8GB vs 16GB MacBook Air: Which One Suits Your Needs In 2023

A MacBook Air on a table


When it comes to the MacBook Air, you might be confused between the 8 GB and 16 GB models. What exactly is RAM, and why does it matter? RAM stands for Random Access Memory and influences your computer’s performance, specifically how quickly and smoothly it runs.

The amount of RAM you may need is based on factors such as the tasks you generally perform, the number of apps you typically have open simultaneously, and the size of files you work with. We will guide you through these crucial aspects and help you make an informed decision on which variant will best suit your needs.

Independent tests show that choosing between the 8 and the 16 GB requires a closer look at your daily usage habits and an understanding of how the RAM will impact your performance. Don’t worry! We’ll walk you through the decision-making process and provide clear insights to help you make the best choice. Let’s get started!

Is MacBook Air Suitable for Video Editing and Heavy Tasks?

Some of you might be skeptical about the MacBook Air’s capabilities for video editing and heavy tasks, given its thin design, lack of an efficient cooling system, lower GPU, limited ports, and external monitor support. True, the M2 and M1 MacBook Pro might be more versatile for 4K and 8K editing and intensive tasks, but is the MacBook Air really incapable of handling these challenges?

Surprisingly, we found that it can easily handle editing up to 2.5K! Independent tests show that its M2 processor, superior performance, battery life, and thermal management play a huge role in achieving this. Although you can also achieve 4K video editing, but with continuous lag and very large response times. However, we’d be cautious about using it for longer sessions as the lack of an efficient cooling system might affect its performance.

Now, if you’re set on a MacBook for heavy tasks, why not consider the M2 MacBook Pro with the 8GB memory? It’s a more powerful machine with a robust cooling system and a similar price tag, making it the better choice for performance-hungry professionals.

M1 MacBook Air 8GB and 16GB: What’s the Difference?

The main difference is the price! And yes, there is some performance difference as well. 16 GB RAM has a slightly faster processing speed than 8GB. You might think the base model is enough, and the 16GB or 24GB of RAM is probably not worth it or the other way around.  To get the complete picture, we are going into detail and will explain the difference in processing power, performance, and file transfer speed. 

MacBook Air 8 vs 16 GB: Processing Power and Memory Usage

When it comes to the MacBook Air’s processing power, the choice between 8 and 16GB of unified memory can be a tricky one. Do you wonder how these two options compare in processing power? Let’s break it down.

The M1 chip handles memory differently than its Intel counterparts. Thanks to the unified memory architecture (UMA), memory compression, swap files, and SSD caching, the performance of these RAM options varies across different tasks and scenarios. For instance, 8GB of RAM in M1 Mac devices has much more to offer than 8GB in an Intel MacBook.

Independent tests show that for everyday tasks like browsing, word processing, and streaming, the 8GB M1 can handle it all with ease, even with multiple browser tabs and apps open. On the other hand, the 16GB option is better suited for users working on demanding tasks like large-scale data processing, video editing, or complex 3D rendering.

In terms of speed and responsiveness, the difference between 8GB and 16GB MacBooks is not vast. However, when working on intensive tasks, the 16GB will make your laptop smoother and offer better overall performance. 16 GB MacBook consumes slightly more battery power than the 8GB memory option, while thermal efficiency is marginally better with the 16GB variant.

8GB vs 16GB MacBook Air: The Difference In Price

Let’s talk about the price difference between the 8 and 16 GB variants. How does this affect your buying decision, and when is it worth paying extra for the additional RAM?

In different regions and currencies, there is a noticeable price gap between these two variants. The Apple MacBook Air M1 8GB comes at the price of $999, while the M2 variant is $1,099. The 16GB  Air M2 starts at $1,299. So there is a significant difference between their prices.

8GB vs 16 GB MacBook Air: Photo Editing Performance

When it comes to editing, RAM usage is an essential factor. But performance in your M1 MacBook Air would also be affected by elements like resolution, format, number of photos, and editing features. So, let’s dive into how the two models fare in the world of editing.

Heavy tasks in Adobe Lightroom or other software are memory-hungry and require a substantial amount of RAM. Processing high-resolution images, using multiple layers, or employing advanced features can quickly eat up your available memory. Here, the 16GB version outshines the 8GB variant in handling these tasks.

In an independent test, both models are challenged with merging 50 HDR images in Photoshop. 16 GB RAM took only 40 sec to merge all the files, while the 8GB took more than 3 minutes. 

For casual editing or working with less demanding tasks, 8GB Air is the best. 

Of course, to optimize your editing performance on an 8GB MacBook Air, there are a few best practices we can recommend:

  1. Close unnecessary apps to free up RAM
  2. Use optimized formats to reduce file sizes
  3. Work with external drives for better storage management

By following these tips, you can enhance your photo editing experience regardless of when you’re using an 8GB version.

8GB vs 16 GB MacBook Air: File Transfer Speed

Do you wonder how the two memory variants compare when it comes to file transfer speed in your MacBook? File transfer tasks use RAM, and factors such as file size, number, type, source, and destination all affect memory usage. There are interesting differences and similarities between the 8 and 16 GB variants when transferring files.

In most cases, we noticed that the 16 GB performed significantly better, around 3x faster data transfer speed than the 8GB Mac, especially when transferring large files or working with multiple files simultaneously.

Just keep in mind that if you regularly work with large files or with numerous transfer tasks, we recommend you buy the 16GB variant instead of  8 to ensure smoother performance.

