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Old Jun 10, 2012, 6:29 PM   #1
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Default How much RAM (within reason) in new computer?

I'm looking at upgrading my current Macbook to a new iMac within the next 30 days. How much memory is generally acceptable and how much would be the "bees knees"?

My current 2008 13" Macbook has a 2.4 GHz dual-core processor and 4 GB of 1067 MHz DR3 memory. It also has a 250 GB hard drive that seems to be filled up for the most part. I think my foremost current limitation is that the laptop is maxed out with the 4 GB...it only came with 2 and I bumped it up to the max of 4.

I'm leaning towards the 27" iMac mainly because I can get it with the 3.4GHz quad i7 and a 2TB drive....but will only get the base level of 4GB of RAM. Afterwards I'll get aftermarket RAM (much cheaper) and go from there.

So again my question - how much RAM should I order with it? The 4 in my laptop is pretty sluggish with RAW files and thus I've been using mainly JPEGs but want to change that. Is 8 plenty or should I shoot the moon and bump it to 16? I want this one to last me for quite a while and might as well be sure I'm happy with it from the beginning.
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Old Jun 10, 2012, 8:07 PM   #2
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Is there a memory limitation on the software you use for RAW processing? If so, you probably won't really see any performance improvements above that. Maybe, though, if you can use the extra as a ramdisk. In which case, loading it up to the max would be the way to go. Other than the cost and power use, there really isn't much downside to more ram.

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Old Jun 11, 2012, 1:06 PM   #3
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I'm also in the process of upgrading my system. I have a Dell system that's about 5 years old and it performed extremely well until a recent hard drive crash. Luckily I got my data back... (thanks to Data Mechanix) long painful story.

I was thinking about having my son build a system for me since he has become pretty handy with computers and has built several systems for family and friends. He builds "Gaming" systems and everyone tells him how great they are, so I'm confident that he knows his stuff. (unlike me, I'm a bit tech challenged). I figure if he can run all those high tech graphics for video games it should work for editing photos etc.

Is there anything I should know? One thing I know for sure is that I'm having him put in 2 hard drives and a Western Digital external, so I can have all of my data backed up. I mainly use the system for Photo Shop etc.

Thanks,
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Old Jun 11, 2012, 2:14 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Quadna71 View Post
I'm looking at upgrading my current Macbook to a new iMac within the next 30 days. How much memory is generally acceptable and how much would be the "bees knees"?
Edited: See later post... They're still using Sandy Bridge Chipsets in the 27" iMac with four slots of memory, and you can use up to 4x8GB of 1.5v or 1.35v 1333Mhz DDR3 (204 pin SODIMMs) in them in matched pairs of 2 (2x2GB, 2x4GB or 2x8GB). I'd see the specs for the memory Crucial uses (see link in later post) and get memory with the same specs.

How much RAM (within reason) in new computer?
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Old Jun 11, 2012, 5:13 PM   #5
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Looks like their site is back up now. Here's what their base model comes with:

"Memory
4GB (two 2GB) of 1333MHz DDR3 memory"

I can't tell if they are SODIMM or not, but the stock photo on the page sure looks like the memory in my current Macbook - not like the longer/narrower sticks I put in my last desktop a few years back. They also show it having 4 slots for memory and configurable up to 16GB. Not sure if there is any useable advantage to putting in 4 of the 4GB sticks compared to 2 of the 8GB sticks.

I have to admit that I flat out like the IOS better than Windows, but also don't want to be spending too much money for the sake of just the OS. One good thing in my favor is I get 10% discounted from Apple from my military background which will help me keep my total price down a little more.

*Found this online*
"4GB (two 2GB SO-DIMMs) of 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; four SO-DIMM slots support up to 16GB"

Last edited by Quadna71; Jun 11, 2012 at 5:18 PM.
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Old Jun 11, 2012, 5:38 PM   #6
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Yep. They're SODIMM modules (laptop type memory).

I thought that Apple may have taken the site down because they were announcing that the iMAC models would be moving to new new Intel Ivy Bridge CPUs. But, from the news I see about today's announcements so far, only the MacBook Air and Pro models are moving to the newer Ivy Bridge Chipsets.

So, at least for right this minute, the iMAC 27" model you're looking at is still using the Sandy Bridge CPUs. That could change later though (as most manufacturers are slowly replacing their Sandy Bridge models with newer Ivy Bridge models right now).

It looks like Apple is using 1333Mhz DDR3 SODIMMs right this minute.

The good news is that there are 4 slots for memory, giving you more options. Apple only uses 4GB SODIMMs in it for up to 16GB Total (using 4x4GB). But, the system is capable of using 8GB SODIMMs. So, if you wanted to, you could go up to 32GB in one using 4x8GB.

Basically, I'd get the least amount of memory Apple offers in one. It looks like that's probably 2x2GB for 4GB total with the 27" models.

Then, either add to it or replace it. Basically, if you went that route (2x2GB) from Apple, you could add 2x4GB and end up with 12GB total (2x2GB + 2x4GB), or add 2x8GB to it and end up with 20GB total (2x2GB + 2x8GB), or just remove the memory Apple shipped with it and plug in 4x4GB for 16GB total; or plug in 4x8GB for 32GB total.

See some of the available memory types at Crucial. Basically, it can use either 1.35V (often referred to as DDR3L, where the L is for Low Voltage), or standard 1.5V DDR3 SODIMMs. Crucial suggests 1333Mhz modules with CL9 timing. So, I'd probably go that route with the Sandy Bridge chipset in the current iMac models (but, they'll probably switch to 1600Mhz DDR3 when they change over to the new Ivy Bridge CPUs in the iMac later).

http://www.crucial.com/upgrade/apple...-upgrades.html

Basically, any way you slice it, you'd be spending too much money getting more memory from Apple. For example, they want $100 extra (over and above the system cost with 2x2GB in it) to equip one with 2x4GB for 8GB total instead, when you can buy 2x4GB for less than $50.

If you wanted 16GB total using 4x4GB from Apple, they'd charge you $300 over the cost of the base system with 4GB in it, when you could buy two sets of 2x4GB (4x4GB for 16GB total) for less than $100. IOW, Apple is charging several times as much as the memory would cost you from Crucial (and if you shop around, you could probably find the same memory for even less elsewhere).

Your easiest option would probably be to buy the system with 2x2GB in it (4GB total), which appears to be the cheapest way Apple sells it. Then, just buy 2x4GB for less than $50 and end up with 12GB total (2x2GB + 2x4GB) and try it that way for a while. That's plenty of memory for most purposes.

Then, if you decide you want more later, just remove the 2x2GB modules that Apple shipped with it, and replace them with another 2x4GB for less than $50 more, so you'd have 16GB total (4x4GB) Or, if you wanted to splurge, replace them with 2x8GB so you'd have 24GB total (2x8GB + 2x4GB).

Basically, you want to use memory in matched sets of 2 with that type of machine, using pairs of 2GB, 4GB or 8GB SODIMMs for up to 32GB total (4x8GB).
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Old Jun 11, 2012, 6:24 PM   #7
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I'm also in the process of upgrading my system. I have a Dell system that's about 5 years old and it performed extremely well until a recent hard drive crash. Luckily I got my data back... (thanks to Data Mechanix) long painful story.
Drives can fail in any system. Keep disk image backups. That way, in the event of a drive failure, malware, human error, etc., you can restore from that backup and be right back to where you were at the time you made it.

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I was thinking about having my son build a system for me since he has become pretty handy with computers and has built several systems for family and friends. He builds "Gaming" systems and everyone tells him how great they are, so I'm confident that he knows his stuff. (unlike me, I'm a bit tech challenged). I figure if he can run all those high tech graphics for video games it should work for editing photos etc.
That's true. But, you could probably buy another Dell System for less and use it for years to come like the last one if you're a good shopper.

For example, Dell has some good closeout deals on their XPS 8300 right this minute (since they're replacing them with the newer XPS 8500 models using Ivy Bridge chipsets).

Here's one example, where you could get a system with a Core i7 2600 (2nd Generation Sandy Bridge Model), 8GB of DDR3, 1TB Drive, 64 Bit Win 7 and dedicated video card (HD 6670) for $699. Then, just buy another hard drive from newegg.com and install it yourself, or buy more memory and install it yourself. Adding memory or hard drives does not void the warranty with a Dell.

http://configure.us.dell.com/dellsto...4C84A01A0A3810

Chances are. the parts would cost more to build one like that by the time you bought a case and power supply (around $100 for a cheap case/psu setup, especially if you wanted to match the 460Watt PSU in the Dell, which supports video cards drawing up to 225 Watts via two 6 Pin connectors, thanks to dual 12 volt rails with 32 amps available between them, which is designed to provide a lot more power for video cards than typical 460 Watt PSUs), Motherboard (another $100 for a really cheap one), CPU (that Core i7 2600 is around $300), 64 Bit Win 7 (another $100 for an OEM copy), and drives (another $100 for a 1TB hard drive and DVD writer), and approx. $75 for a similar video card, and another $50 for the memory. Make sure to add an internal card reader, keyboard and mouse, too (all included with the Dell system).

