Is 8GB enough?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by rocky892, Jul 6, 2014.

  1. rocky892 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 1, 2010
    #1
    I am in the process of buying a new imac. This imac will be used for a lot of graphics using photoshop, etc.I will also do a lot of multitasking.

    Really all I am able to afford is the 8 gb model. I also see a 16 gb model.

    What are you experiences? Can I get buy with 8 gb?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


    Rocky:apple:
     
  2. simsaladimbamba

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2010
    Location:
    located
    #2
    Is it the 21.5" iMac where you cannot upgrade RAM that easily? If so, get 16 GB RAM if you can, even though it is an additional 200 USD.
    Maybe have a look at the Refurbished Mac section in the Apple Online Store.

    Btw, Gb is Gigabit, GB is GigaByte.
     
  3. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    #3
    The 21.5" iMac's RAM is not user upgradeable so max it out if you can.
     
  4. Thermonuclear macrumors 6502

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    May 23, 2009
    #4
    Getting only 8 GB on a new machine which cannot easily have more memory installed later is a bad idea. Because:

    1) If the machine has vampire video (i. e., lack of discrete graphics), then the main display and any additional displays will eat a good sized chunk of whatever RAM is present.

    2) More RAM means less paging and so further delays the day of the inevitable hard drive failure and its expensive replacement.

    3) Mac OS/X feature bloat will someday leave behind an 8 GB machine when software updates require a 16 GB minimum. Note that the Mac Pro already has a 16 GB lower limit.

    4) Even if a new OS/X version can run on an 8 GB machine, it might be too slow for some. There are those with 4 GB Mac Book Air notebooks who are not really happy with OS/X 10.9 Mavericks but are out of luck because they can't upgrade the RAM on their machines.

    The OS bloat is maybe the worst problem, and it's not a new one. When the first Mac came out thirty years ago with a fixed (soldered) 128 KB RAM, the OS and the applications (MacWrite, MacPaint, etc.) all ran fairly well. But the next year, Apple delivered a 512 KB Mac and a year after, a 1 MB Mac. At that point, Apple had much less motivation to keep the OS neat and trim; instead, more bloat meant more sales of the latest models.

    Finally, I've never heard anyone complain that their computer had TOO MUCH memory.
     
  5. h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

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    Hong Kong
    #5
    8G is enough to run the OSX and photoshop, but not enough to keep the computer run at high performance (especially you plan to highly utilise multitasking).

    Most likely the Mac will need a lot of swap, which cause a huge performance hit (even though with high speed SSD installed).
     
  6. capathy21 macrumors 65816

    capathy21

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2014
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    #6
    This is complete nonsense.

    2GB of ram is more than enough to run basic tasks on Mavericks. If the OP is doing a lot of multi tasking and photoshop, even 8GB would be fine.

    I have a base model retina Macbook Pro with 4gb yes 4gb of ram soldered. It flies. While I do not do heavy editing of photos or videos, I can do a lot with 4gb and it runs flawlessly. 20 Safari tabs, Spotify, Word, Excel, iMovie, iPhoto etc all running simeltaneously with zero lag and with memory pressure still in the green. In fact, it took me opening over 15 programs and streaming 3 different video tabs PLUS downloading to files all at the same time before my memory pressure even went to yellow/orange. If the OP wants to use their machine for more than 5 years then yes, 16gb of ram would be a smart investment. But all of this talk about 4gb not being enough to run the OS or comfortably multi task is completely inaccurate.

    Every Mac user I know has opted for the base model Air or Pro and none of them regret it. If a user actually needs the power then yes, maxing out a machine is the way to go. But so many users waste a ton of money maxing out a machine that is entire overkill for their needs.
     
  7. crsh1976, Jul 7, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2014

    crsh1976 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2011
    #7
    This is a non-issue; there's a predefined ceiling to how much memory will be shared with the GPU, currently it tops out at 1 GB in Iris Pro and HD 5000-equipped iMacs. Adding more RAM to your machine changes nothing to that.

    Also, you don't permanently "lose" that shared chunk of RAM, the GPU just has access to up to 1 GB as it needs it - the system still has access it as it needs it as well.
     
  8. insane79 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2008
    #8
    well thats strange, when i boot up 10.9.5(mavericks latest build) & then open activity monitor, i see 2.8gb ram used without launching anything, either you have a diff osx build or have you checked activity monitor lately? bottom line to the OP upgrade to 16gb as if not in yosemite but surely the next one after that will require 8gb min for decent running.
     
  9. 960design macrumors 68020

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    Destin, FL
    #9
    I'm afraid to get in the mosh pit here, it looks a little angry.

    I'm jumping....

    I have an 8GB MacBookPro backup and a 16GB MacBookPro that I use as my main system ( I also have a MacMini Server, AND a desktop 8GB, but these are not really relevant - just wanted to brag, i mean to include for completeness ). I've rarely noticed swaps appearing on the 8G machine and I would be what you consider a system resource hog type user. The 16G has yet to draw a swap.

