M1 8GB or 16GB?

I know there’s been a rush of feedback on the question of RAM in the new M1 Macs, but I am looking for some feedback after a few weeks of regular use.

The clear answer in most cases is “get as much RAM as you can afford,” but this is a completely new architecture and it sounds like many are finding 8GB to be the new 16GB.

Does anyone have any feedback after using both an 8GB M1 and a 16GB M1? Is it worth the cost and the wait time (currently about a month out for a 16GB M1 Mac Mini).

What will you be doing with the laptop?

Do you generally keep machines for a long time? It’s non-upgradeable, and RAM usage always seems to go up with time.

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Caveat: I have not used the 8GB M1, but I have a 16GB version. Here are my thoughts.

No, 8GB is not the new 16GB. 16GB is still 16GB, and 8GB is still 8GB.

8GB now might be better than 8GB then, but it’s not 16GB.

When I log in and check Activity Monitor, it shows that I have 9GB used before I have done anything except launch my login apps (which aren’t excessive).

I rebooted less than a day ago and I have almost 6 GB of swap used. The good news is that the M1 doesn’t feel like it has been swapping, but it has been swapping.

IMO, Apple should have put the baseline at 16GB but left it at 8GB to hit specific price points and profit margins. If you’re only using it for “light Internet” (I don’t even know what that means), word processing, email, etc. then you can probably “get away with” 8GB but if you plan to do more and keep it for any length of time I’d get the 16GB.

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I’m looking at the Mac Mini. My main computer is a 16-inch MBP (the 512/16GB).

I usually keep my everyday work machine three years. My current Mac mini is a late 2014 that I converted into a file server when I purchased a 16-inch MBP in 2019.

As far as an everyday computer, I prefer a desktop verses a laptop, although I use a laptop quite a bit. (At least I did when I used to leave my house.)

TJ makes good points. This is a pretty typical login/light use situation on this 8GB.

Where you’ll get interesting results is if you do something that needs a lot of memory, like run an Xcode project. The 4.5GB requirement for the top process is either running from swap or pushed a bunch of other things to swap during the build. On a 16GB this probably wouldn’t have happened unless you had a lot of other apps running.

Ok, here is the true confession: in my mind, the Mac Mini is a way to give the M1 a whirl without giving up my 16-inch MBP.

BUT, I honestly can’t remember the last time I purchased a computer with less than 16GB of memory. One side of my brain is saying, “you can do it…this is just a secondary machine…you don’t need the extra memory…” but the other side is saying, “you call yourself a ‘Mac Power User’ and you’re considering an 8GB machine? Loser! Don’t do it! 8GB is for grandmas who use their Mac to play solitaire and spend hours sharing pictures of plastic flowers on Facebook.”

That is the dilemma. Ugh. I know, it is personal, and I probably need a therapist more than computer hardware advice. :slight_smile:

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I don’t do any coding, but the most intense application I use is recording and editing with Screenflow, which is not compatible with the M1 at this point (per their website).

I also edit photos in Lightroom as a hobbyist.

So far, the 8GB Mac Mini has been much better than I had thought it would be. I do deal with large Office documents and basic video editing, but nothing very complex on that machine. I only planned on using it as a server, but appreciated the ease of use and no fans so much, I prefer it to the 32GB 16” MBP when I am home.

There is the planner in me that wishes I waited for the 16GB config, but I needed to get it in as a business expense this year…at least that is what I tell myself. :smiley:

I do hit the 6-7 GB used range, with multiple apps open, but it doesn’t seem to impact the performance. While I may only be able to use it daily for another year or so, I’ll enjoy it while it lasts…:slight_smile:

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The difference between 8 and 16 GB is only $200. Yes, you’ll have to wait a bit longer for the 16GB model, but that and the additional cost is a small price to pay to avoid regretting buying too little memory.

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I have an Intel Mac Mini with 32 gigabytes of RAM and a six-core processor, and there are times it struggles with loading very large documents into Screenflow. I know the M1 is optimized for handling certain video-related tasks, but if I were doing Screenflow and were considering the possibility of having to process larger videos and such in the future, I’d future-proof and grab the 16 GB.

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I bit the bullet and bought my wife a new MacBook Air with 16 GB RAM and 1 TB SSD drive for Christmas (which she will actually get mid January). My rationale is that I will tell here that this is the last computer she will ever need.

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You will never regret getting more RAM. You will almost certainly regret getting less. If you can afford it, get 16GB; it’s the minimum that any computer should be purchased with these days when even “web browsing” mostly means downloading large and profoundly inefficient javascript programs and running them in your browser.

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Telestream expects that update to come very soon, according to this thread — just not quite yet.

Unless something really unanticipated happens, though, I expect Screenflow 9 will be fully compatible well before my Air arrives mid-January.

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Right: Going to less is bizarre - unless you can’t afford it. Personally, I will defer purchase until I’ve saved up enough to configure it right.

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I haven’t seen any real-world demonstrations so far that suggest 8GB is not sufficient for anything a power user will throw at it. As in, all I’ve seen is that if you open a ton of apps then flick back to the first one, it might taken a fraction of a second longer. Once you’re in (that fraction of a second later) it appears to run perfectly smoothly.
The memory architecture and 2x SSD seem to work as intended.

If there are any real world examples of a problem, please tell me because I still have time to change my order!

Personally, I went with 8GB and a big SSD because I think that’s where I’ll see the difference (all my audio and video internal for FCP and S1 so my mobile computer is fully mobile, plus all my iCloud synced and photos and music for quality of life benefit. Spending to get 1TB makes more sense for my use case). And I’m resisting the perpetual upgrade spiral :slight_smile:

Also, the idea that a Power User needs a specced up computer is nonsensical to me. For me, it’s more about getting the most out of the machine you have.

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Depending on workload of individuals. Interestingly 9to5Mac article suggests 8GB on M1 is good enough for most users.

In 1992 I had to decide whether to equip my new PC with a huge 20 Megabyte hard drive or an unfathomable 40 Megabyte upgrade. 40 Megabytes of storage seemed preposterously beyond any data I could collect for a decade or more. But I went with the 40 Megabyes and a few years later after some great database applications and a nascent internet had emerged, 40 Megabytes started to seem limiting and on to the next upgrade I went.

Such has been the case repeatedly for a dozen or so upgrade cycles since then.

Hard as it is to imagine, no doubt the same will be true for an M1 machine you buy today.

Put another way - I have never yet bought a computer with specs to the max and then a couple years later felt that I had gone overboard and did not make use of the capability I bought. Can anyone relate a different story, i.e. where you realized a couple years or more down the road that you bought excess capability on your personal computer?

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tell that to Chrome
** insert Chrome meme **

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