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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Desktops > MacPro performance with only 1gb of ram?

MacPro performance with only 1gb of ram?
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Dec 7, 2006, 07:20 PM
 
Anybody out there using a Macpro with only 1 GB of ram? If so, what's the performance like?
     
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Dec 7, 2006, 07:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by daves666 View Post
Anybody out there using a Macpro with only 1 GB of ram? If so, what's the performance like?
I was initially planning on running with 1GB until prices fell. After living in "disk swap hell" for a week, I added a second gig. Unless you're running only basic apps, you're going to want more. And if you're only running basic apps, what's the point of the Pro?

IMO, 2GB should be Apple's min spec for this machine. Oh, and now I'm hoping to go to at least 4 once pricess come down a bit.

-Xy
MacPro (2.66, 4GB, 4x250GB, X1900+7300, 2x Dell 2005fpw, Samsung LNT4061)
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Dec 10, 2006, 01:25 PM
 
I'm running a Mac Pro right now with only 1GB of RAM. I plan on upgrading after the holidays because I do get a lot of disk paging as well. I don't know why Apple doesn't offer this machine with a minimum 2GB as the recommended pre-built machine. The MacBook Pro comes with 2GB automatically... why is the Mac Pro still at 1GB. Maybe it's time for Apple to update these machines and bring down the prices... I'm not complaining though because I got this Mac Pro for cheap from the Refurbished Apple Store online and I must say... it's been practically flawless so far. *fingers crossed*
     
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Dec 10, 2006, 02:23 PM
 
The performance with 1Gb is going to suck. Especially if you're running apps that haven't yet been optimized for Intel. I have 2Gb and my machine swaps often.
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Dec 10, 2006, 02:56 PM
 
can someone explain 'disk swap hell'? and how can you tell if your machine is experiencing this?
     
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Dec 10, 2006, 02:57 PM
 
They mean a lot of virtual memory disk paging - lots of disk activity that dramatically slows things down. If you constantly hear the hard drive, you're low on RAM.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
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Dec 10, 2006, 06:36 PM
 
I had 1GB for about a week before the OWC RAM came in. Honestly, it was perfectly fine for me. It all depends on what you do. If you use memory hungry software (Photoshop in Rosetta is a killer), you'll suffer. I didn't.
     
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Dec 11, 2006, 02:58 PM
 
Thanks you guys - my suspicions have been confirmed: more ram needed!
     
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Dec 11, 2006, 03:32 PM
 
Get 16GB!!!


I kid I kid. Although I have 2.5GB right now and wouldn't mind at least doubling that.
     
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Dec 11, 2006, 05:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by kc311v2 View Post
Get 16GB!!!


I kid I kid. Although I have 2.5GB right now and wouldn't mind at least doubling that.
What do you do when you need so much RAM? Can you run 'top' in the terminal and post the 'PhysMem' line. This is about as bad as it gets for me (note that 343MB is *totally* unused and that I only use about 1GB wired + active - that's why I did fine on 1GB):

PhysMem: 173M wired, 876M active, 654M inactive, 1.66G used, 343M free
     
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Dec 11, 2006, 06:33 PM
 
I got my Mac Pro (3.00 GHz quad core Intel Xeon) with 1 GB RAM and a 160 HD. It was the only way I could afford to get the 3.00 GHz configuration. By April, I plan on adding another 4 GB RAM from TransInt'l or Crucial - I am leaning towards TransInt'l though due to their superior heatsinks.
     
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Dec 11, 2006, 07:30 PM
 
I have a 2.66GHz MacPro with 1GB and it seems very fast, though I am buying 2GB more when I return home.
     
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Dec 11, 2006, 08:14 PM
 
I have the 2.66Ghz MacPro with 3 gigs, and I wish I had shiteloads more.

I use Photoshop and Illustrator and InDesign, usually concurrently, plus iTunes, Firefox, and Mail, all day every day. Such is the life of the graphic designer juggling school, freelance, and random hobbyist projects.

This machine runs great, but when working on huge files I get into disk swapping, especially when changing a song in iTunes, emailing a draft to someone, or checking a quick factoid in Firefox.

PhysMem: 558M wired, 1.22G active, 1.16G inactive, 2.92G used, 83.2M free
^This is only working on one project.

It all depends on what you do with your machine — for the average user, one gig is good, two is better, three is overkill.

