2GB pairing or 3GB RAM for new Mac Mini?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by eme jota ce, Aug 21, 2007.

  1. eme jota ce macrumors regular

    Jul 26, 2005
    Can anyone help me understand if I would be better off with 3GB RAM or 2GB RAM in a new Mac Mini that is arrving tomorrow? (1.83Ghz Core 2 Duo).

    My limited understanding was that 2GB was the max and that matched pairs of RAM were required because the mini's "interleave." However, it seems that 3GB is an option but whether 2GB or 3GB would be better may be user / use specific.

    This is used in an entertainment center to drive videos to a 42" HDTV and music through a receiver. Front Row runs often, iTunes is always open, iPhoto is often open, movies play often, EyeTV records and plays OTA HDTV programs. Safari runs sometimes. Mail runs less. It's an entertainment unit so little else runs.

    Does anyone know if this would be better serverd by 2GB or 3GB?


    As further background where my explanations are deficient:

    OWC is selling a 3GB RAM kit with an interesting discussion the benefits of pairing 2GB versus the brute force of 3GB unpaired. They offer a comparison of paired versus unpaired RAM in a macbook with varying results, depending upon the test. OWC RAM performance comparison

    Also, barefeats.com says "Based on our testing, the MacBook Pro goes just as fast with unmatched memory as it does with matched. And apps like Aperture and Photoshop can certainly use the extra memory afforded by the 3GB config." November 15, 2006.
  2. ricgnzlzcr macrumors 6502a


    Jun 7, 2005
    When it's time for me to upgrade the ram in my macbook I'm going to use 2x2gb sticks of ram even though it'll address only 3.3gb of it. That way I'll be able to maintain the dual channel and have slightly more ram although I'll waste 700mb.
  3. flopticalcube macrumors G4


    Sep 7, 2006
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    That's because the biggest beneficiary of dual channel is the integrated GPU on the MacBook that shares the system RAM with the CPU. THe MacBook Pro has a dedicated GPU with its own video memory, so dual channel is more or less moot on it.

    The main point of the OWC tests were to prove that more memory beats matched memory, and for the most part it does. If you do lots of graphic intensive things (and why would you on a MacBook?) then dual channel is better. Other than that, go for more RAM. Start with 1 stick of 2G and 1 stick of 1G and when prices drop again, go for the second 2G stick.
  4. eme jota ce thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 26, 2005
    That's an interesting idea. Thanks.
  5. DoFoT9 macrumors P6


    Jun 11, 2007
  6. samh004 macrumors 68020


    Mar 1, 2004
    As I recall, the performance benefit of having matching pairs is less than the performance benefit of having 2GB, if your using that much RAM. I have 2.5GB in my MB I recently bought (only upgraded 1 stick so far).

    As for the 4GB (3.3GB) issue, someone had a really good thread about recognising all 4GB of RAM in their Mac. The result was that when you successfully used all the available RAM (up to 3.3GB) problems appeared on the Mac.

    Admittedly I didn't read too much into it, but I'd just go with 3GB as the maximum, not 4GB (3.3GB). You'll also notice a better performance benefit from that 3GB than matching pairs (benefit of about 6%).

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