My first enhancement to my computer is of course maxing out the RAM on the system. In 2011, 16GB sounds just about right! (That’s the maximum I can put in) So, I went down to Fry’s Electronics and tried picking up RAM. The one close to my work: NONE. Out of stock. Drove to the one close to my home, and they only had 1 pack of 2x 4GB RAM sticks. Well, of the one I wanted, Corsair. They had another brand that was $20 more expensive per 2x pack, but that would mean $40 extra. pssh. So I bought one pack of Corsair (2x 4GB DDR3 PC10666 1,333 MHz SO-DIMM) and took them home to put in.
On the iMac, it’s a simple process to replace RAM. On the bottom of the monitor, there’s a little compartment that is unscrewed with 3 phillips screws, and the memories right there. As Apple manuals state, you put a towel or some other thing down to protect the monitor and you lay it face-first onto that. Then, you lift up the footpeg, and slide out the tucked in plastic slides that are bent over each RAM module. Guess what they are? ripcords for your memory… and the documentation says one of the funniest things to me: pull lightly to release memory modules.
That’s where the fun began for me. I’m a relatively strong guy, at least compared to most programmers. I put my back into pulling, tugging, jerking, putting a piece of cloth over each and using plyers. I swear to god, I thought I was going to vandalize the poor piece of plastic, and rip it totally out! So, what I did was just closed my eyes, and kept pulling over and over bouncing my body with the plastic in my hand and holding the computer from flying towards me, with my other hand. It took me about 10-15 minutes of working each of them out… I’m telling you, it felt like they were welded in there. A proverbial mother Mary.
Putting the memory in was the easy part. I first worked the plastic tab back and forward to make sure everything was okay, then I took each stick and aligned the tab on it with the tab positioner inside. Pressed it into place lightly, seated it, then screwed the compartment lid back on lightly.
I turned it back on and OS/X was more responsive in starting Firefox, along with the caching being HUGE since there’s lots of free memory. I need to wait another couple of weeks for the next shipment of Corsair memory to come in, so I can pick up another 2x4GB memory modules to bring the total count to 16GB. Once I have 16GB in place, virtual machines can be used to emulate a small data center Windows and/or Linux infrastructure to simulate certain situations or technologies.
ADDITION February 7, 2011:
After pushing the iMac hard (500GB+ data pushed between harddrives and to NAS disk, while running VMs, etc), the system started having disk issues. At first, it was just a HFS filesystem corruption that was repaired by a disk utility use from the boot CD. The next day, could not reach the drive at all.
Apple tech support was quick about giving me an opening at the Genius Bar (god I love that name LOL) to have them look at the hardware. The opening: 45 minutes from when I was on the phone. I picked up my iMac, walked it to my vehicle and drove it to Scottsdale Quarters where the Apple store is. Other than the garage being like 1/8-1/4 of a mile or so from the store and needing to carry the damned thing the whole way, it was an easy trip! I walked in, plopped it down, they ran diagnostics on it and after a few times of not being able to boot off of a firewire harddrive they have… well… not much else you can do other than replace the system. They replaced it with a brand new system, with an upgraded CPU at that… I went from an Intel 3.02GHz to a 3.2GHz. Not much of a jump, but kinda neat of them, since they could have ordered mine from the warehouse, but they had that one in stock and just sucked it up. All of this, within the same day. Imagine that!
Oh yeah… right after that, I drove over to Fry’s Electronics to see if they had the memory in stock. They had WinTec RAM in stock and I walked out with 16GB RAM. This time around, it wasn’t hard to pull out the memory. I’m thinking something was up with the first system in that case. Either way, I stressed tested it last night by pushing through 500GB+ of data restoring my time-machine backup along with App Store restores of purchased software. Also re-installed Win7 & CentOS Linux onto virtual machines, allocating 2GB to each of them. Those installs went flawlessly at the same time as the time-machine restores and network traffic from the App store, without hitting any swap. CPU was about 25% utilized, also. I think I’m going to like this.