How much RAM for a MacBook?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by sanford, Aug 16, 2006.

  1. sanford macrumors 65816

    Jan 5, 2003
    Dallas, USA
    I know this has been asked so many times but I'm having trouble getting a definitive answer. Right now, the difference between $100 and $200 for a RAM upgrade is significant in my household.

    So, 1 GB or 2 GB? I am a writer, who quite frankly is spending much, much more time raising 3 kids than writing -- but writing is what I do and will be doing more as the kids get older. I use Nisus or NeoOffice (which is going to be slow to open no matter what, really), iPhoto a lot; iTunes a lot; Safari a lot; Mail a lot; Dashboard a lot; iCal a lot; iMovie some; iDVD occasionally. Various small utilities that only slow things down if many are open. A couple of small applications requiring Rosetta, but I try to upgrade to universal binaries as soon as they are available. I might use GarageBand some in the future. I might use PhotoShop some in the future, but nothing extreme. Maybe a couple games, but this is a fringe benefit not a requirement. We have kids, so we have consoles.

    I know I can add 1 GB for a total of 1.25 GB -- for about the same price as 1 GB total -- but I lose the dual-channel mode. But my inclination is that if can do just fine with 1 GB, I'll do 2 512 MB modules, keep operating in dual-channel, so I don't take the hit on graphics performance. I get the feeling I'll feel the slow down more there than waiting an extra "bounce" for an application to open because it has to be loaded off disk because it's not lurking in the inactive RAM.

    The only time I really feel serious performance problems now is when I keep all the apps I use open all the time, or have many windows or tabs going in Safari. So, based on what I do, 1 GB or 2 GB? I mean, with that I do, will I even feel the improvement of 2 GB over 1 GB?
  2. sulhaq macrumors regular


    Jul 29, 2006
    Yes. You need 2 GB. Believe me. I also thought 1 GB was going to be enough for me. Boy was I wrong. It was okay in the beginning, but then I installed MS Office, Azureus, WoW, Parallels Desktop with Windows XP and a couple of other resource hogs and the computer slowed down remarkably when I had one or more of those applications open. Once I was installing JetAudio on Windows and minimized it to write up a word document and opened up MS Word, man o man, the computer froze (that rainbow circle thingy the mouse turns into) for almost 10 minutes. As soon as I would open Parallels and fire up windows all other applications would suffer, and don't even get me started on having Azureus and Windows open and then trying to start Word or Excel, took bloody forever. It even affected how fast was my internet when Azureus hogged all the interner resources.

    I finally made the big decision and got 2x1GB sticks from Newegg, cost $158 and I can tell you there was a REMARKABLE improvement. I could finally have Azureus, Parallels, Limewire open all working and still open Word or Excel remarkably quickly. I am a chatting person so I have Mercury open almost 24/7 and that's also a resource hog. 2gb RAM also helped our mercury smoothing out the messages when I typed and not getting stuck in between types. The internet was finally a lot better. Well not that much because Azureus still hogs all the internet resources when its open but i saw some improvement. All in All I was very happy with the 2gb performance and I was very wrong that I could make it work with 1gb only.
  3. flyers1 macrumors newbie

    Jul 7, 2005
    I'd suggest going for 1.25Gb now and upgrading to 2Gb later if you think it is warranted. I went with the 1.25Gb and haven't noticed any reason to upgrade yet. I typically have itunes, mail, firefox and ical open all the time while using a few dashboard apps, etc. I think you'll be fine with that configuration for your writing.
  4. CoMpX macrumors 65816


    Jun 29, 2005
    New Jersey
    It looks like it's time to update your sgnature then. ;)

    I would definitely get 2GB. It may cost more, but with Rosetta and all you will really notice a performance difference.
  5. sanford thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jan 5, 2003
    Dallas, USA
    I think flyer1 is onto how I use my computer. In the first reply, it does sound like you need the full 2 GB RAM for what you do; but my needs are simpler -- indeed I don't even know what half that software does.

    So, flyer1, I won't notice the lack of dual-channel support for 1.25 GB? I rather doubt I will, but when I bought the MacBook the Apple salespeople made a point of telling me that's how I needed to upgrade it.
  6. Dale_Nx26 macrumors member

    Aug 2, 2005
    For what you do 1.25GB for now seems fine. I have it and you can basically open 3-4 of the programs you use at once with barely any hitch. If you open a lot of rosetta-dependent apps at once, then maybe it'd be better to go w/ 2GB. In the end, I think 1.25 is enough for what you do.

    As for dual-channel, for me, upgrading from the mac mini to the MB with 1.25 ram is a very nice improvement. I haven't experienced d-c speed so I have no complaints.
  7. benthewraith macrumors 68040


    May 27, 2006
    Miami, FL
    I recommend at least a GB, maybe 1.5GB.

    Fortunately, I have 2 GB...I have yet to write to my hard drive page file. :cool:
  8. sonictonic macrumors 6502a

    Mar 25, 2006
    Central Coast, California
    Me and flyers have the same configuration Macbook! Nice taste, flyer! ;)

    Anyways yeah, I am a user like you for the most part. I don't use half of that resource hog type software the other poster was mentioning either (yet) so I see no need for 2GB right now. Being on a budget I had to make this same decision you're having to make, and I really believe, especially after actually doing it, that the BIG jump and difference in performance is gonna be from 512mb to 1.25GB. Yeah you lose the dual-channel thing. But ya know what that is NOT a requirement. It's a suggestion to get the most out of the notebook. But from all I have heard and read, AND experienced now first hand, 1.25GB will STILL out-perform 1GB of dual channel anyway.

    I think you'll be happy with 1.25GB for now. I am. I am going to try and get the other 1GB stick as soon as I can, but it isn't a priority for now. My MacBook is GREATLY improved after upgrading to 1.25GB from the stock 512mb. It's amazing to me how it even ran before. In my "iStat nano" widget, the free RAM used ot be around 17mb! That is scary to me. Now at this moment I have 350mb free. It's workin just fine and I am very happy!

    So good luck anyhow, with what you decide on doing. :)
  9. sulhaq macrumors regular


    Jul 29, 2006
    Actually that whole Macbook was DoA. I now have the Black Macbook. Signature updated accordingly :D

    And finally, yeah I think what you should do is, get 1gb stick from Newegg. Install it and run it for a couple days, see how things work out. If they're fine then all's well. If you think you need things to be faster then buy another stick. Newegg ships G.Skill ram for Free so you'd be in the clear only having to pay for the ram sticks. I don't know how long the free shipping promotion will last though.

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