upgrading my MBP early 2011 to 16 gb of ram and SSD?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Sean-G, Jun 24, 2012.

  1. Sean-G macrumors newbie

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    Jul 27, 2011
    #1
    was thinking about doing this within the next 3 months. Wondering is 16 gb worth it or should i stick to 8 and SSD drive 250 gb worth it? How much of a difference should I expect?

    Yes I get these are dumb questions that have most likely been answered 20000 times over here. Sorry.
     
  2. proximo macrumors member

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    Aug 28, 2011
    #2
    Is your system ever going into paging? If so, upgrading the memory to 16GB is pretty cheap (~$90-100) and should make things feel snappier. If not, you won't even notice the extra memory. You will, however, notice the SSD no matter how much memory you have.
     
  3. Sean-G thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #3
  4. Sean-G thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #4
    also is that the cheapest price or is there a place that might sell the ssd cheaper?
     
  5. proximo macrumors member

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    #5
    The Crucial M4 is one of the recommended SSD around here (I have 2 128GB M4's) and the price is about right (google for prices). You might find it cheaper by a few dollars if you shop. If you can wait a week or two, it might go substantially lower given the rate of recent price drops. Of course, it may go up as well.

    If you are reasonably handy with a really small screwdriver, changing the SSD out yourself in a unibody is pretty straight forward. Remove about 10 small screws (on a 17") and the whole bottom pops off. The memory and hard drive are exposed and really easy to get at. Check out one of the iFixit videos for a step by step to replacing either memory or hard drive.
     
  6. sweetbrat macrumors 65816

    sweetbrat

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    #6
    Install the SSD yourself. It's a super simple procedure as long as you can follow directions. There's tons of walkthroughs online...just search for one. Check Amazon and Newegg regularly for good prices on the Crucial M4. Sometimes the price drops for just a day, sometimes just a few hours. And keep an eye on this forum. People will usually post if they find a super good price somewhere so others can get in on it.

    Before deciding on memory, I'd check and see how much you're having page-outs. If you don't have a lot of page-outs, save your money. You already have 8, so you can always upgrade to 16GB later if you start using your computer in ways that need it. A lot of people will say to upgrade to 16GB no matter what since it's cheap, but why spend money if you're not going to get any benefit from it at all?
     
  7. Sean-G thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #7
    well right now im running 4gigs of ram...think its still worth it to upgrade?
     
  8. stevelam macrumors 65816

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    #8
    More memory is always great but you haven't mentioned what you do on a computer at all. What is making you consider more ram?
     
  9. InlawBiker macrumors 6502

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    #9
    Depends on your budget and needs right? Do you ever run out of memory? For almost everybody 8GB memory is plenty.

    But. I have Late 2011 on order. I know 4gb is insufficient. 16gb of RAM was only $79, so I figured as long as it was open the extra $40 is no big deal and I'll never need to go in there again.

    For SSD - since you already have your laptop you should know your storage needs by now. If 256GB just isn't cutting it now then you may have to spring for 512 or whatever, or plan to do some thinking about which apps you need to have installed and how to offload large files if you need to.

    I would prefer 512G space but I prefer the 128G price. So I got a 256G Crucial M4 as a compromise. 256GB should be fine for MY needs, but I know 128GB would be difficult to maintain, especially after a year or so. I could have justified 512GB and in a year or so might be kicking myself but we'll see.

    The prices are dropping so fast and I figure the 256G to last a few years. I'll put the 512G spinny disk on the optical bay for storage, and I already had an external disk for backups/storage. I got a DVD enclosure to put the optical drive into.

    I sort of expect 1TB SSD's to be affordable in a few years in which case I can upgrade then, or maybe I'll be ready for a whole new system.

    I intend to blog post about the whole upgrade process and I'll post a link to that when I get er done.
     
