Question Mid 2011 iMac w/ Sierra OS - Performance improvement with 8 GB?

I just upgraded a family member's mid 2011 iMac from 4 GB to 8 GB of RAM. I could swear that system reboots and native application launches (e.g. Mac Mail) are noticeably faster.

Question: Is that likely? I didn't think to benchmark before the RAM upgrade.


That can make a big difference, especially on an older Mac. Having bumped many system's RAM from 4GB to 8GB myself, I can say you're definitely not imagining that improvement.

As far as being the recommended amount of RAM, 16GB is the norm today. For that iMac when it was released, 8GB was becoming the norm. That Mac should actually work with 16GB, though whether you actually want to bump it that high depends on whether you want to spend the money on it, as well as considering the usage scenario for that machine. 8GB clearly helped, but if it won't be used for any workloads that are TOO demanding, 16GB may not be worth it. It's really more up to you and your family member that will be using the system to decide.
The_Prophecy Understood. Let me ask you a followup question, if I may:

The machine has 8 GB RAM and a 500 GB 5400 RPM HDD. I was planning to upgrade the storage to a 1 TB Western Digital SATA SSD, which currently costs $125 on My plan was to enable bootcamp and then split the drive into two 500GB partitions; one, macOS and the other Windows 10 Pro.

My question: What's a better use of my money? Keep 8 GB RAM, and upgrade to 2 TB SSD OR Upgrade to 16 GB RAM, and upgrade to 1 TB SSD.

Crucial 16GB Kit (2 x 8GB): $114


That really depends on what will be more valuable to the person using it. The extra RAM has already improved things performance-wise. If the extra storage is more important, go with the 2TB SSD. Both MacOS and Windows 10 will run fine with 8GB of RAM. If you are planning to run something under either OS that is going to be a RAM hog, then perhaps the 1TB SSD + the 16GB of RAM may make more sense.

TLDR - Moving from 4GB to 8GB of RAM had a much more definitive "yes" answer to the "should I do this hardware upgrade" question. These two paths you've now presented are not so straight forward.


As mentioned, while 4 to 8 is 95% of the time a definite "yes you should do this", 8 to 16 is more of a ponder. I currently have 8 GB of RAM and for my needs have had no problems accomplishing what I need in Mojave.

So really to recommend either path, we need to know what you are using the mac for.