Is 8GB ram enough?

Ratel

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 3, 2017
6
0
Hi guys
Hope you can help me.
I want buy MacBook Air and I am not sure what to do.
8 or 16 gb ram?
My everyday use is:
Connected to the second screen.
3 browsers in use.
On average open 5 tabs per browser.
Using ‘join.me’ for online presentation.
Don’t want to spend money on ram that is not going to be utilised.
Therefore, my question is, Is 8gb of ram option enough for this?
Will I experience any slowdowns or anything like that on 8gb with this workload?

thank you for your help!
 

Populus

macrumors 6502a
Aug 24, 2012
886
803
Valencia, Spain.
If the MacBook Air has SSD storage, then no, you won't find any slowdown because when it uses the swap space, it's still fast. BUT: I've found Catalina to be a bit more RAM hungry, with previous releases my Mac mini, which has 8GB of memory, entered pretty easily on the yellow compressed zone (with lots of tabs, maybe 20-30), but now on Catalina 10-15 tabs are enough to enter into the yellow zone, memory wise. That being said, system is still responsive at this levels, with an SSD as a main drive.

So I wouldn't say you'll experience any slowdown, thanks to the speed of SSDs (although I haven't used join.me), but nowadays I feel like getting 16GB helps a lot to future-proof your Mac.
 

Ratel

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 3, 2017
6
0
If the MacBook Air has SSD storage, then no, you won't find any slowdown because when it uses the swap space, it's still fast. BUT: I've found Catalina to be a bit more RAM hungry, with previous releases my Mac mini, which has 8GB of memory, entered pretty easily on the yellow compressed zone (with lots of tabs, maybe 20-30), but now on Catalina 10-15 tabs are enough to enter into the yellow zone, memory wise. That being said, system is still responsive at this levels, with an SSD as a main drive.

So I wouldn't say you'll experience any slowdown, thanks to the speed of SSDs (although I haven't used join.me), but nowadays I feel like getting 16GB helps a lot to future-proof your Mac.
Thanks a lot for your help. It’s going to be my first Mac so I have no experience and don’t know what to expect. Just tested my windows laptop and uses slightly above 7gb when doing my stuff but I thought that Macs are more efficient than PC so should be alright. No sure if I am right tho?
 

shaunp

macrumors 68000
Nov 5, 2010
1,736
1,309
Mac OS and applications keep getting bigger as does the data we work with. Considering the price difference between 8GB and 16GB and the fact that Apple laptops cannot be upgraded I wouldn't even consider 8GB. Even just for general 'stuff'. Okay Apple's £180 for 8GB RAM is a complete and utter ripoff but if it makes the difference between keeping a laptop for an extra couple of years then it's worth it.
 

The Man

macrumors 6502
Jul 7, 2004
483
108
If you have the money, go with 16GB. More RAM always enhances the overall experience. Plus if you ever want or need to use virtualization, you will need the RAM. But equally, go with the largest SSD you can. I still don't get why Apple offers only 128 GB on the base model. That's barely enough once you put some apps on it, some music and pictures.
 
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Populus

macrumors 6502a
Aug 24, 2012
886
803
Valencia, Spain.
A lot of people is advising you to get 16GB. I wasn't so sharp because there are people on this forum who insist on 8GB being plenty enough. And they are right as well, because nowadays you can do that type of work with just 8GB. But like others said, if you really want to future proof your MacBook Air, especially if its a 2018 or 2019 model, go with 16GB of RAM if you can afford it.
 

The Man

macrumors 6502
Jul 7, 2004
483
108
It's also about priority. 256 GB SSD is the bare minimum. If you can only afford that, then go with 8 GB RAM. Otherwise go as high as you can afford.
 
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ApfelKuchen

macrumors 68040
Aug 28, 2012
3,142
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Between the coasts
8 GB would probably be OK, but as others have noted, you have no option to upgrade later, so if there's any doubt it's a good idea to err on the side of caution. However, if you have just $200 to spend on an upgrade option, it's worth considering whether additional Flash storage would be more beneficial (the upgrade from 128 GB to 256 GB = $200, upgrade from 8 GB to 16 GB is also $200).

Personally, I disagree with the person who said the size of apps is always increasing. From my perspective, app size has plateaued since the move to download distribution of apps. Developers see the benefits of making and keeping code concise, as it affects their download server bandwidth requirements.

