Macbook '09 - memory upgrade worth it?

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by macmesser, Jan 29, 2015.

  1. macmesser macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2012
    Location:
    Long Island, NY USA
    #1
    I have an early '09 Macbook which has 4GB RAM. Seems to run 10.10 OK but it's obviously slow compared to my Mac Pro of the same vintage. I believe the max RAM for this model is 6GB (it has 2 slots, both currently filled), so I guess the upgrade would be a 4GB module. The machine will not be used for anything challenging: web browsing, word processing, Filemaker and so forth. Wondering if the extra 2GB is worth it, in terms of performance boost for the OS?
     
  2. seveej macrumors 6502a

    seveej

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2009
    Location:
    Helsinki, Finland
    #2
    Instinctively I'd say the difference will not be huge. You could try to gather some systematic data on you ram usage with activity monitor.

    Personally, regarding MacBooks of that era, I've always recommended an SSD before going beyond 4GB.

    RGDS,
     
  3. macmesser, Feb 13, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2015

    macmesser thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2012
    Location:
    Long Island, NY USA
    #3


    Thanks for reply. You might be right about an SSD contributing more, but maybe not. I had already purchased the 4GB module so decided to continue with the RAM upgrade. I was upgrading two old Mac notebooks and interestingly, ordered 4GB of PC6400 800MHz by mistake and installed it in the MacBook (which, as Intell pointed out at http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1844974 , is supported). The RAM dropped down to 533Mhz as there was 2GB of PC5300 667MHz already in the machine, and it was much slower. (I think this means that the RAM speed drop from 533 and 667 MHz is more important than the extra 2GB on booting and running the OS, which seems to also say this much RAM speed difference is important in this ballpark.) It threw me and confused me since I had forgotten how RAM speed works when you mix module speeds. Then I remembered that in this case it would always be a multiple of 133Mhz since 133 is the GCD of 667 and 800. Next thing I did was remove the 2GB slower RAM. The 4GB of PC6400 RAM booted at it's nominal speed of 800MHz and did so much faster than either with the RAM at 533Mhz or 667Mhz (plus 2GB). The thing was really more zippy just with the faster RAM. So I just ordered another 2GB PC6400 800MHz instead of exchanging the 800MHz module for a 667MHz module.

    I wanted the max 6GB RAM to give the old notebooks a healthy margin in being able to boot and run OS 10.10 and hopefully beyond at a good speed. Based on the speed bump exhibited by the 800MHz RAM alone and by the post of BrettApple who also added an SSD, that's what I'm going to try next. I think it will, as he said, result in a "low budget screamer." When done I will have spent somewhat more for this upgrade than I anticipated, but I can see this will make the old MacBook totally useable with new OS and programs, so it's worth it for me. I'm a conservative OS up-grader so I should get some good mileage out of it.
     

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