How much RAM do you need for your Mac?

Technology advances at an incredibly rapid pace. Most of today’s computers come with 4-8GB of RAM as standard, with some users requiring 12 or 16GB. According to, the “standard” for a computer’s RAM in 1995 was 8MB, meaning today’s standard is about 1000 times higher after only 20 years of progress.

So in the face of all this, how much memory do you really need for your Mac? It depends on how you’re planning to use the computer.

How much RAM do you need for your Mac?

Upgrading the included RAM for your new Apple computer can be an expensive affair. Going from 8GB to 16GB on the standard 13 inch MacBook Pro costs an extra $200 (the 15-inch version comes with 16GB standard, which contributes to the $2000 price tag). Do you really need this upgrade, or will your money be better spent elsewhere?

Doubling the MacBook Air’s memory capacity from 4GB to 8GB costs an extra $100, which is a significant bump in price. But is it really worth it?

4GB of memory is the absolute minimum you should have in a computer you purchase this year. Keep in mind that this might not be enough as computing standards continue to advance– programs take up more memory as time goes on and more complex features are added.

8GB is a good standard to “future proof” your computer. Future proofing is the idea of keeping your computer usable as long as possible. True future-proofing is impossible, as we saw with the example above– computers with 8MB of system memory simply wouldn’t work in 2015. 8GB is a good amount of RAM for most people, as modern programs are starting to use a lot of memory (Looking at you, Google Chrome).

Above 8GB is reaching into the realm of users who need a lot of computational power. Video editing software, 3d modeling software, and intense video games might need more than 8GB of system memory. RAM doesn’t necessarily “speed up” your computer, but it does allow your programs to have more “space” to operate. Some people are quick to diagnose a slow computer as needing more RAM– but that isn’t necessarily the case.

So yes, having a higher amount of system memory is a good idea if you want to use your computer for more computationally intense activities. Upgrading your laptop’s RAM might just be what you need to keep your computer speedy and quick!


It’s worth noting that some people buy a base model computer in order to upgrade the memory capacity on their own. This is a much cheaper but more time consuming process.

There are some good deals out there for Mac memory from Crucial and Mac memory from Kingston. These are two of the best options if you want to upgrade the memory on your Apple computer.


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About the Author
Michelle, author at Mach Machines. A tech lover and an insatiable latte drinker. Michelle blogs about improving the personal computing experience.

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