How Much Does a Person Need? Really!

garycurtis

macrumors 6502
Original poster
A few of my friends and I mulled over options in current Macs weighed against real world needs.

Attached is the About This Mac info screen on my new machine.

Somewhat modest. Certainly not an i7-powered iMac.

I ran some tests to answer these questions —

Do I need Fusion Drive?

Would I benefit from an ext. SSD Boot Drive?

Would I benefit from more RAM

Here's some numbers I clocked the iMac I now have with the a spinning HD:.

Wake up from sleep mode - :06 sec

Aperture start :03MS

Word start :04

Acrobat Pro start :04

PhotoShop :08
Apple Pages :12

Boot time from power on :45

I also looked at Activity Monitor to see what the RAM and CPU were doing.
RAM use was 5.3Gb (out of 8Gb onboard) with the following programs running simultaneously:Aperture, PhotoShop, InDesign,Word. So about 60% utilization factor.
My friend who is a Mac troubleshooter advised that RAM in excess of 8Gb is a waste. Another friend who is the founder of the 2nd largest MUG (Mac User Group) in America confirmed this. "Don't waste your money unless you are doing one of these three activities: Gaming, Video Editing or Movie Streaming.




View: original size

So, I am more than happy with what I've got. Furthermore, OWC is not getting my more of my money; at least not this week.
 

Attachments


B.A.T

macrumors 6502a
Oct 16, 2009
620
320
Idaho
It depends on what that person is doing with their computer. Is it a work computer or a computer for the home to surf the web. However, I think more people should consider this when purchasing a new machine.
 

Bear

macrumors G3
Jul 23, 2002
8,089
4
Sol III - Terra
A few of my friends and I mulled over options in current Macs weighed against real world needs.
...
My friend who is a Mac troubleshooter advised that RAM in excess of 8Gb is a waste. Another friend who is the founder of the 2nd largest MUG (Mac User Group) in America confirmed this. "Don't waste your money unless you are doing one of these three activities: Gaming, Video Editing or Movie Streaming.
...
These are your needs. Yes, they do apply to a lot of people, but even your friends advice is not quite correct for some people.

As for you, if you got a new machine based on your current usage, I'd suggest a fusion drive. Also photo work can also exceed 8GB of RAM as I know from Aperture and photo editing with iTunes, a web browser and Mail as well as a few very small apps running concurrently.

Also, if you run VMware or Parallels, you might need more than 8GB to allow the virtual machines to run without impacting other things you are running. Sp your MUG friend forgot this and some other situations where more RAM would be rather useful.

It depends on what that person is doing with their computer. Is it a work computer or a computer for the home to surf the web. However, I think more people should consider this when purchasing a new machine.
Also, a persons hobbies need to be considered.
 
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xraydoc

macrumors demi-god
Oct 9, 2005
7,231
1,512
192.168.1.1
Gary,

No disrespect, but your friends are not giving you entirely correct information.

There are plenty of reasons for having more than 8GB of RAM. In addition to video and high-res photo editing, anyone who uses any virtual machines (Windows, Linux, etc.) can benefit from more RAM.

People who keep multiple apps open and in use at the same time - say a big Keynote presentation, a couple Word documents, a web browser with several tabs open and an image editor like Pixelmator with a 5+MP image and a couple layers - would benefit from >8GB of RAM. And these are not unusual use situations. These are real-world situations. Even a high school student may have all these things active at once.

If you really think Aperture and Photoshop don't need more, then you're not the target user for either of those two apps.

Reasons for an SSD are similar. Virtual machine performance is improved significantly. Speed of imaging editing saves and cache files is improved. File copy/transfer can be 3x or more faster than with a mechanical HD.

Do you NEED any of it? No. You don't NEED a modern iMac either. You could certainly save a boat load of money by using one from 10 years ago. But some people appreciate high performance - and the cost of 16GB of RAM over 8GB and the cost of a 256GB SSD over a mechanical HD is not all that high to be honest.

If all you do is browse the web and write emails, then, no, you don't need much power at all. But if you're doing anything more than basic tasks, you will see some benefit from some performance options.

You want to save your money, it's your call. But to suggest that more than 8GB, an SSD, a faster GPU, etc., is a total waste is simply ill-informed at best and irresponsible (if you're in a position to advise people on wise purchases) at worst.

