How much RAM do you need – 32GB RAM vs. 16GB RAM vs. 8GB RAM vs. 4GB RAM
The task of RAM (Random Access Memory is to store data during a cumputing operation. Much of the data that flows between the processor and the other components of the PC is available here for collection by the CPU or the other components. After all, when using programs or playing PC games, a lot of information has to be completely calculated or called up before the user or player notices or actively calls it up – think of the structure of the virtual world in which the player moves.
Doing this the RAM relieves the extremely fast cache created in the processor itself and is still significantly faster than an SSD or hard disk. This makes one thing clear: Random Access Memory (RAM) is an important component if you want everything to run smoothly when using your PC.
How much RAM do you need?
How much RAM you need depends on how your PC works and how much multitasking is does. For example, if you have a lot of tabs open in your web browser, are running Photoshop, are listening to music or watching videos while you work, and then start virtual machines, or want to play modern games at the highest settings, you’ll need more RAM than someone who only uses his PC for some office tasks and occasional surfing.
How much RAM you can install depends on the number of RAM slots on your mainboard. This video explains how you can install additional RAM units in your Computer:
4GB RAM is enough for light computer usage
The RAM requirements for Windows 10 are 2 GB according to Microsoft. If you then plan on a certain amount of RAM for basic programs and simple games, you will need at least 4 GB in order to get them to work properly. Following tasks can be done with 4GB of RAM:
- Limited multitasking for basic programs like Office or an Internet browser.
- Playing simple or older games.
- Typical amount of RAM for an office PC.
8GB RAM is enough for decent multitasking
The current standard in newer computers or laptops is 8 GB of RAM. With 8GB of RAM Windows 10 runs smoothly and you can also work with several, more complex programs at the same time. You can also play modern games in medium to high settings, provided you have the right graphics card. The new Flight Simulator 2020 from Microsoft needs at least 8GB RAM for standard settings. However, working with virtual machines is very limited if you have allocated several gigabytes of RAM to them. The following tasks should not pose any problem for a computer with 8GB of RAM vs only 4GB of RAM though:
- Multitasking with many programs
- Playing the most popular games
- Limited working with virtual machines
- Typical amount of RAM for mid-range games and all-round computer
16GB RAM vs. 8GB RAM: Multitasking? No Problem!
With 16GB of RAM in your PC, you have virtually no worries when it comes to multitasking, compared to a computer with only 8GB of RAM: games tend to run smoothly and you can run several graphics-intensive applications at the same time – the same goes for virtual machines. Multitask with many graphics-intensive applications, image-editing, video-editing even 4K youtube videos, and rendering applications such as Adobe Photoshop and Premiere. Following tasks pose absolutely no problem for a computer with 16GB of RAM compared to a machine running with 8GB of RAM:
- Playing modern and hardware-hungry games (also depending on the graphics card)
- Operating Multiple Virtual Machines in Parallel
- Typical amount of RAM for high-end, gamer and video editing PC
If you have too little memory in your PC, you will notice this quite quickly, because there are clear signs of this. At the latest then it’s time to upgrade the memory, if you want to run every tasks smoothly on your PC again. With 16GB RAM you will have no probelms at all.
32GB RAM vs. 16GB RAM: More Power For Pros!
For most private users 32GB of RAM is way too much for the tasks they are using their computers for. If you have an SSD as a hard disk, you will hardly notice anything even with several demanding applications, because the operating system simply outsources an “overcrowding” of the main memory to the SSD.
Of course this does not apply to developers, scientists etc. e.g. if you work with so-called virtual machines, i.e. if you start another virtual system in the system (or several), do data analysis (at Google it is common to use a box with 1 TB RAM as an analyst!), photo editing, video editing, and many more specialised computing tasks. Nowadays it is also the case that you connect to cluster networks and there the computing power (shared with others) is located. Then a decent laptop is enough to work with.
In general it does not make sense for most people to constantly “upgrade” their RAM in their PCs. The depreciation period is currently three years, which can be set to 4-5.
Unfortunately, many programs are now written very wastefully, for several reasons (increasing abstraction of programming languages, developers who can optimize are rare, and many other reasons). It is not clear why “Slack” (a chat application) for example uses several hundred MB, where the old IRC clients do similar things, but use orders of magnitude less. Surpluses lead to wastage here as well.
8GB RAM DDR3 vs DDR4: What’s The Difference?
What does “DDR” mean?
DDR stands for Double Data Rate. The name of the RAM type comes from the fact that DDR RAM can process almost twice as many operations as SDR RAM (Single Data Rate) at the same clock frequency.
This is made possible by a process known as “Doublepump”. How exactly this works is very complicated and would lead too far here. Simplified, however, it can be said that the data throughput of DDR RAM is usually twice as high as that of SDR RAM at the same clock frequency.
DDR3 vs. DDR4: The Differences
DDR RAM has twice as much data throughput as SDR RAM, but with DDR3 and DDR4 two different types of DDR memory are sold.
First of all, the number behind “DDR” stands for the respective generation of RAM. So DDR3 & DDR4 RAM is already the third and fourth generation respectively. The first DDR RAM came on the market in 2000 and DDR2 appeared in 2003, DDR3 and DDR4 followed in 2007 and 2014 and DDR5 RAM is expected in 2020.
As you may have guessed, DDR4 RAM is overall more powerful than DDR3 RAM. In the following we have listed some technical data for the two types:
- Clock frequency: 400 to 1066 MHz
- Memory per module: 1 to 8 GB
- Maximum transfer rate: 17 GB/s (per module)
- Number of pins: 240
- Clock frequency: 800 to 1600 MHz
- Memory per module: 2 to 64 GB
- Maximum transfer rate: 25.6 GB/s (per module)
- Number of pins: 288
The size of the memory and the number of pins are not interesting for the technical comparison at first. However, it is noticeable that DDR4 RAM in principle has a faster clock frequency and a higher transfer rate. In addition, DDR4 RAM gets by with a slightly lower current voltage.
But DDR4 RAM is not superior to DDR3 RAM in all categories. In terms of so-called “timings” DDR4 RAM is often slower than its predecessor. These reveal how fast the main memory can react to processor requests. The smaller the timings are, the better.
With HWiNFO, the technical data of the installed main memory can be read out very easily. For gamers, the latency of the RAM is especially important. It is calculated from the timings and the clock frequency. The lower the latency, the faster data is transferred from the system to the RAM and vice versa. In practice, DDR3 RAM can therefore be faster than DDR4 RAM under certain circumstances due to the better timing.
Summary: RAM DDR3 vs. DDR4
- The designation “DDR” stands for “Double Date Rate”.
- Thanks to a process called “Doublepump”, DDR-RAM can process twice as many operations as SDR-RAM at the same clock frequency.
- The number behind the name stands for the generation of the main memory.
- DDR4 RAM generally has a faster clock frequency and higher transfer rates.
- DDR3 RAM has generally better timing.
- You can find out which RAM fits into your mainboard from the manufacturer’s specifications or have it read out via CPU-Z or HWiNFO.
- Alternatively, you can recognize the type by the notch on the RAM bar: In DDR3 RAM, it is offset laterally, whereas in DDR4 RAM it is more in the middle.