Memory – How much RAM do you really need?
The amount of RAM in modern computer systems is very similar to the cubic capacity and horsepower of a car. You can never have too much and more is always better. This or something like this should be the opinion of most computer users when asked about this topic. As applications and programms get mor demanding, the amount of RAM in your PC should also increase. For most people and the thing sthey do on a laptop, like gaming, editing, surfing , writing, emailing, and researching 8GB of RAM can be okay. however, if you want to use your laptop for the forseeable future without any issues you should get a laptop with 16GB of RAM. These laptops are very future-proof and will be able to handle even very demanding programms and applications.
Test Results: Best Laptops with 16GB of RAM
Ranking First: HP Elite Dragonfly
- Very good mobility
- Strong battery life
- Wifi 6 & LTE
- Display could be brighter
- No card reader
Light and enduring: HP Elite Dragonfly in test
Some users travel a lot in modern business life and always have their working notebook with them. In order not to lose the fun of work, you need a lightweight device with a long battery life. This is exactly where the HP Elite Dragonfly shows its strengths, as it leaves nothing to be desired in terms of battery life. In our simulated everyday work benchmark it lasts for a strong 08:59 hours, in the video runtime test even 14:48. Only few other models achieve such strong rates like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon G7 and the HP Spectre Folio 13.
It’s not only the very good runtimes that make traveling fun, but also the well manufactured and slim 13 inch case, which comes along very light with its weight of just 2.2 lbs., contributes to this.
Another important feature for a reliable business companion is the connectivity of the laptop. HP has a slot for 4G-capable mobile phone cards and already uses the new WiFi 6. For quick notes in tablet mode, HP also includes an active input pen, which makes the features of a convertible notebook complete. Practically, it also sticks magnetically to a special position on the case’s upper side. This is where the magnet is located that holds the notebook in tablet mode.
Reliable office workhorse
The heart of the HP Elite Dragonfly is an Intel Core i7-8665U processor of the Whiskey Lake generation, which is supported by 16 GByte RAM. Users store their data on a 512 GByte SSD, which also has a speedy Intel Optane memory of 32 GByte. However, these 32 GBytes cannot be freely allocated, but are only intended to increase the read and write speed of the mass storage device for frequently used files. The performance is very good with a measured transfer rate of 412 MB/s, but this value is sometimes topped by other laptops in our premium notebook bestseller list. Thus, we measured an excellent 504 MB/s on Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Yoga G4 and a very good 418 MB/s on Acer’s Swift 5 SF515-51T-73Q7. And both models manage without expensive Optane memory.
The performance of the Intel Core i7 CPU is good, but not outstanding. 4,591 points in PCMark 8: Creative Accelerated Test are usable. The benchmark evaluates the system’s performance from web browsing to video editing to casual gaming. Office and multimedia work well with it, but there are more suitable devices for complex work like video editing.
Despite a narrow overall height of only 0.7 inches, HP doesn’t do without an HDMI socket and USB type A. ports. In addition, two contemporary USB type C ports with a high-performance Thunderbolt 3 protocol are available, via which the convertible is also supplied with power.
Mid-range display only
The 13.3-inch Full HD display (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) is okay and delivers just about usable values with a maximum brightness of 362 candelas per square meter and a checkerboard contrast of 156 to 1. The color space coverage is also okay: The HP Elite Dragonfly covers 99 percent of the standard RGB color space, but only 76 percent of the larger AdobeRGB color space. Thanks to the convertible function, the display can be completely folded over onto the keyboard part, so that it becomes a somewhat larger tablet on which handwritten notes can be made.
The flat base contains a keyboard that doesn’t have a long stroke, but its keystroke is so crisp that even long texts can be written on the Dragonfly. The click pad is also nice and large for such a compact case. It has a very pleasant surface and doesn’t show any conspicuous features in use.
