Become a MacRumors Supporter for $25/year with no ads, private forums, and more!
  • Did you order new AirTags? We've opened a dedicated AirTags forum.

Loog

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 14, 2020
161
163
I've spent most of my time on this forum livening the 2020 Air Heatsink Modification Mega Thread, including making custom shims for the project. Times change and I still have my 2018 MBA retina 16GB/512GB but my wife needed a new machine so we decided a 2020 M1 was the way to go.

Our workflows are similar, plenty of web, office and light photo, I use VMware hence the 16GB to provide a little extra head room to run another Linux or Windows machine in parallel. Setting up the new M1 was a dream, and while I thought my 2018 MBA was still quick, and having owned a MBA 2020 i7 for a period (returned due to heat and fan noise) which didn't feel any quicker than the machine I was moving from, the new M1 is just streets ahead in so many ways.

Boot up time fully installed from power off to use is sub 1min and is buttery smooth, where my 2018 is around 3min and jerky until the applications are all loaded and good to go. Looking at the RAM usage I'm using 10GB used, 5GB cache and nearly zero swap on my 2018. My wife's M1 machine is another story, 6.5GB, 1.5GB and 2GB with just Safari open (3 tabs), word and google backup and sync. Quite high in my opinion considering we only have open facebook, canva and wix, and wix can be a real hog taking 3GB on its own. Is the new M1 coping with this, sure it is but its making the most of the fast SSD to shuffle resources around. We're not power users, nor large media consumers on youtube which is what most people are demonstrating.

I've not seen issues to date on the M1 telling me that Safari is using lots of RAM and the tab should be closed which is something that I regally see with my 2018 Intel. From time to time I have seen memory pressure on the M1/8GB which has never been there on the 2018/16GB. End user experience however is different story, on the Intel, this becomes really laggy when memory usage is high in Safari, there is no difference in user experience on the M1, I just checked usage out of curiosity and was amazed how this little machine was coping with such little memory resource in comparison.

There are plenty of threads on SSD overuse and worries, which was one of my reasons for opting for the 512GB. The 256GB would have been find from a capacity point of view but I wanted to have some additional longevity built in as we keep our machines for while and pass them down through the family when we replace them. I can see quite early on the SSD is going to be used more on this machine to keep things working smoothly.

I didn't think that when I purchased the M1 that 8GB was going to be an issue for my wife, in practice I don't think it will, however as a IT professional you can't help but notice that 8GB in todays world isn't a lot to play with if you're workflow tools are resource hungry. While there are plenty of youtube videos showing the video editing capabilities of these machines, watching youtube, audio creation, lots of tabs open etc there are possible more people who use them as a daily driver doing office type work and using SAAS applications which are rendered in the browser, online meetings etc.

I would suggest that you take a good look at your workflow before purchasing and look at the resources that you may need before purchase.

Have I made the wrong decision in getting an 8GB Air? I don't know truthfully know at this point, we've only been using this for a couple of days and the user experience says no, it was spot on. My wife's face lit up when the box came as this was a total surprise from Amazon and replaced her HP 820 G1 Elitebook (i5/16GB/256GB) which is circa 8 years old. I'm keeping an eye on resource utilisation for now for my own benefit as I'll be swapping my device once I know what the new MacBook M1x lineup is. If 16GB RAM wasn't build to order then I would have selected this from the go. I feel the 512GB is possibly overkill for our use but provides circa double the SSD life span and 'flexible RAM' so there is the compromise, or at least for me anyhow.

I wanted to share some of my thoughts hopefully to address some of the points that others are asking on the forum when looking to purchase, these are really capable machines in their own right. One thing to keep in mind is that this is the start of Apples journey and these are lowest spec'd machines that there will ever be! Working daily on a desktop class laptop i7/32GB HP zBook, the user experience on the entry level devices from Apple is just in another league, fast, smooth, cool and well, highly enjoyable.

 
Last edited:

Jack Neill

macrumors 65816
Sep 13, 2015
1,296
1,013
San Antonio Texas
I always thought that 8Gb was not enough and always bumped to 16Gb on every machine I could. I had the same concerns with the Early 2020 Air I bought but after using it and evaluating my needs from the machine, 8Gb wasn't really a hinderance. On my M1/8/512 I feel like its the same. I think where it will hurt is in 5+ years when todays 8Gb will feel like the 4Gb I have in my 2012 Air. Although with Big Sur and 4Gb it feels like it has better memory management than previous macOS/X it seems speedy enough for Air like tasks.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Loog
Comment

tps3443

macrumors 65816
Jan 24, 2019
1,395
893
NC,USA
I've spent most of my time on this forum livening the 2020 Air Heatsink Modification Mega Thread, including making custom shims for the project. Times change and I still have my 2018 MBA retina 16GB/512GB but my wife needed a new machine so we decided a 2020 M1 was the way to go.

Our workflows are similar, plenty of web, office and light photo, I use VMware hence the 16GB to provide a little extra head room to run another Linux or Windows machine in parallel. Setting up the new M1 was a dream, and while I thought my 2018 MBA was still quick, and having owned a MBA 2020 i7 for a period (returned due to heat and fan noise) which didn't feel any quicker than the machine I was moving from, the new M1 is just streets ahead in so many ways.

