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How to know if you need more RAM

Jeffbx 6,147 2,278 July 24, 2012 at 07:28 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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#166
Quote from zzyzzx View Post :
Actually if I get a SSD I am more likely to get 8GB RAM instead of 4GB to avoid using any pagefile.
That's not how pagefiles work.
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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?
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#167
I don't understand the "wasted RAM". Why doesn't Windows add the "wasted RAM" to available RAM?
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#168
'Wasted RAM' is somewhat of a misnomer. It's there & available to use, but Windows simply has no use for it at the moment.

Think of it like this - let's say you're a student, and at the beginning of the school year you buy 25 blank notebooks because they were on sale. At any given time, you're only going to need about 2-3 of them to take notes in, so you're not going to carry all 25 around with you. So the memory labeled 'free ram' is like those blank notebooks that are sitting around waiting to be used. It's there, it's available, but it's just not useful at the moment.
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#169
I just got the same problem on my laptop.
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#170
My current usage on my work computer is shown in the attached image.

I have a new workstation on order with 32gb of RAM, maybe it is a waste of money but I'll report back with what my usage looks like on that machine.
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#171
Quote from Justmtnb44 View Post :
My current usage on my work computer is shown in the attached image.

I have a new workstation on order with 32gb of RAM, maybe it is a waste of money but I'll report back with what my usage looks like on that machine.

Yeah, Solidworks will tax your system, all right Wink

All of my SW users get 16GB by default - very few need more, but it happens.
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#172
Hello...my husband mentioned getting more ram for his laptop. This is what he currently has... RAM 4GB 2Rx8 PC3-10600S-09-11-F3 M461B5273DH0-CH9 1129.
He said he needs two...I found some with the same numbers except the last four '1129' is different. Does that matter? I am clueless. TIA
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#173
Quote from SueQ View Post :
Hello...my husband mentioned getting more ram for his laptop. This is what he currently has... RAM 4GB 2Rx8 PC3-10600S-09-11-F3 M461B5273DH0-CH9 1129.
He said he needs two...I found some with the same numbers except the last four '1129' is different. Does that matter? I am clueless. TIA
It would be necessary to know which model of computer he has, if for no other reason, so as to know how many free ram slots he has, if any.
For instance, if it's a laptop with only one slot and it has a 4 gig in it, then you'd have to buy an 8 gig stick to replace the 4 gigger.
If on the other hand, he has a free slot, then you could buy a 4 gig stick and add it in.
It could be argued that the ideal situation would be to have two identical sticks in a case like that, but the fact of the matter is that you'd never perceive any performance difference when using any other decent brand with matching specs.
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If you're on this ignore list, vivahate, sd44, cav, charles052, frogstar, godfather927 don't bother quoting me
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#174
Quote from Jeffbx View Post :
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.


Honestly after working with computers over the years, I've discovered that you really don't need a lot of ram unless your running VM's. If your not going over 80% at load then you have too much ram. You have to find the bottleneck in your system whether it be your cpu, motherboard, hdd, or whatever.
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#175
I went from a 3 GB computer to 10 GB and the difference was night and day.
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#176
Quote from 9mmBlack View Post :
I went from a 3 GB computer to 10 GB and the difference was night and day.
I went from 4 to 8 and haven't noticed anything. The most intensive programs will not go over 5gb, so I believe esp in my laptop, I am cpu bound.
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#177
Quote from Jeffbx View Post :
Yeah, Solidworks will tax your system, all right Wink

All of my SW users get 16GB by default - very few need more, but it happens.
Well, it looks like going with 32GB was a good idea after all.
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#178
Might be a good time to consider a bump to 48GB Wink
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#179
I have 7 gb of memory installed and I can't even get the resource monitor to load. Frown
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#180
I have a Dell Studio XPS 8100 desktop from 2010 which runs ok for now but I have a bit of money and I am thinking I might want to upgrade it from the 8GB it currently has to 16GB. 16GB is the max ram it can hold I know that much but i don't know how many slots I have and what is currently in those slots. For example I probably wouldn't want to upgrade if I had to purchase 2 new 8GB sticks because I only have 2 slots and there happens to be 2 4GB sticks in there. I often open about 70-80 tabs at once in chrome because I am entering sweepstakes and this makes entering them very fast.
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