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Memory usage survey - how much RAM?

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Memory usage survey - how much RAM?

Postby scumble » Mon Jul 13, 2020 12:47 pm

Hi - the background here is that I'm an amateur user, and because I'm quite bad at keeping up with developments I've just noticed I can't upgrade my 2011 MBP past High Sierra - as it is I hadn't bothered to upgrade to that until recently - but of course I can't updated to Logic 10.5 now. Also the machine has developed the "pink lines" fault on the laptop display. So I ended up considering what would be a good upgrade move, and how much RAM is really needed given that the 16 inch MBP isn't upgradeable at all - if I were to go in that direction I'd have to anticipate memory usage.

As an exercise I tried to use up all my RAM - my current MBP has 16GB so I tried loading every large NI instrument I have until I loaded at least 20-30 instruments - including every piano variant, session strings and so on. It was many more than I'd consider using in any track for what I do.

I didn't get Logic X to 8GB usage on its own, and overall RAM usage was just over 13GB.

So the question is, how many of you regularly load enough to go past 16GB usage? Do you need to have huge orchestral libraries to get there? There's quite a hefty apple tax on the 32GB configuration so it would be good to have a view on how "safe" 16GB is for the next 5 years at least.
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Re: Memory usage survey - how much RAM?

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:13 pm

Do you really need Logic 10.5? If not I'd try to get the MBP fixed, lots of people can do repairs these days and there are loads of used parts to keep the cost reasonable. 16GB should be more than enough (as you've proved) for nearly anything unless you are recreating Genisis tracks entirely in VSTi's.

Maybe I'm cynical but Apple would like you to buy a new MBP so that you could run 10.5. Add to that the horror stories WRT Catalina and music software I'd steer well clear for a few months at least.
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Re: Memory usage survey - how much RAM?

Postby desmond » Mon Jul 13, 2020 2:02 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:Do you really need Logic 10.5? If not I'd try to get the MBP fixed, lots of people can do repairs these days and there are loads of used parts to keep the cost reasonable.

It costs about £200 to replace the faulty graphics chip in those 2011 MBPs (ask me how I know!), and due to poor design, these machines overheat (which causes the graphics chips to fail), so that replacement fix may last anywhere from 6 months to a few years if you're very lucky and don't stress the machine hard.

You can disable the graphics chip so the machine runs without them more or less normally (ask me how I know!), which is recommended when they fail, as sooner or later the machine won't boot otherwise.

You *can* patch Mojave to run on them (ask me how I know!) but there are some gotchas and although LPX 10.5.x will run, it will also hard crash in a few areas due to it's expecting Metal to be there, when it isn't on patched machines.

Sam Spoons wrote:16GB should be more than enough (as you've proved) for nearly anything unless you are recreating Genisis tracks entirely in VSTi's.

Agreed.

Sam Spoons wrote:Maybe I'm cynical but Apple would like you to buy a new MBP so that you could run 10.5. Add to that the horror stories WRT Catalina and music software I'd steer well clear for a few months at least.

Yes, but the 2011 MBP's horribly overheat, have graphics chip problems, are non-retina, and can't run modern software that requires Mojave or greater. There comes a point when you just need to move on, so now seems a good time to do it. :thumbup:
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Re: Memory usage survey - how much RAM?

Postby Sam Spoons » Mon Jul 13, 2020 2:54 pm

Interesting Desmond, I have a 2011 13" MBP, owned from new, that my wife is currently using for zoom sessions. It has had a memory issue fixed a couple of years ago but has shown no display issues and no overheating until a couple of weeks ago when it got very hot indeed. Touch wood it has behaved since then.
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Re: Memory usage survey - how much RAM?

Postby resistorman » Mon Jul 13, 2020 3:18 pm

Nobody has brought up Apple’s shift to an ARM architecture. Is this really the time to be buying an Intel based machine for the long haul? All new development is going to be in that direction. I’d fix what I have and use it until it’s obvious which way the wind is blowing.
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Re: Memory usage survey - how much RAM?

Postby desmond » Mon Jul 13, 2020 3:41 pm

resistorman wrote:Nobody has brought up Apple’s shift to an ARM architecture. Is this really the time to be buying an Intel based machine for the long haul? All new development is going to be in that direction. I’d fix what I have and use it until it’s obvious which way the wind is blowing.

Reading around and listening to a variety of opinions, informed and otherwise, I'd say the useful lifespan of Intel machines is probably going to be somewhere around ten years from now - ie, by 2030, you've probably been using your Intel Machine for a little too long and a lot of new software and OS versions are no longer being compiled for Intel.

Given the fact that, assuming the first proper wave of ARM computers is going to realistically start coming out next year (we may see a model or two earlier than that, possibly), and there are going to be software issues for a while while developers for current software make ARM-compatible versions run, and be optimised for the system, along with the inevitable first-generation hardware issues (although Apple have been making ARM chips for a while now and seem to be pretty good at it), I'd say that for most serious amateurs or pros, the time to start switching their whole system to an ARM-based system is probably going to be a year or two after that (so 2023-'24, with '21/'22 for the bleeding-edgers, and '25-'26 for the cautious professionals).

So if you need a new machine now, I wouldn't let the incoming ARM transition put a hold on a purchase personally, but if you don't need one now, then I'd certainly wait to see how the next generation of hardware shapes up. It's likely to be interesting times for the 'ol Mac again, which will be somewhat nice to see.

But I think there's still plenty of useful life in Intel machines for the near future, imo.
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Re: Memory usage survey - how much RAM?

Postby ef37a » Mon Jul 13, 2020 3:43 pm

Talking of "Wind"? Any way you can incorporate a fan or have one extracting heat?

I did this for a graphics card I had to fit to an Asus MOBO, no on board graphics. The Maplin board got a bit too hot for my liking (2 seconds to pinky "Ouch!") So I just propped a spare 80mm fan next to the card.

...'COURSE! All this is easy peasy with a desktop and Windows.

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Re: Memory usage survey - how much RAM?

Postby desmond » Mon Jul 13, 2020 3:47 pm

ef37a wrote:Talking of "Wind"? Any way you can incorporate a fan or have one extracting heat?

I run software which lets me control my fans and I tend to run them faster by default as I like to try to keep my machines cool (it's really annoying that just plugging in a thunderbolt cable generates so much heat, too). Also, my machine is raised off the desk, and I regularly clean the internal fans out which makes a big difference.

I do have a desktop fan available in the warmer months which I sometimes use to cool the laptop, especially if I'm doing high-intensity tasks (anything that's going to spin up the internal fans to max for longish periods).
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Re: Memory usage survey - how much RAM?

Postby ConcertinaChap » Mon Jul 13, 2020 4:38 pm

desmond wrote:Reading around and listening to a variety of opinions, informed and otherwise, I'd say the useful lifespan of Intel machines is probably going to be somewhere around ten years from now - ie, by 2030, you've probably been using your Intel Machine for a little too long and a lot of new software and OS versions are no longer being compiled for Intel.

That's usefully reassuring. Since I'll be 79 in 2030 my current machine should see out my time as a computer hot shot nicely :)

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Re: Memory usage survey - how much RAM?

Postby scumble » Tue Jul 14, 2020 10:28 am

Sam Spoons wrote:Do you really need Logic 10.5?

That is a very good question - I use Live and that is probably better than the new live clone functionality for example, so no.
I also discovered that the pink lines problem doesn't affect an external display so I can clamshell the MBP. I've never had trouble with the computing power of the machine so the only problem is cooling and noise - it's still powerful but you can't necessarily use it all.

desmond wrote:It costs about £200 to replace the faulty graphics chip in those 2011 MBPs (ask me how I know!)

I'd guess you've done the repairs and had the issue come back again?

I've had some luck with a metal laptop cooler to manage the heat, although that generates some noise - but I can leave the computer at a distance with a long HDMI cable so it's less annoying. That's the thing - it still works and is good enough for music so it's frustrating to hit an artificial wall. I'd wait until more of my software can't be updated or stops working though.

resistorman mentioned the ARM switch, but obviously they can't immediately drop all the intel mac users, so it seems reasonable to assume there's about 10 years in it like you say desmond.

And supposedly there is going to be another set of intel based macs because the ARM processors can't match the higher performance intel chips yet - I think that was another reason to wait apart from the fact I don't "need" an upgrade - the iMac is due for a design refresh.
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Re: Memory usage survey - how much RAM?

Postby desmond » Tue Jul 14, 2020 12:38 pm

scumble wrote:I also discovered that the pink lines problem doesn't affect an external display so I can clamshell the MBP.

If the GPU goes, then you lose *all* external monitor functionality because that's tied to the GPU (ask me how I know! :))

scumble wrote:
desmond wrote:It costs about £200 to replace the faulty graphics chip in those 2011 MBPs (ask me how I know!)

I'd guess you've done the repairs and had the issue come back again?

I was contemplating the repair, but deemed it too expensive for too little extra life on the laptop, especially if you have to do it every few years to keep going (from talking to people who'd had it done, and the people doing those repairs).

scumble wrote:And supposedly there is going to be another set of intel based macs because the ARM processors can't match the higher performance intel chips yet - I think that was another reason to wait apart from the fact I don't "need" an upgrade - the iMac is due for a design refresh.

We don't know what the performance will be like yet. The only thing we've seen is that the current iPad chip running OSX under emulation seemed about as powerful as a 2012 iMac. When the actual Mac chips come, and the code is not running under emulation, then we'll see how the performance goes... Apple have stated there are still Intel-based products in the pipeline for release, and those products need to be supported for at least five years.
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