You May Need Less RAM Than You Think

Megalith

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This article contains a lot of information you probably already know about memory, but it does prompt me to ask: at what point would you feel that you’ve wasted your money? RAM just seems like one of those things I love to overdo, even though I may be utilizing less than half of it.

8GB is a good place to start. While you many users will be fine with less, the low price of memory means there’s minimal benefit to starting with less. An upgrade to 16GB is recommended for enthusiasts, hardcore gamers, and the average workstation user. Serious workstation users may go further to 32GB. Anything beyond that is the realm of extreme, specialty rigs equipped to handle huge data sets, staggeringly large video files, or niche programs designed for researchers, corporations, or government.
 

Tiberian

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Standard rule of thumb still applies: by as much as you can reasonably afford even if it might seem excessive to some people. Used to tell people that about monitors when CRTs were the only type available: get the biggest one (diagonally measured) you could afford so you don't get to a point where you feel like you regret making the purchase of a smaller one especially when you could have afforded the bigger size.

I've got 8GB in my laptop, it's fine. Got one app open at this time (the browser) and I've got a ton of cached data sitting there in RAM ready to roll (as measured by and visualized with RAMMap so I'm good. Would I love to have more? Sure, my dream machine would have 128GB of RAM in it with a large chunk set up as a RAMdisk with a virtual hard drive on it and a guest OS running on that virtual hard drive purely from RAM for 25GB/s reads and writes (or more). Talk about fast. ;)

But I'll stand by the recommendation to get as much as you can reasonably afford and your given hardware configuration can support. Max that puppy out if you can and don't look back.
 

STrAYeR

Limp Gawd
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I feel that 16 gigs will be perfect for upcoming games and programs that I will need now and in the future. The main problem will be how much ram you have on a videocard.
 

DrLobotomy

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I buy the best quality RAM I can in a reasonable quantity. Amount depends on what the system is used for.
 

Commander Shepard

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I bought 8GB for my current build, but returned it about a week later when 16GB of the same RAM was only $12 more. Don't think I've ever used more than 6GB at any time.
 

tazeat

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16gb is pretty much the bare minimum for a workstation these days with 32gb becoming more standard. Servers I start about 128gb and have a few over 512gb. RAMs cheap and makes the world go round these days.
 

SolarisGuru

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Jul 9, 2016
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I've got 16 GB and I feel like it's just right. The only thing I have open right now is Chrome and I'm using 4.6 GB of that. (Granted I have a lot of tabs open.) If I close chrome it drops to 1.6 GB used. It's sad that just using your web browser takes THAT much RAM, imo.
 

azuza001

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Apr 4, 2012
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I have 24 and doubt I use more than 8 at most while playing games. But that's not the point is it? At least this way I know I am not being bottlenecked by not enough ram.
 

LOCO LAPTOP

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For me, a Gaming machine needs to have atleast 16GB if you play triple A titles. Games like GTAV and The Division will easily use up to 8GB of ram when maxed out.
 

RPGWiZaRD

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Only time when my 16GB is maxed out is when I render videos, which I do about daily or so. :) If it wasn't for that then 8GB would be fine, if I had a 6-8 core CPU then 32GB wouldn't be a waste to me for rendering in mind but I doubt I'll go more than 16GB for the upcoming generation (Intel or AMD) but then the next time after that most likely depending how "mainstream" 32GB has gotten by then.
 

Azrak

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I've been recently going through my old desktop builds from years past to replace any bad caps, clean, upgrade/reload the OS fresh and see how they run:
Machine 1 from 2001: Asus A7V133 | AMD Athlon 1200 MHz / 200 FSB | Visiontek GeForce 4200 Ti 128 MB | 768 MB RAM
Machine 2 from 2002: Asus A7V333 | AMD 2100+ 1733 MHz | MSI GeForce 6600GT 128 MB | 1 GB RAM
Machine 3 from 2006: Asus A8NSLI-Premium | AMD FX-57 | BFG GeForce 8800GT 512 MB | 2 GB RAM
Machine 4 from 2008: Asus P5E | Intel Core2Duo E6850 3.0 GHz | BFG GeForce GTX 285 1 GB | 4 GB RAM
Machine 5 from 2012 (my current system): Asus Rampage IV Formula | Intel i7 3820 3.6 GHz | Asus GeForce GTX 1080FE 8 GB | 16 GB

At the time I built these systems, I thought I had the "correct" amount of RAM.
I now wish all of these machines, except for my current one, had more RAM.
Machine 4 can't even play DOOM 4 (needs 8GB) even though technically it has the horsepower to run it if I switched the video card to a supported one.

