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  • RAM for a new PC to run 64-bit Windows 10 Pro – 8GB or 16GB?

    Home Forums AskWoody support PC hardware Questions: What hardware should I get? RAM for a new PC to run 64-bit Windows 10 Pro – 8GB or 16GB?

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      • #2172934 Reply
        TonyC
        AskWoody Lounger

        I’m about to buy a new PC and install 64-bit Windows 10 Pro on it. The “off the shelf” PC that I have in mind comes with 8GB of RAM, but my supplier does allow some customisation. Is there a good reason why I should pay a little bit extra and upgrade the RAM to 16GB?

        I am a home user and have no excessive computing requirements. I am not a gamer, for example. I need a PC only for browsing the Internet (Chrome), running Office (Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint only), simple editing of photos and pictures, printing documents and photos, viewing video clips, and occasionally watching catch up TV. Admittedly, it is crystal ball gazing but I would like the PC that I buy now to be sufficient for my requirements for a number of years – say, 7/8 years minimum.

      • #2172935 Reply
        satrow
        AskWoody MVP

        running Office (Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint only), simple editing of photos and pictures

        They’re all relatively heavy on the page file, I hope the new rig boots from quality SSD. If so, you probably don’t need more than 8GB yet – unless your session uptimes are very extensive.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2172961 Reply
        Alex5723
        AskWoody Plus

        Is there a good reason why I should pay a little bit extra and upgrade the RAM to 16GB?

        You better put in 16GB of RAM (I did and I am not a gamer and even don’t use Office).
        With only Chrome open and 4-5 tabs my PC uses ~8GB of RAM. Of course there are background apps running like A/V.. and tens of Windows and other processes (currently 90 in total).

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2173139 Reply
          satrow
          AskWoody MVP

          The more RAM you have, the higher the amount allocated to programs (and itself) by Windows. Less RAM and Windows is more conservative in allocating it.

          1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2172968 Reply
        Ascaris
        AskWoody_MVP

        It would also depend on your financial situation and your willingness to install the RAM yourself in the future if it became necessary.  If money is really tight, 8GB is a pretty decent amount of RAM right now, but if it would not be a financial hardship to get more, that would be even better.  If you are not confident about installing more RAM down the line, or you would have to pay someone to do it, that would swing things more toward getting it now.

        As @satrow noted, if you have a SSD, it can make a setup with less RAM work more effectively.  Windows uses virtual memory, which means that if RAM is nearly full and some program has signaled Windows that it needs more, Windows swaps out some of what is in the RAM (but is not being used right this minute) out to the disk, and that makes room for programs that do need RAM right now.  It will bring the stuff on the disk back in to RAM and swap something else out if the user switches to using that formerly inactive program (and so on).

        This process is far faster on a SSD, to the point that minor paging (the more technically accurate term for the type of swapping Windows does) won’t even be noticed.  On a traditional hard drive, it’s so much slower that it’s much more likely to cause a perceptible delay.

        If RAM is in such short supply that it has to do a lot of paging to the disk, it’s going to slow it down noticeably even with a SSD.  SSDs are fast, especially NVMe drives, but they are still far slower than RAM.  If you hit the page file a lot, that’s a good sign that you could benefit significantly from installing more RAM.

         

        Group "L" (Fedora 32 Linux w/ KDE Plasma).

        4 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2173132 Reply
          TonyC
          AskWoody Lounger

          Many thanks for the lengthy reply although, as a Computer Science graduate and a former IT professional, I was aware of most of the technical details that you wrote about. But my background is almost exclusively software, which is why I felt the need to ask whether 8GB of RAM is going to be amply sufficient for my needs or whether I should go for 16GB.

          Yes, the PC I have in mind does have an SSD. Whether it is a “quality” one or not, I don’t know (referring to the comment of @satrow). But my session uptimes are not normally very extensive.

          I’m minded to go for 16GB now. I live in the UK and it will cost me about GBP30 (about USD40) extra, which is not an issue.

          • #2173133 Reply
            satrow
            AskWoody MVP

            £30 is hardly gouging, try to insist on dual channel at the native default speed for the ‘board if you can.

            • #2173150 Reply
              TonyC
              AskWoody Lounger

              … try to insist on dual channel at the native default speed for the ‘board if you can.

