Will 4GB be enough for next 3 years of OS X updates?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by mattdocs12345, Jan 12, 2015.

  1. mattdocs12345 macrumors member

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    Jan 6, 2015
    #1
    I know there was and is a bunch of threads of 8GB vs 4GB. And I read a couple of them. Still nodbody seems to answear the most basic question:

    Will 4GB Ram be enough for next 3 years of OSX updates?

    I don't want to save $100 on my initial purchase only to find my OSX being slow after updating the operating system. I don't really do anything more intensive than web browsing, multimedia playback but still, I hate to have slower OS than what I initial bought the computer with. I understand that after 5 years laptops just simply can't support newer operating systems but IMO 3 years should be snappy and fast as after initial purchase.
     
  2. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #2
    Yes, it will be fine. If it wasn't, Apple wouldn't offer it. Don't forget that there are still some Macbook Air with 2GB of memory that are still expected to get updates for many years to come.
     
  3. mattdocs12345 thread starter macrumors member

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    #3
    Yeah but from what I read Yosemite works slow on those machines. And that's what I am worried about. Not whether it will get supported or not but whether it will be still snappy.
     
  4. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #4
    Mac OS X 10.10 is a tick operating system, the tock operating systems like 10.6, 10.8, and 10.9 tend to be faster than tick ones as they are more refined and optimized.
     
  5. redheeler macrumors 603

    redheeler

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    #5
    Keep in mind the OP said the next three years of updates, not just Yosemite and the version after (assuming the successor to Yosemite will be another Snow Leopard, which we don't even know to be true). Updates will still be released for those machines after that point, but performance will take a huge hit.

    Imagine using a MBA or Mac mini with 2 GB RAM on Yosemite today. That RAM will fill up fast in normal use and even memory compression won't be able to cope.
     
  6. mattdocs12345 thread starter macrumors member

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    #6
    Exactly. So I guess to make it more precise question....
    The last time that apple sold macbook airs with standard 2GBs ram, how long did those last until becoming slow on the Yosemite or any other OS that put a major dent in the snapiness.
     
  7. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #7
    With solid state drives becoming ever more fast, slow downs are not as dramatic or perceptible as before as machines are able to swap much faster.
     
  8. aristobrat macrumors G4

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    #8
    And you're sure that it's a lack of RAM that is behind the lack of snappiness?

    Apple put a memory compression feature in Mavericks, that allows more data to get stuffed into RAM. For some, that was a positive indication that Apple was more interested in keeping OS X running well on older Macs with minimal RAM than they were in making those Macs run slow so people would upgrade.

    But nobody knows for sure what Apple's plan with OS X memory management three years for now will be.

    At least if you buy a MBA today, it has an even faster (PCIe) SSD drive than the "not snappy" generations you're talking about. If you do ever end up in a low RAM situation and it has to page to disk, those pages should happen very quickly.

    ----------

    The last MacBook Airs with 2GB of RAM were from 2011. You can search the forums here and find people who said the very next OS released slow their Mac down, so I'm not sure how to figure out precisely what you're asking.
     
  9. Meister Suspended

    Meister

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    #9
    Where do you read this!
     
  10. mattdocs12345 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jan 6, 2015
    #10
    It answears exactly what I am asking. Means that you can be the "unlucky" and buy MBA at the wrong time of OSX upgrade cycle which will render your computer slow within 3 years of purchase.
    Thanks. Wanted to confirm the dates. I will be likely investing in extra memory.
     
  11. redheeler macrumors 603

    redheeler

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    #11
    True that it won't slow down as much as a 4 GB 2014 Mac mini, but virtual memory is never a good thing and will still slow the machine down.
     
  12. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #12
    The slow down are not very perceivable to the end user unless they were actively looking for them when swapping to a fast SSD.
     
  13. mi7chy macrumors 68040

    mi7chy

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    #13
    Inadequate. Buying more DRAM is a lot cheaper than replacing your SSD from additional wear and tear from swapping due to low memory. 8GB DRAM should be minimum for 2015 going forward.
     
  14. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #14
    The SSDs in MacBooks, like nearly all modern SSDs, will far outlast the rest of the machine, the battery and screen would stop working long before the SSD would start to fail.
     
  15. MetalGamer09 macrumors member

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    #15
    If your even worried about it it's better to just be safe and go with the 8gb that way you know you will be fine.
     
  16. motrek macrumors 68020

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    #16
    Yes, it will be fine. The requirement for Yosemite is still 2GB. Meaning that you are supposed to be able to still do useful things with it with 2GB.

    Let's take a wild guess and say that with 2GB, the OS takes 1GB and you have 1GB free for your applications. So if you have 4GB of RAM, that means you have three times the amount of memory for your applications that Apple thinks you need to do useful things.

    That will be enough for a long time. Even if the memory requirements of the OS double (unlikely), you will still have two times what Apple thinks is useful.

    There are a lot of complaints about Yosemite performance but that's not necessarily because people are running out of RAM. That's just the thing uninformed people want to blame first. In fact, there have been a lot of people in the past few months who are using Yosemite just fine with 2GB RAM and say that it works well.
     
