: Is low RAM still an issue with an SSD?


krs
Apr 12th, 2016, 04:45 PM
I'm in the process of advising/buying a new Mac notebook for three different people.

I know I need to find out what they wish to use their Mac for but I have a general question.

For one - all of them want a notebook with a 13-inch screen - some like a MBa others a MBp
A lot of the newer configurations by Apple only include 4 GB of RAM which is often soldered in and can't be expanded except when placing the original order.

I know upgrading three of the existing MBp's in the family from 4GB of RAM to 16 GB of RAM made a huge difference in the responsiveness - but those were 2012 MBp's with a standard hard drive.

Does a new Mac with an SSD drive eliminate the need to run more than 4GB of RAM since access times to the SSD will be much faster.

Any practical experience in that respect?

Thanks.

gwillikers
Apr 12th, 2016, 07:49 PM
When I ordered a MacBook Air for my wife last year, I custom ordered it with 8 GB RAM. I just find that since Yosemite was released, and now, El Capitan, 4 GB is no longer sufficient.

With the Air's flash storage, long lasting battery, and 8 GB RAM, it's really a quick and impressive laptop.

John Clay
Apr 12th, 2016, 07:58 PM
8GB of RAM is the minimum for me, SSD or not.

SINC
Apr 12th, 2016, 07:59 PM
I too loaded up my MBP with 16 GB of RAM when I bought it last July. Figured since you cannot do it later, better do it now.

eMacMan
Apr 12th, 2016, 09:03 PM
Macs have traditionally shipped with insufficient RAM. May have made sense way back when but certainly a no-no in an era of soldered in RAM and continuously ballooning OS requirements.

Page-out delays may be much less noticeable with SSDs, but relying on RAM swaps is still a bad idea. Spend the bucks and max it out.

krs
Apr 12th, 2016, 09:39 PM
Thanks for the input everyone.

I was looking through both 13 inch MB airs and MB pros - was sort of surprised that the MacBook pros went to soldered in RAM in late 2012.
I thought the MB pro would still have upgradeable RAM.
And every recent MBp also comes only with SSD.

One of the Macs I'm trying to replace is a late 2011 with a 500 GB hard drive and 16 GB of RAM - just getting the equivalent with a slightly faster CPU will be pretty pricey.
And then I need to buy a TB to FW adapter on top since most of the external drives I have are FW800

Oh boy.......

MacBook Air only comes with 8GB of RAM max. - I wonder how well that will work with three or four releases after OS 10.11

gwillikers
Apr 13th, 2016, 12:27 AM
MacBook Air only comes with 8GB of RAM max. - I wonder how well that will work with three or four releases after OS 10.11

With the AIR, 8 GB will be sufficient for a long time. People who want to do heavy lifting would be buying a MacBook Pro anyway, and in that case perhaps 16 GB would be the way to go.

krs
Apr 13th, 2016, 02:11 AM
With the AIR, 8 GB will be sufficient for a long time.

I'm not really convinced about that.

I have a number of Mac notebooks running on 10.6.8 which is pretty efficient, better in that regard than 10.5, but we had to upgrade three of them from the 4 GB of RAM they came with because these Macs were just crawling along after they had been in use for a few years.
And none of them were used for any really intensive tasks.

When those Macs were new, they just whipped along but as one fills them up with data, they start to slow down with limited RAM - bumping up the RAM made all the difference.

gwillikers
Apr 13th, 2016, 02:33 AM
I've been slowly losing faith in Apple regarding the disposable devices direction they're going. Only the 2013 Mac Pro has user upgradable parts but even then the dual GPU's aren't upgradable. I haven't checked but perhaps the Mac Mini is going in the same direction as the laptops are.