For what it's worth, I currently have 5 open Safari windows with a total of 60 tabs, and a total of 15 running apps. I do have 16 GB RAM, with 13 GB Used. However, due to the way Mac manages RAM, those kinds of comparisons are difficult to make - macOS doesn't clean house in RAM unless the space is needed for other purposes. The more RAM you have, the more likely it is to be filled with code/data that has been inactive for quite a long time. What surprises me is that under Mojave (10.14) and now Catalina (10.15), my typical RAM Used is running around 12-13 GB, while under earlier versions of macOS and OS X the same kind of activity showed 15+ GB Used.

Since browser tabs are such a big part of my usage, that may correlate with the fact that Apple has done a lot over recent years to minimize the impact of inactive-but-open tabs. But I'm just guessing.
 
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Eliott69

macrumors newbie
Mar 16, 2019
9
9
8 GB is enough if you have an SSD. 8 GB is not enough if you have a fusion drive or a harddisk.
 

The Man

macrumors 6502
Jul 7, 2004
483
108
I'm still on a MacBook Air from 2013. I got the 8GB, which was already an upgrade from the base 4GB back then. I only got 128GB SSD, which I have regretted ever since. With 256GB SSD I would have been satisfied. Yes, sometimes you have to stretch that budget a bit. Right now, if it is the choice between 16GB RAM or 256GB SSD, I would choose 256GB SSD.
 

Falhófnir

macrumors 68040
Aug 19, 2017
3,491
3,874
Your use case with a lot open and in use simultaneously does make 16GB worth real consideration, but I wouldn't say 16GB is essential. The OS is pretty proficient with juggling things in RAM and as others have noted the fast storage means swaps are somewhat less noticeable. I would also agree with others who say if you can only have one or the other, prioritise the 256GB storage upgrade. If you are happy to shell out for both it might be worth it for your particular use case.
 

iluvmacs99

macrumors regular
Apr 9, 2019
244
114
Hi guys
Hope you can help me.
I want buy MacBook Air and I am not sure what to do.
8 or 16 gb ram?
My everyday use is:
Connected to the second screen.
3 browsers in use.
On average open 5 tabs per browser.
Using ‘join.me’ for online presentation.
Don’t want to spend money on ram that is not going to be utilised.
Therefore, my question is, Is 8gb of ram option enough for this?
Will I experience any slowdowns or anything like that on 8gb with this workload?

thank you for your help!
If you are connected to the second screen, then you may want to invest in more ram since the Macbook Air shares the RAM with the GPU and it hogs almost 1.5GB. So you don't actually have 8Gb of ram. You have less and it gets lesser when you attach a 2nd screen and depending on resolution and bit depth will take all that 1.5Gb, leaving less ram. While the built-in SSD will off-set the lack of memory by paging in and out RAM, it will increase the heat of the Macbook Air and thus will thermal throttle the CPU thus slowing it down. It happens to my Macbook Air often enough with 8Gb of ram and 128GB SSD that I have to use a dual fan laptop cooler to cool it down, preventing the slowdown. So depending on your budget, I would go for 16Gb with 256Gb SSD. If budget constrained, 8Gb with 256Gb would be a good choice and chose a more ventilated area for better cooling as the fan will work a bit harder because the heat generated from the constant accessing the SSD will heat up the computer.
 
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Ratel

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Apr 3, 2017
6
0
Thank you all for your help guys.
Ultimately, I have purchased 2019 air with 256gb and 8gb of ram. At its pick moment uses a bit over 7gb with a second screen connected. So far works nice and smoothly. No issues at all, hope it stays like that cause I loved it:)
I don’t think I will want windows again based on the first days of using it. just need to learn a bit how to use it :)
Thanks again!
 

Populus

macrumors 6502a
Aug 24, 2012
886
803
Valencia, Spain.
Enjoy your MacBook Air! It's a good machine. I've thought about getting one for myself, but having a Mac mini, an iPad Pro is the best choice for me for mobility.
 
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Populus

macrumors 6502a
Aug 24, 2012
886
803
Valencia, Spain.
You can't change it out later. Go 16GB. Even if you don't need it, your experience will surely be more comfortable with it.
He/she already chose. He/she needed more than 128GB of SSD, and maybe going to 256/16 was too much money. Because we're almost in 2020 and Apple still sells laptops with 128GB of base storage.
 

ignatius345

macrumors 68020
Aug 20, 2015
2,328
3,091
For anyone else pondering this question: more RAM will increase the longevity and future resale value of your Mac.

