Welcome to the MacNN Forums.

If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above. You may have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed. To start viewing messages, select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.

You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > How much RAM for the MacBook Air?

How much RAM for the MacBook Air?
Thread Tools
goatman
Junior Member
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Hollywood, CA, USA
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 21, 2010, 06:44 PM
 
I want to get my wife a new MacBook Air and was wondering if you think she can get by with the thriftier 2 Gb RAM. She does pretty light computing: Surfing, iTunes, etc. The most intensive app might be Word. Outside chance of using Acrobat X.

What do you think?

Thanks.
     
Lateralus
Moderator Emeritus
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Arizona
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 21, 2010, 06:51 PM
 
I can't imagine needing more for those tasks. Not now, at least... Which means the main question isn't 'which apps will she use', but 'how long does this machine need to last her?'

If the answer is anywhere over 2 years, I'd say bite the bullet and go for 4GBs. Because you wont have another chance as the RAM is soldered to the logic board at manufacture.

If there's one thing Apple has become rather good at, it's developing applications that consume RAM like a camel holds water.
I like chicken
I like liver
Meow Mix, Meow Mix
Please de-liv-er
     
Maflynn
Professional Poster
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Boston
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 21, 2010, 07:50 PM
 
I agree with Lat, as you'll not be able to upgrade later, bite the bullet now, you'll not regret it
~Mike
     
goatman  (op)
Junior Member
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Hollywood, CA, USA
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 25, 2010, 02:02 PM
 
Thank you kindly.
     
Eug
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Caught in a web of deceit.
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 25, 2010, 02:17 PM
 
Personally I'd just get 2 GB. If you need a new computer in 3 years, then sell this one and get a new one.
     
amazing
Professional Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 25, 2010, 02:56 PM
 
$100 for the 4GB RAM upgrade is a pretty good way to ensure longer-term usability and fewer complaints from your wife.
     
Eug
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Caught in a web of deceit.
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 25, 2010, 03:14 PM
 
OK, that's not too bad. For some reason I thought it was $200.
     
amazing
Professional Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 25, 2010, 05:42 PM
 
Yeah, who'd have believed that Apple's RAM upgrade could be so reasonable?

Plus it's a good way to earn points with the spouse...
     
mduell
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Houston, TX
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 25, 2010, 05:50 PM
 
4GB. It's a horrible triple retail price, but 2GB is painful in OS X.
     
Eug
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Caught in a web of deceit.
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 25, 2010, 06:04 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
4GB. It's a horrible triple retail price, but 2GB is painful in OS X.
2 GB is fine. I've been using it for the past year on my MacBook Pro. For light usage I haven't really seen a reason to upgrade. However, for my next laptop, if it's only $100 more, I will probably get 4 GB. For $200, I wouldn't bother, esp. since I upgrade my laptop fairly often.

OTOH, I have 8 GB on my iMac.
     
Waragainstsleep
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 25, 2010, 08:35 PM
 
2GB is getting to be bare minimum right now. More RAM will compensate for the lower clock speed in the 11" but should also boost the 13" noticeably. As pointed out before, you can't upgrade it later, if you are looking at the 11" I seriously believe it will extend the useful life significantly. You may not plan on keeping it all that long, but I think the extra will help it hold value much longer too.
I have a Rev A MacBook 2GHz with 2GB RAM which I use as a server of sorts. It still has tons of apps but for any heavy lifting its showing its age. The new Airs have much better GPUs which will help a fair bit, but I think based on that the extra 2GB in the 11" could add years to its useful life.
It will be fine for browsing and email right now with only 2GB, but the web is getting more and more complex and will need more and more memory to take advantage. Safari and Firefox will be even bigger beasts in a year or two.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
Eug
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Caught in a web of deceit.
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 25, 2010, 09:35 PM
 
I've sold a lot of old Mac laptops and desktops.

Every upgrade you make will decrease the purchase price / resale value ratio. ie. If you want to capture the most back of your initial investment, buy the cheapest Mac with the least upgrades. In fact, I broke my own rule with my Core i7 iMac. My brain was telling me the best bang for the buck purchase would be the i5, but I got the i7 anyway just because.

But I agree, for $100, the RAM upgrade is a reasonable deal, esp. given that it's non-upgradable. It was my mistake to think it was $200.
     
imitchellg5
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Washington + Colorado
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 25, 2010, 09:53 PM
 
After using the 11" for a while today with 2Gb, anything greater than a couple of Safari tabs and iTunes and iPhoto is going to really slow it down. The Airs are already a bit sluggish processor wise, I'd definitely max out the RAM, seeing as you can't do it later.
     
