Is 4GB really enough?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by rdf8585, Nov 4, 2010.

  1. rdf8585 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2006
    #1
    I'm in the market for a new system and would consider an iMac. My biggest question is if the standard 4GB is really going to be more than just sufficient for what I'd use it for. I mostly would use it for things like browsing, streaming audio/video, office-type tasks, messaging, DVD/CD playback and often multiple instances of those things at one time. Nothing too demanding, but my old 1 GB Mini wasn't always enough.... and I don't know how much more resource intensive 10.6 is than 10.4.

    I know I could get 8 GB in it, but $200 more for that upgrade is a bad deal. I don't want to worry about upgrading it myself or anything like that.... when the thing comes, I want it to have everything I need.
     
  2. Corndog5595 macrumors 65816

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    Jul 16, 2010
    #2
    4GB should be fine. Worst case, buy OWC RAM after-the-fact and upgrade it yourself.
     
  3. chrismacguy macrumors 68000

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    Feb 13, 2009
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    #4
    Put it this way, Im running Final Cut Studio (a professional movie editing environment) on 3GB currently (6GB upgrade in the works, but RAM is costly for my Pro, so im stuck on 3GB and it works just fine - for what you want 4gb is easily sufficient) :)
     
  4. TMRaven macrumors 68020

    TMRaven

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    Nov 5, 2009
    #5
    Let your activity monitor be the deciding factor for any possible ram upgrade.
     
  5. alust2013 macrumors 601

    alust2013

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    Location:
    On the fence
    #6
    For what you listed 4GB will be plenty. I hardly ever go above 2GB or so on my machine.
     
  6. rdf8585 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2006
    #7
    Thanks for the advice.

    An iMac is really, really tempting. I had an early Mini about 5 years ago but wasn't really pleased with it as the hardware was antiquated even for its time. I should have known better. That doesn't seem likely to be the problem here. It was just too damn slow/sluggish.

    I'm looking to replace an old XP PC with a Pentium 4 with 1 GB RAM that's really starting to show its age on certain things... mostly high quality streaming video and things like that.
     
  7. dburney macrumors member

    dburney

    Joined:
    May 24, 2006
    #8
    I agree - 4GB should be sufficient - but having the extra headroom is nice in the new iMacs. My aging first gen Intel iMac is maxed-out at 2GB and I work primarily in Adobe CS apps - so I feel the hurt. I personally plan to add as much RAM as I can afford when I upgrade later this year. One note though, just keep this in mind, you have four slots, two of which will be filled. As the machine ages and you go through OS upgrades you may find that you need to upgrade to more RAM. You may end up trading in or trashing the original 4GB to get the machine up to 16GB in future, if you decide to go that route.
     
  8. Spike88 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2010
    #9
    For typical home usage, 4 GBs is fine (like others mentioned above). If you get the beach ball "too much" or looking for an excuse to give yourself a future gift, then get more RAM for it. re: OWC online computer store. I get the feeling that iMacs love RAM. Their "sweet spot" for home usage machines for Power Users is 6 GBs. Thus, do think long term. If your Activity Monitor is showing too much page ins/outs, then install more RAM. If you get too much beach ball, get more ram.

    If wondering, my "home usage" iMac has 4 GBs ram and it does great. But, I am saving my limited pennies to get more RAM for it. Possible 6 GBs or might upgrade directly to 8 (re: additional 2 x 2 GB Simms). Thus, in 1.5 years, I'll have the money saved up (for more RAM). Thus, reducing its page in/outs and allowing it to have more head room - for future apps (that often need more RAM).

    Hope this helps in your research....

    .
     
  9. HE15MAN macrumors 6502a

    HE15MAN

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    Sep 3, 2009
    Location:
    Florida's Treasure Coast
    #10
    How do you tell exactly with the activity monitor if you need more or not? I know it has something to do with the page in and page out correct>
     
  10. George Knighton macrumors 6502a

    George Knighton

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2010
    #11
    4GB is probably just fine.

    But if you want to save some serious money, buy one of the 4GB refurb units and just put in more memory yourself. It's easy.

    :)
     
  11. Lordedmond macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2008
    Location:
    Tilchestune UK
    #12
    4 gb is not enough its the entry level

    I have just got a i7 from apple care for a duff 24 inch, using aperture resulted in all of the mem used 56 mb left , in saying that I have upped it to 12 gb
    guess what aperture uses nearly all of that to but I do have 1 gig left


    but the general use is night and day between 4 and 12 gig the whole system is faster



    my 0.02c worth
     
  12. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #13
    I run a 2GB Mac Mini, a 6GB Hackintosh, and I had a 4GB MBP.

    4GB is certainly not entry level, and that for most tasks 2GB is more then enough. The more applications you have open or use more demanding apps like photoshop, will dictate the increased ram.

