Bad Memory

I have been doing quite a bit of post-processing for my digital photography — Lightroom, Photoshop and sometimes Photomatix. All memory intensive applications particularly when used concurrently. Over the past few months, I had noticed that my computer was just not all that responsive when using these applications. I suspect part of it is due to the overall creep in image sizes as many of the RAW frames readily exceed 25 MB. Big files especially with more intensive edits.

My iMac was loaded with 4 GB of Ram and I thought a reasonable action would be to upgrade the memory.

First surprise? The iMac was built in 2009. I had no idea that I was into my fifth year with this computer. I might be getting to the point where an overall system upgrade is in order. For now, just the memory.

I went to Apple’s website to find out what type of memory the iMac would need and found my answer: PC3-8500, unbuffered, nonparity, 204-pin, 1066 MHz, DDR3 SDRAM. They also included a link to install or replace memory.

I have done this before on the iMac platform and it is a pretty easy task.

Finding the right memory chip? Not so easy.

I went to the local Jump+ here in Kingston — we do not have an Apple store — and asked them for the 1066 MHz DDR 3 SDRAM. I needed two 4 GB chips.

They brought me two 4 GB chips. However, the chips were labelled “1333”.

“I need 1066 chips. Will these ones work?”

“Oh yes. I checked on a forum and they will work just fine.”

When I got back to a browser, I also checked. And it is not quite as clearcut. For example, this forum has lots of debate on whether mixed memory modules will work.

The most sensible post was this one:

For speed and reliability, all RAM should be of the same type. If you put in 1066MHz RAM (and your machine expects 1333MHz), one of two things will happen. Either all the RAM will slow to match the slowest module in the machine, or you’ll have system crashes related to the mismatched RAM.

I don’t think there’s much of a price difference; stick with what Apple specifies for your machine.

I thought that was sound advice. I found a different supplier for the 1066 chips. Half the cost of the 1333 chips and, most importantly, no worries about bad memory.

I did the install a couple of nights back and everything is working fine.

Lightroom, Photoshop and Photomatix are all noticeably more responsive. I may have postponed a system upgrade for at least another year.

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