Buy more RAM or sell my PRO and trade up for faster one?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Time Forbath, Oct 9, 2012.

  1. Time Forbath macrumors newbie

    Oct 9, 2012
    What do you all think is a better idea?

    I have a mid 2010 15-inch 2.53 GHz Intel Core i5 running Lion, in great condition, and a warranty until 2013.

    The problem is that it just doesn't match my needs. I multitask like a maniac. And now I'm getting into music and video production. But even without that, I find I am eating up my 500 GB harddrive quick and my processor seems to be overwhelmed. I've deleted large files to make it run better, but I am starting to think I just need more power.

    Since my AppleCare goes until 2013, wouldn't this be a good sell? Then I could drop another 1.5 grand on a new 15 inch. That would set me for three years easily.

    OR, should I buy more RAM and double my 4GB to 8 GB? Will that be a cheaper approach? Will I have a similar outcome, namely, a faster computer?

    Thanks! :D
  2. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    I recently upgraded from 4GB to 8GB RAM in my notebook and the difference is noticeable. I also upgrade from a 5400RPM drive to a 256GB SSD and it starts up in literally a couple of seconds.

    If mutli-tasking is what you do, your RAM is the bottleneck. The 2.53 GHz i5 is more than adequate.

    Is a SSD something you would consider? The RAM and a reasonable sized SSD can be had for around $250 and you would see noticeable performance increases, and that's a lot better than purchasing a new notebook, even if you intend on selling the old one in my opinion.
  3. Time Forbath thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 9, 2012
    I would certainly consider SSD and more RAM, assuming that I can easily install it.

    I did actually manually add a new hard drive to my 2003 powerbook g4 13 inc (which I still have and works just fine) and I have the tools, but I am nervous about breaking this thing or voiding warranty.

    Is installation easy?

    Thanks for your insights. Spending $250 sounds a whole lot better than $1500+


    I will also come clean and admit I know nothing about SSD.
  4. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    Yes, very. It's just unscrewing some screws, lining things up and putting them into place, etc. I recommend looking it up a video tutorial on YouTube for your model. (15'' Unibody)

    You will not void the warranty by replacing the RAM and HDD.

    SSD is basically the same thing as a HDD (same form factor/size and use) except that it does not have moving parts like a traditional hard drive does. They are much faster than HDDs, make no sound and I have even noticed improved power consumption when making the switch personally. I am not sure if that is a common occurrence as I have never really seen anything mentioned beyond "it's fast!" but I have noticed improved battery life from switching to a SSD.
  5. newdeal macrumors 68020

    Oct 21, 2009

    Yes it is easy. I seriously doubt your cpu is the issue. If you want a computer that flies upgrade the ram (cheap), and pop in a 512gb ssd (expensive) and move the current hard drive to the optical bay and remove the optical drive, then use the slow drive for your music files, pictures etc
  6. Time Forbath, Oct 9, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2012

    Time Forbath thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 9, 2012
    Okay these are all great insights.

    I am slightly newbie intimidated by this statement, but I think I could figure it out.

    :and move the current hard drive to the optical bay and remove the optical drive, then use the slow drive for your music files, pictures etc :
  7. bball2 macrumors newbie

    Aug 5, 2010
    Keep your eye out for the Crucial M4 512GB - they have gone for as low as $350. Good reputation for speed / reliability
  8. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    Yes, there are variants around that capacity - typically 480GB or 512GB, which is going to cost you roughly $350-$500, depending on the capacity, brand, architecture, etc.
  9. throAU, Oct 9, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2012

    throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    Personally, I'd go for 16gb if your machine supports it, and slap in a hybrid drive - 750gb momentus XT.

    You'll get plenty of storage, the OS will still be snappier than a normal HD, and the extra ram will ensure that you very rarely run into swap.

    The 2010 is still a fast machine, i doubt you're hitting the wall in terms of CPU power, more likely the miniscule 4gb RAM is holding you back more than anything else.

    IMHO - 500gb SSDs are still too expensive... and 250gb just isn't enough.

    Yes, i've used SSD - my work machine has 256gb SSD... but for what i do on my personal machine, i'm just not willing to make the trade-off.
  10. riptideMBP macrumors 6502

    May 29, 2011
    you could look into getting a 7200rpm scorpio black, or a hybrid Momentus XT to get a little more speed while maintaining your storage capacity and keeping costs down
  11. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    I thought the hybrid drive was a joke compared to a regular 7200 RPM drive? I watched some speed tests a while back, apparently the "numbers don't do it justice" so to speak and it's more of a real world performer.
  12. throAU macrumors 603


    Feb 13, 2012
    Perth, Western Australia
    As far as faffing about with drives in the optical bay goes - I just don't consider 2 drives to be worth it.

