How much RAM do I need?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by RolandNights, Sep 2, 2011.

  1. RolandNights macrumors 6502a

    Aug 8, 2011
    Hey guys, my Mid-2010 base MBP has 4GB of RAM. It's been kind of slowing down lately, probably because of the Lion update. However, I've also been using more programs lately (and simultaneously), so that would probably contribute to the slow down as well.

    Anyway, for my use, how much RAM do I need for my computer to run smoothly and seamlessly? Here are some apps that I tend to use, more or less, at the same time:

    • Safari
    • Preview
    • iTunes/Spotify
    • Mail
    • Evernote
    • iChat
    • iCal

    Nothing really heavy duty, but periodically, I'll use Handbrake/Ripit, Skitch, iPhoto, Transmission, or Photoshop. FWIW, I usually have BetterSnapTool and smcFanControl running at all times. As for my Safari-usage, I like to have two or three tabs open usually. Mainly Facebook, Reddit, various forums; youtube every once in awhile. I'm not using too many crazy websites, but the tabs can add up when I'm researching through a bunch of online academic journals.

    Thanks for any help, guys.
  2. SandboxGeneral Moderator emeritus


    Sep 8, 2010
    4GB should be fine for you. But you can always add more later for cheap.

    Edit: I am always a proponent of maxing out RAM if one can afford it.
  3. NicoleRichie macrumors 6502

    Jun 30, 2007
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_5 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8L1 Safari/6533.18.5)

    Max out it's cheap.
  4. treestar macrumors 6502

    Feb 28, 2010
    Seamlessly is a serious demand. Every computer has a hiccup or two. Maybe you should get 16 GB. I know the new MBPs can take 16 -- I'm not sure about the 2010 models. It doesn't sound like you are doing that bad with 4 GB, at the same time 8 GB is between $40-$70. Just get more.
  5. RolandNights thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Aug 8, 2011
    Yeah, the prices aren't too bad, especially compared to how they were a few years ago. Thanks.

    Lol I figured "seamlessly" might've been a bit too powerful of a word. I just want to avoid all the spinning pinwheels I've been getting lately. Thanks for the input. (BTW, the 2010 models go up to 8gb)

    I can afford it. I should've mentioned I've been doing a lot of video calling lately, too, so that gets a little taxing. Thanks for the input.
  6. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    if there's a problem from the Lion update, it's not a memory problem. run a repair permissions and repair disk first to see if that fixes it, otherwise do a clean install.

    any pinwheels due to what you're doing (nothing taxing) is an IO problem, not memory.
  7. RolandNights thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Aug 8, 2011
    Hmm I've been thinking about doing a clean install for awhile. Just to double-check, I have to backup everything on my computer first, correct? I've never done a clean install on any other devices before (went straight from Windows XP to this MBP badboy).
  8. gigapocket1 macrumors 65816

    Mar 15, 2009
    Before u do a system wipe.. I would clear the cache.. Not just for safari but for the entire system.. That should add a lot of the "snappiness" back to the computer as well
  9. brendu macrumors 68020

    Apr 23, 2009
    If you really want to almost completely get rid of the spinning beachballs I would have to recommend a solid state drive. Not as cheap as more RAM but it makes all the difference. I did both on my 2009 MacBook Pro. First did 8GB RAM and still had beachballs randomly because the hard drive is still slow (5400rpm). Then went with the SSD and ever since I almost never see beachballs anymore.

    If you can afford it, the SSD is the best upgrade you can give your computer.
  10. MacHamster68 macrumors 68040


    Sep 17, 2009
    modern OS and Apps need as much ram as they can get and if you buy a Mac today just double the ram thats offered inside by apple as a rule of thump , as they only offer the absolute minimum so they can be sure you can load the OS :D nobody is expecting from a modern Mac to run with just 4GB ram
  11. chupacabra31 macrumors member

    Aug 6, 2011
    +1 unless its a cheap brand of SSD then you might actually get more beachballs. :)

    The seagate momentus hybrid is a great alternative to an actual ssd as it has a 4gb ssd combined with a 500gb 7200rpm hdd. Best of both worlds. Your apps and OS will snap to attention. Don't know that it will help you with photoshop all that much.

    8gb of ram is going to allow you to have more programs open simultaneously if that is important to you. Also photoshop will definitely benefit from an SSD and 8gb of ram. Especially if you work on hi-res files and more then one at the same time. In fact 16gb ram is not uncommon for professionals who use their mac for photoshop. Obviously we can only upgrade to 8gb I think (Unless you have the 17").

    Ram is ridiculously cheap right now! I believe newegg had some cruicial 4x2 for a total of 8gb ram for less then $50 shipped.
  12. Tali macrumors member

    May 20, 2010
    If you don't want to upgrade, use Chrome instead of Safari.
    Safari's memory leak will even kill your 8GB Ram - so the problems might persist if you use Safari quite heavily.

    Or upgrade and use Chrome until Apple fixes Safari :). Ram is dirt cheap right now, so it's definitely a good time.
  13. RolandNights thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Aug 8, 2011
    Quick update:

    Thanks guys for all the input. I went ahead and maxed out my MBP with 8 GB of RAM and it's helped a lot! I'm getting practically ZERO beach balls now. I've seen one while I was doing my initial back-up on Time Machine, but that was because I was video chatting and writing a paper at the same time.

    I'm still considering upgrading to a SSD as I think my internal 320 GB isn't really sufficient for my needs anymore (I'm using my MBP more and more as a portable media device, simple video editing, etc.). It'll be pricey, but I'll probably do it eventually.

    I'm also still considering doing a clean install still, just because I have noticed some minor glitches still, but overall, I'm very happy with how the 8GB of RAM has helped my computer's performance. Thanks again for the input, guys.

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