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MBA 2020 - 8GB vs. 16GB RAM
Posted by: DavidS
Date: November 27, 2021 02:14PM
I've always tried to max out the RAM when buying laptops. We are getting my daughter a 2020 MBA (w/512GB SSD) for Chanukah. There are deals on the 8GB model but not much on the 16GB. She will be upgrading from a hand-me-down 2014 MBA and will be using this for the next 4 years at least, mostly school work. Is the speed difference noticeable or will she be fine with 8GB instead of maxing it out at 16GB?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/27/2021 02:15PM by DavidS.
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Re: MBA 2020 - 8GB vs. 16GB RAM
Posted by: space-time
Date: November 27, 2021 02:27PM
Here we go again. I am getting the pop-corn.
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Re: MBA 2020 - 8GB vs. 16GB RAM
Posted by: DavidS
Date: November 27, 2021 02:33PM
Quote
space-time
Here we go again. I am getting the pop-corn.

I looked back for previous discussions and could not find much. I'll check again. Instead of a smart-a$$ comment, an answer or link would be preferred. RollingEyesSmiley5
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Re: MBA 2020 - 8GB vs. 16GB RAM
Posted by: raz
Date: November 27, 2021 02:40PM
The “hard drive” speed on the new machines is so fast that it shouldn’t make much of a difference.

Unless she’s trying to render video or similar huge memory intensive applications.



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Re: MBA 2020 - 8GB vs. 16GB RAM
Posted by: Zoidberg
Date: November 27, 2021 02:40PM
Quote
DavidS
Quote
space-time
Here we go again. I am getting the pop-corn.

I looked back for previous discussions and could not find much. I'll check again. Instead of a smart-a$$ comment, an answer or link would be preferred. RollingEyesSmiley5

There are a few articles online that discuss the System-on-Chip architecture and how RAM caching is handled, if I remember all the terminology correctly. (trying to find my folder of links, but not seeing it; I did a lot of research on this back when the M1 first bowed in).

Regardless, regarding the M1: "Apple claims that the M1 can achieve its strong performance in part because of its unified memory architecture (UMA), which allows the CPU and GPU to both easily access relevant data without having to slow things down by copying it around." (from [arstechnica.com])

This article at how-to geek goes into some specifics, and is a good read.

I'm in the same boat; years of Intel-based Macs wanting/needing as much RAM as I could cram in it has me hard-wired to thinking this is how it has to be, but that might not be the case anymore.







Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/27/2021 02:42PM by Zoidberg.
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Re: MBA 2020 - 8GB vs. 16GB RAM
Posted by: DavidS
Date: November 27, 2021 02:52PM
Thanks, Zoidberg. I also just found this link from back in January. It answered my question.
[forums.macresource.com]



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/27/2021 02:54PM by DavidS.
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Re: MBA 2020 - 8GB vs. 16GB RAM
Posted by: jdc
Date: November 27, 2021 03:16PM
EDIT -- watch for sales, the base MBA was $750 just a week ago? next best price is refurb direct from apple, $850. Refrub is as good as new. [www.apple.com]

haven changed my advice: 8 is plenty for her.

All of our M1s have 8, wife uses her for VPN into work PC, zooms -- kids use theirs for high school work. Oldest doest social media for a few of my clients.

never a hicuup.

some fodder, these are about 20 minutes each -- total apple fanboi, so some of it is over the top but its exactly what you are asking for

M1 16 vs 8 [www.youtube.com]

Intel MBA vs M1 MBA: [www.youtube.com]

long term: [www.youtube.com]





Edited 999 time(s). Last edit at 12:08PM by jdc.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/27/2021 03:19PM by jdc.
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Re: MBA 2020 - 8GB vs. 16GB RAM
Posted by: macphanatic
Date: November 27, 2021 03:53PM
My understanding is that as long as the SSD doesn't hit roughly 80% full, there is little difference between the 8 and 16 gig machines. One of the reviews I read said to spend on the larger SSD capacity before getting the 16 gig ram.
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Re: MBA 2020 - 8GB vs. 16GB RAM
Posted by: sekker
Date: November 27, 2021 04:07PM
Quote
macphanatic
My understanding is that as long as the SSD doesn't hit roughly 80% full, there is little difference between the 8 and 16 gig machines. One of the reviews I read said to spend on the larger SSD capacity before getting the 16 gig ram.

This has been wise advice on Macs long before M1 models, but seems to be even truer with these new chips.

