Macbook Air RAM question

Do I obsess too much about RAM? Let me explain. I have a Mac Mini with 16G RAM and an Intel i5 processor. I have my eye on a Macbook Air with 8G RAM and an M2 processor. I am not a gamer nor do I render many videos, but I’ve trained myself to believe more RAM is better. My hunch is that the M2 Macbook Air with only 8 G of RAM will run circles around my Mac Mini, but I need reassurance. What say ye?

I would recommend the one with 16 GB of RAM. That’s what I chose for my MBA M1 when it came out and it’s been perfect.


Apple Silicon Macs make use of every bit of memory that you give them. You will be happier with 16GB in your MBA (once you get done paying for it). :slightly_smiling_face:

Besides if I were going to buy an M2 MacBook Air, I’d be getting 24GB in it!


In addition to the 16gm recommendation which I support from @jvet, try to get enough disk space to grow with. I doubt 500gb is the right number. If it is a personal financial choice RAM vs. disk space, IMHO, diskspace more important if for no other reason it can assist in swapping memory for, say, an 8GB machine and you’ll not notice.


My M1 Mac Mini has only 8GB and it’s been fine running 6-8 apps at a time. That said, I don’t use it nearly as much as my iPad Pro. My iPad Pro has 8GB of RAM and is my daily computer, 8+ hours use a day with 10-12 apps being used all day with no problem: In the past 2 hours I’ve bounced around between Affinity Publisher, Safari, Mail, Reeder, Files, Messages, Mona, Numbers, iAWriter and Music with no problem.

Generally, if you’re using it for light-to-medium tasks I think you’re good with 8GB. One caveat, if you intend to use an 2nd, external display with it then go with the 16GB. I’ve heard/read that driving a second display with 8GB of RAM can cause sluggishness.


Given that there is no easy way to get a non standard config without an horrendous wait or shipping costs here in Cyprus I bought the 8gb M2 to replace my 2017 MacBook Pro.

I run it almost exclusively docked to a second USB-c monitor with no loss of performance I have noticed.

I did decide to swap the Dropbox client for Maestral and find Firefox less hungry than Safari but no, no issues at all.

1 Like

Remember that you (@Kaskew) are talking to people who live by the rule, “Always buy as much memory and storage as you can afford.” But if you are on a tight budget, go small, and next time you get a new Mac, you can shoot the moon with your configuration. :slightly_smiling_face:

Apple Silicon Macs are amazing. They will do what you ask them to and make it look easy. But you would find that more memory is put to use if you were to run the same load on a 16GB machine. And I think it is even more important than in the past to avoid swapping to your storage drive. SSD’s do not take kindly to excessive writing and re-writing. They get used up faster.


Your comments and others have convinced me to bite the bullet. What’re a few hundred dollars spread over the useful life of a Mac? :grinning:


Spoken like a true Apple user!

I’m pretty sure my Apple Silicon MacBook Air will last me a long time. As far as the hardware goes, it feels more like an iPad than a desktop computer. By that I mean it is lightweight, compact, silent, stays cool, and doesn’t seem to be wearing out! The iPads I’ve had likewise never seemed to wear out. I’ve had to drop an iPad or give it away before I could get a new one. :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like

As a general rule, I disagree with this UNLESS you have a bunch of data that absolutely must go on the main drive. Your 8 GB MacBook will never use more than 8-10 GB of swap most likely, and you can always hang a mini SSD off the laptop if you get hard up for disk space. You can never add RAM.

1 Like

Turns out AI is remarkably good at arguing on the Internet. Me to ChatGPT:

I’m planning to buy a new MacBook, and I’m wondering if it’s more important to spend money on more disk space or more RAM. Talk me into spending the money on disk space.

ChatGPT’s response:
Sure! When it comes to buying a new MacBook, both disk space and RAM are important factors to consider, but if you’re looking for reasons to prioritize spending your money on disk space, here are a few compelling arguments:

  1. Storage capacity for your files: Disk space determines how much data you can store on your MacBook. If you work with large files, such as high-resolution images, videos, or audio recordings, you’ll need ample storage space to keep them all. Additionally, as software and applications continue to evolve and require more space, having sufficient disk space ensures that you won’t run out of room for your files and can easily manage your data without constantly having to offload files to external storage devices.
  2. Convenience and productivity: Having ample disk space allows you to keep your files organized and easily accessible on your MacBook without having to constantly juggle files between different devices or cloud storage. It means you can work more efficiently, access your files quickly, and avoid the hassle of managing storage space constraints.
  3. Future-proofing your MacBook: Buying a MacBook with more disk space now can also future-proof your device. As file sizes continue to grow with advancements in media and technology, having more disk space ensures that your MacBook remains capable of accommodating future storage needs without needing an upgrade in the near future. It’s a wise investment that can save you from having to buy additional storage or upgrading your MacBook sooner than you’d like.
  4. Flexibility for multimedia projects: If you plan to use your MacBook for multimedia projects like video editing, music production, or graphic design, you’ll likely need a significant amount of storage space to store project files, media assets, and software installations. Insufficient disk space can significantly impact your workflow and may result in performance issues. Having ample disk space allows you to work seamlessly on your multimedia projects without worrying about storage limitations.
  5. Resale value: A MacBook with higher disk space generally holds better resale value. If you plan to sell or upgrade your MacBook in the future, having more disk space can be an attractive selling point for potential buyers, as it offers them greater storage capacity for their needs. This can translate into a higher resale value and potentially recoup some of your initial investment.

