Everyone is entitled to their opinion.
But I do receive some biblically silly comments on YouTube.
If you want to see the best of them, I recommend following me on Twitter for my weekly-that-isn’t-actually-weekly Troll of the Week award.
However, the comment I’m about to show you didn’t win Troll of the Week because I wanted to save it for this article.
”As a veteran systems analyst and integrator with well over 40 years experience: why buy 8GB when you can get more? Plan for the future, not just immediate needs. Many folks can hardly afford new devices once in a decade. Your advice should include them, as that is the reality of more than 80% of the global population. Tiny America makes up but 4.25% of humanity, yet their advisors dish out supposed wisdom that apparently speaks for all. Start thinking well outside of your little world of privilege and spoiltness. For the rest of us, realities are real.”
This was in response to my advice for choosing between 8GB and 16GB of unified memory when buying an M1-based Mac.
As I’ve always said – if you can’t afford the 16GB upgrade, you’ll be incredibly happy with the 8GB version of the M1.
The person above appears to have an issue with that, which is fine.
But suggesting that my advice neglects “80% of the global population” is as short-sighted as it is daft (also, if someone could explain what “Tiny America” is, and why it makes up exactly 4.25% of humanity, that would be much appreciated).
Anyway, this pissed me off, because the M1 has democratised computing power for Mac users, and I think it’s one of the most wonderful things, ever.
Let me explain.
Sometimes, 8GB IS enough
It really is.
Both have played key roles in growing this business over the last twelve months. They have worked tirelessly, never complained, and not once proved a hindrance during my daily tasks.
What’s more, I have a feeling they could keep on doing this for several years to come.
I never, ever think about the fact they ‘only’ have 8GB of unified memory. Any perceived deficiency in that area never rears its head.
Granted, they’re doing general business type stuff, but I’ve had to rely on the MacBook Air on more than one occasion to finish a 4K video in Final Cut Pro. Again, it never complained while rendering or exporting, at all.
For a significant number of people, 8GB is absolutely enough. It’s why my buying guidance remains ultra-simple:
- if you can afford the 16GB upgrade without breaking the bank, go for it; or
- if you either can’t afford – or simply don’t want – to pay more than what Apple asks for the base spec, buy the base spec.
In both circumstances, the buyer will be very happy indeed – and for a lot longer than we’ve been accustomed to.
It wasn’t always like this
Before the M1, RAM was a significant buying consideration for everyone. Too little, and you’d end up waiting aeons for apps to start. Too much, and you’d have to take out a second mortgage to afford the finance payments forced by your new Mac purchase.
This isn’t the case anymore.
I have no idea how unified memory works, but I know that Apple has essentially removed all of the bottlenecks, junctions, and pointless journeys that used to be encountered when data made its way through a Mac.
If we were still living in Intel Land (remember that?), the comment I shared at the top of this article would be entirely fair. In that world, 8GB would be a bit silly for anyone who has an interest in keeping their Mac running for a decent amount of time without encountering numerous frustrations.
But we’re not living in Intel Land anymore. This is a brand new era, and it’s fairer and more inclusive than ever before.
M1 Pro and M1 Max: point proven
I’ve been using a nearly-maxed-out M1 Max 16” MacBook Pro since November.
It offers more power and headroom than I need.
Occasionally, it gets slightly warm while rendering video in Final Cut Pro, but it never, ever slows down, beachballs, or complains about me trying to do things too quickly.
I have no doubt that some people will be able to push this thing more than I. And, as I noted recently in my round-up of Apple product predictions for 2022, the forthcoming Apple silicon Mac Pro is going to be even more laughably powerful.
There’s an extremely limited audience for Macs that run chips as powerful as the M1 Pro, M1 Max and whatever the hell appears in that Mac Pro later this year.
I don’t sit within that audience. You probably don’t, either.
But it is nice to own nice things, and if you just like the idea of owning a super-powerful Mac, that’s cool.
It works the other way around, though. As I’ve said throughout this article and numerous times before, if you actively desire the cheapest Mac available, that’s utterly cool, too.
The difference now is that you’re not really having to make any compromises if you opt for the lower-spec version of a MacBook, Mac mini, or iMac. The ridiculously high ceiling of power offered by the new chips in the MacBook Pro lineup proves my point: the audience that needs 16GB and above is tiny in comparison to the vast majority of ‘normal’ Mac users.
Trust me, if you’ve been toying with the idea of buying an 8GB M1 Mac, it will do everything you dreamed of and will last many, many years.
Go buy it!
I love what the M1 chip has done for the Mac ecosystem. You no longer need 40 years of experience to help people buy a new computer, and that’s a wonderful thing.