So I’ve finally got around to upgrading the memory in our iMac G5. Back when we got our first Mac, it was recommended as pretty well the first purchase for the machine. At that time, Apple shipped their consumer machines with a paltry 256Mb of memory on board, so it was pretty well essential to avoid a lot of waiting around. When we got this machine, they were shipping with 512Mb of memory, which is pretty much adequate, and it only really causesproblems when we you try to multi-task a lot of applications, or load something big.
Unfortunately, as time has gone on and our iPhoto collection has grown, and our iTunes database has expanded, loading either application tended to result in a large lump of the active memory disappearing, and then a good deal of disk activity as the operating system starts swapping memory off to disk, so I decided that it was about time I upgraded. MacOS X, like Windows XP likes as much memory as it can get.
Anyway, I pointed my browser at Crucial Technology, and stepped through their useful Memory Advisor tool that makes sure you get the right memory modules. The iMac has two memory slots, each of which can take up to 1Gb, and ships with a single 512Mb module in one slot. Although it is quite happy to take different types of module in each slot, it runs better with a matched pair, so after some going back and forth, I decided to go the whole hog and get the full 2Gb upgrade. My figuring is that iPhoto and iTunes are only going to get larger, so whilst 1Gb may be adequate for now, we may as well do it in one step, and then there is only one redundant module rather than two.
The upgrade turned up in the post yesterday, and I grabbed a copy of the Apple Upgrade instructions. Because of the compact design, the upgrade is a bit more involved than the equivalent upgrade for an eMac. To do the job on an iMac G5 you have to loosen three screws, and flip open the entire back of the machine, giving a good view of the whole of the innards of the machine, including the processor, the hard drive and the motherboard. The memory slots are pretty obvious and easy to get to, and the actual process of putting in the new memory is pretty quick. The only slightly complicated bit is ensuring that the clips at the top of the back slot back into place.
Having said that, it’s made a big difference to the performance, especially with iPhoto which comes up noticeably quicker. My thought is that with the lower amount of memory iPhoto is loading and almost immediately swapping memory out to the disk, resulting in a good deal of the disk access. Certainly it will be interesting to see what else runs faster, but if you’ve got a Mac with 512Mb memory I can certainly recommend beefing it up a bit.