How important is RAM?

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by TigerPRO, Nov 13, 2003.

  1. macrumors 6502

    I'm using a 1Ghz iMac that has only 256MB of RAM, which I am told is not enough for running Mac OS X really well. Under typical operation, I have anywhere from 5-25MB of RAM free according to my activity monitor. If I was to add some more, it would probably be a 512MB module. How much will this really help?

    If anyone has had an experience upgrading from 256MB (or something) and could give me an idea about how much it really helped, I'd appreciate it allot. Thanks.
  2. macrumors 6502a


    I dont' care what anyone say's BUT I truely believe that your system should have a minimum on 1g of RAM. Especially, if you want you're OS to run smoothly and ESPECIALLY if you're doing anything with Video, Music or Higher end Grapics/3D.

    BUT OFcourse they'll tell you can run it with less and it's just fine. Maybe, maybe not.

    PS-> I have a 1gig of RAM in my iMac 17" FP.

  3. macrumors 68000


    You can't comprehend the difference it makes. It's THAT good! Upgrade to as much as you can. I wouldn't run OS X with less than 768 MB RAM. When I got my Dual 1.25 G4 with the stock 256 MB RAM, it was almost as slow as my old 400 Mhz iMac with 768 MB RAM--seriously. As soon as my RAM upgrade came, the machine came to life. Just because your activity monitor says theres 5-25 MB of RAM free doesn't mean anything. Your machine always will keep a little RAM unused. Your machine needs more RAM, its just paging everything to the hard drive. Get the 512 MB upgrade, you won't believe the difference.
  4. macrumors regular

    get as much as you can afford. Hit the hardware limit if you can afford it.
  5. macrumors 68040

    Powerbook G5

    I got a single 512 RAM module BTO with the intention of upgrading to a gig whenever I could afford to, but honestly, OS X with all the programs I normally use running in the background are all running smooth as silk and I usually have between 250-350 megs free according to MenuMeters.
  6. macrumors 68020


    Baaaah! I'm runing OSX in a G3 with 256MB of ram.

    How importnat is ram? Ram is the life of the machine, it is more important than the processor actually.

    Upgrade it as much as you can and your computer will last ages.

    I can not affor any more ram but I can take my powerbook up to 1G of ram. That way you can have more memory for your applications and you can increase some speed too, but you need to add some good ram for that one.

    If you have 2 slots, get the maximun amount of ram you can per slot. Do not get another of 256 if you can get another of 512 instead. the one of 256 will not have the same value once is used.
  7. macrumors 65816


    RAM is as important - or more important than - clock speed. Head over to somewhere like and buy at least another 256 MB (I'd go for 512). If you're only doing basic stuff, the extra 256 will be enough. If you're using any more powerful applications (Photoshop, even iMovie), then you'll want the extra 512.

    A total of 512 RAM should be your bare minimum, though.
  8. macrumors 6502


    Thanks allot guys, that really helps. I'm going to get my hands on the 512MB module as soon as possible. I do allot of video work with FCP, so it'll probably do allot of good like you say. I'll post my results after I install it and let you know how much it helpped.

    But there is one last question. Does it matter whether I get it from Apple or some local (or online) cheap shop? I've never purchase Mac memory before.
  9. macrumors 65816


    Rule number one of RAM buying: Don't buy from Apple. They charge a premium that's not worth paying.

    I suggest I bought a 512 module for my iMac through there for about $50 around a year ago. Haven't had a single problem.

    By the way, if you're doing a lot of work in FPC, you might want even more RAM than 768. Final Cut can put a lot of strain on your system (particularly on that 1 GHz G4). Consier maxing out your RAM (if you can afford it).
  10. macrumors member

    GOD! I hope you are right... in fact, I could hug you right now dude, if you are!!!

    I just placed my order a few days back for a 1.25 PB with 1 GB RAM, with the 4800rpm drive
    and was kinda kicking myself over not having got the 5400rpm...

    But I guess, I did well, after all! <phew!>

    Your comments, and that of pyrotoaster, make me feel so much BETTER now!

  11. macrumors 6502a


  12. macrumors 6502a


    Have a brand new 1ghz 15" Pbook and running with the stock 256mb was like running a snail after 2 apps were open.

    I added 512mb more and it started flying. When I get the chance I will upgrade with another 1gb of RAM.

