Switching to MBA from PC - will less RAM suck?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by sharilyj, Aug 24, 2014.

  1. sharilyj macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2014
    #1
    I've settled on getting a refurb 13" MBA because I'm sick of replacing my PC laptops every 2 years (like clockwork!).

    The question: what do I need memory-wise to make this truly an upgrade for me?

    I'm currently using an Acer 560G-SB448, running Windows 7 with 6 GB of RAM. I find it does lag when I have too many browser windows open, or when I'm editing photos in Lightroom. I don't use it for anything more ambitious than that.

    According to most of what I've read here, I still qualify as a light/normal user and 4 GB of RAM would do me just fine.

    Does 4 GB on a MBA take me farther than 6 GB on a PC, or am I right to be tempted by the upgrade to 8 GB?

    And a follow-up question: what's the rule of thumb for refurb release dates? Is a 2013 worth the few extra bucks over a 2012?
     
  2. ewils19 macrumors 6502

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    #2
    I have an 11 inch 2013 Air with 4 GB of RAM. My other machine is a Windows 7 laptop with 8 GB of RAM which does have some lag, especially when I have a lot of tabs open on Chrome. I don't ever have that problem with my Air. So in my experience, the 4 GB of RAM is not an issue at all.
     
  3. Meister Suspended

    Meister

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    #3
  4. 2IS macrumors 68030

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    #4
    Don't listen to the Apple fanboy talk. 4GB of ram on a mac doesn't go further than 6GB on a Windows 7 or 8 PC. If your Windows PC with 6GB of ram is performing worse than a Mac with 4 it's because you're probably comparing a HDD to a SSD, and/or you purchased a retail PC with all the bloatware that comes preinstalled on it.
     
  5. illusionx macrumors 6502

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    #5
    Do upgrade to 8gb ram as ram is not upgradable on the MBA.

    Also, not sure what kinda CPU you have in your acer. But the MBA might be a downgrade in terms of processing performance.
     
  6. ashman70 macrumors 6502a

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    Dec 20, 2010
    #6
    The thing you have to remember is that Mavericks does an excellent job of managing memory, far better then Windows in my opinion, also, when it needs to go to disk for swapping, its far faster on the Air because the memory is flash to begin with, and unless you have a fast SSD in your Windows laptop, a mechanically spinning disk will be much slower and a bottleneck. I don't notice any lags on my Air and I have Chrome open with 8-12 tabs, plus Outlook and a few other programs opening, the Air handles them all fine with 4GB of RAM.
     
  7. 63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #7
    The Mac is still somewhat faster, even with less RAM.

    There was a time when the earlier versions of OSX were much more leaner and they absolutely killed the PCs with their overbloated Windows. Windows had everything in their OS including the kitchen sink and OSX was much more just well thought out necessities. In more recent versions of OSX there has been a lot more to make it similar to PC and it's not that night and day difference anymore.

    At the same time, since Vista, Microsoft streamlined how their OS felt and I tip my hat to them. At a certain point they realized that pleasing the customer and listening to them is more important than putting in every conceivable knick knack into an OS. I find Snow Leopard and Windows 7 about the same, both with 4 gigs of RAM on similarly outfitted Intel chips. Turning on and shutting down is still quite a bit faster on Snow Leopard.
     
  8. joshlalonde macrumors 6502

    joshlalonde

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    #8
    It's not fanboy talk, OS X has some features for handling RAM that Windows simply doesn't. 4GB of RAM on OS X is like 7-8GB of RAM on Windows... But anyways, SSD vs HDD, OS X being optimized for specific hardware whereas Windows isn't, etc. are all reasons why a MacBook will appear faster than your generic PC. RAM has little do with speed, and more about the amount of tasks you can do at a given time. Even then, there are factors like CPU (clock speed, throttling/overclocking) that also affect performance.

    My suggestion is you stick with 4GB RAM unless you intend to do anything considered intensive. No, you can't upgrade it at a later date, but you don't need it now and you probably won't need it later. By the time it comes necessary for you to have more RAM, you'll probably be looking at getting a new computer anyways; and that won't be for another 4 years down the road.

    I'm going to be doing dev and I have 4GB, i5, etc. which aren't the top of the line specs. But guess what? I'm not having any problems with speed, in windows and OS X.

    Don't get the best you can because you don't need it. It's a simple waste of money. Save your money.
     
