How much RAM do you really need?

I generally run with 0 swap too. I had a few hundred old bookmarks that I opened in browser tabs to take advantage of in-browser sorting plugins and such, and at the height of the insanity I checked my swap. I was back to zero after an hour or so. :slight_smile:


I can’t find any useful information showing that the extra swapping is putting all that much strain on the SSDs. Those many tabs that your friend accumulates may well sit in place for long periods before they are accessed again. Does that really degrade the SSD? There is no useful data on this issue that I can find. The usual findings on SSDs are that they last from 5 to 10 years on computers that probably have a lot of swapping going on. There are many Macs with old SSDs still in use, including a 2010 MacBook Air that I gave to a friend.

Why Apple would essentially push people to buy base models with the least amount of memory? At times it is difficult to buy the models with more memory and some vendors will only sell the base models (e.g., Costco). At my Apple store, the base models are usually the only models they have in stock. Clearly, Apple’s marketing strategy is to sell base models with the least amount of memory.

It would be very cynical of Apple to sell so many of these unrepairable base models knowing that the SSDs will die an early death because of swapping, and, also, knowing that people will be forced to upgrade because of poor performance as software is updated. I think Apple knows their own hardware and that they have figured out the majority of users only need the base models.

I absolutely do NOT need a Mac Mini with the pro chip and 32G of RAM. No way I need that kind of juice!

…but it’ll be here on Thursday (shhhhhh, don’t tell my significant other!) :dizzy_face:


I no longer future-proof because future-proofing is no longer viable.

If your working from a base model consider that to get to 64GB ram costs an extra £800 and to get to 32GB £400. There’s no guarantee what technology will do in the next 5 years (just talk to those who bought intel a year before the M series started)

At the extortionate price for RAM, I now only buy base models and replace them when needed. Apple’s ridiculous pricing has excluded upgrades from being viable. Why pay double for a device just because I want more RAM and hard disk space? I’ll wait and invest that in a new base model a few years down the line.


Swapping to SSD disk must necessarily wear the disk, as they are mostly optimized for reads, not writes. The interesting question is what’s the impact of that wear on the life of the SSD when compared with expected useful life of the computer. As a data point, my dad uses a 2013 Macbook Air with lots of Chrome tabs and the 256GB SSD should have been totally degradated after almost ten years, but he is still happy with the computer. Of course, not a power user by any means.


I have no data to back up this statement but just the opinion that nerds are way too focused on these “issues”. Issues like SSD wear as well as future proofing as well as microseconds of performance. We are the tiny minority. Certainly some people really do need the extra memory because they really are doing tasks that require it. And honestly, I think some people overbuy because they just want to have the best whether they need it or not.

It’s probably likely that the vast majority of users go about their lives not thinking a whole lot about any of this (hence the Amazon reviews noted above). With SSD for swap and especially with the new M1, M2 etc going forward, most people not doing the small handful of truly intensive workflows will be just fine. I suspect that the majority of Mac users probably use their computers similarly to the way they use their iPhone or iPad. Mostly for web browsing, mail, photos and a few of the other causal “consumption” sorts of things. And I’d further speculate that Apple knows this. Sure, their marketing is all about aspirational creation with young creators making their movie or album. That’s marketing.

Even for those that actually use their computer for “real work” be they students or otherwise, are likely doing that work using Microsoft Office, Google Docs or other apps that are well served with an 8GB M1 computer. My sister works 8 hours a day in the admin office of a school using a 4 year old Windows laptop, vastly underpowered compared to a new Mac and she get’s along just fine.


If I had to choose between SSD and RAM, I personally would choose SSD. While I’ve never run out of RAM on my 8GB machine (maybe it swapped to SSD without me knowing) I have run out of disk space and ended up offloading my photo library to an external SSD.

Even if swapping did cause noticeable wear and tear on an SSD, a larger disk would allow damaged sectors to be intelligently skipped.

As an aside, on my old Mac Mini I ended up booting from an external SSD which performed well.


At this point, we have over two years of SSD health data from the original 8GB M1s. SSD wear is clocking in under 5%, 2-3% for typical cases, meaning they should easily last longer than most people would want to keep the computer. SSD wear shouldn’t be a factor in the purchase.


Which app do I use to find this information about my SSDs?

smartmontools - brew install smartmontools and then smartctl -a disk0

(Run diskutil list to get your primary diskname if disk0 turns out not to be the name of your disk.)


I don’t even know if I’ve visited over 100 sites in the last year lol.

1 Like

To be fair, I don’t know if she’s visited 100 sites in the past year either. I just know she still has the tabs open - I have no idea if she’s looked at them. :smiley:

1 Like