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Report: Most Windows 7 PCs Max Out RAM [UPD]

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 165 comments

RAM, bam, thank you ma'am!

Update: It's come to light that the Devil Mountain Software's CTO, Craig Barth, doesn't truly exist and is actually an InfoWorld contributor named Randall C. Kennedy. Read more about the scandal here.

When I pay the money to drop at least 6GB of RAM into my system, I want it all to be put to use. Compared to Windows XP, both Windows Vista and Windows 7 make more active use of system memory. But according to Devil Mountain Software's community-based Exo.performance.network (XPnet) CTO, Craig Barth, that sort of RAM management results in undesirable performance.

According to the Computerworld report, XPnet found that 40 percent of its Windows XP machines ran into low-memory situations, while 86 percent of its Windows 7 machines are regularly consuming 90 percent to 95 percent of their available RAM.

Barth said that the hungry RAM consumption of Windows 7 result in slow-downs. "The vast majority of Windows 7 machines over the last several months are very heavily-memory saturated," he said. "From a performance standpoint, that has an immediate impact on the machine."

"This is alarming," Barth said of Windows 7 machines' resource consumption. "For the OS to be pushing the hardware limits this quickly is amazing. Windows 7 is not the lean, mean version of Vista that you may think it is."

Alarming findings aside, XPnet observed that Windows 7 PCs sport an average of 3.3GB of RAM, compared to 1.7GB for Windows XP and 2.7GB for Windows Vista machines.

We recall that the design of Windows Vista (and by extension, Windows 7) has it consuming more RAM for practical, useful purposes rather than letting it sit idle. Nevertheless, we have contacted Microsoft for an official answer to this memory issue. More to come.

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Top Comments
  • 44 Hide
    rodney_ws , February 18, 2010 11:08 PM
    So a group/site called "XPNet" doesn't like Windows 7? Ha. Cute. My Windows 7 runs just fine thank you very much. You guys are welcome to join the rest of us in 2010 when you ditch that circa 2001 OS.
  • 43 Hide
    nrnx , February 18, 2010 10:55 PM
    Maybe if these people actually upgraded to 64 bit software they could use all of their ram...
  • 32 Hide
    foody , February 18, 2010 11:11 PM
    Did I miss something? My monitors are telling me I'm using 47% of my RAM as of right now. I'm not sure I've seen them go anywhere near 90%, even after heavy use.
Other Comments
    Display all 165 comments.
  • 43 Hide
    nrnx , February 18, 2010 10:55 PM
    Maybe if these people actually upgraded to 64 bit software they could use all of their ram...
  • 44 Hide
    rodney_ws , February 18, 2010 11:08 PM
    So a group/site called "XPNet" doesn't like Windows 7? Ha. Cute. My Windows 7 runs just fine thank you very much. You guys are welcome to join the rest of us in 2010 when you ditch that circa 2001 OS.
  • 6 Hide
    STravis , February 18, 2010 11:10 PM
    Meh - I run VMWare Desktop 7 x64 on top of Windows Server 2008 R2 (which is the Windows 7 core) on a Q9550 with 8GB of RAM and it seems s00pah! I also run ESXi (with SQL Server and Sharepoint servers on it) on an E6600 with 6GB of RAM and it's s00pah t00.

    I think these kids don't understand that there may be some tuning required (plus using x64 to access all your RAM).

    Also - I would like to see something more than "seems sluggish". My Smoothwall server cycles it's RAM usage (going to 99% at times) and it's running - you guessed - s00pah!
  • 32 Hide
    foody , February 18, 2010 11:11 PM
    Did I miss something? My monitors are telling me I'm using 47% of my RAM as of right now. I'm not sure I've seen them go anywhere near 90%, even after heavy use.
  • 29 Hide
    Abrahm , February 18, 2010 11:12 PM
    I'm sporting 8gb of ram with Windows 7 Pro x64 and I never go over 25% ram being used.
  • 20 Hide
    nrnx , February 18, 2010 11:12 PM
    Okay you are running a laptop which uses a graphic card that also uses your memory and your are complaining?? Maybe you should have got more ram after you realized that integrated graphics means memory sharing..
  • 15 Hide
    Bolbi , February 18, 2010 11:13 PM
    Running Win7 x64. Had my PC running for about 12 hours now with various relatively lightweight apps (Word, Thunderbird, Firefox, etc.) I have 4 GB of RAM in my system. Resource Monitor reports that 514 MB is hardware reserved (512 MB of it for my IGP), 2,100 MB is on Standby, and only 142 MB is truly free. I've frequently seen it dip to just a few megabytes free. But never have I noticed the computer slow down as a result. It can always grab some of the cached data in the Standby RAM if it has to. I'm eagerly awaiting the response from MS, which I'm expecting will vindicate Win7.
  • 13 Hide
    curnel_D , February 18, 2010 11:19 PM
    stravisYou really shouldn't be running x64 on 4GB - you should double that if possible. x64 takes up more RAM for the same applications than if you were running the 32bit version. I can't remember where but I remember seeing the breakpoint between 32 and 64 bit versions and I think (don't quote me on it though) you had to be over 6GB of RAM to make the x64 version worthwhile.

