Upgrade hard drive or RAM...

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Migwellious, Jun 15, 2009.

  1. Migwellious macrumors newbie


    Just need to know which is best for me to upgrade first the RAM or my internal HD, here is my situation:

    I use my machine mainly for music encoding and recording, general internet time passing and iLife apps, of which I use iPhoto and iMovie/iDVD the most making family slideshows and then turning them into movies with iMovie , ultimately burning them to disc.

    I could do with more HD space but am buying an external of some sort soon for back ups/ NAS type set up etc so increasing the hd size isn't the main concern[but a concern none the less].

    I'd just like to get things moving on along a bit quicker with my macbook..

    I did check Activity Monitor but it's changed in Leopard a little since I used it last ....what is the best way to check if it's hd or RAM that is slowing me down the most...Activity Monitor is a little confusing and I struggling to find any information which explains how and why it displays the info it does AND how to interpret that info correctly.

    So RAM or HD first ? with a side order of advice on Activity Monitor.

    sorry the ramble, first post an all :eek:

  2. SilentPanda Moderator emeritus


    Oct 8, 2002
    The Bamboo Forest
    How much RAM do you have now?

    Once you run out of Hard Drive space you're kind of stuck. With RAM you might have to wait a bit longer sometimes but at least it won't prevent you from doing anything at all.
  3. flopticalcube macrumors G4


    Sep 7, 2006
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    Activity Monitor->System Memory tab. Pageins should be 10X or greater pageouts. What model MacBook do you have and how much RAM and HD and how full is the HD?
  4. veterator macrumors member


    Jan 18, 2007
    Max out the ram since you have an external drive. Bigger is always better!:D

    You should be able to get a 500 GB drive and an enclosure for your old internal for about $140 and a 4 GB ram upgrade for about $50.
  5. -tWv- macrumors 68000


    May 11, 2009
    Since you are buying an external HD, I would go with the RAM. You can put miscellaneous stuff like movies that you will not use everyday but take up a lot of space onto there along with your backups.

    To answer your question, when you go into activity monitor:
    The main window shows all the processes running at the current time and so you can use this to determine which applications are using the most cpu % and ram

    if you click on "system memory" on the bottom of the screen then this shows you your ram usage. If there is little free space on this with just regular everyday programs running then I would definitely upgrade the ram. This will make your machine run much quicker.

    The CPU tab is the processor usage.

    The disk activity tab is just what your disk is doing and how much data it is transferring. Your disk normally won't be what is slowing your machine down. If you get more RAM then more information from applications will be stored on the ram. Ram can transfer data much faster than a hard drive can so with more info stored on the ram, the faster it can be transferred for your use.

    The disk usage is just how much used/free space you have.

    And the network tab is the amount of data is being transferred through your internet connection.

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