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How Much RAM Do You Really Need?

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We all know that the RAM memory is an essential component of the computer, but the question is how many of it do you actually need? Some users need more, some less, but it all depends on how you use your computer on day-to-day basis. In this text, we’ll try to give an answer to the question how much RAM do you really need, and to what things you should pay attention to when buying a new computer.

Before we get deeper into this issue, let’s briefly recap what is RAM, in case you don’t already know. RAM stands for “random access memory “. It is a “short-term” memory in which the computer stores data. RAM contains data used by your operating system, applications you are using, and all other processes that are running in the background. When you turn off the computer, all the data that was previously stored in RAM is now cleared. What is important to know is that RAMs are fast and can store a lot of data. They can also be accessed very quickly when needed. Hence the conclusion that more RAM is better for the computer. That is true, but some optimal value needs to be clarified. If you’re doing a “classic” office job, say writing a text, you certainly don’t need 32 or 64 GB of RAM. Maybe 8 or 16 GB is enough for you. But about that soon.

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How to find out how much RAM my PC has?

Let’s first find out how much memory you currently have in your computer. If you’re using Windows 10, go to Settings > System > About. Within the “Device specifications ” section, you will see the “Installed RAM” line. There you will see the amount of RAM you have. Just keep in mind that if you have a 32-bit Windows operating system, you won’t be able to see more than 4GB of RAM since your computer can’t use it. If you have a 64-bit Windows, then the number will probably be much higher. Either way, you’ll see the amount of RAM you have and/or your Windows system can use.

On MacOS, open the Apple menu in the upper left corner and select the “About this Mac” option. An “Overview” window will open in which you will see some basic information about the Mac. These are the processor you use, the graphics card, the serial number, but also the amount of RAM you have installed. If you are using Linux, open the Terminal and use the “free” command. Specifically, type the command “free-h” (without quotes) into the terminal and press Enter.

How much RAM do I actually need?

All right. Now that we know what RAM is, and how much you have in your computer, it’s time to see how much memory you really need and if that will be enough. Great thing about RAM is that if you don’t have it enough, you can always upgrade it. Especially if you have a desktop computer. With laptops, it’s a little harder, but most laptops come with 2 memory slots. This usually means that you can install up to two memory sticks, for example 2×4 GB or 2×8 GB.

Less than 4GB of RAM

Today, you will find it difficult to buy a computer that has only 2 GB of RAM. For today’s standards, that is way too low. Even mid-range mobile phones have more RAM nowadays. It may be enough to do one thing at a time on your computer, say browse the Internet or watch Netflix, but anything more than will be virtually impossible to do. That is, the computer will most likely crash or freezer, as it will run out of memory pretty quickly and everything will start to severely lag. In short, avoid buying a computer that has less than 4 GB of RAM, and if you only have 2 GB of memory in your existing computer, consider upgrading. RAMs are not that expensive, and the benefits will be huge.

4GB RAM to 8GB of RAM

Although 4 GB of RAM is considered to be a kind of “starting position” for entry-level laptops, it is enough for basic computer work. In fact, most laptops today come with a minimum of 8 GB of memory, although you’ll also find a bunch of those with 4 or 6 GB on the market. Overall, 4 GB is enough for you to do some super-basic things on your computer, for example create Word or Excel documents, or use e-mail applications. However, if you want effortlesly browse the web with multiple tabs open, or do anything more advanced, 4 GB will be too little for you. Furthermore, 4 GB of RAM is too little even if you want to play modern video games on your computer. If you are not a demanding user, you may “survive” with this amount of memory, however, we strongly recommend upgrading to at least 8 GB.

8GB of RAM: Enough for most users

Most mid-range computers today come with at least 8 GB of memory. This is great because with 8 GB you can already do some more advanced things on your computer. 8 GB will be enough for you to do normal multi-tasking on your computer. This means that you can run Windows 10 operating system on your computer without any problems, and you’ll be able to have multiple applications opened at the same time with no system hiccups. For most users, this is quite a sufficient amount of memory. Of course, if you want to edit 4K videos or stream games on Twitch, this won’t exactly be enough. For large majority of mainstream users, this is quite enough memory. Your computer shouldn’t bother you at all, and you should be able do what you need to do. Most of today’s business laptops come with 8 GB of RAM which speaks for itself.

16GB RAM to 32GB of RAM

16 GB of RAM is enough if you use your computer for some “heavy-duty” operations. For example, if you code, edit videos and pictures or play modern PC video games. For gaming, 16 GB of RAM has nowadays become a standard. Although you probably won’t use all of the 16 GB, it’s always good to have some “air”, as your PC will most likely put all sorts of data in its temporary RAM cache. If, however, you don’t belong to this group of users, having 16 GB of RAM will most likely be an “overkill”. This is important to have in mind since many computer sellers add a substantially large extra charge to weak machines with 16 GB of RAM in order to trick buyers. In short, if you are a gamer, having 16 GB of RAM is a must. If you are not, stick to 8 GB.

More than 32GB of RAM

Only “enthusiast” user have more than 32 GB of RAM in their computers. Some might even say that having this amount of RAM is way too extreme, especially if you own 64 GB of memory. This is due to fact that even if you edit 4K or 8K videos regularly, you probably won’t be needing this much memory. It is better to use that money for an additional monitor or a better graphics card. Even newer video games don’t require as much memory. On the other hand, if you want to experiment with a bunch of software, have an additional OS in a virtual machine and the like, then you will need this amount of RAM. In any case, it may be better not to throw money at this if you don’t belong to those few percent of users who actually really need it.

Conclusion

Having nowadays less than 4 GB of RAM is doomed to failure. Even mid-range mobile phones have more RAM than that. If you are an ordinary mainstream user that uses PC for browsing the web, writing documents, or streaming videos, than 8 GB of RAM will be more than enough. If, however, you are a gamer, then having 16 GB is a must. Having more than that really makes no sense, as computers are still unable to use all that memory at their disposal, however, if you are a coder, professional designer, or video-editing specialist, than getting 32 GB of RAM in you workstation PC will probably be more than enough for your work.

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About author
Before he joined ViCadia, Nicholas worked as a journalist for several tech magazines. Over the years he gained a lot of knowledge about computers. His main area of interest are processors, motherboards, and operating systems.
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