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Adelphos33

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 13, 2012
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I am close to upgrading my current Intel MacBook Air. What I am struggling with is whether I really need 16 GB of RAM. With the M1 chip, I frankly haven’t seen a lot of demonstration of the performance difference between the various configurations. My current MacBook runs fine except for when I am multitasking with heavy Zoom/WebEx video calls, Citrix, Safari, and other office type programs. I don’t game on my Macbook. I can get away with the base 8 core, 8 GB RAM, 512 Gb storage model or should I upgrade the RAM?
 
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DaMax85

macrumors member
May 19, 2011
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I went with the 8gb in my M1. I was torn as well but I’ve had no issues. Try it, and if it’s struggling, you can always swap it for a 16gb version.
 
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tps3443

macrumors 65816
Jan 24, 2019
1,406
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I am close to upgrading my current Intel MacBook Air. What I am struggling with is whether I really need 16 GB of RAM. With the M1 chip, I frankly haven’t seen a lot of demonstration of the performance difference between the various configurations. My current MacBook runs fine except for when I am multitasking with heavy Zoom/WebEx video calls, Citrix, Safari, and other office type programs. I don’t game on my Macbook. I can get away with the base 8 core, 8 GB RAM, 512 Gb storage model or should I upgrade the RAM?

I have owned both. You can use tons of ram on either model.

Both models have swap storage, so when the ram runs out, you just use the SSD as ram instead.

I have used around 20GB of ram usage on the 8GB M1 Air just fine and it only said like 60% memory pressure.

My first machine was a 8GB/512GB (8 core GPU) it ran amazing Under any load you could imagine. (With the M1 architecture 8GB of ram is really like 20+GB of ram.

I currently own a 16GB 1TB M1 Air, and the performance is very comparable. You’ve gotta really push a heavy load with 17-20GB of ram usage and do some weird stuff to notice much of a difference between them.

8GB means nothing really for the M1.. Use as much ram as you wish.


Honestly, I was totally happy with my 8GB/512GB model. My OCD forced me to exchange as my 14 days was coming to a close. And I couldn’t stop thinking about 16GB of ram.. So I just got it anyways Lol.
 

xboxbml

macrumors 6502
Sep 15, 2015
476
165
I am close to upgrading my current Intel MacBook Air. What I am struggling with is whether I really need 16 GB of RAM. With the M1 chip, I frankly haven’t seen a lot of demonstration of the performance difference between the various configurations. My current MacBook runs fine except for when I am multitasking with heavy Zoom/WebEx video calls, Citrix, Safari, and other office type programs. I don’t game on my Macbook. I can get away with the base 8 core, 8 GB RAM, 512 Gb storage model or should I upgrade the RAM?
I would ALWAYS go with as much as you can afford.. I'd do the 16gb at least, and as much SSD you can. It will last you longer that way, and is worth more on resale should you ever decide to sell it.
 

prazakj

macrumors 6502
Nov 18, 2020
408
305
Personally, I don't see any issues with 8GB of RAM. My previous MBA was Intel with 4GB and it worked well for 7 years, then for a short period I bought MBA Early 2020 with 8GB of RAM and had no issues. It depends on what you are doing, but I can agree, that more RAM/SSD will last longer.
 
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tps3443

macrumors 65816
Jan 24, 2019
1,406
908
NC,USA
Personally, I don't see any issues with 8GB of RAM. My previous MBA was Intel with 4GB and it worked well for 7 years, then for a short period I bought MBA Early 2020 with 8GB of RAM and had no issues. It depends on what you are doing, but I can agree, that more RAM/SSD will last longer.
M1 Macbook Air isn’t limited by ram. The previous generations were.
 
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xraydoc

Contributor
Oct 9, 2005
10,771
5,224
192.168.1.1
I am close to upgrading my current Intel MacBook Air. What I am struggling with is whether I really need 16 GB of RAM. With the M1 chip, I frankly haven’t seen a lot of demonstration of the performance difference between the various configurations. My current MacBook runs fine except for when I am multitasking with heavy Zoom/WebEx video calls, Citrix, Safari, and other office type programs. I don’t game on my Macbook. I can get away with the base 8 core, 8 GB RAM, 512 Gb storage model or should I upgrade the RAM?
Personally, I went with the 16GB option. I have virtually the same apps running all the time -- Zoom/WebEx, Citrix, multiple tabs on Safari and/or Edge, Mail, Word, PowerPoint with large, image-heavy slide decks, 1Password and others. While it can potentially be done in 8GB + SSD swap, I prefer real RAM whenever possible. Plus, I often dock to my 4K display, which will take away some RAM to support the GPU, potentially further reducing what's available to the OS.

Plus, in in the coming years, I suspect 8GB will be like 4GB is now... simply not enough.
 

