Do You Really Need More Than 6 GB Of RAM?

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JimmiG

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[citation][nom]Fadamor[/nom]The person who says "x GB is all you'll need" is only thinking in the present and not in the near future.[/citation]

More like "only thinking in the present and the near future", which is all that matters. In the far future, I will probably use a mobo and CPU that require DDR3 RAM - Buying e.g. 12GB of DDR2 for my current system isn't a very good idea when 4GB will be fine for the entire life span of the machine. Even if I keep the system as a secondary machine, the other components (video card, hard drive, CPU) would be too outdated by the time software starts requiring 12GB of RAM. Same for those buying craploads of DDR3 today - what are you going to do when your next build needs DDR4 memory or whatever? Computers are not long-term investments.

Another example - I originally built my machine with 2GB of RAM because it was fine at the time. I only bought the extra 2GB later when it was truly needed. By then, prices for DDR2 memory had more than halved. I saved quite a bit by not buying all 4GB for the initial, high prices when DDR2 was new.
 

webdev511

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[citation][nom]endurer[/nom]Outside of graphic designers - sound engineers, I'm not sure if any normal application user will benefit from running anything a 32bit 3gb capacity.[/citation]

I can think of a lot of things. Large Excel Spreadsheets with a LOT of formulas, Data Mining, Code development, Virtual Machines, etc. The typical home user might not need a lot of RAM, but in the end it depends on the user.
 

gpsxsirus

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The benchmarks are fine for people who don't multi-task. How about those of use who have several things things going on at once. How about running Eve Online along with a HD movie running on the second monitor and Trillian running the background. Or vid-conferencing (Paltalk), Trillian, Media Center (playing music) and firefox with about 10 tabs open.

When checking to see if large quantities of RAM are useful it helps to consider why would actually want more RAM.
 
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I'm curious why the extra RAM wasn't used for a RAM disk. It'd be interesting to see the difference when programs and/or the page file is on a RAM disk.
 

Grims

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For my work PC I wanted to build a system with 8GB of ram on a core i7, I was will be doing a bit of WMware. Well, Because of the three channel setup it was either 3x2 which would cut me short of 8GB or 6x2. for only a 170 bucks I went with the 6x2....that's what I paid for my 2x2 a year and a half a go..
 
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i planning to build a xeon nehalem machine with 24GB DD3 first, upgradable to 48GB. it's only to get photoshop at FULL SPEED 100% of the time, no need of scratch disk anymore.
 

trinix

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I see a lot of heavy users and they forget, this not about heavy users. Yes if you run 20 programs, more memory will benefit you. If you have the money, more isn't bad. If you can use it, more isn't bad.

But for the average user, 3 on a 32bit system is more than enough. There is no point in getting 16 gigs and only running 1 lesser game. Also there are examples of special games, yes, some games use more memory. They took an example of a few games and then said across the board games don't really benefit from more memory. If you are lucky/unlucky and your game can use more, yes. 2 mmo's, yes of course you use more memory.

But for normal use, a bit of browsing, playing a few games not simultaneously, a few small other things, you don't require more than 3gigs. If you add photoshopping, add 3 or 4 heavy programs together, do the math. Yes indeed you want more memory.
 

HolyCrusader

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I use a dual-boot XP32/Vista64 machine with 8GB of memory. I use Vista64 almost exclusively, but occasionally I will reboot and switch to XP. Every time I do, XP seems less, "smooth" than Vista64... an applications take a little longer to load here or there, and other slight hesitations I had never really noticed before when I was using XP exclusively.

I've considered loading up a multi-GB Ramdrive like others have done, but haven't gotten around to doing so yet. I do like to run Virtual PC's, and having the extra memory for them makes things run a lot better without seriously impacting the main OS's performance.

As a side note, I've been testing Microsoft's VirtualPC (on my Vista64 system), and I think it's been causing a variety of minor instabilities in the host OS from random program crashes and even BSOD's, not to mention it refuses to use my Virtualization capabilities of my Mobo/Processor. I'm going to be going back to VMWare here soon.
 

septagent

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"Load up 2 copies of a new MMO (Age of Conan is probably the most hardware intense) at the same time. Add a few hundred megs worth of browser windows, voice chat, mp3 player, etc in the back ground. Now go try to zone around the map a lot.

With 3gigs you'll be swapping to disk or reloading maps every time.

Then try video capture (FRAPs or similar) on top of that... 6gigs will work, but there sure won't be much extra."

Is that what you call normal use? I don't think I really have the attention span to play more than one game at a time, and neither does my CPU. Not to mention those people who like to claim that they "watch an HD movie, listen to music, browse the internet, encode video, edit photos, wash their car....." and everything else on their computer at the same time.

Seriously, the AVERAGE user would be hard pressed to find something (asside from virtual machines) that would push 3 GBs on their machine without being bottlenecked by their own brain or at least their computer's CPU.

