Your experiences with RAM and Cores wanted

Well, they’ve done it. Apple now has a MacMini with an M2 or M2 pro chip. One question is, should I get an M2 mini now - which will substantially hurry the development of the 3nm M3 - or wait with my “slow” INTEL box until the next CPU iteration. Or the one after that.

Assuming I upgrade now - I’d like some thoughts on 16GB RAM vs 32GB. The difference isn’t cheap - about $400 - but it is a one-time cost. Most my work is done with 8GB computers. For those who use 16BG boxes, do you run out of RAM often when working with PanX? What are you doing when 16GB starts to become “Not enough”?

Sort of the same cost/benefit question on cores. $300 more to go from a M2 Pro 10 Core CPU (16 core GPU) to a 12 Core CPU (19 Core GPU).

Part of me says, this is probably my last hardware upgrade - so just take a breath, spend the money, be done with it.

But I don’t multi-task, running more than one heavy number cruncher at a time. I’m not a gamer. I don’t do video work. And if I did, it would be minimal. And there is always the drop down to just the M2 and 8 core CPU

What I’m asking about is real world situations where 32 GB RAM and 19 core GPU would make a reasonable difference over 16 GB RAM and 12 core GPU.

Or if you had to choose, would you go for the 32GB RAM upgrade or the 10 core CPU to 12 core CPU upgrade?

I’ll be moving from a 3.6Ghz Intel i3 w/8GB RAM so I should feel/see some speed up either way.

I have enough technology greed to justify the one-time/last-time (… when is the 3nm M3 coming out again :slightly_smiling_face:…) full meal deal M2 Pro mini. But I’m disciplined enough that if real work experience says I’ll never “see” the difference between 10 core CPU an 12 core CPU (or 16 core GPU and 19 core GPU), I could put that saved money aside … just in case this isn’t really my last hardware upgrade.

I wouldn’t wait for the M3. That might be 2 years away.

Panorama generally doesn’t use more cores, so if Panorama performance is the issue, you don’t need more cores.

It’s very unlikely that you’ll need more than 16 GB of RAM for Panorama. But that’s the one area where I would seriously consider going for the larger amount – not for Panorama, but for general system performance. But I tend to run a lot of apps myself. I’m running 15 apps at the moment, and that’s actually on the low side for me. I have 16 GB of RAM and I rarely have problems, but I’ll definitely get at least 32GB for my next computer. But that calculus may be quite different for you. If you’ve been making due with 8GB, then 16 will probably keep you quite happy.

Don’t bother with more memory or more cores. As you’ve not had problems thus far, anything you buy will be just fine.

The one issue that may be worth noting, is if you use Parallels, then you might want to consider sticking with the Intel as the M2 will not allow you to run Windows 10 in Parallels. That is the only thing I regret about the M series.

I had problems with memory with my Intel machines, and I have 40 G, up from 8, on the iMac I am using now, which solved them. I have no problems with my 16 G Apple Silicon machines, but I probably am not using them as intensively.

Robert, thank you for the warning about Parallels. For a short while I invested in the “multiple OS’s” software but eventually just bought a PC for Pan5/6 work in Windows. Even had of those switch contraptions that shared a keyboard/mouse/monitor between two desktops.

Now everything I ever did on a PC, I can do on Mac (except for the FORTRAN graphic package and some ham radio software). My last WinOS will hopefully be Win7. I do have a Win10 laptop and of course that went obsolete before I launched it 5 times - the laptop hardware won’t support Win11.

Bruce - yeah, it’s kind of a first world problem - more RAM or more CORES or both. Perhaps the choice will be clearer when some comparison performance specs between the different configurations come out.

Really the question is what are you doing with the computer. If you are not doing heavy video editing or gaming, I do not think that there is a lot of use for any capabilities beyond the more basic Apples these days. I got the top of the standard configurations for my Apple silicon computers because I did not want to wait for a custom configuration. For the iMac, that was the configuration that came with ethernet. (I really wish there was a power brick for the portables that included ethernet!) So they both have 16 G of memory, but I do not know whether I really need it.

I do a lot of iterations millions of things times millions of things. My last long iteration exercise (in Fortran) took about 12 hrs on my 3.6Ghz Intel i3, 8GB MacMini

It depends on the software that you are using, but I suspect that unless you have software that can split up these things among the various cores, both processing and graphic, the number of cores will not come into play, just as in Panorama. The amount of memory might make a difference if you are using a lot of it, something that you might be able to track on your present computer through the Activity Monitor.

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As Bruce suggested, it’s unlikely that more cores (or graphic cores) will help with Fortran code. What you need is the fastest single core CPU speed.

Robert, since your post, I believe Parallels has been updated to work with M1/M2. The surprise I had - though it makes sense - is you need to have a license for the MS OS. Buying that OS outright costs 4X as much as the base/individual/academic price of Parallels. For that money, I could just get a strong refurbished PC. I suppose you could get a “throw-away” (is there any other kind) PC at a garage sale and maybe the Product Key on its sticker would work.