There is NEVER too much RAM.
     
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Dec 11, 2006, 10:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by thebunny View Post
What do you do when you need so much RAM? Can you run 'top' in the terminal and post the 'PhysMem' line. This is about as bad as it gets for me (note that 343MB is *totally* unused and that I only use about 1GB wired + active - that's why I did fine on 1GB):

PhysMem: 173M wired, 876M active, 654M inactive, 1.66G used, 343M free
That's as bad as it gets for you? I just restarted (software update), launched iTunes and safari, then came across thsi thread. Doing no legitimate work of any kind (I wish I got paid for web browsing) top looks like:

PhysMem: 145M wired, 125M active, 746M inactive, 1017M used, 1.01G free.

Now, yes, a large portion of that is inactive but this is basically my machine *at idle*

-Xy
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Dec 12, 2006, 12:29 PM
 
so if your 'free' memory is always pretty low, is that another indication that the system will perform better with more RAM? i have 22.74 mb of free RAM and i hear the HD making noises all the time.
     
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Dec 12, 2006, 12:46 PM
 
Originally Posted by herbsman View Post
can someone explain 'disk swap hell'? and how can you tell if your machine is experiencing this?
What this means is that OS X caches elements of each program when you open the program to its memory (RAM). This cache is readily available to the processor when you use the program. This is the reason why when you open a program for the second time it opens *much* faster than the first time. A prime example is Iphoto (assuming you have a large library of pics). OS X will cache each program until it runs out of memory. At this point, any new program or new internal process that needs memory will take the cached information on the RAM and either discard it or write it to your hard drive. If you open a program that has had its information written to the HD will then send its information to the CPU this process is slow so in the second or two it takes the information to move to the cpu from the HD you will see a beach ball because Mac OS X is in a waiting mode. This beachballing gets worse the more programs you use. Thus the "Beach balling from hell"

I had this happen when I first bought my rig with one GB. So now I have 2 GB overall the machine (IMO) is now usable. I cant stand beachballing. The reason why everyone advocates at least 2 GB is that 1 GB is enough for email / web surfing. A MB user could get away with that much RAM but who buys a MP for surfing the web / emailing?

There has been some controversy over why OS X needs more RAM in an intel box vs a PPC based machine. No one is really sure here but in Cupertino, well....
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Dec 12, 2006, 01:02 PM
 
I don't think the given (default) amount of RAM in any computer is the problem. Rather, I think it's the software.

Programs dating from the 1st generation PowerMac all the way to today's Intel Mac Pros are probably either written sloppily with un-needed lines of code or are just designed to use more RAM than needed.

I mean, if you take a look at web browsers and word processors for example. MS Office back in the mid-90's "did its thing" with a significantly smaller foot print than today's version. Web browsers... remember when browsers only required 8-16MB of RAM? Yes, megabytes. While I understand that today's software is FAR more sophisticated and gives the end user more power and flexibility in how they do their work (or express their creativity), there has GOT to be a way for programmers/developers to reduce the footprint of today's programs. The less RAM requirements per program, obviously the more breathing room for your Mac.

As for the OS's RAM requirements, I don't know what's going on... but if i had to give any advice to Apple (and especially if they are not doing so already), do a COMPLETE redesign of OS X to be completely lean................. or at the very least, give the user an option to run the OS in a "lean mode"....... (no animations, no shadows, no transparencies, no vector scaling, etc....).

Don't bully me, I got an Uzi... HOO-HAH!
     
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Dec 12, 2006, 01:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by öñFü$íóÑ View Post
As for the OS's RAM requirements, I don't know what's going on... but if i had to give any advice to Apple (and especially if they are not doing so already), do a COMPLETE redesign of OS X to be completely lean................. or at the very least, give the user an option to run the OS in a "lean mode"....... (no animations, no shadows, no transparencies, no vector scaling, etc....).
I can't really argue with the idea of having a "lean" finder with a smaller memory footprint, although I think if you used any OS without drop shadows, you'd quickly miss them. They're actually quite functional.

Anyways, software development and hardware development have always had the effect of pushing each other. But its not just that software developers are sloppy; having gobs of ram at your disposal means you can focus on usability, feature set and getting a product out the door faster. The whole Y2K bug was created because programmers were being efficient with very few resources. If you wanted any functionality in your product you had it write it yourself and then optimize it for miniscule memory footprints. That took a ton of time to get right.