In conclusion, while both disk space and RAM are important, having ample disk space in your MacBook can offer you greater convenience, productivity, future-proofing, flexibility for multimedia projects, and even better resale value. It’s worth considering investing in more disk space to ensure that your MacBook meets your storage needs and can serve you well in the long run.

1 Like

And the counter perspective. Me to ChatGPT:

I’m planning to buy a new MacBook, and I’m wondering if it’s more important to spend money on more disk space or more RAM. Talk me into spending the money on RAM.


Absolutely! When it comes to choosing between disk space and RAM for your MacBook, here are some compelling reasons to consider investing in more RAM:

  1. Performance and speed: RAM (Random Access Memory) plays a crucial role in the performance and speed of your MacBook. It acts as a temporary storage space for data that your MacBook is actively using, allowing the processor to quickly access and manipulate that data. With more RAM, your MacBook can handle more tasks simultaneously, run resource-intensive applications smoothly, and switch between apps more efficiently, resulting in a faster and more responsive overall performance.
  2. Multitasking and productivity: If you’re someone who tends to work with multiple applications or browser tabs open at once, or if you frequently run resource-intensive tasks such as video editing, virtual machines, or 3D modeling, having more RAM can significantly enhance your multitasking capabilities. It allows you to smoothly switch between applications without experiencing slowdowns or lag, which can boost your productivity and workflow.
  3. Future-proofing your MacBook: Just like disk space, having ample RAM can also help future-proof your MacBook. As software and applications become more demanding over time, having more RAM can ensure that your MacBook remains capable of handling future updates and newer software versions without experiencing performance issues. This can save you from having to upgrade your MacBook’s RAM in the near future.
  4. Gaming and multimedia: If you’re into gaming or multimedia editing, having more RAM can greatly benefit you. Many modern games and multimedia applications require a significant amount of RAM to run smoothly, especially when dealing with high-resolution graphics, complex effects, or large datasets. Investing in more RAM can help ensure a smoother gaming experience and seamless multimedia editing, without frustrating lags or crashes.
  5. Flexibility for virtualization: If you plan to use virtualization software, such as running virtual machines, having more RAM is crucial. Virtualization requires a significant amount of memory to create and run virtual environments, and having more RAM allows you to allocate sufficient resources to your virtual machines, ensuring smooth performance and stability.

In summary, while both disk space and RAM are important, investing in more RAM can greatly impact the performance, multitasking capabilities, future-proofing, gaming and multimedia experience, and flexibility for virtualization on your MacBook. If you use resource-intensive applications, multitask frequently, or plan to use your MacBook for gaming or multimedia editing, spending money on more RAM can be a wise investment to enhance your overall user experience.

1 Like

Hey @webwalrus, did you just make the MPU forum obsolete? No more posting for me, I guess. :rofl:


AI isn’t just coming for our jobs - it’s coming for our hobbies and leisure time too. :smiley:

1 Like

For historical reasons, I have three active Macs:

  • an M2 MBA with 8GB memory
  • an M1 MacBook Pro 16 inch with much more memory
  • a MacStudio with even more memory

As far as I can tell, the M2 MBA is just as fast and usable as the others.

I do - internet stuff, writing stuff, watching stuff, zoom and teams, and so on.

Hope this helps.

1 Like

@webwalrus that was an interesting dive into AI!

To answer the original question, the new one with 8GB will run rings round the old one.
If you can afford it, 16GB will be nice.
If you are price sensitive, 8GB will be absolutely fine for almost anything you do.
Almost definitely.


More RAM is better but unified memory with Apple Silicon means that every Gb of RAM in an M1/2 Mac is just worth more than a Gb in an Intel computer. I used a 13" M1 MPB with 8Gb and it was fine for all the things I was doing - but I wasn’t editing 4k video.

I would still recommend that 16Gb is the minimum you should aim for in most cases, if you have the budget. 32 on a MacBook Pro if you can just because of the likely use cases. I don’t necessarily recommend just maxing out the RAM as a matter of course. macOS for a long time (since before Apple Silicon) has made an effort to make good use of your RAM - the more you have, the more it will load into memory for quick access - this is efficient for the system but doesn’t necessarily make a perceptible difference to use.

Also, Mac SSDs (even the ‘slower’ 512Gb ones which is an absolute nontroversy) are crazy fast for swap - so even if you’re using the swap you’re probably not going to notice in most cases.

TL;DR: If you have the budget get 16 but if you don’t 8 is gonna be just fine.


I use a M1 iMac with 16gb at home and a 2015 MBA with 8gb when on the road. With the larger screen I tend to keep more apps open on the iMac so the 16gb helps. Rarely get more than 60% on memory pressure. On the MBA I rarely run more than a couple of apps at a time. If I ever replace the MBA I will probably go with 16gb on it.

+1 same and so happy with it