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How much RAM is enough for a 'basic' user on a Mac?


Well-known member
Oct 3, 2010
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So what do you think? How much is enough. A lot of people say that maybe a basic user doesn't need quite as much as much RAM as a more advanced user. Well for me I deal with Windows more than Mac's in work but it really applies for both. I get calls all the time, my computer is running slow and I don't know why. Well when you take a look and they have a crazy amount of things running on their computer this may be the reason.

So is a small about of RAM really enough for the basic user or should all RAM be bumped up just to make things easier. I hear so often, "get what you can afford". Well for me I have learned from that, I get what I want to get, if I have to wait a bit and save more money than thats what I do. Too many times I regret getting what I can afford at the time.

So what does everyone think?


Ambassador Team Leader, Senior Moderator
Jan 8, 2012
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4 gigabytes should be sufficient for any basic user on a Mac, in my opinion. I am using that amount on a MaBook that's nearly 5 years old and running OS X Mavericks with ease. Having said that, I don't play any games on it.


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Dec 26, 2012
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For the non-upgradable Macs, maxing out RAM is the best "investment" and choice. In your examples above, running many active apps often create high CPU context switching levels, and on systems with the minimum vendor recommended RAM; memory page and cache misses which in turn generate page swapping, and in turn paging to disk if the combined OS and app memory utilization and "pressure" begin to exceed what the physical RAM can support.

So if I were buying a new MBA today, I'd go for 8GB knowing that I'll have less or no swapping or misses under normal usage conditions. And the likelihood that the MBA will work well across more than one major OS release is much higher (under the premise that future OS releases will require more system resources like RAM).


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Feb 2, 2012
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Get as much as you can afford. This is the thing that will be lacking as the Mac ages.

Tappin and Talkin from my iPhone 5


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Apr 22, 2013
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2 GB is fine really but if you really get carried away with multitasking or have sloppy browser habits you'll appreciate the 4.

We have long surpassed the point where quality media PCs are cheap and affordable. It's not like in 2007 where you had to break out the piggy bank if you wanted a quality media-consumption machine.

Nice thing with OS X is that since the Apple software is more or less optimized for the limited number of builds, it's easier to get away with a smooth experience on low end Apple tech (even the entry-level Mac Mini is a solid performer) compared to buying any old Windows clunker. Although even Windows isn't that bad anymore...assuming you don't have a problem doing a clean install. And, well, probably adding a SSD aftermarket.


Active member
Oct 22, 2011
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I have 4 in my mid 2011 imac and I need to upgrade it. I have 8 in my MBP and it rocks; no lag or slow down AT ALL (except when I have to run Windows in Bootcamp and then it massively slows down, but thats a windows thing).


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Jun 27, 2013
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Being as this is in the iMac section, I am going to assume you are wondering about memory for that system? If so, don't they all come with 8GB of RAM now? That is more than plenty for everyday use, even overkill I'd say. Unless you plan on gaming with it.


Feb 8, 2014
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I would say 8 minimum. Even for every day use.
I have base iMac and there are days when I see swap turned on even on just few apps turned on.
Normally it's about 6 but as I sayid there are days..
So I can even comprehend the fact that Apple is still selling air with 4 gigs.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


Well-known member
Jun 26, 2014
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8 GB is great for pretty much anything, but the more RAM, the better in my opinion. If all you do is just browse web, email, and do basic word processing, you don't really need any more than 4 GB. :)


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Jul 12, 2012
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Any new Windows computer we buy at work now has a minimum of 8GB of RAM. The cost different between ordering 4GB and 8GB in a new computer is negligible compared to support after the fact and the "my computer is slow" troubleshooting. If we order a Mac for someone we max out the RAM by default because they cannot be upgraded later. Im sitting here with 16GB of RAM in my work Macbook Pro and I still get into SWAP occasionally.


New member
Nov 1, 2014
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4GB in my early 2008 iMac and my late 2008 aluminum MacBook. Both running Yosemite with their regular HDDs. Perfectly good.