    I typically run, 6 workspace windows:
    1) Chrome, 2 windows, one for dev ( with about 4 tabs each ) the incog page for non-logged in user
    2) Coda2 or XCode
    3) Safari ( code verification and research, typically 2 windows with about 4 tabs ).
    4) MAMP, GitHub, VirtualBox
    5) Notes / Pages for concurrent documentation
    6) Firefox ( code verification ), Pandora App or iRadio

    I'd say 8GB is perfect to start out. When you start making money with your machine, not just a little, but enough money to justify the 1 millisecond load difference is REALLY starting to hinder your workflow and income level; then step up to the 16GB machine.
     
  10. 556fmjoe macrumors 65816

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    Apr 19, 2014
    #10
    If the RAM is there, OS X uses it. However, does not require that much RAM just for displaying the desktop and running whatever services it starts on boot. 16 GB is ridiculous for most people.
     
  11. capathy21 macrumors 65816

    capathy21

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    Jun 16, 2014
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    #11
    I am very familiar with activity monitor as I have actually done the research on how Mavericks manages memory differently than past builds. Mavericks uses available memory, period. If you have an 8gb model, you can pull up activity monitor with no programs open and see that it is using over 6gb of ram. I've done it. You have to understand how Mavericks manages the ram to properly read activity monitor. 2gb is the minimum memory for Mavericks and it will also be for Yosemite and possibly beyond. Can you do a lot with 2gb? No, but for basic tasks it is fine. 4gb will be fine for basic to medium usage for the next 5 years easy.

    To the OP, do a lot of reading on how Mavericks handles ram. Also Yosemite will be even better at managing ram. Do as much of your own research as possible then decide what is best for you.
     
  12. omvs macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 15, 2011
    #12
    I'd strongly disagree that 2GB is sufficient. I accidentally took my 27" iMac to 2GB (might have actually been 4GB) doing some DIMM swapping, and the machine was a dog booting up and running safari - I couldn't understand what had happened until I pulled up the about this mac.

    8GB I would say is probably enough for most normal work flow - I went with that for my rMBP and haven't had problems, even when running parallels. Still, I'd be tempted to go for 16GB on a non-upgradable machine like the 21"
     
  13. MartinAppleGuy macrumors 68020

    MartinAppleGuy

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    Sep 27, 2013
    #13
    I do heavy video editing on 8GB of RAM a lot as well as lots of Photo Edits and 3D work (Maya). My biggest video edit project was when I had a 1080p 2hr long video with several layers of video and audio, lots of audio enhancements, colour corrections, transitions, titles, picture in picture... and I had no problem with 8GB of RAM. The final file was over 15GB for reference.

    With RAM compression in OS X, I have pushed 8GB of RAM to 18.5GB before heavy Swap occurred. Performance was 100% normal upto the 15.5GB mark.

    I am quite ashamed of a lot of these Macrumors users just spending other people money instead of looking into their needs. If you run a virtual machine that is more than XP, get more RAM, if you plan edit 4K video get more RAM. Else wise, stop wasting money.

    OP, I highly recommend the Mac Pro as it can be upgraded to 128GB of RAM after purchase, that will be much better for you. 'Sarcasm
     
  14. capathy21 macrumors 65816

    capathy21

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    #14
    Love it.
     
  15. MartinAppleGuy macrumors 68020

    MartinAppleGuy

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    #15
    haha thanks :p
     
  16. insane79 macrumors 6502

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    Aug 20, 2008
    #16
    wow, this topic got me alot of info about ram usage in osx mavericks, so i guess i m fine with 8gb ram in my 27" iMac then :D

    Thanks for the Info guys..
     
  17. Thermonuclear macrumors 6502

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    May 23, 2009
    #17
    In relative terms, more RAM means a smaller percentage of it gets used for the vampire video.
     
  18. crsh1976 macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 13, 2011
    #18
    Agreed, but in real-life usage, what does one really need 16 GB of RAM for unless it's a professional workstation used for 3D modelling or video editing?

    We always say photo editing apps take a lot of RAM, but unless you're working on Photoshop files with hundreds of layers at a print-quality resolution of 300-600 DPI, "editing lots of photos" can realistically work fine with "just" 8 GB.
     
  19. Thermonuclear macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 23, 2009
    #19
    In real-life usage, a heavy-duty AI program may need every last chunk of memory for caching its search state space instances -- nontrivial data structures which cannot be compressed on the fly in spite of what is claimed by the OS/X hype.

    Professional database programs also need incredible amounts of RAM lest they suffer from death by paging.

    Intel offers rack mount systems which have dual CPUs and hold from 192 GB to 384 GB RAM on a single board. And that was a couple of years ago when I last checked; newer examples are probably close to a terabyte of RAM. Compared to these, the ashtray Mac Pro is just a toy.
     
