MBA 4GB or 8GB RAM? 128GB or 256GB storage?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by pina, Nov 18, 2013.

  1. pina macrumors member

    Aug 4, 2010
    I hope someone could help me out with my problem to choose the right MBA for me.

    I own a MBP 15" quad core with 2 HD's (one SSD) and 8GB ram. That's my computer to use when doing heavier stuff. Because the 15" is too heavy to carry around a lot and since typing on my ipad mini is too hard, I'm looking for a portable MBA to carry with me on the go.

    It would be used for browsing the web, typing texts and doing research. And also for small Photohop-stuff, like cropping pictures, editing some colours. Indesign for doing small layouts like my resume etc... But no video editing.

    I don't know whether 8GB ram is needed for my small photoshop tasks? Since I read somewhere that Photoshop uses swap more than actual ram?

    And for people owning 128GB, is 128GB enough?
  2. mpantone, Nov 18, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2013

    mpantone macrumors 6502

    Mar 20, 2009
    I suggest you read this thread

    since it also discusses the RAM v. SSD topic.

    I chose an Air 2013 with 8GB RAM, faster processor, 128MB flash storage, based on my presumed/planned usage.

    I intend to keep the notebook until Apple stops writing OS X for this model, hopefully 4-6 years. This means that the maximum amount of RAM is a top priority because future versions of the operating system will likely require more main memory. Also, extra RAM will always be with you whether you are at home or on the road.

    The flash storage can be upgraded. At some point (maybe 3-4 years), the Air's battery will need to be replaced (a nearby Apple certified repair shop will do the work, not me), I will decide at that point whether or not I want the flash storage upgraded.

    My primary machine is a Mac mini: that computer has my iTunes library (music, videos, etc.) as well as photos, etc.

    I don't use my Air as a primary system so I don't anticipate needing more than 128GB for the next several years. I don't seem to accumulate any more data (apart from media), so my notebook storage requirements remain pretty constant. I have the benefit of experience since I also have an archaic MacBook with a 128GB SSD and I've hovered around 32GB of usage over the past couple of years.

    The only time I could imagine filling up my MacBook Air is if I took it on a trip and started dumping trip photos and video on it, however this would only be temporary until I returned home. I have a 500GB external USB3 drive anyhow, so it wouldn't be a big deal.

    Future versions of OS X will probably take a little more flash storage space, but probably not much more based on what I've seen between Snow Leopard, Lion, Mountain Lion and Mavericks.

    Anyhow, good luck with your purchase decision. It should be based mostly on your specific plans and anticipated usage.
  3. gavinstubbs09 macrumors 65816


    Feb 17, 2013
    NorCal boonies ~~~by Reno sorta
    My recommendation for a MacBook Air would be both the Ram upgrade and the SSD upgrade. I personally own a 4GB Ram/128GB SSD one and I wish both were upgraded! I do a lot of photoshop work and run Parallels 24/7, so my Ram gets pretty low. Storage I also am low in, I have 20GB left from my SSD so soon I will have to go the OWC route to upgrade that.
  4. iParis macrumors 68040


    Jul 29, 2008
    New Mexico
    Honestly, I would upgrade the ram and processor for $50 more than just the SSD upgrade would be. The thing is, you can always get more storage via peripheral ports and the ram and processor are thing you can't really upgrade in the future, or not at least with ease. I'm not saying you'll be unhappy with your computer if you don't, but you'll be wishing you did.
  5. yourtoys7 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2007
    8GB for sure, you can always have external flash, but you can never add more flash.
  6. Jedi Master macrumors regular

    Apr 5, 2013
    ar the moment on the Death Star
    Honestly, I would upgrade the ram and processor

    You state you have 2 hard drives on your heavy lifter. What is the total drive space that unit? I think the ram is a absolute must, then you can make the choice between the ssd size and the CPU.
  7. pina, Nov 19, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2013

    pina thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 4, 2010
    thanks for the replies all :)

    The problem is in fact the price of the unit when upgrading.

