New MacBook Air: 16GB worth the $188?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Rob9874, Oct 30, 2018.

  1. Rob9874 macrumors 6502

    Jul 19, 2010
    Just ordered the new MBA, with 512GB hdd and 16GB ram. I'm reading online that there's a very marginal difference between 8GB & 16GB. I don't do gaming or video rendering, just Chrome and Office, but I may have several tabs of Chrome opened at once. I'm torn if I should keep my order with 16GB since you can't upgrade, or if I'm wasting $188?
  2. maerz001 macrumors 65816


    Nov 2, 2010
  3. Yvan256 macrumors 603


    Jul 5, 2004
    Web pages eat RAM for breakfast. Since you can't upgrade the RAM later, I'd go for 16GB. It will make your MacBook Air easier to sell when the time comes to sell it. I've been searching for an 11" 2015 MacBook Air and I'm not even looking at the ones with 4GB, for example.
  4. Earl Urley macrumors 6502

    Earl Urley

    Nov 10, 2014
    Chrome and Office 2016 are huge memory hogs, especially if you have multiple documents in multiple Office apps open at once, 16 GB will also future proof your machine so when newer MacOSes with larger RAM requirements come out you'll be ready.
  5. velocityg4 macrumors 601


    Dec 19, 2004
    How long do you plan to keep it? It's less than a 10% increase for something which could increase the useful life of your computer a few years. As Yvan256 mentioned. Web pages can use a lot of RAM. That usage has increased a lot the past few years. I bet the people who bought the MBA with 4GB RAM a few years ago are wishing they splurged for 8GB.

    In my experience over the years. RAM is usually first problem area for computer performance as they age. Base RAM is always a bad choice. Especially now that it is soldered on. Even today some ancient Core 2 Quad is decent for daily use with enough RAM.
  6. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    If all you do is use Chrome and Office gains in performance will not be marginal, they will likely be non existent.

    The modern and relatively high end PCI-E SSDs Apple uses marginalizes the performance gain felt for a casual user especially someone such as yourself where your bottleneck will be internet speeds. Back in the HDD days you could never have enough when it came to multitasking (assuming the computer is left on).

    While I won't argue the usage you listed will have diminishing returns on investment its not accurate for anyone to really tell you that you "wasted" your money on RAM due to the way it works (minus a specific example of someone that doesn't use or access more then 8gb of data ever).

    To simplify it, things you open (files/apps/etc) are loaded from the SSD into RAM. When you close those things they are cached in RAM. Reopen those cached things and they are loaded at lightning speeds from RAM. Open enough new things and the old cached things are eventually purged from RAM to make room. If you reopen those things that are purged they need to be loaded from the SSD and while SSD is fast but no where near as fast as RAM.

    If you actively need more memory than your system has due to multiple memory hungry apps then the OS will virtualize RAM by using SSD space (referred to as swap, swap files, and/or page files). Again, while the SSD is fast its no where near as fast as RAM, especially when it comes to real word use like random access and multiple small file size.

    Point is, if the machine is left on long enough the more RAM you have the more of your data will be loaded into it and better performance will be albeit in your case negligible however unless you are strapped for cash I wouldn't cancel the order over it.

    Conversely I wouldn't criticize someone only getting 8gb either. Any modern OS including MacOS has clever ways of intelligently managing memory such as compressing data that can be quickly uncompressed and purging data intelligently based on your usage patterns (ex. a app you use all the time won't get purged from RAM vs something you rarely use regardless of who was their first).
  7. chscag macrumors 68030


    Feb 17, 2008
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Keep the 16GB of memory. You have to think of your future use, more memory is always better.
  8. Guza macrumors member


    Jan 29, 2018
    Always go for more RAM, it's one of the most important features on a computer or any device. Apple goes sparingly on it, I'm still shocked that they finally upgraded the RAM in their iPhones since the 6, 7, 8 all use only 2 GB and everyone else is double to triple that.
  9. gollum macrumors regular