    If you're working with large data sets in applications, you want that data to ALSO be on fast storage. By going for a small SSD for the OS and manually shuffling data around from HD to SSD, you're wasting your time (time you save waiting for apps is eaten up by having to manage your storage space). All you're doing really is using the SSD as cache for your hard disk (but spending time managing your data to do it), which is what a momentus XT will do for you automatically. Plus you can keep your optical drive.

    My 2c anyway....
  13. Time Forbath thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 9, 2012
    I am seeing that for $330 on ebay right now.

    And, unless I am not looking at the right specs, I am seeing 4GB RAM online for like $25 each.

    Despite the discussion here about dual driving and switching (which I don't understand, frankly), if it comes down to me wanting to give my Pro a boost and not spend too much, getting the Crucial M4 512GB and more RAM (my Pro has a limit of 8GB) seems like a pretty good bet for me.


    Thanks for all your opinions guys.
  14. sweetbrat macrumors 65816


    Jun 17, 2009
    Redford, MI
    If it's within your budget, it sounds like it would be a great option for you. For most people, they don't want to drop $350-500 on a large SSD, so they go with a smaller one, take out the optical drive and put the old hard drive in its place. If you're hesitant to do that and can afford the 512GB SSD, go for it. You'll still have your old HDD and if you decide you need more storage later you can move it to the optical bay at that point. It's not really difficult and there's a lot of how-to articles online if you decide that's what you want to do.
  15. CASLondon macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2011
    My 2 cents -
    RAM is cheap and easy, a no-brainer to max no matter what. 4 gigs IS a limiting factor, which your multitasking is possibly testing. I'm sure 8 would make it all better, but if your machine stops at 8, perhaps one factor in your decision towards an upgrade to something a little bit more recent.

    Your HDD isn't the factor here, you can optical slot a second drive/add a SSD/use external storage and free up space in the internal

    You say you are getting into music/video, here is where you might want to go from core duo to quad core, because rendering time is where you will see speed differences. Secondly, if you upgrade you have access to faster external storage - the clincher is thunderbolt.

    Another factor is the SATA speeds on your current model (I'm guessing the internal disk is SATA 2, Optical is either SATA 2 or possibly SATA1). A 2011 MBP is SATA3 (6g) in the internal slot, and a 2012 MBP is SATA3 on both the internal and optical slots, for faster read/writes even on the SSD you put in there.

    I would say do the ram, but if you are serious about the music/video, upgrade to a thunderbolt quad core (even refurb or second had), max your ram, and invest in sad/external storage.

    I'd buy the ram, free up some hd space, and see how that sits for a few months while thinking about an upgrade to a 2011-2012 non-rentina MBP with a thunderbolt and quad cores (either refurb or second-hand).

    When you get that, you can digest it while thinking about thunderbolt external storage raid, maxing RAM (cheap), and a SSD boot disk (a 240g Samsung is under 200 bucks now)
  16. Time Forbath thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 9, 2012
    I could afford a 512GB if it was no more than $350. And the optical bay is where I put in disks, correct? So no more disks if I do that. And that simply provides me more storage space by having two drives? Am I understanding this correctly?

    Also, I'd need to backup everything currently on my MBP and install all the applications again if I installed an SSD, right?

    I am okay with that and would prefer a clean slate assuming I need to do this.

    Thanks again everyone.
  17. Cubeeless macrumors regular


    Apr 6, 2012
    Here you go..
    16gb ram plus 256 gb ssd + 1tb hdd either in optical bay or external.
  18. NewishMacGuy, Oct 11, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2012

    NewishMacGuy macrumors 6502a


    Aug 2, 2007
    RAM will make a big difference, particularly with the latest versions of Lion and ML, which seem to be less memory efficient on all my machines.

    But rather than go all out on upgrades with a large SSD + RAM (expensive) or a small SSD + RAM + data doubler to replace optical drive with old HD (slightly less expensive), I would go with RAM + large capacity hybrid drive. For $200 or less you can get near SSD speed, boost your RAM to 8GB or possibly 16GB and an additional 250GB hard drive space (totaling 750GB on the hybrid) spinning at 7200 rpm.

