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colonelbutt

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Nov 14, 2007
370
409
London
I thought long and hard about my new laptop. I won’t go through the windows vs Mac decision, but when it comes to Mac it is tricky.

I wanted something light, and the air vs the pro seemed significant. I did have a M1 Pro previously, but found it a bit on the heavy side, although the battery life was great.

My needs are general web, email, ms office, watching films and a lot of photo editing with lightroom. Mostly large files from a 60mp sensor.

There is firstly m3 vs m2 which I considered to be only marginal. Then there is m2 vs m2 pro vs M2 Max. Again, based on my tests, I can halve processing speed with a M2 Max, but lightroom only processes heavily when outputting a photo file, and since the minority of my time is in this step, and in addition since I can get on and edit the next photo whilst the last one is being processed, it hardly makes a real world difference.

For me, SSD is not important. I have a tiny usb-c microsd card holder, and 512gb and upwards cards, so plenty to store videos and photo libraries, especially as back up when travelling, at a fraction of the cost of built in SSD.

The key issue was memory. So many articles talk about 16gb as a minimum, and some pat advice from retailers talks about 8gb as good for browsing, but if you want to multitask, you need to get 16gb, or some nonsense like that.

Anyway I read many articles from people who were happy with the basic air (8gb), including some who did video editing, so I took the plunge and wow, for my uses it is more then enough power.

Of course if you are doing intensive video editing, or massive multiple 1m row spreadsheets that all need to recalc continuously, then definitely my MacBook is underpowered.

But I am very pleased I didn’t spend the money on more memory and particular pleased I didn’t spend double on the M3 pro 18gb.

This is a great machine and I am very happy. The build quality and screen of course are awesome, which is substantially what you are paying for. The colour matched bright Apple screens are always excellent for photo editing, even in the cheapest air, which is great.

Highly recommended …. Always worth testing your most intensive operation on a demo machine in an Apple shop first of course ….
 

CalMin

Contributor
Nov 8, 2007
1,623
2,732
Great choice. I have an M1Pro 16GB 14" MacBook Pro for work. It's great and incredibly powerful. I then got a base M2 Air for my couch computing needs and was absolutely blown away at just how powerful a machine the Air was in the 8GB/256GB config. I wasn't expecting much, but I have seen that it copes with everything a 'normal' computer user could need. This includes light 4K video editing (short 10-15 minute projects), Logic Pro, tons of MS Office etc..

The base M2 Air is such a phenomenal value and the only reason that I couldn't use it for work is that I need 2x external displays and M2 won't do that unless you step up to M2Pro/Max. That's such a pity because I really like the Air chassis (I've now stepped up the 15" Air).

Congratulations on not buying more than you need. It's going to give you years of enjoyment.
 

CalMin

Contributor
Nov 8, 2007
1,623
2,732
All good, but I think I hear the RAM police outside preparing to storm this thread and demand to see your memory pressure and swap space stats. :rolleyes:

So true. People here are very 'passionate' about recommending that people purchase unnecessary upgrades!

The answer to this is don't check these stats unless your computer is slowing down or feels unresponsive. I think it's a diabolical tool invented by Apple marketing to upsell RAM by creating anxiety. I have seen memory pressure in the yellow and red with no performance detriment.
 

spatlese44

macrumors 6502
Dec 13, 2007
460
107
Milwaukee
Looks like the RAM police are too cool for this thread.

Seriously, I'll share my experience of weighing my options last year on buying a Mac mini M2 Pro last year. I was going to go 16GB and 512 GB SSD and there are a lot of people with that, and it's arguably one of the hottest Mac mini's to come around since the 2012 quad core. In the end I bought a base model M2 8GB, 256GB on back to school for $400 rather than $1200. It was just too good a deal. With the money I saved I'm seriously considering a Studio Display to replace my aging monitor setup. I've also got a M1 base level Mac mini and someday soon will start playing around with some programming that might call for something with more RAM and a better processor, but when that day comes I'll just upgrade. Until then, I'm putting my money where it counts.
 

jdoyle

macrumors 6502
Jul 29, 2004
283
487
This is very helpful for me. I am about to upgrade and eyeing off a M2 MacBook Air. 15in 8GB/512SSD. The ram police have scared me for a long time but my budget is tight. I can't live with 256SSD but I think I can get the bigger SSD and keep the 8GB Ram option. I mostly do Office 365, Web Browsing, Some Adobe Suite, And occasional video editing in Premiere. I think I will be fine. I have done several fan edits of whole movies un 1080p quality on my ageing iMac 2017 and it chugged along and worked out fine.