We only miss a separate volume control on the robust and elegantly finished case, as HP still has it on the HP Spectre x360, for example. In tablet mode, the loudspeakers can only be turned down with an annoying number of clicks after minimizing the running application. This is more convenient.
The HP Elite Dragonfly shines in the test with its very good battery life and its slim, light and high-quality case. Nevertheless, the laptop is well positioned in terms of interface selection. The display and performance of the quick-change artist should be even better in view of the high price. The bottom line is that the HP Elite Dragonfly is a great premium notebook with a practical convertible function. In the video we’ll tell you what you should look out for when buying a premium notebook.
Second: Dell XPS 15
- Top performance
- Great price-performance ratio
- Beautiful display
- Very good battery life
- Only one USB type C Thunderbolt
- Only one 512 GByte SSD
Dell XPS 15: Top performance
The heart of the Dell XPS 15 2020 is the Intel processor i7-9750H of the Coffe-Lake generation, which is accompanied by 16 GByte RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650. At the same time, the mid-range GTX 1650 notebook graphics card, which in opposition to the stronger RTX 2000 models doesn’t offer up-to-date raytracing and Tensor cores, doesn’t really turn the 15 incher into a high-end gaming laptop.
Thus, the performance level is a bit above the old GTX 1050 Ti, but should be able to display all modern games smoothly. Demanding titles have to be played with slightly lowered graphic settings, though. Older and less graphically demanding games also play smoothly in high detail settings.
In fact, the built-in GTX 1650 is supposed to provide for a smoother editing of video content. The Nvidia card shows its strengths especially in somewhat longer videos with effect-heavy scenes. This results in a solid 6,460 points in the PC Mark 8 Creative system benchmark, which measures the overall performance of a notebook, especially in demanding tasks. In a direct comparison, the XPS does not have to admit defeat to the top dog of the workstation and Creator laptop best list, the current Apple MacBook Pro 16. Apple delivers a solid 6,339 points in the PC Mark 8 Creative Benchmark.
By the way, Dell has increased the CPU’s power consumption from 45 to 56 watts – and this is also noticeable in the performance test. Thus, we measured a good value of 1.179 points in the Cinebench 15 Multi Core. This benchmark is used to determine the CPU cores’ computing power – and is very little influenced by RAM, hard disk and GPU. Even the gaming designed HP Omen 15 with identical processor has to admit defeat to this value. This only achieves 1,126 points.
Thus, the Dell XPS 15 is suitable for all everyday office tasks, as well as video editing in HD, image editing, casual gaming and of course also as a streaming device for Netflix and Co. Only in current, graphics-hungry games and video editing with 4K and GreenScreen material the computing power isn’t sufficient for fluent and fun work anymore.
Gladly a little more of everything
It stores on a 1TB SSD, which is very slow compared to the laptops on our Workstation and Creator laptop best list. Thus, we only measure 292 MB/s with PCMark 8 Storage, a benchmark that measures the pure speed of the mass storage during read and write operations without being influenced by the processor or the rest of the system. The MSI Prestige 15 A, which is one place behind the XPS 15 in the overall ranking, delivers a top value of 560 MB/s here.
Especially when handling large amounts of data and especially when cutting and rendering video material, a faster SSD provides for a noticeably more pleasant workflow.
Dell doesn’t try anything new with the case. The XPS 15 therefore looks like a larger version of the also very good XPS 13 (9380). This also applies to the connections, which are sufficient for almost all work processes. One or two more ports, preferably also of the USB-C type, would have made the device a bit more practical, though. It’s especially praiseworthy that Dell still has an SD card reader installed.
The XPS 15 comes along with a first-class workmanship. A small flaw is the English keyboard layout, though. The key stroke path is extremely short, the counterpressure crisp, the typing noise is pleasant except for the larger keys (they clatter a bit). We have nothing to criticize in the mouse replacement.
