Just bought a 2015 Macbook Air, is 4 gigs of ram enough?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by FloridaMac86, May 4, 2015.

  1. FloridaMac86 macrumors newbie

    May 4, 2015
    So, i got a base model configuration of the 2015 macbook air. I have never owned a mac before and I already have fallen in love with it. The build quality, the keyboard, the thin and lightness.

    Its great.

    But, i used the super deal + movers coupon + 50 off to snag this bad boy for 659.99 brand new at best buy last week.

    I thought hell, getting a 13 inch brand new macbook air for 659.00 is a steal.

    Anyways, I'm satisfied with everything, but i worry about the ram.

    My usage: I don't use photoshop or gaming or anything intensive on the computer.. Mostly just web browsing, but i was worried that i may need the 8 gigs of ram.

    I didn't have the option to get the 8 gig model at best buy, and the sale is over, so its either keep this model or return it within 15 days.

    I want to know basically will i suffer any performance issues or slowdowns in the next 5 years or so, if my usage habits don't significantly change.

    I know the broad well processor, along with the super fast pcie SSD should power me swiftly through anything that I do, now and into the future, the only bottleneck i potentially see is ram, but should I even worry?

    Why would apple sell a 2015 air with a RAM bottleneck? I guess they wouldn't. Im probably just worrying unnecessarily.

    Chime in!

  2. Johnny Alien macrumors member

    Nov 17, 2012
    Honestly since the ram is soldered in I am not sure why any of the 2015 models are base 4GB. Is it enough to power through with basic internet usage? Absolutely. Will it feel sluggish after a few years? I would bet on it. The OS itself will become more of a hog. Now you could stick to a lower OS at some point and it should plug away for some time with little issues. So the short answer is yes it will be fine but you will feel it a bit within 5 years. That doesn't mean you will feel it in a way that will bother you though. If it were me and I wanted to keep it for at least 5 years I would go with 8GB but that doesn't mean that you can't hold on with less. There are people that are still running power PC macs. With older OS's of course.
  3. jdiamond macrumors 6502

    Dec 17, 2008
    I've found OS-X to be remarkably elastic wrt memory usage...

    On my laptop with 8 GB, I'm shocked to see Mavericks using up over 4GB of the memory at boot time, with no applications yet running. I frequently run into memory issues when running more than one bloated style application.

    However, when I use Mavericks on an alternate laptop with only 4GB of RAM, it reconfigures itself (explicitly) to use less memory, and then it DOES use less memory. I definitely do have more memory issues on the 4GB laptop, but not nearly as big a difference as you'd think.

    In fact, I'd put it another way - if your needs are so little that 4GB works for you, you may be fine. But if 4GB is NOT working for you, 8GB may ultimately not work for you either (as has been the case for me). Honestly, if the next Macbook Pro has a 32GB option, I'm getting it. Because when memory problems come up, it's a bummer. Don't get me wrong - I've been getting by on 8 GB, but it'd be nice to not feel the pain when there's a lot of memory pressure.
  4. blesscheese macrumors 6502a


    Apr 3, 2010
    Central CA
    Listing all the threads on this topic would be a full-time job.

    If all you are doing is lightweight tasks, like surfing, email, etc., 4GB is enough for now, at least.

    If you start getting "spinning beach balls", just reboot, and start over.
  5. redheeler macrumors 604


    Oct 17, 2014
    4 GB is fine for web browsing. If you want to make completely sure, check Activity Monitor during your usage. If the graph under Memory Pressure is green, you're fine.
  6. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    Nope. What you're seeing is the OS trying to use all your memory, because what's the point of having it if you don't use it?

    You aren't seeing a big OS trying to shoehorn itself into a smaller space.

    If your memory pressure is green then you're fine.


    No, you shouldn't worry.

    The system requirements for the current OS are 2GB, and you have double that.

    There is no reason to worry about having double the requirements of something. It's a little bit silly if you think about it. :)

    Moreover, the memory requirements for OS X have more or less plateaued. There is no actual reason to believe you will need more memory over the next few years.

    There are plenty of people who will tell you that you always need more memory, but this is a mentality left over from the 90s, when there was a legitimate reason to double your memory every year.
  7. FloridaMac86 thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 4, 2015
    Thanks! Now I'm wanting to know if I should keep the air or go with a pro retina for the screen
  8. brdeveloper macrumors 68020


    Apr 21, 2010
    With memory compression, your 4GBs will behave like 5GBs, maybe more, maybe less, most of the time. Also, when you need swapping, it will perform at over 1GB/s rates, that is, around 10% of your RAM speed. This is very fast, comparing to a 5400rpm HDD which does 100MB/s in sequential reads/writes.