  10. proximo macrumors member

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    Aug 28, 2011
    #10
    I started with 2GB in my 2007 MBP running Tiger, went to 4GB with Leopard and ended up with 6GB with Lion. Each successive release of OS X seemed to chew up more and more memory, forcing OS X into paging, so each memory upgrade helped keep the system feeling reasonably responsive. From my experience, if you are at 4GB now, 8GB is going to definitely be felt. In my normal workday, I have 6+ Firefox windows open, Thunderbird for email and Eclipse for software development. Your workflow may require more or less memory but as they say memory is cheap so...

    The kicker for me in getting rid of the 2007 was that I now need to run at least 2 to 4 virtual machines to test the clustered software I'm developing. Obviously, 6GB wasn't going to cut it so 2 weeks ago I bought a 2011 MBP and immediately popped 16GB in it. That should hold me for a good while.

    Next up is the SSD upgrade as soon as the 512GB prices have stabilized. Then I should be good to go for the next 4 or 5 years (famous last words :)
     
  11. CosmoPilot macrumors 65816

    CosmoPilot

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    #11
    I just put the M4 (512GB) in my 2012 MBP. It is a very super simple process. I put an aftermarket HD in my 2010 MBP when two years ago. The mini-tool set OWC sent me back then work flawlessly on the 2012 model.

    Replacing it is a matter of 10 screws on the bottom to remove the base plate. Then 2 screws that secure the HD into the MBP. After that, you remove the HD, take out the 4 screws that are physically attached to the HD. Put those 4 screws on the new HD, secure it with the 2 retaining screws and then put the base plate back on with the 10 screws....DONE!

    In terms of getting your software back on. Worse case scenario. If you have a descent Internet connection. All new Macs ship with "Internet Recovery" mode. The Mac will recognize there is no boot up disk, then connect to the internet and download the recovery software. At that point, you can format the HD and then download Lion.

    I did the Internet recovery just to try it out. I have a very fast internet connection and it took about 2 1/2 hours to install everything from first boot.
     
  12. G-Mo macrumors 6502

    G-Mo

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    #12
    Of course you could always just clone your old drive to the SSD before installing it via Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper!
     
  13. proximo macrumors member

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    #13
    Yeah, the OP didn't mention whether his 2011 MBP was early or late. Internet recovery didn't appear until the late 2011 models, although a firmware upgrade is available for the early 2011s to add it. Still, it takes a long time to download the install package from the network and then you still have to load your apps and redo your settings.

    Using Carbon Copy Cloner to copy the existing HDD to the SSD is fine but most recommendations, due to partition alignment issues and performance, are to do a fresh install on the SSD. The original HD can be installed in a 2.5" hard drive caddy and attached via USB. Migration Assistant can then use that to copy his old settings and Apps over to the SSD once it's booted.
     
  14. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    #14
    No one can give you a perfect answer to this. You admit in the original post that these are dumb questions, but they're only dumb because you provide little context and detail. SSDs typically hasten boot time and times for applications to load. Assuming you have adequate ram, they don't speed up the applications themselves. If you're lacking adequate ram, the SSD typically means it won't slow down as much. It's still quite noticeable in some things. The lack of mechanical parts can be nice if you move your machine while it's turned on. The instant on effect is also pretty nice. Ram prevents slowing due to inadequate memory space. The amount of ram someone can benefit from varies drastically, but typically if OS and applications are kept up to date, it will increase over time. Lion can be run on 2-4GB of ram. On the other end, there are people who can benefit from it up to the limits of the OS (officially 96, might be able to go higher depending on the machine). What so many people on here don't seem to understand is that it doesn't increase their geekbench scores. It prevents slowdowns assuming they happen. If you're not utilizing what you have, the extra memory does nothing.

    Where was it $79? I've never seen it anywhere near that low.
     
  15. sweetbrat macrumors 65816

    sweetbrat

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    #15
    This is what I did. Worked great for me. I did a lot of cleanup on the old drive before I cloned it so that I wasn't copying a bunch of unneeded stuff.