    My Mini which is used for typical office/web/children's apps is doing fine with just 2gb.

    I run photoshop, aperture, and VMware on my 6gb machine, and at times all at the same time. That being the case, the 6gb is really being fully utilized.

    You need to look at swap outs, not how much free ram you have. In OSX and unix, free ram is wasted ram. You need to monitor your swap outs as that will dictate how much ram is enough. Some applications like vmware write directly to swap file which things harder to discern but generally speaking don't worry about how much is free but how much OSX is writing out to the swap files
     
  13. rdf8585 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Feb 15, 2006
    #14
    Yeah, I'm not planning on running anything as resource-intensive as photoshop, aperture, or anything like that. Safari probably would use more RAM than anything else I'd use -- on my XP PC, my browser is always what is eating up the most RAM.

    Completely different environments etc, but on my 1 GB XP PC, I usually have 200-400 MB free.
     
  14. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #15
    I use safari, but it is a pig. Firefox appears to use less resources, so you may be happier with that browser.
     
  15. alust2013 macrumors 601

    alust2013

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2010
    Location:
    On the fence
    #16
    Photo editing will do that. I'm not sure where you're getting that the whole system is faster with general use though. If you weren't running out of RAM in general use, it will not be any faster with more.
     
  16. Spike88 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2010
    #17
    Found some good reading at:

    http://macintoshhowto.com/hardware/does-my-mac-need-more-memory.html

    Not too sure how accurate this info is. But, it sounds great to me...

    Hope this helps answer your question.....

    .
     
  17. rdf8585 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2006
    #18
    I took the plunge with a new i3 iMac yesterday but am going to have to return it on Monday and hopefully get my money back. I have the receipt and the original packaging. There's a small/thin pinkish color line that's visible, mostly over light/white colored surfaces. That definitely shouldn't be there and apparently these pink lines aren't anything new with iMacs. And apparently it's not uncommon for a single pink line to morph into multiple ones over time. I'd be better off just cutting bait now.

    I bought Apple Care in case anything went wrong with it down the road... just didn't expect anything to go wrong so soon.
     
  18. rdf8585 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Feb 15, 2006
    #19
    I'm not going to have any problem getting a refund, am I? I'm within the 14 day period and have the original box and the receipt. Plus the thing has a minor defect on the screen.
     
  19. lcseds macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 20, 2006
    Location:
    NC, USA
    #20
    A refund should be no trouble. But then what are you going to do? Windows? I'd swap for another machine myself.
     
  20. jnpy!$4g3cwk macrumors 65816

    jnpy!$4g3cwk

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2010
    #21
    For one thing at a time, 2 GB is enough.

    But, if you want to do something I/O intensive in the background, and, do something interactive at the same time, or, you want to run Photoshop, or, you like to leave Word/Excel/Powerpoint loaded, waiting for your next invocation, or, you like to have 30 tabs open in your browser, or, you want to run a VM, then you need 4 GB. For most people, 4 GB will be the sweet spot for the next three years.

    If you are a serious digital photography user or something similar, you might need 8 GB. But, if you have to ask, then, it isn't an issue. Spend your money on something else.
     
  21. rdf8585 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2006
    #22
    I'm not sure what I'd do... keep my options open, I guess. Probably wait a bit.

    Just a bit discouraging to spend that kind of money and then deal with a minor, albeit noticable, defect on the screen. You kind of expect things to be in pristine shape when you buy them new. I know it probably doesn't happen much, but apparently the issue of iMacs and pink lines isn't anything new.
     
  22. Spike88 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2010
    #23
    If the item (whether is be a coat, vehicle or iMac), get it fixed &/or replaced. Statitistically, no product line has 100% perfection "on delivery". Simply call Apple Corp and ask if they want to replace via another shipment (to your door), or if you can take to your nearest Apple Retail store - which ever is best...

    Gook luck on your next iMac system. If wondering, my family's iMac was perfect on 1st delivery. Its still running great today.
     
  23. Michael CM1 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2008
    #24
    After a day of use, I'd say it's enough for what you do. Unless you start using some application that really requires more, I think you'll be fine.

    You especially shouldn't be upgrading through Apple. As much as I love its products, Apple horribly overprices RAM. Go to crucial.com, let it search for what type you need and buy an upgrade there if need be. You'll probably save at least 50 percent.

    I'm no expert, but after trying out a MacBook Air with Safari, I would say that RAM is one of the least of your worries when running applications. Hard disks are probably the biggest bottlenecks nowadays aside from network connections. The SSD on the Air REALLY speeds up basic tasks. I don't think the CPU on it is good enough to call it a powerhouse for things like Photoshop, iMovie, etc.
     
  24. chris650 macrumors regular

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    Jun 15, 2010

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