Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How much computer memory do you need?

Computer memory (RAM) used to be expensive stuff. However, there had been tremendous drop in RAM price around 2008 and bottomed up in mid-2009. Although now the RAM price has risen back about 100% from its historical bottom, it is still consider affortable to buy RAM in Gigabytes (instead of in Megabytes).

However, buying too much RAM is still a kind of wastage, as there might be portion of RAM that will never be used. So, how much computer memory do you actually need?

I have done some study about this in the Internet, including a report in Tom's Hardware which concluded that having more RAM does not always mean getting faster performance, and would like to put down my opinion as follow:

  • If your computer is running on 32-bit operating system, you do not need more than 3GB RAM, as the maximum supported RAM by your operating system is around 3.5GB only. Any amount of RAM more than that will be completely wasted.
  • There is a maximum amount of RAM supported by your computer motherboard. Older model (typically manufactured before 2007) might only support up to 2GB RAM only. Any amount of RAM more than supported will be completely wasted. Check the specification of the motherboard.
  • If you use the computer for 3D games, audio and video encoding, 3GB RAM is sufficient to you.
  • If you use the computer for normal application which is not too memory intensive, 2GB RAM is sufficient to you.
  • If you use the computer for multitasking, always running several applications at the same time, 4GB RAM should be sufficient to you.
  • If you use the computer as database server, or running multiple operating systems with virtualization, then you should go for the maximum affortable RAM amount. Nowadays RAM module of 2GB is still cheap, but more than that would still be expensive. If your computer motherboard has 4 RAM slots, you can go for 4 x 2GB = 8GB of RAM.
  • Unless you are using the computer as multiuser server, normally you don't need more than 8GB RAM.
It is always a good idea to leave some spare RAM slots for future expansion when the RAM price gets even cheaper, and the computer software become more memory hungry then. As such, no need to spend money on more RAM than 8GB unless really needed now.


Computer Memory said... Reply To This Comment

I read this blog Computer Memory and would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except NICE BLOG with a lot of information.

Aatu said... Reply To This Comment

For modern computing about 2GB is in my opinion the minimum amount. The operating system won't necessarily take that much but all the programs and especially photo editing will slurp quite a lot of memory.

When it comes to gaming, about 4GB is a nice amount. Then it's more about the overall quality of the memory.

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