How much RAM do I need?

ddrramThe cost of RAM used to be so high that any way we could avoid having to pay hundreds to upgrade our systems was worth trying. I dug out an old pricelist from 1999 and a 64Mb SDRAM module retailed then at $190! New computers were (and are still) sold brand new with insufficient memory installed – early XP computers were commonly sold with 128Mb and we used to bag Microsoft for their appallingly slow operating system and most of us stayed with Windows 98.

The good news is that RAM is very reasonably priced at the moment – BUT – remember that older types of RAM are usually always more expensive than newer types. For example, a 1Gb DDR1 module is more than twice the price of a 1Gb DDR2 module, so my advice is to find out what type of memory your system uses and upgrade it sooner rather than later!

Here are my considered RAM requirements for the various operating systems we use today. I’ve indicated ‘real world’ quantities as well as minimum requirements too.

XP Home or Pro
Absolute Minimum – 512Mb
R.W Minimum – 1Gb
Heavy use – 2Gb

Vista Home Basic
Absolute Minimum – 2Gb
R.W Minimum – 3Gb
Heavy use – 4Gb*

Vista Home Premium and higher (32bit)
Absolute Minimum – 3Gb
R.W Minimum – 4Gb
Heavy use – 4Gb*

Vista (64bit versions)
Absolute Minimum – 4Gb
R.W Minimum – 4Gb
Heavy use – 8Gb*

Windows 7
 Absolute Minimum – 2Gb
R.W Minimum – 2Gb
Heavy use – 4Gb

*Vista & Windows 7 32 bit can only use up to 4Gb and the amount reported may be less.

 

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