I recall a YouTube video where someone with an M1 MacMini 8GB Ram had every app he owned launched and was editing Logic Pro file with hundreds of tracks and it didn't miss a beat. So I think I am sold. Only thing now is should I wait until March for M3 versions??
 

colonelbutt

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Nov 14, 2007
370
409
London
This is very helpful for me. I am about to upgrade and eyeing off a M2 MacBook Air. 15in 8GB/512SSD. The ram police have scared me for a long time but my budget is tight. I can't live with 256SSD but I think I can get the bigger SSD and keep the 8GB Ram option. I mostly do Office 365, Web Browsing, Some Adobe Suite, And occasional video editing in Premiere. I think I will be fine. I have done several fan edits of whole movies un 1080p quality on my ageing iMac 2017 and it chugged along and worked out fine.

I recall a YouTube video where someone with an M1 MacMini 8GB Ram had every app he owned launched and was editing Logic Pro file with hundreds of tracks and it didn't miss a beat. So I think I am sold. Only thing now is should I wait until March for M3 versions??
I got a refurbished m2 from John Lewis, a UK store. It had 1 battery cycle LOL (they are all customer returns). I am happy being a year behind for the saving. Even if the M3 air doesn't go up in price, it won't be on the refurbished market for half a year. You can wait forever ....
 
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jdoyle

macrumors 6502
Jul 29, 2004
283
487
I got a refurbished m2 from John lexis, a UK store. It had 1 battery cycle LOL (they are all customer returns). I am happy being a year behind for the saving. Even if the M3 air doesn't go up in price, it won't be on the refurbished market for half a year. You can wait forever ....
True. The exact model I want is available direct from Apple Certified Refurbished. I may just go ahead and order.
 
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anthony8400

macrumors member
Dec 22, 2008
55
41
Frankfurt, Germany
I would like to weigh in as well as I was in the same boat.
I always had MacBook Pro's just because they were the best out there, but essentially I did not need that kind of power.
My last one was the 14" M3 Pro, but I always found it too small when traveling.
I then started looking into the 16" series, tried it out for a few days, but god is it heavy.
My wife has the 15" MBA base, I created a user and went about my daily work routine which consist of Microsoft Office apps with many different browsers and tabs, Snagit for creating short videos and lots of screenshots and annotations. Then some background programs and to my surprise the machine could hold its own.
The screen is indeed not as lovely as the 16", but if you don't put them next to each other it is very good nonetheless.

I went ahead and bought the upgraded model to have 16GB of RAM with 512GB and this thing is flying.
I am very happy with the purchase.
 

Lukomaldini

macrumors member
Jul 13, 2018
73
131
I have a 16GB M2 pro for work and use excel fairly heavily (not massive files), and even that beach balls sometimes and is not responsive. I don’t think it’s a ram issue, I think it’s an MS issue… if you try and stay away from MS apps I’m sure you’ll be fine!
 

colonelbutt

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Nov 14, 2007
370
409
London
is 8gb enough? in 2024? no, it's not. anyone who says otherwise will find out the hard way,
but if you are happy, that's the most important thing, have fun 😀
Disagree
Enough for what ?
Windows laptops are still sold with 4gb and it’s fine for web videos and officr

8gb on arm is like 10gb on. Intel

Enough for quite demanding office work and photo editing
 

Sheepish-Lord

macrumors 68020
Oct 13, 2021
2,170
4,411
Disagree
Enough for what ?
Windows laptops are still sold with 4gb and it’s fine for web videos and officr

8gb on arm is like 10gb on. Intel

Enough for quite demanding office work and photo editing
I think a lot of the folks that feel 16gb isn’t enough for an entry level machine have some form of Stockholm syndrome. Growing up we were just accustomed to essentially using hardware to brute force running software/games due to lack of efficiency. In this day and age Apple has worked hard on all their devices to create a level of efficiency where you can have “lower” specs and still have an optimal experience for all around tasks. More hardware is always better but I would argue Windows is more prone to needing the brute force approach because it’s user base needs support for so many things, from all types of decades seemingly.

