Wednesday, 7 March 2018

8GB or 16GB of RAM for Heavy Multi Tasking

8GB or 16GB of RAM for Heavy Multi Tasking - Intro

RAM is fairly cheap and easy to install. But how much do you need for heavy multitasking?

8GB or 16GB of RAM for Heavy Multi Tasking - Observations

Prior to my upgrade I was running 4GB of RAM, but owing to 32 bit limitations of 3GB and two 500MB graphics cards, I can only see 2GB of available RAM in performance manager.

This 2GB of RAM was always maxed out, hovering around the 1.8GB mark most of the time during day to day use. I use a 4 monitor set up so can have a awful lot of stuff open.

I recently upgraded to a 64 bit system, and so now I can use more RAM. I have installed 16GB, but how much of this will get used.

Typically I have open:

  • 4 Browser Windows (3 or 4 Tabs Each)
  • 3 MS Word Windows
  • MS Outlook
  • >10 Large PDF Files
  • MS Publisher with lots of Photos
  • Modelling Software or,
  • Sketch Up or,
  • AutoCAD
So how much memory does all this stuff take up? Just 3.67GB:

Windows is actually using a lot more memory standby memory, if we look in resource monitor we can see only 1.4GB Free with around 11GB used in standby. Standby memory hold on to applications that have been closed, in case they are needed again, this will gradually "fill up" the longer you have your machine switched on and you open and close programs.

8GB or 16GB of RAM for Heavy Multi Tasking - Conclusion

8GB will almost certainly be plenty for heavy multitasking. Any more than 8GB and really you are looking at server amounts of memory that give no real benefit. 

Would I have bought 16GB of RAM knowing what I know now? Probably not. But its would still be tempting because the more available memory for standby the better. . . . and there in lies the rub.

As a note aside the best performance upgrade you can ever make (in my opinion) is a solid state drive SSD. Even a old, low spec computer will work twice as fast with an SSD.  


  1. i went down the ssd route a while back.
    fitted a sumsung 850 evo - 500gb size.
    just copied the boot disc (also 500gb) using the included samsung software. job done.
    worked first time.
    Dropped boot up speed from quite a few minutes to well under a minute.
    I recently bought a fancy case, and the ssd bolts on hidden behind the motherboard tray. It is kind of wierd looking into the case and seeing NO drives :-)
    (i have another 500gb i was using that i have yet to fit to the new case, but i will probably just bung a raid array in, and copy the second disk to that - yep my slightly "trick" 2010 Asus mobo can handle raid arrays rght from the box)

  2. Sounds sweet I normally buy a heavy weight 2nd hand PC, currently on HP XW range, but likley opt for "z" range on next break down, which is very rare I might add.

    xw8400 that melted the other day was in my service 5 years, and it was 2nd hand.