I feel that 16GB is the correct amount to have today, but if I were building a system right now, I'd opt for 32GB for futureproofing.
 

Dekoth-E-

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I run 32gb, but that is largely due to video editing. For most everything I do gaming wise, 16GB is more than ample. I actually can't remember the last game I played that utilized more than about 12GB. Video editing is another animal entirely. Even with 32 it is a fight on some videos on which is going to bottleneck first, my CPU or my ram. Usually the CPU, but I can't afford better at the moment. Sucks.
 

Ducman69

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When RAM is so cheap, why not buy more than you need? Its better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. I made this argument to our company, and instead we decided that 4GB was sufficient. OOPS. Turns out the CAD engineers had a huge hissy fit, wanted to know who was responsible for such an idiotic decision, and of course the responsible party passes the buck, and low and behold we go overkill upgrading systems to 32GB, when they likely all would have been happy and avoided all this drama had we gone with the 16GB corporate standard I suggested at very minimal original cost difference (this was a little while back, when RAM was particularly cheap and 16GB reasonable for anyone). We had the same problem with SSDs that I was pushing as a major time saver for employees on bootup alone, yet alone greater efficiency starting up applications, and likewise we ended up swapping all the execs laptops rather than just having adopted the standard which again made for a lot of hoopla and wasted time.

My suggestion is to buy a bit more you need now, in the largest RAM stick sizes you can, so that when you want to upgrade, you can just plop in a matching stick. So today, don't do 4x4GB when 2x8GB is available and leaves you two slots free.
 

Cmdrmonkey

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I typically just wait for RAM prices to take a dive, then max out the RAM in whatever I'm using. RAM can get really cheap, so there's no reason not to max it out IMO.
 

P4B

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Apr 28, 2012
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After running with to little for my first few pc's i went over board with 2x16's from samsung. I can edit large photos with ease. Games run with full blown eye candy and can stream, record, surf videos all at the same time. Where before i was always bottled by a cpu, gpu , memory. Or all at the same time. Having everything work without issues is the best experience one could hope for. no more questioning my pcs parts or guessing at what needs to be replace.
 

mnewxcv

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For a basic computer for basic tasks (word, chrome, misc non intensive software) I feel 4GB is perfect. For gaming, 8GB is usually enough. For rendering and video editing, 16GB is a good place to start. I've found that I use 15+ GB when rendering 4K video, and if I had more than 16GB, probably even more would get used.
 

Nenu

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I pretty much always have a browser open when gaming, it can be open for weeks hogging near 2GB.
For an 8GB system with other apps loaded it can be annoying when I want to game.
16GB means I dont care any more.

16GB came in really useful for the latest Tomb Raider not long after its release.
It had a terrible memory leak that only let me get a few minutes play with 8GB. I stopped playing to wait for a patch.
A friend upgraded his PC with my kit and I got a new setup with 16GB.
Nice side effect, I could play Tomb Raider for 45 mins.
Its patched now.

16GB adds convenience.
Its also handy for VMs.
There are other times its been useful, wish I had a memory...
 

Steve01S4

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Jan 30, 2006
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I have 64gb because of a project that involved a very large data set. Unfortunately that much ram has made me lazy about closing programs, tabs, or anything else, so right now I'm using 30.7gb. Chrome is a bit more than half of that usage. I'm pretty sure I could get by just fine with 32gb, but would never consider less than that.
 

atp1916

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I run with 32GB cause i use no pagefile, employ a 12GB ramdisk, and use an OS that runs better / smoother the more ram it can cache (W10).
 
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ramrod126

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May 7, 2008
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I've got 16GB and about the only time I get close to using all of it is running VMs.
 

CacaSapo

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As others have pointed out, RAM is so cheap that you may a well buy the most you can in the highest density. I have 32GB on my gaming laptop, which allows me to have an 8GB ramdisk for %temp%/%tmp% and Chrome cache, and to run my VMs in peace when needed, plus lots of cache for the OS.

Only have Chrome and Thunderbird open, right now, and I have ~16GB in use, 10GB cache and about 6GB free(wasted). This would indicate that I'm using about 8GB, plus my 8GB ramdisk, plus 10GB in windows cache.
I'd say 16GB would be the sweet spot, leaving 8GB for extra apps(games/etc) and/or cache, but if 32GB isn't that much more...
 