That’s always been the trade off though. Windows has more support than macOS but macOS arguably has a better experience for shared software. Android has more customization/options but iOS is more refined and typically a more fluid experience. Personally, I use 99% of Apple’s stock apps with the rest being web apps like Google’s suite and couldn’t tell you that last time I noticed or had memory issues with 8gb ram Air vs my 16gb Pro. We need to stop talking about hardware and start asking why software, especially from big companies, isn’t optimized forcing the consumer to buy 64gb of ram to run MS Office…where does it end?
 

ApplesAreSweet&Sour

macrumors 68000
Sep 18, 2018
1,703
2,941
is 8gb enough? in 2024? no, it's not. anyone who says otherwise will find out the hard way,
but if you are happy, that's the most important thing, have fun 😀
Now that's a sweeping generalization if I ever saw one and, at large, not true:

Yes, you'd absolutely benefit highly or downright need more than 8GBs RAM if you consistently work with 3D rendering, high resolution video editing, some specific photo editing setups, highly demanding After Effects projects (and similar apps/projects), want to have an ungodly number of app windows and Safari tabs open all at once, etc.

But fact remains that both baseline M1 and M2 handle most of what the average Mac user throws at them.

*I completely agree with the notion that RAM is inexpensive enough to the point that no computer should ship with less than 16GBs of RAM. But for most of what the average laptop/desktop computer users actually do on their machine for work or in their free time, 8GBs is enough.
 

colonelbutt

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Nov 14, 2007
370
409
London
So for fun I ran the multi-cpu benchmark on passmark.

My M2 8gb achieved 16,408
I looked up an M3 Max 16 core 32gb and it achieved 40,033

So that is £1,149 vs £3,799 which is 230% more or 3.3x the cost

for that you are getting 146% or 2.4x the performance improvement

When I render a 60mp picture it takes just over 4 seconds in the background, mean whilst I am working on the next photo already. If I spent 3.3x the cost, I would achieve around 2 seconds.

So, absolutely not worth it to me. Of course that could make a difference if you are rendering a 2 hour 8k video and are on the clock to render other ones as well.

It does show however, how within a few generations and some extra cpus things don't change that much. For me, any speed difference in computing <10x is only incremental at best. There is alot of hype around, basically.
 

ric22

macrumors 65816
Mar 8, 2022
1,395
1,319
I thought long and hard about my new laptop. I won’t go through the windows vs Mac decision, but when it comes to Mac it is tricky.

I wanted something light, and the air vs the pro seemed significant. I did have a M1 Pro previously, but found it a bit on the heavy side, although the battery life was great.

My needs are general web, email, ms office, watching films and a lot of photo editing with lightroom. Mostly large files from a 60mp sensor.

There is firstly m3 vs m2 which I considered to be only marginal. Then there is m2 vs m2 pro vs M2 Max. Again, based on my tests, I can halve processing speed with a M2 Max, but lightroom only processes heavily when outputting a photo file, and since the minority of my time is in this step, and in addition since I can get on and edit the next photo whilst the last one is being processed, it hardly makes a real world difference.

For me, SSD is not important. I have a tiny usb-c microsd card holder, and 512gb and upwards cards, so plenty to store videos and photo libraries, especially as back up when travelling, at a fraction of the cost of built in SSD.

The key issue was memory. So many articles talk about 16gb as a minimum, and some pat advice from retailers talks about 8gb as good for browsing, but if you want to multitask, you need to get 16gb, or some nonsense like that.

Anyway I read many articles from people who were happy with the basic air (8gb), including some who did video editing, so I took the plunge and wow, for my uses it is more then enough power.

Of course if you are doing intensive video editing, or massive multiple 1m row spreadsheets that all need to recalc continuously, then definitely my MacBook is underpowered.

But I am very pleased I didn’t spend the money on more memory and particular pleased I didn’t spend double on the M3 pro 18gb.

