How Much Memory/RAM Do You Really Need?

We will kick-off the year with some computer hardware tips and info. I have already given you some guidelines on installing, upgrading or increasing RAM. This time, I will tackle another key information regarding memory.

Today, RAM has become cheaper and cheaper while software programs have turned into resource hungry beasts. That left some of us thinking and asking, ‘how much memory do we really need?’

Different computer users have diverse RAM requirements. People who are more into office applications and internet browsing will not need a huge amount of memory. Recommended RAM for them would be 512MB, although 256MB will do just fine. For gaming, photo editing, and multimedia applications, 1GB of RAM is ideal. Heavy graphic design apps like 3D CAD and video editing software will definitely need a much greater RAM, a minimum of 2GB to be exact.

Operating system should also be considered when estimating memory needs. An insane OS like Windows Vista and Mac OS X Leopard will demand bigger RAM even if you will only use it for lighter tasks. Their minimum requirement is 1GB, while the most widely used Windows XP will only need around 256MB to function well. Linux is probably the most memory efficient operating system that I have ever used. Using lightweight distros, 128MB is typically good enough when doing basic chores and even when multitasking.

It is common sense that the more RAM/memory you have the better your computer will perform. The maximum recommended RAM for 32-bit computer is 4GB. 64-bit machine needs 4GB or more in order for it to be fully utilized. That wraps-up today’s hardware tech guide; I hope you have learned something.


  1. 256MB will do just fine? You are kidding, right?

  2. I am extremely sorry, but I am using 512MB on both of my "household" machines and when it starts thrashing the virtual memory and trying to load off of the hard drive it is very noticeable.

    That said, I just put nLite'd Windows2000 (took out IE, added Firefox and Foxit) on my Grandfathers PC, and it was quite snappy on 512mb PC133 (minus 32mb for shared graphics).

    I wouldn't recommend less than 512 to anyone. Mainly because of the stuff everyon wants to run, add some basic hardware (webcam, printer, ipod, ATT/SBC Yahoo "suite"), and all of the little updaters and background tasks eat up the memory and the system drags to a crawl, if not stops entirely.

    iTunes and HP printers are especially bad, running up to 3 tasks apiece and sometimes 2 or 3 notification icons.

    ATT Yahoo Suite? I cringe whenever I have to service a PC loaded with that horrible stuff, it hijacks the network connection and runs 3-5 processes just to pop up a "help box" to tell you that "if the problem persists (it is our software at fault, ha ha.)", etc.

    So, yes, you can run just fine on 256MB of ram, if you don't need any peripherals or software running at the same time.

    If we could convince all the hardware manufacturers that we don't need 3 processes, a taskbar notification, a pop up helper, a web updater and a hardware detection widget running just to print, then I would back down, but that is not the direction that we are headed.