Up­grade your RAM

Mac Format - - IMPROVE YOUR MAC -

on­fus­ing RAM with file stor­age such as a hard disk is for­giv­able – after all, RAM stands for Ran­dom Ac­cess Mem­ory, and some­one could think that a Mac ‘re­mem­bers’ the files you store on it in some­thing called mem­ory.

But a com­puter uses RAM as some­where it can stick an ever-shift­ing col­lec­tion of stuff so that it can get at it quickly to process it; it’s not re­ally like hu­man mem­ory at all.

Here’s an anal­ogy (but as with all analo­gies, don’t try to push it too far!): if you’re tired and stressed, you can only deal with one thing at once; if some­one gives you another task to do, you have to put down the first one so you can con­cen­trate on the sec­ond. That’s a bit like how a com­puter is with a small amount of RAM. It has to con­stantly read in new in­for­ma­tion from your hard disk, and if there’s not enough room in the RAM for ev­ery­thing you’ve asked it to con­cen­trate on, it has to dump out some bits back to the hard disk. Since hard disks (and SSDs, to a lesser ex­tent) are dra­mat­i­cally slower than RAM, this process can make your Mac seem hugely slug­gish. Give it lots of RAM,

Cand it can ‘con­cen­trate’ on loads of things at once, and won’t need to be pag­ing stuff to and from your stor­age as much; it’s es­pe­cially im­por­tant to give your Mac enough RAM if you’re ask­ing it to run and switch be­tween many apps at once.

But what is ‘enough’ RAM? Th­ese days, a rule of thumb is that 4GB is fea­si­ble though a lit­tle tight, 8GB is a good bal­ance for most peo­ple, and 16GB or more is rec­om­mended for any­one do­ing any­thing highly in­volved or com­plex – cre­ative projects with video and high-res pic­tures. The great news is that so long as your Mac can have its RAM up­graded, it’s the eas­i­est, cheap­est and of­ten most ef­fec­tive up­grade you can do to it. We rec­om­mend buy­ing your RAM from a company such as Cru­cial whose sys­tem will en­sure you’re get­ting ex­actly the right RAM for your ma­chine, and when it ar­rives all you have to do is open up your Mac – the guides on ifixit.com can ad­vise on how – and then pop out your old RAM and slot in your new. The RAM will have lit­tle clips hold­ing it in place, but you just ease th­ese apart be­fore pulling the RAM out. Han­dle the chips care­fully by their sides – avoid­ing the metal con­nec­tors – but in most cases you don’t have to worry about I have a Late 2012 27-inch iMac and I maxed out its RAM to 32GB. I never get ‘out of mem­ory’ er­rors or slow per­for­mance in de­mand­ing apps I use such as Par­al­lels Desk­top. If you have RAM-hun­gry pro­grams, al­ways up­grade the mem­ory to the max end of

your bud­get. us­ing one of those anti-static wrist straps you might have seen rec­om­mended.

(While your Mac’s open, it’s a good idea to blow out the dust from the vents and fans, since over­heat­ing can cause slow-downs of its own; only use proper com­pressed air cans for this.)

Spare slots

In some cases your Mac will have spare slots into which you can fit ex­tra RAM (Sys­tem In­for­ma­tion will tell you this) but it’s more common for you to have to ditch your old RAM when you re­place it with more.

In any case, on Macs with in­te­grated graph­ics chips, you should in­stall RAM in matched pairs (both in terms of speed and ca­pac­ity) for bet­ter per­for­mance. Com­pa­nies such as Cru­cial sell their up­grades as al­ready-paired ‘kits’.

Sadly, Ap­ple has started sol­der­ing the RAM in place in com­put­ers such as the Mac­Book Airs, later Pros, smaller iMacs and lat­est Mac mini – th­ese can’t be up­graded, and if this is you, there’s noth­ing you can do save sell the whole ma­chine and spec a new one with more RAM.

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