    Let me tell you this story: A few years ago, I bought a special version of a Fiat Grande Punto, an exclusive unique one for around 15.000 euro. 2 years later, we had a baby and I had to sell the Punto in order to buy a newer bigger car. I encountered that, although it's an exclusive and unique model of the Punto, I couldn't sell it for a higher price then a regular Punto with extra accessories. Just because people looking for a Punto car, are people who prefer a cheaper/smaller car and don't care about the exclusive look of the car.

    That's why I don't want to do many upgrades for a MBA, since it's been segmented in a low end profile and for people who care about portability and price. That's why I think that when I would upgrade to i7, 8GB RAM and 256GB storage for the price of approx. 1.500 euro, I would make to much loss when reselling it to someone else. Since that person don't care about the higher specs because they care about portability.

    I'm also thinking to buy this one as a temporarily solution, bevause I do think that apple will release a new one next year. I don't care much about specs or future OSX versions, If I could do some basic photoshop stuff, then I'm fine with that. Storage can be indeed expanded. And it's intended to use as a 2nd unit and when on location.

    Maybe I should reconsider and just take the cheapest stock model?

    @Jedi Master: 120GB SSD + 650GB SATA.
  8. eXan macrumors 601


    Jan 10, 2005
    What you say about upgrades is very true and there's no denying that you will get the best resale value for the base model. That said, you don't want to buy your new item for the second owner, do you? Still, the point is to keep upgrades at a minimum.

    4 GB RAM is scraping the bottom. 128 vs 256 is a different story, as storage is available to be bought in the form of externals. i7 is almost completely worthless in MBA.

    My recommendation is to get the base model, but with 8 GBs.
  9. Acorn, Nov 19, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2013

    Acorn macrumors 68020


    Jan 2, 2009
    My first macbook air was 128 gb. it filled pretty fast even with no itunes stuff was on there. So as many suggested I got a external usb 3.0 drive. This worked and gave me room however how great it was short lived. It became a hassle and pain in the you know what always having to connect the drive to access my data. If you access data often it really sucks.

    I decided to get the 250 mb ssd option on the 2013 edition. its drive is almost twice as fast as the 128 gb version. also the way mavericks compresses memory and stuff I thought I would be ok and I was right. OSX took up about 25 gb with all my actual programs back. I still had about 225 gb left for stuff. It feels like going from a European compact car to a bus. Its like I can finally breath again and put stuff on it.

    no one in their right mind would tell you to get less memory. the best would be to upgrade both. however I am finding for my own usage and the way mavericks compresses memory 4gb with 250gb hard drive to be fine for my own purposes. Ive had tons of tabs open and done plenty of stuff on it with 0 page outs.
  10. MacAndMic macrumors 6502

    Jun 4, 2009
    Your needs are very similar to what mine were. You have a main computer that does the heavy lifting so you basically need an iPad that has a keyboard.

    The entry level 4gb/128gb is plenty for your needs. I use that very machine and do some light photoshop and video editing and it works great. I also have all of the iLife and iWork Apps, MS Office, 3,000 +/- MP3's and 3,400 +/- photos and still have close to 40gb of space left.

    Many here recommend the ram and SSD upgrades and talk about future proofing but the cost of them vs. what you are doing would be a waste of money. Especially since memory is swapped to an SSD drive if it was ever needed, not as fast as Ram of course but way faster than what we were used to with HD swapping.

    Go to Best Buy and get the base model if you have one close, they're having a sale right now.
  11. pina thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 4, 2010
    thanks for your response, I did some research too in meantime and also found out, based on user experience, that 4GB is suitable for basic photoshop stuff. And your statement about the cost vs needs is indeed my concern. I don't need it to be future proof since I think I will buy the new MBA if it would get retina.

    So I do think 4GB is enough for my plans. I think 128GB will be enough too.
  12. Cheffy Dave macrumors 68030

    Cheffy Dave

    Feb 5, 2007
    Sunny Florida, on the Gulf Coast in Homosassa Fl
    here we go again

    ALWAYS buy the most RAM,The Largest SSD you can afford, PERIOD!:cool:
  13. MacAndMic macrumors 6502

    Jun 4, 2009

    I don't understand this. Why? If my air had 8gb and 256mb it would be no more useful to me....I'd just have less money.

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