How Much RAM Do You Need?
In recent years it was tempting to skimp on RAM since it was typically very expensive. I have been building/upgrading computers for nearly a decade and I can't remember a time when RAM was more affordable than it is today.
So getting back to the original question, it's not so much about need as it is about the maximum RAM capacity of your Macbook Pro.
Macbook Pro: Maximum RAM Capacity by Screen Size
13" - 8GB
15" - 8GB
17" - 8GB
At this point 8GB kits can be had for as little as $40, so do yourself a favor and fill your Macbook Pro to the brim with RAM.
Why Do I Need A Lot Of RAM?
The best way to think of RAM is that it provides real estate for your computer to temporarily store information it is working on.
Where a hard drive stores information permanently, RAM is a form of temporary storage and it fills and empties in real time while you work on your computer.
Virtual Machines Use A Lot Of RAM
Another extremely useful purpose of RAM is to facilitate the efficient operation of virtual machines. Virtual machines are exactly what they sound like: A computer within a computer. They are best explained by the following example:
Say for instance you would like to run Windows 7 on your Macbook. Using a service like Parallels, VMware, or Virtualbox, you can configure a virtual computer that runs within your actual computer. Once you have configured your virtual machine you are free to install Windows/Linux on it. During the configuration process you are able to dedicate a portion of your computer's actual RAM to the virtual machine. In the case of Windows 7 32-bit, 1GB of RAM is the minimum requirement. So if you have 4GB of RAM in your computer, and you boot the virtual machine we just discussed, you will be left with 3GB of RAM which is no longer ideal for running OSX Lion.
What Happens If I Don't Have Enough RAM?
Going back to the example of RAM as real estate; once homes have been built on every square inch of land, there is simply no more room to build. In this case the builder has no other choice but to build elsewhere.
In the case of RAM, once it is filled, your computer begins to write information to your hard drive. This seems harmless enough, but do not be fooled. Your computer's performance is about to experience a serious hit. RAM can be accessed in roughly 1/10 of the time it takes to access data from a traditional hard drive.
After your RAM is filled, subsequent read/write operations involving temporary data stored to the hard drive will be extremely slow and will result in noticeably slower computer performance.
Required tools: Philips (star) screw driver (small)
*Please note that this process does not void your warranty
Firstly, gounce.com takes no responsibility for any mishaps that may occur as a result of following this guide.
Step 1: Purchase your new RAM kit here
Step 2: Shutdown your Macbook Pro. Do not sleep it!
Step 3: Flip over your Macbook Pro. Remove the bottom plate from your Macbook Pro using the Philips screwdriver. Be sure to set the screws aside in the order you take them out.
Step 4: Be sure to discharge yourself by touching a metal portion of the case before touching anything else.
Step 5: Using your fingernail, detach the the battery cable from the motherboard.
Step 6: Push the ejection levers to eject the current ram modules, and remove them.
Step 7: Insert the new RAM modules and snap them into place. Be sure to handle the modules by the edges.
Step 8: Reconnect the battery cable.
Step 9: Replace the bottom plate.
That's it! Enjoy your enhanced computing experience.