Need Some RAM Advice

JML42691

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Oct 24, 2007
2,082
2
I'm in a position where I need to buy a new Mac today. I'm looking at a MBA (13", i5, 256GB SSD) but have not decided how much RAM I should put on it.

On my current Mac I notice every now and then a large amount of page-outs from memory but it is certainly not a constant issue, mainly only when I have several word documents or excel files open.

As the RAM on the MBA is not upgradeable I'm trying to decide now to stay with 4GB or upgrade to 8GB to future proof it (2-3 years of use). The money to upgrade to 8GB is not the problem, but the added time in shipping the computer is. I move back to school next Tuesday and won't have my new mailbox number until then.

So if I upgrade to 8GB then I'll have to have it shipped elsewhere and forwarded once I know my new mailbox. Sticking with 4GB will allow me to go to an Apple Store and pick it up today. Advice?
 

madsci954

macrumors 68030
Oct 14, 2011
2,667
503
Ohio
Add the 8GB and when you checkout, select Ship to Store and just pick it up at the nearest Apple Store from where you will be living.
 

JML42691

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Oct 24, 2007
2,082
2
Thanks! I'll most likely do this if I decide to do 8GB, but the nearest store is an hour away. So if the need for 8GB is minor enough that I can do 4GB then I'd rather do that.
 

Barna Biro

macrumors 6502a
Sep 25, 2011
653
31
Zug, Switzerland
I'd just rather wait... get back to school, get a mailbox and place the order. Don't understand the rush, it's just stupid... but then again, you might not need 8GB of memory in the first place. If so, then whatever, go and get whatever you can find in the store.
 

aircanman

macrumors 6502
Feb 2, 2011
338
18
UK
I specced 8GB in my MBA 11 and since I was using it it didn't use more than 3, thing is, when you fill a Macbook Pro with photos, movies, music etc, opening the programs needs more memory, so depending how big your flash storage is, there may be no point putting 8GB in it, depending how big the flash memory is.

In my iMac and MBP, I have 8GB in each because I have about 20000 photos, 100GB of movies and 30GB of music, when opening iTunes iMovie and iPhoto it takes up so much memory.
 

aircanman

macrumors 6502
Feb 2, 2011
338
18
UK
Image

Just have Parallels and Chrome opened...

So, yes, 8Gb is the minimum.

(and yes, I had to learn how to do a screenshot xD )
Thing is, a lot of that ram is 'waiting in the wings' for all the other apps you may open, the Mac prepares the memory ready for you to use it, so unless you have rebooted your laptop recently, that is all the ram your computer is using at the moment, and shouldn't need much more.
 

vodkaPT

macrumors member
Jun 10, 2012
78
0
Lisbon, Portugal
Thing is, a lot of that ram is 'waiting in the wings' for all the other apps you may open, the Mac prepares the memory ready for you to use it, so unless you have rebooted your laptop recently, that is all the ram your computer is using at the moment, and shouldn't need much more.
Normally I end the day with 6 or 7 GB in use, Parallels will grow until 1GB for instance.

With 4GB is not hard to start using SWAP opening a few programs in a normal use base. Despite the fact that RAM is to be used.
 

WesCole

macrumors 6502a
Jul 1, 2010
756
12
Texas
If you plan on using any virtual machines, definitely go with 8GB. I would go with the 8GB of memory regardless, since you can't upgrade later and if you decide to sell it in a year it will be an easier sale and probably get you most of the initial investment in the RAM back.
 

KPOM

macrumors G5
Oct 23, 2010
14,504
3,049
Some stores stock the i7 with 256GB SSD. You might see if your local store (is it Boston?) has them in stock. While I have run Windows 7 in Parallels 7 on a 4GB 2011 model, the 8GB 2012 is definitely better. Since you want to keep it 2-3 years, I'd go for the extra RAM. OS X 10.9 might require 4GB, for all we know.
 

Rocky244

macrumors regular
Jun 14, 2012
162
1
I'm in a position where I need to buy a new Mac today. I'm looking at a MBA (13", i5, 256GB SSD) but have not decided how much RAM I should put on it.

On my current Mac I notice every now and then a large amount of page-outs from memory but it is certainly not a constant issue, mainly only when I have several word documents or excel files open.

As the RAM on the MBA is not upgradeable I'm trying to decide now to stay with 4GB or upgrade to 8GB to future proof it (2-3 years of use). The money to upgrade to 8GB is not the problem, but the added time in shipping the computer is. I move back to school next Tuesday and won't have my new mailbox number until then.

So if I upgrade to 8GB then I'll have to have it shipped elsewhere and forwarded once I know my new mailbox. Sticking with 4GB will allow me to go to an Apple Store and pick it up today. Advice?
According to your current use, you can definitely get away with having only 4 gb of ram, because well, you are currently doing just fine on it. That's all the proof you need. Also, you are going to have an SSD in your new MBA, which means that when you do happen to page out every so often (as you suggested rarely happens) that you probably will not notice it, as it will most likely be in the order of megabytes, and the SSD will be able to swap quickly enough to overcome any issues, resulting in no noticeable performance drop.

Keep in mind that the screenshots above of a system with 8 gb of ram and 4 gb full are not exactly giving you the information they seem to give. The 4 gb of ram is already full on the 8 gb system because there are 8 total gb available. The computer will attempt to use as much ram as it can and as much ram is available, as you should want it to do. If the resources are there for use, why would you not want those resources to be used to the best of the system's abilities? No matter how high the upgrade you will always see this type of behavior - approximately 30 - 40 % will be gone right from start-up, simply because the computer recognizes the total amount of availabe and uses it based on that paramter.

All that said, 4 gb should be fine if you don't want to wait. If you don't mind waiting, and would like to spend the extra amount of money for resale value and to ensure that can you use memory intensive programs without paging, then go with 8 gb. But keep in mind, your computer doesn't explode if you happen to page out once in a blue moon... You probably won't even notice it because of how fast it'll be running on the SSD, compared to your current HDD (if you have an HDD currently installed).