RAM upgrade and/or SSD drive – what’s the benefit?

A SSD drive and a RAM upgrade will boost performance by up to 70%. Let us show you how.

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CompuRAM Praxistest RAM-Upgrade SSD-Upgrade

What will investing in a SSD drive for your notebook actually give you in terms of performance improvement? We decided to do a field test and grabbed an aging MacBook Pro that our graphics designer uses to do work when he’s on the road. We used four scenarios to find out how much a RAM upgrade or a new SSD drive improves the system operating speed. We were really impressed by the results.

Here are the upgrades we recommend depending on type of usage:

Our test system: “late 2008” MacBook Pro

The MacBook Pro (15 inch, late 2008) has been in use since 2008, and is ideal for an authentic real-life test, because we want to see how an upgrade affects a cloned system. Most speed tests we found use a fresh system. Many users, however, shy away from completely reinstalling their system software. So we wanted to see how much these users benefit from the upgrades.


The technical specifications for the test system:

  • 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
  • NVIDIA GeForce 9400M
  • 2GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM
  • 250GB 5400 rpm HDD
  • Mac OS X 10.6.8 Snow Leopard

The 250GB HDD is 78% full. There are about 250,000 folders and 933,000 files on the drive.

The test setup

We compare four scenarios:

  • Status quo: the existing system unchanged (HDD and 2GB of RAM).
  • RAM upgrade: the system after upgrading the RAM to 8GB (keeping the 250GB HDD).
  • HDD to SSD upgrade: the system with its original 2GB memory and a Samsung SSD 840 Pro, 256GB, replacing the original 250GB HDD.
  • Full-on tuning: RAM upgrade to 8GB and installing a Samsung SSD 840 Pro, 256GB.

In each scenario we measure performance through

  • booting the system
  • opening Photoshop CS5 Extended
  • opening a 1GB Photoshop image file (3,508 x 4,961 pixels, 300 dpi) containing 174 layers

For a hands-on tutorial on how to replace the original MacBook HDD with a SSD, please refer to our photo tutorial, “Upgrading a MacBook Pro with an SSD“.

The results of our comparative testsResults of performance test

 

Fast system boot

Please take a look at our photo tutorial “Upgrading a MacBook Pro with an SSD” when starting your system for the first time.

The difference can be immediately noticed when you switch on the MacBook Pro: the RAM-only upgrade results in a 25% faster system boot, the SSD upgrade noticeably reduces boot time by 54%.

Compared to the performance boost of a SSD, the “fully tuned” system (RAM upgrade plus SSD) only squeezes out 2 more seconds during system boot.

Performance boost during operation

As expected, the SSD results in a massive performance boost when working with the system: with the SSD installed, Photoshop CS5 starts 4 times faster than with the original HDD; the 1GB image file opens 3 times faster.

The RAM-only upgrade did not show any improvement in performance when we launched Photoshop. However, when opening the (relatively small) image file, we saw a discernible 37% improvement. Nevertheless, the user still has to wait 10 seconds longer for the file to open than when the HDD is upgraded to SSD (irrespective of whether 2 or 8GB of RAM are installed).

Professional desktop publishing (DTP) users, in particular, will benefit enormously from installing a SSD.

An additional plus from the point of view of our graphics designer: whereas the performance of the original system was just about good enough for Photoshop CS3 (CS5 was pretty sluggish on the original machine), after the upgrades, Photoshop CS5 can be used productively.

Conclusion

When you use your notebook primarily for applications that perform only few read/write operations on the disk drive (e. g. surfing, e-mail, word processing), upgrading the RAM to the maximum will give you a discernible improvement in performance.

As our test results show, installing a SSD and the maximum RAM will considerably speed up even an ageing notebook: the SSD provides a substantial performance boost, and adding RAM will get the most out of the system. So, our graphics designer was quite happy to delay investing in a new MacBook Pro for use on the road. His “late 2008” MacBook Pro sporting 8GB of RAM, 840 Pro SSD and a freshly installed operating system was more than enough for his DTP assignments.

(Update May 12, 2020) For an overview of which Mac models can be upgraded with a 2.5-inch SATA SSD, see “Which SSD for my Mac?”

