RAM issue - Is 8GB enough?

jord22

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 24, 2017
7
5
Im new to mac and plan to get the MBP2017 13" nTB with 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM for learning Xcode. I did some research and saw most people recommend to go for 16GB RAM.

For me, 8GB RAM is enough at this moment since I will not do any video editing or run VM. I was hoping the machine could last for at least 5 years, but Im not sure whether 8GB RAM machine will still be snappy after 2 years. As it is a huge investment to me, I wish to know more about RAM requirements on mac machine.

Is there any significant difference between a 8GB and 16GB RAM machine while using Xcode?
If I wish to keep the macOS up to date, does each new macOS become more RAM demanding than the previous one and slow down the machine?


Thanks!
 
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Tech198

macrumors G5
Mar 21, 2011
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8Gig will be fine.... usually you can install OS's with with only 2 or 4 Gig. so 8 Gig will last a long time if you don't do editing.. and won't slow it down unless u run out of storage space... so SSD's is where i'd spend the money on,, not ram.
 
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kschendel

macrumors 65816
Dec 9, 2014
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8 Gb is probably OK, but unless you absolutely can't afford the step up to 16 I'd suggest doing that for exactly the reason maflynn says -- you can't upgrade it later. If in 3 years you need to run some piece of bloatware that doesn't work well in 8 Gb, you'll be out of luck. Just as one real life example, I put 16 in my 2013 MBP because I often need to run virtual machines (with Virtualbox). My old laptop with 8 Gb struggled when doing real work in a VM and trying to use other native apps simultaneously. No problem at all with 16 Gb. You don't need VM's now, but do you know that will still be true in 3-4 years?

If paying for 8 Gb along with the other features you need is infeasible financially, don't panic and get the 8, but you might have to practice patience later.
 
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ApfelKuchen

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Aug 28, 2012
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RAM requirements are not necessarily going to grow rapidly. For example, RAM requirements effectively shrank by about 50% when Apple added RAM compression to Mavericks in 2013. Gave a bunch of old, marginal Macs a new lease on life.

Apple's overall coding thrust over the past decade has been efficiency. That's been driven by iOS, but it benefits MacOS as well.

That said, the move to increased machine learning, AR, and VR are likely to put additional demands on our systems. I can easily see minimum MacOS RAM requirements move from 2GB (where it's been since Lion was released in 2011) to 4GB - however, that's at least a year away, since High Sierra is still on a 2GB minimum. However, Apple is pushing much of the ML work load to the GPU and VRAM, so maybe I'm worried about the wrong kind of RAM? The fact that Apple is equipping nearly all its new Macs with a minimum of 8GB non-upgradable tells me they don't expect to move beyond that for at least 5 more years.

"Apple wants to force you to upgrade" seems like a conspiracy theory to me. First and foremost, Apple wants to keep you in the Apple family and add to your roster of new Apple products and services, not push you out because you don't replace the stuff you already own quickly enough (if you stay, you'll upgrade eventually). Every dissatisfied customer Apple loses is one more new customer Apple needs to entice, just in order to break even. Growth is especially hard for companies of Apple's size, and growth requires finding more new customers (and/or selling them more new products) than they lose. It's a long-term strategy, and one of the reasons Apple is where it is today. The more firmly each of us is embedded in the ecosystem, the longer we keep using Apple products and services, the better it is for Apple's future. You can call this a conspiracy theory as well, but I think the evidence is far stronger for this one - if they were looking for short-term bucks, they'd still be charging for OS upgrades.
 
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fierarul

macrumors member
Jun 18, 2010
33
8
8GB will be fine to learn XCode and even work on customer projects. By the time RAM will be a problem you will probably make enough money to afford adding another expense.

macOS by itself will work well with 8GB in the near future.
 
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Ace2617

macrumors regular
Mar 16, 2016
161
42
8 GB should be okay for most things. I have 8 right now in my MBP and Mac Mini - but I don't use Xcode so I shouldn't speak to that specifically. I will say though that, seeing as you said you'd like to use it for 5 years, you should try to get as much as you can since it's not upgradable after purchase. Enjoy your new Mac!
 
