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Old Nov 29, 2012, 06:41 PM   #1
Micky Do
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More RAM or SSD or both?

Being an ignoramus about many things computing (I just use them) I got to wondering......

With SSD installed, given the speed advantages over a HDD, is there any significant benefit in upgrading RAM beyond the standard 4GB?

This is hypothetical in my case; my recently upgraded early 2009 Mini will do me for a few more years, by which time SSD could well be standard on board, with HDD as USB3 or Thunderbolt plug in peripheral.
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Old Nov 29, 2012, 07:56 PM   #2
linds15
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any computer will prefer more RAM, whether or not you find it more useful is the difference. i have a mini and air, with 16 and 4GB of ram respectively. with both open running all the same stuff, the mini has 6GB free and the air 1.

in terms of SSD, i personally prefer how much snappier everything is, opening and closing apps, restarting the computer, etc. but it wont very much if any difference while sitting in one app
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Old Nov 30, 2012, 12:05 AM   #3
toddzrx
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Funny: I just installed both an SSD, and then about 2 weeks later, more RAM to go from 4 to 8GB, in a 2010 iMac.

There is a night and day difference (to me) between an SSD and an HD. No comparison, quite frankly. The SSD I installed was not even brand new, I bought it 2 years ago and installed it in my old 2006 MBP, hoping to extend its useful life, and indeed got 2 more years out of it (little to no beach balling right up to the bitter end!).

What surprised me was the RAM upgrade. I found a local guy on Craigslist that was selling Mac RAM for $20, so I figured why not. Although it probably does not make as big a leap in performance as the SSD, the extra RAM is certainly noticeable, and definitely worth the $20 I paid.

So in short, do both, especially if your storage needs are not that great. At least get a 120 or 128GB SSD for apps and maybe docs, then put music, photos, and other stuff on a large HD, if that's what you need.
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Old Nov 30, 2012, 03:14 AM   #4
philipma1957
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Micky Do View Post
Being an ignoramus about many things computing (I just use them) I got to wondering......

With SSD installed, given the speed advantages over a HDD, is there any significant benefit in upgrading RAM beyond the standard 4GB?

This is hypothetical in my case; my recently upgraded early 2009 Mini will do me for a few more years, by which time SSD could well be standard on board, with HDD as USB3 or Thunderbolt plug in peripheral.
A good question. short answer is on a 2009 with 4gb ram running leopard or snow leopard the ssd is enough. Long answer with the machine fully opened you may as well drop in 8gb ram and a 256gb ssd. This is really true if you keep the dvd player in it. This answer is for 2009 mini.

Also do your research as the 2009 mini does not like all ssds.
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Old Nov 30, 2012, 04:29 AM   #5
motrek
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Micky Do View Post
Being an ignoramus about many things computing (I just use them) I got to wondering......

With SSD installed, given the speed advantages over a HDD, is there any significant benefit in upgrading RAM beyond the standard 4GB?

This is hypothetical in my case; my recently upgraded early 2009 Mini will do me for a few more years, by which time SSD could well be standard on board, with HDD as USB3 or Thunderbolt plug in peripheral.
Interesting question. If you have to choose between the two, get an SSD.

Reason being is that OS X uses virtual memory--i.e., if it runs out of RAM, it will use the hard drive for overflow.

This is often painfully slow with a regular hard drive because RAM tends to be accessed randomly, and random accesses with a hard drive take several milliseconds (instead of nanoseconds for real RAM).

But with an SSD, random accesses take a fraction of a millisecond. So, while the SSD will not be as fast as RAM, it does do a reasonably competent job of "extending" your RAM.

I had a MacBook a couple years ago with 1GB of RAM and instead of upgrading the RAM I threw an SSD in there and the machine became fast enough that I didn't feel the need to upgrade the RAM any more.

BTW--try the Mini with the stock 4GB of RAM before upgrading to see if you really need to upgrade. There are a lot of people on these threads who will tell you to max out the RAM because it only costs $60 or whatever, but people forget that 4GB is still a lot of memory. A few years ago it would have been considered way more than enough, and software these days doesn't take THAT much more memory than it did a few years ago...
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Old Nov 30, 2012, 10:54 PM   #6
Micky Do
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Thanks for the responses

I upgraded from 1 GB to 1GB + 4 GB = 5GB of RAM when I went from Snow Leopard to Mountain Lion. I have been happy with the upgrade. I don't imagine I'll do anything else for a couple of years or more. However, based on the replies, a SSD replacement for the HDD in due course could see me right for a few more years then, rather than replacing the computer.