Boot up time fully installed from power off to use is sub 1min and is buttery smooth, where my 2018 is around 3min and jerky until the applications are all loaded and good to go. Looking at the RAM usage I'm using 10GB used, 5GB cache and nearly zero swap on my 2018. My wife's M1 machine is another story, 6.5GB, 1.5GB and 2GB with just Safari open (3 tabs), word and google backup and sync. Quite high in my opinion considering we only have open facebook, canva and wix, and wix can be a real hog taking 3GB on its own. Is the new M1 coping with this, sure it is but its making the most of the fast SSD to shuffle resources around. We're not power users, nor large media consumers on youtube which is what most people are demonstrating.

I've not seen issues to date on the M1 telling me that Safari is using lots of RAM and the tab should be closed which is something that I regally see with my 2018 Intel. From time to time I have seen memory pressure on the M1/8GB which has never been there on the 2018/16GB. End user experience however is different story, on the Intel, this becomes really laggy when memory usage is high in Safari, there is no difference in user experience on the M1, I just checked usage out of curiosity and was amazed how this little machine was coping with such little memory resource in comparison.

There are plenty of threads on SSD overuse and worries, which was one of my reasons for opting for the 512GB. The 256GB would have been find from a capacity point of view but I wanted to have some additional longevity built in as we keep our machines for while and pass them down through the family when we replace them. I can see quite early on the SSD is going to be used more on this machine to keep things working smoothly.

I didn't think that when I purchased the M1 that 8GB was going to be an issue for my wife, in practice I don't think it will, however as a IT professional you can't help but notice that 8GB in todays world isn't a lot to play with if you're workflow tools are resource hungry. While there are plenty of youtube videos showing the video editing capabilities of these machines, watching youtube, audio creation, lots of tabs open etc there are possible more people who use them as a daily driver doing office type work and using SAAS applications which are rendered in the browser, online meetings etc.

I would suggest that you take a good look at your workflow before purchasing and look at the resources that you may need before purchase.

Have I made the wrong decision in getting an 8GB Air? I don't know truthfully know at this point, we've only been using this for a couple of days and the user experience says no, it was spot on. My wife's face lit up when the box came as this was a total surprise from Amazon and replaced her HP 820 G1 Elitebook (i5/16GB/256GB) which is circa 8 years old. I'm keeping an eye on resource utilisation for now for my own benefit as I'll be swapping my device once I know what the new MacBook M1x lineup is. If 16GB RAM wasn't build to order then I would have selected this from the go. I feel the 512GB is possibly overkill for our use but provides circa double the SSD life span and 'flexible RAM' so there is the compromise, or at least for me anyhow.

I wanted to share some of my thoughts hopefully to address some of the points that others are asking on the forum when looking to purchase, these are really capable machines in their own right. One thing to keep in mind is that this is the start of Apples journey and these are lowest spec'd machines that there will ever be! Working daily on a desktop class laptop i7/32GB HP zBook, the user experience on the entry level devices from Apple is just in another league, fast, smooth, cool and well, highly enjoyable.

I originally owned a MacBook Air M1 8Gb/512GB with the 8th core GPU. I loved the machine! I owned it for about 9 days, and I ran it hard every single day too. I was using over 17+GB of system ram, and it still ran smooth.. And the machine literally laughed at it (With Memory Pressure around 40-50%) I run RUST, and I do optimizations/testing for other games too. The game RUST was using over 15+Gb of ram alone.

The M1 Mac is going to use memory differently than an Intel processor machine. You can push more memory usage and heavier applications on a 8GB M1 MacBook Air, then a Windows laptop/desktop or older MAC with 16GB of ACTUAL real RAM lol.

I did end up exchanging for a 16GB/1TB unit a few days ago though. Not because I needed too.. I just kinda followed the recommendation of other users here, and at the end of the day, why not? It was only $380 dollar more, and I doubled my ram, and I doubled my storage too.

My 1TB SSD is also faster that the 512GB SSD in my previous M1 MacBook Air. ( Based on much higher read/write speeds)

Honesty, I see the 8GB ram M1 as a beast! You can push like 25+Gb of ram usage on these machines easily before you start noticing usability issues. And over 50GB+ on the 16GB models. I think your wife will be happy with it. But, if your gonna keep it a while, then you can swap it out for the 16/1TB model for around $300 bucks more. Either model is great! But keep in mind, these machines are different than a typical Intel Macbook.


As for my new 16Gb/1TB model. I absolutely love it. I feels just a tad smoother under super super heavy loads. (Due to extra RAM) And the 16GB/1TB model uses less ram overall, (Due to SWOPPING less) For example, playing rust on the 8GB/512GB resulted in 15+GB in ram usage, but on the 16GB/1TB model I have never seen Rust exceed 12GB of ram usage.

Hope this helps, both are great machines. I have owned them both. And I have pushed them both!

