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

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 (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.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • nrnx
    Maybe if these people actually upgraded to 64 bit software they could use all of their ram...
  • oconnellda
    Thinkpad t500, 4GB of DDR3. Windows 7 Pro

    Current RAM Consumption with Google Chrome, Word 2010 open:


    Seems ridiculously high to me. Right?

    And that's for Windows 7 Pro 64-bit, with Intel Core2Duo P8700... just for reference.

    I may also add I slim down the GUI a lot. I use Linux fluxbox on my other partition...
  • Maybe this will free your mind a bit:
  • rodney_ws
    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.
  • STravis
    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!
  • foody
    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.
  • Abrahm
    I'm sporting 8gb of ram with Windows 7 Pro x64 and I never go over 25% ram being used.
  • nrnx
    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..
  • Bolbi
    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.
  • STravis
    oconnelldaAnd that's for Windows 7 Pro 64-bit, with Intel Core2Duo P8700... just for reference.
    You 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.