Conclusion - 8 GB Improves Efficiency And Comfort
Our testing brought us to a clear conclusion: if you often use several memory hungry applications simultaneously, then there's really no way around upgrading your system to 8 GB. Working with applications, and especially switching between them, is much more efficient than with a typical 2 GB configuration. Also, it would even be feasible to run a modern 3D game that already takes up more than 1 GB of memory by itself while having another application with a large memory footprint running in the background. Thus, load times in Windows are a thing of the past, as is the constant swapping of Windows components to the hard drive. The best part is that such an upgrade is not even expensive, as 8 GB of memory is already available for as little as $198 Compare Prices on DDR2 Memory.
Experienced users can give their systems another little performance boost by deactivating the paging file. However, you should always keep an eye on the system's status, as you may otherwise suddenly find yourself confronted with a system crash.
Large memory sizes are especially worthwhile when virtual machines are used, such as those provided by VMware and Microsoft Virtual PC. With enough RAM at their disposal, users no longer have to stop the individual VMs, but can simply switch between them instead.
Nonetheless, even veteran users should expect to encounter a few setbacks when using 8 GB of RAM. Be prepared to encounter driver problems, and not just on exotic hardware. Some system tools may also spring a nasty surprise on you. On the other hand, falling memory prices should allow 64 bit systems to spread fairly quickly, which in turn should mean that driver issues will be sorted out fairly quickly.
Those who don't own a 64 bit version of Windows but have a 32 bit full retail version can order a 64 bit version directly from Microsoft, and will only have to pay shipping and handling fees. Users with an OEM version of Vista aren't quite so lucky. Here, it depends on the goodwill of the PC vendor, as Microsoft does not offer direct upgrade support for such versions. In the worst case, the user will be forced to spend more money to buy another license.
I have 1 GB of RAM and am using 80% after a normal boot (plus a few non-essential apps... but they make doing things easier
Did I miss something?
Nevertheless I've already built a system with Vista 64 & 8GB ram few weeks ago and wanted the test to comfort decisions I made.
Also, is the reason that only 3.5GB is available in the 32-bit environment due to the 512mb video card and MMIO? If so, what will happen in a 32 or 64 bit system if you have a video setup with 2gb of video ram? Will you only have 2GB of main memory available?
Significant chunks of address space below 4GB (the highest address accessible via 32-bit) get reserved for use by system hardware:
• BIOS – including ACPI and legacy video support
• PCI bus including bridges etc.
• PCI Express support will reserve at least 256MB, up to 768MB depending on graphics card installed memory