Big bast, transformer blew just down the road. It's not the first time; power cuts are relatively frequent. Such is life in a partially developed country. The UPS is bleeping now, so better post, shut down, and be off.

Last edited by Micky Do; Dec 1, 2012 at 03:49 AM.
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Old Nov 30, 2012, 11:25 PM   #7
stuffradio
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More RAM = less work for your CPU. The more ram you have, the more that can be stored on the RAM.
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Old Dec 1, 2012, 12:41 PM   #8
motrek
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More RAM = less work for your CPU. The more ram you have, the more that can be stored on the RAM.
Not quite. OS X has virtual memory, which means it can use hard disk space as RAM when your actual RAM becomes full.

So there is no difference to how anything works if you have 1GB of RAM or 100GB. Programs still store the same things and you can still do the same things. It's just a question of how fast the system runs.

More RAM can't hurt but it doesn't necessarily make your computer faster either. If you go to Activity Monitor and see that you have any significant amount of free memory then you will not benefit from more RAM. You can add a million gigabytes but it will just go free, i.e., unused. I just checked Activity Monitor on my 4GB Mini and I have 300MB free even though I'm running more than a dozen programs, so I see no need to upgrade my memory.
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Old Dec 1, 2012, 01:05 PM   #9
linds15
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Not quite. OS X has virtual memory, which means it can use hard disk space as RAM when your actual RAM becomes full.

So there is no difference to how anything works if you have 1GB of RAM or 100GB. Programs still store the same things and you can still do the same things. It's just a question of how fast the system runs.

More RAM can't hurt but it doesn't necessarily make your computer faster either. If you go to Activity Monitor and see that you have any significant amount of free memory then you will not benefit from more RAM. You can add a million gigabytes but it will just go free, i.e., unused. I just checked Activity Monitor on my 4GB Mini and I have 300MB free even though I'm running more than a dozen programs, so I see no need to upgrade my memory.
im no expert, but im pretty sure this isn't true. as i stated above, my mac mini and air are currently running all the same things, the mini with 16GB ram the air with 4, mini has 2.51GB Free, the air has 300MB free, so clearly the mini is using more ram, since i put more in it.
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Old Dec 1, 2012, 01:40 PM   #10
motrek
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im no expert, but im pretty sure this isn't true. as i stated above, my mac mini and air are currently running all the same things, the mini with 16GB ram the air with 4, mini has 2.51GB Free, the air has 300MB free, so clearly the mini is using more ram, since i put more in it.
I'm no expert on how OS X manages memory in particular but in general, here is how operating systems work. They give every program you run several gigabytes of "virtual address space" so that the programs can allocate as much memory they need to do whatever they're supposed to do. The OS maps this virtual space to physical memory, and the amount that gets mapped depends on various heuristics, which almost certainly includes how much free RAM you have.

So what you are almost certainly seeing on your Mini is that OS X has mapped huge amounts of memory to each program (memory that is likely unused, but MIGHT be used by the programs in the future) and even so, you are STILL left with over 2 gigabytes of free memory that OS X can't even think of anything to do with. So I would say that you have way more than enough memory. I'm not saying this is a bad thing since it probably only cost you around $60, but for somebody deciding whether or not to upgrade his memory, your Mini appearing to use ~14 GB of RAM isn't necessarily a useful data point.
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Old Dec 1, 2012, 02:04 PM   #11
BitterCreek
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SSD without question. The slow 2.5" hard drive is a huge hindrance to overall performance and how fast the mac "feels".
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Old Dec 1, 2012, 02:07 PM   #12
philipma1957
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motrek View Post
I'm no expert on how OS X manages memory in particular but in general, here is how operating systems work. They give every program you run several gigabytes of "virtual address space" so that the programs can allocate as much memory they need to do whatever they're supposed to do. The OS maps this virtual space to physical memory, and the amount that gets mapped depends on various heuristics, which almost certainly includes how much free RAM you have.