………………………………………
By the way: as the professional notebooks of other manufacturers are also based on Intel CPUs, our test results can easily be applied to any Intel-based notebook. Upgrading the HDD with a Samsung SSD will be particularly easy as the SSD comes with Windows software optimized for migrating your existing Windows system and data to the new SSD. Also, the software automatically adjusts SSD-specific features such as TRIM, PreFetch and SuperFetch. Please refer to the step-by-step directions for installing an SSD in a Windows notebook in our blog post, “More performance for your notebook: how to securely install an SSD“.

Click to find suitable SSD for notebook and desktop PC at CompuRAM.

Have a look at our extensive database for memory upgrades for notebooks.



63 thoughts on “RAM upgrade and/or SSD drive – what’s the benefit?

  1. Iftekhar Bhuiyan

    I think this video was the finest demonstration of RAM vs SSD upgrade related improvement that one can have on his/her PC. Thank you for the YT video and the article.

    My primary PC has been upgraded with 32GB DDR4 and 256GB M.2 SSD for Windows installation and another 256GB SATA SSD for storing Dcouments. Improvement was amazing. Now, I recently purchased a Dell Optiplex 3070 Micro system for my son and upgraded 4GB DDR4 to 16GB modules and waiting to replace the 5400RPM HDD to 256GB SSD. Looking forward to that 🙂

    Reply
  2. ZEESHAN HUSSAIN

    Hey there. I want to use MATLAB. can I upgrade with 8gb hyperX 2400MHz, its CL is 14 and i already have 4gb ram of 2400MHz with 17CL or I go for M.2 SSD+already installed HHD?
    This is my system configuration:

    CompuRAM RAMinator V2.0.1.14
    Execution time: 2021-07-14 23:50:53

    Reply
  3. ahmed

    i am having an old slow laptop toshiba a300 i am not ready for a new purchase i thought about ussing ssd to make it faster, in such a case should i remove the hdd or can i keep both?

    Reply
    1. Andreas

      Dear Mr.Ahmed ,

      thank you for your enquiry.

      In order to send you a detailed proposal, we require more information about your system.

      If you are a Windows user, please follow below link. The further procedure will be described as well:

      https://www.compuram.de/blog/en/raminator/

      Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

      With best regards

      Andreas Bauer

      Reply
  4. Sachin

    I have to install games more quickly what should I upgraded ram or SSD.. I’m having 8gb ram

    Reply
    1. CompuRAM Redaktion Post author

      Dear Sachin,
      you can use our analysis tool RAMinator to check the upgrade options for your device. It´s a free application.
      If you like, you can also send us the report with your request.
      With best regards
      Your CompuRAM Team

      Reply
  5. Bilal

    Hi there,

    The article is pretty useful. Thanks for it!
    I have a question here. I’m using Lenovo X220T (I know it’s a bit old) with core i5 (2nd generation). I upgraded it from 4GB to 6GB RAM. I cleaned it from the inside and applied thermal paste as well on the processor but I see no better performance. It keeps getting stuck and heating up. Someone just said I should’ve upgraded to 8 GB (with a pair of 4 instead). I actually installed 4GB RAM and 2GB RAM. What should I do now? Should I go for an SSD with a pair of 4GB RAMs for an 8GB upgrade?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Andreas

      Dear Mr. Bilal,
      Thank you very much for your inquiry.
      You can determine your Memory using here
      further upgrading depends on this.

      With best regards
      Your CompuRAM Team

      Reply
  6. Jack

    Hi guys, thanks for the really good article. So many people still don’t know that in many cases you don’t need to buy a new pc, but you only need to buy a bit of hardware! I’ve always suggested so to who asked me. I also did it once on my old pc, but at the time I didn’t pay attention to possible increase on power consumption… so I’m here to ask you what you think about it… Have you seen or do you know if upgrading ram and ssd will affects battery performances?
    For a practical example consider those upgrade on a Dell XPS 7590:
    RAM from 16GB to 64GB (some say that max is 32GB, but Dell Costumer Assistance says 64 it’s ok)
    SSD from 512GB to 1TB
    Thanks in advance,
    Jack

    Reply
  7. sanjayp

    Hello!
    I have Dell 5410, with i3 1st gen processor, 4GB RAM, 300GB HDD. Newly formatted with Win10.
    The Task Manager shows RAM is 3.8GB, and 1.7GB used by OS/services. So effectively available for use is approx. 2.1GB.
    My kids want to play games – online and pre-installed, lightweight. Upon starting the game, the RAM is 3.7GB used. The game shows lags and is slow.
    I have another Dell laptop with 8GB RAM and 1TB HDD, used for mainly study – online classes, sessions, meetings and sometimes for games by kids.

