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338 posts

Ultimate Geek


# 108579 1-Sep-2012 21:33
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Hi, I am tasked with upgrading wife's MB 2008 unibody one, as it become unresponsive during web browsing, normally have to reboot after a few days to be usable. The MB will be use exclusive for web browsing, and I am not a Mac guy, thus seeking options among Mac geek.

The specification is: 2.4G Core 2 Duo, 2GB ram, GForce 9400M, 250G 5400RPM HDD. Currently runs OS X 10.6.8, but think
of update to 10.8 later probably with a larger and faster HDD.

The easy solution would be add more RAM to it. This model does not officially supports more than 4GB of RAM, but assume OWC website is right, 8GB shouldn't be a problem.

So the question is: 8GB or 4GB of RAM? I will buying from OWC, so the difference would be around forty bucks. That didn't seems too much, unless there isn't much point to add to 8GB of RAM to a Core 2 Duo.

As a software developer, both my working PC and home main i7 PCs have 8GB or more Ram, and IMHO that is a minimum for comfortable daily usage(contrast to a casual usage where you check emails or FB, read some news for a couple of hours then turn it off). I would think that 8GB is safe bet, if I don't want that MB slow down after a few days of use. But on the other hand, I have a i5 Dell laptop with reasonable fast HDD(7200RPM WD Black) with 2GB of RAM running Windows 7, which I casually use during weekend and didn't see the need to upgrade to more RAM yet. And I also recent upgraded my dad's Core 2 Duo 2.0 G HZ laptop to 3GB of RAM (Max due to chip set limitation) with 750 GB WD Black, and are happy with the result running Windows 7. So I think there could be dangers of feeding the MB too much RAM where multi pages of Firefoxs would easily kill the puny Core 2 Duo before it has a chance to chew up 8GB of RAM, or not?

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2120 posts

Uber Geek


  # 680230 1-Sep-2012 21:45
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I think 4GB is now a bare minimum for Mac's running the latest software, at $40 difference, it's a no brainer to go with 8GB and get another couple years out of the macbook.  Your CPU may be getting a little old now, but really if it's for browsing it should be fine, but 8GB ram would mean your girl can have everything open really not have to worry again about it.  A 7200RPM hdd would also be great, even better would be an SSD...you can move the SSD to your newer laptop when the time comes anyway so it's not so much a pointless spend just $$$pensive

83 posts

Master Geek


  # 680249 1-Sep-2012 23:02
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I have the 2009 Macbook Pro with the 2.26GHz Core 2, so it's actually slightly lower spec than your MB. I too found that the original 2GB of memory wasn't enough, I upgraded to 8GB about a year and the system stopped being sluggish during relatively light tasks, however application load times were still quite long. I recently put in a 120GB OCZ Agility 3 in the system, and it is now really speedy, booting to the desktop in under 20 seconds, and apps now load way faster. As a 120GB SSD can now be had for under $150, I'd suggest that and the $100 for 8GB of memory is money well spent.

 
 
 
 


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  # 680272 2-Sep-2012 04:13
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My advise, sell that 4-year old laptop and get a new one (before it craps out).

If you prefer upgrade, definitely go for SSD and as much memory as you could (8GB in this case).







338 posts

Ultimate Geek


  # 680275 2-Sep-2012 07:21
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Thanks guys, 8GB it is.

Yes, once memory is no more bottle neck, HDD will be it seems. Well, I bought her a MB because I am lazy and
she used to be picky and always have problems with her PC. So yes, if no more complain, HDD will be fine :D. Otherwise
I might as well bought her a new one. But man, PC laptops seems half its price for a main stream one(not suitable for gaming) since last time I bought a new one, but Mac seems stick around 2K and still give you HDD by default for that price point unless it is a MBA, which is not upgradable at all!



338 posts

Ultimate Geek


  # 680277 2-Sep-2012 07:27
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nakedmolerat: My advise, sell that 4-year old laptop and get a new one (before it craps out).

If you prefer upgrade, definitely go for SSD and as much memory as you could (8GB in this case).


This certainly is a option, considering that next OS X version could possible drop out support for the model. They seems keep doing that for last few releases isn't it.

But for now, I will probably just add more memory as it is way more cheaper and relative easy decision. But I can't see that
the long term goal will be upgrading all the way.

BTR

1521 posts

Uber Geek


  # 680745 3-Sep-2012 11:21
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The more memory the better, also maybe run disk utility over your drive and check it for errors.

gzt

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Uber Geek


  # 680765 3-Sep-2012 12:21
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Another option is encourage the use of the restart dialog "reopen windows when logging back in" option. Takes as much time as making a coffee. Works well with Safari and Chrome. I have not tried with Firefox. It is in Lion, not sure about earlier. Even with 8GB you may find this is needed. IMHO some applications are not well written for OSX performance.

 
 
 
 




338 posts

Ultimate Geek


  # 680785 3-Sep-2012 12:37
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gzt: Even with 8GB you may find this is needed. IMHO some applications are not well written for OSX performance.


