Forum Thread

How to know if you need more RAM

Jeffbx 6,143 2,278 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.


Community Wiki

Last Edited by Jeffbx July 31, 2012 at 05:47 AM
This post can be edited by most users to provide up-to-date information about developments of this thread based on user responses, and user findings. Feel free to add, change or remove information shown here as it becomes available. This includes new coupons, rebates, ideas, thread summary, and similar items.

Once a Thread Wiki is added to a thread, "Create Wiki" button will disappear. If you would like to learn more about Thread Wiki feature, click here.

192 Comments

4 5 6 7 8

Sign up for a Slickdeals account to remove this ad.

#76
The previous posts are incredibly windows centric. Windows is INCREDIBLY WASTEFUL with memory. I have never used a mac but supposedly it has BSD underneath so maybe this would help them?

In Linux you can have unlimited memory, whatever the MB can support. You can take any unused memory and put filesystems on it or let the OS/apps use it. You think ssds are fast you should see what running in memory is like. SSDs are as slow as usb harddrives compared to ram.

Using a swap file is never a bad idea, even in Linux. If you run out of memory and you have a swap file you swap. If you run out of memory and you have no swap you crash. But I guess you guys are use to that...?

$ free
total used free shared buffers cached
Mem: 2438716 1841016 597700 0 305052 1255048
-/+ buffers/cache: 280916 2157800
Swap: 4669432 0 4669432

here you can see that i have 2.5 gig of ram and a 4.6G swap file. currently 1.84G mem is used but 1.2G mem is cached. So I have 2.1G mem available. The cached ram is just previously read files so it saves them in ram so if i read those files again it just pull from ram. If i need more ram it dumps the cache and assigns ram, this happens very quickly. It keeps a minimum amount of ram available as free so it always has some to assign out. The swap is completely unused. i don't mind the 4Gb swap file because linux installs in under 1G and I can't even find disks that losing 4G would matter on anymore. I did install linux on a usb disk for one of my servers and on that one I used a very small swap file but it too remains unused.

04:00:01 PM kbmemfree kbmemused %memused kbbuffers kbcached kbcommit %commit
04:10:01 PM 596544 1842172 75.54 305044 1255000 92292 1.30
04:20:01 PM 596676 1842040 75.53 305044 1255008 92292 1.30
04:30:01 PM 596412 1842304 75.54 305044 1255012 92292 1.30

with sar i can get a list of what the memory was doing throughout the day. fairly static...
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Joined Mar 2007
Password: ••••••••
21,218 Posts
1,587 Reputation
#77
Quote from stoggy View Post :
The previous posts are incredibly windows centric. Windows is INCREDIBLY WASTEFUL with memory.
In what way?
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Steve Gibson on password policies [grc.com]: I mean, I don't get this change it every eight weeks. ... It's not as if passwords are traveling by camel after they've been stolen, going to the bad guys, and so there's, like, some weird eight-week window, like, oh, we're going to change your password so that the stale password no longer works. ... And all this does is make IT people despised because users, who are not dumb, they think, why am I - why do I have to do this? What problem is this solving?
#78
Quote from Dude111 :
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)
Thats what someone said on another site (About the nonpaged value) but i just realise the opposite is true for me!!

The other day i was doing something locally (heavy ram usage i guess) and my computer afterwards was sluggish for a little bit.. I checked task manager and the PAGED VALUE was 30322 if i remember right (30 something) thats the highest i have ever seen it!!

Is PAGED VALUE the amount of active ram you are using?? (I dont quite understand it)

It did go back down a few minutes later and things got better again....... Its strange..
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Joined Aug 2007
L10: Grand Master
6,143 Posts
2,278 Reputation
Original Poster
#79
Quote from stoggy View Post :
The previous posts are incredibly windows centric.
The previous posts are 100% windows-centric.

Quote from stoggy View Post :
Windows is INCREDIBLY WASTEFUL with memory.
I'd also like to hear your anlysis on this.

Quote from stoggy View Post :
In Linux you can have unlimited memory, whatever the MB can support. You can take any unused memory and put filesystems on it or let the OS/apps use it. You think ssds are fast you should see what running in memory is like. SSDs are as slow as usb harddrives compared to ram.
I'm not sure what your point is here - you can run Windows in a RAM disk as well - that ability has been around since the DOS days. Kind of a hassle to write back (or lose) your files & settings every time you want to reboot, tho. This is what SSDs are for - non-volitile memory.
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Joined Mar 2007
Password: ••••••••
21,218 Posts
1,587 Reputation
#80
Quote from Jeffbx View Post :
I'm not sure what your point is here - you can run Windows in a RAM disk as well - that ability has been around since the DOS days. Kind of a hassle to write back (or lose) your files & settings every time you want to reboot, tho. This is what SSDs are for - non-volitile memory.
Not to derail the thread too much, but are you referring to WinPE? Because otherwise I don't know of a way to run Windows 100% in memory.
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Joined Aug 2007
L10: Grand Master
6,143 Posts
2,278 Reputation
Original Poster
#81
There are ways to do it - I played around with it a while ago & while it's possible, it's a huge pain in the rear. Here's a good & very very detailed explanation of one way to make it work: http://reboot.pro/index.php?showtopic=9830&hl=
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
#82
Are there some more easier ways ?I just feel I am confused.
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0

Sign up for a Slickdeals account to remove this ad.