    Jan 29, 2007
    I'm in the same dilemma sort of.
    My main computer is a Late 2008 Macbook Pro which came with 4 GB of memory which was the max you could put in it at the time. Around 2014-15 it was becoming pretty unusable because of the RAM but I came to find out in 2012 Apple updated the firmware to accept 8 GB so I gladly bought two 4 GB modules to upgrade the user replaceable RAM which made it feel like a brand new computer.
    This is a key point: Over 3 years ago I went to 8 GB which I consider a bare minimum on todays computers. I never planned on using this laptop 10 years but had to because up until about a year and half ago I couldn't afford or justify buying another $2500 laptop but now I can and that is problem. I am ready and can afford to buy a new one but just can't out of principle pay Apple $200 to upgrade (future proof) the non-user replaceable RAM from 8 to 16 GB plus another $200-400 to upgrade (future proof) the non-user replaceable SSD to 512 GB. I just made my last upgrade to my Pro by buying a 512 GB Crucial SSD for $135 in January. This is the 3rd or 4th hard drive that's been in it. Another key point, needs change over time.
    This isn't capitalism on Apple's part anymore, it's just pure GREED.
    I am looking into alternatives and to give you an example, the HP Spectre x360 if you customize with HP to go from 8 to 16 GB RAM is $35, to upgrade the SSD from 256 to 512 is $80. To do the same on the Air that just came out is $600 total.
    Pretty shocking price difference if you ask me.
    In my case I'm gonna keep using my surprisingly useful Late 2008 until it dies which fortunately it seems to refuse to do.
  10. Rob9874 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 19, 2010
    Thanks everyone. You confirmed what I was thinking already. I kept the order at 16GB.
  11. Jimmy James macrumors 601

    Jimmy James

    Oct 26, 2008
    This is my dilemma. I’ve kept hardware a long time by upgrading storage and ram. Now, we’re paying an absolute mint and that ability has been removed. Hard pill to swallow.
  12. jUeLz23 macrumors newbie

    Oct 15, 2008
    wait are you guys saying that on these Macs
    the Ram cant be upgraded on our own anymore?
  13. maerz001 macrumors 65816


    Nov 2, 2010
    Good morning
  14. jUeLz23 macrumors newbie

    Oct 15, 2008
    lmaooo my bad mate.

    still on a 2008 macbook.
  15. maerz001 macrumors 65816


    Nov 2, 2010
    Soon after there was no Apple laptop to upgrade anything. They got the idea with the iPhone 2G ;)
  16. oldtime macrumors 6502

    Nov 27, 2007
    If you plan on upgrading again within say 3 years, 8 should be ok. But I wouldn't want a laptop with only 8 GB RAM for any length of time after that...
  17. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    When I spec out a Spectre Folio 13 (because its 13" with a similar Y series Intel CPU dual core) with 16gb @ 1866mhz RAM and 512gb PCIe SSD I get.

    Screen Shot 2018-10-31 at 7.09.23 PM.png

    When I spec out a MacBook Air with 16gb @ 2133mhz RAM and 512 PCIe SSD I get.

    Screen Shot 2018-10-31 at 7.13.02 PM.png
    Prices don't reflect discounts for school or business obviously.

    With those options the Specture has a i7-8500Y with UHD 615 graphics. The MacBook Air has a i5-8210Y with UHD 617 graphics. I think the differences will be negligible. Both manufacturers are using the max amount and the fastest RAM available for their respective CPU's. The i5-8210Y Apple is using allows for faster RAM (2133mhz vs 1866mhz). RAM and SSDs are soldered in both.

    There are other differences in the products aside from the RAM speed obviously. The MacBook has a far better screen however its not a touch screen. The MacBook has TouchID. Etc etc the value of the differences should be decided by the customer. For example I don't care about TouchID and I like touch screens however I don't want the Spectres 1920x1080 screen in 2018 regardless of touch interface.

