General Question

xxporkxsodaxx's avatar

What are the advantages of having 4GBs of RAM over 2GBs of RAM?

Asked by xxporkxsodaxx (1386points) April 19th, 2009

I upgraded my new Mac just to upgrade it really, but in all seriousness why is having this much RAM good for other than making it a little faster?

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13 Answers

ahankes's avatar

4 gigs of RAM will help your computer run much faster. In a couple of years, you’ll need it as any software programs you install will require more and more RAM.

bluedoggiant's avatar

You can multi-task better. Which equals to getting things done more efficiently. Faster.

It is also future proof as @ahankes pointed out.

mattbrowne's avatar

Maybe none. Depends on the programs you run. Open a non-fancy text editor and you won’t feel a thing. Same for browsing plain HTML without gizmos and fancy plug ins.

Shuttle128's avatar

It doesn’t necessarily make the computer faster. It gives you more space to run applications. Vista generally takes a gig to run so 3 gigs is becoming the industry standard. The more applications you run on top of that, the more RAM you need for them to run smoothly. When you start approaching the limit of your RAM the computer can get pretty slow. This is because it has to write to virtual memory more often and shuffle stuff around in your RAM to make space. Having a lot of RAM stops this from happening.

eambos's avatar

Here is an analogy for you:

HD=Well,
RAM=Water Tank
Programs=People

Say you have a nice big well, but it is 2 miles away. Closer, you have a small, easy access water tank. With only 5 people in your village, the water tank is never used up in the day, and you never have to make the slow journey to the well. One day, 10 new people move into town. Now the water tank is too small. When everyone goes to get a drink, you run out of water and must make the trek all the way out to the well. This is very slow.

Now you decide to increase the size of your tank. No longer do you have to run out to the well when everyone wants a drink. You can go to the quick and easy tank and never have to worry.

In conclusion:
Having more RAM prevents your computer from having to use the slow virtual memory on your HD. It will always be able to use the very, very fast RAM to acces program data, rather than the virtual memory. Even when many programs are running, you never have to deal with the slowdown of using virtual memory.

Is my analogy clear? My technophobic mother found it very easy to understand.

squirbel's avatar

I have this analogy of a desk that I use to explain to some of my less-technical-savvy coworkers.

You have a small schooldesk.
Now, you don’t have enough space to really multitask on this small schooldesk – things fall off and you can’t organize things for real.
RAM is equivalent to the working area of the desk, the surface available to handle papers and books; RAM is your “working memory.”

A person with this much memory in their computer has come to the realization that he can’t run this program when this other one is running, but he can have all these little programs open at the same time. Now, if he adds RAM to his computer, he’s expanding his available desk “working” space.

Buying more RAM is like upgrading his school desk to a U-shaped executive sized desk – he would have tons of working space. He can have any amount of programs open at the same time, without noticing a performance impact. He can truly multitask.

Jack79's avatar

All of the above answers are different ways of explaining the same thing as well as possible.

RAM is the most important thing in your computer.

It doesn’t really make it run faster, but it makes it not freeze, which is even more important. You don’t really care whether a programme installs in 5.13 min or 4.58 min (which is the difference between a fast and a slow processor). But you do care if a programme crashes and you have to restart and lose all your unsaved data. Especially if you’re working with pictures and other big files. Huge RAM will allow you to open many such files simultaneously for example. So the more the better.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@mattbrowne had the most realistic answer I think.

While the difference between having 2GB and 4GB is becoming more noticeable as the OS demands more .. the difference can still be negligible .. depending on the apps used and the person using them who may not be attuned to the speed difference at all.

drClaw's avatar

I am assuming you have a Macbook since you are considering going from 2GBs to 4GBs. I did the same and it was the best thing I ever did to that computer. The main advantage will be your ability to simultaneously run large programs, for example I used to run Photoshop, Flash, Firefox, Parallels (Windows), Excel, and various others at 2GBs and my computer would move at the pace of a snail, even freeze on occasion. As soon as I upgraded to 4GBs the slowness went away. However unless you are running these larger programs you probably won’t notice much.

eambos's avatar

If (or more like when) you do upgrade, buy from a third party vendor. Apple is notorious for their insane markups on RAM upgrades.

bluedoggiant's avatar

ditto @eambos you beat me to it

I highly recommend www.crucial.com.

I got 4GB for two iMacs there, one Macbook pro, and a macbook, for a total of a little of $300 (i think maybe?).

Its a steal.

ayoub00's avatar

the only word i have to say is “FASTER”

Zen's avatar

@squirbel Thanks for that answer.

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