When there's an option to get 16GB RAM (or more), do you?

pinkoos

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Original poster
May 15, 2005
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Just curious if, these days with fast SSDs, is 8GB enough?

When you're shopping for a new Mac and have the option to get more RAM (for more money), do you opt for higher RAM? Or, is 8GB pretty good for daily, non-professional but multi-user, use? I'm guessing with the 2018 Macs, the super fast SSDs that they have may make up for any slowdowns that having only 8GB RAM may create. And, let's assume, at least for the 2018 mini's sake, that the RAM was not user upgradeable - then what would you have done or what would you do?

Thoughts?
 

ElectronGuru

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Sep 5, 2013
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There are layers to this question

1) if you’re a 2-3 app kind of person, ram use will be 6-10 much of the time. If you’re a 4-8 app kind of person, you’ll be over 8 most of the time.

2) ram is also doing vram. If you’ve got a retina type screen and multiple apps, gpu performance will suffer

3) virtual memory is fast. So fast with this ssd you can’t even tell but you’ll be adding swaps to the drive, adding wear and tear.

4) you can confirm above first, then add it later. But if you want a totally risk free experience, get 16 now and leave it for a few years.
 

Cashmonee

macrumors 65816
May 27, 2006
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Just curious if, these days with fast SSDs, is 8GB enough?

When you're shopping for a new Mac and have the option to get more RAM (for more money), do you opt for higher RAM? Or, is 8GB pretty good for daily, non-professional but multi-user, use? I'm guessing with the 2018 Macs, the super fast SSDs that they have may make up for any slowdowns that having only 8GB RAM may create. And, let's assume, at least for the 2018 mini's sake, that the RAM was not user upgradeable - then what would you have done or what would you do?

Thoughts?
Going to 16 GB can make some sense. It is about what it would cost you to do it yourself (a bit more depending on the RAM you buy and if you have EDU or not). Anymore than that makes no sense whatsoever to purchase from Apple. The fact is that the mini's RAM can be upgraded, and if you need more than 16, I would just do it myself.

Incidentally, this might start to get real interesting if the Mac mini is indeed the last Mac with user accessible RAM.
 

F-Train

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Apr 22, 2015
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For US$200, you can purchase 16GB of RAM from Apple. For another $100, you can have 32GB if you’re prepared to install it yourself.

I think that this is the single biggest reason people are installing 32GB of RAM.

Of course, you need an excuse.

My excuse is that I’m going to be using a flight simulator called X-Plane, which is a better excuse than most of the ones that I’ve read on here.

Indeed, this has turned out to be a great dual-purpose excuse. I’m also using it to help justify the purchase of an external GPU :)
 
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ixxx69

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Jul 31, 2009
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Just curious if, these days with fast SSDs, is 8GB enough?

When you're shopping for a new Mac and have the option to get more RAM (for more money), do you opt for higher RAM? Or, is 8GB pretty good for daily, non-professional but multi-user, use? I'm guessing with the 2018 Macs, the super fast SSDs that they have may make up for any slowdowns that having only 8GB RAM may create. And, let's assume, at least for the 2018 mini's sake, that the RAM was not user upgradeable - then what would you have done or what would you do?

Thoughts?
If you're really a "light" user - just typical Safari, email, office productivity apps, personal photos, the occasional vacation video, etc. 8GB is perfectly fine. Apple offers the 8GB option for consumers that fit that usage (it's also a fine for basic home/small office "server" needs and other single usage situations like that).

Keep in mind that the vast, vast, vast majority of Macs currently in use only have 8GB (or less) of RAM. There's no reason that even 5 years from now, 8GB won't be enough for basic usage (though I expect 16GB will be fairly standard in a few years).

Also, it's not so much about the number of apps, but the kind of apps. Counting up how many apps you have running at any given time is not how to ascertain memory needs or usage. You can have a ton of typical apps open with 8GB no issues... but use a single instance of FCPX or a Windows VM in Parallels, and 8GB can choke.

Do not worry about SSD "wear & tear" because of VM... the SSD will easily last 10+ years with typical usage.

16GB+ is a good idea for just about any usage more involved than that.

I'm planning on ordering a 2018 mini myself, and will get one with 16GB pre-installed. I used to be quite the tinkerer back in the day, but the 2018 mini's RAM installation is way too complicated for my time and patience these days... for me, it's just worth paying the Apple tax not to fuss with it. I can say with confidence that at least 90% of typical users would not venture to install RAM themselves simply because it's too complicated, involves too many tools, and they'd be worried they'd break something or not be able to put it back together.
 

