavy duty computing (eg. photoshop, lightroom etc), but I have to regularly use Windows 7 on VMware fusion to access hospital VPN when in the office/at home.

    Since I upgraded to 16gb RAM, when I look at System Memory I often have stats like this:

    Free: 100 MB
    Wired: 4.1 GB
    Active 6 GB
    Inactive 5.8 GB
    Used 15.9 GB
    VM size 331 GB
    Page ins: 6.25 GB
    Page outs: 100 MB
    Swap used: 194.2 MB

    Is it concerning I have so little free RAM, and so much inactive?
    I thought it's good my page outs are so low compared to page ins.

    Attached Files:

  2. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    The current MacBook Air comes with Mavericks, which is very smart on how to use RAM, 8G shoud be fine. Your typical RAM usage is about 10G now. Assuming you require that same among of RAM to run smoothly on the MacBook Air, Mavericks should able to compress 8G of RAM to fulfil that 10G requirement before touch the swap.
  3. mad3inch1na macrumors 6502a

    Oct 21, 2013
    Apple has a very interesting caching system. It essentially uses up all of your RAM, even if you aren't doing anything. It just allocates an excess of RAM to each of your activities, so that if you need it there will not be any delay. Depending on the work you do, only having 8GB would be just fine. Since you are using a VM, I would assume that 8GB of RAM would be a good idea, with 4GB allocated to the VM. Obviously, I don't know anything about your situation beyond that, but unless you can think of an application that eats up RAM for hours on end, 16GB is probably overkill. Realistically, you could get away with 4GB of RAM, but if you use your VM all the time for any RAM intensive task, 8GB will probably be a good idea. I typically advise towards 2-4GB for most people, so 8GB should be really more than plenty if you are just running a VM.

  4. yellerdied macrumors newbie

    Aug 1, 2014
    Does RAM size become slightly less of an issue due to SSDs on a fast bus?
    i.e., any swapping that does need to occur is very fast
  5. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    No, the RAM is usually 5-10 times faster than SSD. Of course, if you compare the swap in SSD and HDD, it's much faster already. However, it's still a big performance hit if swap required.
  6. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    Yes, 8 GB RAM in a 13 inch MBA is more than enough. Actually, 4 GB RAM would probably be quite sufficient for your stated needs.
  7. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    He uses VM Fusion, 4GB RAM won't be sufficient.
  8. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    he only uses vpn for a specfific purpose.he can get away with 4.
  9. cdubb80 thread starter macrumors member

    May 15, 2011
    ok thanks for the replies (was on-call all weekend so didn't get a chance to check the thread until now).

    i would probably opt for the 8gb RAM model to get larger SSD as well….

    now it's just deciding between MBA and retina MBP again (had really been hoping for the 12in MBA to solve my dilemma!)
  10. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    The mba is:
    • Thinner
    • Lighter
    • Snappier!
    • Equipt with better battery life

    The rmbp: has a badass screen and an hdmi port

    Now take your pick :)

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