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Why You don’t Need the 16GB MacBook Air RAM Upgrade



When you buy the new MacBook Air one of the only real options you need to choose is if you want 8GB of RAM or 16GB of RAM. Before you spend $200 on an upgrade you may not need, this is what you need to know.

Both base MacBook Air models come with 8GB of RAM, the only difference in these two models is double the storage. That’s also a $200 upgrade, but it is one that many users will need — even with iCloud and cloud storage.

Save $100 on the MacBook Air Today

It’s tempting to upgrade to 16GB of RAM, especially if you think you are going to keep your computer for a long time. The 2018 MacBook Air is all new, but the base level of RAM is still at 8GB, which is still respectable in 2018 and into 2019.

Why you don't need 16GB of RAM in your MacBook Air.

Why you don’t need 16GB of RAM in your MacBook Air.

Ultimately, this comes down to how you will use your MacBook Air. If you aren’t going to be doing a lot of resource intense work on your laptop, 8GB is the sweet spot for performance and price. Apple no longer sells a 4GB RAM model, so you don’t need to choose between the bare minimum and a comfortable amount of RAM. When I advise friends and family to buy a new laptop of any kind I suggest 8GB RAM for most users.

This is more than enough for running multiple apps, multiple browser tabs and doing basic photo and video editing tasks. If you work in large excel spreadsheets or use other apps for work this should be enough with to spare.

When it comes to office productivity, web browsing and web work, streaming Netflix, photo editing and even light gaming — 8GB of RAM is enough. And you won’t be doing intense gaming on the MacBook Air anyway since it only has an integrated graphics chip.

For further proof that you don’t need 16GB of RAM on the MacBook Air, you can check out this in depth look at how much RAM you need from Laptop Mag. In this test, they uses a higher end Windows gaming laptop, but the basic principles apply. As you can see in the chart below, 8GB of RAM is perfect for most users.

How much RAM do you need?

How much RAM do you need?

Users that need 16GB of RAM on the MacBook Pro are going to be running demanding applications. This may be editing long 4K video clips, working in specialized software for engineering or compiling code. if you are doing these things now, you might want to even look closer at the 13-inch MacBook Pro with 16GB of RAM or decide if you need to go all-in with a 15-inch MacBook Pro with 32GB of RAM.

What you shouldn’t do is spend $200 on the MacBook Air 16GB RAM upgrade based on what you think you might do in 2 or 3 years. It’s better to buy for what you need right now, and then plan to upgrade if your position or needs change.While you can’t upgrade the MacBook Air RAM later, it’s better to buy what you need now.

Instead of spending $200 on RAM for your MacBook Air, look at the essential 2018 MacBook Air accessories that you need.

Best MacBook Air Accessories in 2020

USB C to Lighting Cable

USB C to Lighting Cable
$19.00 from B&H Photo

The iPhone cable you use to plug your phone into your Mac no longer works. While you could buy an adapter, it makes sense to buy a USB C to Lightning cable instead. This is one less thing to lose, and it lets you fast charge using your MacBook Air charger with your iPhone. 

I own several of these cables and I love them. Not only can I connect my iPhone directly to the Mac, but if I plug this cable into my MacBook Air charger I can fast charge my iPhone XS Max. This also works for the iPhone X, XS, XR, 8 and 8 Plus. When fast charging the iPhone charges up to 50% in 30 minutes. 

Apple sells two official USB C to Lightning cables.

  • USB-C to Lightning Cable 1 M - $19 at B&H Photo
  • USB-C to Lightning Cable 2 M - $35 at Amazon

You can use this to charge your iPhone or iPad, sync to iTunes and even to use with Duet to use your iPad as a second display for your MacBook Air.



  1. And_OR_ XOR

    07/18/2019 at 2:32 pm

    8Gb in 2019?!?!

    Cellphones are coming with 12 and 16Gb. A computer that price will need to be replaced sooner than later. Also, $200 for 8 more gigs is way above what the current market is charging. I paid 50 dollars for an 8Gb stick of ram. Apple is an underpowered luxury that is not better that your standard chromebook given its limited hardware.

  2. Ryan Weiss

    07/20/2019 at 11:56 am

    Yeah this article is ridiculous. Also ridiculous that 16GB hasn’t been a base option in all macbook models until what, last year?
    Any person actually using their laptop to any decent respect these days will need more than 8gb of memory.

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