This is a great machine and I am very happy. The build quality and screen of course are awesome, which is substantially what you are paying for. The colour matched bright Apple screens are always excellent for photo editing, even in the cheapest air, which is great.

Highly recommended …. Always worth testing your most intensive operation on a demo machine in an Apple shop first of course ….
"This paid commercial was sponsored by Apple." 😅😅
 

StrollerEd

macrumors 6502a
Aug 13, 2011
950
6,901
Scotland
"You can never have too much RAM"

Surely that much is true, if only to increase longevity of use as over time apps expect more.

I have recently been searching for a s/h M1/M2 MBA as my out&about laptop and hesitated about the offers of 8GB as I know I am used to having several apps and browser windows open. Happily, a 16GB M1 MBA came my way in pristine condition and a good value price. If nothing else, this has prevented me from worrying about the long term sufficiency of 8GB.
 
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colonelbutt

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Nov 14, 2007
370
409
London
"You can never have too much RAM"

Surely that much is true, if only to increase longevity of use as over time apps expect more.

I have recently been searching for a s/h M1/M2 MBA as my out&about laptop and hesitated about the offers of 8GB as I know I am used to having several apps and browser windows open. Happily, a 16GB M1 MBA came my way in pristine condition and a good value price. If nothing else, this has prevented me from worrying about the long term sufficiency of 8GB.

Whilst 16gb is faster for some applications, I don't think it is a short vs long term thing. 4gb will always be sufficient for web browsing and office work. In fact 2gb probably is.

You can also say that about everything, e.g. you can never have too many cpus, you can never have too large a screen, etc. ultimately if you are not using something and you are paying for it, you have too much
 
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ric22

macrumors 65816
Mar 8, 2022
1,395
1,319
disagree. a paid commercial would push the highest specification
That isn't their business model! The whole model hinges on speccing the base models with small amounts of RAM and storage (despite now insignificant cost implications when manufacturing) while making the computers impossible to upgrade. This has the following effects:

1, Many customers will pay $200-1,000+ to improve the base specs for RAM and storage. A huge profit for Apple as RAM likely has over a 1,000% markup, and it's even more ridiculous for storage.

2, Customers that buy base configs will likely want another computer a lot sooner than someone with double the RAM and storage, so they get new custom again. Especially if LLM's become a part of our lives, as this would make low RAM devices obsolete.

3, Base models are usually the models that are discounted. That means the $30 cost cutting on RAM and storage likely entails the devices with more of both cost perhaps $600+ more than base.


I have a home M1 Air with 8GB/256, and well specced work 16" Pro. I've been nothing but impressed by the Air, how well it does considering the lack of RAM. However, the SSD is constantly getting hammered with swap, the SSD is so pathetically small that I have a fleet of portable disks along with it, and once operating a few programs at once, with a bunch of tabs open, I do see the dreaded beach ball. That's without running any demanding apps on it...

Sadly, give it a year or so and you'll see the slowdown too, thanks to the RAM, unless you're an incredibly light user.
 

ric22

macrumors 65816
Mar 8, 2022
1,395
1,319
Whilst 16gb is faster for some applications, I don't think it is a short vs long term thing. 4gb will always be sufficient for web browsing and office work. In fact 2gb probably is.

You can also say that about everything, e.g. you can never have too many cpus, you can never have too large a screen, etc. ultimately if you are not using something and you are paying for it, you have too much
You seem to forget the overhead of the OS, and the reality of websites in 2024. There's a reason even my iPhone has 8GB RAM already...
 

colonelbutt

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Nov 14, 2007
370
409
London
I have a home M1 Air with 8GB/256, and well specced work 16" Pro. I've been nothing but impressed by the Air, how well it does considering the lack of RAM. However, the SSD is constantly getting hammered with swap, the SSD is so pathetically small that I have a fleet of portable disks along with it, and once operating a few programs at once, with a bunch of tabs open, I do see the dreaded beach ball. That's without running any demanding apps on it...

Sadly, give it a year or so and you'll see the slowdown too, thanks to the RAM, unless you're an incredibly light user.
Can I ask what you use it for ?

Also why would it make difference over time if you are doing the same things ? If there is slow down over time it would be nothing to do with the specs, rather the OS or badApp building up some kind of baggage. Having more memory just masks the problem for longer
 
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