Tips and Tools


How Much Mac Memory Do I Need?

One of our most frequently asked questions is "How do I know how much memory I need?"  It's also often one of the toughest questions to answer.  How much memory each person will need is highly dependent on personal experience and use.

Older Machines with Lower Maximums

For older machines where the maximum is in the range of 2GB to 8GB, almost every user will simply want to max out their RAM.  For Mac users who have installed Lion, Mountain Lion, and especially Mavericks, we have seen a significant performance benefit from having at least 6GB installed in the machine, even for users who are doing work with low memory demand such as word processing or internet browsing.  Users on these machines who are doing more memory intensive tasks such as photo editing or music work should absolutely not hesitate to take their machines to the maximum.

What About Larger Maximums?

The question starts to get more complicated when dealing with machines that can install more memory, such as an iMac which can install up to 32GB, a MacBook Pro going up to 16GB, or the Mac Pro which can install very high amounts of memory, anywhere from 32GB up to 128GB.  Most users know they need more memory when their machine starts to run slow or appear to labor under the tasks they are performing.  But some users want to install more memory before hitting the frustration of slow operation, and want to know how much they should install in their machine.

The answer in these cases is often not as easy.  There are many tasks that benefit from having more RAM installed.  While simple Flash-based games can get away with lower amounts of RAM, high performance, graphic intensive games will run far smoother with more memory.  Any media editing work such as music, photo, or video are going to put a strain on your machine, especially any time you need to set the machine to render.  Even if you are simply a hardcore multi-tasker with many programs open at once, your machine will be more able to keep pace if you have more memory installed.  Users who have installed Mavericks may know it offers a unique new feature called Compressed Memory that helps better allocate the memory you have, but simply put, more physical memory is always better than any kind of virtual memory.

Call Us For Help

For these users, it's difficult to give a simple recommendation without taking into account the kinds of work a user does on a machine, how frequently they are taxing their machine with difficult work, and what their expectations are from a machine.  If you need help determining exactly what your computer needs, feel free to give us a call and speak with one of our memory technicians at 1-800-831-4569.