F-Train

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Apr 22, 2015
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use a single instance of FCPX ... and 8GB can choke.

I'm planning on ordering a 2018 mini myself, and will get one with 16GB pre-installed. I used to be quite the tinkerer back in the day, but the 2018 mini's RAM installation is way too complicated for my time and patience these days... for me, it's just worth paying the Apple tax not to fuss with it. I can say with confidence that at least 90% of typical users would not venture to install RAM themselves simply because it's too complicated, involves too many tools, and they'd be worried they'd break something or not be able to put it back together.

A Mac mini with i5, 8GB works fine with Final Cut unless you are carrying out intensive editing tasks in 4K.

What Apple tax? If you install 16GB yourself, you’ll save the grand sum of US$30-$40, less, unless you own them already, the cost of the tools.
 

tedson

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Jul 17, 2002
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I got my 2018 Mac mini with 8GB of RAM with the expectation that I would be adding more RAM myself soon after I got the machine. However, I have been monitoring the Memory Pressure and Swap Used in the Activity Monitor app and I'm using zero swap and low memory pressure so I think I will hold off adding the RAM until later. I did pick up the OWC toolkit for opening the case but I haven't yet bought the RAM. I'm glad I saved the $200 that Apple charges to go from 8GB to 16GB.
 
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F-Train

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I got my 2018 Mac mini with 8GB of RAM with the expectation that I would be adding more RAM myself soon after I got the machine. However, I have been monitoring the Memory Pressure and Swap Used in the Activity Monitor app and I'm using zero swap and low memory pressure so I think I will hold off adding the RAM until later. I did pick up the OWC toolkit for opening the case but I haven't yet bought the RAM. I'm glad I saved the $200 that Apple charges to go from 8GB to 16GB.
I just spent two weeks with an i5, 8GB, which I put through various tests involving Photoshop, Lightroom, Final Cut, Compressor and Logic, and completely agree with this.

I’m going to an i7 and 32GB of RAM, but not because I think the i5, 8GB was wanting for most tasks.

My “excuse” is set out in post #4; although leaving aside flight simulation, I’ve decided to use this computer for 4K video editing and do think that the i7 and 16GB of RAM will be helpful for that.

As a caveat to what I said in post #6, there may well be a cost argument, depending on what Apple charges for labour, for installing 16GB of RAM yourself if you decide to do it down the road. If the decision is being made at time of purchase, I don’t think that there is any sensible argument for doing it oneself.
 
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HenryAZ

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Jan 9, 2010
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Just curious if, these days with fast SSDs, is 8GB enough?

When you're shopping for a new Mac and have the option to get more RAM (for more money), do you opt for higher RAM?
I never order more than the minimum if the RAM is user upgradeable. I bought my new Mini with 8GB. Two 16GB Crucial sticks are waiting for me to install later today. The 32GB cost ~$260 from Crucial, with free shipping.
 

Eithanius

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Nov 19, 2005
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Just curious if, these days with fast SSDs, is 8GB enough?

When you're shopping for a new Mac and have the option to get more RAM (for more money), do you opt for higher RAM? Or, is 8GB pretty good for daily, non-professional but multi-user, use? I'm guessing with the 2018 Macs, the super fast SSDs that they have may make up for any slowdowns that having only 8GB RAM may create. And, let's assume, at least for the 2018 mini's sake, that the RAM was not user upgradeable - then what would you have done or what would you do?

Thoughts?
Non professional, but multi-user... Wouldn’t hurt to upgrade to 16GB for a long time keeping... But given that upgrades from Apple vs OWC is only $15 difference in my country, I’d pay the extra to Apple for a peace of mind.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
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I'm thinking that 8gb purchased -today- "may not be enough" in the years ahead.
Even though it's enough "for today".

So... when I get a 2018 Mini (probably not until 2nd quarter next year), I'll order it with 16gb pre-installed. Apple's price for 16gb ($200) isn't all that far out-of-line with what it costs from 3rd-party suppliers. And it will save me the cost of buying the tool to open the case, as well.

I suppose if I needed 32gb or more, it -might- be worth it to buy the RAM separately and "do it yourself". But I don't need that much...

Questions:
Of the 8gb, how much of that gets "partitioned off" for the GPU?
How much is "left for the OS"...?
 