On top of that, streaming and watching a movie (as your friend suggests) certainly does NOT require over 8GB of RAM. Not even sure why he would suggest that that is one of the situations where it would help.
 
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Bear

macrumors G3
Jul 23, 2002
8,089
4
Sol III - Terra
...
On top of that, streaming and watching a movie (as your friend suggests) certainly does NOT require over 8GB of RAM. Not even sure why he would suggest that that is one of the situations where it would help.
Good catch. I missed that the first time through.
 

xraydoc

macrumors demi-god
Oct 9, 2005
7,231
1,512
192.168.1.1
Just for fun, I took at look at what the 2011 Mac mini I have at work is doing right now.

I have open: two Safari tabs, iMessage, Excel, PowerPoint, Activity Monitor and Citrix with one window open (for access to work email). Also running in the background is the Dropbox client, the Google Drive client and iStatMenus.

So not a very sophisticated load of apps at the moment.

The machine is using 7.41GB of RAM out of 16GB. If I had only 8GB of RAM, just one more reasonably sized app would push me over the limit and the machine would start paging out virtual memory.

That, plus it's meager 120GB SSD, everything opens and closes instantaneously. Data files are stored on the stock 500GB mechanical HD. Makes a machine with a somewhat dated processor (2.5GHz dual-core i5) feel nearly as responsive as my 2013 3.5GHz quad-core i7 iMac.

Not to belabor the point, but modern machines will happily make use of more than 8GB of RAM. And fortunately, RAM is one of the cheapest upgrades you can give your computer. For those looking at non-RAM-upgradable machines, you'd be wise to think ahead.
 

garycurtis

macrumors 6502
Original poster
All these observation and preferences are helpful. And perhaps my friends who said I had enough horsepower are minimalists. Or maybe even cheapskates.

So, I'll open my mind a little and listen. Before going further, though, let me assure you I will never run Windows, or Virtual whatever. I won't.

The part about the RAM doesn't warrant any more discussion. But what about an SSD attached as an external drive? I'm not going to sell my machine to buy another iMac just to acquire FD. I won't. Therefore do I want an SSD attached with a wife to ....

a) work as a boot drive?
b) just to store my applications?
c) which cabling type --- USB 3 or Thunderbolt?
d) I run Aperture all day long. Is bumped up RAM adequate without the SSD? I was thinking of adding 16Gb for a total of 24Gb.
 

yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
6,725
230
GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
All these observation and preferences are helpful. And perhaps my friends who said I had enough horsepower are minimalists. Or maybe even cheapskates.

So, I'll open my mind a little and listen. Before going further, though, let me assure you I will never run Windows, or Virtual whatever. I won't.

The part about the RAM doesn't warrant any more discussion. But what about an SSD attached as an external drive? I'm not going to sell my machine to buy another iMac just to acquire FD. I won't. Therefore do I want an SSD attached with a wife to ....

a) work as a boot drive?
b) just to store my applications?
c) which cabling type --- USB 3 or Thunderbolt?
d) I run Aperture all day long. Is bumped up RAM adequate without the SSD? I was thinking of adding 16Gb for a total of 24Gb.
a) Yes, you might want to use it as a boot drive, but only if your current boot drive is a HDD.
b) Perhaps.
c) Thunderbolt. It's got double the bandwidth of USB 3.0. Thunderbolt is rated at 10 Gb/s, while USB 3 is rated at 5 Gb/s. A SATA3 SSD is rated at 6 Gb/s, so you'll want Thunderbolt.
d) You could, but 24GB is an unorthodox configuration, and afaik, I don't think you'll benefit from dual-channel this way. I suggest total RAM values in the power of 2, such as 8, 16, 32....etc.
 