    I feel the Specture X360 starts to fall into the MacBook Pro territory with 15" options, dedicated graphics options (G series CPUs) and U series Intel CPU's, 4k screens, etc. Depending on what you are looking for the X360 can really shine however Apple still has a "devils in the details" approach especially with the Pro which also cranks the price up. Many manufacturers know the average customer won't look into things like 3x3 mimo with bt 5.0, i9 cpu options, 4tb SSD's, 32gb RAM options, T2 processor, more thunderbolt ports that are better implemented using a direct path to the CPU, etc etc.

    I'm not knocking the Spectre either, its seems to be one of the best laptops to compare to Apples line of laptops. Although I feel the Spectres product line is convoluted at best, maybe intentionally so.
  18. Kimcha macrumors regular

    Feb 19, 2012
    Wow the spectre folio 13 really puts things in perspective...

    Suddenly the air looks reasonable ;)
  19. - rob - macrumors 6502

    - rob -

    Apr 18, 2012
    Oakland, CA
    Yes. 8GB is not enough ram, Apple should not offer 8GB models at this point.

    Pay the extra dough, it will make it last longer for you and increase the number of potential buyers at resale which should allow you to recomp half that in pricing alone.
  20. bigpoppamac31 macrumors 68020

    Aug 16, 2007
    Agree on your post! Apple has become so damn greedy when it comes to upgrades compared to it's competitors. Sadly if I were to switch to another brand I'd have to use Windows which sucks ass. Just like I could never use an Android phone cause I don't want to use anything Google besides watching YT videos. I'd love to buy a new Mac, iPhone and/or iPad but my 2014 MBP and iPhone 6S will have to suffice for perhaps another year or so. Perhaps I'll go the refurb route when these new Macs land on the Refurb page.
  21. Caspavio macrumors regular


    Apr 18, 2018
    Below is a good guide. For your usage, 8gb should be sufficient.
    Screen Shot 2018-11-01 at 12.21.46 PM.png
  22. lambertjohn macrumors 6502a

    Jun 17, 2012
    How's this for perspective:

    Costco's got the HP Envy 13 laptop on sale right now for $999. And it includes: a Core i7 at 1.8GHz, 4k 13" touchscreen, 16GB ram, 512GB SSD hard drive, fingerprint reader, NVIDIA MX150 graphics card, Bluetooth 5, a bunch of useful ports, and all of it at 2.9 lbs. Kind of hard to beat that deal, but I'm an Apple person, so I'll stick with Apple products. But dang, that's a heck of a deal!!
  23. Ma2k5 macrumors 68020


    Dec 21, 2012

    13" HP x360 Spectre with 1TB SSD and 16GB RAM (and i7-8565u Whiskey Lake with touch screen + stylus included + LTE sim tray)) in UK can be had for ~£1500-1600. If you go for 256/512GB, it's a lot cheaper.

    Same for the Lenovo S730 and Zenbook series most likely too, coming out soon. Personally, I prefer the S730 as my next machine to date.

    In the UK however, it is around ~£1700 for just the 512GB version of the new Air.

    The Folio is a bad comparison to be honest.
  24. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    I think your view is skewed by your pricing.

    15 watt CPUs, i7 options with higher core counts,13" and 15" options, options for dedicated graphics, higher resolution displays with wide color depth? Am I talking about the MBP or the X360?

    The price of the X360 is on par with the MBP here in the US as well. Maxing out the 13" model puts it at $2109 (minus a sale they are currently running) which is near a maxed out 13" MBP (non touch bar model).

    I would consider the HP just a good deal because it doesn't say much about the product line if you feel it necessary to compare Apples lower end machines to HP's flag ships.
  25. Ma2k5 macrumors 68020


    Dec 21, 2012
    I am comparing the cost of a new MacBook Air with a similar form factor 13", which these fit the bill. The fact that they employ 15W instead of a 7W doesn't help Apple's case in the pricing structure.

    The folio is some weird leather project HP did, which will no doubt have added cost especially by way of R&D, so will have an inflated price.

    I don't think it is unreasonable to have expected the base MBA to have started at $999, rather than $1199 with it's 128GB SSD.

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