Question Regarding RAM Usage

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by vbrad26, Jul 31, 2012.

  1. vbrad26, Jul 31, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2012

    vbrad26 macrumors member

    Jul 4, 2010
    Quick question regarding RAM usage.

    First things first I have a late 2011 15in MBP 2.2ghz.
    Computer came with 4gb of ram (obviously) and while running Lion with iTunes, Firefox (with a couple tabs open), and mail the RAM usage when viewing it using Activity Monitor would usually not go above 3gb and occasionally page out when I had Photoshop open.

    Fast forward to today.
    I'm running Mountain Lion and upgraded to 8gb of RAM this afternoon.
    I'm sitting here with the same programs open and running (iTunes, FF, mail) and the computer says used RAM is at 4.15gb when it never really used to go above 3gb or so!

    Looking through Activity Monitor and seeing at what processes are running I come across kernal_task.
    From my understanding that's pretty much the OS doing it's thing and its taking up about 600mb but I don't remember it using up that much.

    Now my questions are:

    Now that the computer has more available RAM is it actually using more since it detects more available? Like, was it throttling back before because I didn't have enough?


    How much memory is other people's kernal_task process taking up?
    Because looking at other Mac's in my house they don't run anywhere close.


    How much RAM is being used up by others while doing normal computing?

    I have had many Mac's but this is the first one I have upgraded and I just think that it cruising along doing simple tasks but still taking up over 4gb of RAM is a little extreme.

  2. FastEddiebags macrumors 6502

    Jun 1, 2012
    Ive got 16gb in my late 11 MBP and right now it says that I only have 156mb of "free" ram. This is because 11gb of ram is allocated to "inactive" which means its waiting to be used I think.
    I'm not sure if ML uses more ram but that is a good guess and also your vram should have also increased by upgrading your ram.
    I recommend not worrying about it and just restart your computer.
  3. Rajpdx macrumors regular

    Jun 16, 2012
    It's completely normal. You can't really draw valid conclusions from snapshots - but your numbers look fine to me, nothing to worry about.
  4. vbrad26 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 4, 2010
    Yeah, I'm sure I'm over analyzing it since I have been glued to Activity Monitor for the past 10 hours since I fired up the machine with the new RAM.

    Now to figure out what SSD to buy!
  5. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Yes, Mac OS X will use whatever RAM is available.
    The Mac OS X kernel_task will use widely varying amounts of CPU and memory, depending on what it's doing at the moment. It's nothing to worry about.
    It's very difficult to draw any meaningful conclusions by comparing with other Macs, as each person's configuration, settings and apps/widgets/processes running will vary.

    You really don't need to watch memory usage unless you're paging out. Mac OS X manages memory automatically, without needing any intervention by the user. As long as you're not paging out under your normal workload, you're fine.

    Mac OS X: Reading system memory usage in Activity Monitor
  6. vbrad26, Jul 31, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2012

    vbrad26 thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 4, 2010
    Yeah, I suppose it's just using more RAM than I expected.
    Currently it's at:

    Free: 3.09 GB
    Wired: 1.61GB
    Active: 2.17 GB
    Inactive: 1.12 GB
    Used: 4.90

    I just was never getting numbers this high before I installed the new RAM and never remember seeing kernel_task go over 1 GB of real memory

    I know what the page out's are about but what about page in's?
    That's currently at 2.28 GB but page in's don't really matter do they? Just the page out's and swap...
  7. Rocky244 macrumors regular

    Jun 14, 2012
    It's not that page ins don't matter, it's that they aren't a sign/symptom of too little RAM available. Page outs & swaps show that your RAM usage is exceeding the RAM available. Page ins accumulate from normal computer use, and occur with pretty much everything you do on your computer.

    So you are correct.

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