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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > MacBook Processor Vs. RAM

MacBook Processor Vs. RAM
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Inkling
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May 22, 2006, 06:28 PM
 
Hey everyone,

I'm a new potential Mac owner (first ever) and I have a question. My budget isn't unlimited so I would like to know which option would benefit me the most.

I could either go for the midrange 2.0Ghz MacBook (White) with 512mb of memory and 60GB hard drive or;

The low end 1.83Ghz MacBook with 1GB of memory and an 80GB hard drive.

I rarley burn DVDs and if I do I could just do it on my PC, so the SuperDrive really isn't a big deal for me.

Both of the above systems are the same price, which would give me the best preformance and value? I'm thinking the second option but correct me if you think the extra 170Mhz will make a huge difference.

Thanks,
Cam
( Last edited by mindwaves; May 22, 2006 at 08:46 PM. )
     
Star-Fire
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May 22, 2006, 06:55 PM
 
Well between them the second one would, but why not save up a bit of extra cash and get the 2.0, then you can get more memory and sell the chips you pull out for some extra cash too.
MacBook Pro 2.5 with 4 GB Ram, 250 GB 5400RPM, iMac 20" Intel Dual Core 2.0 with 2 GB Ram
http://star-fire.deviantart.com/gallery/
     
tooki
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May 22, 2006, 07:12 PM
 
I would not recommend running Mac OS X with less than 1GB of RAM. The more, the better.

I think the extra 512MB of RAM will give a far more perceptible boost in performance than the 170MHz will.

tooki
     
Maflynn
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May 22, 2006, 07:13 PM
 
I second the memory, you really need at least a gig.
~Mike
     
Eug Wanker
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May 22, 2006, 08:42 PM
 
The MacBook is very irritating to use with 512 MB RAM. I was playing with one the other day, and with 512 MB RAM it was paging out to disk like mad once I had a bunch of apps running. Remember, 80 MB (64 MB plus 16 MB overhead) is used for the GPU, leaving you with only 432 MB, and then more is used if you're running apps under Rosetta.

Definitely go for the 1 GB MacBook.
     
ghporter
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May 22, 2006, 09:03 PM
 
More RAM never hurts anything. And OS X uses RAM much more effectively than Windows does, so having more than is "needed" means something on a Mac.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
fesdds
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May 22, 2006, 09:09 PM
 
Unless you plan to only run one app at a time(as I do on one of my macbooks) you won't be happy with 512 ram. My other macbook which is for my personal use has 1 gig and runs much better, but I will probably up that more later. So bottom line if you get the higher end Macbook with 512 ram start saving to add more right away.
     
wataru
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May 22, 2006, 09:25 PM
 
On the other hand, RAM is something that can be upgraded later. If you think you can 1) afford the RAM later, and 2) tolerate sub-par performance in the meantime, then go for the better processor.
     
Inkling  (op)
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May 22, 2006, 09:39 PM
 
Thank you all very much for your input. I'm going to ahead and get the extra memory as I do multitask a lot. I don't think I could live with 512mb for any length of time based on what you guys said.

1.83 Duo Core should still be fairly fast, mind you I'm not looking for a mind blowing fast machine, basically I'll be using it for school and some web design.

Thanks again
     
Dr.Michael
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May 23, 2006, 05:31 AM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter
And OS X uses RAM much more effectively than Windows does...
You mean: unefficiently, don't you?
     
ghporter
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May 23, 2006, 07:43 AM
 
Originally Posted by Dr.Michael
You mean: unefficiently, don't you?
No, not at all. Windows is still married to a segmented memory model that makes things particularly clunky for programmers and means that there truly is a "sweet spot" in terms of how much extra RAM you should have in a PC before you stop seeing ANY improvements in performance. OS X, on the other hand, uses a flat memory model (as all Mac OSs I know of have), so even if you don't "need" more RAM, you can make use of it.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Dr.Michael
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May 23, 2006, 08:17 AM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter
No, not at all. Windows is still married to a segmented memory model that makes things particularly clunky for programmers and means that there truly is a "sweet spot" in terms of how much extra RAM you should have in a PC before you stop seeing ANY improvements in performance. OS X, on the other hand, uses a flat memory model (as all Mac OSs I know of have), so even if you don't "need" more RAM, you can make use of it.
Oh yes, thats right.
On the other hand, windows runs quiet well with 512M, whereas OS X is a real memory eater. With 512M you should not see paging. 1G as a minimum for a decent usage is really inflationary.
     