Some Mac enthusiasts are so frustrated they're switching to Windows just so they can have upgradable powerful towers again. Heck I might do the same when my 2009 Mac Pro kicks the bucket. Perish the thought! :(

polywog
Apr 14th, 2016, 03:13 PM
Macs have traditionally shipped with insufficient RAM. May have made sense way back when but certainly a no-no in an era of soldered in RAM and continuously ballooning OS requirements.

Page-out delays may be much less noticeable with SSDs, but relying on RAM swaps is still a bad idea. Spend the bucks and max it out.
Page out delays will be reduced but writes shorten an SSDs life. Personally if I only had an SSD I would make sure there's enough ram to avoid using swap as much as possible or have an hdd for swap.

Sent from my SM-N920W8 using Tapatalk

monokitty
Apr 14th, 2016, 03:39 PM
A kit of 16GB of RAM is less than $100 these days at certain retail or online chains - if the computer can take it, you may as well max out the RAM and not worry about it.

eMacMan
Apr 14th, 2016, 04:08 PM
A kit of 16GB of RAM is less than $100 these days at certain retail or online chains - if the computer can take it, you may as well max out the RAM and not worry about it.

Unfortunately I think the computers he was referring to, ship with soldered in RAM and upgrading may be a bit more expensive than the add-on days.

SINC
Apr 14th, 2016, 08:58 PM
If I recall, upgrading my 2015 MBP from 8 to 16 GB RAM was about the $100 (directly from Apple BTW) last July. Just what monokitty has suggested.

John Clay
Apr 14th, 2016, 09:14 PM
If I recall, upgrading my 2015 MBP from 8 to 16 GB RAM was about the $100 (directly from Apple BTW) last July. Just what monokitty has suggested.

Going from 8GB to 16GB is $240, and has been about that price for a while now.

As mentioned, you can't upgrade the Retina or Air models after purchase.

Oakbridge
Apr 15th, 2016, 12:57 AM
I've been slowly losing faith in Apple regarding the disposable devices direction they're going. Only the 2013 Mac Pro has user upgradable parts but even then the dual GPU's aren't upgradable. I haven't checked but perhaps the Mac Mini is going in the same direction as the laptops are.

Some Mac enthusiasts are so frustrated they're switching to Windows just so they can have upgradable powerful towers again. Heck I might do the same when my 2009 Mac Pro kicks the bucket. Perish the thought! :(
While the hobbiests and tinkerers may upgrade RAM after they purchase a machine, the reality is that the majority of purchasers never upgrade machines.

eMacMan
Apr 15th, 2016, 11:38 AM
While the hobbiests and tinkerers may upgrade RAM after they purchase a machine, the reality is that the majority of purchasers never upgrade machines. RAM is the one thing that I have always upgraded.

The LC 475 froze and kept on freezing at 4MB RAM. Added 4 as soon as the prices dropped a bit. Replaced that 4 with a used 16MB chip and it still runs flawlessly on 20MBs.

Can't imagine the original eMac running Panther on 128MB RAM, that one was bumped to 640.

The second gen eMac would never have run Tiger on 256MB, it was paging out at 512 but did just fine at 1280.

Any one for Lion on an original MacPro at 1 GB RAM? Snow Leopard does great at 4GB but I suspect I would almost certainly need a bump to 8GB for Lion.

Macs always have and continue to ship with just enough RAM to turn themselves on. If you are in the habit of quitting the current app, logging out and back in before running another app, then base RAM might just be sufficient. Unless of course you want to update the OS at some point.

The difference is now you have to make that decision to upgrade RAM at time of purchase. Yes SSDs make page-outs much faster, but sufficient RAM can avoid them entirely.

That brings us to scratch-disks. Again SSDs will make a world of difference, but sufficient RAM is still a worthwhile investment.

I suggest maxing the soldered in RAM for the simple reason that every Mac I have ever owned wound up running at least 4x the base level. Apple has never improved an OS by reducing the RAM requirements, nor has any Software maker!