I swear the main reason my Better Half ran into RAM issues was because she kept 100 tabs open in Chrome.
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Re: MBA 2020 - 8GB vs. 16GB RAM
Posted by: RAMd®d
Date: November 27, 2021 05:39PM
RAM caching, and swap files are the issue.

When you run out of RAM, some of that memory is written to the drive as storage to be accessed when needed.

Storage is usually slower than RAM, so accessing the data cached to the drive slows performance.

The larger the swap files on one's drive, the more impact they've placed on speed.

My 'Book use is light enough that 8G RAM on an M1 is wicked fast, and if there are swap files, then I haven't noticed any impact on speed (but I haven't check for them).

And the caching only applies to those times when one is using memory intensive apps.

I have a bad habit of having a lot of tabs open and sometimes both Safari and Firefox.

I don't know of any browser that is really lean and highly functional, yadda yadda.

My 2012 mini with 16G RAM would slow down and swap files got large and the drive is slow, so on my M1 mini order, I opted for 16G.

It may well be overkill, but it will keep me from even wondering, and I keep my kit for a long time, usually, and there's a degree of futureproofing that makes me smile.

Hopefully you can figure out what your daughter will be doing, but 8G in an M1 isn't 8G in her father's Olds.






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Re: MBA 2020 - 8GB vs. 16GB RAM
Posted by: jdc
Date: November 27, 2021 06:35PM
Quote
sekker
This has been wise advice on Macs long before M1 models, but seems to be even truer with these new chips.

Agreed.

Quote
RAMd®d
When you run out of RAM, some of that memory is written to the drive as storage to be accessed when needed.
Storage is usually slower than RAM, so accessing the data cached to the drive slows performance.

Tech has caught up. The drive in the MBA is rated at over 2000 Read/3000 write MB/s. Spinner in your MBA might have got 50.

Any "ram swapping" is nearly negated by this fact.

If you want a deep dive, there are more tests on the 14/16 MBP with 16/32/64 GB of ram where they hit swap really hard... but since the have 5000+ GB/s drives for swap... there's practically zero slowdown.

Dont get caught up in the minutia, 8 is more than enough.





Edited 999 time(s). Last edit at 12:08PM by jdc.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/27/2021 06:35PM by jdc.
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Re: MBA 2020 - 8GB vs. 16GB RAM
Posted by: space-time
Date: November 27, 2021 07:20PM
Quote
DavidS
Quote
space-time
Here we go again. I am getting the pop-corn.

I looked back for previous discussions and could not find much. I'll check again. Instead of a smart-a$$ comment, an answer or link would be preferred. RollingEyesSmiley5

Sorry, I know there are 2 camps, those who say get all the RAM you can get now (and I am one of them) and those who say "meh, 8 is enough" and jdc is one one them.
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Re: MBA 2020 - 8GB vs. 16GB RAM
Posted by: RAMd®d
Date: November 27, 2021 07:45PM
Tech has caught up.


I am well aware of that:

My 'Book use is light enough that 8G RAM on an M1 is wicked fast, and if there are swap files, then I haven't noticed any impact on speed (but I haven't check for them).






I am that Masked Man.

Your boos mean nothing to me, I've seen what you cheer for.

Insisting on your rights without acknowledging your responsibilities isn’t freedom, it’s adolescence.

I've been to the edge of the map, and there be monsters.

We are a government of laws, not men.

Everybody counts or nobody counts.

When a good man is hurt,
all who would be called good
must suffer with him.

You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead.

There is no safety for honest men except
by believing all possible evil of evil men.

We don’t do focus groups. They just ensure that you don’t offend anyone, and produce bland inoffensive products. —Sir Jonathan Ive

An armed society is a polite society.
And hope is a lousy defense.

You make me pull, I'll put you down.

I *love* SIGs. It's Glocks I hate.
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Re: MBA 2020 - 8GB vs. 16GB RAM
Posted by: rich in distress
Date: November 27, 2021 07:57PM
8 will be enough unless she goes to film school.
If after 4 years you or her feel compelled to upgrade, that’s a fine feature right there,



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/27/2021 07:58PM by rich in distress.
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Re: MBA 2020 - 8GB vs. 16GB RAM
Posted by: jdc
Date: November 27, 2021 08:58PM
if we were having this conversation pre M1, then my tune would be different. I have 32 GB in my Intel mac, wish I had 64... or more. I see MacPro peeps with 500+ GB. Ive helped at least 30 people buy M1s in the last year, and I have made recc's for both. Depends on use. 90% have been 8 GB.







Edited 999 time(s). Last edit at 12:08PM by jdc.
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