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macintoshmac

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May 13, 2010
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I'd go for 16GB of ram, because you cannot upgrade that after purchase and you want the computer to last 5 years. Ram needs are not going to go down in the future but only up.
Was that Bill Gates quote about RAM or storage? I think he meant storage. :p
 
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Floris

macrumors 68020
Sep 7, 2007
2,381
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Netherlands
I always max out the ram in any machine I have had. If not right away, then later.
Since the macbook can't later, I would recommend getting 16 now, not 8.
I am using modern apps on the new iMac, still on 8gb, (yes, i will go upgrade it later whne the wallet allows it)
And it's already filling it up and using swap a little.
 
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phrehdd

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Oct 25, 2008
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To the OP - If i were in your shoes, I would opt for the 16gig. If you plan on continuing to do an coding and move on to other languages as well, there are slick things that can be done with respect to compiling and such where a "RAM drive" would be very handy and put less wear on the internal drive.
 
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Floris

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Sep 7, 2007
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To the OP - If i were in your shoes, I would opt for the 16gig. If you plan on continuing to do an coding and move on to other languages as well, there are slick things that can be done with respect to compiling and such where a "RAM drive" would be very handy and put less wear on the internal drive.
Not just that, imagine running the emulators, and virtual box for other things like android development or testing web interfaces on various OS, etc.
 
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throAU

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2012
6,187
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8 GB is enough for today.

However if you're buying the machine to last you 3-5 years, buy 16 GB.

Spending multiple thousand dollars on a nice machine like a MacBook/MacBook pro and then gimping it with 8 GB of RAM in 2017 to save a small fraction of the purchase cost is just shooting yourself in the foot.
 
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jord22

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jun 24, 2017
7
5
Thank you guys for all the advise! I have decided to go for the 16gb ram, since i think it worth the price for a long term usage.

I can't wait to receive my machine, hope it will arrive soon!
 
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macintoshmac

macrumors 68040
May 13, 2010
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It is nice that Apple offers upgrade options in many countries. Don't know why not in India where it would be a big hit like anywhere else in the world. Heck, I think they could add $100 (if they want to) and just offer 16GB across the board, all over the world.
 
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phrehdd

macrumors 68040
Oct 25, 2008
3,310
746
It is nice that Apple offers upgrade options in many countries. Don't know why not in India where it would be a big hit like anywhere else in the world. Heck, I think they could add $100 (if they want to) and just offer 16GB across the board, all over the world.
There are a lot of things that seem logical that Apple should do (your idea I fully agree with) but they don't and they manipulate their market this way. If you want to know more about how Apple seems to operate (since we know their history of the last several years), look up Michael Porters 3 different theories of competition and strategy in the business world. You'll see some things that look very familiar with respect to Apple (both good and bad).
 
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theluggage

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Jul 29, 2011
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Unfortunately, Gates never said this.
...and the 640K limit was actually imposed by limitations of the original IBM PC architecture, not MS-DOS. In the early days, there were such things as non-IBM-compatible MS-DOS machines (e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sirius_Systems_Technology) that could take more than 640k of "conventional" RAM without the memory-management kludges needed to retain compatibility with the IBM PC.
 
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ApfelKuchen

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Aug 28, 2012
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...and the 640K limit was actually imposed by limitations of the original IBM PC architecture, not MS-DOS. In the early days, there were such things as non-IBM-compatible MS-DOS machines (e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sirius_Systems_Technology) that could take more than 640k of "conventional" RAM without the memory-management kludges needed to retain compatibility with the IBM PC.
And MS Windows helped to break that 640K limit, as it was, among other things a "memory-management kludge" (I'd argue that, while it was a kludge because it ran on top of MS-DOS, the memory management aspect was good enough to justify the entire price of upgrading to Windows).
 
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TekAdvice

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Jan 4, 2018
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16 Gb of RAM is double 8, which means double the power. I would upgrade it. Also Apple sells most of their new Macs with 16 Gb of RAM. There must be a reason for that.
 
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TekAdvice

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Jan 4, 2018
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2 Gb??? I didn't even know Macs could run with so little? Lol. If it works, than go for it.
 
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eRondeau

macrumors 65816
Mar 3, 2004
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8GB will be enough. As already mentioned, MacOS manages RAM very efficiently and in the unlikely event you'll ever need to dump RAM contents onto the SSD that should still be incredibly quick. Not sure how much Apple dings you for 16GB vs 8GB but that money will be much better spend on a reliable high-capacity Time Machine backup drive (or two!)

I have several Mac's with 4GB and they still run well, a few more with 8GB which I consider to be "lots", and one iMac with 16GB that I view as a ridiculous amount of RAM and an amount that I've never come close to stressing.
 
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