I recently purchased a brand new 5K 27″ iMac to replace my almost 8 year old Mac Pro. Don’t get me wrong, the Mac Pro is an absolute beast, but it was time for an upgrade. Now I wouldn’t call this a huge upgrade, spec wise, but as a photographer and content creator the display alone was worth it for me. Let’s call it a ‘sidegrade with bonus 5K monitor goodness’. Plus, you can’t look past the elegance of an all-in-desktop. Now let’s talk about the iMac’s RAM.

As anyone who has purchased, well… anything from Apple, you know that they charge through the roof for most hardware upgrades, if you decide to go that route. RAM is one of those things, in fact, it’s probably the most notoriously expensive upgrade. That’s why I decided to upgrade the iMac’s RAM myself and I opted for the lowest amount (8GB) when ordering from Apple.

Thankfully, the guys over at Kingston Technology were kind enough to sponsor this post and send me a whopping 32GB of RAM. For those curious which RAM I received, check out the link here.

The Upgrade

The upgrade itself could not have been any easier. I’d go so far as to say that upgrading your iMac’s RAM is even easier than upgrading the RAM in a desktop PC, but lets not get into the Mac vs PC debate here…

Step 1.

Before you do anything, turn off and unplug the machine (iMac). Apple also recommend laying the iMac face down on a towel or soft surface, but I skipped that part. Now you’ll need to use a flathead screwdriver to pop open the RAM door.

Step 2.

Now remove the RAM door, with as much force as necessary (can be a little fiddly, but not as fiddly as putting it back on). You’ll notice that the rear of the door has some vague instructions on how to precede.

Step 3.

Once the RAM door has been removed, locate the two little levers inside the compartment.

Step 4.

Spread those levers to pop the memory cage out of it’s compartment. (This image isn’t the best illustration on how to do this step, but I think you’ll get the idea!)

Step 5.

Now that the cage is out of the compartment, the RAM will be much easier to remove. Gently grab the old RAM and give it a little tug – it should come out fairly easily. Taking note of the orientation of the stick of RAM during removal.

Step 6.

Finally, insert the new RAM modules (again, making sure the orientation is correct), fold the levers down, then push the RAM door back in place (wiggle it a little, it’ll need it) and restart the iMac!

Performance

As good as it sounds having 32GB of RAM in an iMac, or any computer for that matter, it means nothing if the performance of the machine hasn’t increased considerably. Now, I’m not a huge hardware geek, at least when it comes to performing scientific tests, but after a few minutes on ‘the Google,’ I found a pretty cool Photoshop Speed Action Test made by fellow photographer, Gavin Hoey.

You can download the actions below to test how Photoshop runs on your machine (Mac or PC):

How fast is Photoshop?

In short, this action will play through a bunch of Photoshop tasks like creating a basic image using various filters, scaling the image, adding numerous layers, and just a bunch of random tasks that can make Photoshop chug away. You can read more about what this action does on the link above. Basically, it just tests how well Photoshop runs on any given computer.

Tests/Results

*Each test was conducted with Photoshop’s performance settings set to only use 75% of accessible RAM.

  • 8GB
  • 32GB

8GB – Took 108 seconds to run the action.

32GB – Took 21 seconds to run the action.

As you can see, there was a considerable increase in how well Photoshop handled this particular action. 32GB might be overkill for Photoshop, 16GB would probably be fine, but when running multiple programs within the Adobe suite, 32GB makes it seem like no trouble at all.

So, if you’re continuously getting the beachball when using Photoshop, or your computer freezes up whilst doing various tasks/commands in Photoshop, or any application for that matter, it might be time to consider upgrading your iMac’s RAM, or any computing device for that matter.