[Deleted by the author on Feb 5, 2014 4:16:43 PM PST]
The "free RAM" number is deceptive. There are four categories of RAM in MacOS X visible in Activity Monitor: Wired, Active, Inactive, and Free. I have a 2008 Macbook unibody with 6 gigs of memory. Right now, Free is 357 megs, Active is 3.61, Inactive is 1.16 and Wired is 905. (The remainder is video memory, I believe).
"Wired" is memory that can't be swapped out to disk - often components of the operating system and other system-level processes.
"Free" is memory that has not been used at all, and is available for immediate use.
"Inactive" is ALSO available for immediate use. For example, when you quit Mail or Safari, the memory it was using is marked as Inactive - it can be discarded at any time to use for something else, without swapping it out to disk.
Only Active memory needs to be swapped out when new applications demand more memory than can be met by Free+Inactive.
So just looking at Free memory is inaccurate. You would think I'm almost out of memory, but in fact I have 1.5 gigs immediately available, more through virtual memory/swapping Active memory into the background.
There is a performance advantage to NOT swap out Active memory until it's needed - if I switch back to iTunes (which I have running but idle in the background), I would like it to be immediately responsive. If it's swapped out because I ran Photoshop or Final Cut and the memory was needed, fine. But if there wasn't a memory demand, then swapping it wasn't necessarily the right move - it hurt the responsiveness of a running app in favor of the possible faster launch of one that hypothetically might be launched in the future.
And, of course, all of this is becoming particularly moot with the rise of SSDs, which are so fast that virtual memory/swapping is no longer a performance killer. I believe that's how Apple gets away with shipping modest memory in the Macbook Airs, because swapping is fast enough to compensate.
I don't hate macs, i love mine. I'm merely stating that it is very very bad at memory management. My friend has a 17inch mac with 8gb of ram, he has chrome, safari, itunes, and grage band open. His ram is 6.5gb of used ram out of 8gb. He has 1.5gb of ram left with only that many programs. Apple cripples your ram when you upgrade it. heck i have 4gb of ram and 3.72gb is being used from chrome, itunes, and quicktime. Please open activity monitor and check your ram usage from time to time.
I agree with you Brycon, I build PC's and they can be very fast and run very well. All I am saying is that my Apple MacBook is very smooth and quick for how little ram it has, and the fact that it is a laptop and not a desktop. Most Microsoft laptops I have owned in the past are sluggish and lagging. My MacBook Pro is great and runs much better than any other laptop I have ever owned.
Apple 4gb is pc 2gb to me. I think you are a little crazy.
13 inch macbook pro core i7 2.8ghz model here and if i'm running 3 tabs in chrome, itunes, and finder i have 500mb left of my ram. I can run 2x that on my acer laptop with 64bit windows and it never uses more then 3gb of ram.
Well, this weekend I went and purchased a MacBook Pro. I am loving it so far. I bought it at BestBuy and they actually had an Apple tech on site who said hardware wise nothing will change with the new Mountian Lion OS. It simply will be a software update you can buy for probably $30-$40 from the AppStore.
So since nothing is changing, I think you are safe to buy one as well. There will be no hardware updates, same machine, just new OS.
I bought the 15.4", i7, 2.2ghz, 500gig model and it is fast! I would like to upgrade the ram from 4gig to 8, however as a PC builder myself I can see that Apple knows how to use the computer speed much better than Windows does. Apple 4gig is like PC 8gig. I'm quite happy with it.