How much RAM does your PC need? If you think the answer to that question is always “more”, then you might be wrong. Your PC probably needs less RAM than you think.
RAM is one part of the PC people seem to have a lot of misconceptions about. Got a slow PC? You need more RAM. PC taking a while to start up? RAM will solve that problem. How much RAM is too much? You can’t have too much RAM, of course!
These RAM misconceptions aren’t always true. So let’s clear up some of the misconceptions people have about one of the best-known pieces of PC hardware.
How to Choose RAM for your PC Tablet
Most Windows tablets come pre-loaded with between 2 and 4GB of RAM. On tablets, this is usually sufficient for basic PC tasks – like having a few browser tabs open or multitasking of 3 to 4 desktop programs.
Of course, that’s exactly what most people do on their PC tablets.
But if you want your tablet PC to do something more, then you’ll want to choose 6GB or more of RAM. Yes, those tablets are out there. Yes, they’re more expensive. But do you really want to spend 20 seconds waiting for your tablet to load every time you fire it up?
Under 4GB: Sufficient for basic desktop software, multitasking, and having a handful of browser tabs open.
Over 6GB: Ideal for those who have more intense desktop software or regularly open dozens of browser tabs simultaneously.
How to Choose RAM for your Laptop
Even the cheapest modern laptops typically come with 2GB of RAM. More expensive laptops may come with up to 8GB of RAM, and then there are the most expensive laptops that come with 12 to 16GB.
So how much RAM is too much for your laptop? Should you really pay that extra $100 fee to upgrade your RAM from 2GB to 6GB on the Dell ordering page?
Here are some general guidelines to follow:
Under 4GB: Just like with tablets, 4GB is about as low as you’d reasonably want to go on a laptop. Laptops require more power than tablets, and anything less than 4GB will struggle with modern tasks.
6GB to 8GB: Many laptop manufacturers let you upgrade from 4GB to 8GB for about $100. I’d only recommend doing this if you intend to run dozens of browser tabs or are running high-performance software like photo editors or PC games.
8GB to 16GB: The upper tier of laptop RAM supply is reserved only for those who are using their laptop as a desktop replacement. If you need to run several high-performance software programs simultaneously, run PC games, or just constantly leave dozens of browser tabs open, then having this much RAM is a good idea. For everyone else, it’s an unnecessary luxury.
How to Choose RAM for Desktops
Choosing RAM for desktop PCs is the easiest out of all these choices. Why? Well, you can easily swap in new RAM if you ever decide you need more.
The same rules for laptops apply to desktops. However, you may want to slightly nudge up the performance recommendations on desktops – especially at the higher end of the spectrum.
Today’s high-end desktops can manage 64GB or more, but the average user would be hard-pressed to use anywhere close to half of that.
The only reason you’d need over 32GB of RAM on a desktop PC is for things like HD/4K video editing or 3D modeling.
In Late 2015, 8GB is the Sweet Spot for RAM
Across all of these systems, one lesson remains true: 8GB of RAM is considered the “sweet spot”. On desktops, it gives you a good base with room to grow. On laptops and tablets, it should future proof your system for the next 3+ years.
You Can’t Have Too Much RAM
Ultimately, you can’t have too much RAM if it can fit in your system.
The only time you can have too much RAM is when you’re using over 4GB of RAM on a 32-bit operating system (upgrade to 64-bit to handle up to 128GB of RAM and more).