Dr. Mac: ‘In most cases, you can’t have too much RAM’

“Every time I review a new Mac I complain that it didn’t come with enough RAM to work properly. While a Mac with 256 megabytes of RAM will start up and run one or two applications without problems, a Mac with only 256 megabytes of RAM will slow to a crawl if you have more than a handful of programs open, or if you use one or more of those programs we call resource hogs, such as Final Cut Pro or Express, Photoshop or the iLife suite — iMovie, GarageBand, iDVD, iPhoto, iTunes,” Bob “Dr. Mac” Levitus writes for The Houston Chronicle.

“I’ve had clients complain that their Macs are running slow and that they’re seeing the spinning rainbow pizza cursor more often than they’d like. Invariably my investigation concludes that some, if not all, of their problem is that they don’t have enough RAM,” Levitus writes.

“How much RAM do you really need? Mac OS X should almost never be run on a Mac with less than 512 megabytes. The cost of upgrading from 256 to 512 megabytes is low, well under $100 in most cases. And it’ll be the best under $100 you ever spend on your Mac,” Levitus writes.

Full article here.


  1. I still know a lot of people– educated people– who don’t know what RAM is. They talk of flux capacitors and doohickies.

    It’s for them that such things are said, no?

  2. More RAM would be nice, but 1 GB sticks still cost too much. Apple should make 512 MB the built-in standard and leave at least one free slot for another 512 MB stick.

  3. I like Dr. Mac a lot. I have heard him on Podcasts and he seems like a cool guy all around. I have to agree with him on this one. I will get at least one Gig with the Powermac I am gonna go for and may even make it 2 Gigs. Unfortunately, anything over that and you are getting REALLY pricey.

    I am sorry to say that my bro-in-law went off and bought the lowest priced mini so is on 256 MB RAM. He is planning on buying a few more tho so I told him to give the low end one to his Mom and get one with more ram for himself. It was interesting though to try it out with 256. I haven’t used it much yet but it did not seem that bad. I think you will have to stick to really basic stuff though. The only real testing of the mini with 256 MB that I have seen was on Macsonly (links below). From their testing it seems like it would be adequate for basic users but 75 bucks is a really cheap upgrade to make sure you have it running well even when you put demands on it.




  4. To a point he is correct, but the real problem is OS X. Apple fans used to call M$ stuff bloatware, but Apple’s recent offerings are in need of a trip to the fat farm. BTW- you can still get the Spinning Beach Ball of Death on a G5 PowerMac running 2GB of RAM. Explain to me how Safari can sometimes take up 90% of the system resources on a high-end Mac. We are talking about a web browser- not PhotoShop of Final Cut Pro. Apple needs to clean up it’s act.

  5. I can tell you how – poorly written and designed web sites that insist on messing up javascript and flash. It’s not just OSX – I’ve seen it b0rk up Winders too… and similar sites cause Firefox to explode on Solaris and Linux.

    Magic Word: problems, as in ALL operating systems have problems. Get a clue.

  6. Apple does love the eye candy —- yum, yum, we eye candy loves the ram.

    thanks noPCzone I wish more people would question apples practices instead of bowing down to kiss Steve´s billion dollar a–.

  7. There is no such thing as a “flux capacitor”. That fictional device was introduced in the movie “Back to the Future” as the central device for time travel.

    It is actually a contradiction of terms. Flux (in most fields of science) refers to the movement and flow of an energy or substance, and capacitor refers to the storage of an energy or substance.

    Specifically, in electronics (as implied in the movie), flux is used to describe the magnetic flow around a conductor and a capacitor stores an electron charge. Something that stores a magnetic charge would simply be a magnet. By a stretch of definitions, an inductor could be called a flux capacitor as it very briefly stores a magnetic field that intentionally impedes the rapid reversal of electron flow, thus high frequencies, but it’s storage duration is in milliseconds.

    Perhaps, Dr. Emmett Lathrop Brown’s “flux capacitor” stored tachions (particles that travel faster than light), thus the device is storing these constantly fluxing (moving) particles as a central device for the creation of time travel. But, for now, tachions are only created in large high-energy particle accelerators and there is no current method for storing them.

  8. “so do i need another flux capacitor for my G4 or not?”

    No, B, you need a chronosynclasticinfundibulator.

    MWd = “purpose”. I have no idea what purpose this device serves.

  9. Unfortunately, there is a limited to how much RAM a Mac can actually utilize. On a G5 PowerPC, I believe only 4.5GB are accessible. Even if you install more RAM (to run high-end applications like FCP for instance) the applications won’t be able to take advantge of the additional memory. All comes down to 32/64bit addressing.

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