MBP 13" (2012): RAM vs SSD upgrade

lobster24

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 10, 2017
3
0
Hello!

Needing some guidance on which upgrade to prioritize due to budget constraints. I have a mid-2012 13" MacBook Pro (non-retina, 4GB RAM, 500GB HD) which has become quite slow now - slow to open apps, search in finder/spotlight, open a new browser tab, etc. At first I was set on upgrading the RAM (to 16GB?) but I stumbled upon this thread ( https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/macbook-pro-13-ssd-or-16gb-ram.1536242/ ), and now I'm a little confused as to which I should upgrade first.

To add, I want to better equip my personal laptop for video editing (mainly Premiere Pro), photo post-processing (Lightroom), DJing, and some gaming (Tomb Raider, Skyrim, CSGO-type games; I settle for low quality since MBPs aren't really for gaming anyway).

I'm not sure if disk space availability affects anything, but I've used up 350GB of the HD. Around 200GB are just videos which can be stored on an external if needed.

Thank you!
 

Poki

macrumors 65816
Mar 21, 2012
1,294
891
I would actually do both the economic way. Upgrading to 8 GB RAM and getting a 256 GB SSD shouldn't break the bank (if 256 GB is sufficient to you, that is). The prices start to go up quite a bit on larger SSDs, as they do on RAM. But at these capacities, you should be able to get yourself a nice boost in performance.

As for your workload - Premiere Pro runs extremely bad even on new 15" MBPs. Did you ever consider using Final Cut Pro X instead? It's a night and day difference. Lightroom isn't the most well optimized software either, but I understand that switching from LR is hard - the added RAM should boost your photo editing quite a bit though.
 

lobster24

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 10, 2017
3
0
I would actually do both the economic way. Upgrading to 8 GB RAM and getting a 256 GB SSD shouldn't break the bank (if 256 GB is sufficient to you, that is). The prices start to go up quite a bit on larger SSDs, as they do on RAM. But at these capacities, you should be able to get yourself a nice boost in performance.

As for your workload - Premiere Pro runs extremely bad even on new 15" MBPs. Did you ever consider using Final Cut Pro X instead? It's a night and day difference. Lightroom isn't the most well optimized software either, but I understand that switching from LR is hard - the added RAM should boost your photo editing quite a bit though.
This does make sense. I'll look into it, though I do like a lot of space ready since I've already started with 500GB.

Yes, Premiere Pro was never the smoothest, but good enough since I don't really do any heavy editing. The videos I make are mainly just for myself/friends/family/social media... for now at least. I've been meaning to try FCP, but forgot about it since I was content with PP already. I'm quite convinced now, so I'll check it out. Thank you!
 

Frankfurt

macrumors 6502
Dec 4, 2016
281
175
USA
8GB RAM is a must. After that the HDD is the bottleneck. Hence, yes, do both (I did on my Late 2008 Macbook that started out with 2GB RAM and HDD).
 

Poki

macrumors 65816
Mar 21, 2012
1,294
891
The SSD will give you way more speed than the RAM.
Considering a Premiere Pro and Lightroom workflow with just 4 GB of RAM, I'd definitely prioritize the RAM if actually only one upgrade is possible. I don't even want to think about editing photos or videos with that amount of RAM anymore. The SSD won't speed up the actual work in these apps significantly either, it just helps to dramatically reduce the load times when flicking through photos or opening Premiere projects.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors P6
Feb 20, 2009
17,179
5,536
The SSD is THE MOST IMPORTANT performance upgrade.
If you do ONLY the RAM, YOU WILL NOT BE HAPPY with the outcome (shouting intentional).

Get a 480-512gb SSD. They aren't that expensive.

Get ONE 8gb DIMM (instead of two of them). Put it into the "uppermost" DIMM slot while you have the back cover off to replace the drive.
This will give you 10gb of installed RAM, and I predict that you'll never notice any difference in speed (because the two DIMM slots don't have equally-sized DIMMs in them).
I recommend this source:
https://www.datamemorysystems.com/apple-macbook-pro-intel-core-i7-2-7ghz-15-md104ll/a-cto-mid-2012-memory-upgrades/
 
Last edited:

BrettApple

macrumors 65816
Apr 3, 2010
1,098
375
Heart of the midwest
100% would go SSD first. If you're really on a tight budget, I'd go with a 240-250 GB SSD, should be around $80 (SanDisk ones are that much at Best Buy and Amazon).

If you have the extra cash then pony up for 480-512 GB range SSD. The 4GB of RAM should still work alright with the SSD being the largest improvment you can do for the price.

You can always throw in 2x4GB RAM later or max it out at 16GB some ways down the line if needed. I ran a 120GB SSD and 8GB RAM in my Late 2008 MacBook for years and it was very capable, even more so on this machine. Still have 8GB in my 13" rMBP and even with most my apps open I don't dig into the swap much. FCPx also runs way better than Premiere as noted. I've got firsthand experience with that on my MBP and even on our dual CPU Mac Pro towers at my previous employer.
 

MarkJames68

macrumors 6502
Sep 24, 2017
394
246
Agree with Fishrrman - upgrade to a 512GB SSD and put in an 8GB SODIMM. You can swap out the other chip later.

Then, get for around $10-20 a laptop USB HDD external case. Restore the old (now external) HDD to the SSD, and afterward use CCC to image the SSD to the HDD as a backup.