    In my investigation, adding 256mb of RAM with 5 apps open will give a snappiness boost of around 15%. This continues up and becomes more and more obvious with 10+ apps open.

    Mac OS X will also soak up as much RAM as possible after a day of use. For instance, icons are cached from the Finder, frameworks are added to RAM for faster loading, interfaces for common apps are completely loaded in memory, etc. It really makes a big difference.
  13. macrumors newbie

    If you have a DDR iMac, check out They have 1GB DIMMS for both slots that will let you go to 2GB total. It'll cost you a lot of money, but if you want the best out of FCP, do all you can.
  14. macrumors 6502

    Does it really matter where you get it from? I found a 512MB module really cheap for only $95. Is it going to be crummy quality?
  15. macrumors 68030


    Who wants to make an argument for ECC Ram over non-parity RAM that will convince me?

    This thread is scary actually, 512mb is too little ram?
  16. macrumors 68040

    Powerbook G5

    I remember being in awe when I installed an extra 128 megs to my PowerBook G3
  17. macrumors G3

    I remember having people in awe of my G3 266MHz that had 192MB of RAM back in 1998, when the norm at that time was 32MB and 64MB and if you had 128MB then they'd buy you beers at the students union... heheheh!
  18. macrumors 68040

    Powerbook G5

    Under OS 9, my PowerBook G3 flies with 192 megs RAM. It's so weird to me that I am wanting a gig of RAM whenever I can get a job to afford it.
  19. macrumors 68030


    I'd hate to have to pull a 512 in order to up all the way to 2gb... but then its only $60 worth of RAM... Would I actually see a difference between 1.5GB and 2GB?

    This 17" will take 1gb chips right? Ugh.. when I used to have PC's I knew everything about them... but my life is so much simpler now with apple.
  20. macrumors 68040

    Powerbook G5

    RAM is like Tootsie Rolls, you can never have too much. :D
  21. macrumors 65816


    My co-worker has 640M of ram in his g3 ibook and i have 256M of ram in my 17" imac. And i can say that his ibook is twice as fast as my iMac. Thus I will be getting more memory soon.

    *why is memory for mac's so expensive compared to pc memory*
  22. macrumors 68040

    Powerbook G5

    It shouldn't be, it's the same kind of RAM as used in PCs as far as I know, it just depends on the size usually as far as the price.
  23. macrumors 65816


    In order to prevent disk caching for most users running common applications I recommend at least 512MB for OSX or Windows XP. OS8 or Windows 98 don't need as much RAM to run - 128MB should be enough. OS9 could use a little bit more, say about 160MB. Windows 2000 should have at least 384MB. If you are running Windows under Virtual PC on a Mac add these minimum requirements for both Windows and Mac OS together for your total required RAM.

    These should be considered minimum amounts of RAM for best perfomance. All of these operating systems will boot and operate with much less RAM but you will get noticeably slower perfomance. If you are running OSX and often use applications that benefit from large amounts of RAM such as Final Cut Pro or Photoshop treat yourself to 1GB of RAM or more. Win2k, XP, and OSX all have advanced memory management that will eat up as much RAM as you can provide in order to give the best performance possible. There are diminishing returns in performance as you increase RAM. 1GB might be the sweet spot for OSX where adding more RAM provides little gain in perfomance but it depends upon your intended use.
  24. macrumors 65816


    RAM is only expensive if you want it to be. For example, buying from Apple will be expensive (very expensive).

    Rather than buying RAM that is specifically labeled as for (for example) an "iMac", just buy the same kind of RAM the iMac uses. (third time I've mentioned it in this thread, I know), and probably a lot of other online RAM places (I've only bought through Dealram, though), sorts by compatibility.

    Point is, it's a lot cheaper to just buy RAM that's compatible, rather than buying RAM specifically labeled for your machine.
  25. macrumors 6502

    I remember having an 80MB hard drive and wondering how I would ever fill it.
    I've said it a couple of other places, I'll say it here- I've seen some posts about Panther having issues with some RAM that worked fine in Jag. I'd check this out a little, maybe wait a couple of weeks to see how this all develops- it might just be a few isolated incidents, or it might be a major problem. That said, I'd rather invest an extra 20 or 30 buck in a good stick, especially when you consider it's going in a $1000-3000 machine.

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