Skip to main content

Memory Upgrade: Is It Time To Add More RAM?

Introduction

We want to do things a bit differently in this article. We're going to start with 32-bit programs in a 32-bit environment, move to 32-bit programs in a 64-bit environment, and finally look at 64-bit programs in a 64-bit environment.

By doing this, we want to prove that those of you still stuck on 32-bit systems can, in fact, benefit from 8 GB or more RAM before inevitably making the switch over to a 64-bit operating system in the near future.

Also, we want to show how 32-bit programs in 64-bit environments can benefit from a decent RAM expansion, how graphics cards don’t just fill their video memory with textures, and why you'd better have more than 4 GB of RAM when it comes time to move into the 64-bit world.

We obviously can't cover all possible application scenarios with different amounts of RAM, but we'll offer an interesting excursion off the beaten path...and perhaps a surprise or two along the way.

If you find a logical argument here to justify dipping into your household budget for a RAM upgrade, then we will have achieved something. We believe it’s important to have a smooth computing experience at work and the ability to play games without suffering from stuttering caused by annoying hard drive access. Expect one conclusion right up front: more RAM certainly never hurts anyone.

  • doyletdude
    Hmmm... i'm concerned because i use triple channel so i'm currently at 6gb, which is under recommendation however to upgrade to 12gb might be to much, especially since i've heard that using more RAM slots negativley affects overclocking stability.
    Reply
  • Lutfij
    awesome read for the masses, thanks Tom!
    Reply
  • hmp_goose
    I, too, run an X58 chipset, with Win7-64, and don't know what this article is telling me . . .
    Reply
  • holygigi
    Finally a good read on Tom's, not a news about a rumor that a fruit company might provide a tease about something shiny.
    I use 8GB for about 2 years now, the best thing about it (and I didnt find this covered in the article) is that alt+tab-ing out from a game to windows and back to the game is almost instant. Even the hungriest game uses about 3-3.5 GB. Windows again about 2.5. So you always have 2GB free. Even though I dont have a SSD yet, after the initial slower start of an app (browser, anything), going back to it is instant. For me this is the real benefit of having more ram. The marginal (if any) FPS increase is not the main selling point. Multi-tasking is.
    Reply
  • takeapieandrun
    Personally, I would say 6GB is nice balance between capacity and cost. 4GB of RAM can become limited at times, but IMO 8GB is a little too much.
    Reply
  • dogman_1234
    Nice article. I finally learned something i can be able to use later in my computing life.

    My questions are as followed:

    1) I am aware SSD's are a applied RAM set. So how can one use your system RAM to store files after shutdown as well.

    2) How can one add more memory to the GPU? I can see a noticeable jump in GPU RAM, or GMP as they put it.
    Reply
  • rags_20
    Is the RAM loaded on an actual model of the truck?
    Reply
  • coffee_man
    i use triple channel but i only got 3 gb of ram, is better to add more ram or buy an ssd ?
    Reply
  • Niva
    Come on guys, the article and recommendation are pretty straight forward. They're recommending a minimum of 8 Gb and if you have less you might want to consider upgrading.

    That being said, if all you do is interwebs and some gaming you should be careful where you spend your money. Big ram is for programs that use a lot of ram, if you're doing heavy 3d modeling/animation, large photoshop files now that CS5 actually has 64 bit products it's justified. For games it's a crapshoot.

    I say stay with 6 Gb unless you see your ram usage over 50% regualrly.
    Reply
  • quizzical
    So basically, the conclusion is that slow hard drives are slow, which really doesn't say anything about system memory. What happens if you try running the programs off of a good SSD? Having an SSD in your system, but not putting any programs or even the swap file on it seems like a rather strange configuration.
    Reply