Display and battery life are trumps
In addition to the high 4K resolution (3,840 x 2,160 pixels), the OLED panel of the XPS 15 is particularly appealing because of its excellent chessboard contrast of 204 to 1 and its usable maximum brightness of 410 candelas per square meter. The XPS 15 covers 100 percent of the sRGB color space and the Adobe color space to a very good 95.3 percent.
The Dell XPS 15 rounds off its very good overall image in the mobility test. The enormous 97 watt hour battery lasts for almost 11 hours in pure video rendering. We measured a good 6 hours in the simulated everyday test with PCMark 8 Work. Because the XPS 15 is pleasantly light with 5.5 lbs. for a 15.6 inch laptop with a dedicated graphics unit, it is also suitable for video editing on the go.
The Dell XPS 15 convinced us in the test with a great OLED display and a surprisingly good battery life for a 15.6 inch notebook. The laptop stays pleasantly quiet even during rendering processes. Dell also goes against the current trend in terms of connectivity with the XPS 15 and installs all of the connections that are important in everyday life. Whereby one or two more ports should be on board here. The device isn’t a bargain, but the price for the offered hardware is okay in any case. In the video we show you what you should look out for when buying a premium notebook.
Third: Apple MacBook Pro
- Keyboard & Trackpad
- Battery life
- Size & Weight
- Thunderbolt 3 only
- Price-performance ratio
The 15-inch MacBook Pro had a few problems. The two biggest weaknesses were CPU throttling under load and the keyboard. Both should be a thing of the past with the new model. To also anticipate it: Apple simply did everything right with the new 16-inch MacBook Pro. But there is still room for improvement.
Unbeaten workmanship & design with small updates
It’s a MacBook and it’s from the Pro Series. Accordingly, the workmanship is absolutely flawless. The case is made of recycled aluminum and everything feels fantastic. There are no sharp edges or unclean transitions. For a high price, buyers can also expect a flawless device.
Let’s start with the display size. The new MacBook Pro has a larger display and narrower bezels. So the difference in size from its 15-inch predecessor isn’t that big. Anyway, it still fits nicely in a office bag. Although we find the weight of just over 4.3 lbs. a bit too heavy. So a real backpack is more appropriate.
The changes in the rest of the design are only minor, but have a big impact. The 16-inch MacBook Pro is a little thicker than its predecessor. This was necessary because Apple is using a new keyboard here. More about this later. What should also be mentioned is the “esc” key and the touch ID sensor. These are now separate units to the left and right of the touch bar.
The new size and thickness also allows Apple to use a larger battery. At 99.8Wh, the MacBook Pro is wafer-thin under the U.S. Flight Authorities’ limit for notebook batteries on domestic flights. Read more about battery life in the appropriate chapter.
Connections are still meagre
For a long time now, MacBooks have only had Thunderbolt 3, which is good and bad. Good, because everything works faster with Thunderbolt 3. Bad, because you lead a dongle life. A customer’s USB flash drive? Hopefully the adapter is in the bag and not on the desk. Editing photos from an SD card. Where is the SD card reader?
Anyway, the new 16-inch MacBook Pro comes with a total of four Thunderbolt 3 ports – two on each side. When used with a docking station, that’s fine, although I still want a built-in card reader. The 3.5mm jack on the right side is still there by the way
A bright and sharp display
16 inches is a funny size. Notebooks usually have either 15.6 inch or 17.3 inch screens. So 16 inches are out of the ordinary. This also creates a larger work surface. This can be changed again as usual by scaling the applications in the settings.
Performance is less slowed down
Here the predecessor still had the problem that it did not keep the clock of its processor for long. Throtteling still starts, but in the meantime the time until then has increased to an acceptable level. However, as buyers can also expect from a “pro” notebook
The Intel Core i7 together with the 16GB memory ensures that all programs work quickly. There are only slight hiccups with Adobe products (Photoshop & Lightroom). Who is to blame for it now, we can not make a final decision.