Joined Aug 2007
L10: Grand Master
6,143 Posts
2,278 Reputation
Original Poster
#83
Yes - just load Windows on an SSD.
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
#84
Quote from WarrenM View Post :
I am one of those who generally runs out of RAM regularly, but that is because I administer and develop for multiple operating systems and will often have 8 or more VMs open at a time, or else I am booted into Windows and editing HD video. For the average user having the 18GB of RAM that I have is just stupid and there is no call for it. The two scenarios that I happen work with are about the only ones I know where you need more than 8GB of RAM.
I am trying to use Adobe Premier Pro CS6 for video editing. The First thing they tell you is having at least 24 GB RAM. For this reason alone I am in the market for building a new PC. Looking for a notch bellow faster CPU. I will like to stick with AMD processor believe they give you more bang for your buck.
Thinking of this one.
http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.p...re&id=1780
Any body have any other suggestion? I have a 10 Year Old DELL desktop that has reached it's upgrade limit. By the way I never played with Windows 7 yet. Just using XP even at work PC.
Heard Windows 8 can support upto 32 GB RAM.

Looking for any deals/suggestions on Video card, case, ram, HDD etc.

Thanks,
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Last edited by Fayda January 12, 2013 at 07:44 PM
#85
great info
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Joined Mar 2010
L9: Master
5,137 Posts
1,916 Reputation
Pro
#86
Quote from sard View Post :
great info

Good morning!

Thanks for the rundown in the OP. I actually was about to post a "Do I need more RAM thread?" but I think I answered my question with a "YES".

Could someone comment on my decision?

I have a HP Pavilion dv6t Series Laptop (2 years old) that I use in my home office. According to the CPU-Z app I have an intel i3 CPU M 350 @ 2.27GHZ processor.


I am currently running 4GB of RAM with Windows 7.


Here is what the crucial app said of my layout:

DDR3 PC3-8500, DDR3 PC3-10600

Memory Type: DDR3 PC3-8500, DDR3 PC3-10600, DDR3 (non-ECC)
Maximum Memory: 8GB
Currently Installed Memory: 4GB
Total Memory Slots: 2
Available Memory Slots: 0



I figured I would upgrade to 8GB of Ram. I typically have Google chrome open with anywhere from 8-10 tabs. On top of that I will have 3 or 4 light to medium use programs open and occasionally one that uses a lot of resources like the NeatWorks mobile scanner program.

I have an external display mounted above my desk that is run by my laptop that I use to stream netflix, HBO Go or blu-ray movies through the internal blu-ray drive on my laptop.

A few minutes ago I ran the Resource Monitor in the OP and here is what it says (typical use):


In Use: 3113MB


Standy: 537MB


I'm taking that to mean that my typical use almost maxes out the memory? Is that correct?


If so would I be best suited to upgrade to 8GB? I am assuming I would have to run 4GB x 2. I have experience installing memory (although it's been awhile). Any suggestions on a brand?


Thanks for the input!
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Joined Aug 2007
L10: Grand Master
6,143 Posts
2,278 Reputation
Original Poster
#87
Well, not exactly - you're not low on RAM at all, assuming you gathered those stats during a typical computing session.

You're currently using just over 3GB & have .5GB free. Adding another 4GB would change those numbers to show you using just over 3GB and having 4.5GB free - your computing experience will not change at all. You don't need more RAM.

If your free RAM was falling into the ~50MB range, then you would be swapping to your HD & THEN adding more RAM would speed up your system.
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Last edited by Jeffbx January 20, 2013 at 07:31 PM
Joined Mar 2007
Password: ••••••••
21,218 Posts
1,587 Reputation
#88
Quote from Jeffbx View Post :
Well, not exactly - you're not low on RAM at all, assuming you gathered those stats during a typical computing session.

You're currently using just over 3GB & have .5GB free. Adding another 4GB would change those numbers to show you using just over 3GB and having 4.5GB free - your computing experience will not change at all. You don't need more RAM.

If your free RAM was falling into the ~50MB range, then you would be swapping to your HD & THEN adding more RAM would speed up your system.
I think it might be too close to call. Under pressure, Windows may pre-emptively swap programs out to the swap file in order to make room for an allocation of memory by the actively running program, even if the program doesn't need it. Your browser for example, might decide to allocate more memory for caching and this could cause Windows to push something off to the swapfile. It depends a lot on variables we can't determine, including memory fragmentation. Coming that close to using all available RAM, I suspect more RAM would provide a noticeable improvement in at least a few cases.
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Joined Aug 2007
L10: Grand Master
6,143 Posts
2,278 Reputation
Original Poster
#89
Yep, it's close (depending on what was actually running when OP gathered those stats), but I would guess that based on the info provided, bumping that machine from 4 to 8GB would show almost no difference in performance. It certainly won't HURT to go to 8GB, but it's not going to be, 'wow, look at how much faster my computer is now!'

OP, I'd recommend that you put that $$ toward an SSD to replace your primary HD. THAT will give you a 'wow' improvement in speed, assuming you don't have one in there already.
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
#90
Explains good.
Reply Helpful Comment? 0 0
Page 6 of 13
4 5 6 7 8
Join the Conversation
Add a Comment
 
Copyright 1999 - 2016. Slickdeals, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Copyright / Infringement Policy  •  Privacy Policy  •  Terms of Service  •  Acceptable Use Policy (Rules)  •  Interest-Based Ads
Link Copied to Clipboard