Q: Macbook Air RAM - 2GB enough?

sugosugita

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Is 2GB RAM in a macbook air with an SSD enough to keep it useable for normal situations? I'm talking a couple programs open, ten browser tabs open, etc.

Or is 4GB kind of a minimum these days to not get a sluggish desktop?
 

ferrisnox

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Oct 11, 2004
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It can be enough for today, but how about tomorrow. With the ram being soldered to the board, I would recommend going with 4Gb as a minimum if you can. I'm a heavy user and 4Gb seems just fine for everything I do.
 

voklskier4452

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OSX is pretty efficient with ram but it is also very agressive with how it doles out ram so having more is never a bad thing. I would definitely upgrade to 4gb just to make sure you don't slow down unnecessarily. When I get home I can give you an idea of how much ram my rMBP uses with those types of programs open.
 

shoota

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The problem is I don't think the ram in MBA are upgradeable. 2gb might be ok for minimal usage but my guess is you'll feel it in the not so distant future.
 

Shadohh

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Its not terrible with 2gb. The SSD really helps to hide that it only has 2gb.

It really depends on your use case.

As the others have said, macbook air ram is soldered, so its best to get as much as you can for the future. (this will also help resale value)
 

sugosugita

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this would be for the wife, and she's one of those classic browser-only kind of people. I figure from your responses 2G RAM would work fine, especially if it's got an SSD.
 

mope54

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mavericks will make it feel like 4gb with the memory compression and sleep features
mountain lion isn't a memory hog it just caches aggressively so you never have much unused memory (which is actually a good thing). almost all users vastly over-estimate their memory needs because they want "free" RAM rather than paying attention to their page-outs (lower is better)

I used to think that 4gb was minimum but now the current trend is for efficiency rather than features so that's less of a concern now and in the future (somewhat counter-intuitively)
 

metril

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@mope54

Do you know how "memory compression" works?

Please, if you don't know then don't make up false claims. It is not "memory compression". Rather, it is called "memory deduplication". Deduplication is great, but it is not a 100% solve all if you have a low amount of RAM. Memory deduplication has been around at the application level. Heck, Chrome is a great example of this in that Chrome only stores common items between browser tabs and windows, one time in memory. Only items that are different get stored again. In Mavericks, it is supposed to be implemented at the OS level. Even then, it's not going to make your 2GB RAM look or behave like 4 GB of RAM.

Update: There is a type of "compression" for memory, but it will not "double" your RAM. Only certain parts of an application's memory can be "compressed".
 
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mope54

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@mope54

Do you know how "memory compression" works?

Please, if you don't know then don't make up false claims. It is not "memory compression". Rather, it is called "memory reduplication". [...] it will not "double" your RAM

Compressed Memory.
For an even quicker, more responsive Mac.

Room to run.

The more memory your Mac has at its disposal, the faster it works. But when you have multiple apps running, your Mac uses more memory. With OS X Mavericks, Compressed Memory allows your Mac to free up memory space when you need it most. As your Mac approaches maximum memory capacity, OS X automatically compresses data from inactive apps, making more memory available.
-- http://www.apple.com/osx/preview/advanced-technologies.html

In OS X Mavericks, Apple has implemented memory compression features that, like RAM Doubler, compresses the RAM used by inactive programs so the overall memory footprint of a given set of open applications can be far less.

The memory compression works by a dictionary-based WKdm algorithm, and utilizes multiple cores of the system's CPU to shrink the memory usage of inactive applications by more than 50 percent.

This should allow you to get more done without the system resorting to as much memory paging, where it writes memory contents to disk in order to free up RAM for other uses.
-- http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13727_...ression-brings-ram-doubler-to-os-x-mavericks/
 

metril

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@mope54

And as a developer, I am telling you that it does not shrink by "50%". It does reduce the memory usage when an application is dormant, but it can only operate on certain parts of an application's memory. If you were to "compress" all the memory (which you can't), you would cause the application to crash.

I rather the OP not make a wrong decision based on information that really doesn't explain if memory "compression" will even be beneficial to him or her for his or her usage case.

And again, you don't know how this memory compression works, so it's wrong for you to go and say that 2GB of RAM "will feel like 4GB". Please understand that. Your sources are nothing more than PR releases. I am not attacking you. Rather, I don't want people to expect memory compression to be like "magic".
 

mope54

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my sources are I'm an Apple Developer and I am using Mavericks

under Mavericks when an application is dormant it's put to sleep. You don't know what you're talking about. You don't know the new features and, in fact, weren't even aware that Mavericks had memory compression.

frankly, this canard how everything positive attributed to Apple is somehow "magic" is annoying. If you're going to troll please do so elsewhere


regardless, the fact of the matter is people are using 2GB Airs with operating systems all the way up to the current Mountain Lion release without issue and Mavericks is more efficient and will only make the experience better
A 2GB Air will work perfectly fine for his wife while she's browsing the internet.
 

UnknownSouljer

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Getting back on topic....

Is 2GB RAM in a macbook air with an SSD enough to keep it useable for normal situations? I'm talking a couple programs open, ten browser tabs open, etc.

Or is 4GB kind of a minimum these days to not get a sluggish desktop?

I think a big part of the equation is what is "normal"?

I do Photoshop editing almost every day, 2GB of RAM would be miserable. I also have 12 programs running now, that's a few more than "normal" for me, but I probably have 8-9 programs open all the time. Out of those programs I have three browser windows open with 30 tabs between them.

2GB isn't acceptable for me at this point. If this machine is only going to be used to browse and play Facebook games, it'll be fine. You could probably even do some Photoshop stuff on it, sluggishly, but I wouldn't want to have anything else open while I'm doing it. Not even music playing.

At this point, especially with MBA ram not being upgradeable, I don't think it makes sense to go any less than 4, and preferably 8 if you can help it. But going back to your opening question, if it's just browsing, casual games, and word documents, then yeah, 2GB will be passable.
 

Nonchalance

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With the factors of future-proofing/resell/performance in demanding programs in mind, 4 would seem like the obvious choice. But if those are non-issues, which it sounds like is the case here, and it's literally using used as a nice browser laptop, then 2 should be able to handle things fine.
 

turb0

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Depends on how long you really want to keep it and how much you want to weigh in on future proofing.

Overall, programs and OS's are getting bigger and require more memory. Yeah, Maverick will have memory compression but I'd rather have 4GB to compress rather than just 2GB.

If you plan to keep this for a while, I'd just do the 4 and not worry about it. cost is minimal if you plan to keep this for 4+ years and use daily.
 

sugosugita

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Thanks for the feedback guys. The Air we ended up buying is used and has 2GB, the dude never upgraded it so it's running 10.5.8 (lulz). Surprisingly very snappy for web browsing and light Office work.

I think I'm going to buy a 1.8" SSD and wait for Mavericks to come out, then re-install the OS. Hopefully that will give it a few more years.

Interestingly, enough, this is attempt number four at a decent wife-compatible computer. The first was a lousy Acer netbook that lasted a couple years, the second attempt was a Chromebook (too radical of a shift despite web browsing being the main useage scenario), then a Samsung ATIV W8 tablet with keyboard dock (again, just a weird OS in general for newbies), so we got the Air and she's been happy.

I'm the first guy to criticize the womenfolk who are given $2,000 "facebook machines" but we got a good deal on this puppy.
 
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