What should I upgrade first- RAM or HDD?

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by Mikey B, Mar 10, 2009.

  1. Mikey B macrumors 65816

    Mikey B

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2008
    Location:
    the island
    #1
    Hello Mac Peeps,

    I'm looking for a little advice. Though ultimately I will upgrade both, I'm curious what you think would give me the most bang for my buck as the first upgrade- going from 2GB to 4GB of RAM or upgrading my HDD to a 7200 RPM drive.

    I have a 2.4 Aluminum MacBook, stock with 2GB of RAM and a 5400 250GB drive. As far as usage goes, I do tend to run several apps at once- iCal, Add Book, and Mail, iTunes, Excel, Pages, Peachtree (accounting/inventory system), Aperture and Photoshop. This is a fairly normal scenario.

    Also, I do a lot with Garage Band and Logic, and improving performance with those apps is a priority for me. I've heard that faster drives can really make a discernible difference. And more RAM will definitely help out there as well. I've thought about the SSD route, but the prices are still pretty high and I'm not really into sacrificing a lot of drive space. But, I don't know, maybe it's worth holding off on upgrading my drive until SSD's have more capacity and the price goes down?

    Anyway, what would be the best first upgrade step for me to take? RAM or HDD? Thanks in advance for any and all help!
     
  2. cerhard macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2008
    #2
    RAM...then if you want to go ssd eventually you can get it when the prices drop around the end of the year.
     
  3. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2008
    Location:
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    #3
    RAM is a lot easier to do and you are much less likely to mess things up in the process.
     
  4. jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2008
    Location:
    Denver
    #4
    You might try using Applications,Utilities,ActivityMonitor to see what your memory looks like in your "common use" and "maximum use" scenarios.

    More memory won't help if you are not already using what you have and swapping. If you are swapping memory will likely help more but a faster HD will help some too.

    If you are not swapping a HD may be more helpful. It will improve boot times and application start times and improve performance when manipulating large files.

    If you want to save some disk space and significantly improve application start times without investing in a new HD try out a utility called Xslimmer and run a utility like Cocktail or Onyx periodically.

    Your personal usage patterns dictate which upgrade might give you more of a boost first so you'll have to investigate using Activity monitor to see.
     
  5. jimboutilier macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2008
    Location:
    Denver
    #5
    Hmm, I found the HD much easier to upgrade in the Unibody Macbook. Battery cover, 1 screw, and 4 mounting screws for a HD swap, Battery Cover, Battery, 8 tiny screws and removing the bottom of the machine then getting to, removing and seating the bottom layer SODIM, then getting it all back together without ending up with a loose battery cover for the RAM upgrade.

    Thats just me though and you need only a Phillips #00 screwdriver for the memory while you also need a Torx T6 for the HD.
     
  6. Mikey B thread starter macrumors 65816

    Mikey B

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2008
    Location:
    the island
    #6
    Definitely true for the older MacBooks, especially Pro's, but it's almost as easy as changing a battery in the Unibodies. RAM installation dictates the removal of screws etc. But I appreciate the advice!

    I watch Act Monitor like a hawk. :) I don't swap often, but I definitely use up a good 90%+ of my RAM all the time. As far as disk space goes, I'm sitting on a lot right now, but giving Xslimmer a shot is a good thought. I do have Monolingual downloaded, but it kinda scares me. I've heard good things about Xslimmer.

    Good call on Onyx, I use it at least once a week. I've recently tried Macaroni (which has a useless language removal tool as well) but gravitate towards Onyx.

    My general usage, IMO, is pointing towards needing both, but I can't convince my better half that I "need" to spend another ~$200 or more on this computer.:eek: That's why I figured I'd check if any other 'Rumor Heads felt like there was an automatic first upgrade to do. I guess it is all basically a matter of running a cost/benefit analysis on them and seeing where I stand.

    Thanks for the replies!
     

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