So, there you have it! While the 16 GB may have an edge in file transfer speed, the 8GB variant offers enough memory for those who don’t require extensive usage or deal with large file transfers.

8GB vs 16 GB MacBook Air: Video Editing Performance/ Final Cut Pro

Although the MacBook Pro is much better than the Air when it comes to video editing, you can still use your Mac for simple editing tasks. In a test, a 4K video was exported using both 8 and 16 GB models. Both the models took almost the same time to export the video. 

The difference in editing performance becomes significant when you export large 4K videos or open some browser tabs along with Final Cut Pro. In this case, the 16 GB took 1 minute 52 sec, while the 8GB model took around 7 mins to export the video. This shows that 16 GB is more productive than its 8GB counterpart when editing, along with some multitasking. 

8GB vs 16 GB MacBook Air: Programming Performance

In a test, the programming performance was analyzed by compiling a piece of code using XCode (An integrated developer software in macOS). The 16 GB model took 2 minutes, while the 8GB took 2 min and 12 sec. So, we can say that there is no significant difference in coding performance between the two models. If you are a programmer, going for the 8GB variant wouldn’t be an issue.

8GB vs 16 GB MacBook Air: Multitasking Performance

Multitasking performance is crucial, and RAM plays a significant role in it. The more apps, tabs, and processes you have running simultaneously, the more memory your device uses. More RAM means faster and smoother task-switching between various programs, especially when managing multiple demanding applications.

Now, let’s have a look at the differences between the 8 and 16GB Air models. User reviews show that there is also a substantial difference in performance between these two.

In a test, 50 images are imported into Adobe Lightroom along with 5 Safari tabs opened simultaneously. The 16GB model took around 1 minute to complete the task, while the 8GB took around 8 minutes! So, there is a clear difference in performance between the two when working with heavy loads. 

Also, for those using Slack as an essential communication tool, it can be quite a resource-hungry app. Although it doesn’t indicate any adverse effects on performance when using Slack specifically, you might want to consider the 16GB variant if your usage demands heavy loads.

Big Savings %

Apple MacBook Air Laptop M1 Chip, 13” 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD

  •  Retina Display - Space Gray Color - Backlit Keyboard 

  • All-day battery life. FaceTime HD Camera

Big Savings %

Apple MacBook Air 13" M1 Chip, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD

  • Retina Display - Space Gray

  • All-day battery life. Stunning display

Do you Really Need 16GB RAM for M2 MacBook Air?

So, do you really need 16 GB RAM for your M2 MacBook? You might be thinking, is 8GB enough for you?

Let’s be honest, base MacBook Air with 8GB memory is sufficient for most everyday tasks, like browsing, streaming, and working with documents. But what if you crave more power? You should probably know that a 16-inch MacBook Pro with an M2 chip and 8GB memory is similar in price to an M2 with 16 GB RAM. The MacBook Pro boasts more processing power and an efficient cooling system. So, why not consider that option instead?

Certainly, 16GB RAM will give you an advantage when dealing with activities that demand maximum performance, such as editing, gaming, or running multiple virtual machines. But ask yourself: is it really worth spending the extra bucks? If you’re on a budget and not performing these tasks daily, sticking with 8GB might be the smarter choice.

Big Savings %

Apple MacBook Air Laptop with M2 chip, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD

  •  15.3-inch Liquid Retina Display - Space Gray Color

  • All-day battery life - 1080p FaceTime HD Camera - Touch ID

Big Savings %

Apple MacBook Air M2, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD

  • Retina Display - Space Gray

  • All-day battery life. Stunning display

Reasons to Buy 8GB RAM MacBook

  • Lower price
  • Sufficient performance for most tasks
  • Longer battery life than the 16 GB variant
  • Cooler operation
  • Faster delivery

8GB Macbook Is Suitable for:

  • Casual users who mainly use web browsing, email, social media, streaming, and office apps
  • Students who need a portable, reliable, and affordable laptop for their studies
  • Travelers who value battery life and portability over power and features
  • Creatives who work with small-sized projects and files

Reasons to Buy 16GB RAM MacBook

  • Higher performance for heavy tasks
  • More headroom for future-proofing
  • Less swap file usage and SSD wear
  • Better compatibility with some software and plugins
  • More resale value

16 GB Is Suitable for:

  • Power users frequently use multiple professional apps, tabs, windows, and processes at the same time.
  • Developers who work with complex code and tools that require a lot of RAM
  • Creatives who work with medium-sized projects and files

8GB or 16GB MacBook Air: Which One to Choose?

16GB M1 MacBook Air = 8GB M2 MacBook Air

As we know, the M2 chip offers better processing power, so 8 GB of RAM should be powerful enough for most tasks on an M2 processor. This makes the 8GB model a more affordable option for the majority of users, providing solid performance for workloads, browsing, and entertainment. But you can also go for the 16GB variant according to your personal or professional needs. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it Worth Getting a 16 GB RAM MacBook Air?

Getting a 16GB of RAM is probably worth it, depending on your usage requirements. If you frequently use resource-intensive applications or engage in heavy usage, then we recommend you choose 16GB MacBook Air variants. However, if you only use it for basic tasks like web browsing, document editing, or watching videos, get the 8GB version.

Can You Upgrade 8GB RAM to 16 GB?

Unfortunately, you cannot upgrade to 16GB of RAM on a MacBook Air from 8GB. The RAM is soldered directly onto the motherboard, which means it’s not user-upgradable. When purchasing a MacBook, it’s essential to decide whether you want 8GB or 16 GB RAM beforehand, as the decision cannot be changed post-purchase.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *