RAM – How Much is Enough?


Is your Mac acting sluggish? Does it bonk during processor intensive tasks? If so, maybe it’s time to install an additional RAM chip or two.

RAM (Random Access Memory) is memory for your computer – but a different beast than hard drive space. The more RAM you have, the more memory-intensive tasks you can do on your computer. What confuses people is that both hard drives and RAM are measured in GigaBytes (GB).

Apple has been historically stingy when it comes to the amount of installed RAM when buying a Mac off-the-rack (although they’ve been less Scrooge-like in the past few years). But for those working with programs that are RAM hogs (mainly graphic artists, photographers and audio/video power users), an immediate upgrade is often mandatory.

To find out how much RAM you have, pull down on the apple in the upper left corner of the screen and select the top choice, About This Mac. This window will tell you what processor your machine has, how much memory is installed and the name of your startup disk. (Which is only useful for machines with multiple drives and/or partitions.)

By clicking the More Info button in the About This Mac window, you’ll be able to see additional information about your computer. Click on the Memory tab in the left column, and you’ll be able to see the details of your installed RAM.

ImageUnless you’re running Mac OS X.8 (Mountain Lion), where you click on the Memory tab on the top of the window to see this:

ImageTo find out how much memory your computer is able to handle, go to a site dedicated to the specs of all Mac models. My personal favorite is LowEndMac.com, which, despite its name, has accurate information on every Mac, from current machines as well every model going back to 1984.