    I suggest this route because the 2010 doesn't have Thunderbolt or USB3 and while you certainly don't need a new computer now, I wouldn't really sink more than $200 in it because you're about to hit a steeper part of the depreciation curve and the additional money spent probably won't pay you back should you decide to upgrade when Haswell comes out next year.


    I put a Momentus XT in my wife's 2011 MBP and she now gets 12-14 second boots and most apps open instantaneously.
  19. mgartner0622 macrumors 65816


    Jun 6, 2010
    Colorado, USA
    Yes, you'll lose the optical drive functionality. You can also buy upgrade kits that come with an external enclosure for your optical drive that you removed. That way, when you need it, you just plug it into the unit via USB.
    There are applications to copy over your hard drive to the SSD so you don't have to reinstall (such as Carbon Copy Cloner) but my preference is to always do a fresh install so it is a clean slate like you stated.
  20. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    Right but I have read and seen reviews as well as read a lot of posts and what not basically claiming that it's the same performance as a traditional 7200RPM drive. I could be wrong, and I have never owned either a hybrid drive nor a standard 7200RPM drive (at least in a Mac notebook) as I went straight from 5400RPM to a SSD. Perhaps you would get the same performance out of a traditional hard drive as opposed to the hybrid drive.
  21. Ledgem macrumors 65816


    Jan 18, 2008
    Hawaii, USA
    I'm using a 500 GB Momentus XT. I honestly can't say how it compares to a standard 7200 RPM drive because I upgraded from the stock 5400 RPM drive. However, the reviews that I read at the time remarked that the drive was faster, with the caveat that it depends on what you were doing. The SSD portion of the drive basically functions as a large cache. If you're doing fairly repetitive things (opening and closing the same few programs multiple times throughout the day, or rebooting and such), you'll get a large speed boost around the third or fourth time you trigger that action. Otherwise, it's just a 7200 RPM drive. I'm happy with mine, as it's way faster than the old 5400 RPM drive, but I'd still like to upgrade to a SSD at some point in the future.

    To the thread starter, I think it would be best to figure out where the slowdown is occurring. Do you monitor your page file, memory usage, and processor usage? If your memory usage is consistently very high and you're experiencing a lot of page outs, upgrading your RAM and getting a faster hard drive will result in very noticeable speed gains. On the other hand, if your memory usage isn't terribly high (let's say under 60% utilization) and you're not experiencing any page outs, then a RAM upgrade won't help you. On the other hand, if you're consistently pegging your CPU cores at 100% utilization, then your processor is bogging you down, and the best solution would be to upgrade to a newer computer.
  22. clyde2801 macrumors 601


    Mar 6, 2008
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    Would like to repeat what ledgem previously replied with, and state that the Momentus XT needs to be used a few times to learn your usage before the SSD cache is of maximum benefit.
  23. NewishMacGuy macrumors 6502a


    Aug 2, 2007
    True, the NAND flash storage in the hybrids (4GB in the 500GB drive and 8GB in the 750GB drive) serves as a large read-only cache. In practice we have found the Seagate cache management software to be very effective at optimizing (and re-optimizing) the flash storage for speed under our normal usage conditions with the 750GB drive. You only notice the HDD delay when you boot/start a new app for the first 2 times, or have a large write, or use some app that you hardly ever use. For your commonly used tasks everything is near instantaneous . I've never used a regular 7200 rpm drive before, but even when the Momentus XT is accessing the HDD instead of cache it's still fast.

    You can definitely feel it "learning" for the first couple of days that you use it. During the learning phase, some stuff is instantaneous and some lags a bit, but after a week its a very smooth and very fast experience all around.
  24. procrastinasn macrumors regular

    Jun 20, 2010
    One thing I do in my iMac is have a SSD with the OS on it, and the 1TB HDD is where my docs are.

    It's quite easy to set up in System Preferences to change your home directory to be on the disk drive..

    My SSD is only ~90GB and even though my files are on the HDD, (applications on SSD), the whole system feels like it's running on a SSD because all the apps are on there.
  25. Dark Void macrumors 68030

    Dark Void

    Jun 1, 2011
    I understand that, like I said I never used a Momentus XT nor a Scorpio Black or what have you in order to make a comparison myself. I am just going by some reviews I have read. Some say it's great, others say it's basically the same as a 7200RPM drive.

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