Will I see an improvement upgrading to 4gb of RAM over 2gb

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Frys has 4gb of ram on sale with a rebate so i was wondering if it would be worth it to upgrade from 2 to 4gb of ram. thanks. I have a macbook pro 2.5GHz intel core 2 duo.
 
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cwa107


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Memory, in and of itself, does not add speed or performance to a computer. This is a misunderstanding that memory vendors capitalize on in order to sell more product, much like the various snake oils that are sold for cars that are supposed to increase power or performance.

It helps to understand exactly what memory is in order to determine whether adding more to your computer will actually help you.

To put it simply, memory is an area that programs are loaded into in order for the computer's central processing unit (CPU) to be able to process them. Its capacity is rated in terms of megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB). As of this writing, it's more common for computers to have 1GB (1024MB) of memory or more.

People often confuse memory with hard disk space, but the two are very different. Your hard disk is where your Operating System, programs, documents and settings are semi-permanently stored. Memory, by contrast is a volatile area. It is completely purged when you reboot your system.

This brings us to the concept of Virtual Memory, or "VM". Virtual memory is a space on your hard disk that is allocated by the Operating System as a place to use as overflow for things that don't fit in physical memory. A long time ago, when computers were still single-tasking machines, memory was a very finite resource (and also quite expensive). As computers matured and eventually gained the ability to run multiple programs at once, it became clear that having just a finite amount of memory would make things very unproductive. When the computer ran out of physical memory, you were basically done working until you either freed up memory by closing programs or the machine crashed. So, OS designers in their infinite wisdom, developed virtual memory. Unfortunately, hard disk drives are several orders of magnitude slower than real, physical memory. So, when your computer needs to dip into virtual memory, it starts to slow down. This is where adding memory can greatly increase performance. If you add memory to a system that is making extensive use of virtual memory, increasing the amount of memory can make the computer operate more efficiently, and make it seem faster.

So, how do you know if adding memory will increase system performance? The answer is "Activity Monitor". Residing in your Applications => Utilities folder, Activity Monitor will tell you all about what's going on behind the scenes on your Mac. Click the System Memory tab and you'll see exactly how your memory is being allocated. Open up all of the programs you routinely run and you can see how much memory is being used. In the color-coded pie chart, green represents memory not in use. If you see loads of green, chances are you don't need to add memory.

If on the other hand, if you do need memory, there are quite a few options (aside from Apple) you can choose from. My recommendations are as follows:

http://www.crucial.com (Crucial is the retail arm of Micron, one of the largest memory manufacturers)
http://www.otherworldcomputing.com (Other World Computing is a trusted Mac specialist)
http://www.newegg.com (NewEgg is a general PC and Mac parts e-tailer. Very good prices, but make sure you know what type of module your Mac uses).
 
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great information cwa107
 
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The people who keep saying there is a big difference are not really being very responsible.

CWA107's post put it well, and although the wording is complicated, if you only had 512MB or even 1GB, I'd say you would notice a performance increase, because anything lower than a gig, Leopard cannot perform optimally.

Essentially is really depends on what you're doing. If you're running applications that need more than 2 GBs of RAM, then having more RAM will maintain performance on the machine, as opposed to it slowing down due to lack of memory.

You should upgrade your RAM to 4GBs if:

- You're running a virtual machine and want to dedicate 768MBs or more to it (such as Vista on Parallels)
- You're doing video editing, especially if it's HD
- You run professional audio applications, such as Logic, and are using 32-bit 196khz audio tracks

If your typical session involves Safari, iTunes, stickies and an iLife app, you won't see any benefit in upgrading.

This is my machine right now, and this is a typical session for me. I have 2GBs of RAM, same as you.

processes.png


I have 9 applications running, plus finder. I am barely using more than a GB of RAM. Firefox has 3 tabs open, iTunes is playing internet radio, MS Word is the biggest hog here using 49MBs, but even that is a 5 page document with citations and excel tables. If you're a real Apple purist, you'll be running Safari, Pages and Apple Mail, possibly shaving off a few MBs (although Safari has memory leaks).

The key figure on the screen shot is the Page Outs, which indicates Virtual Memory being paged to real memory. The page-in's are not so important.

Launching iPhoto (4,500 photos) and doing a search barely has any effect, in fact it grabs a mere 50MBs of RAM.

processes2.png


So, do you think you need more RAM?
 
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All I have is safari open and I'm using almost 2GB of RAM. If the OS sees the ram it will use it. If it doesn't see the RAM it will be more lets say "stingy" with what it puts there from what i have seen. When I had 2 GB in Mine would look similar to yours Zoolook.
 
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All I have is safari open and I'm using almost 2GB of RAM. If the OS sees the ram it will use it. If it doesn't see the RAM it will be more lets say "stingy" with what it puts there from what i have seen. When I had 2 GB in Mine would look similar to yours Zoolook.
Wow, safari is not very 'thin' then. I've got mozilla (for a couple days, 15 tabs), thunderbird, mail, notes, itunes, calc, and a few terminal instances open and I've only got 1.9GB listed as active.
 
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ZooLook and cwa107 - absolutely great posts!
I've always considered my technical computing knowledge to be reasonable but that information was great! Keep it up!
 

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