Verdict about the 16 inch Apple MacBook Pro
The 16-inch MacBook Pro is one of the best laptops we’ve ever used. It’s great build quality, the i7’s performance is more accessible, the display is a dream, and the speakers sound fantastic. We were a bit sceptical about the new keyboard at first, but we got used to the scissor switch in no time.
With a starting price of 2200$ (with an Intel Core i7 processor) the 16 inch MacBook Pro is definitely not the right choice for every user, but for professional and very demanding users who want to work with MacOS and want to be mobile on top of that, there is no other choice. No other notebook from Apple has a dedicated graphics card for video and image editing.
There are still a few things that Apple is happy to add. For example an LTE option or an SD card reader. Also, it would probably be time to switch from four to six Thunderbolt 3 ports. If we have to put up with the touchbar, at least give us more ports.
we hope Apple takes all the changes from the 16 inch MacBook Pro and packs them into the 13 inch version as soon as possible – together with the 10th generation of Intel CPUs. After all, if the big MacBook has one drawback, it’s size and weight. That makes it less suitable for mobile computing. But the current 13 inch MacBook Pro still has its problems with the old design weaknesses that Apple has so skilfully eliminated from its big brother.
Fourth: Razer Blade Pro 17
- 4K-120 Hz display
- Adobe RGB completely covered
- Great display
- Top gaming performance
- Battery life
- No G-Sync or matte options
Gaming in notebook format and no compromises? Not imaginable just a few years ago, but the Razer Blade Pro 17 is supposed to do just that. Razer provides us with a test device with an Intel Core i7-9750H and the currently second fastest single notebook graphic card. Paired with a 240 Hz monitor, hardly any wishes remain open. We’re curious how the gaming notebook performs in our test and whether the high price is justified!
Equipment and software
Our Blade Pro 17 offers some connections. In addition to the proprietary and quite tightly fitting power connector, there is a 3.5 mm jack, two USB-3.2 Gen 2 Type A and one USB-3.2 Gen 2 Type C connector on the left side. A highlight is the 2.5 GBbit RJ45 LAN port. On the right side there is another USB 3.2 Gen 2, a Thunderbolt 3, an HDMI 2.0B, an SD card reader and finally a Kensington lock on the edge.
The notebook tested here has an Intel Core i7-9750H, two times 8 GB DDR4-2666 RAM (16 GB RAM in total), a 512 GB M.2 PCIe SSD and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q with 8 GB GDDR6 built in. All the hardware is housed in a 17-inch, 5.5 lbs. aluminum chassis with a 240Hz full-HD IPS monitor and webcam. The built-in hardware is thus sufficiently dimensioned for both computationally intensive tasks and games.
The pre-installed Windows 10 version includes some additional software. On the one hand, applications for keyboard LED control, as well as applications for CPU and GPU power adjustment.
Performance: Field Test
The Blade Pro 17 has more than enough power for everyday tasks. But how does the notebook actually perform under higher load? Can the cooling system tame the CPU and GPU even under continuous load? In order to find all this out in our test, we used Cinebench R20 and a benchmark in the game CS:GO.
In both cases we run the tests three times in a row to find out the actual performance under continuous load. In CS:GO, the maximum settings were selected at Full HD.
After our test, it’s noticeable: The result stays within the measuring tolerance even after several runs. The cooling system can tame both the Intel Core i7-9750H, as well as the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q (mobile).
Verdict on the Razer Blade Pro 17
The Razer Blade Pro 17 tested here is a very good gaming notebook. The manufacturing quality is excellent, the keyboard and touchpad on a very high level. The battery life is good for the installed hardware and the case thickness, and the volume is within limits. In return, the performance is consistent and quite high. Overall, you get a good but expensive device.
At the end of the test it is clear: With the Razer Blade Pro 17 you get a very good gaming notebook with 17 inches and decent performance. Those who like the total package from Razer and want to spend a bit more for higher quality won’t go wrong with the Blade Pro 17.
