MacBook Air 2011...is 2gb enough RAM?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by iphone46, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. iphone46 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2011
    #1
    I was looking at this macbook air in the refurb store http://store.apple.com/us/product/FC968LL/A and I was wondering if 2gb of RAM would be enough? I don't really need to "future proof" it because I'll probably upgrade in 2 years. The activities I will do include 2-5 safari tabs open, Office for Mac maybe a word document or powerpoint(not presenting with this computer), iTunes wifi sync with iPhone, iPhoto slideshow(not often), AirPlay mirroring(maybe?), iMovie(probably once every 4-5 months), POSSIBLY a Windows XP VM for Office 2003(just 512mb of ram). Also, will using a swap file impact performance? Thanks! If not, I may just get the mini but I had my eyes set on this air.

    Also, usually safari and a word document will be open at the same time.
     
  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #2
    Based on what you described, you may find yourself needing more than 2GB, especially with a VM and MS Office. If you're currently using a Mac with those apps running, to determine if you can benefit from more RAM, launch Activity Monitor and click the System Memory tab at the bottom to check your page outs. Page outs are cumulative since your last restart, so the best way to check is to restart your computer and track page outs under your normal workload (the apps, browser pages and documents you normally would have open). If your page outs are significant (say 1GB or more) under normal use, you may benefit from more RAM. If your page outs are zero or very low during normal use, you probably won't see any performance improvement from adding RAM.

    Mac OS X: Reading system memory usage in Activity Monitor
     
  3. mattopotamus macrumors G5

    mattopotamus

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    Jun 12, 2012
    #3
    like the above poster said, 2gb would be fine for everything except running windows as well b.c you really want to dedicate at least 2gb solely to windows.
     
  4. GREEN4U macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 24, 2010
    #4
    Why does it always seem like the people who don't need 8GB think they need 8GB and the people who look are looking at getting 2/4GB actually need 8GB? :rolleyes:
     
  5. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    May 16, 2008
    #5
    Who said anything about 8GB of RAM, except you?
     
  6. iphone46, Jul 30, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012

    iphone46 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jun 18, 2011
    #6
    Thanks you guys for the quick response! I honestly don't see myself needing the VM I just wanted to have it as a backup but I found my old XP machine and it's still speedy(3gb of ram) so I think I would keep it pure. Also, to the poster 2 posts above, I don't have a computer running lion(just leopard on a hackintosh that isn't used anymore) so I can't check to know for sure if it's enough. However, I remember I went to the store to assist her in getting a iPhone, and I used the old air (same as refurb) and it worked well with about 6 tabs open(serious activation problems with VZ ). I'll think it over because I won't be able to get it until around August 15 because I am away from home.

    Edit: think I'm going to get it because I keep seeing my Inspiron 15r/M5010(it's a monster) and remembering how crappy dell's CS is. Had to send out my Laptop out to get replaced for freezing about 4 times till they finally fixed the right thing but now they Keybaord sticks up.
     
  7. GREEN4U macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 24, 2010
    #7
    just saying in general, like in the other threads..
     
  8. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    May 16, 2008
    #8
    Well, staying on-topic in this thread, no one is recommending 8GB for the OP.
     
  9. SlickShoes macrumors 6502a

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    Jan 24, 2011
    #9
    This one is only $90 more and includes 4GB of ram and a 128GB HDD instead of a 64GB in your original post:

    http://store.apple.com/us/product/FC969LL/A

    I think that 90$ for a 64GB SSD increase and an extra 2GB of ram is more than worth it.
     
  10. iphone46 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jun 18, 2011
    #10
    Don't think I need 8gb quite yet. I've yet to own a computer with more than 3gb of ram.
     
  11. GREEN4U macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 24, 2010
    #11
    Lol ok, I'm not recommending 8GB for the OP. Was just making an observation. I know you are anti-8GB anyway; I remember your other posts. ;)

    Just like I know Kodeman is anti-clean install. Lol.
     
  12. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    #12
    When did I ever say I was anti-8GB? 8GB is entirely appropriate for some users' needs, but not all. Each user should get as much RAM as they need to accommodate their workload. That's a different amount for different users.
     
  13. iphone46 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jun 18, 2011
    #13
    Just saw for $90 more I get more flash storage(128gb vs. 64gb) and more ram(4gb vs. 2gb). I think I'll just get that. Thanks for the help guys!

    Oops someone already posted that.
     
  14. TyroneShoes2, Jul 30, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012

    TyroneShoes2 macrumors regular

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    Aug 17, 2011
    #14
    Why "not enough RAM" is problematic is because that forces the use of virtual memory on the HDD, and the HDD is much slower than RAM, meaning that the computer is now slower. And of course "slower" is only really slower when multiple apps are open AND you are performing some RAM-intensive task, which could be about 2% of the time, or less. One or two apps doing conventional stuff doesn't even need much RAM at all.

    But, wait a minute, an MBA has an SSD, not a HDD, and that means that VM will be nearly as fast as RAM, which means it will not become significantly slower just because VM is invoked.

    Bottom line, "too little" RAM does not present the sluggishness penalty on a MBA that you would normally see on a conventional computer with HDD. So 2 GB will probably work fine. Your 10th tab in Safari might open 3 ms later than it would, and you can't have 50 PhotoShop layers active or mix down 150 tracks in Logic, but for the general usage you specify, no worries; you probably won't even notice the difference. A Ferrari that has a top speed of 185 won't get you to work any faster than a base-level Honda Fit, even if traffic is NOT backed up on the 202 at rush hour.

    It is important not to get caught up in the trappings of conventional technology that no longer apply to newer technology, and being concerned about too little RAM on a SSD-based computer is a perfect example. Behavior based on not understanding the process and guessing that something appears to matter when it really doesn't is superstitious behavior. But understanding and reacting to that understanding is power.

    One potentially nice thing about lots of RAM is that we can't predict with accuracy what the RAM needs for OS and apps will be much beyond 4 or 5 years down the road, so having "too much" right now future-proofs you if you need to hang on to that laptop for 6-7-8 years. IOW, for the vast majority of us, that probably doesn't really matter. In 4 years, I am going to be looking hard for an excuse to upgrade to a new laptop, and if my current one is still viable (and if I paid too much for too much RAM when I bought it) the argument becomes much weaker.

    Lotsa RAM is always nice; if you don't have that in your MBA, no biggie. That would matter to someone with a conventional HDD, but you have an SSD instead and so the old rules no longer apply to you.

    Can you say "paradigm shift"?
     
  15. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    May 16, 2008
    #15
    That's not entirely true. While paging out will be faster with a SSD than a HDD, both are significantly slower than RAM, so any paging activity will create a reduction in performance.
     

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