RAM vs Solid State Drive?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by oddsock81, Mar 24, 2011.

  1. oddsock81 macrumors newbie

    Mar 22, 2011
    Hi All,

    I'm looking to upgrade my current mac to a new Mac Book Pro. The main use of the machine is cs5, and was just looking at the different set-ups available.

    The model I would be going for is the 13" 2.7.

    Out of upgrading the RAM to 8GB or changing the hard drive to Solid State Drive what would show a better performance increase?

    An alternative would be to go for a 13" MBA with the 2.13 processor and 4GB of RAM. Although I do like the Air, I just think comparable to the MBP it is just a lighter machine.

    Many thanks,

  2. SandboxGeneral Moderator emeritus


    Sep 8, 2010
    The RAM would give you the most performance increase while using your apps. The SSD will aid that and it will load the app initially much faster than an HDD.

    If I were you, I would get the SSD and the base amount of RAM if money is a concern to you. Later you can upgrade the RAM which is much easier and usually cheaper to upgrade over the SSD.

    Also, RAM from Apple is always more expensive than third party RAM. So you will save money by getting the SSD now, and then when you have extra cash, you get upgrade the RAM.
  3. 1quick1 macrumors member

    Sep 10, 2008
    Upgrade the RAM through Newegg. You can get 8gb of RAM w/lifetime warranty for $80 or less on sale. I got mine for $65 shipped.
  4. khadgar2k1 macrumors member

    Jan 30, 2008
    any idea how frequent RAM sales are?
  5. SandboxGeneral Moderator emeritus


    Sep 8, 2010
    No, not really. I don't know if they ever put RAM on sale. RAM is volitile just like oil, but not as bad. RAM prices fluctuate often. Lately RAM has been on the cheaper side.

    Another good place to get RAM is OWC. I usually get all mine there.
  6. LightSpeed1 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 13, 2009
    Washington D.C.
  7. idunn macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2008
    Simple or not

    Concur. Of the two, choose the SSD over increased RAM, if for no other reason than the RAM easier to upgrade in future.

    Anecdotal reports have the MacBook Air seemingly quicker and more seamless than the MacBook Pro. This likely due not only its SSD, but also the integrated design of the architecture from the outset. Thus installing an SSD in a MBP may still leave it at a slight disadvantage … unless demanding tasks are required. For pure horsepower the MBP would remain the best choice. The inclusion of an SSD would negate most advantages of the MBA, and in maximum ability provide the best 13" computer.

    The MBA commands a premium for its more svelte form, but it is interesting that the equation can change somewhat depending upon configuration. The price of a new MBA or MBP (2.3 GHz), each with 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD, are nearly the same. But of course the MBA cannot be changed from specs initially configured, while the MBP can, with also a decidedly faster CPU, and more ports.

    The MBA can even be a little less expensive than MBP, if bumping up to a 256GB SSD. In just storage alone, there is a good reason to consider that size. Yes, expensive, but using but 128GB is accepting certain hard limitations. The MBA is a sense perhaps cousin to the iPad in purpose being more cloud based. If the MBA quite capable, neither is intended for the really hard work the MBP line better suited for. Which work can often not only entail hard processing, but also large files. In workflow alone, it might really be preferable to retain a good deal internally on the computer.

    Assuming use of the MBP, then the possibility of upgrading to an SSD later. There is also the issue of emerging SATA III, that versus SATA II. As RAM, Apple charges a premium for an installed SSD, but also perhaps some reason to pay it. Not all SSDs are created equal, and while some may actually prove better than what Apple offers, some people have experienced various problems with certain after-market types of SSD. If installed from Apple, then one should have no issue taking it back to them if all does not work properly.

    Some like tweaking all these parameters, others just want it to work. If you lean towards the latter camp, then messing with RAM later, versus an SSD, would be preferred.
  8. Macsavvytech macrumors 6502a


    May 25, 2010
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPod; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8C148 Safari/6533.18.5)

    If you get a third party SSD, the MacBook Air has nothing over the MacBook Pros I don't know about apple's Samsung SSD
  9. macrem, Mar 24, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2011

    macrem macrumors 65816


    Mar 11, 2008
    From Apple's website: "256GB Solid State Drive [Add $600.00]" (bwaaahahaha!!)

    I bought an SSD drive & 8GB RAM waaay cheaper than that!

    Here's a nice SSD drive (good controller, good reviews):


    price: $430

    ...as someone else mentioned, 8 GB RAM costs around $85.

    +you get to keep the standard configuration parts: sell or get an enclosure for the stock HDD to use externally for backups & sell the stock 4GB RAM (selling both probably gets you back within 'close enough' range of the original +$200 budget for h/w upgrades).
  10. tbobmccoy macrumors 6502a


    Jul 24, 2007
    Austin, TX
    It's almost ALWAYS better to upgrade aftermarket than with Apple. MacBook Airs are about the only exceptions, since their RAM and SSDs are soldered into the board and not user removable (well, they are... but it would be a PAIN and require more knowledge than the average consumer has).
  11. ZenAmateur macrumors newbie

    May 21, 2008
    Your apparent speed increase will be upgrading the drive to SSD. I have done both, first the RAM and then the SSD, and the SSD made the machine much faster than the RAM. Photoshop reads and writes to its cache files constantly, and the faster I/O of the SSD speeds things up considerably. Go with the SSD first, then the RAM.
  12. oddsock81 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 22, 2011
    Many thanks for all the responses.

    As has been mentioned, the SSD seems the best option, and have to admit had completed forgotten to look at alternative places to get the upgrades from.

    Hopefully I will get a chance tomorrow to finally upgrade to a shinny new MBP
  13. adnoh macrumors 6502a


    Nov 14, 2010
    The i7 is a good choice. But an ssd and ram after Market and install yourself. I would the ssd will give you. More noticeable speed boost.
  14. NZed macrumors 65816


    Jan 24, 2011
    Canada, Eh?
    CS5 on a 13" is not nice... better go with 15"

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