Fifth: Lenovo ThinkPad T480
- Good keyboard & touchpad
- Strong CPU & GPU
- Relatively quiet
- SSD is comparably slow
For years, the T models with an s-suffix have been among Lenovo’s Thinkpads, which combine a low weight and thin design with a good connectivity and quite high performance at 14 inches. In January 2019, the Chinese manufacturer announced the new iteration with the Thinkpad T480s, which we’ve been using in the office in a double version for a few weeks now. The colleagues are satisfied so far and even more: We consider the devices to be among the best business notebooks on the market.
The Thinkpad T480s measures 13.25″ x 9.15″ x 0.79″ at 3.63 lbs. and thus places itself between the Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen6 and the regular Thinkpad T480s. In comparison to the T470s predecessor, Lenovo hasn’t changed anything on the case; it is still very well manufactured. The connections are new, as Lenovo has also integrated the double USB-C docking in the T480s, as we know it from other current Thinkpads: Next to a Thunderbolt 3 USB C port, there is a USB 3.0 Type C socket plus a proprietary (Ethernet) port for Lenovo’s Ultra Docking Station.
We consider the Thinkpad T480s to be the best business notebook on the market: It can be upgraded with memory and SSD, has a multitude of well thought-out interfaces and security features and, typical for Lenovo, excellent input devices. There are reductions for the Thunderbolt 3 port with only two PCIe lanes, which doesn’t matter apart from very fast external SSDs or eGPUs, and for the CPU, which runs with a conservative 15 watts despite enough cooling reserves. Other business devices, like Dell’s Latitude (7390), have more CPU power with 22 watts.
The 1080p display with only 250 cd/m² brightness is okay for coders, who usually work in darkened offices and might connect a monitor to the Thinkpad T480s anyway. But if you want it brighter and need a visibly higher color space coverage, you should definitely invest the approximately 125 Dollar surcharge for the 1440p panel. Equipped with this and with 16 GB RAM and a 512 GByte SSD including Windows 10 Pro, the notebook is an absolute work machine.
Alternatives are rare and less recommendable – apart from the Dell Latitude (7390) there is also HP’s Elitebook 840 G5. We consider the input devices to be inferior in both of them, the Dell also only has a SO-DIMM slot and the HP a smaller battery.
RAM: How much do you need?
A crazy number of possibilities – but which one is the right one?
Of course, the view is not wrong in general – that much is to be anticipated. However, such generalized statements rarely do justice to a complex topic. To make matters worse, prices in 2020 are currently lower than ever before. In contrast, the various options have rarely been as diverse as they are today. From 2GB, over 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32GB up to 64GB or even more – the choice is almost unmanageable nowadays. If then technical terms like single channel and dual channel, or even the different technologies DDR3 and DDR4 come into play, the layman is quickly overwhelmed.
How much RAM is really useful? When does an upgrade bring an advantage in speed and when is it just a waste of money? For which application do I need how much RAM? What exactly is a swap file and how is it related to the whole thing?
So that you can easily answer such or similar questions in the future, we have created a clear summary of the topic for you. We deliberately don’t go into too much detail, so that this overview is still easy to understand even for the layman and remains short and concise.
What exactly does the main memory in the computer do?
Your computer’s memory stores all the programs, processes and data you are currently running or using. The contents of memory are lost when you turn off your computer, so you need to save them to your hard disk first. Of course, this happens automatically without the user noticing anything.
But the main memory is by far the fastest of all memory components in your computer and can also be accessed directly by the processor. The size and speed of the main memory therefore has a direct influence on the speed of your entire computer system.
What designs are there anyway?
Main memory is almost only built in as a so-called DIMM. There are the different specifications DDR, DDR2, DDR3, DDR4 and DDR5. Attention: The specifications are not compatible with each other, i.e. you can not swap them. The specifications of the mainboard determine which design exactly fits into your computer.
The currently most widespread design is DDR-3, but this is increasingly being replaced by the more modern and faster DDR-4 RAM.
