[CS-FSLUG] Macs and Memory

Timothy Butler tbutler at ofb.biz
Mon Dec 18 21:22:31 CST 2006

Hi Nathan,
> I've been using the Activity Monitor application in OS X to try and
> figure out why my Mac Mini was running slow, and as it turns out
> Safari, FireFox, iTunes and iPhoto each use massive amounts of the
> memory. I've been watching the Activity Monitor application, and
> while the processor does top out  frequently enough, the one thing
> that is consistently low is the memory. When nothing is running but
> the OS there is only about 220MB of Ram free, that's about 10% of the

	How much is inactive? Mine only shows about 200 megs free (though  
admittedly I have a ton of stuff open). I can't say I've watched it  
that closely, but back in my Linux desktop days, part of the ram was  
used for cache when it wasn't otherwise needed. The inactive number  
was more telling, IIRC, than the used number.

	OS X will run on 256 megs of ram, so if you have a gig, the OS  
shouldn't be filling it up (for that matter, up until Tiger, it would  
run on 128 megs).

> I'd like some comments on what to do about this, if I upgrade the ram
> to 2GB would it be worth the large investment (1GB cost me ~$250CAD).
> Or should I simply wait and get a more powerful core Duo Mini with
> 2GB of ram some time next year? If I get a new one should I really
> save up and get something with 4GB of ram?

	I'm not sure what your goals are, but I'd probably wait and get a  
Core 2 Duo Mac mini, which supposedly (so say the rumormongers) will  
show up at MacWorld in January.

> Oh, and could anyone tell me how big of a difference there is on a
> Mac when it has a independent video card as compared to an integrated
> one?

	From everything I've been reading, the integrated video in the Mac  
mini and MacBook seems to be performing quite well except for really  
intense graphical needs. I think the Intel Extreme chipsets going in  
the Macs is suppose to perform similarly well to how it does under  
Windows (which is quite good).  Better, supposedly, than the oldish  
ATI discrete video card in the old PPC Mac minis.

	If you are going to demand a lot of Open GL performance for 3D,  
etc., however, you'll find the discrete cards better. It's really a  
matter of needs on the Mac just like any other PC. Integrated cards  
seem to be good enough for most these days, and they are only getting  


Timothy R. Butler | "Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher
tbutler at ofb.biz   | is bound in  his  way to  be a lover of myths  and
www.uninet.info   | poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in
timothybutler.us  | being big with wonder."
                                                      -- Thomas Aquinas

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