MacBook Air specs for High School Student?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by miles8888, Jul 20, 2019.

  1. miles8888 macrumors newbie


    Mar 27, 2009
    We are about to buy new MacBook Airs for our nieces. One is about to enter 10th grade and the other 9th.

    Wondering to go with 8GB or 16GB of RAM? 128GB or 256GB Storage?

    As a professional photographer, when I buy a MacBookPro for myself, I always max out the RAM (currently have 32GB and wish it was 64GB) and internal storage (currently have 2TB, and wish I could afford 4TB). This is in addition to a 16TB RAID with my photo archive.

    So it is hard for me to wrap my head around what is really needed for my nieces.

    I'm guessing they will be using Chrome/Safari, Word/Pages, Mail App, Photos app, Music app (good-bye iTunes), etc.

    Neither of them is (currently) into video or music production, or high-end photography. Nor are they science geeks/3D modelers, etc. Of course, that might change in the next 3 or 4 years. Probably not.

    Is 8GB RAM enough? My experience from using older laptops was that even if one was not using high powered RAM hungry apps (Photoshop, etc) that having 16GB helped prevent memory swapping to the hard drive. But with the newest machines with faster processors, fast SSDs, etc, wondering if that is less of an issue, and even with 4-5 apps open will they will still be ok with 8GB?

    Is 128GB enough drive space? I know that all drives slow down when they get more than 80-90% full. I'm guessing the System, Library and Applications will take up about 50GB max, so that leaves another 50GB plus some headroom.

    Seems that more and more content is either being streamed or with iCloud/Drobpox, able to be stored in the cloud if space is low. They are NOT ingesting 8K video, or 50 megapixel RAW files, and even if they did want to start doing that, they would probably need external storage anyway.

    I could just bite the bullet and upgrade to both 16GB and 256GB "just to be safe", but will need to multiply this by two, and don't want to be frivolous.

    Hence this post. Grateful for any suggestions, especially from high school students, or parents/uncles/aunties in a similar situation!
  2. AustinIllini macrumors demi-goddess


    Oct 20, 2011
    Austin, TX
    If you have to bump one or the other, bump up the storage to 256 GB. The RAM is a nice to have (I have the 16/256 model) but I think 128 GB of storage is insufficient at this point.
  3. Shirasaki macrumors G3


    May 16, 2015
    128GB will become insufficient almost immediately. Don’t underestimate the ability of your niece to fill up 128GB in a single month. 256GB bare minimum and 512GB being the most optimal point. Anything above would be overkill though, unless they have very specific needs requiring large internal storage.
    As for the RAM, go for 16GB if possible, but stay away from 64GB and more, with 32GB being the max amount. 8GB might look enough at a glance, but 20 Safari tabs or 15 Chrome tabs will eat 8GB away easily.
    I am sure you dont want to upgrade MacBook every two or three years down the line, so more RAM and Storage is always better for future use. As for the streaming thing, it is still only an illusion, and local storage is still a very powerful option to have, such as instant data access (you cannot “instantly” open a 10MB presentation from the cloud).

    PS: iTunes may as well still be a thing, but I doubt they will miss anything from Mojave and older. So, yeah, RIP iTunes.
    PS2: I just realise you are going to buy MacBook Air to your niece. I would also recommend you to check out MacBook Pro when price reaches a certain point. They are indeed heavier but “hey, they are PRO right?”, plus the chance to upgrade to a discrete GPU.
  4. Macdctr macrumors 6502a


    Nov 25, 2009
    Ocean State
    If you can do it get the 16GB/256 GB storage option. Like others have said above the 128GB storage will pretty much be useless and fill up rapidly. Today having 512GB storage seems to be the sweet spot for laptops but buying this configuration directly from Apple is an expensive option.

    You can get by using 8GB RAM with Mojave and Catalina. I'm running with 8GB RAM using Catalina with no issues on my MacBook Air but given the option I would go for 16GB. Good luck on your decision.
  5. auxbuss macrumors regular


    Feb 18, 2014
    I've had the base model 8/128 for nine months now. It's my daily work machine. It's fine.

    The assertion that 128Gb is "useless" or "insufficient almost immediately" is demonstrably nonsense. I have 95Gb available. Stating the obvious: The amount of space you need is dependent on what you fill it up with.

    fwiw, I also have a 16/512 15" MBP that is, basically, a virtual desktop now.

    But hey, I'm just someone using the base model on a daily basis, so what do I know :)
  6. EdwardC macrumors regular


    Jun 3, 2012
    I use iCloud for all my storage on both my Mini 128gb, Air 128gb as well as my PC with 256gb. I don’t really see a need for large hard drives if you have internet access and some common sense. Then again I’m use mine for business use with no photo or music storage requirements.
  7. Ghost31 macrumors 68030


    Jun 9, 2015
    Same here. When people say 128 gb is useless I just laugh. Like uhhhh? I have the base model and 70 gigs free. WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT. For people like me that use the cloud for most everything, base model is more than fine. Why spend more money for something you may never even need?

Share This Page

6 July 20, 2019