Bear

macrumors G3
Jul 23, 2002
8,089
4
Sol III - Terra
...
c) Thunderbolt. It's got double the bandwidth of USB 3.0. Thunderbolt is rated at 10 Gb/s, while USB 3 is rated at 5 Gb/s. A SATA3 SSD is rated at 6 Gb/s, so you'll want Thunderbolt.
d) You could, but 24GB is an unorthodox configuration, and afaik, I don't think you'll benefit from dual-channel this way. I suggest total RAM values in the power of 2, such as 8, 16, 32....etc.
Actually you would benefit from dual channel with 24GB. And for a single disk (SSD or HD) USB 3 is faster than the SSD, so it doesn't matter which is used.
 

monokakata

macrumors 68000
May 8, 2008
1,861
382
Hilo, Hawai'i
Therefore do I want an SSD attached with a wife to ....
I know we're not supposed to do this, and so I do it with great good humor, and I've made more than my fair share of plain old typos, but . . .

you have to admit that wanting an SSD with an attached wife is a pretty good one.

Having struggled all day installing balky sliding glass doors, I was very pleased to find something on MacRumors that made me laugh. So thanks.
 

yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
6,725
230
GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
And for a single disk (SSD or HD) USB 3 is faster than the SSD, so it doesn't matter which is used.
How sure are you?

http://www.hardwareheaven.com/reviews/1726/pg1/buffalo-ministation-thunderbolt-ssd-hd-patu3-review-full-article.html

Buffalo HD-PATU3S with a Crucial M4 128GB SSD.

Thunderbolt's faster, as seen in the chart :)

Edit: http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/storage/display/buffalo-ministation-thunderbolt_3.html

If you scroll down to the part with SSD, Thunderbolt is also significantly faster here, but in reading only (which is more important to see performance benefits)
 
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xraydoc

macrumors demi-god
Oct 9, 2005
7,231
1,512
192.168.1.1
Yeah. An SSD with a wire is an asset. An SSD with a wife attached could spell trouble. But what do I want the ext SSD for;
1) the OS?
2)Applications?
3) Both?
Connect the SSD over Thunderbolt in a quality enclosure and install the OS and applications on it. It'll run a maximum speed and should function just as good as an internal SSD.
 

analog guy

macrumors 6502
Mar 6, 2009
358
0
Connect the SSD over Thunderbolt in a quality enclosure and install the OS and applications on it. It'll run a maximum speed and should function just as good as an internal SSD.
not as simple as it sounds! in my testing (see the peripherals thread) at least one TB enclosure performed SLOWER than the same drives in the same enclosure in USB3 mode.
 

lefty224

macrumors member
Sep 20, 2013
33
0
Actually you would benefit from dual channel with 24GB. And for a single disk (SSD or HD) USB 3 is faster than the SSD, so it doesn't matter which is used.
Final answer?

So adding a 16GB kit to the existing 8GB on the computer will result in a benefit or no?

there's 2 conflicting answers here and no one has confirmed either way.

----------

Connect the SSD over Thunderbolt in a quality enclosure and install the OS and applications on it. It'll run a maximum speed and should function just as good as an internal SSD.
Is this the Lacie Little Big Disk or the Elgato Thunderbolt+?

Both of those are pricey. Is there a cheaper alternative?
 

yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
6,725
230
GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
Is this the Lacie Little Big Disk or the Elgato Thunderbolt+?

Both of those are pricey. Is there a cheaper alternative?
There's no such thing as cheap Thunderbolt peripherals. Thunderbolt controllers are pricey and complex stuff, that's why it's so versatile and fast.

Take the Thunderbolt cable for instance. Each end of the cable contains a Gennum GN2033 microchip to facilitate the blazing rates of Thunderbolt. So it justifies the $50 price tag for just the cable alone.
 

Bear

macrumors G3
Jul 23, 2002
8,089
4
Sol III - Terra
Final answer?

So adding a 16GB kit to the existing 8GB on the computer will result in a benefit or no?

there's 2 conflicting answers here and no one has confirmed either way.
Yes it will be a benefit. The iMac can access memory modules in pairs for a small performance increase over individual access, For this to work, each pair has to be in the correct sockets and the modules within a pair have to have identical specs. If you added a 4GB and 8 GB module, then that pair wouldn't be matched.

So 2 x 4GB and 2 x 8GB would work for the improved performance. Also, if you need more than 8GB of RAM, extra ram would help even if yo didn't get the dual channel access as itt would still be faster than going to disk for paging.
 

garycurtis

macrumors 6502
Original poster
I am sold on the extra RAM and will order an additional 8Gb this week.

