Low on RAM - Should I go for SSD or RAM upgrade ?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by andy8, Aug 2, 2012.

  1. andy8 macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2009
    Hi All,

    I am frequently experiencing myself low on RAM and I could see that my Macbook Pro slows down a bit and requires an upgrade. I am using a 13inch 2.26GHz Core2Duo (mid-2009).


    On the above screenshot I only have (Mail, Safari (no videos | 12 tabs open), Preview and Papers 2.3.2) open. I'm running short on RAM, I think. At the same time I also have SSD option in mind and don't know which upgrade will be worthwhile if I have to go for only one.
  2. katmeef macrumors 6502

    Jul 20, 2010
    How long since you rebooted when that screenshot was taken? It shows 0 pageouts so not sure you're running out of RAM (inactive is as good as free); however, RAM has come down in price significantly and 4 isn't a huge amount.

    When I put an SSD in my 09 it felt like a new machine, I think SSD is a great upgrade for anyone on a HDD.
  3. andy8 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2009
    The last time I rebooted was yesterday. I haven't been working on any CPU intensive tasks at all.
  4. ohbrilliance macrumors 6502a


    May 15, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    Are you experiencing slowness, which could indicate a shortness of RAM?

    You can't go wrong with a ram upgrade - as an example OWC sells 8GB kits for your model for $56. SSD is also a great option to prolong the life of your laptop. I have a 160GB Intel in my 2007 MBP, and it runs amazingly well.
  5. clyde2801 macrumors 601


    Mar 6, 2008
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
  6. andy8, Aug 2, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2012

    andy8 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2009
    I am experiencing terrible sluggishness with VMware Fusion as I need to use Windows 7 for specific software. But some people have noted that VMware Fusion will come up with an update as there could be an issue with the integration with Mountain Lion. I'm not entirely sure about that though.

    I also want to use my current Macbook Pro for at least another 1 and half years of not 2 years. So, looking around for the best value for buck upgrade.
  7. Dangerous Theory macrumors 68000

    Jul 28, 2011
    "Low on fuel. Should I top up diesel or brake fluid"

    But srsly, do both if you can.
  8. GermanyChris macrumors 601


    Jul 3, 2011
    OK, your running low on ram and using swap so you want to know whether to make the swap faster or just add RAM..

    Being that RAM is both faster like 10x and significantly cheaper I'll let you make that judgment call.

    If you want a SSD just get one.
  9. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    Sometimes I feel like people just want to upgrade something. Even activity monitor has to be interpreted with some amount of context. I'd question where you feel performance is lacking and address that. Ram can help with periods of unresponsiveness. In some cases an ssd can do the same thing. 8GB is cheap these days, and some applications have that as their recommended amount. It is important to identify the behavior you wish to address as a computer's performance isn't really a single variable equation.
  10. Rocky244 macrumors regular

    Jun 14, 2012
    You'll need to show the same screen shot after you've used a normal workload (or an intensive one, whichever you are more concerned about). As of it right now, it looks like you have enough RAM to use the Apps you have open, and then some. Your 'Inactive Memory' is memory that can be used at any given time, and is just being saved in case you open or start using a recently neglected app. So count that as free, and even with Safari chugging as you have it, you still have around 1.5 gb free, which may or may not be enough depending on what you're trying to do.

    Also, include what programs you run when you are getting "intensive" so that maybe we can determine if those programs may present problematic situations.

    Just FYI, so far since your last reboot, you haven't hit a point yet where you haven't had enough RAM. So, if you've seen slowdown since then, don't count RAM towards that problem, because you've had plenty (according to your page outs).
  11. andy8 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2009
  12. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Do you notice an improvement with Vmware after rebooting your Mac?

    I've noticed that vmware causes the system to rely on the swap file a lot more then needed. When using vmware I see multiple swap files being generated in the terminal, type ls -al /var/vm and if you see more the 3 or 4 swapfilex files then your system is slowing down. Now that I'm on an rMBP with 16gb of ram, I'm not seeing this issue.

    I'd first opt for a ram upgrade over SSD, as you'll probably get the most bang for your buck. That is the cost of ram upgrade is significantly less then that of the SSD but will have tangible benefits to the your mac.
  13. andy8 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2009
    Not had an improvement with VMware Fusion even after reboot. Thanks for your idea. Early last year I upgraded my RAM from 2GB to 4GB. It was quite expensive last year than what it is today.
  14. SlickShoes macrumors 6502a

    Jan 24, 2011
    Just upgrade the ram anyway 8GB will set you back £35
  15. ohbrilliance macrumors 6502a


    May 15, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    Ram + SSD will get you years more out of your MBP. SSDs are dropping rapidly in price, so may be a good option, depending of course on your storage needs.

    A third option may be to ditch VMWare. I made the move to Parallels when Mountain Lion came out, as I was not prepared to pay extortion money to VMWare to run VMs that worked the day before (that's another story). After converting an XP VM from fusion to parallels, it runs *much* faster. It's thoroughly usable, whereas it was excruciating to use previously.

    If you want to try Parallels, they are offering $60 off for vmware users via the following link: http://www.parallels.com/au/products/desktop/vmwareoffer/

    Extra ram will at least allow you to allocate more memory to your Windows 7 VM, which should improve performance regardless of whether it runs in Fusion or Parallels.
  16. gentlefury macrumors 68030

    Jul 21, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    an ssd would improve overall performance, but with 0 page outs and 1.5GB free ram, I would say you don't need ram.
  17. andy8 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2009
    I will try running it on Parallels as you suggested. Hopefully some improvement would occur. Thanks for your helpful answer. :)

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