512MB vs. 1GIG

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by beatle888, Feb 11, 2003.

  1. beatle888 macrumors 68000


    Feb 3, 2002

    i have always wanted to max out my ram to
    one gig in my powerbook 667...the one with
    the 16MB of video ram.

    will the extra ram actually speed up daily tasks
    like mail, internet, chat and itunes? or should
    the 512MB (current configuration) be enough.

    im a bit confused cause i was told that the
    overall system will run FASTER with the more
    ram you give it. i found this strange. i would
    think that 512MB would be enough to get
    maximum performance out of daily tasks.

    but is it correct that my system will actually
    run FASTER with more ram...or does it just
    mean that if i have a bunch of applications
    open the system wont slow down as much?

    hmm, i cant seem to get to the point. i hope
    someone can see what im trying to get at here.

    thanks for your help.
  2. agreenster macrumors 68000


    Dec 6, 2001
    Walt Disney Animation Studios
    RAM 101

    Ram (random access memory) has nothing to do with speed of applications. Ram is simply a place for the computer to store and call information, much like the Hard Drive, but faster and more efficiently. (the Hard Drive can be used this way via 'virtual memory')

    So, the more ram you have, the more information your computer can randomly store and recall while operating. (memory in ram isnt permanent) SO, you're computer can do more (run more applications, do more complex tasks like rendering, compiling, etc) but not at a necessarily faster rate.

    However, sometimes more ram will speed up your computer a little because if you are running memory-intensive applications, your computer wont have to write to the disk and can use remaining ram.

    The actual speed of your computer relies mostly on arcitecture. (Processor, FSB, Cache, and Video Card (for faster video playback, games, etc))

    Hope this helps
  3. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    It depends on what your daily applications are. 512MB might be more than enough.

    Based on iTunes, email, and chatting (and presumably web surfing), you might not see much improvement.

    You can always upgrade to 768MB and then decide if you want to go to 1GB.
  4. jkojima macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2002
    The answer is, and you'll hate this: it all depends.

    Will you be running high-end applications like Photoshop, Final Cut Pro... that sort of thing?

    If all you do is so-called daily computing, an extra 512mb will not be noticed. Any speed gain will be marginal - and I'm talking like milliseconds. So there will be no perceived difference.

    Extra RAM in that territory really helps when you're trying to push around lots of data. For example, Photoshop loves it when you can give it as much as possible, because the larger your files get, the more the computer has to dip into virtual memory - that is, the utilization of the hard drive as additional computational memory - which is MUCH slower than pure RAM. More RAM = less swap disk usage = better performance.

    It also helps when running multiple applications. But again, most of the applications one uses in daily routine wouldn't saturate 512mb, let alone a full gig. It's costly overkill, in other words.

    My recommendation? Over the course of a week, monitor your computer's memory usage. If you're using OS 9 or below, just open the "About This Computer" from the Apple menu and look at the stats relating to how much memory each of your open programs are using, how much virtual memory is in use, etc. In OS X, open the Process Viewer application which will tell you similiar things. If it appears that your apps approach or exceed about, oh, 75%-90% of your RAM capacity, an upgrade might be warranted. If you rarely hit those levels of usage though, extra RAM won't be noticed and would be more or less a waste of money.
  5. Chad4Mac macrumors 6502

    Apr 20, 2002
    Los Angeles
    I own the same PowerBook as you. About four months ago I maxed the RAM to a gig, and have no grouses since. Previously I had 512mb of RAM.

    I constantly have multiple apps open, which prior to maxing the RAM, bogged switching back and forth between opened apps (especially while preforming tasks). If there is anything I notice since the upgrade, it's nothing at all. That is, my system never slows down when switching between multiple open apps (example: Mail, Safari, Address Book, iCal, Sherlock, Real Player, iPhoto, Photoshop, Word, iChinges (aka, iChat), iTunes). It's a workhorse.

    As for increasing quickness for overall computing tasks: You need to buy a DP Mac!