Adelphos33

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 13, 2012
1,572
1,842
Personally, I went with the 16GB option. I have virtually the same apps running all the time -- Zoom/WebEx, Citrix, multiple tabs on Safari and/or Edge, Mail, Word, PowerPoint with large, image-heavy slide decks, 1Password and others. While it can potentially be done in 8GB + SSD swap, I prefer real RAM whenever possible. Plus, I often dock to my 4K display, which will take away some RAM to support the GPU, potentially further reducing what's available to the OS.

Plus, in in the coming years, I suspect 8GB will be like 4GB is now... simply not enough.

Your workflow sounds a lot like mine - any issues with overheating? Wondering if I even need to update at all at this point
 

xraydoc

Contributor
Oct 9, 2005
10,771
5,224
192.168.1.1
Your workflow sounds a lot like mine - any issues with overheating? Wondering if I even need to update at all at this point
Not only no problems with overheating, I've never felt the MacBook Air even get warm.

My previous laptop, a Microsoft SurfaceBook 2 -- doing basically the exact same tasks also docked to a 4K display using the Surface Dock -- would get hot to the touch and often noticeably throttle down in speed if it was set to Windows'/Intel's "performance" mode or "recommended" mode. Plus, the fan attached to the dGPU would be easily audible. In "battery-saver mode" it didn't get nearly as hot or loud, but wouldn't run at full-speed, and battery saver mode would shut down the dGPU, resulting in some janky UI elements.

The MacBook Air, meanwhile, just keeps on going effortlessly. Even at 4K with all that stuff loaded and running, the UI never visibly drops a frame. The case always feels lower in temperature than the wood desk its sitting on.

The computer is usually waiting for me, not the other way around, so an active cooling system like in the MacBook Pro I don't think wouldn't provide me any additional speed boost.
 

tps3443

macrumors 65816
Jan 24, 2019
1,406
908
NC,USA
Your workflow sounds a lot like mine - any issues with overheating? Wondering if I even need to update at all at this point
I push my machine pretty hard at times. Under normal loads, these machines do not even get warm as others will say.

While playing demanding games intended for PC's, I see my CPU stay in the high 60's, and GPU stays around the high 60's too. Some times, you'll see a spike from the CPU and GPU and they reach 79-81C. (This is while gaming for hours using like 14GB of system ram and really pushing the system) No fan at all. Absolutely insane how Apple has even achieved this..

Right now as I type this my CPU is floating around 26-30C.

My maximum CPU temp today is 36C. ( No games yet today lol)

As I have said numerous times before. The M1 MacBook Air is revolutionary!

As for 16Gb or 8GB of ram. If you can afford 16Gb, then I would get it. Either one will get the job done though. I have noticed that my 16GB ram M1 Air runs cooler than my 8GB M1 Air.
 
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Adelphos33

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 13, 2012
1,572
1,842
I push my machine pretty hard at times. Under normal loads, these machines do not even get warm as others will say.

While playing demanding games intended for PC's, I see my CPU stay in the high 60's, and GPU stays around the high 60's too. Some times, you'll see a spike from the CPU and GPU and they reach 79-81C. (This is while gaming for hours using like 14GB of system ram and really pushing the system) No fan at all. Absolutely insane how Apple has even achieved this..

Right now as I type this my CPU is floating around 26-30C.

My maximum CPU temp today is 36C. ( No games yet today lol)

As I have said numerous times before. The M1 MacBook Air is revolutionary!

As for 16Gb or 8GB of ram. If you can afford 16Gb, then I would get it. Either one will get the job done though. I have noticed that my 16GB ram M1 Air runs cooler than my 8GB M1 Air.

Thanks, guys. Sitting here working on my Intel MacBook Air 16GB, fan is coming on and its running pretty warm multitasking with Citrix and and a few other Mac Apps. Not a huge deal, but it is annoying. Ordered a M1 MacBook Air 16GB RAM, 512 GB Storage, should be delivered in Mid May, looking forward to taking delivery. I though about waiting for the MacBook Pro 14" but I much prefer this current form factor and don't need/want Magsafe...
 
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tps3443

macrumors 65816
Jan 24, 2019
1,406
908
NC,USA
Thanks, guys. Sitting here working on my Intel MacBook Air 16GB, fan is coming on and its running pretty warm multitasking with Citrix and and a few other Mac Apps. Not a huge deal, but it is annoying. Ordered a M1 MacBook Air 16GB RAM, 512 GB Storage, should be delivered in Mid May, looking forward to taking delivery. I though about waiting for the MacBook Pro 14" but I much prefer this current form factor and don't need/want Magsafe...

That’s great. The new MacBook Pro 14” machines are going to be great. But they will also be priced in a totally different way. I imagine $1,899 minimum for a low spec model, and more like $2,500-$2,800 for one that I would want. (More ram, more storage)

I have no plans to buy another MacBook for a while. I think the next Pro‘s will be too expensive.

I think youll notice a pretty drastic difference from your i5 MacBook Air. The M1 is 1/3 the power consumption in the same chassis.
 
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