If the RAM is full, the computer will slowly
Sometimes it can happen that not all of this data can be stored in RAM, for example when you start particularly memory-intensive programs or want to call up particularly large data. In this case the so-called swap file comes into play. In this case, the actual RAM is virtually expanded and redirected to a special file on your hard disk, the swap file. Since a hard disk works with a much slower data transfer rate than the actual working memory, the working speed of your PC system is logically reduced.
How much working memory is reasonable?
|Amount of RAM||Our recommendation for …|
|2GB||In 2020 just barely sufficient for office applications, surfing the Internet and simple applications. Windows 7 is recommended as the operating system.|
|4GB||Sufficient for office work, internet research and all programs with “normal” memory requirements. If you want to use Windows 10 as the operating system, you should have at least 4GM RAM in your computer. 4GB are really the minimum configuration with no reserves for the future.|
|8GB||You are sufficiently future-proof and more than well positioned for normal everyday operation with a total memory of 8GB. This means that all common applications run very smoothly, and even more complex image and video programs do not slow down your system unnecessarily.|
|16 GB||16GB, on the other hand, is the perfect memory size for the gamers among us. Even modern high-resolution games are adequately supplied with 16GB and run smoothly. All those who are often in the field of video editing or image editing will only be really happy from 16GB RAM.|
|32GB||With this amount of RAM, we are already at a professional level. Quite apart from the fact that not all mainboards support such memory sizes, the 32GB home user is also significantly overpowered.|
|64GB / +||What applies to 32GB, of course, applies even more to 64GB RAM and higher amounts of RAM. Such values are usually only achieved in workstations and are aimed at professional users such as data centers, CAD controls, professional development environments and the like.|
Single channel or dual channel?
If you want to equip your computer with a total of 8GB of RAM, you theoretically have the choice between one memory bar with 8GB capacity or two bars with 4 GB each (a so-called kit). Mostly the sockets on the mainboard are color-coded in pairs of two. For the so-called dual channel operation, 2 identical RAMs are inserted into the sockets in the matching colors, which gives a significant speed bonus compared to a single (twice as large) bar. In plain language: 2 dimming bars of 4 GB each are faster than 1 dimming bar of 8 GB, although both times 8 GB RAM are used.
As mentioned before, it is important that you always use two identical RAM modules, which together give the desired memory size. Mixing different RAM bars can work, but it is a possible source of error. Unstable systems are all too often the result of wild mixes of different RAM modules.
We at Techtestreport now recommend a memory expansion of at least 8 gigabytes of RAM for the normal computer user. Users who regularly start complex computer games or who regularly work with modern software for video editing / image processing / DTP, we recommend double the amount of RAM. With these 16 gigabytes, you will then be on the safe side for a long time.
However, 4 gigabytes of RAM could also be enough for you. This capacity is (still) completely sufficient for writing texts, watching movies on the computer, playing older computer games or surfing the Internet, for example. However, the demands of new software on your hardware will continue to increase in the future. Therefore we would only recommend this capacity to a limited extent.
Basically – if the prices for RAM allow it – it is better to install too much RAM than too little. Ideally, you should always install two RAM modules of identical design, which together give the desired memory size. So if you want 16 gigabytes of RAM, it is best to use two RAM modules with 8 gigabytes of capacity each.
A tip: You should not mix memory modules. This may work, but is a possible source of error. For example, unstable systems are often the result of wild mixes of different RAM modules. Instead, it is better to use identical modules from a manufacturer of your choice – this is the ideal solution.
Many brands, few manufacturers
Around 97% of the market share is covered by a few chip manufacturers. The 3 best known among them are Hynix, Samsung and Toshiba. In addition, there are several other suppliers, such as Corsair, Crucial or Kingston (so-called third party manufacturers). They buy the memory chips externally and then solder them on their own boards.
Conclusion: Upgrading is not always useful
We hope we could give you a little guidance to the great memory and RAM myths and do some educational work. Now you know what you should look out for when buying your next computer or when exactly an upgrade makes sense.