2GB isn't enough RAM

Once I give my bank account enough time to catch its breath and I sell off my older technology (which will help those greens get their oxygen), I know what my next investment will be: more RAM. 2 GB seemed like enough, but it doesn’t appear to be. It’s not taking much for the MacBook Pro to get draggy. Quitting applications brings back its pep, but considering how long it takes for Adobe CS 2 applications to launch it’s not ideal. With Parallels running, I effectively have two computers each with only 1 GB of RAM.

A bit interesting trying to figure out what’s the best way to upgrade. The MacBook Pro has 2 slots for 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM chips. It comes configured with 1 GB in each slot. Each slot can accommodate 2 GB, but the system’s max RAM is 3 GB. Huh? It’s always been a general rule of thumb that you should match RAM pairs whenever possible, buying RAM in kits to be sure that speeds, chips and sizes match as closely as possible for best results. ZDNet’s blog has an explanation on what’s going on with the MacBook Pro via subscriber-only content from MacFixIt:

Although the Intel 945PM chipset can physically handle 4GB of DDR2 RAM, there is the potential for “memory overlap” when more than 3GB of RAM is installed.

a number of items must be stored in physical RAM space, and when RAM reaches 4 GB, there is some overlap. In other words, in a 3 GB RAM configuration, there is no overlap with the memory ranges required for certain system functions. Between 3 GB and 4 GB, however, system memory attempts to occupy space that is already assigned to these functions.

The article goes on to point out that the best place to get a 2 GB to 3 GB upgrade is from Apple. Apple?!? Yet another best practice debunked. There was a time that you never bought your RAM upgrade from Apple if you knew better, but there it is. Sure enough, a 2 GB chip from the mother ship is currently listed at $350, while that’s the cheaper end of what you could buy by surfing a site like dealram.com. What is it about this 2 GB chip from Buy.com that warrants a $721.84 price tag? Remember when an 8 MB upgrade cost that much? And you have the added bonus that Apple will actually support the purchase if there’s a problem. Put in 3rd party RAM and when you have to call, the first thing the tech support guy is going to say is “take it out” to make sure the cheapie RAM isn’t the problem.