              I’m not sure what this means, but I can ask my PC supplier.

              I was also going to ask whether there is any difference between a configuration of 1 x 16GB and a configuration of 2 x 8GB? Is “dual channel”, by any chance, a reference to the latter configuration?

              • This reply was modified 6 months, 3 weeks ago by TonyC.
              • #2173151 Reply
                PKCano
                Da Boss

                For dual channel I believe you need the 2 x 8GB matched pair.

                2 users thanked author for this post.
              • #2173178 Reply
                satrow
                AskWoody MVP

                Native default speed = that set by the maker of the chipset/’board, eg: Intel Socket 1151 v2 non-overclocking chipsets (mostly non-Z prefixed) like this basic ASRock uATX have dual PC4-21300U/DDR4-2666 as the default, overclocking ‘boards (mostly Z prefixed) can go up to PC4-34400U/DDR4-4300+.

                But, lower specced RAM will also work – try to ensure that it’s 2666MHz for this ‘board type (it would be very unfair to expect the highest ‘clocked RAM to be fitted to a Z prefixed ‘board, esp. for only £30 per 8GB – the best is very expensive).

                A matched pair/quad is the best but non-matched (different makers/dates) can very often work well, providing the detailed specs match exactly and you’re not filling all available slots with the maximum usable amount.

          • #2174404 Reply
            Ascaris
            AskWoody_MVP

            Apologies if I over-explain, but I want to cover everything in case they’re a beginner, or if a beginner happens to search for the same issue and finds what I wrote.  Please don’t think I am insulting you if I write stuff you already know! (And if I am wrong, let me know that too.)

            I think what @satrow meant by a quality SSD was that it was reasonably quick in reads and writes.  There are a bunch of lower-priced SSDs that aren’t as fast as slightly more expensive units, particularly when it comes to write performance (and both read and write matter with virtual memory).  A SATA3 (6Gbit/s nominally) SSD tops out at about 550 MB/s, but even that’s not the most important consideration when it comes to page/swap files.

            If you can find (or generate your own, if you already have the disk!) a benchmark showing the drive’s 4k random read/write performance, that will give you the most important data to evaluate a SSD’s speed-up potential with a swap file (and with most computer-related things in general).

            Most reads and writes are not long sequential reads or writes, but lots of smaller bits, and that’s best approximated by the standard 4k random read benchmarks on applications like CrystalDiskMark (both single queue and multi-queue).  A SSD will typically perform about 100 times faster than a traditional rust spinner in these benchmarks!

            By comparing this to the results others have received with different drive models, you can see how fast your drive is in comparison to others.

            Group "L" (Fedora 32 Linux w/ KDE Plasma).

            3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2173161 Reply
        bbearren
        AskWoody MVP

        Is there a good reason why I should pay a little bit extra and upgrade the RAM to 16GB?

        If you can afford it, get it.  The only upper limit to RAM is tied to what is the max supported by the motherboard; don’t try to go above the supported amount.

        The good reason is that you won’t regret it, and it’s much easier to do now than later.  I have 16GB in my daily driver desktop, 32GB in my NAS (the motherboard max) since I built them.

        Create a fresh drive image before making system changes/Windows updates, in case you need to start over!
        "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns
        "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware

      • #2173213 Reply
        Paul T
        AskWoody MVP

        Or put the £30 towards a USB hard disk for backup, if you don’t already have one.

        cheers, Paul

        • #2175682 Reply
          TonyC
          AskWoody Lounger

          Thank you for the suggestion. But I already have two USB hard disks which I use for storing system images of my current Windows 7 system and backing up my personal data.

      • #2173300 Reply
        Kathy Stevens
        AskWoody Plus

        Hello TonyC

        I am working on my home computer this afternoon and saw your post regarding RAM for a new PC running 64-bit Windows 10 Pro.

        My computer has an Intel Corps i7 – 8700 processor running @ 3.20 GHz. It has an installed RAM of 16.0 GB and is running 64-bit Windows 10 Pro. The machine also has a 2 TB SSD C Drive and a 4 TB conventional 2nd drive.

