Released June 2012, Model A1278. Intel processor with Turbo Boost, Up to 512 MB DDR5 Video RAM

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Decision to add more RAM or SSD - Need Help!

I have a Mid 2012 MBP with 4 GB of RAM 1600MHz DDR3... I am a graduate student finishing my first year of my PhD and I really want to try to get a few more years out of the computer. It takes too long for my liking to boot certain applications and I run a bunch of things at once.

I was planning on upgrading to 8 GB of RAM and then a SSD, but I have no idea how much of either I truly need. Any help would be appreciated.

The programs I run are MATLAB, ChemDraw, Illustrator, PowerPoint, Excel, LaTeX, Maple, XCode, etc...


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Not that easy an answer here ...

If you have all of these running at once (loaded at boot time) then booting up will be slow! Its' best to limit the amount of apps loading at boot up to speed things up. It's really not smart in a laptop to run that many apps concurrently.

If you only run a few at a time (swapping data between them) thats OK, then that gets into how much of a foot print the app its self takes and the size of the work piece you have open for each app running.

So getting more RAM on the most part makes sense how much is something you'll need a good tool to guide you: Memory Clean it allows you so see how much RAM is in use by the different Apps you have running it also allows you to flush freed RAM so it can be reused.

Getting a SSD gets tricky here. Are we swapping out the current drive for a SSD? Or, are we replacing the optical drive?

First you'll need to think about what your storage needs are and then how much you can afford to spend. While SSD's are now equal in size, and in some cases larger than what laptop systems typically support, they can be very expensive!

Going with too small a drive can be a problem as well as the way the OS works could be impeded. So as an example if you where to go with a 128 GB drive and you loaded it up so you had less than 1/3 of free space you system would get into trouble. Likewise, if you had a 512 GB or 1 TB drive you'll need 1/4 of the disk set aside as free space.

So as you can see there are many factors that need to be considered. As a reference I support a few engineering companies. Their baseline system is now 8 GB of RAM and 1 TB SSD. For our engineers we use 16 GB of RAM and a 2 TB SSD.

To put this perspective our last standard was using a Seagate hybrid drive (SSHD) and only because our staff is so rough on the systems we switched over to SSD's (banging them while running). We also don't do dual drive configs as some of the systems we use don't play nice with the optical drive carrier.

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I don't always run them off boot up and they're not always all running together either.

My plan was to replace my Hard Drive with an SSD and remove my optical disc and put the hard drive there and place SSD where hard drive used to be.

Then replacing my 2 chips of 2 GB of RAM with 2 chips of 4 GB of RAM.

Does that sound sufficient? I just wasn't sure the size of the SSD needed. So far I've used ~300 GB of my 500 GB hard drive.


Thats good you don't auto load the apps! I had to do some education of some staff on not doing that with laptops due to limited power, RAM/Storage as well as possible corruption of files.

mmm ... I would just put the SSD into the optical bay vs swapping things around. You see the HD SATA connection has HD crash guard were as the optical drive SATA connection doesn't! So the HD would be safer were it is.

OK the RAM sounds reasonable, the SSD size is the tricky part less you can trim things down you'll likely need a bigger drive (≥ 500 GB). While the idea here is to put your data files on the HD (leaving them there) you still need enough room for your OS & Apps and have free space for the OS & Apps to use. You don't want this tight as unlike HD's SSD's wear the given data block as its reused. Which is why you need a lot more free space otherwise you'll likely wear out the SSD prematurely.


Do you think its necessary to even remove my Optical Drive if I ended up getting a 750 GB SSD and just clone my HD on there?

How would I go about cloning certain programs from my hard drive onto my new SSD? I have found a bunch of videos, but nothing about selectively moving certain programs from my HD to SSD. I want to move the OS onto the SSD and the programs I mentioned above, but I don't really want to load all of my saved files onto it.


OK, I'm confused? Are you going with a single drive config now with just the SSD? If so the only thing you'll need in addition to the SSD is a STA to USB adapter like this one: Startech 2.5" SATA to USB adapter to connect your SSD to your system, to set it up. Then download if you don't already have it the OS installer from the Apps store.

Next you'll need to prep the SSD using Disk Utility which is in the Utility folder in your Apps folder. Using it you'll format the SSD with a GUID partition. Now we'll run the OS installer to install a clean copy of the OS over to the SSD. Once thats done the OS installer will ask you if you want to migrate your User and Apps over. If you open up the drive Icon of your HD you can de-select your documents folder (assuming all of your data files are there, if not before you start you'll want to do that).

Let the magic happen! Once done you'll have a clone of all your Apps.


Now what are you doing with the HD here? Are you planing on putting it into an external case?


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