To buy...or not to buy...more RAM?

HXGuy

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Original poster
Mar 25, 2010
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I've got 8GB in my iMac and it runs what I would consider ok, but looking at the Activity Monitor, it's pretty tapped out (though there is 2.16GB Inactive, not really sure how that comes into play).

Thinking about spending the $76 to swap out the 4x2GB sticks for 4x4GB sticks. Worth it?

iMac is a mid-2010 2.93 GHz i7 running OSX Lion but will be upgrading to Snow Lion soon (does that require/run better with more RAM than Lion?)

 
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avemestr

macrumors regular
Aug 14, 2012
177
23
Cost is low, so you might as well.

But you'll not see much of a performance increase, based on your screenshot. I don't know how long your computer has been up-and-running, but based on your "page outs" it seems you very very seldom run out of RAM and have to move data from RAM to HDD.

If you double your RAM, you might see 0 paging out in the future. But you'll most likely not feel it.
 

Weaselboy

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Jan 23, 2005
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You still have over 2GB inactive and available for use. Adding more memory is not likely to do anything for you.
 

turtlez

macrumors 6502a
Jun 17, 2012
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Photoshop is always ram hungry so by default you should aim for 8GB + if you are often in PS.
 

HXGuy

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Mar 25, 2010
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An SSD would be a better (though, pricier) investment.
An SSD would be great but I don't think it's for the faint of heart, it required removing the screen...plus you still need a second drive (as an SSD wouldn't be big enough) so you either have to use an external drive, which would be slow, or replace the optical drive with an SSD, which I think is what a lot of people do. I rarely use the optical drive anyway so that could be an option, but there is the whole issue of removing the screen still.

http://www.tomshardware.com/picturestory/593-imac-ssd-do-it-yourself.html

I setup my wife's Mac Pro with an SSD as the boot drive and damn that thing is fast in comparison to my computer. Apps open almost instantly! When I installed Mountain Lion last night, I started the process at the same time on both machines and her's finished the install 30 minutes before mine did.
 

ThomasJL

macrumors 6502a
Oct 16, 2008
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RAM is cheap. Buy more RAM so you dont have to worry about activity monitor.
Precisely. Whenever someone asks if they should buy more RAM, you hear several people saying some variant of "You'll never need over [x-amount] of RAM." Right now, if you ask if you should buy 16 GB, they'll say that. They have been saying that since the 1980's, when RAM was measured in KB.
 

turtlez

macrumors 6502a
Jun 17, 2012
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yup, ram is so cheap may as well max out. I get page outs with 16GB doing After Effects work. I want to go to 32GB for my next computer.

I see the "Get SSD instead". Is that wise? Sending a crap load of page outs to an SSD will wear it out faster and won't be as fast anyway especially when loading other stuff at the same time. Am I right?
 

iAppl3Fan

macrumors 6502a
Sep 8, 2011
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Precisely. Whenever someone asks if they should buy more RAM, you hear several people saying some variant of "You'll never need over [x-amount] of RAM." Right now, if you ask if you should buy 16 GB, they'll say that. They have been saying that since the 1980's, when RAM was measured in KB.
I agree. If we were talking about RAM on a RMBP where it's a $200 upgrade I can understand it being a tough decision. However, with desktop memory for an iMac it just makes complete sense to go for it without a doubt.
 

throAU

macrumors 603
Feb 13, 2012
5,507
2,556
Perth, Western Australia
Sweet spot for price/capacity is currently 8gb DIMMs.

Fill 'er up if you can afford it, more ram will be used as cache (inactive memory).

If you have 4 slots (iMacs), that's 32 gig
If you have 2 slots (MBPs), that's 16 gig.

That amount will likely see you out for the life of your machine (unless you're one of the niche "i need all teh rams!!" users, but then you'd be on a Mac Pro or something similar), and you can then forget about memory until it is time to upgrade the entire box.


edit:
And yeah, i've been hearing "X is enough, you'll never need more!" since the days of 1 meg being more than most people had. It has never proven to be more than you'll ever need yet.



An efficient operating system will page-out if applications are inactive, and that is not always something to worry about. It is excessive paging you need to be worried about (the number in brackets, if your machine is acting slow, would indicate a problem due to paging).
 
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HXGuy

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Mar 25, 2010
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From my understanding, the mid-2010 iMac can only have up to 16GB (4x4GB)...is that not correct?
 

PaulKemp

macrumors 6502
Jun 2, 2009
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Norway
The ram is the cheapest, easiest upgrade you can do yourself. No hassle at all. Just do it and know you have maxed out the ram. Maybe you want to run a few virtual machines in the future? Ram prices will increase when the ram you have in your machine has gone out of production, so you might just do it now.
 

Alklha

macrumors newbie
Aug 18, 2012
29
1
From my understanding, the mid-2010 iMac can only have up to 16GB (4x4GB)...is that not correct?
That's right. I agree with most of the other posters as well, with the cost of RAM, it is worth the upgrade.
 

dearlaserworks

macrumors regular
Apr 28, 2012
235
2
Eastern Shore, USA
From my understanding, the mid-2010 iMac can only have up to 16GB (4x4GB)...is that not correct?
No, 32GB. Apple often understates the max. For instance:

http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/memory/iMac/2010/DDR3_21.5_27

If it were my iMac w that screenshot, I'd pop out 2 modules and drop in 2x4GB for about $50. Down the road, in a year or two, if ya need more, you'll likely be able to swap the other 2x2GB for 2x8GB for about the same $50 as prices fall.
 
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Geek4Mac

macrumors newbie
Oct 8, 2012
3
0
how to choose the right mac ram

Hey, it's probably worth upgrading... here's a tutorial on how to get the right ram for your mac.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ed2MvAyI66Q&feature=plcp

If you can't afford ram right now you can also clear up the inactive memory (in blue) by installing a free app from the app store called 'freememory'. When you run it, it will clear up the inactive memory for you.

Hope this helps..