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PeterParker Jun 15, 2013 02:16 PM
Can I expand a MacBook Air at all?
Hey guys,

I'm considering to get a new MacBook Air - finally! The new ones are so cool, really. What to do, however? Can I expand them? I'm thinking about reconfiguring them in the Apple Store, they offer more processor speed, more RAM, or a bigger hard drive. What do you think? Can I add more RAM in a few years? How about anything else?

Waragainstsleep Jun 15, 2013 03:53 PM
RAM is soldered so max it out if you want to keep it a while. Technically you can swap out the SSD later but its probably easier to max that too if you can afford it. CPU is also soldered so the old adage of getting the best you can afford applies more than ever.
ghporter Jun 15, 2013 06:29 PM
The Air is apparently made to be as small and thin as possible by also making everything as integrated and specialized as possible. It is my understanding that even the SSD is a non-standard package, so if I were to plan on buying an MBA, I'd max it out when ordering it.
PeterParker Jun 16, 2013 01:52 PM
And how about the hard drive? Is 128 GB enough? I'm not doing so much, but, to be honest, I didn't think about HD space in quite a while - how much does OS X take? And the applications, Office, PS Elements? I always thought I'd just be going with the 128 GB version, but that was back when this was the bigger one. Now, I don't know.
In moments, I feel like I should just buy the bigger one, with better processor, more RAM, added warranty, stuff like that. But do I need to? I'm somewhat undecided, hmm... On a side note: Can anyone, any retailer, change the configuration? If you can't expand it manually, I mean, a retailer can't either, right? So I only get the configuration via the AppleStore, I suppose? That would mean they spent some time thinking through the configuration, no...? Hmm.
Waragainstsleep Jun 16, 2013 02:29 PM
The only possible upgrade would be the SSD. Most retailers won't do it, but OWC will almost certainly offer a part for it at some point down the line.

It depends what apps you use on how much space they need. I have 193 items in my applications folder which includes all the bundled apps along with CS5, Final Cut Studio, iWork, Office, Filemaker, VMWare, Apple dev tools and numerous network and data recovery utilities. I have all sorts of things installed just to test for customers. The folder totals 41GB in all so you can probably make do with 128GB unless you are doing audio or video work and need all manner of samples, loops, instruments etc installed. I'd go for 256GB or even more if I could afford it.
OreoCookie Jun 16, 2013 10:07 PM
No, 128 GB are definitely not enough, I'd at least get the 256 GB upgrade.

Basically, what you have to take into account is a shift of costs: in the past, I would get a machine and over time invest ~10 % or so into upgrades. With notebooks, things like CPUs and GPUs haven't been upgradable anyway. The only things you can upgrade on, say, a traditional MacBook Pro (non-Retina) are RAM and the hard drive. However, for 10 years, I would always get my machine maxed out on RAM as soon as I buy it (whether I pay Apple for the RAM upgrade or not is immaterial). Basically, you have to include the costs you would spend on upgrades over the life span of the machine (in my case, the price for a larger hard drive, an SSD and an optical bay hard drive enclosure) at the time of purchase.

I would definitely suggest you go for 8 GB RAM and 256 GB SSD storage. As a last priority, I would add a faster processor.
ibook_steve Jun 17, 2013 01:44 PM
I don't think I'd ever get an Air, but if I did, I think now having USB 3.0 means you don't have to worry so much about internal storage. I'd probably still get a 256 GB SSD, but USB 3.0 is fast enough that you won't lose performance with an external drive. So you can carry around a big 750 or 1 TB drive and put all your files there, even linking your user folder to the external drive.

Of course, then you have to carry an extra drive around with the Air.

P Jun 17, 2013 02:59 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by ibook_steve (Post 4235433)
Of course, then you have to carry an extra drive around with the Air.
You can use an SD-card with the 13", or a regular USB stick with either. I wouldn't move the user folder to it, but if you want to store some extra files, it's a viable alternative. 64 GB SD cards are available at reasonable prices these days, and if history is any guide, they're going to keep getting bigger.
Waragainstsleep Jun 17, 2013 04:45 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by ibook_steve (Post 4235433)
I don't think I'd ever get an Air
Never say never. Seems to me that as soon as the hardware is fast enough for Apple's liking, they will converge the Air with the Pro and have one ultra-thin, ultra-powerful laptop fits all with various extras provided by Thunderbolt.
Spheric Harlot Jun 17, 2013 05:53 PM
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