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Is Macbook Air M1 base model enough?

Will Macbook Air M1 8GB RAM and 256 GB SSD be enogh for programming. I'm a computer engineering student. Also I want to do some light gaming on it. Like playing retro games and playing not demanding titles. Should I upgrade to 16 GB and 512GB or is this enough for me?

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I would highly recommend option for the 16G ram. 8G is "enough" but it increases disk writes significantly especially if you are doing heavy multitasking (like on most development environments). A friend and I got our M1 MBAs around the same time with only difference being is RAM and I got around 8 times less disk writes on mine (though his SSD wear was still at %98 with close to 80TB or so writes).

 

If you can stretch your budget, aim for the 16G model to be safe. As far SSD space goes its up to you, I am personally fine with 256G in work laptop and in my MBA (I do devops and some programming work).

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1 hour ago, Gobel said:

Will Macbook Air M1 8GB RAM and 256 GB SSD be enogh for programming. I'm a computer engineering student. Also I want to do some light gaming on it. Like playing retro games and playing not demanding titles. Should I upgrade to 16 GB and 512GB or is this enough for me?

I would recommend getting more RAM. Storage is actually less of a concern as you can always add some with and external SSD. The real issue here is that the RAM cannot be upgraded by hand and 8 GBs are not enough anymore. If you do any kind of VM stuff, developing for different platforms, you want more RAM. For older games, 8 GB would be completely fine but given that the base OS is already eating 3 GB or more, 16 GB seems like a reasonable choice to me. 

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3 hours ago, Gobel said:

Will Macbook Air M1 8GB RAM and 256 GB SSD be enogh for programming. I'm a computer engineering student. Also I want to do some light gaming on it. Like playing retro games and playing not demanding titles. Should I upgrade to 16 GB and 512GB or is this enough for me?

The 16gb ram MacBook Air would be best but if you're looking to save a buck you can get a much stronger laptop for the price of the base model Air.

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Let's talk about your situation. What year are you in? My undergraduate major was EE -- CE is a very similar course load (at least it was back in the 90's). We had to use development environments, simulation software, and some specialized apps that were Windows only. I'm sure the Mac situation is a lot better today than it was back then, but you could still end up unable to use some software you need. Make triple sure that every program you'll need will be available on Mac.

 

We also had to use MatLab and Mathematica, but those are definitely available for Mac.

 

Can you swing a bit of extra coin? Right now, you can get a base model 14in pro for $1600 on Amazon (that's 16gb/512mg, binned M1pro, with the mini-LED screen). Assuming getting a mac is right for your situation -- and it might not be -- a 14in pro will last you substantially longer, and I can't overstate how nice the screen and speakers are. 

 

If it turns out you need Windows, Lenovo is having some crazy deals right now on X1 Carbons, which are lighter and thinner than Macbook Airs.

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I would also recommend a 16GB configuration in an Air if you go that route, and also say that if you can swing a 14-inch Pro you should. 

 

Worth checking out Apple's refurb store if you need to save a few bucks, you still get a full warranty and can still get AppleCare, and you'd never know it's a refurbished machine. Lots of configs in both.

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