    What would you recommend to make the first one faster? Should I install 120/240GB SDD or 6/8GB RAM or both? Is 6GB RAM good enough? Can I have both laptops with 6GB RAM and the first one with 240GB SDD?
    Also, can we install both SDD and HDD in a laptop? May be this is laptop specific (whether space and ports available), but wanted to check your view.

    Reply
    1. CompuRAM Redaktion Post author

      Dear Sanja,

      do you already know our RAM analysis tool “RAMinator“? You are very welcome to use it free of charge.
      So you can check your upgrade options. If you have any specific questions then, please contact our customer service, you can send us the RAMinator reports.
      Best regards from CompuRAM

      Reply
  8. Jojo

    I also want to upgrade my 250gb HDD to something faster and larger. Please advise.

    Reply
  9. Jojo

    I have an older model acer aspire 5253-bz602. Is it possible to upgrade from 4 to 8gb or more? Its also very slow, what would be the issue…takes to 2-4min. to respond to commands

    Reply
  10. King

    Hi

    I have a HP Pavillon x360 Convertible which has a Intel(R) Core(TM) i3-7100U CPU @ 2.40GHz Processor, with 4GB RAM and 1 TB HDD. It is Unbearably slow and takes minutes for a few letters to print on the screen.

    Please Help….

    SDD or RAM?

    Reply
    1. King

      I mostly just want a bit more speedy responsiveness, because currently the response from the laptop comes approx. 10 seconds after button click

      Reply
  11. DEVANSH PATEL

    Hey, my laptop is very slow.
    My laptop’s specs are,
    Model: Lenovo ideapad 110-15AST
    4gb RAM
    500gb HDD
    Processor: AMD E2-9000 RADEON R2
    Windows 10
    As I’m a programmer I need to run Heavy softwares like Android Studio.
    Should i go for additional 4gb ram or 256gb ssd.

    Reply
  12. Awais

    Hello Sir i have a dell laptop whos specs are
    intel core i5(TM) 3210M CPU @ 2.50 GHz
    Ram 4GB
    HDD 250 GB
    Sir now i want to install android studio on my this system..
    now sir i am very confuse in this matter that is I change from HDD to SDD or i increase my RAM to GB.
    Sir plzzz help me in this matter and give me the perfect advice..
    waiting for your response……

    Reply
  13. Shubham Mehta

    Hi, my laptop is very slow
    My computer specs are :
    HP
    i5 8th gen u series 1.6ghz-1.8ghz
    8gb ram ddr4
    1TB hdd
    I bought it last year, it is way too much slow, cant even open chrome, takes thousand years to open something and even to start.

    What to do ?

    Reply
    1. CompuRAM Redaktion Post author

      Dear Shubham Mehta,
      you can find out which HP model you have and whats the maximum RAM.
      Maybe you can upgrade the system from HDD to SSD. If you live within the EU, we can support and supply you.
      Kind regards from CompuRAM

      Reply
  14. srs

    Hello. My laptop acer v3-571g hdd500 ram ddr3 4gb Most of my activity is web programming (vscod,pycharm,…)and many chrome tabs. Do you think I should increase the ram or add an ssd? My operating system is Ubuntu, which sometimes freezes. Thank you for your help. do .

    Reply
  15. Janina Peters

    Hi! I have a Dell Inspiron 14 5482 system with 4 GB RAM. It’s really slow.

    Reply
  16. Dean

    I have a Toshiba satellite c855d It’s a Apu processor I have 2 4g ram which is 8g overall , one is pc3 and the other is pc3l which is of different brands does that affect my laptop performance and should I upgrade to a ssd because with 8g of ram google still sluggish on windows 10 I have 600 gb hdd

    Reply
  17. IJAZ AHMED

    Hi,Currently I’m using HP PAVILION with 12gb ram , 240gb SSD and 1TB hardisk but too slow for AFTER-EFFECTS software and rendering time is damn hours together…My query is if i upgrade my ram to 16gb(currently 12gb ram) and ssd to 480gb(currently 240gb ssd) will my after effects work fast and render fast ??

    What’s ur best and best suggestion for this query???