Can you get by with 8GB? Sure, maybe right now. But as software and OS get updated, that 8GB will start to show.

I'll put it this way: any time I've under-spec'ed a Mac to save a few bucks, I've found myself months later wishing I could spend the few hundred bucks on a RAM or hard drive upgrade. And unfortunately the days of upgrading Macs are over, with the exception of the high end desktops.
 
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The Man

macrumors 6502
Jul 7, 2004
483
108
I'll put it this way: any time I've under-spec'ed a Mac to save a few bucks, I've found myself months later wishing I could spend the few hundred bucks on a RAM or hard drive upgrade. And unfortunately the days of upgrading Macs are over, with the exception of the high end desktops.
You're right, but base Macs are only 128 GB SSD, and upgrading both the SSD to 256 GB and the RAM to 16 GB is very costly. It's $400!. Well, you say better bleed now than regret later. Maybe, but many people have a very strict budget. If only the base Mac was already 256 GB, then we wouldn't be having this conversation.
 
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johnmacward

macrumors regular
Jul 12, 2011
182
23
If you want to limit your usage of this MBA to the next 3 to 4 months then get 8GB, however if you want it to be zippy and capable in 3 to 4 years time then at least put 16GB in it. Some arguments around the SSD being quick enough to act as efficient swap are not so accurate. I/O memory speeds are 10's of times faster than standard MBA SSD's (even stonkingly quick MBP SSD's) and MUCH closer to the CPU than the controller that has to be consulted for SSD data. At 8GB's Mac updates will simply start to kill your performance and as websites, programs get heavier and more complex (which they're doing all the time) you'll also start to feel the 8GB pinch... In my opinion 8GB hasn't been good for the past year let alone right now or 6 months from now...
 

The Man

macrumors 6502
Jul 7, 2004
483
108
Holy cow, people. The person already bought a 256 GB SSD 8 GB RAM model. Clearly the disk space was needed and the 16 GB not within budget. Let the person try out the Mac first, instead of ramming (implicitly) that it is a mistake and 16 GB RAM is truly needed, and that the MacBook needs to be returned pronto. I'm sure the MacBook will be put through its paces and conclusions will be made. In the end there will always be a better model with more longevity when we spend another $200. But the reality is, people's budget are not unlimited, and what seems like nothing to some (or perhaps worth the extra investment and short term bleed) it can truly be a lot to other people.
 

flaubert

macrumors regular
Jun 16, 2015
236
38
Portland, Oregon
I'm still on a MacBook Air from 2013. I got the 8GB, which was already an upgrade from the base 4GB back then. I only got 128GB SSD, which I have regretted ever since. With 256GB SSD I would have been satisfied. Yes, sometimes you have to stretch that budget a bit. Right now, if it is the choice between 16GB RAM or 256GB SSD, I would choose 256GB SSD.
This is slightly off-topic, but I would like to point out that your MacBook Air 2013 has the opportunity to be upgraded with an NVMe storage blade. See this wiki posting, which lays out a lot of incredibly useful information:


NVMe prices have really come down, and a terabyte of storage is now only a little more than $100.
 
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ajfahey

macrumors regular
Jun 28, 2001
143
147
Moorpark, CA
If you have the money, go with 16GB. More RAM always enhances the overall experience. Plus if you ever want or need to use virtualization, you will need the RAM. But equally, go with the largest SSD you can. I still don't get why Apple offers only 128 GB on the base model. That's barely enough once you put some apps on it, some music and pictures.
My cynical side tells me that the principle reason for selling the low end model is that it will reach obsolescence a whole lot faster, either because you won’t be able to tolerate disc swapping or OS X will suddenly need a minimum of 8.1 GBytes before even the butterfly keyboard has become contaminated.
 

ignatius345

macrumors 68020
Aug 20, 2015
2,328
3,091
You're right, but base Macs are only 128 GB SSD, and upgrading both the SSD to 256 GB and the RAM to 16 GB is very costly. It's $400!. Well, you say better bleed now than regret later. Maybe, but many people have a very strict budget. If only the base Mac was already 256 GB, then we wouldn't be having this conversation.
Yeah, it's a bite for sure. But sure enough down the road a year and I think I'd find myself wishing I could spend that $400 for the upgrade.

For desktop Macs the storage is way less of an issue because you can always just plug in more external storage, but with laptops they really have you over a barrel.

I really long for the days when you could open your MacBook up and replace the hard drive and RAM yourself...