So, you'd already be at around $850 using cheap parts to build your own system with equivalent performance, and better parts would run you more. You also wouldn't get the one year warranty with in home service after remote diagnostics like you would with the Dell. ;-)

Sure, you son could probably build you a nice gaming system that's faster, with overclocking, etc. But, it's going to cost you more.
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Old Jun 12, 2012, 8:01 AM   #8
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For example, Dell has some good closeout deals on their XPS 8300 right this minute (since they're replacing them with the newer XPS 8500 models using Ivy Bridge chipsets).

Here's one example, where you could get a system with a Core i7 2600 (2nd Generation Sandy Bridge Model), 8GB of DDR3, 1TB Drive, 64 Bit Win 7 and dedicated video card (HD 6670) for $699. Then, just buy another hard drive from newegg.com and install it yourself, or buy more memory and install it yourself. Adding memory or hard drives does not void the warranty with a Dell.

http://configure.us.dell.com/dellsto...4C84A01A0A3810
It looks like they're sold out of that config now (but, they still had it when I made this post yesterday). As the old saying goes, "if you snooze, you lose". :-)

That was a deal posted on June 8 that I found at techbargains.com's coupons page for Dell here. Scroll down to June 8 and you'll see it:

http://www.techbargains.com/dellcoupons.cfm

Direct link to the deal from June 8 (where you'd go from the June 8 deals section for it if you clicked on that special):

http://www.techbargains.com/news_displayItem.cfm/301594

But, they have similar specials all the time. Just keep an on one some of the coupon sites like that when you're ready to buy a new computer.

Another way to go is buying a refurbished Desktop from Dell Outlet. I've bought multiple laptops and desktops that way. What you want to do is get on Dell Outlet's mailing list so that you'll get e-mails with coupon codes when they have specials on refurbished machines. That way, you can get even more off the already discounted refurbished prices. From my perspective, there's no downside to buying refurbished from Dell Outlet, since they have the same warranty as a new machine, and they've probably been checked over more carefully for problems.

Sign up to get coupons and specials via e-mail from Dell Outlet here:

http://www.dell.com/content/topics/s...cs=&l=en&s=dfo

You tend to see coupon codes for 20% off refurbished desktops and notebooks on a regular basis. I always wait for a coupon code like that when buying a refurbished computer. Of course, the same thing applies to new computers (watch for coupon codes and/or specials on them).
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Old Jun 12, 2012, 11:50 AM   #9
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It looks like they're sold out of that config now (but, they still had it when I made this post yesterday). As the old saying goes, "if you snooze, you lose". :-)
I found another way to get one like that for $699.99 (Dell XPS 8300 with a 3.4Ghz Core i7 2600, 8GB of DDR3, 1TB 7200rpm Drive, 64 Bit Win 7, Radeon HD 6670 Video Card with 1GB of GDDR5, DVD writer, built in card reader, keyboard, mouse, etc.), at least for the time being (and I think the code expires on June 15, and they could run out of XPS 8300 boxes before then). Just use this configurator:

http://configure.us.dell.com/dellsto...en&s=dhs&cs=19

Then, apply this 25% off coupon to your order at checkout, which brings the price down to $699.99 delivered:

?$QNC1?HSKNR9F

Note the below screen capture of cart applying a coupon code that way. IOW, if you're a good shopper and keep an eye out for specials and coupon codes at sites like http://www.techbargains.com/dellcoupons.cfm , you can find some very good deals and get a lot of "bang for the buck", where you'd end up spending more to build a system with equivalent performance yourself by the time you bought all of the parts (case, psu, motherboard, cpu memory, drives, video card, operating system, etc.)

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Old Jun 12, 2012, 5:27 PM   #10
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Thank you JimC. I remember back when I bought my last Dell I was able to "build" my own system online and my son helped me choose all of the components. I delegated this task to him last night so he's going to handle it. He said the XPS8300 is fine for what I need. It just needs to handle PhotoShop.

He said he can install a second drive, although I think I could do it myself too. I appreciate your help. I'm so busy and your information is very helpful.
Cheers!
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