Buying an m1 iMac for family. Storage or Memory?

Should I get 256g with 16gb memory?

Or 512gb with 8g memory?

No one is going to be launching satellites with this. Probably mostly email and web browsing and school work.

Personally I would go with the 256/16 option as it is pretty cheap to extend storage with external hard-drives if it becomes necessary but with the 8GB or 16GB you are locked in - and I would be afraid that 8GB becomes a bottleneck with macOS and new apps sooner or later.

As often recommended here: always opt for Memory first and storage later if you can/want to afford.

Just my 2c :blush:


Cool. Great perspective. Thank you!

Total of :heavy_dollar_sign:0.04. (16GiB RAM)
Plus Backblaze will back up external drives. (Assuming you use it)

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I agree with @JensV JensV in principal. However, I understand (but might be wrong) that it is no longer possible to add memory to these iMacs. Keeping in mind that these machines are so well-built that they will last a LONG time, get the most memory and disk that is possible in your budget. Maybe even stretch a bit. Yes, easy to add external drives, but it’s inevitable that over time the macOS and other essential stuff will just gobble up more and more disk space, and having that on an internal SSD better than external. 16 gb memory minimum, and as much SSD disk that you can stretch for.


You can’t add either RAM or internal storage to the M1, since it’s all on one big ol’ chip. What you get when you buy the computer is what you get.

With limited exceptions (iCloud Drive sync being notable), things don’t have to be stored on the internal drive. Photo libraries can be relocated, documents can be saved to folders on the external, etc.

And if the machine is an iMac, it’s not going to be leaving the desk. I’d just grab the 256/16 config and, if necessary, grab a Samsung T7 from Amazon. $130 for a terabyte now.

But I agree that if it’s an option, stretching another $200 and upgrading the SSD to 512 would be good future-proofing. And if that’s not an option, consider refurbs. Go to a site like and set a “watch” for a 512/16 iMac. When one comes available refurb, it’ll probably be about the same price as the 256/16 you were planning on getting. :slight_smile:

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I don’t think the 256GB version has Touch ID, if that makes difference to you.

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Just placed the order. M1 with 512gb and upped memory to 16gb. Also sprung for Apple Care. Made sure to let my wife know that this will last us for a really long time. Thanks for weighing in!


ha! my wife: “what color did you get. blue right?” phew.

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My wife has the this iMac in blue and it looks great. The screen I beautiful. You made a great choice to go with 16GB.

Well done, I have to say my own policy now is to get as much of both as I can afford. More or less though I never need more than 1TB of storage. I have way over the amount of ram that I am supposed to need but I find it kicks in, or seems to.

I’m waiting on my wife’s Xmas present to arrive - blue M1 iMac, 16/1tb.

I got the MBA 512 GB with 8 GB RAM. Although I really wanted the 16GB RAM too I probably made the right decision as my hard drive is already half full and I bought this speed demon in July! The most battery intensive I’ll encounter is likely when I am using graphic files while listening to music. My Mac has yet to crash although Photoshop Elements can get mighty persnickety.

I love everything about this machine. Whereas I tend to do a bit of hunting and pecking, often enough, my fingers simply fly across this phenomenal keyboard.

I am certain I will be filling up most of the hard drive. I doubt I’ll need the RAM soon but rather eventually which I likely will. Right now I don’t need it. And for once I have everything religiously backed up (my photos, in particular, in a few places) although I always did use Time Machine.

But as users have indicated, you can always transfer files to an external hard drive. That can be sort of a pain in the neck, then again at least it is an option.

I missed that you are getting an iMac!

Kevin, now you never know when NASA will come pounding on your door!

That is a good idea if it is permanently hooked up! I was thinking of the way I have it set up… ie not tethered.

I think I use to have it set up like that on one of my old laptops as I had Time Machine going all the time.

Before the transition to ARM architecture, I’d have said upgrade the RAM first.

I did get a Mac mini with 8GB however, and my own experience echoes the videos on YouTube: At least when browsing in Safari there seems to be no practical limit to the number of tabs I can have open - which is similarly true for my (2019) iPad mini, which has literally 100 tabs open in Safari at the moment - and no problem with slowdowns (though it will obviously reload the older tabs when switching).

Lack of internal storage space leads many people go to messy workarounds. While you can technically easily “upgrade” with an external storage medium (USB HDD), this doesn’t play well with applications that depend on libraries (Music, Photos), especially when losing the connection.

Also, many users tend to end up with setup where the external storage medium isn’t backed up to Time Machine - but rather not at all, actually.


Way to go, Kevin!!! You did it!

I have an 8GB memory Mi Mini Mac and as soon as possible I will need to upgrade it to a 16GB. I find two or three productivity tools and a dozen browser tabs throw it over its limit. As others have said an external hard drive is simple enough but you can’t upgrade the memory.