The laptop that I was bitch-slapped for using had one problem: it came with only 512MB of memory. In my mind that's laughable. This is 2005!

I can't imagine using a modern computer with less than 1GB of ram. When you factor in Thunderbird, Firefox, Emacs, two IM clients, Office Apps, PuTTY, the Gimp, and the various other stuff I run daily, it's not difficult to see why.

Windows likes memory.

Come to think of it, what doesn't? My Powerbook as 1GB. My Linux box has 1GB. My Windows desktop has 2GB. Most of my co-located servers have more than 1GB.

So I got an upgrade this morning to 1GB and, as expected, it has made a world of difference. No more swapping mid-way through the day. As the tech guy was doing the swap, I commented on how most of the time people who want a "faster" computer simply need more memory. He confirmed that a RAM upgrade often does the trick.

Consider this my public service announcement for the day.

Posted by jzawodn at February 14, 2005 05:11 PM

Reader Comments
# Steve said:

Just got a Tosh. Tecra M2 with 2Gb of RAM - until it arrived I don't think I've ever had a laptop where I conciously thought, "WOW this is fast!"

on February 14, 2005 05:52 PM
# Charles said:

That's not how Windows works. You're supposed to reboot 9 or 10 times a day to free up RAM. 64k ought to be enough RAM for anybody, BillG said so.

on February 14, 2005 06:56 PM
# Satya said:

I'm not sure how much I have, it's either 256 or 512 MB. (Haven't bothered to check in a while, and computer is over 3 years old, running XP.)

I run Firefox, Gaim, Putty the most. I have various stuff in the taskbar. I don't see any speed problems, unless some app decides to puke. Openoffice does take forever to start, though, but I use it fairly rarely so I don't care enough yet.

on February 14, 2005 07:07 PM
# Mike said:

512MB is usually good enough. 1GB is almost always plenty.

on February 14, 2005 07:15 PM
# ruxx said:

So, should I go for 1.5Ghz 15" PB or 1.67Ghz 15" PB ? With the price difference, I can top up the RAM in the lower spec to 1GB. Very OOT, but just curious if 1GB is considered enough for OS X, or more is better ? Hmmm ...

on February 14, 2005 07:51 PM
# Ryan said:

Wow... I'll have to watch you work or something. Same laptop but the only thing I tend to use it for is at anytime, wireless, with putty tunnels, launch (via Y! IM), firefox and thunderbird. Mind you, I'm saying I wouldn't like 1GB but 512 seems to work :-)

My better half otoh, will make a machine slow down, but that's office and dtp apps for ya. :-)

on February 14, 2005 10:00 PM
# Ben said:

I have a 1.2kg toshiba X40 w/ 1gb or ram. I love it. Photoshop + 256mb VM + Mozilla and no swapping. :)

on February 14, 2005 11:48 PM
# Eddie Sowden said:

Why is everything so power hungry now-a-days? I am sitting here writing this on a computer running Linux with GNOME desktop.. 64mb or ram. Ok it gets a bit slow switching between programs but I can run firefox and gaim all at once. Dont know what you guys need that much ram for..

on February 15, 2005 06:53 AM
# Doug said:

People often come to me for advise on how much ram to get when they are buying a new computer. I usually tell them that 512mb is enough. Why? Because most people aren't power users. I *am* a power user. I have 1 GB of memory in both my computer at home and my computer at work. On each, I usually have between 10 and 25 windows open at any given time. The computer I'm typing on has been on for 3 weeks without a restart. Yet, when I press crtl-alt-delete and click on the performance tab in Windows XP, it tells me that have 450+mb free. It does this all the time, no matter how many huge applications I have running. So anyway, thats why I tell other people that 512mb or 768mb is enough. Windows XP simply sucks at memory management. Adding 2GB of ram won't ever help you, because Windows doesn't know what to do with it.

If you are running a different operating system, of course, then this information doesn't really apply.

on February 15, 2005 08:16 AM
# Bytrix said:

I upgraded from 1Gb to 2Gb a while back and it helped ALOT, windows XP by default is set to use the virtual memory for alot of the system stuff which is why you have so much free memory there. If you have 2Gb or more you should just disable virtual memory, it forces windows to store everything in the ram, making the whole system faster.

It still does store some stuff on the hard drive but there are plenty of registry tweaks to do to stop it doing that too.

Eddie, the reason you can run those apps with so little memory is because they're designed for low resource systems. Gnome and Mozilla/Firefox are a great combo for a low spec system, not like running KDE which kills old systems. You can take two approaches to apps, speed, or support.. those that try to support as much hardware/users as possible often can run on slower machines, but may not be as fast as other programs (on high spec PCs).

2Gb ram is a must for most games that are coming out over the next few years if any of you are heavy gamers too.

on February 16, 2005 05:03 AM
# Bubba said:

Yeah, the nc6k is a nice one. I've been running Gentoo on it for a while now and have been happy with it. Yes, the keyboard is the best I've seen (almost as nice as my old OmniBook 4150).

Memory is not the limiting factor on a laptop tho Jeremy; I have to disagree with you. The hard drive is still the biggest problem. 4k rotational speed!?