  17. ixxx69 macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    Based on past history, my guess is it will likely be at least another 4 years before 4GB is literally not enough to run the latest version of OS X.

    Min. RAM Requirements for OS X
    10.0 - Cheetah (2001): 128MB
    10.1 - Puma (2001): 128MB
    10.2 - Jaguar (2002): 128 MB
    10.3 - Panther (2003): 128 MB
    10.4 - Tiger (2005): 256 MB
    10.5 - Leopard (2007): 512 MB
    10.6 - Snow Leopard (2009): 1 GB
    10.7 - Lion (2011): 2 GB
    10.8 - Mountain Lion (2012): 2 GB
    10.9 - Mavericks (2013): 2 GB
    10.10 - Yosemite (2014): 2 GB

    But there is no getting around it - computers feel slower over time, and it's not just OS X updates - it's all the apps, plug-ins, the web itself, that also keep getting more resource hungry.

    What someone deems as "good performance" is completely subjective. What someone deems as "reasonable" workflow is completely subjective. I've personally dealt with a lot of computers and a lot of users over the years, and you quickly learn that what one user thinks is normal, another user is ready to bash their head against the wall out of frustration.

    I often have two dozen apps running at any given time (which is surprisingly not difficult), and my expectation is that there's enough RAM to do that with virtually no swap used, and no slowdowns.

    Some folks have just Safari and maybe something like iTunes or Microsoft Office running 90% of the time, and in a few years time, if they also need to open iPhoto, they won't mind if there's a minor slowdown as memory is shifted around... while other users will be frustrated and want a new Mac.

    It's really pretty simple folks. 8GB is the sweet spot right now. While it's still a luxury for the "typical" user, 16GB is nice to have if you fall into the camp of "computer enthusiast". If you don't have the money or are a light user, 4GB is fine, and will remain "fine" for the next few years. If you're really worried about it, pony up the money.
     
  18. Meister Suspended

    Meister

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    #18
    Excellent post.
    Except for the last sentence ;)
    I think a lot of end users grossly overestimate what they need.

    The OS and commonly used apps, like office, mail,... won't slow down anytime soon. Especially not because of ram.

    There is also no reports of Yosemite not running properly because of 4gb RAM.
    Everytime I call someone out on that claim, I get no response.
     
  19. redheeler macrumors 603

    redheeler

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    Oct 17, 2014
    #19
    The OS can easily take up the full 2 GB, especially on machines with shared video memory. When I had 4 GB in my Mac mini this is exactly what would happen, over half the memory would be used as soon as I logged in.
     
  20. dan1eln1el5en macrumors 6502

    dan1eln1el5en

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    #20
    when apple starts the minimum ram of it's current offered mac to more than 4GB then you probably have a year or two to upgrade.
    the air had 2 GB ram as minimum just a few years back, and they still run 10.10

    so I would say go for it. you will probably upgrade before necessary.
     
  21. MacBH928 macrumors 68020

    MacBH928

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    #21
    Think of it this way, $100 over 3 years will be just $30 a year!

    is this a big saving for you? Thats like $3 a month. Like you, I lightly use my machine but running Chrome only will show that I used 3.7GB . I wonder what future apps necessities will be. Better safe than sorry.

    But since you bring this up, I don't know why current day software consume so much RAM. In 2002 I upgraded my up to a super 768mb !! And I was mostly doing the same things I do today, browsing, word processing, watching videos..etc

    yet it didn't need as much as it software needs today, I remember a time when 4-6GB was a "Pro" spec for people who work in building games and making movies
     
  22. motrek macrumors 68020

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    #22
    As stated a million times before, OS X makes an effort to allocate all physical memory possible. Otherwise it's wasted. Just because your machine showed a high amount of memory used, doesn't mean that it required that memory.

    ----------

    As stated a million times before, OS X makes an effort to allocate all physical memory possible. Otherwise it's wasted. Just because your machine showed a high amount of memory used, doesn't mean that it required that memory.
     
  23. mattdocs12345 thread starter macrumors member

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    Jan 6, 2015
    #23
    Ughhh so hard to make this decision.

    So which one would you guys recommend? Paying up extra to get 11 inch with 8gb RAM or paying up extra to get 13 inch macbook pro. Extra battery life would always be nice for me.... But at the same time I don't want a slow computer after 3 years.

    Yeah I will be mostly using the laptop for MS Office and web browsing with some HD netflix or watching HD youtube videos every now and then...
    SD card support on 13 inch would have been nice too.
     
  24. 556fmjoe macrumors 65816

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    Apr 19, 2014
    #24
    I'd get the 13 if you're going to watch videos on it. 4 GB will be fine either way and won't cause your computer to be slow in 3 years.
     
  25. AFEPPL macrumors 68030

    AFEPPL

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    #25
    4GB is not really enough now, 10.10 needs 8GB to run without resorting to swap. if you plan to keep the device for anytime, 8GB all the way.
     

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