MacWorld78

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Jul 25, 2012
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Just curious if, these days with fast SSDs, is 8GB enough?

When you're shopping for a new Mac and have the option to get more RAM (for more money), do you opt for higher RAM? Or, is 8GB pretty good for daily, non-professional but multi-user, use? I'm guessing with the 2018 Macs, the super fast SSDs that they have may make up for any slowdowns that having only 8GB RAM may create. And, let's assume, at least for the 2018 mini's sake, that the RAM was not user upgradeable - then what would you have done or what would you do?

Thoughts?
For your information, I've purchased Mac Mini from the apple store (i5/256GB/8GB) - Obviously, it's enough strength for me to run Photoshop + 1 VMware (windows 10 only external HD USB-c) and I couldn't find anything that's slow down yet. I'm definitely going to upgrade the RAM from 8gb to 32gb maybe next year early or mid of 2019.

If the RAM was not user upgradeable? well, in that case, I would take advantage of the 14-days return policy buy one standard 8 GB and order another one for 16GB/32GB RAM - only you can find out what's best for your's requirement and return one of those.
 
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Cashmonee

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May 27, 2006
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I'm thinking that 8gb purchased -today- "may not be enough" in the years ahead.
Even though it's enough "for today".

So... when I get a 2018 Mini (probably not until 2nd quarter next year), I'll order it with 16gb pre-installed. Apple's price for 16gb ($200) isn't all that far out-of-line with what it costs from 3rd-party suppliers. And it will save me the cost of buying the tool to open the case, as well.

I suppose if I needed 32gb or more, it -might- be worth it to buy the RAM separately and "do it yourself". But I don't need that much...

Questions:
Of the 8gb, how much of that gets "partitioned off" for the GPU?
How much is "left for the OS"...?
Pretty sure the iGPU will take as much memory as it can and needs for the task. The issue would be at 8 GB, if you are doing something that requires a decent amount of RAM for video, when you combine that with the RAM required by everything else, you may find yourself quickly hitting your ceiling.
 

HenryAZ

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Jan 9, 2010
605
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So... when I get a 2018 Mini (probably not until 2nd quarter next year), I'll order it with 16gb pre-installed. Apple's price for 16gb ($200) isn't all that far out-of-line with what it costs from 3rd-party suppliers. And it will save me the cost of buying the tool to open the case, as well.
The only special tools required that are not "normal" (not in regular torx sets) are a regular torx T5 and a TR6 security driver (torx with a hole in the middle). Beyond that, you also need a T10 regular torx (I already have a T10, part of any normal torx set). I did the upgrade yesterday to 32GB of Crucial RAM. It was dead nuts simple, if you follow the step-by-step guide on iFixit. iFixit will also sell you the T5 torx and the TR6 security drivers for $15. So, for less than $275 (RAM + tools), I went from 8GB to 32GB.
 

archer75

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Jan 26, 2005
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Depends on what you're doing but I don't feel 8gb is enough for most people. I'm using 14gb with my programs running in the background and i'm away from the computer.
I would pay apple for the 16gb upgrade as it's not that much. However I wouldn't pay them for the 32gb. So I installed that myself. It's not hard.
 
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pinkoos

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Interesting discussion, thanks for the replies.

I think the consensus seems to still be more is better.
 

redheeler

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Oct 17, 2014
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Heavier tasks like 4K video editing need 16 GB or even 32 GB. 8 GB is fine for most everyday use.

But if this is your primary desktop, I see the benefit in upgrading to at least 16 GB. It's nice to not have to worry about running out of RAM, especially VRAM (shared with the system RAM for the iGPU in the Mac mini, more system RAM also means more VRAM).

Plus, the OS is able to use the excess RAM for cache automatically, and you can even create a RAM disk manually for temporary file storage.

I opted to put 32 GB RAM into my iMac a couple years ago, as RAM on the 27" iMac is still user-upgradable. And though I've probably never strictly needed more than 16 GB, the decision to upgrade to 32 GB is not one I regret. Never have to worry about closing apps or tabs to conserve space in RAM, it's simply not a concern.
 

Cashmonee

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May 27, 2006
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Interesting discussion, thanks for the replies.

I think the consensus seems to still be more is better.
Sure. 16 is probably safe, but 8 is likely sufficient. I believe macOS will take as much as you give it, so while people will show high RAM usage, it is not because the system needs it, but instead isn't flushing out old stuff because it does not have to. I may be mistaken, but I think that is how macOS treats RAM.
 