Todd
Apr 15th, 2016, 11:44 AM
I've been slowly losing faith in Apple regarding the disposable devices direction they're going. Only the 2013 Mac Pro has user upgradable parts but even then the dual GPU's aren't upgradable. I haven't checked but perhaps the Mac Mini is going in the same direction as the laptops are.

Some Mac enthusiasts are so frustrated they're switching to Windows just so they can have upgradable powerful towers again. Heck I might do the same when my 2009 Mac Pro kicks the bucket. Perish the thought! :(
I moved to Linux from OS X as my primary OS for this reason plus Apple's history of software slaughter that I couldn't put up with any longer after Aperture was killed.

Ironically, the newest and most featured versions of many Linux distros run on and give new life to older Macs that Apple decided to exclude from newer versions of OS X.

Apple has done very well with creating rapid-obsolescence iPhones and other products to become one of the wealthiest companies in the world. It's certainly a different Apple from when I used my first Mac in 1987. Congratulations to them. However, unlike Apple, I have not become equally wealthy and can't continue to afford their products.

eMacMan
Apr 15th, 2016, 01:16 PM
I moved to Linux from OS X as my primary OS for this reason plus Apple's history of software slaughter that I couldn't put up with any longer after Aperture was killed.

Ironically, the newest and most featured versions of many Linux distros run on and give new life to older Macs that Apple decided to exclude from newer versions of OS X.

Apple has done very well with creating rapid-obsolescence iPhones and other products to become one of the wealthiest companies in the world. It's certainly a different Apple from when I used my first Mac in 1987. Congratulations to them. However, unlike Apple, I have not become equally wealthy and can't continue to afford their products.

Out of curiosity would love to see a link for installing Linux on an original MacPro while limiting the brain damage. Would be easy enough to dedicate a HD for that purpose.

gwillikers
Apr 15th, 2016, 04:41 PM
I moved to Linux from OS X as my primary OS for this reason plus Apple's history of software slaughter that I couldn't put up with any longer after Aperture was killed.

Ironically, the newest and most featured versions of many Linux distros run on and give new life to older Macs that Apple decided to exclude from newer versions of OS X.

Elementary OS (a branch of Ubuntu I think) looks really interesting. It's appearance is very much like OS X, and I can see it eventually being something to take more seriously.

Todd
Apr 16th, 2016, 10:57 AM
Out of curiosity would love to see a link for installing Linux on an original MacPro while limiting the brain damage. Would be easy enough to dedicate a HD for that purpose.

Today, it is click-button easy. Almost everything worked after the first reboot on my 2006 and 2009 Mac Pros. Some challenges: I was never able to get the front headphone jack to work and Mac features like the volume of the startup chime and automatic start are difficult to configure, if you want them. Managing a multi-boot set-up to switch between OS X and Linux takes a little study to make work but works well once configured.

Perhaps the most daunting thing is the amount of choice in Linux. Dozens of "distros" (Debian, Ubuntu, SUSE ...) , each with several choices of Desktop Environments (KDE, Gnome, XFCE ...) and selected software. I think a healthly curiosity and willingness to try is important. Many distros have a "live" version which can be burned to a CD or copied to a flash drive and booted to "live" without installing to test drive.

The Linux community is very strong on open-source and free software. That's good, since you can obtain an amazing amount of software for $0. On the other hand, it takes some effort to get common but not-open-source components working, like codecs for playing video and audio.

I have tried Debian. It gave new life to an ancient laptop and I like it for servers. But it is a little too heavy on the open-source religion for me. I'm OK with using free software even if the source code is not open. (Specifically, video drivers and video & audio codecs.)

I have tried Arch. I learned a lot and enjoyed building a software suite that I specifically picked and always having the newest versions. But the community is difficult, with a lot of outright jerks in admin positions who have an attitude that if you're not already an expert, GTFO.

I am currently using openSUSE "Leap". It has it's own quirks but it runs well and the community is very good.

Ubuntu and Mint are reputedly very good but I have not spent a lot of time in them.