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How much RAM does my Mac need?

How much RAM does my Mac need?

We get asked this question more than any other at Hoxton Macs and it can be a tricky one to answer. 

First of all what is RAM for? In simple terms RAM is the memory available to your programs, so more RAM allows you to do more things at once. This shouldn't be confused with your storage space (hard drive or SSD) which is where all your files are saved; documents, movies and music etc. 

Macs can have three different RAM configurations 4GB, 8GB and 16GB (The 27-inch iMac can have 32GB and the Mac Pro can have insane amounts, but I will save that for another post). With fairly significant price differences between these configurations it is important to make sure you choose the right one to balance performance with value. It should be noted that unlike Apple we here at Hoxton Macs don't make a margin on Memory and Storage upgrades where available. 

Here is a basic rule of thumb:

4GB 8GB 16GB

Web browsing; word editing; email

Moderate photo and video editing; CAD; DJ software; sound recording

 Heavy photo or video editing; virtualization (running Windows inside Mac OS)


If you already own a Mac and it is starting to feel a bit sluggish then there is an easy way to tell if you would benefit from having more RAM.

  1. Go to Applications > Utilities and open Activity Monitor
  2. Click on the Memory tab
  3. At the bottom of the window there is a section called Memory Pressure with a colour coded graph
  • Green - RAM memory resources are available
  • Amber - RAM memory resources are being tasked
  • Red - RAM memory resources are depleted

Activity Monitor - Memory

If your RAM resources are often depleted during your everyday workload then it maybe time to upgrade. We consistently find that FlexxMemory offers the best deals on quality, branded RAM modules, excellent customer service and even have a handy tool to find what type of RAM you Mac requires. Newer Retina MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs do not have the ability to upgrade the RAM and if you find yourself struggling to cope with the amount of RAM you have, it will require you to upgrade the machine. We can offer great trade in rates for these machine so feel free to drop us a line at for a quote!

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