So now we have massive shared libraries and frameworks like WebKit that suck up an easy 50-100 megs at a time. We have dashboard widgets that can take up 20-50 megs a pop. The flip side is that any application can use WebKit by basically dragging an object into a window in Interface Builder and attaching some fairly trivial code in it. Probably 1/4 of the icons in my dock use WebKit in some way. Anyone with some decent HTML/JavaScript knowledge can create a dashboard widget; the barrier to entry is very low.

Some of the craft of making efficient programs has been lost, but a lot has been gained, too. I'll take Transmit and BBEdit over the command line ftp and vi any day (although I know people who are the opposite)

And to be fair, I should mention I turn dashboard off on every computer I use :/

-Xy
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Dec 12, 2006, 01:48 PM
 
See this is the reason why I think that OS 10.5 =Vista= bloatware. Some find the drop shadows nice- I could care less : I got along without then in OS 7.5 through OS 9 and I was OK. I have one HP printer , but when I install OS X it installs 500 MB of drivers from s 100's of different HP printers. I could care less about "cool time machine " stars in the back round etc. All these "convenience features and and gee-whiz effects add bloat which significantly increases the memory footprint. The point is that everyones tastes are different and Apple is walking down MS windows path of trying to please every one from soccer moms to IT professionals.
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Dec 12, 2006, 07:41 PM
 
"...i turn off dashboard on every computer i use."

thanks for the warning: stay away from my machine

honestly, I would go through withdrawals if I had to live without Dashboard and Exposé.
damn straight--or on the rocks, i'm not picky.
     
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Dec 12, 2006, 08:09 PM
 
Originally Posted by Hobeaux View Post
"...i turn off dashboard on every computer i use."

thanks for the warning: stay away from my machine

honestly, I would go through withdrawals if I had to live without Dashboard and Exposé.
Exposé I use twenty times an hour, but once I realized how much ram it was taking being able to see the weather in 10 places at once, I kicked my dashboard habit If I ever kick my Pro up to 4+ gigs I'll probably be inclined to give it another shot.

-Xy
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Dec 13, 2006, 03:35 AM
 
As far as ram and OSX requirements of them... I can't say I am partial in anyway...
it works sometimes I'm frustrated but it gets the job done.

What I was thinking a few months back was if there was some way to freeze processes.

Say you're working with aperture and browsing the web and you wanted to freeze aperture
so as to check some info online (without having to restart it) you could do so, and at that freeze point all the aperture info will be written to a section on the hard drive. Unfreeze and you're back where you left off (hard drive file gone) this way you can choose what you want RAM to use and what running apps you want to "pause"
     
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Dec 13, 2006, 01:26 PM
 
Originally Posted by dantewaters View Post
As far as ram and OSX requirements of them... I can't say I am partial in anyway...
it works sometimes I'm frustrated but it gets the job done.

What I was thinking a few months back was if there was some way to freeze processes.

Say you're working with aperture and browsing the web and you wanted to freeze aperture
so as to check some info online (without having to restart it) you could do so, and at that freeze point all the aperture info will be written to a section on the hard drive. Unfreeze and you're back where you left off (hard drive file gone) this way you can choose what you want RAM to use and what running apps you want to "pause"
This is (more or less) what OS X already does. Lets say you're running Aperture and you export a photo to photoshop. Assume you are, at that point, essentially out of free ram but want to launch Safari. OS X will say "hey, aperture is the application that is currently being used the least" and it'll write Aperture's "memory pages" to disk, freeing up enough ram for safari. You probably won't even notice this part happening, because it goes on all the time. The problem comes when you switch back into Aperture and need to wait 5-10 seconds for a gig of pages to be read off the hard disk - that's what I called "disk swap hell." It happens to me when I leave an app inactive for a few hours, tab back into it and get impatient

So you're not explicitly telling the OS which application to freeze, but it is doing essentially the same thing based off of what you're using at any given time. (The full explanation is, of course, more complicated)

-Xy
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Dec 14, 2006, 06:58 PM
 
I say 2 gigs is good to start out with, My mac pro has 8 gigs which is needed for having 40+ audio and midi tracks with a bunch of plug ins in logic pro
     
   
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