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.


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.

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

  1. 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


    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???

  3. 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 .

    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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

    1. CompuRAM Redaktion

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 The manual seems out of date.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

    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

  6. Donte'

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

    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

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

    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

  9. Jony

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

  10. 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

    1. T-rock

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


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

  12. 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.

  13. 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


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