Joined
Oct 25, 2009
Messages
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I went with 'overkill' of 16 GB when I picked up my 2600K several years ago. RAM prices were higher then, but it was worth it for sure. Games today are hungry for more RAM than ever, running VMs always requires lots of RAM, I've started recording video in 1440p and working with that uses a ton, and of course Photoshop likes more RAM as well. My next machine, when I build it, will probably go with overkill again so I'm thinking 64 GB. I can't guess what games, or what my own usage, will need even in just a couple years. Why skimp and buy twice if I can indulge and skirt the issue from ever occurring in the first place? It's cheaper in the long run that way.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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This article contains a lot of information you probably already know about memory, but it does prompt me to ask: at what point would you feel that you’ve wasted your money? RAM just seems like one of those things I love to overdo, even though I may be utilizing less than half of it.

8GB is a good place to start. While you many users will be fine with less, the low price of memory means there’s minimal benefit to starting with less. An upgrade to 16GB is recommended for enthusiasts, hardcore gamers, and the average workstation user. Serious workstation users may go further to 32GB. Anything beyond that is the realm of extreme, specialty rigs equipped to handle huge data sets, staggeringly large video files, or niche programs designed for researchers, corporations, or government.

I mostly agree with this statement. 8GB is probably fine for 99.9% of even enthusiast/gamers today. This won't always be the case, but RAM is easy and relatively inexpensive to upgrade, as long as you don't have one of those awful machings ( *cough* Apple *cough* ) where the RAM is soldered to the motherboard. If you plan on getting one of those, it might not hurt to go a little overboard in order to get the machine to last longer. Nothing sucks more than being stuck with not enough RAM on an unupgradeable system.

That being said, it can be a waste of money if you fill all your RAM slots with smaller RAM sticks, as now you have wasted money if you need to upgrade.

I am totally aware that my 64GB in my desktop is total overkill by a wide margin. I only have it because I was decommissioning my old server, and had all this extra RAM, and it wasn't worth enough money to go through the trouble of selling it That, and it allowed me to play more with VM's and RAMdisks than I otherwise would ave been able to.
 

Krenum

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Some days I need more RAM than others. Some days I just don't care.
 

Gorankar

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8 Gb in my Surface, 16 Gb in my fairly new sff, and 32Gb in my primary gaming pc. I don't feel any of them do not have enough ram for what they are used for, don't feel any are overkill either.
 

KazeoHin

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Open up Zbrush with a 3 million vert sculpt, photoshop with 10+ 8k texture files, Maya and Unreal Engine...

Trust me, there is no such thing as 'enough RAM'
 

skydriver

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Jan 12, 2015
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Ive been using my Abit ip35 pro running a E6750 @3.2 with 6g ddr2 + ati 2gb 7870ghz i built in '07...It plays most games pretty well as fare as I can tell.

Some games im obviously waiting to play like GTAV when i finally get 1 of my x58w 6g ddr3 (really want a 567x chip to see if it will recognize 8 gig sticks for 3x8g config) or my x79 w 32g ddr3 systems put together but almost 600 games in steam and i haven't found 1 that wont run on "Old Bessy" Obviously "run" is a subjective term of course.

Must resist sticking my evga 970 sc sitting here in the lga775 for fear i will procrastinate even further putting together these other 2 rigs ;)
 
Joined
Nov 11, 2004
Messages
814
i run at 16gb and it's not enuff....

i have chrome browser with dozens of tabs and websites open... while i'm gaming, live streaming, listening music or watching a video.

obviously this is running too many things at the same time which most people would not do. it's gotten so bad that i now use a chrome extension called "the great suspender" which does not load websites but retain their tabs. I can also adjust when a tabbed site will be suspended if it's not actively viewed.

so using that i now have enough ram. but that said 16gb is still what i need ^-^;
 

Dead Parrot

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When I built my current primary PC a couple years ago, installed 8Gb as nothing I was currently doing required more then 4. Caught a sale last year and added 8 more because I plan on keeping this one long enough that the version of ram required will likely be in the 'no longer made, high priced phase'. Any speed boost needed for gaming should be fixable via a video card upgrade.
 

Ducman69

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people buy 16+ then bitch if their computer used more than 4. So yes, they don't need what they think
Since Windows 7, the OS is supposed to superfetch commonly used apps in memory, so its not really wasted in theory anyway.
 

BHenry

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Oct 8, 2008
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I have 16 GB because I keep running out of memory during certain games running at 8 GB.
 

pothb

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16 gb sounds like it's about right.
I have 8 gb currently, and internet browsing can drag it down.
 
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