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I have a 2010 MacBook Pro (2.4Ghz) with 4GB of RAM (2x2) and a 250GB hard drive that's about 85% full. It's been running pretty sluggishly lately even for basic tasks. It is 5 years old, but a new laptop isn't really an option for a year or two. I use it primarily for web browsing (lots of tabs) and some Photoshop work.

Would I see more improvement from upgrading to 8GB of RAM or swapping out my hard drive for an SSD? Also what would the cost differential be between the two since I'm planning on only keeping this computer another year or two?

Any insight would be helpful.

closed as primarily opinion-based by bassplayer7, Matthieu Riegler, nohillside Mar 12 '15 at 12:43

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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Open up activity monitor and check your RAM usage. If it's high pressure (check the graph), or even swapping files, you will benefit from more RAM.

Any computer will benefit heavily from installing an SSD. Expect everything to go 10x faster (not kidding). Also, it will make you not having enough RAM less of a problem, as it will speed up your swap.

So it just depends on your budget and needs.

My personal opinion if you can only buy one? Get an SSD.

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Depends on what you're hoping to gain from your upgrade.

An SSD will load everything faster, but RAM can keep more stuff open at once. If you find your computer being unbearably slow in literally everything it does, an SSD is the way to go, but if, for example, your computer only starts acting up once you open your "lots of tabs," you'll want the RAM boost.

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Just did SSD upgrade on 2012 MBP non retina and it flat flies now. Was gonna do ram but my graph is low mostly it's just HDDs are sooo slow. Love it now!

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Go to Crucial.com (or any other similiar site that sells ram and ssds) and check out prices. Ram is a LOT cheaper than getting an ssd. If you can afford both, get both. If you're running Yosemite then 8gb will make a marked difference. If all you're doing is surfing the internet then go through your hard drive and free up a load of space, a cheap usb drive will take any data you need to store. Running PhotoShop will not get hugely faster with an ssd, just opening it. Running PhotoShop with only 4gb will be slow as it will probably spend a lot of time paging stuff out to disk.

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Simply…

Both

SSD first - having that for your swapfile will immediately appear to 'speed up' the RAM, just because access times will be much faster.

RAM second - as more RAM/less pagefile will be faster still.

Rough prices…
500 GB SSD - $200
4GB RAM - $33
Source http://www.crucial.com/usa/en/compatible-upgrade-for/Apple/macbook-pro-%2813-inch%2C-mid-2010%29

However, that's just a guide. Check Crucial from the home page & work through using your exact model, or download their scanner app to do it for you.

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It depends on your budget. If I were you, I would upgrade both RAM and change 512 GB SSD. There is also Super Driver bay to SATA HD adaptor available. You could put your HDD there.

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