RAM - 4gb vs. 8gb?

videotape74

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 20, 2016
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84
I am considering upgrading my RAM from 4gb to 8gb and I am wondering if it’s really worth it.

I am running a mid-2009 MBP 5,4 with a SSD and I use Lightroom & Photoshop quite often. Besides those I don’t really run any “intense” software but just the usual iTunes, browsing, email etc....

So, is it worth it? Any input would be greatly appreciated!
 

maflynn

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
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Boston
How's your utilization? Are you swapping a lot, what is the activity monitor showing?

My knee jerk reaction is that with only 4GB, you probably could benefit.
 
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videotape74

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 20, 2016
119
84
How's your utilization? Are you swapping a lot, what is the activity monitor showing?

My knee jerk reaction is that with only 4GB, you probably could benefit.
I get "beachballed" occasionally with a couple of apps opened and then the fans kick into high gear.

And the couple of times I've checked the Activity Monitor I have 3gb of RAM in use and 1gb free.
 

Howard2k

macrumors 68030
Mar 10, 2016
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Check the memory pressure in Activity Monitor. If you're seeing yellow or red then you should upgrade.
If it's always green then you may not need to. It's not likely to hurt unless you run into issues of mismatched or faulty memory, but then again that money might be better saved towards a replacement at some point.
 

videotape74

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 20, 2016
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With Lightroom & Firefox open, here is a snap of my Activity Monitor...

 
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Howard2k

macrumors 68030
Mar 10, 2016
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So you're not working it hard. I would keep an eye on it for a few days and see. Keep Activity Monitor open and if things feel sluggish you can take a look.
 

videotape74

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 20, 2016
119
84
So you're not working it hard. I would keep an eye on it for a few days and see. Keep Activity Monitor open and if things feel sluggish you can take a look.
i just updated the image cause i noticed a spike to yellow on the verge of red...i didn't open anything else.
 

EugW

macrumors 604
Jun 18, 2017
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Definitely do the upgrade. I had a 2009 13” 2.26 GHz MacBook Pro with SSD, and the upgrade to 8 GB made the beachballs go away. This back in 2017 and earlier was my main mobile machine and it made quite a noticeable difference when I was multitasking even just with MS Office, etc.

I then bought a cheap 2008 13” aluminum MacBook off Kijiji and put an old SSD in it and put the 4 GB from the MacBook Pro above in it for a nice kitchen machine.

Or so I thought...

Even though the latter 2008 2.0 GHz MacBook was used mainly just as a kitchen surfer and breakfast email machine, I would still occasionally get those beachballs too. I lucked out on a flash Amazon.ca sale and picked up two sticks of Transcend 4 GB RAM for $22 each on clearout. Upgraded the thing to 8 GB and those beachballs went away. I haven’t seen pricing anywhere near that low lately for name brand RAM though, but $60 CAD is decent.

So yes, these days even just for a kitchen surfing machine, 8 GB is recommended. 4 GB should just be considered the bare minimum, but is not ideal even for basic use.

P.S. I am running 10.13 High Sierra on both those machines with a macOS installer hack and it works well, with a few small caveats. 10.14 Mojave is not recommended though, since the issues are much bigger. Probably the sweet spot for a lot of people is either the supported 10.11 El Capitan, or else the unsupported 10.12 Sierra, but 10.13 High Sierra is very much like Sierra on that machine, with APFS support. In terms of compatibility with legacy third party software though, out of all those, 10.11 El Capitan is the best of course.
 
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