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How to know if you need more RAM

Jeffbx 2,262 July 24, 2012 at 06:28 AM in Computers (3)
I see so many people asking this question or just way, WAY overpurchasing RAM so I thought I'd post this. There is a very simple & quick way of seeing if you actually are running low on RAM before buying 16GB (this is for Windows 7).

First, use your computer! Fire it up and launch all of the apps that you generally have going. Open a few browser tabs, get your email going, etc. Try to do an average session - don't open every app on your machine. In the example below, this is my laptop that's running Outlook, IE with several tabs, Chrome with several tabs, Notepad, Windows Explorer, a couple of chat apps, Dropbox and Snag-It.

Launch Task Manager (ctrl-alt-del & then 'start task manager'; OR right click task bar at the bottom of your screen and 'start task manager')

Switch to the 'Performance' tab
Click the 'Resource Monitor...' button at the bottom of the window, and it will pop up a window that looks like this.

There are 5 different sections of memory usage on the bar graph, but only 3 of them are really important to you.

First one (in grey) is hardware reserved - this is RAM that hardware uses & there's nothing you can do about this, so not important. This amount will generally be pretty low.

Third one (in orange) is 'Modified'. Also not very important because this amount is generally low, but this is RAM that's in use by low priority tasks that can be quickly released for other use.

The green section is important - this is the total amount of physical RAM that your machine is currently using (ignoring the swap file). In the graphic below, the machine is using 3GB of RAM.

The next important section is dark blue (labeled 'Standby') - this is actually not labeled well, as this is your free or available RAM. This is memory that's available for use by whatever application needs it next. In this example, there's 3GB of RAM just waiting to be used.

Finally, the light blue section labeled 'Free' - this is also kind of misleading, as this is more like wasted RAM, not free RAM. The memory in this section is the amount that Windows is just ignoring because it has no use for it. It's not being used & it's not ready to be used by anything - it's just sitting there doing nothing.

So, if someone were to show me this display & ask if they need more RAM I'd say no way, as a matter of fact you already have too much installed. I'm only actually using 3GB with another 3GB on standby and 2GB doing nothing at all. As it's running now, having 4GB in the machine would be fine, and having 6GB would give me a safety buffer. It's got 8GB installed (see the line highlighted in yellow), so I'm wasting 2GB because Windows simply has no use for it.


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Joined Sep 2011
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#46
Quote from tipstir View Post :

System now shows 32.0GB / 16.0GB usable under Windows 7 H-64-bit.
Are you saying that the system recognizes the 32 gigs but can only use 16?
And if so, why can it only use 16?
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Original Poster
#47
Windows 7 Home Premium caps physical RAM at 16GB [microsoft.com]

He'd need Win 7 Pro to use all 32GB.
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#48
Quote from Jeffbx View Post :
Windows 7 Home Premium caps physical RAM at 16GB [microsoft.com]

You need Win 7 Pro to use all 32GB.
I see.... Didn't know that.
I take that this does not apply to Pro and Ultimate?
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Original Poster
#49
Correct - here are the limits (for 64-bit, obviously)

Physical Memory Limits: Windows 7

Windows 7 Ultimate 192 GB

Windows 7 Enterprise 192 GB

Windows 7 Professional 192 GB

Windows 7 Home Premium 16 GB

Windows 7 Home Basic 8 GB

Windows 7 Starter (N/A - 32-bit only)
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#50
Quote from RockySosua View Post :
Are you saying that the system recognizes the 32 gigs but can only use 16?
And if so, why can it only use 16?

That's about it..

Quote from Jeffbx View Post :
Windows 7 Home Premium caps physical RAM at 16GB [microsoft.com]

He'd need Win 7 Pro to use all 32GB.

Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit and Server OS can tap into the rest. I have that so I might upgrade to it..
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#51
Easier to remove the bloatware and install W7U64SP1 instead of W7H64SP1 this is limited I know all the other systems I have max out of 8GB and they run W7U64SP1 except for this one and another new HP desktop and 2x laptops. Two net-books running W7U32SP1 max out at 2GB along with Dual core W7U64SP1 tablet.
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#52
Im on Win98se and i check my task manager quite often and on the performance tab i always look at the NONPAGED value (If it gets too high it can result in slow performance)

Right now its 24212 (My TM displays in K not MB)
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#53
Quote from Dude111 View Post :
Im on Win98se and i check my task manager quite often and on the performance tab i always look at the NONPAGED value (If it gets too high it can result in slow performance)

Right now its 24212 (My TM displays in K not MB)

Wow! Still on W98SE really.. You have to worry about that VRM virtural ram manage also the pagefile more because it can get corrupted when the system HDD is fragmented badly. Also the MFT master file table is another one. Try doing a boot defrag there is a free app called IOBIT Smart defrag should be older copy floating around.


You can also raise the Page file up and you managed it instead of Windows on those 98SE system. That will speed it up. Also don't use C: page file if you have another HDD you should use it on their. But or use two files pages on both C and D if you need to be.
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#54
Quote from tipstir View Post :
Try doing a boot defrag there is a free app called IOBIT Smart defrag should be older copy floating around.

.
I don't know if the older version of Smart Defrag that I have is what you are referring to, but you can download it here [box.com] and see if it is.,
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#55
Quote from tipstir :
You can also raise the Page file up and you managed it instead of Windows on those 98SE system. That will speed it up. Also don't use C: page file if you have another HDD you should use it on their. But or use two files pages on both C and D if you need to be.
Yes i know i can manage the swap (page) file manually but i have always had it set to "LET WINDOWS MANAGE......" (Isnt it set to only allow up to 75% of ram to be NONPAGED if its set to auto?)


I dunno,on another site im on someone explained to me what NONPAGED meant as i didnt really understand it and he is on Win7 and told me his OS only allows 75% max to be NONPAGED so im assuming if its the same for all os's....
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#56
on systems with larger amounts of ram, you might find that setting the pagefile to none gains you better bang for your buck (unless that is, you're going to use windbg to analyze those crash dumps). on any of my systems with more than 8gb i've disabled the pagefile (especially if i'm using a ssd). ymmv.
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#57
Quote from n30 View Post :
on systems with larger amounts of ram, you might find that setting the pagefile to none gains you better bang for your buck (unless that is, you're going to use windbg to analyze those crash dumps). on any of my systems with more than 8gb i've disabled the pagefile (especially if i'm using a ssd). ymmv.
Iagree 100%.
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#58
Quote from n30 View Post :
on systems with larger amounts of ram, you might find that setting the pagefile to none gains you better bang for your buck (unless that is, you're going to use windbg to analyze those crash dumps). on any of my systems with more than 8gb i've disabled the pagefile (especially if i'm using a ssd). ymmv.
Please elaborate. Why do you think that disabling the pagefile nets you any gain in performance?
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Original Poster
#59
Please, no more discussion of swap file vs. no swap file in this thread - it already got locked once because of that.
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#60
Quote from Jeffbx View Post :
Please, no more discussion of swap file vs. no swap file in this thread - it already got locked once because of that.
All I'd like to do is understand the rationale behind the decision. I asked a polite question, I don't see why that should be an issue. If there are others that can't tolerate the on-topic question, then why should that be my problem?
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