Eug
Clinically Insane
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Caught in a web of deceit.
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 25, 2010, 09:57 PM
 
Probably true about iPhoto. That thing is a hog. (I never use it personally anymore.)
     
imitchellg5
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Washington + Colorado
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 25, 2010, 10:17 PM
 
True, but I use Aperture which is even worse
     
audvidsvs
Dedicated MacNNer
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Missouri
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 25, 2010, 10:46 PM
 
The Genius I spoke to today claimed they were upgrading the Ram in the store?
He even said they had the upgrade in stock?
     
imitchellg5
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Washington + Colorado
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 25, 2010, 11:04 PM
 
Not sure how they do that, it's soldered to the logic board directly.
     
Urkel
Junior Member
Join Date: Feb 2008
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 26, 2010, 02:29 AM
 
I got an Air for the wife today...

Apple is a premium brand and This is a 2011 computer so why the heck would it come with a non-upgradeable 2GB when the rest of the industry moved to 4GB standard in 09? And don't get me started on a 2008 Core2Duo. According to some people, "because it's enough". But when paying top dollar for tech gear in a bad economy then "enough" shouldn't be a reasoning for giving us a futuristic space age product design filled with 2008 specs. Premium products should be top of the line inside and out, and as CONSUMERS we shouldn't make excuses for why it falls short.

That said, I do own an air. It's definitely "good enough" for now but I may return it because this is not a future proofed product.
     
P
Moderator
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 26, 2010, 03:33 AM
 
Originally Posted by Urkel View Post
I got an Air for the wife today...

Apple is a premium brand and This is a 2011 computer so why the heck would it come with a non-upgradeable 2GB when the rest of the industry moved to 4GB standard in 09?
The industry certainly hasn't standardized on 4 GB RAM. The first several laptops on Dell's front page right now have 2 gig standard. It's non-upgradeable for space reasons. Why they kept the baseline at 2 gigs? Probably so they could keep the entry under $1000. Also, paging is much less painful on an SSD, so you could get by with less RAM in a pinch.

Originally Posted by Urkel View Post
And don't get me started on a 2008 Core2Duo. According to some people, "because it's enough".
Actually, absolutely noone said that. The Core 2 Duo is a compromise brought on by the desire to have better graphics. The 320M is far superior to the integrated graphics in the Core iX chips, and the Core 2 is only slightly weaker than a Core iX CPU-wise. Apple judged the tradeoff to be worth it. If you don't think so, buy another computer.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
OreoCookie
Moderator
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Hilbert space
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 26, 2010, 03:52 AM
 
I would definitely opt for 4 GB.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
Waragainstsleep
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 26, 2010, 12:34 PM
 
At 1.4GHz and 2GB RAM I don't think a Core i3 would be great at outputting 1080p video. And even if it was, it wouldn't do anything else at the same time. Thats why it had to have the 320M and hence the Core 2 Duo.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
scaught
Addicted to MacNN
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: detroit,mi,usa
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 26, 2010, 04:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by Urkel View Post
I got an Air for the wife today...

Apple is a premium brand and This is a 2011 computer so why the heck would it come with a non-upgradeable 2GB when the rest of the industry moved to 4GB standard in 09? And don't get me started on a 2008 Core2Duo. According to some people, "because it's enough". But when paying top dollar for tech gear in a bad economy then "enough" shouldn't be a reasoning for giving us a futuristic space age product design filled with 2008 specs. Premium products should be top of the line inside and out, and as CONSUMERS we shouldn't make excuses for why it falls short.

That said, I do own an air. It's definitely "good enough" for now but I may return it because this is not a future proofed product.
What about the non-removable battery? You aren't mad about that?

I love that you bought it anyway. hahaha.
     
EvilMole
Fresh-Faced Recruit
Join Date: May 2008
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 26, 2010, 06:01 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
4GB. It's a horrible triple retail price, but 2GB is painful in OS X.
Seriously, on the Air, it's not painful. I'm using an 11in and for stuff like browsing in Safari, Pages, Mail and iTunes it actually feels MORE snappy than my 4GB-equipped Core i7 MacBook Pro.

Of course, if I start trying to throw around RAW images in Aperture the MBP wins hands down - but for the kinds of stuff the OP is talking about, 2GB on the Air is fine.
     
mduell
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Houston, TX
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 26, 2010, 07:36 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
At 1.4GHz and 2GB RAM I don't think a Core i3 would be great at outputting 1080p video.
Sure it would; Intel GMA HD fully accelerates the popular codecs.
     
SSharon
Professional Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Teaneck, NJ
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 27, 2010, 12:27 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
Also, paging is much less painful on an SSD, so you could get by with less RAM in a pinch.
Good point. I wonder if there are any tests that quantify this.
AT&T iPhone 5S and 6; 13" MBP; MDD G4.
     