It was a good article, and largely conclusive. I do like suggestions from a few people though - do the same comparison with raid-0, and on this memory test compare in game load times. At least those who have already purchased mountains of ram will feel some sort of reward.
 

chaugh

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Your correct, this article was good for the average user. So how many "average" users are on Toms Hardware?
 

sucre

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Having 8 or 12 GB of memory opens all kinds of doors for even the above-average PC user. Yes it's true that Photoshop can use a ton with multiple levels of history in RAM, but that's professional usage.

I find it paradoxical that Windows still insists on using pagefile resources when available RAM is 8 gigs. In such a case, having 8 or 12 gigs allows one to offload the pagefile onto a ramdrive.

In fact, future usage of 16 or 24 gigs might be so well suited to ramdrive creation that one could use 4-8 gigs as a pagefile, 4-8 gigs as a readyboost volume, and still have 8 or more gigs available as free memory to Windows.

I am reminded of a Far Side cartoon that was printed in 1997 or 1998. It showed the devil in hell with snow falling and the caption read something like "April 12th, 2003: Applications and memory reach perfect synchronicity." Turns out he was right.
 

bpdski

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These kinds of tests really aren't useful at all in determining if 6, 8 or 12GB is helpful. All of this is great to determine the performance of a machine when running a single application and is perfectly suited to comparing hardware such as one CPU vs another.

I probably never run more than one or two apps at a time on my home PC, but work is another story. I typically have 15 or more applications running in the foreground not to mention background processes and services. Heck, Firefox alone can consume half a gig of memory after a couple days. Throw in Office, Visual Studio and several other apps that each consume well over 100Meg and I can promise you that 12GB or more makes a huge difference.
 
I think the main reason some people fell like 3GB isn't enough is because their PC is loaded with crapware that's taking up like 1.5GB ^_^. Biggest reason for me to get more RAM, Adobe CS3. Gotta take my work home with me sometimes since my work computer kinda sux, but yeah running flash, photoshop, illistrator, and dreamweaver open at the same time while I've got a few firefox windows open for reference kinda slows things down a bit. I'd like to get CS4, but at work it's kinda like, so you wanna get the new CS4 that will run marginally faster on your outdated computer, or you wanna build that new Phenom II system and keep CS3? Yeah, I'm keeping CS3. I got my Gigabyte board because it can support up to 16 GB (since I plan to have it for a long time), but it seems that I don't see those overpriced 4GB DDR2 modules around anymore. Oh well.
 

marokero

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[citation][nom]chaugh[/nom]So how many "average" users are on Toms Hardware?[/citation]

Took the words right out of my mouth :)
 

jwl3

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Greenie scum are merely luddites. Man has always sought to build the biggest, fastest, best of everything. Now greenies want us to go back to the stone age? Man has been an ingeniously adaptable creature and has always been able to invent its way out of problems.

Environmentalism is the new religion for secularists and anti-religion types.
 

St-OwNed

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Vista has always been a memory hog since the beta days. As you can see it was never fixed. I use 3Gig for all my basic Gaming needs. I'm currently using Windows7, and have been impressed with the way it manages memory. Way better than all previous OS from MS.
Though I'm currently looking to upgrade my memory 8 Gig DC. :) lol
 
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Too bad they didn't try a music sampler. More RAM makes the difference between loading a string quartet and a full orchestra worth of samples.
 

thedipper

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[citation][nom]St-Owned[/nom]Vista has always been a memory hog since the beta days. As you can see it was never fixed. I use 3Gig for all my basic Gaming needs. I'm currently using Windows7, and have been impressed with the way it manages memory. Way better than all previous OS from MS. Though I'm currently looking to upgrade my memory 8 Gig DC. lol[/citation]
It's not a hog, it's called taking advantage of system RAM, and scaling up when system RAM scales up.
 

mitchdbx

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If you are a true power user, you will most likely be interested in other OS options, OS test beds, Networking experiments, and even distributed programming experiments. If this is you, then the large amount of ram will come in very handy. At the same time, more cores will also help your cause. Otherwise, a large amount of ram, say over 2 or 3 gig, is not worth the money at this point in time. However, as game become more efficient at utilizing more memory, the addition RAM will pay off.

I think that the better question is premium kit price v. "value" kits. Why not shove 8 gig or more in a machine at a cost of less than $100 (DDR2)? The same 8 gig kit will cost you substantially more when purchasing a "performance" kit. It have been my experience that the high cost memory is not worth the cost.
 

zodiacfml

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i guess 4 or 6 gig is enough for me.
i'm using 2 gig comp in vista, it leaves little memory when i've done a lot of browsing, some games, and video re-encoding for the whole day.
 

kittle

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I recently upgraded from 2GB to 6GB on my XP x64 system.
And while I did not see an across the board increase in performance, I found that WoW plays much smoother. Gone is the jerkyness when switching between zones. Overall FPS is up a tiny bit, but the min FPS is vastly improved.

Plus now i can look into some disk caching software and make things that much faster.

Toms really needs to find more benchmarks than FPS in games to test these things...
 

deltatux

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Let's see Tom's Hardware try to run more than 1 virtual machine on 3GB (and not idling), it'll be sluggish. Even on 4GB, it helps it to be runnable.

Right now 4GB is the sweetspot, but in due time, it won't be.
 
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