    OP, sorry, you made it sound like you already had 8GB. At any rate, whether you need to upgrade to 8GB or 16GB is something you'll have to figure out. Are you having a lot of page outs? (Check Activity monitor if you're not sure). What tasks do you generally use your computer for? What software do you usually use? We can't help you if you don't give us more information.
     
  16. InlawBiker macrumors 6502

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    #16
    It was one of the Newegg "shell shocker" deals. You have to watch out for them, but typically they're the first price drop in a new trend of pricing. So similar deals should come along soon.
     
  17. TheRdungeon macrumors 6502

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    #17
    Says early '11 in the title, definitely agree with the clean install
     
  18. G-Mo macrumors 6502

    G-Mo

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    #18
    Lion Internet Recovery is available on any machine running Lion. 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008...

    Your info regarding CCC (or SD! or any other drive cloner) is wrong as well...
    http://help.bombich.com/discussions...ssd-using-ccc-suggests-native-install-instead
     
  19. proximo macrumors member

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    #19
    Sure it is... with a firmware upgrade for all models shipped prior to the release of Lion in mid-2011. That includes most of the early 2011s although Apple seems to imply that some may have included it.

    http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4904

    Partition alignment has always been an issue with SSDs. The starting block of the first partition has to align with the SSDs internal page boundaries else you pay a performance penalty. Windows and OS X address that when partitioning an SSD. If CCC handles partition alignment as well, good for them and I stand corrected. Just one of many discussions of it if you google around:

    http://lifehacker.com/5837769/make-...ned-for-optimal-solid-state-drive-performance
     
  20. thekev macrumors 604

    thekev

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    #20
    Ah I've never seen those. Thanks.
     
  21. cherishzm macrumors regular

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    Mar 13, 2011
    #21
    I don't mean to hijack this thread but how can one fine out how many page-outs he has??
     
  22. proximo macrumors member

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    #22
    Activity Monitor, System Memory tab.
     
  23. sweetbrat macrumors 65816

    sweetbrat

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    #23
    As proximo said, check Activity Monitor and look at the System Memory tab under page outs. Keep in mind that this number resets when you restart the computer. It's a good idea to restart, use the computer as you normally would for a while, then take a look at the page outs. That will give you an idea of how much your computer is using up all the available RAM.
     
  24. proximo, Jun 25, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2012

    proximo macrumors member

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    #24
    I've been reading through the CCC documentation to try and understand if cloning an HD to an SSD handles the SSD partition alignment correctly. CCC supports two types of cloning: file level and block level. File level is the default.

    For file level cloning, CCC requires you to run Disk Utility to partition and format the SSD before cloning to it. Disk Utility will align the partition on an SSD correctly. The target will be bootable and not suffer performance degradation due to misaligned partitions. The problem if you do this is that you will have lost the hidden Lion Recovery HD partition:

    http://www.bombich.com/software/doc...-clone-the-recovery-hd-partition-on-lion.html
    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1153706

    Without it, you can't boot the Recovery HD from the SSD to do things like repair the system boot drive and/or restore the entire system from a time machine backup.

    For block level cloning, CCC will use Disk Utility under the covers to partition the target drive to look the same as the source drive and copy source to target block by block. The Recovery HD partition will be retained. Using Disk Utility ensures the partitions are aligned correctly on the target SSD so there's no performance hit. Unfortunately, to do a block clone CCC has to unmount both target and source disks and you can't unmount the boot drive of a running system.

    So, unless I'm missing something, the recommendation to do a fresh Lion install on the SSD, boot it then use Migration Assistant to move your apps and settings over to it from the original HD is still the best choice.
     
  25. G-Mo, Jun 25, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2012

    G-Mo macrumors 6502

    G-Mo

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    #25
    You are missing the fact the later versions of CCC (since 3.4.4) will archive and restore the Recovery HD for file level cloning.

    It archives the Recovery HD and is restorable via Disk Center. Takes about 7 seconds.
     

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