Clix Pix

macrumors demi-goddess
When purchasing a new computer I always get more RAM than whatever the default is, looking ahead to the future especially now that Apple's RAM is not user-replaceable in many of their machines. In 2015 I bought my 15" MBP with 16 GB RAM and have been more than happy three years later. Next machine I'll be going to 32 GB RAM, again looking ahead to the future when there are more demands from MacOS and from other software. I do photo image processing and watch videos (I don't create or render any of my own) and various other things, as well as the usual email and forum browsing/participation.
 
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revmacian

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Oct 20, 2018
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Just curious if, these days with fast SSDs, is 8GB enough?

When you're shopping for a new Mac and have the option to get more RAM (for more money), do you opt for higher RAM? Or, is 8GB pretty good for daily, non-professional but multi-user, use? I'm guessing with the 2018 Macs, the super fast SSDs that they have may make up for any slowdowns that having only 8GB RAM may create. And, let's assume, at least for the 2018 mini's sake, that the RAM was not user upgradeable - then what would you have done or what would you do?

Thoughts?
I have not seen the need to have more than 8GB of RAM. I am currently using a Mac mini that only has 4GB of RAM, which works quite well, so I can only assume that 8GB would be more than enough for my needs. I think "future proof" is a trap for many users. I understand the needs of those who engage heavily in media creation or computer programming, but what about others? At what point would 16GB of RAM be vital for those other users? And, at that point in the future when 16GB becomes vital, would the machine itself not be antiquated?
 

SoCalReviews

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Dec 31, 2012
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Just curious if, these days with fast SSDs, is 8GB enough?

When you're shopping for a new Mac and have the option to get more RAM (for more money), do you opt for higher RAM? Or, is 8GB pretty good for daily, non-professional but multi-user, use? I'm guessing with the 2018 Macs, the super fast SSDs that they have may make up for any slowdowns that having only 8GB RAM may create. And, let's assume, at least for the 2018 mini's sake, that the RAM was not user upgradeable - then what would you have done or what would you do?

Thoughts?
I would go with as much RAM as you can afford... I would currently recommend a minimum of 16GB with 32GB being a serious consideration. If you are going to install a RAM upgrade yourself you will probably want to just purchase the 8GB option from the factory. When I upgrade to a newer Mac Mini I will be considering upgrading to 64GB (2 x 32GB) when the price drops.

Why?

1) Improve performance...When you have more available memory it can help improve the performance and efficiency of your Mac when using applications that utilize higher memory requirements such as video editing, virtual machines, CAD and gaming . Your system should also run more smoothly when you have more applications open at one time.

2) Future proofing for current and future MacOS releases...8GB will work but will become increasingly insufficient over time if Apple continues to expand the MacOS processes running in the background. The higher definition video used today in UHD and Retina displays also requires more available system RAM to use for video memory.

3) Protect your SSD... More available System RAM means that when you push the limits of your system memory resources your SSD will not need to be accessed as much for memory caching. This saves wear and tear on your internal non-removable SSD drive which is fixed to the main board.

4) Higher resale value and longer time in between Mac upgrades....Having more than 8GB installed improves the resale value of your Mac and will future proof the value of your investment whether it means you keep your Mac for a longer time before replacing it or if you want to get top value for it if you sell it after your next Mac upgrade purchase.
 
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SoCalReviews

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Dec 31, 2012
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I do but I also use some pretty heavy apps. For 99% of users, 8GB should be just fine still these days.
I remember reading these "how much RAM should I get" threads a few years back but it was about having the 2014 Mini with 4GB RAM fixed. A few OSX/MacOS upgrades later and many of those people who got 4GB were complaining... but at least the 2018 Mini can be upgraded.

8 is the new 4... and in a few more years 16 will be the new 8.
 
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Cashmonee

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I remember reading these "how much RAM should I get" threads a few years back but it was about having the 2014 Mini with 4GB RAM fixed. A few OSX/MacOS upgrades later and many of those people who got 4GB were complaining... but at least the 2018 Mini can be upgraded.

8 is the new 4... and in a few more years 16 will be the new 8.
This is a good point, and you are correct that the 2018 can be upgraded. So, I would say if budget is a concern, unless you know you need it, I would spend on CPU and SSD (up to 512) before going to 16 GB of RAM.