MBP 2GB vs. 4GB RAM with Parallels/VMware

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by macdude69, Aug 8, 2007.

  1. macdude69 macrumors member

    Aug 8, 2007
    I am thinking about upgrading my recently ordered 2.2 MBP to 4GB. While there have been 100 RAM upgrade threads, I don't think anyone has specifically asked this question.

    I am wondering what, if any, differences this upgrade will make with virtualization software, which I know are RAM intensive applications.

    Does anyone have any personal experience with this, before and/or after upgrade? I am not going to be using any special windows applications such as photoshop or video editing. I just want my experience to be as smooth as possible.

  2. iW00t macrumors 68040


    Nov 7, 2006
    Defenders of Apple Guild
  3. tyr2 macrumors 6502a


    May 6, 2006
    Leeds, UK
    It depends entirely on how much RAM you allocate to the Virtual Machine when you create it. Personally I find allocating 512Mb to the VM to be more that enough to run Windows XP with the apps I need (mostly MS Office stuff).

    2GB of physical RAM would do you fine for most instances, it depends what else you want to be running whilst the VM is running and how many VMs you want to run at the same time. If you're planning on running something like Aperture or Final Cut at the same time as the VM is running and want decent performance then more RAM wouldn't be a bad idea. If not then it's probably not worth the cash.

    Obviously if you want to run 4 VMs with 512Mb or RAM allocated to each, all at the same time you're going to need more than 2GB of RAM.
  4. macdude69 thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 8, 2007
    I am thinking only 1 VM, which would be XP. I only want to run Office and Matlab, BUT I want them to run well. I will also run an anti-virus and firewall in the background. I am most concerned with window response time and just overall "use" of the VM. I want it to feel as close as possible to using a real PC.

    ALSO, if I close the VM does OSX get the RAM back that it had allocated? Then does it run just as good as before or do you need to reboot? Do most people leave the VM open all the time or just open it when they need it?

    The 4 GB RAM isn't worth it for my everyday use otherwise. I am not going to be making videos or editing photos. I just want a stable and smooth machine.
  5. Sbrocket macrumors 65816


    Jun 3, 2007
    Just a quick sidenote: there is a Mac version of MATLAB that runs in X11 if you're going to be using it a lot and don't want the hassle of always having to boot up Windows in Fusion. It's what I'm going to be using.

    I also recommend VMware Fusion over Parallels Desktop; I've used both and I think Fusion feels much more stable than Parallels. Of course, that's just my gut feeling...no scientific basis there. There's many comparison threads over in the "Windows on a Mac" forum if you're looking for more info.

    If you close the virtual machine then OSX will reclaim the previously allocated RAM, yes. There shouldn't be any need to reboot. I also don't leave the virtual machine open all the time, but I'm sure there's many people that do. Usually you would want to just leave it open if you're constantly using Windows applications; me personally, I use it periodically for NX5 and SolidWorks so nowhere near as frequently as many others do.

    The best gauge of whether or not you would benefit from an increase in RAM is to set up your VM software with the amount of RAM you would like it to allocate for the virtual OS and open up a few programs. Simulate a normal work environment, or if you're more serious about performance a work environment with more hardware activity than normal. Then open up Activity Monitor and see if you have an increasing number of Page Outs. If you do, you may want to consider getting more RAM. If not, then a RAM upgrade is going to benefit you very little...if any.

    Btw...the Page Outs count is found here...

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