Maflynn
Professional Poster
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Boston
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 28, 2010, 08:28 AM
 
Originally Posted by Urkel View Post
Premium products should be top of the line inside and out, and as CONSUMERS we shouldn't make excuses for why it falls short..
Given the benchmarks that I've been seeing, the MBA is not just "good enough" but infact it is a premium product.

The 13" model is faster then the 13" MBP and the 11" blows the doors off any other competing 11" laptop (which are generally netbooks running atom processors). Apple made a smart move on one hand, though I disagree with it. Using an nividia processor. The benchmarks are showing that it was a good move, but I want an 11" laptop not to play games, but for work, so I would have preferred a faster processor.

Still for the price point that apple is selling it, it appears to be a good fast little computer. Initially I was underwhelmed by it, but after doing more research and seeing more benchmarks, I think the 11" is a good laptop.
( Last edited by Maflynn; Oct 28, 2010 at 08:59 AM. Reason: clarification on an awkwardly composed sentence)
~Mike
     
OreoCookie
Moderator
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Hilbert space
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 28, 2010, 08:54 AM
 
Originally Posted by Maflynn View Post
Given the benchmarks that I've been seeing, the MBA is not just good enough but a premium product.
I still think you can argue it is a premium product in its class since most of its competitors are netbooks -- which are cheaper and slower.
Originally Posted by Maflynn View Post
Apple made a smart move on one hand, though I disagree with it. Using an nividia processor. The benchmarks are showing that it was a good move, but I want an 11" laptop not to play games, but for work, so I would have preferred a faster processor.
I think the gpu may be useful for future Apple products. Internet Explorer 9, for instance, does part of the rendering on the gpu and OpenCL + clang/llvm would allow Apple to put the gpu to good use. Of course, I don't really know what to expect since existing software which uses the gpu (e. g. Aperture and Motion) are not necessarily what the Air is made for.

But even if some parts of the browser were to utilize the gpu, for instance, the Air would benefit from having a beefier gpu rather than a faster cpu.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
Maflynn
Professional Poster
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Boston
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 28, 2010, 08:59 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
I still think you can argue it is a premium product in its class since most of its competitors are netbooks -- which are cheaper and slower.
I worded it awkwardly, I actually was trying to make the point that the MBA is a premium product given the released benchmarks.
~Mike
     
OreoCookie
Moderator
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Hilbert space
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 28, 2010, 09:02 AM
 
Ah, ok, I misunderstood that part of your post, sorry.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
Maflynn
Professional Poster
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Boston
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 28, 2010, 09:29 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Ah, ok, I misunderstood that part of your post, sorry.
Not your fault - it was my poorly composed response, as for your comments regarding the GPU. I agree to a point where OSX and apps are relying more on the GPU, but with a laptop that size, there needs to sacrifices. Apple opted for a great GPU and an OK CPU. I think a more potent CPU would have had more dividends for the end user then the GPU for the 11" MBA because you really are limited on what you can do.

Just my $.02
~Mike
     
OreoCookie
Moderator
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Hilbert space
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 28, 2010, 09:32 AM
 
As for the future, I'm interested if Apple considers AMD's new Fusion apus (which contain both, cpus and gpus) for the next version of the Air. It has a pretty good gpu and a very power efficient cpu.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
SSharon
Professional Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Teaneck, NJ
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 28, 2010, 12:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by Maflynn View Post
Not your fault - it was my poorly composed response, as for your comments regarding the GPU. I agree to a point where OSX and apps are relying more on the GPU, but with a laptop that size, there needs to sacrifices. Apple opted for a great GPU and an OK CPU. I think a more potent CPU would have had more dividends for the end user then the GPU for the 11" MBA because you really are limited on what you can do.

Just my $.02
In other words, a guaranteed performance boost today is better than hypothetical performance boost down the road?
AT&T iPhone 5S and 6; 13" MBP; MDD G4.
     
mduell
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Houston, TX
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Oct 28, 2010, 01:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by Maflynn View Post
Given the benchmarks that I've been seeing, the MBA is not just "good enough" but infact it is a premium product.

The 13" model is faster then the 13" MBP and the 11" blows the doors off any other competing 11" laptop (which are generally netbooks running atom processors).
Other OEMs have been shipping 11" netbooks with the exact same CULV processors Apple is using for the last two years.
     
Maflynn
Professional Poster
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Boston
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 3, 2010, 07:00 AM
 
Originally Posted by ninuoejk View Post
You can put two 2GB sticks in,but only 3.3GB will show up.
You cannot put any ram into the new MBAs. The memory is soldered onto the logic board.
~Mike
     
rubberwheels
Fresh-Faced Recruit
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: NYC
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 4, 2010, 12:05 AM
 
With your usage 2GB is more than enough. I have a Macbook Pro and i did things similar to what you wrote. 2GB was more than enough for me.
     
