Will extra RAM solve my performance issues?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by kptphoto, Oct 27, 2010.

  1. kptphoto macrumors newbie

    Oct 27, 2010
    Hello to all

    I am a photographer who shoots weddings and events in RAW and HDR images for a gallery. I own a late 2009 iMac with 4 GB of RAM and process my images in Photoshop CS5.

    I have been given conflicting views by Apple sales staff so would like the community to answer a question for me.

    JPEG files are processed easily on my iMac, RAW files slow it down and HDR (file sizes of 200mb and more) cause it to throw a wobbly.

    I have used activity monitor and it shows RAM usage up to 3.94GB. Processor usage at up to 190%. I am told this is OK for a duo core. (The screen updates when processor usage drops below 100%).

    A member of Apple staff advised more RAM will solve the problem. Another advised I would be wasting my money and should wait until I can afford a Mac Pro (bit of a wait ha ha).

    Can anyone advise, based on experience, whether an extra 4 GB of RAM is the way to go or whether I should save my money towards a Mac Pro.

    Thanks for your advice.
  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    What iMac do you have? 2x2GB of RAM is like 70 bucks and will definitely increase the performance. Those talks about Mac Pro were just salesman's pathetic tries to make you buy something.

    BTW, Photoshop can only take advantage of four threads thus Mac Pro would be waste of money as similar iMac can be had for less.
  3. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    You didn't say if it was a 27" or 21" iMac; if it's a 27" you have four RAM slots, so as Hellhammer said adding an extra 4GB is an absolute no brainer.

    Even if not, and you need to replace what you've got with the comparatively expensive 2x4GB, I'd still wager it'd be easily worth it for the kind of stuff you're doing. Adding an extra two cores by going to an i5 or i7 iMac would probably also make a difference (I'm assuming here that the specific actions you're using can use at least 4 threads), but the RAM is going to be your cheapest performance boost by far, almost guaranteed.

    You're doing some fairly heavy PS lifting, so I don't think a Mac Pro is so unreasonable--a lower-end model with a hefty amount of RAM and maybe a striped RAID pair for a scratch/working drive isn't wildly expensive, and would definitely be faster than a quad-core iMac. The other advantage of a Mac Pro is that you have a much higher overall RAM ceiling, and it's very easy to add SSDs/more HDs if need be.

    Whether it's worth it to you is of course a different matter.
  4. kptphoto thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 27, 2010

    Thank you both for your replies. I do appreciate you taking the time to answer what is probably a basic question to most.

    I have a 27 inch iMac with a 3.06 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor. It currently has 4 GB of 1067 MHz RAM fitted and has an ATI Radeon HD4670 graphics card with 256 MB VRAM. Standard for this model. It has two DIMM0 slots empty.

    My long term aim is to buy a Mac Pro but my sensible head tells me to wait until my business can afford it. I have to budget for a monitor as well as the MP. I don't have a bank loan and don't want to get into debt for it. Plus, as a photographer, there is always the "must have" lens and latest body to add to the collection. ;)

    From what you have advised it seems that buying the extra RAM will be a worthwhile investment for now. This model still has years of useful life ahead of it (I have a G5 based iMac which still works fine with less demanding software and jpegs) so I don't really want to dispose of it just yet.

    Thanks again.
  5. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    Good call. Since you have four slots and only two full, you might even consider adding 8GB (2x4GB) instead of just four; the price-per-GB is a little higher, but the extra 4GB (12 vs 8) might well be useful, and at worst you've at least maxed out those two slots in the event you want to bring the machine to its 16GB maximum at some point.

Share This Page