Apple M1 and 8 GB of ram

I have an opportunity to get a 13” M1 MacBook Air with M1 and 8 GB of ram quite inexpensively and wonder if 8 GB is enough to comfortably handle Dorico 5 and NP4 with orchestral files, mostly of a single flow. Activity Monitor on my M1 Mac mini with 16 GB shows that when using D5 and NP4 my Memory Pressure is low although the App Memory alone is almost 8 GB, not including the almost 1.5 GB used by the OS. This doesn’t sound promising but I am not very conversant with such things and wonder about the "real world” experience of other Dorico users with an M1 processor and 8 GB of ram.

The OS will use as much RAM as it can, so Dorico’s usage on a system with 16Gb will be more expansive than the same usage on a system with 8Gb.

Sadly, all the M1s come with 8Gb as standard, unless it’s been built-to-order; so all the old discounted models in shops are likely to be 8Gb.

I’d say that Dorico would be constrained by running on an 8gb Mac. Things might be a little bit slower than they would otherwise be.

An 8Gb Air would serve as a second Mac, for “out-of-the-office” usage; but not as your only, main Mac.


Thanks, Ben. Your clarification that the OS will use as much RAM as it can is very helpful.

I would definitely use the MB Air M1 as a supplementary machine and could handle it being “somewhat” slower than my mini with 16 GB but still need something that is at least reasonably competent in both write and play modes. I’m sure that means different things to different people but although I am not a speed demon at notating music I wouldn’t be happy with a machine that leaves me feeling like I am frequently fighting with its inadequacies. I would love to hear from anybody with “hands-on” experience with an M1 and 8 GB of RAM.

I’m on a M1 MacBook air with 8GB RAM from 2020, Dorico 5 is running perfectly with NP4.
If it starts lagging just make sure you don’t have too many tabs open in your browser haha or too many softwares open.

1 Like

NotePerformer will work because it is comparable to a GM Synth in system requirements. It doesn’t use much RAM. It’s like “Playing through MIDI” using the GM Instrument in Finale.

With heavier libraries you not only deal with significant RAM constraints, but also performance constraints with Swapping on later M2/M3 machines that have single-channel SSDs in the base models (to increase profit margins) and CPU/Compute constraints with larger templates/projects since the M1 is a 4 Performance/4 Efficiency Core SoC (vs. a much faster 6 Performance/2 Efficiency Core M1 Pro - for the sake of comparison). Some of the Sampler Platforms have higher CPU usage.

I agree with others. They run well as secondary machines, especially if you use something like NotePerformer to get around the RAM limitations.

For a main machine, it’s better to get a base 14-16" M# Pro MacBook Pro.

1 Like