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  1. #1


    Member Since
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    RAM Requirements
    I'm not sure I fully understand RAM requirements, even after many years. I'm wanting to buy a Mac Mini with 1GB RAM which seems quite enough for most of the applications I want to run. But OS X apparently requires 512MB RAM, Neo Office 512MB (perhaps just Writer on its own) and if I want iTunes running at the same time that would appear to be another 512MB. Total 1.5GB for not much in the way of applications. Or am I looking at it wrong? Can someone please explain? I've been a PC user up until now and 1GB RAM seems to have been adequate to run similar applications on XP Home.

  2. #2

    Collin Bl's Avatar
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    Apr 07, 2009
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    27 iMac i5, MBP 13 & iMac 20, 2TB dual TC, AppleTV, iPh4S
    OS X wants 512 but i think the better way to read that is don't expect it to operate on a machine with 256. OS X will run nicely on 1 GB and same deal Neo Office wants a machine with 512 or more - if u have 256 forget it. 1GB should be enuff to run Neo Office on OS X and perhaps one or two more apps. If you are trying to run too many i am sure you will notice.

  3. #3


    Member Since
    May 29, 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikethebook View Post
    I'm not sure I fully understand RAM requirements, even after many years. I'm wanting to buy a Mac Mini with 1GB RAM which seems quite enough for most of the applications I want to run. But OS X apparently requires 512MB RAM, Neo Office 512MB (perhaps just Writer on its own) and if I want iTunes running at the same time that would appear to be another 512MB. Total 1.5GB for not much in the way of applications. Or am I looking at it wrong? Can someone please explain? I've been a PC user up until now and 1GB RAM seems to have been adequate to run similar applications on XP Home.
    I don't think your understanding the requirements correctly, if you have 3 pieces of doftware that require a minimum of 512mb to run then if you have 512mb in your machine you will be fine you do not need 1.5GB to run all three programs at same time.

    Kaarejen

  4. #4

    Davidk02's Avatar
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    Oct 29, 2008
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    Stockton Ca.
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    Colin and kaarejen have it right. I have a Mini with 1 gig, and I run multiple applications fine.

  5. #5


    Member Since
    May 29, 2009
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    Specs:
    Mac Mini 2.26Ghz 8GB RAM
    Thanks for all your help. What kaarejen talked about, that is what I don't understand, what puzzles me. If three apps require 512MB how can 512MB be enough? Why don't you need 1.5GB. What if you're trying to run 10 apps that each require 512MB? But I'm happy to know I should be okay on 1GB. Thanks.

  6. #6

    bikalpapaudel's Avatar
    Member Since
    Feb 24, 2009
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    Dharan, Nepal
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    Specs:
    Aluminium MacBook | iPod Touch
    ^
    Lets say you have Neoffice open. You are typing stuff into it. That doesnt require as much RAM as working with pictures and videos while creating a presentation.

    Similarly, when you are using iTunes tp play music, it barely hogs the memory. But that changes when you are playing large videos and downloading a TV Show from the store.

    Also, while you can have many applications open, you will generally be working with only one at a given time. The foremost application with which you are working gets a larger chunk of memory for the time you are using it, reducing the amount of memory for background processes. There's a continous allocation/re-allocation of memory as well as processor power going on.
    ----------

    The memory requirements are there to tell us the minimum amount of RAM necessary for the program to behave as it ought to(as the developer wanted to) while using any/all of the functions of the program.

    You dont use everything that a software offers at the same time, do you? Actually most people dont, thats why iTunes wont use up 512 MB RAM all the time.
    ----------

    What if you have only 512 MB of RAM? What if you have 20 tabs distributed over 3 windows of Safari, Mail application checking your emails from 3 inboxes, iTunes converting a video for your iPod, iPhoto updating library with latest photos from your camera, etc etc..

    What if your RAM is used upto the limit that your computer cant take anything more?

    And then suddenly you decide to check out that video your friend sent to you. What does the system do now? Refuse to open the application? Shut down itself? Catch fire?

    No, none of that happens. The program will launch. How? Here's where Virtual Memory comes into play.

    As one can have only so much of RAM, there had to be workarounds. When you have a dozen apps running, some of them are not doing any important task or maybe any task at all. So portions of the program are shifted from the Real Memory to Virtual Memory. This creates room for the important applications that you need to run. Virtual memory is just an allocated space on hard disk. Its slow, almost useless for day to day tasks that RAM is used for.
    ----------
    Basically, when the developer mentions RAM requirements, its not for that single application but for the computer in which that application is meant to run.

    Its all jumbled but hope you get the point.
    Aluminum MacBook Pro 13", AOC 22" Full HD. iPod Touch, HTC Gene. Windows 7 on a dumpster.

    Everest, Buddha, Gorkha.

  7. #7


    Member Since
    May 29, 2009
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    Specs:
    Mac Mini 2.26Ghz 8GB RAM
    Thanks bikalpapaudel. That's very helpful. Very helpful indeed. The fact is that apart obviously from OS 10.5 (I don't know how much RAM that uses), the most I'm likely to use at any one time is a few Firefox windows, a couple of word documents on Neo Office, another small writing app called Scrivener and MAYBE some background music in iTunes. Does that suggest to you that 1GB will amply cover my needs right now?

  8. #8

    bikalpapaudel's Avatar
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    ^ Yup it will. In fact I have 20 odd tabs open in Opera, background music playing on VLC, maintainence work, passive antivirus scanning and downloading going on. The machine? 1GHz Celeron with 256 MB RAM.

    1 GB RAM will be okay for the work you said you do. Though I must say, having more wont hurt, especially if its your primary computer. Nevertheless 1GB should be okay.
    Aluminum MacBook Pro 13", AOC 22" Full HD. iPod Touch, HTC Gene. Windows 7 on a dumpster.

    Everest, Buddha, Gorkha.

  9. #9


    Member Since
    May 29, 2009
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    Specs:
    Mac Mini 2.26Ghz 8GB RAM
    Thanks again. Well it's a Mini Mac I'm looking at and I gather it's a little fiddly but not too complicated to upgrade the RAM to 2GB.

  10. #10


    Member Since
    May 29, 2009
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    231
    Specs:
    Mac Mini 2.26Ghz 8GB RAM
    Mini Mac RAM requirements
    I'm wanting to buy a Mini Mac and the present basic model, though it comes with 1GB RAM, supports up to 4GB. I will be using the machine basically for writing software with no huge demands on RAM and the processor apart from installing a virtual machine (probably Windows XP on VMWare Fusion) for further writing software on Windows. So, no gaming or suchlike and I will even be removing iLife. My question is, when buying the Mac Mini should I opt for increasing the RAM to its maximum, i.e. 4GB for possible future needs (like maybe Photoshop) and the general increase in RAM usage of applications, even browsers, or can too much RAM when not needed downgrade performance. Would I be better just going for say 2GB?

  11. #11

    bobtomay's Avatar
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    15" MBP '06 2.33 C2D 4GB 10.7; 13" MBA '14 1.8 i7 8GB 10.11; 21" iMac '13 2.9 i5 8GB 10.11; 6S
    While you can put more RAM in a machine than is required for the particular apps you want to use, there can never be too much RAM in a machine.

    Purchase the RAM after market, not from Apple.
    I cannot be held responsible for the things that come out of my mouth.
    In the Windows world, most everything folks don't understand is called a virus.

  12. #12


    Member Since
    May 29, 2009
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    231
    Specs:
    Mac Mini 2.26Ghz 8GB RAM
    Thanks.

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