Is 8GB RAM enough for the 2019 4k iMac?

EightyTwenty

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Mar 11, 2015
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I plan on using it for 6 years and using an external USB 3.1 SSD.

I am also considering the 2017 1080p iMac as well.
 

robgendreau

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Jul 13, 2008
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Might depend on what applications you use for what tasks, and we don't know that. For media, like video or Photoshop and such? no.
 
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EightyTwenty

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Original poster
Mar 11, 2015
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Might depend on what applications you use for what tasks, and we don't know that. For media, like video or Photoshop and such? no.
I'd say I am a very casual user. YouTube, web browsing, MS Office, streaming music/video, etc. I am currently on a Windows 10 machine running 4GB RAM and don't really have any complaints. My main concern would be MacOS stuttering and freezing due to low RAM. I bought the 2014 entry-level Mac Mini with 4GB RAM and had to return it because it was so atrocious. Using that thing was like walking through quicksand.
 

mikehalloran

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Oct 14, 2018
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The Sillie Con Valley
Might depend on what applications you use for what tasks
Everything depends on that.

An 8G 2017 or 2019 comes with two 4GB sticks of RAM. Invest in another pair — either 4GB or 8GB sticks. Certain apps will load more quickly and will perform better. Office 365/2019 benefits. If you plan to keep it a long time, go with 8GB sticks to make 24GB when done—probably don't nee it now but future needs will not be less.

OWC and Crucial are good places to buy. OWC has faster service; Crucial is easier on the wallet.
https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/apple/memory/iMac

https://www.crucial.com/usa/en/compatible-upgrade-for/Apple/imac-(retina-5k,-27-inch,-2017)-imac18,3
 

SaSaSushi

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Aug 8, 2007
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Takamatsu, Japan
The OP is asking for advice about the 2019 4k (21.5 inch) iMac which is not easily upgradable where RAM is concerned and requires open-Mac surgery which would void the warranty.
 
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Sooby

macrumors newbie
Apr 5, 2019
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No I don't think it is. I recently bought the 27 inch iMac with 8gb and used it like that for a few days while I was waiting for new RAM to arrive to upgrade. I was mostly doing basic tasks like what you listed and it was using about 6-7gb. Before this iMac I had a 2015 27 inch and I used it with 8gb for about a year to study for university. It was continuously hitting the RAM limit which caused it to slow down and lag and this was only with university study which mostly involved a lot of word processing, browser tabs and ebooks/pdfs being used usually at the same time. I upgraded it to 16gb and it was fine after that for office/university tasks. 16gb is the minimum you need for a reliably smooth experience if you are doing medium to heavy office/study tasks. If you do anything more such as heavy gaming or film editing etc. you should go even higher. I recently played Rise of the Tomb Raider on my 2019 27 inch iMac and the iMac was using up 23gb of RAM, though I did have it set at a high resolution and with maxed out graphical settings. I was able to play this game on my 2015 iMac with 16Gb and it ran fine but at a lower resolution and reduced graphics settings (but this was due to its weaker GPU). But for general tasks I wouldn't go lower than 16gb.
 
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Mikael H

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Sep 3, 2014
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@EightyTwenty :
It’s not so much that the Mac can’t run on 8 GB of RAM, but that many applications and websites are written in a sloppy way making them require more memory than necessary.
In other words: For your relatively small requirements, 8 GB may be sufficient - if you have the discipline not to do too many things at once.

That said, if you’re looking at a new 21” (and therefore not user upgradable) iMac today, I would definitely purchase it with 16 GB of RAM. The price difference per month over your 6 year expected lifetime is negligible, and for your use you’re unlikely to find that amount of RAM a limitation during the computer’s life.
 
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mcnallym

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Oct 28, 2008
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If I was buying a 21" iMac would definitely buy with 16Gb.

Not going to be easy to upgrade later on, and would say in 6 years would want more then 8Gb.
 
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padams35

macrumors regular
Nov 10, 2016
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I'd say I am a very casual user. YouTube, web browsing, MS Office, streaming music/video, etc. I am currently on a Windows 10 machine running 4GB RAM and don't really have any complaints. My main concern would be MacOS stuttering and freezing due to low RAM. I bought the 2014 entry-level Mac Mini with 4GB RAM and had to return it because it was so atrocious. Using that thing was like walking through quicksand.
Was that with or without the USB SSD? These days MacOS expects either 8GB+ RAM for file caching or else an SSD/Fusion for fast swap space. I wouldn't have expected 4GB+HDD to be usable, but 4GB+SSD should have handled basic email/internet/iWork stuff with only slight difficulty.

On the other hand 8GB+SSD (like my 2015 MacbookAir) works very well for modest use and should support light use for another 4+ years. That said a 6-year target on 8GB is enough of a gamble that I agree with the others on getting 16GB ram instead. I'd also vote against the 2017 dual-core 1080p unless that's the only way to afford 16GB. The 4K retina display is a nice quality of life perk and quad-core, while overkill today, might be appreciated in 3-6 years.
 
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Seamaster

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Feb 24, 2003
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I just bought a 2019 4K with 8GB, my usage profile is similar to the OP’s, and it’s fine.

I ran a 2012 MacBook Air for seven years with 4GB, ditto.

I’m sure lots of folks need more, but there are also lots of folks that don’t.
 
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