Why are people scared of 4GB of RAM?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Kendo, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. Kendo macrumors 68000

    Apr 4, 2011
    Just like how 95% of us will never be famous actors or athletes or millionaires, 95% of us "regular folk" use a Mac for the Internet, YouTube, MS Office, movies, and music.

    I see a lot of posts where people are afraid of getting 4GB RAM. Not that there is anything wrong with getting 8GB, but for the above tasks you would barely reach 2.5GB. Even in the future with a new OS release, it won't take that much more resources. The CPU and GPU would be obsolete first before it got to that point.

    I can see the average person needing 8GB if they run VM Windows, but other than that, how come people immediately say 8GB is mandatory? Particularly when you see college kids who will be using their Mac for simple note taking or programming asking if 4GB is too small?
  2. 31rhcp macrumors member

    May 18, 2010
    Although I do run some intensive stuff, I bought it mainly because I want my computer to last a long time. System Requirements are constantly on the rise. I wanted to be prepared for as long as possible.
  3. stevelam macrumors 65816

    Nov 4, 2010
    System requirements are only noticeably on the rise for games. For regular applications, the incline is much much slower.
  4. kodeman53 macrumors 65816

    May 4, 2012
    Answers are contained in every 4 vs 8 thread. But what the heck, another thread is always a good idea.
  5. Stetrain macrumors 68040

    Feb 6, 2009
    Because four years down the road, several OSX updates later, if you start pushing up against the 4GB you can't upgrade it without trading notebooks.

    For some people that's not a big deal, but for many it makes sense if you can afford the upgrade cost.
  6. 6-0 Prolene macrumors 6502

    Feb 11, 2010
    The complete absence of any upgradeability paired with the really cheap upgrade to 8 did it for me.
  7. roxxette macrumors 68000


    Aug 9, 2011
    I rock my cheap ass mba air 11 with 2gb of ram and like 50gb ssd :cool:

    For everyday use and mundane stuff it goes nice, parallels works nice also :p
  8. lonewolf604 macrumors newbie

    Jun 15, 2012
    I asked this question a few times but I want to ask again, for someone like me (who does what TC said), and uses garageband a lot, is 4 gb enough?
  9. throAU, Jun 26, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2012

    throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    I'll tell you why: system requirements grow.

    Particularly, expect them to grow when everything is sandboxed in future Apple operating systems and apps.

    Plus, 8gb is so cheap now, it is a no-brainer. you're talking something like 50-100 dollars spread over the life of the device - which will be extended by doubling the RAM. Is 20-30 dollars per year of expected usage too much to spend?

    Also, virtualizing Windows (without needing to boot camp) is a lot faster on 8 gb.

    if you're working with HD video (like, straight from your iphone/etc), more ram will definitely help.

    Fact is CPUs were "fast enough" for most things most people do about 5 years ago (or more - just look at all the PPC die-hards). So no, I don't believe the CPU will be useless by the time people want to upgrade... I've still got a core 2 quad desktop from 2007 that runs things just fine today. If i hadn't put 4gb in it when i built it, it would be significantly less useful right now. Hell, the GF's 2010 MBA has a weaker cpu than that and is just fine...

    the GPU on most macs is obsolete on ship date, if you're a heavy GPU user you aren't buying a macbook air in any case.
  10. G-Mo macrumors 6502


    Nov 6, 2010
    Auckland, NZ
  11. alias99 macrumors regular

    Nov 3, 2010
    I have 2010 MBA and am struggling with RAM and I don't do any intensive tasks but a lot of small ones at once. Usually 6 - 8 windows open in safari, some flash videos, messages, mail, ical, iTunes etc and after a while it does slow down a bit and the RAM fills up pretty quick that combined with all the widgets and background apps = not enough.

    8GB options is perfect for me and one of the main reasons I'm upgrading to 2012 Air.
  12. islanders macrumors 6502

    Jul 21, 2006
    Charleston, SC
    I got the 8GB so I could forget about it. Also opens up more room for Apps that are RAM intensive, although that's not the primary use for my Air.
  13. upinflames900 macrumors 6502a


    May 20, 2009
    Open a few tabs in Chrome and check your Activity Monitor.... thats why you need 8 GB of RAM :)
  14. tomaseriksson macrumors member


    Oct 3, 2010
    Stockholm, Sweden
    For pure web usage even 2GB goes along way. Even though chrome eats alot of memory it swap management is so good that the computer still feel ok.