  6. beatle888 thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 3, 2002
    wow :D

    you guys are faster then apple support :D

    i pretty much figured that for my daily tasks
    it would be over kill.....i can deal with the
    ocassional progress bar in photoshop...we're
    friends at this point :D thanks so much for
    saving me three hundred bucks you guys.
    if photohop gets to be a bear to run on this
    system i think i'll buy the fastest scratch disk i
    can find. I think that would be a better investiment then ram, since this system has
    like a fourty two hundred rpm drive...yuck.

    so i think a sweet scratch disk would actually
    give me better photoshop performance.
    even though ram is seen to be the FIRST thing
    to upgrade with photoshop.....512MB of ram
    with a fast scratch disk would probably out
    perform a 1gig of ram and a fourty two hundred
    rpm drive.

    who knows, anyway. thanks sooo much for your
    insight, peace brothers and sisters.
  7. jkojima macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2002
    Actually, I did a bit of a test on my PC this past summer. I started with a single 7,200 RPM drive and 512MB RAM. Then I upgraded to 1gig. Then I reconfigured my computer with a 2-disk RAID 0 and tried it with both 512 and 1gig. (Can you tell I was bored at work?) Then I turned the PC into a fileserver and bought a PowerBook (had to add that.)

    As a designer, I live in Photoshop. Obviously, the gig of RAM and RAID made the most impact, but interestingly the increased RAM helped more than the RAID when both were taken in isolation. That being said, adding a 7,200 RPM firewire disk to your PB comes with other advantages in addition to faster scratch disk performance.

    A little off topic, but does anybody know of an inexpensive hardware-based RAID solution that runs on the Mac (preferably Firewire)? There are plenty of single-channel firewire boxes out there, and I've seen one RAID solution that involves a dual bus and Apple's software RAID capability... but I was hoping there existed a hardware-based solution.
  8. beatle888 thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 3, 2002
    wow, pretty interesting. well...since i could
    really use the extra space an external can give me, i think i'll start there. from your post it
    seems that i should get a preconfigured raid
    system instead of just stacking two identical
    drives together and running apples raid software.

    some of the most time consuming moments
    when working with a GIG+ file is saving. fast
    disks really help overall. i guess i'll just have to
    want what i have till i can get a 10,000 rpm
    screamer. anyway thanks all for keeping me
    out of trouble today :D have a good one.
  9. crazzyeddie macrumors 68030


    Dec 7, 2002
    Florida, USA
    I wouldn't suggest getting a 10k drive for anything other than maximum data transfers required. Those drives really only live up to their full potential on SCSI 320 anyway. A fast 7,200 Firewire drive would suit you much better than the internal PB HDD for Photoshop.

    As for pre-configured vs getting two drives.... it all depends on price. Personally, i would go with 2 drives and Disk Utility unless you really need THAT much speed, which, again, would only really be seen on SCSI 320.
  10. beatle888 thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 3, 2002
    thanks crazzyeddie.

    i'll see how much i have when, "i just have
    to upgrade, i can't take it anymore". i've
    always wanted to work on a raid system
    with photoshop. fast disks are sooo important
    with that program....im not sure many realize it.

    anyway, good day to you.
  11. gotohamish macrumors 65816


    Jul 15, 2001
    Check out Mac and More - they have Box Clever products that handle FireWire RAID like the RAIDit and Kube - might be worth your looking.

  12. Sol macrumors 68000


    Jan 14, 2003
    Upgrading PowerBook

    My suggestion is for you to max out the memory and upgrade the internal HD. What is the point of a notebook but to mobilise your computer? Adding external 3.5 hard drives will add speed as well as bulk. 1GB of RAM will always provide the required memory for all your open applications.

    As for hardware RAID, Adaptec make some very good solutions. Try this page on their web-site:

  13. beatle888 thread starter macrumors 68000


    Feb 3, 2002
    Re: Upgrading PowerBook

    thanks for your suggestion. and to clarify, i
    would easily plug in the firewire raid simply
    for my hardcore photoshop work. the drives
    you can pop into a laptop arent fast enough
    for scratch disks when your moving around
    a gig+ .......

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