  9. Meister, Aug 24, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2014

    Meister Suspended

    Meister

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    #9
    Nonsense! For what the OP is doing the mba will be major upgrade with 4 or 8gb of ram.
     
  10. capathy21 macrumors 65816

    capathy21

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    #10
    You will be fine with 4GB. The lag you experience on your Windows machine is probably due to something other than the ram. I have a Windows machine with 3GB of ram and it handles these tasks just fine.

    4GB DOES go further on a Mac due to OSX's memory compression feature. This with the PCIe SSD speed means you will never have an issue with 4GB with what you do.
     
  11. illusionx macrumors 6502

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    #11

    I would get 8gb just because it can't be upgraded. And depending what you do, 4gb tend to run out quite fast ie, aperture, mail, Firefox and iTunes open and it's pretty much the limit without swapping. But then, some people are still using their 09 models with 2gb ram and mavericks today.


    And depending the CPU OP's acer has, the i5-4350u in the MBA could be a downgrade. OP did mention something about Lightroom.
     
  12. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

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    #12
    What are you talking about? If anything, it's worse because all of the apps come with "retina" quality graphics that use more RAM. Each icon uses 4x the amount of RAM that it would on Windows.

    Sure since 10.9 there's RAM compression, but all that does is trade SSD writes for CPU time.
     
  13. BenTrovato macrumors 68020

    BenTrovato

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    #13
    It's kind of a mute point with RAM. If you don't need more RAM in the first place, you're not going to notice a decrease in performance with less. 4gb is still good for a lot of people.
     
  14. joshlalonde macrumors 6502

    joshlalonde

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    #14
    ... I don't think you understand what you're talking about.
    First of all, those integrated graphics cards use only a dedicated portion of system RAM. Whether or not you eat into that RAM with your usage even WITH the memory compression, there is something called Swap. Basically, OS X will use the SSD as a temporary portion of memory.

    And anyways, whether or not those icons are being rendered takes play. And even then, it's not that bad. It's not necessarily the RAM that takes a hit in performance with those retina displays.

    In any case, for OPs usage pattern, it won't matter.
     
  15. Meister Suspended

    Meister

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    #15
    please post a screenshot of activity monitor as proof of this.
     
  16. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

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    #16
    I don't think you understand what you're talking about. Creating a program isn't just "read from disk and put this graphic here, put that graphic here". Often there's images generated dynamically, cached but not displayed, and these are all things that system RAM - not GPU ram - has to account for.

    I'm very well aware of swap files (page files on Windows). I'm just saying that, all things equal, OS X is going to need more system resources for higher DPI images. both RAM and SSD space, and now CPU to compensate for compressed memory.
     
  17. joshlalonde macrumors 6502

    joshlalonde

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    #17
    I do understand, from a low-level viewpoint, how things are done. The processor has a copy of a chunk of the disk copied to RAM, and if it's going to run it, it jumps to that portion in RAM. In this case, it will be copied to VRAM and all that magic. Well, it could be that my knowledge is a bit outdated since I learned Assembly language from really old textbooks. But nonetheless, you're exaggerating how taxing that is.

    Honestly, you're making a big stink out of nothing. It will make very little difference to the end-user here. He doesn't need it. Are you just trying to argue with me or are you trying to help him? Cuz, you're not really helping.
     
  18. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

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    #18
    Well, I think what I'm trying to say is that Windows and OS X are very similar, so if you want to know about RAM differences between the two, you have to split hairs.

    I'm still trying to figure out how this works.
     
  19. LxHunter macrumors 6502

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    Nov 14, 2010
    #19
    4 has been fine for me.
    Buy the most you can afford.

    Yep, have heard that a few times. I know a guy who scraps a PC notebook every 18 months and thinks I pay too much for a MacBook.
     
  20. bjet767 macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 2, 2010
    #20
    I've programmed both Mac and PC including Win 8 systems so here's my take.

    More memory is always better.

    Now with that being said the main differences are the Mac OSX are always on a proprietary hardware (except for the Hackintosh fans, yes I've built my own Mac also) while Windows is written to be used on many platforms. I have found Dell and Sony laptops to work very well on less ram while home built desktops seem to vary depending on the chip set use on the motherboards.

    Overall my answer is buy the most RAM and fastest CPU one can afford.

    Now if one is doing serious video work ram, CPU, fast HDs and video processors are king.
     

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