        Today I am working with Microsoft Office 2016 (Word, Excel, Power Point, and Outlook). I am using FireFox as a browser and watched President Trump’s news conference via streaming video. I am also using Adobe Acrobat X to scan a bunch of documents. In addition, I use Dragon Naturally Speaking Professional to dictate text into word and this posting. At various times during the afternoon I had multiple applications open.

        Out of curiosity, I opened Window’s Task Manager to track memory usage through the afternoon.

        The result, I did not exceed using approximately 25% of my system’s 16.0 GB of RAM.

        If money is not a problem, I would go with the higher RAM but you will probably not notice a significant operating difference if you stick with the 8GB of RAM.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2173339 Reply
          Kathy Stevens
          AskWoody Plus

          Correction

          My PC also has a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (3 GB) video card.

          A computer with integrated graphics will consume additional RAM then described in my earlier post.

          • #2175676 Reply
            TonyC
            AskWoody Lounger

            Hello Kathy. Thank you for your input.

            You appear to have a very well-endowed computer for home use. For my modest computing requirements on a home PC, I don’t think I need as much hardware resource as you have.

            The off-the-shelf PC that I have in mind has an Intel i5 9400F 2.9GHz six core processor, 8GB RAM, 240GB SSD (which I shall use as my C: drive), 1TB hard disk (which I shall use as my D: drive to store all my personal data) and an Nvidia GT710 1GB graphics card.

            I suspect that you are right. At the moment, I probably wouldn’t notice much difference, if any, in the response times between having 8GB of RAM and having 16GB of RAM. Other replies in this thread seem to imply this as well.

            The cost of the extra 8GB of RAM is not an issue. But it would irk me to pay for the additional RAM only to discover subsequently that it wasn’t needed.

            1 user thanked author for this post.
            • #2175801 Reply
              Kathy Stevens
              AskWoody Plus

              I agree, you do not need more than 8GB of RAM.

              You can always add more latter, it is not a difficult undertaking.

              It would probably be worth while to purchase an external drive and Acronis True Image or similar software to backup your system occasionally. My experience is that if a computer is going to fail it will probably happen in the months following startup.

              If you purchase a Western Digital drive you can download the Acronis software at no charge.

              • #2223819 Reply
                gwt10
                AskWoody Plus

                I have a WD external USB drive

                If you purchase a Western Digital drive you can download the Acronis software at no charge.

                Where can I get this at?

                Thanks

                 

              • #2223824 Reply
                PKCano
                Da Boss

                Look on the WD drive. The software (or the link to the same) is often included on the device.

                1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2173308 Reply
        MrJimPhelps
        AskWoody_MVP

        For the types of things you currently do, 8 GB is sufficient for now. But if you want to keep the computer for 7 to 8 years, you should get 16 GB. Memory requirements go upward every few years, and who knows what Windows 10 will require 7 or 8 years from now; but based on how things have been going since the beginning of computers, I would say that you will need more than 8 GB in the future.

        Having said that, you can probably get the memory cheaper in the future than you can get it right now. For example, people will be selling used memory which exactly meets the requirements of your computer on Ebay. I am about to upgrade my Dell laptop from 4 GB to 8 GB, and I found the memory needed for that on Ebay – someone is selling 8 GB of used memory for $30 or less (I don’t recall the exact price). But I wouldn’t be surprised if you could get exactly what you need for $10 to $20 a few years from now on Ebay. And if you are concerned about quality, at that low of a price, if the memory is bad, you haven’t lost much.

        Group "L" (Linux Mint)
        with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
      • #2173364 Reply
        Bundaburra
        AskWoody Plus

        I upgraded from 8 to 16 GB, and although I have only the onboard graphics, my PC is now much faster than before.  The graphics uses one GB, leaving 15 for general work, and rarely is there more than about 30% of that in use.  You would still need a page file, even if there is a lot of unused memory, but it doesn’t need to be huge.  Mine is 2140 MB, but rarely gets more than about 10% usage.  Depending on the available slots on your motherboard, you may need to be aware of something called “dual channel memory”.  My MB has four slots of four GB each, and it was necessary to insert the memory cards in a 1-3 and 2-4 configuration to get dual channel.