  20. capathy21 macrumors 65816

    capathy21

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    #20
    Yes and Ford offers trucks with 12 cylinder engines, that doesn't mean it is necessary for 99.9 percent of tasks. In the real world, for real life usage, 16gb of ram ESPECIALLY with an SSD is more than most users need. The OP would be just fine for several years with 8gb of ram, 16 would future proof a bit further but future proofing is generally a waste of money.

    It is clear (especially based on your thread about what they will take away next) that you no longer care for Apple. I have no idea how coming on here and talking about a terabyte of ram or calling the Mac Pro a toy is going to help the OP decide on what's best for them.
     
  21. JarScott macrumors 68040

    JarScott

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    United Kingdom
    #21
    Just hold out and wait until you can afford the 16GB model. If you saved up this far, you can save a little further. I rushed into buying my rMBP too quickly and ended up with 8GB of RAM which means I often experience periods where my laptop doesn't feel as fast as I'd like it to be. You've mentioned two things you do which rely on RAM for performance, get 16GB. If nothing else, you'll be future proofing your computer. I would recommend a minimum of 16GB of RAM to anybody these days. I just don't think 8GB is enough anymore and god knows what 4GB Macs are like...I certainly couldn't live with one. OSX takes up more than 4GB on idle.
     
  22. capathy21 macrumors 65816

    capathy21

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    #22

    I have to ask if you have an understanding of how Mavericks handles memory management. OSX does not "take up more than 4GB on idle." As already stated in this thread, OSX uses available memory, it does not mean memory is not available. If you have a 4GB model, it will show most of the 4GB being used, if you have an 8GB model, it will show over 6GB being used. Mavericks manages memory differently.

    God knows what 4GB Macs are like and so do I since I have one. It flies. I can have 10 browser tabs open, with iMovie, iMessage, Word, Excel, Spotify all running simeltaneously and my memory pressure is still COMFORTABLY in the green. I am not a power user. I do not do heavy video or photo editing, I don't run VM's or anything like that. I use my computer primarily for college (writing papers, working on spreadsheets, research), light photo editing and occasional video editing for family projects and such, surfing the web, listening to music etc.

    There are millions of users who use their computer exactly like I do and for that, the 4GB base model is more than enough.

    Would the base model work for you or many other users? It all depends on what you do with your machine. Many users do need 8,16 or even more ram depending on their habits, but many do not.

    I would agree that it would not be a bad idea for the OP to go ahead and get a 16GB model due to his usage and such, but to make a blanket statement that you would recommend a minimum of 16gigs of ram for all users makes no sense. Why would I possibly need 16GB of ram for my usage when I am not even close to pushing a 4GB machine? Why encourage someone to spend hundreds of dollars more on something they will most likely never use.

    I understand many people feel the need to future proof their machine and to an extent I can understand that. However many users purchase way more machine than they need. By the time they get to a point(if ever) that they actually need all of that ram or that i7, the machine is 5 plus years old and other components start breaking down which still results in failed attempt at future proofing.
     
  23. rjbruce macrumors regular

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    Jan 7, 2011
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    #23
    I have a base model early 2011 MBP 13 that I bumped to 8GB and an SSD. I've been doing some video editing in Premier recently for some shorter clips at 720p and I've not noticed any major memory problems; mine seems to be processor. For instance, my last project had five layers of video, effects, sound and I had to pre-render every time for the preview or the last layer wouldn't play. I also had iTunes, Mail, Safari with nine tabs, and a music rehearsal application in my user, then on my wife's user, which was logged in, had Safari, iTunes, Word, and Excel running. So I think that 8GB is probably enough, BUT that said, I am in the market for a new machine, since my wife has stolen this one, and I am considering 16GB. Even though 8GB seems to be meeting my needs for the most part, the reasons I am considering 16GB is:

    • I know I am a heavy RAM user
    • I would like this new machine to last me 5 years
    • Soldered RAM
    • It's base on the model I'm considering :D

    If you are going to replace every 2-3 years, get the 8GB. Chances are if the machines a few years from now need more RAM, it will become standard. In 5 years I may not need 16GB, but if $200 might get me another 1-2 years out of a Mac, I'm willing to pay it as an insurance fee.

    On the other hand, you could get the 8GB and if an OS build comes down the road that requires more memory, just don't update to the latest.
     
  24. JarScott macrumors 68040

    JarScott

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    #24
    Neat.
     
  25. crsh1976 macrumors 6502a

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    #25
    Again, agreed, but we're talking about an iMac here - whether one should go with 8 or 16 GB. Nobody's going to use such a machine in a pro IT/3D/whatever environment because it's just not suited for that - Haswell chips cannot handle more than 32 GB of RAM anyway.
     

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