More RAM for future proofing

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by rcp27, Jul 26, 2012.

  1. rcp27 macrumors regular

    May 12, 2010
    It seems a common theme on this forum for people to suggest that you should go for the BTO option to max out the RAM on your laptop to future proof it.

    I'm typing this on my early 2008 MacBook that I bought as a standard stock machine and it has the same 2GB ram in it that it did when I carried it out of the Apple store four years ago. In that time, I have upgraded it from Leopard to Snow Leopard to Lion. In that time, I have had no problems using it for the kinds of tasks that a "consumer level" laptop that it is was intended to perform. I expect that we are now at the point where the 2GB RAM is no longer going to offer me a smooth running machine with the new improvements introduced with the next generation, and if I wanted to keep it up to date, bumping it to 4GB would be necessary.

    The thing is, I can't upgrade it to the next round of more demanding software because this generation is not compatible with ML. This doesn't stop me from continuing to use it for the same tasks I bought it to perform. It would probably struggle to run newer software in the future, but that's not an issue, because I would need ML to run newer software. I will still be able to use it in a June 2012 level of technology until it physically falls apart.

    Now the Air is the new "consumer level" laptop, and looking to the future, we can probably expect the new models to have the same lifetime of supporting new updates and software of the old MacBooks, ie about 4 years worth. If this computer is anything to go by, the "stock" level of memory will probably be fine for the next four years.

    The question I want to throw open for discussion, then, is for the kinds of tasks that I have used this computer for, ie internet, email, very light gaming, is there actually any real "future proofing" to be gained from maxing out the RAM in a BTO option when in all likelihood the support for newer software on the current hardware for these kinds of tasks is likely to only reach the limit of the "stock" RAM options at the point where some other non-upgradable component like the processor or graphics card becomes the limiting factor?
  2. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Jun 14, 2010
    IMHO, 4GB of memory should be fine for consumer/light-office tasks for the expected lifetime of the computer, which would be about four years as you've noted.

    Where I'd suggest 8GB or more is if you expect to do things like run multiple virtual machines, do intensive editing of DSLR photographs, lots of video/movie editing, or get into resource-intensive games.

    Some might argue that since memory is not upgradable, you'd better just get 8GB since "you never know" or resale will be better/easier. I'm not sure what I think; I guess it depends on your history of what you do with computers. If you do a hand-me-down system to other family members with even lower needs, then resale is irrelevant. You'll need to decide for yourself. It's be interesting to see the price differences on 2GB vs 4GB 2011 MBA's in resale, I haven't looked.
  3. marioman38 macrumors 6502a


    Aug 8, 2006
    Elk Grove, CA
    By the time you need more than 4GB ram, you will probably also want a faster processor, better graphics, ect. Might as well get the base. Then 3 years from now on your next laptop 8GB will be standard, and that will last you 3 years, etc.
  4. RightMACatU macrumors 65816


    Jul 12, 2012
    For $100 to go from 4 to 8GB is a good move IMO.
    Perhaps 4GB is good enough for you today but you never know when you'll need to do something outside your regular work like VMs or other software.

    Because I’m planning on keeping mine for at least 3 years 8GB was a non-brainer future proofing move.
  5. rcp27 thread starter macrumors regular

    May 12, 2010
    But it isn't just $100. It's the difference between going into a shop on a Saturday and walking out with a stock model 20 minutes later or ordering online, waiting 2 weeks for the thing to be shipped from China, getting home from work to find a piece of paper in my postbox saying "we tried to deliver this today, but you weren't in. We'll try again tomorrow between 9.30am and 4.30pm. If you aren't in then, we'll take it back to our warehouse in [field vaguely near town 100km away] that is open Mon-Fri 10am-4pm for you to collect.

    Under what circumstances might I unexpectedly find I "need" to run a VM or other similarly demanding software? In 4 years of using my old MacBook and a similar period before that of the iBook that went before it I never felt the "need" do do such a thing. I would be prepared to take that example as pretty solid evidence that this is not something that is likely to come up for me.

    Right, but I've just explained that I have had the previous non-upgraded MacBook for 4 years, and the RAM is still entirely adequate at the standard off-the-shelf non-upgraded level (but the graphics card is no longer supported). I fully expect, in 2016, a mid 2012 MBA with 4GB will have adequate RAM to surf the web, send emails and update my spreadsheet of my bank account details but might not be able to run OS X 10.12 because the graphics card is no longer supported.

    It seems to me that the benefits of upgrading the RAM beyond the stock levels are "you might maybe want to perhaps do something you've never wanted to do in the last 8 years" and the drawbacks are "it makes buying it a slow and painful process rather than a simple one". To me, that ballance does not stack up to a "no brainer"
  6. filmbuff macrumors 6502a


    Jan 5, 2011
    If email is ALL you EVER do then why even bother with a Mac? A $300 PC will do those things just as well in 5 years as it does now :D

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