Mac Mini uses more RAM?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by alpha752, Aug 25, 2013.

  1. alpha752 macrumors newbie

    Feb 25, 2011
    I just got my first desktop Mac, a 2012 i5 Mac mini with 4GB of RAM. I thought this would be enough, because my 2010 MBA has 4GB RAM and it has never been an issue for my usage (internet, netflix, word processing, etc. No games). However after a couple of days with my mini, its obvious that I need more RAM, even though I use it for the same things as my MBA.

    How is it that 2 computers which are basically identical, the difference being my MBA is a Core 2 Duo, and my Mini an i5, can use RAM so differently?
  2. opinio macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2013
    Can you give a little more detail on how the usage in the RAM is different between the two? How it is obvious the mini needs more RAM (Apps used?). I am wondering if you are confusing sluggishness in the mini's HDD compared to the MBA's SSD to that of RAM?

    You say they are basically identical but the SSD in the MBA compared to the 5400rpm HDD in the mini is not even remotely the same.

    Having said all that above, 4GB is low (but not the end of the world) and 8 or 16 is better, but I think it is the SSD that is the big difference between the two.

    P.S. I am assuming you did not get a Fusion or SSD in the mini.
  3. Micky Do, Aug 25, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2013

    Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

    Aug 31, 2012
    An island in the Andaman Sea.
    Probably HDD (Mini) cf SSD (Air)

    My first reaction was as opinio suggests; the Air has an SSD, whereas the Mini has a relatively slow HDD. Another 4GB of RAM may help a little, but to match the Air you would need SSD.....

    Or to get the storage capacity of HDD along with the speed of SSD, fusion is the way to go.

    How much slower is the Mini than the Air.... just enough to be noticeable, but has little real affect on getting things done. Or is it really bothersome. If it is the latter, chances are that you have chosen the wrong Mini for your needs.
  4. auero macrumors 65816

    Sep 15, 2006
  5. kingdLo macrumors 6502

    Mar 20, 2009
    IMO, you need at least 8gb to run a 2012 Mini efficiently. I use mine for web browsing, a few torrenting here and there, iTunes, and just light duty things.

    At the base 4GB ram, i would get the beach ball from time to time. I went and bought a single 8GB stick from BB and now have 10GB total. All apps open 1 bounce, never get a beach ball anymore. Consistently using 4GB on just light usage. Before, I would be sitting at roughly 3.8GB used, almost maxing the base setup.
  6. fig macrumors 6502a


    Jun 13, 2012
    Austin, TX
    The Air has integrated graphics as well.
  7. alpha752 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 25, 2011
    Thanks for the replies, while yes there is some slow down, that is likely attributed to the SSD vs HDD. The main reason for my inquiry is I use iStat Menus, which shows me system details in my menu bar. On my MBA, I regularly have 2.25-2.5GB free RAM. On the Mac Mini, I almost never have over 1GB free ram. Both machines have the exact same apps running.


    Is it ok to run different size RAM sticks? Apple says no, use 2x2, 2x4, or 2x8, but that could just be because they want you to buy it from them. Even putting in a 4gb stick, for a total of 6 I think would help, if its safe to do so.
  8. chabig macrumors 601

    Sep 6, 2002
    There is nothing wrong. You just don't understand what you see. You should be happy that the machine is using the memory you paid for. Why would you be happier to have purchased memory and see it go unused? As has been said over and over, free RAM is wasted RAM.
  9. Micky Do macrumors 68000

    Micky Do

    Aug 31, 2012
    An island in the Andaman Sea.
    I heard that RAM sticks should be paired in equal sizes, but have found out since that it doesn't matter.

    When I put my early 2009 Mini into the shop to get them to upgrade the RAM and the OS to Mountain Lion (I have no credit card and a rather slow internet connection, so doing it myself is impractical) I was surprised to find that it came back with 5 GB of RAM. They installed 4 GB along side the original 1 GB. It runs just fine.

    Others have had similar experience..... Go ahead, if you have a spare 2 GB floating around, pop it in. If you are buying, just go for the 4GB.
  10. opinio macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2013
    Double check settings in both iStat Menu apps. From memory there is a setting 'show unused memory as free'. Can't remember exactly as I am on an iPad on a bus.
  11. QuantumLo0p macrumors 6502a


    Apr 28, 2006

    There is a minuscule difference but for users there is no real world difference. Unless you're planning on running a server farm made of Minis I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. The only reason I have 8GB in my 2010 Mini is the memory became relatively inexpensive and I dabbled with some apps that were ram hungry. If you never actually run out of free ram then I completely agree with the poster who said if you don't use the ram then extra is a waste. However if you run out you will likely be motivated to purchase more, especially when using a hdd rather than a ssd. The Mini is comprised of mobile hardware so the hdd is painfully slow. A Mini with lots of ram and a sad or hybrid drive is a fairly snappy rig.

    You didn't ask about this but...
    Accessing a hdd can really slow down a system. My Mini couldn't surpass the disk performance of my old PowerMac dual G5 raid-0 until I installed a different drive. SSD's are the way to go depending on your budget and needs. If ssd price/GB doesn't fit your budget you might consider Momentus XT hybrid drive. I think the 750GB hybrid Momentus XT can be had for about $129.
  12. iPhil macrumors 68040


    If you look @ Activity Monitor - System Memory tab

    Green = Free Ram
    Red = Wired (Allocated to system )
    Yellow = Active for system usage
    Blue = inactive aka free ram like Green

    More in-depth detail: Ram details on usage etc in Macs ... :eek:
  13. kingdLo macrumors 6502

    Mar 20, 2009
    Go ahead and get some more ram, you won't be disappointed.

    I'd rather have extra ram waiting to be used than to need more and not have it.
  14. jg321 macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2012
    If you're not paging at the moment, putting more RAM in and continuing to use it the way you do will make no noticeable difference. An SSD would however make a big difference.

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