    But for other tasks it's not the same. Since upgrading my DSLR and getting a GoPro HD Hero 2 and doing image video/image editing daily my 2011 Air with 4GB constantly runs out of memory and gets slow as a dog. Enormous difference if I do the same tasks on my 15" work macbook pro with 8GB of RAM.
    So if you are a creative user and working with anything close to high resolution imagine/video footage: MAX OUT on memory. For web consuming: 4GB is fine.
  15. mattopotamus macrumors G5


    Jun 12, 2012
    how many people will still have the same laptop in 4 years? I always feel like most mac users hover around 3 years b.c they want the latest and greatest
  16. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    The main reason for switching to 64-bit operating systems was to enable better use of more than 4GB of RAM. Now that the changeover is complete, I expect that more programs will be written to take advantage of the extra RAM. Sure, SSDs make page-outs less noticeable, but RAM is still faster than flash storage, and so there are tasks where additional RAM comes in handy.
  17. ugahairydawgs macrumors 68030


    Jun 10, 2010
    Because in the grand scheme of the total cost of the laptop the RAM upgrade is an inexpensive way to 1.) help your laptop still be something that can hold up to new iterations of OS software 3/4 years down the line and 2.) improve re-sell value if you so choose to unload it. If you are sitting there three years from now and someone looking for a 2nd hand laptop has the option of one with 4GB or one with 8GB the choice of which one to buy is going to be fairly easy.
  18. mattopotamus macrumors G5


    Jun 12, 2012
    that is the major thing....it is only a $100 difference when you are talking about a $1000+ laptop. If you can't swing an extra $100 you should not be buying a $1000 laptop
  19. dcorban macrumors 6502a


    Oct 29, 2007
    It may be "only" $100 difference, but the upgrade is not worth the extra $100 for most people. Why pay $100 for something you will never use?
  20. barjam, Jun 27, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2012

    barjam macrumors 6502

    Jul 4, 2010
    My thoughts are that we have really hit the era of "good enough PCs". 5 years from now an i5/i7 (with an upgraded ssd) from today would still be very useable but 4gb of ram will be like 1gb of ram today.

    My desktop pc has 16 gb of ram and I have no trouble using it. For me 8gb of ram is the minimum amount that I feel comfortable with. Now if I was a college student or typical office worker with no intention of keeping the machine longer than 4 years (most people fit into this category) then 4 is fine.

    I don't run Mac (yet) but doesn't it use ram like a disk cache like windows? Probably less useful now that SSDS are here but ram is still way faster than disk. A heavy disk cache will make repetitive reads on a magnetic disk just as fast as ssd. For example on my development machine compiling a large java project is heavily IO read bound and is no faster on my magnetic drive than it is on ssd due to the read cache.
  21. DDGator macrumors newbie

    Jun 27, 2012
    Tampa Bay Area, Florida
    It's not always just about the $100. For me, I much prefer to buy from BestBuy because I can use and earn Rewards Points, and I can take advantage of their 15 months no-interest financing. I bought my first Mac with the Barclay Card with no interest for one year, but that ship has sailed.

    Since BestBuy only carries 4GB models, I have to weigh those factors in addition to the $100 upcharge in order to justify the 8GB Air.
  22. mono1980 macrumors 6502

    Feb 15, 2005
    Lansing, MI
    For me it's one word. Aperture. That POS is a memory whore! Yet I still use it...
  23. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    I think people are not thinking clearly when they make blanket statements like: "buying 8GB is a no-brainer." Different folks and different needs.

    To put it into perspective, $100 (actually, more than that in most states, because you have tax) is at least 10% of the computer's cost. That is huge, especially when a lot of people probably won't even need it.

    If I understand the system correctly, you cannot special order the computers from Best Buy (for example). If you are a student, what this means is that you are going to lose a lot more money. At BB you get $150 (same as Apple, but you get it as gift cards). Use that $150 to purchase $175 iTunes gift cards. Now you just made $25. Plus, you get BB reward points worth about $20. So, you end up spending $145 less for essentially the same computer. That is about a 15% savings.

    Some things are a no-brainer. This isn't one of them. Save your money and purchase something that fits your needs. If you need 8GB, that's great, but don't go around on the forums trying to claim that everyone needs it.
  24. dyn macrumors 68030

    Aug 8, 2009
    The operating system itself uses memory for caching. That way apps that you have recently started will start quicker. Also, as of Lion OS X will keep some apps longer in use in the background just like iOS does. Because of this Apple put in the option to remove the "running app" notification light in the dock. This also requires some system resources like memory.

    All in all, OS X is a system that will have better performance when you add more memory to it. At the moment this is somewhere around 4 and 8GB. Since you can't upgrade memory later on like with the MacBook Pro's (minus the retina version) you better think about how much you are going to need in say 3 years time before finalising the purchase. Some people need 8GB now as well and some are going the safe route by choosing 8GB (they might need it in the future).
  25. robvas macrumors 68030

    Mar 29, 2009
    I used my 2GB, 1.4GHz Air for a lot of stuff - Xcode, Ruby, tons of browser tabs...worked fine!

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