Gee4orce
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May 24, 2006, 04:55 AM
 
The 512MB limit will more that wipe out the 200MHz odd chip speed advantage - get the 'slower' one and put as much (paired) RAM in as you can: don't buy it from Apple - get the RAM from a 3rd party supplier and stick it in yourself.
     
ghporter
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May 24, 2006, 08:27 AM
 
Originally Posted by Dr.Michael
Oh yes, thats right.
On the other hand, windows runs quiet well with 512M, whereas OS X is a real memory eater. With 512M you should not see paging. 1G as a minimum for a decent usage is really inflationary.
With 512MB of RAM, Windows will page up a storm. But with the normal background disk activity seen with most applications-and Windows XP just sitting there-you don't notice it (and it is a lot quicker, probably because Windows (I think) pages in smaller chunks). If you install say 2GB of RAM on most Windows computers, you'll still see a lot of paging, though it will be less than you'll see with 512. There's a sweet spot around the 700-800MB range in most XP Pro installations, and another near 2GB (but this one doesn't provide as much of a performance bump). In between, the performance improvement is very non-linear.

On the other hand, adding ANY RAM to a Mac will help, and the more RAM you add, the more improvement you see. Just going from 512 to 640MB on my wife's G4 iBook made a noticable difference.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Inkling  (op)
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May 24, 2006, 01:18 PM
 
Thanks everyone. I'm just going to go for the black 2.0Ghz one, I much prefer the black over the white, it's a shame it costs more.

I'm also going to get it with the GB of ram. I don't really see the point of buying the RAM elsewhere, because I'm looking at about $160 for 1024mb, if I buy the 512mb MacBook and buy ram elsewhere, I'm basically throwing the ram that came with it away. I guess I could sell it...

Eitherway (in Canadian Prices) The black MacBook is $1649, then I could get the GB of RAM for $120 more. Which works out to be $1769. If I buy the 512mb mac book and buy the ram elsewhere it would be about $1819. Anyone know of a place where I could get the ram cheaper then about $160-$170 USD?
     
amazing
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May 24, 2006, 09:33 PM
 
Young grasshopper: Resist the lure of the Dark Side!
(Oops, I'm mixing TV shows here...oh well...)

Get the 2.0 WhiteBook and invest the savings in 2 GB of RAM. You could even get a 1 GB stick at a time, while saving up for the other 1 GB. Unbalanced RAM will give a 3-5% handicap until you can afford the second chip, but you're eventually gonna need the full 2 GB--so it's just a question of springing for 2 GB right away, or ramping up to it as the finances improve.

Check out the barefeats.com article on unbalanced RAM in the mac mini. You'll see that there is a penalty, but it's not that steep--unless you're playing Quake.

http://barefeats.com/mincd.html
     
BkueKanoodle
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May 24, 2006, 10:26 PM
 
I agree about going for the higher model and superdrive and worry about ram later. Yes ram is great , but it can be upgraded later. 6 months down the road you find a project that needs a little oomph or you decide you do want to try out the whole superdrive, you'll have a much hard time doing that.

Here's an idea, get the black book, use that extra space to load windows via bootcamp and sell you old Windows box to make up the extra cash!
15" Macbook Pro 1.83 2 GB RAM
Blackbook 13.3 Powerhouse 2 GB RAM
MacMini Dual Core 2 GB RAM (Sadly running Windows Most of the time)
Numerouse Workstations running windows and Linux. Sorry don't have the specs, I don't pay much attention to them anymore. :)
     
   
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