bleggee used Ask the Experts™
I have 8GB RAM memory on a Mac.  How can I tell if upgrading to 16GB RAM would help? In terms of, for example, how often does an appl need more than 8GB and start disk-swapping, slowing me down a bit? What type of applications are happier with 16GB RAM?
(I have 3 Macs, one with 4GM RAM, 1 with 8GB RAM, and one with 16GB RAM. When I look at Activity Monitor, they all seem to use less than what is installed of course)
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Software Engineer
Distinguished Expert 2018
Can you verify if swap space is used..., if so there is a lack of memory at some time....
(long term use that is...) some types of real world load will need / be helped with more memory.

compilation of large sources,  video editing, graphics editing on raw images...  humongous spreadsheets.
tekst processing etc. will not use that much....


Yes on the Swap Space ... Activ Monitor says:
Phy Mem 8.00 GB
Mem Used 6.55 GB
Cached Files 1.41 GB
Swap Used: 176.8 MB  (Yesterday, the first day I opened the box on this new mac, Swap said approx 30 MB at the end of the day)

App Mem 3.19 GB
Wired Mem 1.62 GB
Compressed: 1.73 GB (is this not good? takes time to compress/uncompress, etc?)
If you're swapping a lot and notice slowdown, then you should buy RAM.   If it seems to be running just fine, then leave it.  Mavericks was not good at keeping memory in check, but each OS since then has gotten better at managing memory.
Tim LapinComputer Consultant (Desktop analyst)
More RAM can usually solve a variety of application slowdown issues.  I would check out the system requirements for the most heavily used apps and see what is the minimum AND what is recommended for optimal use.  Assume they are all running concurrently as a worst case scenario.  You might need to do some digging on user forums for that second number.

In general, I find 8 to 16 GB is good for most apps but it is quite conceivable that a given user might need more.  A little disk swapping is not a bad thing, though.  It's only when you notice slowdowns that you should be concerned, as serialband wrote above.

Another upgrade option that can speed up a computer greatly is to replace the hard drive with a fusion drive or a pure solid state drive.   As much as RAM solves problems, sometimes it is the hard drive that is the bottleneck.  What type of drive do you have currently in the three Macs in question?
Aaron TomoskyDirector of Solutions Consulting
16gb will allow you to run more apps (each browser tab counts as an app) at the same time. So if you have lost of stuff open, 8 is a minimum, 16 is better. Like was said, if you don't have an ssd, getting one will probably have a bigger effect for the same $$

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