A nc6k with a raid stripe would be nice - until then 2 gig of ram is the only way to fly.

on February 16, 2005 07:51 AM
# Ballenger Motorsports said:

Now all I need to do is to convince my boss that I need at least 2gb of dual channel ddr 400 with 2-2-2-5 timing to run heavy duty applications like Solidworks (CAD), Photoshop, Dreamweaver, & VS 6. My current 1gb is deemed adequate and though this is just fine for other users in the office (who never begin to reach the levels of required ram that I do), my work is apparently not worthy of a special case. There needs to be a central updated document somewhere of what machine specs are required for certain types of usage which I can quietly place on his desk ;-).

on February 16, 2005 08:04 AM
# Jared said:

Recently got Dell Laptop with 2GB RAM. All I can think of is the bliss while running all the XP programs in addition to having FreeBSD 5.3/KDE running smoothly on top of VMWare. Maximizing RAM is definitely worth it and probably the only real fix that most regular folks need.

on February 16, 2005 11:46 AM
# Dom said:

How u doin young man.. I have a slite problem.. I hear what you are
saying. But if you do not mind helping me out.. I have a ga-7n400 PRO2
motherboard and I was originally running 1 gig of twinx corsair XMS
memory cl2 pc3200 400mhz..I then inturn uprdaded to 1.5gig with adding
1 kingston hyperx khx3200a/512 cl2 400mhz..at a time..Now just
yesterday I finally had the 2nd kingston to make the set..So I
installed I have the 2 corsairs and the 2 kingstons. Which I have even
checked with the manufactur of my computer and they say all the chips
should work together.Well the slite problem is no matter what order I
put the chips in I can not get Windows to register 2 gigs.. when i put
all 4 in windows reads 1gig. but with 3 in in any sequence wether it
be 1 corsiar and 2 kingston or visa versa reads 1.5..so this does not
make sense to me.. The manufactur told me that the reason for this is
because Windows XP HOME does not support 2 gigs..So from your post are
you telling me to disable virtual memory and I will get the 2 gigs..
So my in my situation the gentlemans post above yours make sense, but
then your posting saying that yours reigisters? What do I need to
do.. Cause when I goto my computer and check properties it only says 1
gig with all 4 in there...Thanks

on February 25, 2005 11:12 AM
# Oxide said:

I'm currently running 1 gig of ram, i have to 512mb chips in with one slot left, I was wondering if I should even bother to buy another 1 gig chip to put me up to 2 gigs, or would that be a waste of money?

on March 6, 2005 11:26 AM
# Kayla said:

Ok, so right now i have 384MB of RAM with a 1.3GHz processor w/ windows XP. This ususally isnt a problem when I'm just surfin the web but when i get into school work where i have a bunch of office programs open and a whole bunch of other windows open this becomes a problem.

So anyways, I was thinking of adding more RAM and someone told me that because of my processor speed I really don't need more than 512MB. I don't know, so anyone have any advice?

on March 7, 2005 03:09 PM
# said:

I have a pentium 4 processor with 2.4 ghz and 256MB of RAM. Would I be able to play the game Far Cry smoothly, or would I have to upgrade to 512MB of RAM?

on April 17, 2005 09:58 AM
# said:

Windows XP, whatever edition, can read up to 4GB. You may be running into memory device number limitations. On many systems, the motherboard can only handle 16 memory devices per channel. In a dual channel config, you put one stick in Channel A, the other in Channel B. Now, if each of your sticks has 16 devices on it (look at the chip itself and count the number of ICs on it) then if you try to put another RAM module on the same channel, it will not be able to use it.

on August 29, 2005 12:55 PM
# said:

Windows XP, whatever edition, can read up to 4GB. You may be running into memory device number limitations. On many systems, the motherboard can only handle 16 memory devices per channel. In a dual channel config, you put one stick in Channel A, the other in Channel B. Now, if each of your sticks has 16 devices on it (look at the chip itself and count the number of ICs on it) then if you try to put another RAM module on the same channel, it will not be able to use it.

on August 29, 2005 12:55 PM
# said:

Well, not whatever edition, 64 bit edition can read much MUCH more.

on August 29, 2005 03:43 PM
# warbaboon said:

dom i have the ga-7n400 PRO2 rev2, i know for fact that what you are trying will not work properly. try 2 1 gig sticks. or 2 512 in one channel and single sided in the other, ie 2 256. remember dual channel makes it faster, and speed is more noticable than ammount.

on March 28, 2006 12:27 AM
# zeus said:

Listen. Everyone should have 1GB of RAM. Many of the new programs that will arise from the new Windows Vista OS and the Core Duo processors from Dell are going to be big. It is not uncommon now for people to purchase laptops with upto 4GB. That may be excessive right now, but soon, it won't be nearly enough. I am sure that everyone realizes the speed at which technology travels.

on December 18, 2006 08:45 PM
# Jamie said:

I can tell not many of you are gamers new games such as oblivion flight simulator X take at least a gig to run good

on January 2, 2007 04:15 PM
# andrew said:

hi jeremy, i was wondering, i'm a certified mcse, mcsa, mcdst and mcp, yet i still have no idea what a co-located server is!

on April 20, 2007 11:01 AM
# said:

Oh, just have the maximum in your system and be done with it, lol. I have recently upgraded my toshiba a120-223 (Vista Ultimate) laptop to a whopping 4gig ddr2 ram, cost me 200 ($400) though, I know, I got mugged, the prices fell dramatically just after a week of me buying them, unbelievable! Anyhoo, the speed is incredible, all my mates are fasinated at how my laptop seems to work at every small and large applications and programs with effortless ease. I do not regret the purchase, the two 2gig RAM worked wonders for me, knowing that i'm utilising my baby's full potential. I mean, considering my CPU isn't really that spectacular, 1.6ghz (thats a poor 800mhz x 2), my RAM conpensates alot for its shortfall! My advise, if you got the cash, apply the best and most, if not, then at least what you can, you won't regret it!

on July 21, 2007 10:03 PM
# said:

If your processor is 1.6GHZ dual core, its not 800mhz x2, its 1.6ghz per core making a total frequency of 3.2ghz, but it will still run like a 1.6ghz, just more multi-tasking.

on December 26, 2007 01:58 PM
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