Should I upgrade my RAM?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Lion (10.7)' started by lufc4ever, Jul 22, 2011.

  1. lufc4ever macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2011
    #1
    I have a Late 2006 2.33GHz Core 2 Duo 20-inch iMac with 2GB of RAM. I can install 4GB of RAM but the computer will only recognise 3. Sometimes my computer can slow down when I have lots of applications running or when Lion does one of it's fancy transitions. Should I upgrade my RAM?
     
  2. mrapplegate macrumors 68030

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    Feb 26, 2011
    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH
    #2
    Yes, the more the better. Get your 4GB even if you machine can only "see" 3
     
  3. blimundus macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2006
    #3
    I also have an end 2006 c2d 20" iMac with 2gb RAM. I thought about upgrading the RAM, but I think I prefer to avoid the hassle/cost of ordering/installing new RAM. I think that Lion's performance with 2gb RAM is quite acceptable anyway. Did you end up doing the update from 2 to 3? Are you happy about the upgrade?
     
  4. mrapplegate macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2011
    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH
    #4
    You can never go wrong with having the maximum amount of RAM you can afford for your machine. I have 8GB on my MacBook Pro. These days RAM is the cheapest way to increase system performance.
     
  5. tuna macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2010
    #5
    For the transitions, probably not because thats more of a graphics performance issue and I believe that your iMac has discrete graphics (which means that freeing up memory won't increase your graphics performance).

    As for general slowdown, yes there is a very good chance that having more RAM installed will increase the overall responsiveness of your computer. But lets not guess, there is a very easy way to know for sure:

    Open the applications that you might be using during a heavy load, and then open Activity Monitor. Go to the "System Memory" tab at the bottom. You should see this:

    [​IMG]

    Free memory is completely unused
    Wired memory is in use by the OS
    Active memory is in use by active applications
    Inactive memory is cached data from recently closed applications

    All I have open is Chrome, Illustrator, and Activity Monitor, and just with that I'm using about 2.2GB of memory between the OS and active apps, plus the computer is cashing another 800MB of application data so that in case I reopen a recently used app, it can load straight from the memory (much faster than having to load from the hard drive).

    In my case, 2GB of RAM wouldn't even be enough for the Wired and Active memory. This means that my computer would have to use the hard drive as virtual memory, drastically slowing down the computer. The fact that I can often load apps straight from my unused RAM also makes the computer feel a lot faster.

    Maybe apple has programed OS X Lion so that if it knows you only have 2GB of memory, it will load fewer resources in the Wired memory by default, but this just means that you're going to have to go back to the hard disk more often to load whatever files you specifically need.

    Considering that I am using 2.2GB of memory with just 2 or 3 apps open, I really think that it would be worth the low cost to upgrade your memory to 3GB. But you can check your Activity Monitor for yourself.
     
  6. blimundus macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2006
    #6
    I'm convinced - I will place my order with crucial today.

    It does feel a bit stupid to invest in a computer that is five years old, but it is not a waste because I am sure that I will use it for another year or two... and it is just 23 euros anyway.
     
  7. ranjitb macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2011
    #7
    Yep if it's just 2 GB more will definitely help, see this video to determine usage of RAM in OS X and if you need more

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iiw397iCv8o

    I fee 4GB is more than enough for normal task but if you do something like video editing or heavy apps then more is better, I do some video editing often and with 4 GB I was paging a lot now on 8 GB and it made a huge difference now I am planning to upgrade to 16 GB coz I still I get a bit of paging and RAM pricing is at all time low.
     
  8. adder7712 macrumors 68000

    adder7712

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    Mar 9, 2009
    Location:
    Canada
    #8
    I didn't see any difference in memory usage on my 2GB MacBook to be honest.
     
  9. ranjitb macrumors member

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    Feb 18, 2011
    #9
    If you do not use a lot of apps simultaneously (multitasking) more RAM is not important see my video that I posted in the earlier thread In which I show how to check if you need more RAM...... It is best of check it after using your Mac for a couple of hours to determine if additional RAM will be helpful.
     
  10. adder7712 macrumors 68000

    adder7712

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2009
    Location:
    Canada
    #10
    I do use my computer a lot and I don't think I need any more RAM.

    Well I would like more RAM but I don't think I need any more on this computer. I'll probably get 8GBs on my hypothetical iMac.
     
  11. seong, Jul 25, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2011

    seong macrumors 65816

    seong

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2010
    #11
    It's off topic, but if that iMac is your only machine, then I would suggest that you upgrade your computer to something like MBA, MBP, or even the 799 Mac Minis. They should be way more powerful than your current machine. If you can't, then yes, go with the RAM upgrade.
     
  12. Takuro macrumors 6502

    Takuro

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2009
    #12
    I just recently installed some ram in my iMac. It shipped with 4 gigs to begin with, and I swapped it out for 16 gigs. Really, there's literally no difference in performance until you use the most memory intensive apps - like Parallels and virtualization stuff. Then, it becomes noticeable.

    However, if you're upgrading a machine that had 2gb by default when it shipped, chances are that other components in the machine are somewhat dated. Although RAM is dirt cheap, I don't see the logic in upgrading a machine that should probably be replaced soon. If your Mac is from 2006, if it was a person, it'd have learned to walk, talk, and go to kindergarden at this point. Five years is an awful long time in the world of computing. Time to move on, maybe?
     
  13. blimundus macrumors newbie

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    Apr 18, 2006
    #13
    This old iMac is indeed the only computer in the house, shared between my wife and myself. That works very well.

    If I would get a MBA, I would probably keep it for myself, and let my wife have the iMac. From that point of view, the extra 1GB of RAM would still be useful for her...

    Similarly, if I were to decide to get a new iMac or mini, which would then probably take the spot of the old iMac in the living room, the old iMac would probably move to another room in case we both need access to a computer at the same time...

    In short, I am more convinced than ever that the extra gig of RAM will still be useful...
     
  14. seong macrumors 65816

    seong

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2010
    #14
    I do not really think extra 1GB will change anything dramatically. For example, in my case, I had two RAMs to test out. 2x2GB and 2x4GB on my Macbook Pro. I stuck with the 8GB because it was significantly better, and no matter how many GBs of RAM I installed, the computer always used 50% of it, so I thought extra 4GB will benefit me.
    In your case, maybe the Mac Mini. You could, then, hold onto your money and buy the redesigned MBPs or MBAs in 2012.
     
  15. chewbee macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2007
    #15
    I was running 4 gigs of RAM before the Lion upgrade. I use Aperture and Final Cut Pro a lot. Since getting 8 gigs, my MacBook Pro has been running much much faster and smoother.
     
  16. seong macrumors 65816

    seong

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    Feb 11, 2010
    #16
    The more, the merrier :)
     
  17. eifer macrumors regular

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    Oct 17, 2008
    #17
    Upgrading from 2gb to 6gb in my macbook pro made a huge difference.
     

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