how much RAM do I actually need?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by MilesS2111s, Dec 21, 2008.

  1. MilesS2111s macrumors newbie

    Feb 10, 2008
    I'm at a bit of a loss - I've read around the forum and seem people calculating that they need 16Gb or so of RAM however I have no idea where the figures etc come from.

    At the moment I am finding that the Mac and the XP machine hosted by VM Fusion is running somewhat slower than I want them to.

    Right now I am using VM Fusion (XP Pro) for most of the work and want to speed this up and on the Mac I am mainly using Safari and iPhoto.

    I want to get into Video editing (I'm expecting to use something reasonably cheep - I used to us Studio 9 on the PC) native on the mac (any ideas anyone) and don't want to put 8GB of RAM in only to find I should have 16GB but on the other hand I don't want to splash twice as much cash as I actually need to.

    Many thanks in advance for your help here!

  2. TheStrudel macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2008
    This is always a highly situational question. The important thing to know is exactly what you're going to do. For example, if you use Final Cut Pro, that's capped at ~3 GB of RAM right now, as it is only a 32-bit app. However, I have every reason to believe that the next upgrade will remove that arbitrary limitation, so I would say having 8 GB of RAM total is a good starting place. I myself added 8 GB on top of the stock 2 GB that shipped with my mac, because while Final Cut can only use so much, I frequently run the companion apps - Soundtrack, Motion, etc., while running Final Cut, and they all need RAM. Sometimes I'm editing an image in photoshop while editing. So how much do you multitask? Do you anticipate upgrading and wanting to move faster with editing in the future? If so, buy more RAM. For my part, I'd love to load a whole project into RAM. Not very likely, true, but my editing would sing. Even when using something has horribly compressed as HDV...
  3. nightfly13 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 17, 2008
    Ranchi, India
    It would help us to know how much you presently have.

    I think you can chose to allocate VM Fusion as much or little as you want. Give it 2GB - XP doesn't improve much or at all with more.

    I can't really anticipate what software you're going to move into, but I personally have 7gigs right now and it's about 3gigs more than I ever need - although I don't run virtualized Windows. So my opinion is 8gigs should be great, unless you're going to run more than 1 pro app at a time (plus Windows).

    As for a cheap video app, Final Cut Express is your answer.
  4. MilesS2111s thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 10, 2008
    Fair enough - at the moment I have only 2GB (standard shipping allocation) so can only give XP (Fusion) a stupidly small amount. I will up this to 2GB as suggested.

    I will have a look at Final Cut Express (and Pro as suggested further up the thread) I suspect that if I'm doing video editing etc I would tend to concentrate on that so it shouldn't be too much of an issue that I'm having to use only one pro item at a time....

  5. n8mac macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2006
    To see what you are currently using open up all the apps that you use regularly. Then go to applications > utilities > activity monitor. Click on 'system memory' tab. Let us know the stats on the bottom. You can get all the apps you plan to use including the video editing stuff, use them, then open activity monitor and see how much you need then.

    If you want to estimate first then part of it depends on how much multitasking you are planning on doing. If you are video editing without other apps open then you can save and get less ram. If you plan on encoding while surfing and other stuff at once you will need more.
  6. UltraNEO* macrumors 601


    Jun 16, 2007
    Don't forget the OS needs RAM to run efficiently too!
  7. MilesS2111s thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 10, 2008
    OK, not yet having the video editing (buying tonight) I have the following:
    Free 49.34 MB
    Wired 827.48
    Activty 765
    Inactive 400
    Used 1.94GB

    Obviously not fully accurate as they were changing as I type but close enough!


  8. ACiB708 macrumors regular

    Apr 6, 2008
    Please post more details. For example, I have a MBP with 2GB RAM, and it runs very, very fast, even when running Apple's recording suite Logic, but I have already ordered the 4GB kit from Crucial, as having more RAM enhances the overall speed (Although not THAT much if you just use it for casual applications such as pages, safari, mail).

    If you use your Mac to run high-end software such as Final Cut Pro and the like, then definitely get about 8GB RAM. Get 16GB just and JUST if you run Final Cut while editing more things at the same time (running Adobe CS, Soundtrack, Logic Pro, Shake, etc) if not, then don't stuff 16GBs in there it is just a waste of money, and horsepower :)
  9. scottydawg macrumors 6502


    Jan 22, 2008
    Sacramento, CA
    Your Mac will run best if all your RAM slots are filled. I have 8GB of 1GB RAM and use Final Cut Express with excellent results. I think you will be fine with 8GB which can be had for a fairly reasonable price at this point.
  10. TrapOx macrumors 6502

    Dec 4, 2008
    Yes, fill all your slots if possible. There is no such thing as too much ram.
  11. MilesS2111s thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 10, 2008

    yes - I'd picked up on that fact from one of the threads here. Based on what everyone has said I've ordered an additional 6GB of RAM to fill all slots making up 8GB.

    Hopefully now I will have my speedy machine back and not have to put up with long load times in XP and beachballs in Safari....

    Also ordered FC Express as I think that Pro suite is rather too much for the odds and ends that I will be editing! Hopefully it'll all turn up before Christmas and I can give the Mac Pro (08) a early Christmas pressi! :)

  12. Horst Guest

    Jan 10, 2006
  13. ShakeWellProd macrumors member

    Mar 4, 2008
    Miles, I heard that Final Cut only uses 4 gigs of RAM from Larry Jordan ( Final Cut Expert. Not sure what Motion can do, but that is where you really need to max your RAM. I run on 6 gigs and it is plenty to run two monitors with FCP, Internet and OSX.

    That should do it.

    But if you have to the money...
  14. nightfly13 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 17, 2008
    Ranchi, India
    Miles, personally I would NOT fill up all 8 bays with 1GB DIMMs. When you want to expand you have to 'waste' some of your bought memory. Better to add 8GB (4x2GB modules) and have 2 slots free, imho.

    I saw a graph is performance with all different kinds of memory mixed and matched installed and the differences were very small once you get more than 2GB in there. That's speed performance, not overall system performance (where more memory is better). So I don't think you're taking hardly any performance hit (like half of 1 percent) by having slots left open. This allows for painless expansion in the future (above 10GB) and then if you really want to expand, you only need to take out the 2x1GB chips it shipped with and replace those with 2GB units for 16GB.

    Long post made short: 2GB chips offer more flexibility for future expansion without waste and the performance 'loss' is extremely insignificant. I have 3 mis-matched pairs: 512, 1GB and 2GB and 2 slots free.

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