Agree, maybe let her trying Chrome instead of Firefox, but I would assume Chrome in general will use more memory than Firefox, but again with plugins and Adobe flash, Firefox could be worse in general. I was surprised when I saw her MB have 20-30% of CPU been consumed by Firefox when idle, let along shockwave/flash player plugins, that is with fairly clean state with less than 20 pages open.

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Uber Geek


  # 680787 3-Sep-2012 12:38
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I found 4GB to be more than enough, but for the cost difference, it doesn't hurt to shove more in, it means more apps will end up being cached which will mean less drive access.

An SSD makes a huge difference but they are fairly pricey things, and Apple's support for non-Apple SSDs is a bit average, mainly due to no TRIM support - less of an issue with more modern SSDs though. I stuck an SSD into my 2010 model Mac Mini and it is stupidly quick, largely to hopefully minimise OS disk failure as it's running 24/7 as a file server.

It does become quite hard to justify the price of a Mac unless you need something OS X-specific, but the Macbook Air's are fairly reasonably priced for what they are.




gzt

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  # 680801 3-Sep-2012 13:00
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pstar008: Agree, maybe let her trying Chrome instead of Firefox, but I would assume Chrome in general will use more memory than Firefox, but again with plugins and Adobe flash, Firefox could be worse in general. I was surprised when I saw her MB have 20-30% of CPU been consumed by Firefox when idle, let along shockwave/flash player plugins, that is with fairly clean state with less than 20 pages open.

My experience, Chrome is far better at memory management and process management. It also has its own google implementation of flash built in which updates with the main browser silently, so no external installation of Adobe Flash (with annoying updates etc) is needed.

Safari is ok but it lacks the process isolation/management of Chrome and misbehavior by one site in one safari tab can cause the whole browser to become unresponsive. Chrome is really good at preventing that from affecting other tabs and it does not affect the user.

On Firefox, I have not tried the latest major release but will give it a go sometime soon. What version are you running? If a new major version has been released you may need to manually download to get it rather than using the built in updater.



338 posts

Ultimate Geek


  # 680827 3-Sep-2012 13:32
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stevenz: I found 4GB to be more than enough, but for the cost difference, it doesn't hurt to shove more in, it means more apps will end up being cached which will mean less drive access.

An SSD makes a huge difference but they are fairly pricey things, and Apple's support for non-Apple SSDs is a bit average, mainly due to no TRIM support - less of an issue with more modern SSDs though. I stuck an SSD into my 2010 model Mac Mini and it is stupidly quick, largely to hopefully minimise OS disk failure as it's running 24/7 as a file server.

It does become quite hard to justify the price of a Mac unless you need something OS X-specific, but the Macbook Air's are fairly reasonably priced for what they are.


I think 4GB will in general fine and wouldn't be a problem paired with SSD, as penalty of need to (random) access is not so much comparing to the 5400 HDD currently been using. 8GB is more or less for avoiding trying to write/read back to HDD as much as possible. 

I must admit that besides been lazy, I probably I am a lousy Windows Administrator as well. I am more comfortable with Linux myself after find out by following instructions and read documents, I can run any Linux OS I choose issue free for years without re-install while with Windows, I always seems encounter some  mysterious, and the best solutions will always be re-install or change to new hardware. Obvious, Linux is not for everyone, but I think most people can live with Mac. So yes, Linux PC for myself, and Mac for everyone else if I have to be the tech support.



338 posts

Ultimate Geek


  # 680837 3-Sep-2012 13:52
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gzt:
My experience, Chrome is far better at memory management and process management. It also has its own google implementation of flash built in which updates with the main browser silently, so no external installation of Adobe Flash (with annoying updates etc) is needed.

Safari is ok but it lacks the process isolation/management of Chrome and misbehavior by one site in one safari tab can cause the whole browser to become unresponsive. Chrome is really good at preventing that from affecting other tabs and it does not affect the user.

On Firefox, I have not tried the latest major release but will give it a go sometime soon. What version are you running? If a new major version has been released you may need to manually download to get it rather than using the built in updater.


Firefox I believe is the current one: version 15. Is there any advantage manually download rather than let it auto updating?

Again, not a really Mac user myself, couldn't comment on Safari. But I believe most people will feel Chrome is faster as least on Windows side on modern hardware, and that is backed by most benchmarks, Firefox is mostly playing catch up nowadays. I am sticking with Firefox mostly due to old habit, and I believe more websites are still testing against Firefox/IE, also from my limited web development experience (not my main job responsibility), Chrome sometimes behave slightly different than I would expected (of course, taking Firefox as standard) in some very small ways. But all in all, if you are happy with Chrome, don't bother switch to Firefox, Or as I am doing now, using both. Mostly for videos and Google related stuff, I am using Chrome for no obviously reason, and everything else, Firefox, as I am now dependent on its in-build tab grouping functions and a couple of extensions.

gzt

10936 posts

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  # 680844 3-Sep-2012 14:03
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pstar008: Firefox I believe is the current one: version 15. Is there any advantage manually download rather than let it auto updating?

No advantage. When I was a regular firefox user they would provide minor version update notification automatically but majors needed to be specifically downloaded directly from the site. That may have changed.

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