Is the lack of RAM on older 24" iMacs an issue?

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Ckar, Jun 25, 2014.

  1. Ckar macrumors member

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    Nov 14, 2013
    #1
    I notice some of the older 24" iMacs can only accept up to 4GB of RAM (The current iMacs can take 16GB to 32GB of RAM). My current laptop (in my sig) has 8GB of RAM and I think it is necessary. Is it the right choice to buy a second-hand 24" iMac even though it can only accept 4GB?

    I mainly use my computer for internet access 90% of the time and even though 8GB might sound like it is too much I feel on the other hand 4GB is too low. I am also planning to replace the iMac HDD with an SSD right away. Would that help with the lack of RAM?

    What can be said for the future? 4GB sounds a bit low now and will definitely be later on. I feel Apple made a dirty move to neuter their powerful desktop line with less RAM so it would be less future-proof and will force users dump a perfectly usable computer.
     
  2. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #2
    All 24" iMacs except the white model can accept and use 6GB, the last 24" model from 2009 can use up to 8GB. For internet usage, 4GB is plenty. Even 2GB with 10.9's new memory compression makes for a very good system.
     
  3. keysofanxiety, Jun 25, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2014

    keysofanxiety macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

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    #3
    Disagree about 2GB and for the OP's purpose of futureproofing I'd say they need to look for a minimum of 8GB, or 4GB+ SSD.
     
  4. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #4
    Futureproofing is an unobtainable goal that's best not to factor in. Even worse to be contemplating getting an 5-7 year old machine when concerned about the usability of the machine in coming times. Have you personally tried a 24" iMac with 2GB of ram and 10.9 on the stock hard drive? It runs very well. Even when doing multiple heavy tasks at once. Many Chrome and Firefox tabs open, all without a problem. The biggest problem is the slow hard drive, but once everything is loaded the CPU is the slowest. The comparably small amount of memory isn't much of a problem when one lets the OS do as designed and manage it without interfering.
     
  5. keysofanxiety macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

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    #5
    Nope, never personally used Mavericks with 2GB RAM as my main machine. Mercifully I haven't used a Mac with 2GB RAM since my first MB on Snow Leopard. Health-checked a few white MacBooks on 10.9 with 2GB RAM though, and they were running like a bag of arse.

    4GB RAM is the minimum for Mavericks to run suitably. OP asked if they should upgrade to an SSD to improve performance. I'd say this is a definite -- prevents the system being crippled when paging out.
     
  6. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #6
    10.9 runs so very much better then 10.5-10.8 with only 2GB of ram. Only Tiger runs better with that amount, probably because it was aimed at very low end G3 Macs. Those Macbooks ran so very poorly because of their overly slow hard drive. A slow hard drive can result in a very large perceived performance drop. Stock Intell iMacs' hard drives easily out perform stock Macbook hard drives at even the most basic things.

    I personally am composing this thread you're reading on an 20" iMac with 2GB of ram, a hard drive, and 10.9. It runs very well with it. In the background there's Netflix playing on the external display, iTunes restoring/backing up a stack of iPads, Firefox and Chrome with a duplicate set of about 15 tabs open, and Terminal compiling ffmpeg in the background. Not to mention all the other background things this machine normally runs. Netflix will drop a bit of frames occasionally, but once ffmpeg is done compiling, it speeds right back up again. The little memory pressure gauge is still in the green at about 40%. To too bad for a budget level iMac from 2007. The one thing I find myself wishing this machine had was a faster CPU. More memory, faster graphics, or a speedier hard drive I can live without on this machine.
     
  7. keysofanxiety, Jun 25, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2014

    keysofanxiety macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

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    #7
    Ah jeez ... With the greatest of respect I'm calling shenanigans on this whole 'runs very well' thing. Chrome with 15 tabs by itself will be paging like crazy on 2GB. Also the Core2Duos sing on 10.9 so I doubt it's the CPU.

    Please can you post a screenshot of Activity Monitor to keep me quiet? :)

    EDIT: and what's all this about those MacBooks running slowly because of their hard-drive? They had a standard 5400RPM drive, like the rest of the portable line (exc. MBA)
     
  8. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #8
    I'll admit, I don't normally have Chrome up. It's mostly there for compatibility testing right now. A 2.0Ghz mid-2007 Core2Duo doesn't sing when trying to do Netflix, backup iPads, and compile ffmpeg. It brings it to its knees. It's honestly the slowest thing in this machine. Even the early 2009's CPU is easily over worked by my standards.

    Macbooks, early Macbook Pros, and Macbook Airs with hard drives have all been slow when it came to their hard drive. They may have a mid-range rpm, but their seek time and data throughput is low compared to their contemporary desktop lineup's hard drives.

    Screenshot is shortly after Chrome was force quitted (it hung, stupid Javascript) and ffmpeg was completed.

    Screen shot.jpg
     
  9. keysofanxiety macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

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    #9
    Due to the RAM, dude. You're running 2GB on Mavericks. Sure, CPU might not be up there, but no ****ing way is 2GB RAM going to help.

    Also, shenanigans again. No way after all that stuff running it's using less than 2GB, and you've got no page outs. This is starting to become very suspicious, especially that it took you 30 minutes to take a screenshot ... Post the whole screenshot of Activity Monitor please.
     
  10. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #10
    The CPU is driving to 80-100% quite often. Lack of memory has nothing to do with it. Other identical iMacs with 6GB have their CPU's driven equally as high for just as long. Lack of threads is where the problem is. I don't have page outs because virtual memory is disabled on this machine for NetBoot testing purposes. No dynamic_pager, no swap. It does have page outs. A UNIX machine can have page outs, but no swap. A good example of this is iOS. 30 minutes to post? Can't a person eat? My life doesn't revolve around the internet. I can't post a whole screen shot of Activity Monitor. Some of the processes are covered by a NDA.
     
  11. keysofanxiety macrumors 604

    keysofanxiety

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    Nov 23, 2011
    #11
    Fair enough, my bad. If you've disabled virtual memory then I'd still suggest 2GB RAM is slowing down applications -- you know, applications load, they go straight into the RAM ... I dunno, I don't know enough about it to make a suitable argument.

    I still maintain you're misinforming people by suggesting 2GB RAM on Mavericks is suitable, but if it works for you, it works for you.
     

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