Waragainstsleep
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 4, 2010, 05:41 AM
 
I'll say it again. You'd be really short sighted to buy an Air with 2GB RAM. 4GB will extend the useful life by months if not years.
When I say short sighted, I mean completely insane. I want to be ruder than that, but since I know people on this thread have already gone and bought Airs with 2GB, I'll restrain myself.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
JB007
Fresh-Faced Recruit
Join Date: Nov 2010
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 6, 2010, 08:40 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
I'll say it again. You'd be really short sighted to buy an Air with 2GB RAM. 4GB will extend the useful life by months if not years.
When I say short sighted, I mean completely insane. I want to be ruder than that, but since I know people on this thread have already gone and bought Airs with 2GB, I'll restrain myself.
"Chris" from Sydney Apple Store business team told me this morning that an extra 2Gb made less difference as the SSD obviates much of the need for extra RAM that HDDs have (eg for Buffering).

How true is that?

I was going to wait a week to get a 1.86GHz 13" with 4Gb RAM. Now I am not so sure.

Only doing legal work and have i5 Quad Core i27 for video editing but I am concerned about keeping options open and future-proofing.

Should I keep my $150 (AUD) or is Chris just trying to move current stock?
     
amazing
Professional Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 6, 2010, 09:21 PM
 
Eug posted the following link in the other MBA thread, but it bears repeating here, because it illustrates the value of more RAM for certain uses:

Apple's 11-inch Upgraded MacBook Air: Do 1.6GHz and 4GB Make a Difference? - AnandTech :: Your Source for Hardware Analysis and News
     
P
Moderator
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 7, 2010, 06:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by JB007 View Post
"Chris" from Sydney Apple Store business team told me this morning that an extra 2Gb made less difference as the SSD obviates much of the need for extra RAM that HDDs have (eg for Buffering).

How true is that?
Any modern OS uses RAM and storage sort of interchangably with certain rules - it moves data back and forth to optimize performance to make use of the faster RAM as much as possible. When data that is supposed to be on the disk is in RAM, it is called disk cache. When data that is supposed to be in RAM is on disk, we say that that data has been paged out.

"Chris" has a point that you may not have as much need for a big disk cache as the SSD is so much faster and you do not need to hide that latency, but you will still have a massive performance hit for every page fault, ie when data is needed that is currently paged out. The SSD will mitigate the situation in low memory conditions (as a page fault is less costly), but it won't solve the problem you'd end up in as soon as your "working set" is larger than 2 GB.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
The Evener
Dedicated MacNNer
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 7, 2010, 08:32 PM
 
Hi all,

I'm considering an Air as well, so all of this is food for thought!

"Psssst..."
     
rubberwheels
Fresh-Faced Recruit
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: NYC
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 7, 2010, 10:31 PM
 
I've heard people upgrading to 4GB to future proof themselves. Which I'm considering, 100 bucks isn't bad.
     
Salty
Professional Poster
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Winnipeg, MB
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 8, 2010, 02:44 AM
 
I'm debating an Air for my next machine, it felt zippy in the store, but at the same time it didn't have a ton of things open. There's no way I wouldn't custom order with the best CPU and most RAM when it comes to the Air.
     
tooki
Admin Emeritus
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
Status: Offline
Reply With Quote
Nov 8, 2010, 05:09 AM
 
Originally Posted by audvidsvs View Post
The Genius I spoke to today claimed they were upgrading the Ram in the store?
He even said they had the upgrade in stock?
What he likely meant (bearing in mind that Geniuses don't do sales at all, so they often don't know about what configurations are stocked) is that the Apple Stores probably carry an "ultimate" configuration with all the upgrades. Apple Stores have long carried configurations beyond the ones shown as the standard configs ("good", "better", and "best") on the online store. The likelihood of the stores actually performing any upgrades on the new MBA is between zero and zilch; I wouldn't be surprised if they're not even allowed to do repairs on them beyond replacing batteries.

I am seriously eyeballing an 11" 4GB MBA. When I tried just the 2GB model in the store, it was zippy as hell. I suspect that a MBA would make a kick-ass sidekick to my Mac Pro.
     
   
Thread Tools
 
Forum Links
Forum Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts
BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Top
Privacy Policy
All times are GMT -4. The time now is 11:58 PM.
All contents of these forums © 1995-2017 MacNN. All rights reserved.
Branding + Design: www.gesamtbild.com
vBulletin v.3.8.8 © 2000-2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.,