    I run 64 bit on 4GB of ram because it's more secure/stable, not because of memory mapping.
  • -7 Hide
    buckcm , February 18, 2010 11:20 PM
    stravisYou really shouldn't be running x64 on 4GB - you should double that if possible. x64 takes up more RAM for the same applications than if you were running the 32bit version.


    Thanks I never knew that. I will double check that for sure.

    Since everyone else is listing what they are running, I max out at 3.5 GB of RAM running GTA 4 with Steam, Xfire, and Vent running on 64 bit Windows 7 with 8 total GB of RAM.
  • 22 Hide
    cheepstuff , February 18, 2010 11:24 PM
    from the way microsoft designs it's operating systems, is looks like windows 7 stays tight and light like XP when there is little system RAM in the first place. however, when you have several gigs at your disposal, 7 will spread out and take advantage of the spare room. and later on, if another application needs some, it will allocate some from its reserves. at least that is what it looks like to me, the other possible alternative is a memory leak which is highly unlikely for an OS.

    this seems like a good article opportunity for Toms... just saying.
  • 12 Hide
    xrarey , February 18, 2010 11:32 PM
    Where is this coming from? I have 7 64-bit, 6gb ram, and NO pagefile - and even I don't get this kind of ram usage. Not even while encoding high bit-rate x264 while playing TF2 and recording a TV show...

    ??
  • 11 Hide
    skit75 , February 18, 2010 11:32 PM
    This does not suprise me to be honest. I feel that we are missing some information though, like how many of these machines are are simply OS upgrades done on hardware purchased originally for Win XP......4-5 years ago. I'm sure most of the readers on this site know people who insist on using thier old machines to run newer operating systems/software, flat out refusing hardware upgrades that would otherwise make thier lives so much easier simply because "it works right now, why would I need new hardware".
    My guess is a large part of the test group is running 1 or 2GB of RAM which in theory should be enough for nearly everything an educated end user would ever need but, then look how much bloatware comes with store bought PCs/laptops killing any overhead room they thought they had. We need more information on this "data".
  • 1 Hide
    Shadow703793 , February 18, 2010 11:34 PM
    Curnel_DI run 64 bit on 4GB of ram because it's more secure/stable, not because of memory mapping.

    Yup. For example, the old 17 year old Windows Bug/hole didn't affect x64 OSes.
  • -4 Hide
    kingnoobe , February 18, 2010 11:34 PM
    I'm at 41% right now, and that's high it's usually only in the 20's. Then again I do have 12gb of ram, so I guess it don't really matter to me anyways. The slowest thing on my computer is my regular hard drives. And I got my ssd for my os.

    But even on my old computer which only has 1gb of ram. Every thing seems just as smooth with win7 as it did with xp.
  • 0 Hide
    xrarey , February 18, 2010 11:35 PM
    Let me rephrase my last post - "not even I get this kind of ram usage" means "I really only see 50 percent max"
  • 6 Hide
    dechy , February 18, 2010 11:35 PM
    Regularly 90 to 95%?? Obviously if people are still using 2GB, but even then, that not true at ALL. Both my home laptop & work laptop have 2GB with swapfile turned off and has probably only hit that hit a percentage with EVERYTHING running at the same time (quite rare) using my working environment (IE/VPN/Outlook/Word/Excel/Powerscript/Visual Studio).

    My gaming PC has 8GB with swapfile turned off as well, and running Mass Effect 2 with the usual stuff in the background (AV/IE/etc...) it hasn't cracked the 45% utilization (based on both G15 keyboard LCD resource monitor & Performance counters with W7). It idles at around 1.4GB. My laptops idle at about 800MB.

    And none of them are even close to be considered slow, maybe a TAD slower than XP on boot, but after that it's no difference.

    Obviously it'll take more than XP... did they expect a friggin' miracle? Did 95 take less RAM than 3.1? But 90-95%? hell no.
  • 0 Hide
    Goro , February 18, 2010 11:35 PM
    God I hate these incomplete articles.

    No oconnellda it is not high. Keep in mind that there might be other stuff running in the background services etc. Plus todays software requires more memory to call so why should not a OS do the same. We want faster CPU more HDD space, put large amounts of ram in the computer but want the OS to use nothing. All this doesn't make sense.
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