MacBook Pro advice for a (non-IT) college student

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by LeCroqueMitaine, Jan 8, 2017.


8gb or 16gb for my needs?

  1. 8gb

  2. 16gb

  1. LeCroqueMitaine macrumors newbie


    Jan 8, 2017
    Hi there!

    I’m replacing my 2012 Macbook Air with a new laptop and for multiple reasons (keyboard, magsafe, legacy USB, etc), I decided i’ill buy a 2015 rMBP instead of the 2016 from the online Apple Store with the student discount.

    But now I need some advice from Mac users. All the threads about the specs I’ve been reading are about programmers, designers, videoeditors, musicians etc. 95% of people here seem to work in IT or in visual arts so the answers to the questions/answers I found here with the search bar are not really adapted to my needs, I guess. Ex: I don’t do Virtual Machine or 4K videos, etc but have big Excel documents with many tabs and lots of data.

    I’m doing a Masters in management at the moment and intend to keep the machine for work after. Mainly, my use are this :

    · Many office docs all at the same time (many Word documents, big Excel docs, Powerpoint, etc)

    · Safari (lot of tabs but I don’t use Chrome because I care about my battery life)

    · Wordpress

    · Spotify

    · Utorrent

    · Mail

    · Photoshop for some touch up for work

    · Plug into 32inches monitor for screen estate

    To tell the truth I was very satisfied with my MBA that had 8gb ram. The only thing is the battery was **** and the screen was very bad compared to a retina. If I could buy the same computer with updated specs and a retina display, I would. The rMB would be a good candidate but I just can’t get over that butterfly keyboard. I type all day long and I think it’s a disaster so I’m not buying it. Also tried a friends butterfly v2 on his 2016 MBA for a couple hours and hated it.

    I know it’s been asked countless times by designers and programmers but not by people with heavy Excel docs and Word and all the stuff above. So my question is, will the base model i5 2.7 be OK for the next 3-4 years if I boost the SSD to 256GB or I should also get 16gb of RAM ?? I think the argument for resell is kinda weird because there is no guarantee it's going to sell better I guess.

    Right now I’m wondering because I know I can’t change RAM later. And I don’t know if the next versions of macOS will be heavier and heavier over the next years to the point that my computer will lag.

    Ideally, I’d save the 200$ on the RAM and get myself those Airpods for my iPhone J

    So, 8gb or 16gb if I keep it 4 years? Thanks for reading, I know it’s a long read! I put a pool but I would also know the reasons if you care to explain to a non-geek why you think 8 or 16 is better. I'm very grateful, thanks!
  2. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
  3. LeCroqueMitaine thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jan 8, 2017
    There is also an SD slot in the MBP 2015 so I could do it there.

    So you're not worried about the 8gb for until 2020 and the next macOS updates taking more RAM?
  4. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    2015 mbp is a smart move!
    The ports and magsafe come in handy.

    MacOS only requires 2gb of RAM.
    Those requirements haven't changed for many years.

    Anything on your list of requirments could easily be done with 4gb.

    What makes you think you will all of a sudden need 16gb?
  5. LeCroqueMitaine thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jan 8, 2017
    Hi Meister,

    I would say because computers always need more RAM. I remember jumping from 2 to 4, then 8. Since I've been on 8 for about 5 years already I guess soon the new standard will be 16gb. It just makes sens because when you see the leaps in ram usage from early 2000 to 2017 you can see the trend. Looks like it doubles every couple of years. I'd be happy to be wrong tho :)
  6. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    Actually the requirements have been stagnating for years.
    For the stuff you are doing 4gb are still as good as they were 5 years ago. Just because your air had 8gb doesn't mean you needed them.

    Of course it's never wrong to have higher specs.
    So if you got the dough knock yourself out:
    16gb ram
    maxed out cpu
    1tb ssd

    I'd say go straight for the 15" then.

    Enjoy :)
  7. LeCroqueMitaine thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jan 8, 2017
    Hahahah! No if I had enough money I'd just get the Quad-core 2015 base. But then again it's overkill lol.
    During the "transition" between my Air and the MBP that I will order, I'm running an old Unibody from late 2008 with 4gb of ram, 2,4 Core 2 Duo and 500GB HD and it's very slow in general. Nothing like my Air was. I was attributing that to the fact that it has 4gb ram but maybe it's because of the HD instead of SSD.
  8. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    That's not because it has 4gb ram.

    I have a 3 macs with 4gb, 8gb and 16gb ram here.

    The one that runs the slowest (for your tasks) is the one with 16gb because it has an hdd.

    I suspect you don't really understand what RAM does.
  9. LeCroqueMitaine thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jan 8, 2017
    Good to know it's about the SSD!

    My understanding of RAM is that it stocks memory for instant access so you can have bigger files open at the same time. So if I have like 3 Excel docs, 2 word, Spotify, Safari with 10 tabs, Powerpoint, Mail, Utorrent downloading and Photoshop open at the same time there will be no problem if I have 16gb of ram.
  10. Meister Suspended


    Oct 10, 2013
    That's true.

    But again:
    3 Excel docs, 2 word, Spotify, Safari with 10 tabs, Powerpoint, Mail is very, very minor.
    Photoshop can profit from more memory depending on what you are doing.

    But ssds are lightning fast and swapping is not the same as with an hdd.

    My personal experience is that the constraining factor with me is now always the cpu.
    Those dual cores do not quite cut it anymore.

    So if you're that neurotic about specs you should really consider going with the 15".
  11. LeCroqueMitaine thread starter macrumors newbie


    Jan 8, 2017
    Because I want portability. I'll order the 8gb and use it for 2 weeks to know how it goes and make some "stress tests" on it and if everything is fine (which I suppose it will be), I'll keep it.
  12. macrumors 603

    May 26, 2016
    The best advice from me would be to close photoshop and the torrent client when you don't need them. Otherwise you're good to go with 8GB RAM.
  13. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    The advice I give to everyone else applies here, too:

    ALWAYS speak to your academic department before buying a computer for college. Find out if they have any software or hardware requirements, special purchasing agreements, etc. and get their recommendations before you buy.
  14. JustSoWicked1 macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2013
    I would say you should be ok with 8GB but if you plan to resell your Mac down the road go with 16. Makes your computer an easier sell and you'll get some better offers for it.
  15. mdbradigan macrumors regular


    Oct 28, 2014
    Nashville, TN area
    FWIW - I'm doing approximately the same workload on my 8GB 12" macbook with no problem.
  16. mk313 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 6, 2012
    Meister clearly knows more about how computers work than I do, so I'll start with that caveat, but if it were me and I was hoping to use a computer for 4 years, I would up the memory to 16 Gigs. Since it's not upgradeable in the future, if you don't get it now, you never can. Unlike the SSD, where you can always use USB drives, cloud storage, etc, there's no way to expand on your RAM should you need it later. I look back on my computer from 4 years ago & the 4 Gigs of Ram in it would be woefully inadequate today. That being said, I bought a computer 3 years ago with 8 gigs of Ram & it still works fine today, so 16 might be overkill.
  17. capathy21 macrumors 65816


    Jun 16, 2014
    Houston, Texas
    8 is more than enough. You could accomplish your tasks with 4 and an SSD. You can get 16 if you want, but it would be a waste of money unless your workload changes drastically.
  18. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    8gb with a 256gb SSD should do you just fine.
  19. CrystalQuest76 Suspended

    Dec 14, 2015
    West Cost A Lot
    What you are wanting to do, does not need much in the way of power or performance. Keep your 2012 Macbook Air and save the money.

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