How Much Memory Do I Need?

By +Rod Bland

Picture of various types of computer memory

When it comes to deciding how much computer memory you need, the general rule of thumb is the more, the better. With more memory, you can keep more files and programs open at once without slowing down your computer.

On average, doubling the amount of memory in your system will make an obvious difference to overall speed and performance.

This is especially true with todays memory-hungry applications such as office programs, video, photo and music editing packages, computer games, and increasingly sophisticated anti-virus software. More memory allows you to run more applications at once, and makes using your favorite programs much more enjoyable.

Recommendations based on typical usage

Typical Usage Recommended Memory
Casual User
Internet browsing, e-mail, FaceBook and other social media
Frequent User
Internet browsing, email, FaceBook, word processing, watching movies, some music management, using multiple applications at once (multi-tasking).
Power User/Student
Internet browsing, email, FaceBook, documents and spreadsheets, photo editing, video editing, graphics programs and gaming, music collection management, intensive multitasking.
Professional User/Gamer/Graphic Designer/Software Developer
High performance gaming, multimedia editing, high-definition video, software development, graphic design/3D modeling, intensive multitasking.

Note for Server Machines

Machines operating in a server environment have memory requirements that vary with both the application being hosted and the number of users consuming that application. This includes mail servers, web servers, file servers, and servers hosting multiple virtual machines on a platform like ESX Server.

For recommended system memory requirements, you should see the documentation provided by your application vendor.

Recommendations based on your Operating System

Operating System Minimum requirements RamCity recommends..
Mac® OSX Leopard 1GB 2GB-4GB
Mac® OSX Snow Leopard 1GB 2GB-4GB
Mac® OSX Lion 2GB 8GB
Mac® OSX Mountain Lion 2GB 8GB
Microsoft Windows® 8 64-bit 2GB 4GB-8GB
Microsoft Windows® 8 32-bit 1GB 4GB
Microsoft Windows® 7 64-bit 2GB 4GB-8GB
Microsoft Windows® 7 32-bit 1GB 4GB
Microsoft Windows® Vista™ 64-bit 2GB 4GB-8GB
Microsoft Windows® Vista 32-bit 1GB 4GB
Microsoft Windows® XP® Professional 512MB 2GB-4GB
Windows XP Home 512MB 1GB-3GB
Windows 2000 512MB 1GB-4GB

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