    Reply
    1. hime

      this guy is useless…an SSD will make your laptop more speedy. esp since you have 16gb of ram already…the two components (SSD and RAM) synergize off of each other. Upgrading one, makes both stronger.

      Reply
  18. Surya

    My laotpop is lenovo g50-80. I am confused whether to increase my ram from 4 gb to 8 gb or install 240gb ssd drive . I have to do work on many softwares and my laptop usually hangs on doing it and my processor is i3 5th generation . On opening chrome my laptop almost freezes for few minutes . So please suggest me a better option .

    Reply
    1. Junaid Tayyab

      If you have to upgrade just one thing, go for SSD. However if you can afforf ram too, then definitely go for it as well because it will help keeping more tabs in ram hungry chrome, more easily.

      Reply
  19. Jason

    Hi, I’m not sure whether to change my HDD to SSD or upgrade the ram to 8GB (current 4GB). I can only choose 1 to upgrade, so which would be the better choice? I’m using it for daily use like surfing the google.

    Reply
  20. Geet

    Hi.. Great article. I have an dell inspiron 7560 and the manual says max upgradable upto 512gb ssd. what happens if I replace my current SSD with a 1000gb SSD?

    Reply
    1. CompuRAM Redaktion

      You can regular use a 1TB SSD, or greater. The manual seems out of date.
      Regards
      Your CompuRAM-Team

      Reply
    2. Junaid Tayyab

      If you have to upgrade just one thing, go for SSD. However if you can afforf ram too, then definitely go for it as well because it will help keeping more tabs in ram hungry chrome, more easily

      Reply
  21. Donte'

    Is a Intel i7 8th Gen 2TB SSD faster overall than a Intel i7 10th Gen 1TB SSD processor?

    Reply
    1. Jass

      Awesome work. These tests have cleared many doubts but i’m still stuck. You said if we use program with less read/write operations, upgrading ram will improve the performance. I have an outdated pc with 2 gb ram and a 500 gb hdd. I work on Google Chrome and word processor mostly but the chrome makes my system really slow or even freeze many time a day. Please advise me whether should I Upgrade ram or get a Ssd drive. Thanks

      Reply
  22. Brian C

    Many thanks for the tests and subsequent results. I’ve now ordered additional ram but more importantly a SSD. My laptop used to be the fastest in our house and I now think it will be again!

    Reply
  23. videomaker

    i use after effect, filmora, etc for video rendering. my specs are i5-8300, gtx 1050 2GB, 16 GB DDR4 2666mhz, NvME SSD 500gb (win 10/ C drive) and SSHD 1 TB (D and E drive). when rendering it takes 13GB ram usage, but only 2-4 disk usage. i need a faster rendering, should i upgrade to 32 GB ram or replace SSHD with SSD ? i save rendered file to SSHD drive, and i wonder if that affect the rendering speed. the nVME are used only for disk caching.

    Reply
    1. Mounirrzz

      Rendering uses the processor not the ram or ssd so you need a faster processor you should try i7-9750h it will work better for your pc

      Reply
  24. Jony

    My laptop is dell inspiron 15r(5537)..does i need upgrade which is currently 8gb or change the hdd to ssd?

    Reply
  25. param

    hi my laptop model is hp 245 g6 notebook i m using premier pro editing software and it is laging does upgradation of ram from 4 gb to 8gb can help in premier pro

    Reply
    1. T-rock

      Doubling the RAM will boost performance for video editing. Add SSD too for major improvement.

      Reply
  26. SUMIT MANDAL

    awesome
    Exactly the thing that I was looking for, except that I have Windows 10.
    will do these.
    Thanks

    Reply
  27. Larry Croft

    I have the exact same machine. It is used as the media server for my home. I upgraded to 8GB RAM and 480GB SDD with near identical results on boot time. (29 seconds) The MBP is so much faster – and I got the upgrades for $150 total.

    Reply
  28. richard schickendantz

    Yes, this all very interesting, but i fitted 2 8gb ram sticks and a 240 gb ssd to my late 2012 macbookpro and took it to the local pc store and asked them if they good do a similar boot up time of 13 seconds to my daughters 2018 brand new macbook(dongled)pro which was nowhere near this time. guy in shop laughed sheepishly and said that linux is not compatible with apple products !!!!
    go figure

    Reply

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