RAM Question

Discussion in 'Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther) Discussion' started by gregorydanger, Oct 23, 2004.

  1. gregorydanger macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2004
    Location:
    Michigan
    #1
    When it comes to the technical side of computers, I'm pretty uninformed about a lot of stuff (I still don't know what this whole "Permissions" thing is all about.. another time..). Anyways, my question is simple as I've seen it talked about many times before, all I ask is that the answer be presented in layman's terms so I can understand.

    I have a G4 iBook with a 60GB HD and with the standard 256MB of ram. It's not as though I'm getting consistantly frustrated with my machine, but I notice that when I try to actually use more than 3 programs at once that it starts to run slowly (eg: I start to hear the hard drive work overtime and the animated rainbow mouse icon seems to appear more often than the pointer icon). Furthermore, for no reason in particular, I opened up the "Activity Moniter" a bit ago and clicked on the tab that said "System Memory" which I assume refers to the RAM and it shows me that only 4.9MB is available while 43.99 is "Wired" (whatever that means), 141.82 is "Active," and 66.71 is "Inactive."

    To get to my point, the fact that there's only a really tiny percentage attatched to the word "free" kind of worries me and I was wondering if this is a sign that I should get some more RAM. I honestly have no clue if that'd be a good idea (my ex-boyfriend told me it would just be a waste of money) and would like an expert opinion (I'd even settle for a pseudo-expert opinion). If the answer is "yes, you should get more RAM!" then, out of curiosity, what would be a good number to shoot for? I don't do anything too intense on my machine, mostly just web-browsing (constantly tabbing), AIM, p2p (for legal purposes, I swear!), iTunes and a few games (the Sims) every now and then.

    I appreciate your time, thanks for reading.

    PS: If this should've been posted elsewhere, I apologize -- I just figured that since it related to both hardware and software I'd just plop it down somewhere.
     
  2. JFreak macrumors 68040

    JFreak

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2003
    Location:
    Tampere, Finland
    #2
    you guessed right, when there's not enough memory the hard drive will have to do more work - and hard drive is A LOT slower than memory.

    for your purposes 512MB should be fine, but as memory is cheap nowadays i'd install as much as the laptop can use - then there shouldn't be another worry during the lifetime of the laptop.

    (i myself have had 512MB in my previous powerbook and noticed a speedup when i upgraded that to 1GB, but i tell you it's not something to drop your jaw to the ground. you get more speed if you get your hard drive changed to a faster 7200rpm model, but that is rather expensive upgrade and only worth it if you consider yourself a power user. now that i had 1GB in my previous powerbook and bought a new one in february this year, i bought 1GB for this one too, but as i do a lot of multimedia work, i begin to want to have 2GB.. it all comes down to one's needs, and it seems your need would be 512MB.)
     
  3. Gee macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2004
    Location:
    London, UK
    #3
    You'd certainly notice a difference by adding another 256 to give yourself 512MB. You could add even more, but 256MB is reasonably cheap, and you can easily install it yourself. Basically, when your computer runs out of ram (when you have lots of stuff open at the same time), it uses the hard disk as 'virtual' memory, which is slower. Adding more ram means this happens less often, and overall your computer speeds up.

    I'd say go for it. People may say you should get up to 1GB or more, but for your purposes, 512 should be cool.

    Cheers
     
  4. Gee macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2004
    Location:
    London, UK

Share This Page