Will an SSD upgrade compensate for the lack of RAM?

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by nickolas, May 1, 2010.

  1. nickolas macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2007
    #1
    I have a macbook unibody with 2GB of RAM.
    I like to have things readily available, like multiple tabs on safari, google earth, pdf documents and keynote presentations but eventually I do get out of RAM and things become slow.
    The real problem is with Parallels for which 2 GB of RAM seems to be inadequate.

    So the question is, will an SSD upgrade compensate for the lack of RAM?
    My system gets very slow when it gets out of RAM and resorts to the hdd for page file (if I express myself correctly)
    Will an SSD perform good enough and save me the RAM upgrade?


    PS: I do get Page Ins and Page Outs in the millions.
     
  2. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    Feb 19, 2005
  3. TuffLuffJimmy macrumors G3

    TuffLuffJimmy

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    Apr 6, 2007
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #3
    Not entirely true. The memory passed to the hard disk will be faster with an SSD, but not as fast as more RAM.

    OP, why not get more RAM and an SSD? Neither are very cheap. If you're willing to splurge for one you should probably go for the other too.

    In my opinion RAM is much more important than the hard disk.
     
  4. andalusia macrumors 68030

    andalusia

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    #4
    And also a hell of a lot cheaper, depending on the size of the SSD you want.
     
  5. TuffLuffJimmy macrumors G3

    TuffLuffJimmy

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    #5
    Very good point. SSDs are extremely expensive and not really necessary unless you're doing some serious pro work and you KNOW you need an SSD.
     
  6. nickolas thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Dec 14, 2007
    #6
    The question is will it be fast enough? (not to feel the need to add RAM)
    For me it is not really a splurge, just the liberty to use my computer the way I want it to.
    I can only do one of the two.
     
  7. TuffLuffJimmy macrumors G3

    TuffLuffJimmy

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    #7
    I would rather go with the RAM, especially if you only have 2GB (anyone else remember just a couple years ago when 1GB was overkill for most everything?).

    However, you can really feel an SSD when you launch apps.

    It really depends on what you want to feel faster. Do you want extremely responsive and quick launching applications? You'll get that with an SSD. Or do you want to be able to have many different things open at once without your computer choking? You'll get that sort of thing with more RAM.
     
  8. yoyoma3 macrumors newbie

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    May 1, 2010
    #8
    I have a similar MacBook, 2.4GHz, 2GB of RAM. Similar usage, 20+ tabs, 10-20 docs typically open, lots of apps open. I don't run parallels though. I upgraded to an Intel 160GB SSD and things seem pretty responsive - apps launch in about half the time and never really any delay in switching back and forth. Boot time didn't really improve but I rarely shut down so that's not too much of an issue for me.

    Not all SSDs are created equal though - if you're using it as a RAM substitute make sure you get one with good Random IOPs since you'll be accessing lots of small files.

     
  9. nickolas thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Dec 14, 2007
    #9
    Thank you yoyoma3.
     
  10. Zortrium macrumors 6502

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    Jun 23, 2003
    #10
    Given how much cheaper a RAM upgrade is than a SSD upgrade, getting an SSD without increasing your RAM from a measly 2 GB seems silly. Otherwise you're just trading a disk bottleneck for a memory bottleneck. It makes more sense to either just get a RAM upgrade (cheap), or if you're already going to spend the dough on a SSD, also get the RAM upgrade.
     
  11. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

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    #11
    You could run into problems even with an SSD if you start thrashing. Too little RAM and too much active or wired memory will lead to thrashing. Even an SSD will have issues with that. More RAM first, then an SSD.
     
  12. MikhailT macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2007
    #12
    Both RAM and SSD will make a definite impact for you but not in the same way. First, RAM helps with giving you the ability to do more tasks at once. SSD helps by giving you much faster system performance from having an extreme low latency between the storage and to RAM/CPU. Which means for your situtaion, it doesn't help with lack of RAM at all. All you're doing is getting a faster storage device without fixing the original source of the problem, which is the lack of RAM. SSD also have a limited lifespan for writes, so you can kill the SSD much faster by letting it get hammered constantly from the lack of RAM.

    There's no need to get an SSD right now, you should first go with the RAM at this moment. It's the cheapest upgrade you can get right now, it just makes no sense not to get it. You should be able to find 4GB set for around 100$. A good 120GB SSD would set you back 300-400$ now. If you can't afford both, I suggest RAM first and save for the SSD at the end of the year. SSD will start to get much cheaper by the end of the year and double in capacity for the same price. Wait for Intel G3 SSD by Fall/Winter.
     
  13. kernkraft macrumors 68020

    kernkraft

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    Jun 25, 2009
    #13
    I have two MBPs with 4GB RAM and I've had Airs with 2GB, one with an SSD. Currently, it just doesn't make sense to go above 4GB, unless you are doing something really heavy. Otherwise, you might not even notice the benefit to be that great. Upgrading to 4GB is not expensive, but going above is, in my view. For professionals, it often still makes financial sense in improved productivity. But I cannot justify the premium. Can you?

    The same applies to upgrading the HDD. First I'd consider upgrading to an 7200rpm HDD with a large buffer. Seagate or Scorpions, many prefer the latter. Anything between 250 and 500 GB is suitable for most people - that should be enough to store your essential media files on your computer and enjoy improved speed. I did it and I'm pretty happy.

    About the SSD - I have been using a lot of web design and graphics applications lately, along with my usual Pages/Word/Safari/Evernote/Notebook workflow. I've also had Spotify going and with all these, I felt the need for something faster. But currently, 32-40 GB is what I would consider paying for storage. Perhaps, in a year 64GB SSDs will be closer to £100 ($160) and I might jump in. That is enough to have all my applications with some media OR with a small Windows partition, if I get the time to install that XP that I have been planning for so long.

    But you have to consider this - there are some fairly slow SSDs on the market, so don't get fooled by simply the sound of the technology. In fact, during general usage, I can imagine that a cheaper HDD with larger capacity can make you happier than an expensive, but second or third class SSD with hardly anything to put on, and of course at a premium.
     
  14. lyons238 macrumors 6502

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    Mar 21, 2010
    #14
    ram should be the first thing you should upgrade, then hd. imo you dont even need an ssd. not worth the money. wait until the price goes down, which is fairly soon. just get a 7200 rpm hd for now
     
  15. MikhailT macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2007
    #15
    The price won't be going down for the rest of the year. The upcoming iPhone release will increase the price and stabilize it for months afterward. The only way prices are going down is with smaller process technology and that's coming with Intel's G3 this year with 22nm.
     
  16. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    Feb 19, 2005
    #16
    That sort of contradicts things. It may be quicker but it's not going to fully compensate for lack of ram.
     
  17. TuffLuffJimmy macrumors G3

    TuffLuffJimmy

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    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #17
    But the SSD still passes to and receives from the RAM faster than a standard disc. I understand what you're saying though.
     

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