So what you are almost certainly seeing on your Mini is that OS X has mapped huge amounts of memory to each program (memory that is likely unused, but MIGHT be used by the programs in the future) and even so, you are STILL left with over 2 gigabytes of free memory that OS X can't even think of anything to do with. So I would say that you have way more than enough memory. I'm not saying this is a bad thing since it probably only cost you around $60, but for somebody deciding whether or not to upgrade his memory, your Mini appearing to use ~14 GB of RAM isn't necessarily a useful data point.
To the op ;


The above quote is pretty much spot on. One more piece of info can help to determine if you are in need of ram that is your activity monitor. looking at my 2010 mac mini the page ins

are 477.7mb


the page outs are 588 kb



swap used is 7.7 MB every time you boot these counters reset.


so if you boot 2 times a week and clock the 3 numbers I wrote above you can tell how often and what percent of the time you are exceeding your ram.

I AM ROUNDING FROM NOW ON

so 480 million to .5 million is a great ratio



I hardly every blow past the ram. when I did pass it I did the swaps.


since my machine is a 2010 8gb ram is maxed i can not increase it . this machine has a 5400rpm hdd so when I did exceed and swap the 7.7 million is was a slow swap. so if someone would ask me how to speed this machine up I would say drop in an ssd since you do some swaps. to show how bad swaps are look at the random speed on my hdd for 4k reads and writes 1.25 million and .5 million

so my 7.7 million in swaps could be about 15 seconds in beachballing based on .5 million times 15 = 7.5 million. All rough estimates.

this was about 3 days worth of monitor time so 15 seconds of beachballing over 3 days is no big deal. I tell most people clock the activity monitor for 2 weeks do 4 or 5 boots and if you are getting 10 page ins to 1 page out and milions or billions in swaps you should boost ram first it is cheap and easy in a mini. 50 to 80 usd to max a mini.


then the next set of monitoring should show a huge improvement . you can decide about an ssd solution.


Of course if you are flush cash you can do both.
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Old Dec 1, 2012, 05:09 PM   #13
SuperRob
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SSD. Faster disk access will help when you're out of RAM, too, since your page file is kept on the hard disk. That said, RAM is pretty cheap. You can get 16GB for under $70. But buying an SSD will be the single best thing you can do for a mini. Given how easy it is to set up a Fusion config as well, you really don't sacrifice storage space now either.
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Old Dec 1, 2012, 05:36 PM   #14
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As far as how much memory do you need? Depends on what programs you run. In activity monitor check how many page outs your machine has done over time. If you have a lot of page outs (compared to the number of page ins) then you would benefit from more memory.

Light computer users (internet, email, documents) can easily get by with 4 gbytes of memory. For the heavier stuff more memory will help you run smoothly.

Back in the old days (1970s) I worked on mainframes that had 4 mbytes of core memory for total system memory and could have as many as 500 users on them. 2 kbytes of cache memory... you could beat on those things. They would run slow but they never crashed because you were running a ton of programs on them.
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Old Dec 1, 2012, 06:10 PM   #15
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I think the question should be if you did one which would it be. Costwise I think upgrading the ram to 16GB for $70 or less beats spending $200 or more on an SSD. Since any extra ram is used as a virtual drive then that ram drive should be even faster than an SSD. Of course if you already have an SSD you might as well use it. I'm not a heavy user and believe an upgrade to 16GB will be fast enough for me. Since I have split my hard drive to bootcamp Windows I don't see it as cost effective to try and upgrade both to an SSD
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Old Dec 1, 2012, 06:14 PM   #16
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Since any extra ram is used as a virtual drive ...
What? You COULD configure a RAM drive, but it is not automatic. And as far as OS X is concerned, there really is no such thing as "extra" RAM. It will wire up RAM to be used to accelerate program launching. With an SSD, this is arguably unnecessary, but even so, it helps wire up RAM faster.

If you configured OS X to launch with a RAM drive, that RAM would be, by definition, not "extra". You've used it, just used it as a RAM drive. Plus, you'd be manually choosing what to put on that drive, and having to manually move stuff there (and remembering to move it back before you shut down or reboot). Really, running a RAM drive is entirely unnecessary and requires the kind of maintenance most people just don't care to deal with.
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