Background: - i've been a mac user for two decades with a lot of unix/linux stuff thrown in between. - other recent machines have included: 1. first gen 2 x Dual core Xeon 3ghz Mac Pro with 8gb RAM at work 2. 2nd gen Macbook 2.0ghz with 2 gb RAM (work owned as well) 3. a recently dead (and this replaced it) dual G5 1.8ghz with 3 gb RAM if #3 hadn't died, i had planned on keeping it at least 1.5-2 more years as it was serving my needs well. but sometimes your hand is forced...about a month ago, the dual G5 died...all diagnostics and work suggest a logic board failure which wasn't worth fixing. i contemplated a number options including buying something used, trying to wait until June or whenever the new MacPro would arrive, and strongly considered buying the new white macbook (with nvidia graphics) for a kludged "mac mini" which had easily upgradeable RAM and hard drive. but in the end, a discount from a friend who works at apple and my need for a machine now + the attractiveness of expandabibility for RAM and HD space thrust me in the MacPro direction. finally, i'm not a power user...i am at work in certain ways -- i do computational fluid dynamics which eats up horsepower (my big stuff goes to "supercomputers")...and so does analysis of large data sets in matlab. but for home, i do web browsing, word processing, spreadsheets, photoshop, and converting videos (my mac serves as my "poor man's Tivo" using a Miglia HD tuner i bought years ago). After a week with the machine... i can provide the following feedback... RAM: (i) even though i don't think i need a lot...i installed 6 gb to start and that makes a big difference. i had it with the basic 2gb for a few days and i could really feel the machine was being held back. i bought 2x2gb from Memory America and the extra 4gb really improves performance a lot! (ii) RAM runs very cool...using istat, i see it typically in the 120 oF range which is 20 oF less than on my MacPro at work...also, interesting enough, the Memory America Ram typically runs 5-10 oF cooler than the stock Apple chips. (iii) is 6 gb enough? i'm beginning to wonder. i've topped off at about 5.2 gb active although usually, it's in the 3-4 gb range with the rest allocated as "cache." i can only guess Photoshop is gobbling up whatever it sees even if i'm not doing anything complicated...RAM is cheap, so i'm going to see how things go for the next few weeks...and if needed, i'll bump it to 10gb... but i'm surprised to see how much has been used in my first full week of ownership. i thought i'd never touch 6gb at home, but that may not be the case... HD i never believed it, but now i am a believer. disk performance is a lot better if you have a empty system/boot disk. with only 200 gb of the 500 gb being used, the performance really is fast compared to my nearly full main drive at work. i need to perhaps rethink my work strategy to correct for this shortcoming on my older MacPro CPU for me, 4 cores on the single chip are MORE than enough. the machine barely breaks a sweat. i think the only thing i do that uses more than 2 cores is Handbrake...so that's a nice use, but i'm now glad i saved the extra few hundred in not going with 8 cores and saving the money for RAM and hard drive purchases. Internals: very impressed in how easy RAM and HD installation has become. not that the dual G5 was that hard, but this is so clean and easy these days. i also like the possibility of installing up to 6 hard drives with the single optical if i ever see that need down the road. Questions: - How much RAM is enough? i know there are varying perspectives here, but i am surprised by what i've been seeing in my early ownership. i never thought that 3gb was holding me back with my old dual G5, but now i'm wondering. [anecdotally, even though my macbook had more "horsepower," i had been finding that it lagged in performance compared to my dual G5...that may have been a RAM and video bottleneck] - i plant to salvage the old superdrive from my dual G5 and put it into the 2nd optical bay: with multiple cores, can one important two CDs at once in itunes? - is it wise to have one's entire home directory on a 2nd disk or just the large files [music/videos/pictures]? i can see some downsides of having the whole "home" on a second disk, but i guess when a HD dies (either boot or user disk), it's going to suck regardless. (backup notwithstanding) in short, i'm glad i didn't wait any longer. not having a main computer at home (i was relegated to using my work-owned laptop and ipod touch for the past month) wasn't much fun. i'm sure something faster and better is coming down the pipe, but sometimes, you just have to make the purchase and avoid (hopefully) looking over your shoulder... thanks for all the great info on this forum!