I couldn't stop thinking about the higher end model. SO I got sick of deciding if I was gonna keep the 8/512 or exchange for the 16/1024. So I just went for it.

Unless you think your going to be constantly using over 16GB of ram. Then the 8GB model is fine, it can operate at over double its available ram full utilized, and still run perfectly smooth.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Loog
Comment

Loog

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 14, 2020
161
163
Thanks for your feedback tps3443.My wife works differently to me, I keep most applications open where she closed these down when not in use, the desktop is not the only thing tidy in her life :)

I think the 8GB will be fine, I'm just not use to running 'high RAM resource utilisation' which is how the M1 seem to roll.

I purchased through Amazon so they only have the stock items, build to order is circa 3+ weeks here in the UK and full price, Amazon was £100 off RRP and 5 months split payment so a really good package deal.

As for me and my future upgrade, I'm waiting to see what the next generation MBP brings and decide if I'll stick with the Air for and take a custom build route or take a stock higher end 13"/14" MBP. I expect these will come with 16GB standard and other changes may sway this for me if current rumours are to be believed. I'm in no rush to swap, I still prefer my butterfly keyboard over the new magic ones which will be a compromise for me.
 
  • Like
Reactions: tps3443
Comment

tm1050

macrumors newbie
Jun 29, 2007
4
2
I've spent most of my time on this forum livening the 2020 Air Heatsink Modification Mega Thread, including making custom shims for the project. Times change and I still have my 2018 MBA retina 16GB/512GB but my wife needed a new machine so we decided a 2020 M1 was the way to go.

Our workflows are similar, plenty of web, office and light photo, I use VMware hence the 16GB to provide a little extra head room to run another Linux or Windows machine in parallel. Setting up the new M1 was a dream, and while I thought my 2018 MBA was still quick, and having owned a MBA 2020 i7 for a period (returned due to heat and fan noise) which didn't feel any quicker than the machine I was moving from, the new M1 is just streets ahead in so many ways.

Boot up time fully installed from power off to use is sub 1min and is buttery smooth, where my 2018 is around 3min and jerky until the applications are all loaded and good to go. Looking at the RAM usage I'm using 10GB used, 5GB cache and nearly zero swap on my 2018. My wife's M1 machine is another story, 6.5GB, 1.5GB and 2GB with just Safari open (3 tabs), word and google backup and sync. Quite high in my opinion considering we only have open facebook, canva and wix, and wix can be a real hog taking 3GB on its own. Is the new M1 coping with this, sure it is but its making the most of the fast SSD to shuffle resources around. We're not power users, nor large media consumers on youtube which is what most people are demonstrating.

I've not seen issues to date on the M1 telling me that Safari is using lots of RAM and the tab should be closed which is something that I regally see with my 2018 Intel. From time to time I have seen memory pressure on the M1/8GB which has never been there on the 2018/16GB. End user experience however is different story, on the Intel, this becomes really laggy when memory usage is high in Safari, there is no difference in user experience on the M1, I just checked usage out of curiosity and was amazed how this little machine was coping with such little memory resource in comparison.

There are plenty of threads on SSD overuse and worries, which was one of my reasons for opting for the 512GB. The 256GB would have been find from a capacity point of view but I wanted to have some additional longevity built in as we keep our machines for while and pass them down through the family when we replace them. I can see quite early on the SSD is going to be used more on this machine to keep things working smoothly.

I didn't think that when I purchased the M1 that 8GB was going to be an issue for my wife, in practice I don't think it will, however as a IT professional you can't help but notice that 8GB in todays world isn't a lot to play with if you're workflow tools are resource hungry. While there are plenty of youtube videos showing the video editing capabilities of these machines, watching youtube, audio creation, lots of tabs open etc there are possible more people who use them as a daily driver doing office type work and using SAAS applications which are rendered in the browser, online meetings etc.

I would suggest that you take a good look at your workflow before purchasing and look at the resources that you may need before purchase.

Have I made the wrong decision in getting an 8GB Air? I don't know truthfully know at this point, we've only been using this for a couple of days and the user experience says no, it was spot on. My wife's face lit up when the box came as this was a total surprise from Amazon and replaced her HP 820 G1 Elitebook (i5/16GB/256GB) which is circa 8 years old. I'm keeping an eye on resource utilisation for now for my own benefit as I'll be swapping my device once I know what the new MacBook M1x lineup is. If 16GB RAM wasn't build to order then I would have selected this from the go. I feel the 512GB is possibly overkill for our use but provides circa double the SSD life span and 'flexible RAM' so there is the compromise, or at least for me anyhow.

I wanted to share some of my thoughts hopefully to address some of the points that others are asking on the forum when looking to purchase, these are really capable machines in their own right. One thing to keep in mind is that this is the start of Apples journey and these are lowest spec'd machines that there will ever be! Working daily on a desktop class laptop i7/32GB HP zBook, the user experience on the entry level devices from Apple is just in another league, fast, smooth, cool and well, highly enjoyable.

Thank you for posting your review - it was both concise and informative. Good luck with the new MBA!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Loog
Comment
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.