RAM (Random Access Memory) is also referred to as system memory. It is a computer part which temporarily carries software and files in current use. It enables the processor to access data much faster in comparison to accessing data on storage devices such as a hard drive (HDD) or solid state drive (SSD). HDDs and SSDs hold software and files in a more permanent way, until a user uninstalls or deletes them. Software and files in RAM are loaded from these storage devices and are removed from RAM when an application is closed or operating system is shut down.
The most important positive effect of having a larger RAM size in a laptop or other kind of computer is its greater multi-tasking potential. Said differently, a greater capability to run more programs simultaneously without slowing down overall computing speed or crashing the operating system. In this article we will explain how many Gigabytes (GB) of RAM you actually need and how does its size and other characteristics affect laptops’ performance.
Common Laptop RAM Sizes
The most common RAM size you can find in everyday laptop PCs nowadays is 8GB. Some lower-end models come with 4GB and in some cases only 2GB. Higher-end mainstream laptop models oftentimes feature 12GB and 16GB. You can find high-performance gaming laptops and mobile workstations with 24 or even 32 Gigabytes, too. Available laptop memory modules (SODIMM module format as opposed desktop PC-use DIMM) usually have 4GB or 8GB capacity. 16GB SODIMM modules are still a rarity and aren’t compatible with all notebook models on the market. 6GB SODIMMs don’t exist on the market. Select laptops do come with 6GB RAM, but these have a 4GB module paired with a 2GB module.
Today’s laptops usually have two RAM slots. Some small and budget models have with only one or no slots. The laptops with no RAM slots have system memory soldered onto the motherboard. On the other side, select gaming and mobile workstation notebooks have four. It’s also possible to find a laptop with soldered RAM combined with a RAM slot for expansion.
How Much RAM You Need in Laptop with Windows?
The best way to find out how much RAM you need in a laptop or any other kind of computer is to calculate it by summing RAM footprints of software you typically use. In the table below, you can see typical RAM usage of Windows 10 operating system and its background services, as well as RAM usage of some popular Windows software and game titles. Using the table, you can easily calculate what RAM capacity you need and how many programs you can run at the same time without exceeding RAM size and choking the system. For instance, if you add heavy web browsing in Chrome and 10 images opened in Paint.net image editor on top of RAM used by OS itself and an antivirus running in the background (Avast for example), you will get a needed RAM amount of at least 2.64 Gigabytes. Or, if you run only the latest Call of Duty game on Windows with no additional programs opened you’ll need more than 4GB right of the bat.