    This scenario is more than enough for browsing, watching movies and running office applications. Even image editing can be done comfortably, unless you process a lot of raw pictures from a full-frame dslr.
  9. FloridaMac86 thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 4, 2015
  10. motrek macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    Only you can decide that, probably by going to a store and looking at them side-by-side.
  11. robzr macrumors member


    May 4, 2006
    Portland, OR
    4 GB is fine for web surfing and standard app usage, but a "power user" or someone running memory intensive apps (editing photos or videos, running a VM, or pretty much anything made by Adobe or Microsoft) would feel the limitations pretty quick. But for standard web browsing, email, chat, Numbers & Pages, etc, you should be fine for a couple years.

    Traditionally speaking, as more features get added to OS's and applications, RAM requirements have gone up, so people got pretty used to the idea of needing more RAM every couple years. However when Mavericks came out, OS X added support for the OS to compress dormant memory as opposed to immediately swapping it out to a drive when it was needed, which was the traditional point of pain when running out of RAM. Also, the use of high speed SSDs (which today are about 10 times as fast as the mobile hard drives they have replaced over the last few years) has made the effects of "swapping out" much less painful.

    So end result, in my opinion at least, 4 GB really is suitable for a base level config. For what you paid for that Macbook Air, I'd say you got a pretty damn good score, although keeping it for 5 years might be a bit of a stretch. But you should be able to sell it on craigslist in a year or two and not take much of a hit since you got such a good deal on it.

    Enjoy the mac! The 13" Macbook Air is an awesome little machine and I think you'll be really happy with it.

  12. David58117 macrumors 65816

    Jan 24, 2013
    If the -$50 off you used was a student .edu coupon - keep in mind those are one time only.

    You'd have to have a completely different .edu email in order to use another one.
  13. FloridaMac86 thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 4, 2015
    Yea. The only thing is my phone screen is 1080p (nexus 5) and my computer which is 7 inches larger has less resolution. I don't really mind I guess... MY laptop before the air was a 15.6 inch dell that's 5 years old with 1366x768 resolution. So technically from a screen point of view I am improving to 1400x900 in a 13 inch screen, thus it is more pixel rich.

    My last option is to return the air and get an Acer Chromebook 15 because its only 350.00 has an ssd and 4 gigs of ram and a 1080p IPS panel. For my needs maybe I should just get the Chromebook.
  14. brdeveloper macrumors 68020


    Apr 21, 2010
    There are people still using their 2GB 2010 MBAs. I'd like to see this configuration in person and check how it performs in 2015. But I can imagine that a 2015 MBA will be usable in 2020. Just upgrade later to see the impacts of OSX in old machines. I tend to wait 6-12 months before upgrading the OS.
  15. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    Look here: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1756865

    4gb run office, webbrowsing, media consumption, pixelmator, lightroom and even photoshop. Video editing also works just fine. There is people who run after effects and fcpx with only 4gb. It only becomes a constraint once you multitask media creation apps like Lightroom and Photoshop simultaneously or hou work on some large media creation projects. (Timelapses with 100s of raw files), but at that point the processor in the mba will also make you crinch.

    I think you got an awesome deal and your macbook should last many years.
  16. martinmed macrumors newbie

    Mar 24, 2015
    Four gigs of RAM is fine. I've been using my Early 2014 13in MBA base model for Photoshop, light video editing, light gaming and running VMs in the background and it only has slowed down once when I had two VMs running along with Photoshop and a couple of Safari windows. That is of course understandable as the VMs are taking memory from the system. If all you are doing is browsing the web, opening email, stuff like that, you'll be fine.

    I am still running Mavericks and probably will not be upgrading to Yosemite as it does seem to make my Air run a bit slower. Mavericks however just flies as does Windows 7 and 8.
  17. Dr Charter macrumors 6502

    Feb 26, 2011
    4GB has been fine for me. I picked up a base 2015 11" Air and have not noticed any limitations. Granted, I do mostly typical English professor tasks: documents, Internet, spreadsheets, light photo/video editing.
  18. darngooddesign macrumors G3

    Jul 4, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    My 2008MBP that I use between work issued computers has 4GB and its fine for the regular tasks you mentioned.
  19. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013

    I love my retina and it was the reason I didn't get an air in 2013, I wouldn't cahnge it for anything. Text especially looks amazing and if you read a lot of text then it is a massive bonus. Of course video and photos look awesome too but thats not why I love it so much.
  20. FloridaMac86 thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 4, 2015
    Only thing is... It. Would cost so much more.
  21. 556fmjoe macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2014
    That thread really, really needs to be stickied.

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