And I understrand and am impressed about the Thunderbolt peripherals. That is some complex technology. Logic chips in the cable ends!!!! Wow.

So, if I were to buy a 120Gb SSD to be used externally — but not in a RAID configuration — what are leading brands of smaller Docks or Enclosures with TB ports?
 

lefty224

macrumors member
Sep 20, 2013
33
0
There's no such thing as cheap Thunderbolt peripherals. Thunderbolt controllers are pricey and complex stuff, that's why it's so versatile and fast.

Take the Thunderbolt cable for instance. Each end of the cable contains a Gennum GN2033 microchip to facilitate the blazing rates of Thunderbolt. So it justifies the $50 price tag for just the cable alone.
Any internal options?
 

lefty224

macrumors member
Sep 20, 2013
33
0
Only if Samsung XP941s are readily available on the market. All Haswell Macs will only take PCIe SSDs with the M2 form factor like the XP941 used by Apple.
So basically here's my options:

1. Get an external thunderbolt ssd drive like the Lacie or Legoto but are very pricey

2. Wait for the samsung xp941 to be available but we don't know when, how much, and for a non techie like me, how to get it installed.

3. Stick with the current 1 TB HDD 7200 rpm that I have right now and learn to be happy and love it.

Does this sound right?
 

yjchua95

macrumors 604
Apr 23, 2011
6,725
230
GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
So basically here's my options:

1. Get an external thunderbolt ssd drive like the Lacie or Legoto but are very pricey

2. Wait for the samsung xp941 to be available but we don't know when, how much, and for a non techie like me, how to get it installed.

3. Stick with the current 1 TB HDD 7200 rpm that I have right now and learn to be happy and love it.

Does this sound right?
Option 1 and 3 are the most feasible ones.

It's very much impossible to open up the iMac, because you have to take apart the screen first. And putting it back is another big challenge.

EDIT: For the Thunderbolt SSD, I suggest getting a Buffalo HD-PATU3 spinner drive first, and then buy a Samsung 840 Evo and then stick it into the HD-PATU3.

Update: http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/storage/display/buffalo-ministation-thunderbolt_3.html

A Kingston SNVP325-S2 SSD was put into the HD-PATU3 and tested over Thunderbolt. This SSD has a sequential read throughput of 230MB/s and sequential write throughput of 180MB/s. As you can see in the chart, over Thunderbolt, the SSD is performing at a near-maximum rate of 219MB/s and 128.5 MB/s, read and write respectively.

To see performance benefits, such as launching apps faster and faster startup times, the read speed is more important. You'll only see a benefit in increased write speed when writing large amounts of data to the drive.

The HD-PATU3 contains both Thunderbolt and USB 3 ports.

If you buy the HD-PATU3S, which comes with an SSD already, I wouldn't really recommend it because it uses a Crucial M4 SSD, which is slower. You can buy the standard HD-PATU3 and fit a Samsung 840 Evo into it.
 
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lefty224

macrumors member
Sep 20, 2013
33
0
Option 1 and 3 are the most feasible ones.

It's very much impossible to open up the iMac, because you have to take apart the screen first. And putting it back is another big challenge.

EDIT: For the Thunderbolt SSD, I suggest getting a Buffalo HD-PATU3 spinner drive first, and then buy a Samsung 840 Evo and then stick it into the HD-PATU3.

Update: http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/storage/display/buffalo-ministation-thunderbolt_3.html

A Kingston SNVP325-S2 SSD was put into the HD-PATU3 and tested over Thunderbolt. This SSD has a sequential read throughput of 230MB/s and sequential write throughput of 180MB/s. As you can see in the chart, over Thunderbolt, the SSD is performing at a near-maximum rate of 219MB/s and 128.5 MB/s, read and write respectively.

To see performance benefits, such as launching apps faster and faster startup times, the read speed is more important. You'll only see a benefit in increased write speed when writing large amounts of data to the drive.

The HD-PATU3 contains both Thunderbolt and USB 3 ports.

If you buy the HD-PATU3S, which comes with an SSD already, I wouldn't really recommend it because it uses a Crucial M4 SSD, which is slower. You can buy the standard HD-PATU3 and fit a Samsung 840 Evo into it.

Can you send me a link on which hd-patu3s to get and which ssd?