        Windows 10 Pro 64 bit 2004

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2174298 Reply
        agoldhammer
        AskWoody Plus

        I built my wife’s work station about 7 years ago.  It has an i3 CPU running integrated graphics with an SSD OS drive and HHD data drive.  It was a Win7 machine with 8GB RAM.  She just runs a couple of office applications and Internet browsing.  I updated it to Win10 last summer because Win7 was nearing EOL   It updated to Win10 without issue and has been updating with the regular patches on a delayed basis ever since.  For her use it works just fine with out bottle necks.  Yes, more RAM is always nice to have but if you are a light user, 8GB is enough.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2175928 Reply
        Carl
        AskWoody Plus

        When I build computers for people who are strapped for cash or who have light demands (some Office, browser, email, etc) I tell them they can get by with 8GB and upgrade to 16GB later if needed. SSDs make swap files less painful these days.

        My preference is 16GB if feasible so that most use cases will be covered now and in the future. For myself, all my computers have 32GB which is overkill for 99% of people. I have a simulator that consistently uses up to 26GB of RAM and when coding, I’ll have multiple server apps (in memory data sets), IDEs, and debuggers loaded simultaneously.

        What Bundaburra mentioned about dual channel above is very important. If you put one stick of RAM in a dual channel board, the computer will not perform to its’ full potential (throughput). It’s also preferable to purchase memory “kits” (2 or 4 sticks in a package) because these will contain matched pairs – sequential serial numbers or at least from the same manufacturing lot.

        3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2223793 Reply
        Will Fastie
        AskWoody_MVP

        For my modest computing requirements on a home PC, I don’t think I need as much hardware resource as you have.

        It’s not a question of how much you need now, it’s how much you will be needing five years from now, even if it is a “lightly used” home PC. Microsoft is famous for creep, in which subsequent iterations of this or that within Windows get bigger. Same for apps; same for other vendors.

        You can obviously conclude that I come down on the side of 16GB of RAM. However, if you do want to shoot for eight years, why not bite the bullet and put in 32GB now and forget about it?

        I feel the same way about storage. If you’re thinking about that 500GB SSD now and the budget allows, get the 1TB. Future proof the PC.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2223854 Reply
        Alex5723
        AskWoody Plus
      • #2223970 Reply
        gwt10
        AskWoody Plus

        Look on the WD drive. The software (or the link to the same) is often included on the device.

        On mine, I don’t have it.

        • This reply was modified 5 months, 2 weeks ago by gwt10.
      • #2223972 Reply
        Alex5723
        AskWoody Plus

        Look on the WD drive. The software (or the link to the same) is often included on the device.

        On mine, I don’t have it.

        • This reply was modified 5 months, 2 weeks ago by gwt10.

        I have 4 WD external drives none came with Acronis.
        I have paid for my copy.

        • #2223984 Reply
          Kathy Stevens
          AskWoody Plus

          The Western Digital edition of Acronis may be downloaded from Western Digital’s support site at https://support.wdc.com/downloads.aspx?lang=en&i

          The WD version can, “… clone drives, backup the operating system, applications, settings and all of your data, while also securely wiping any confidential data you no longer need. Acronis True Image WD Edition provides you with all the essential tools you need to recover your computer system should a disaster occur, such as losing data, accidentally deleting critical files or folders, or a complete hard disk crash. If failures occur that block access to information or affect system operation, you will be able to restore the system and the lost data easily.”

          Just make sure that you have a WD drive attached to your PC when you install the software.

      • #2224049 Reply
        Alex5723
        AskWoody Plus

        The Western Digital edition of Acronis may be downloaded from Western Digital’s support site at https://support.wdc.com/downloads.aspx?lang=en&i%5B/quote%5D

        The direct link is : https://support.wdc.com/downloads.aspx?p=119
        File Size: 405 MB
        Version: 2016 WD Edition, Build 33
        Release Date: 12/16/2016

        I am on Acronis Trueimage 2020.

      • #2232340 Reply
        anonymous
        Guest

        How much memory you need depends on how many of the programs you will be running concurrently. In my work, I am usually running Outlook, Word, Excel, Photoshop, and Acrobat concurrently, as well as a web browser. And I often have Quicken and Dreamweaver open as well.

        GBP30 is not a lot of money and you say cost is not an issue. On that basis, I’d say go for the 16GB and don’t worry about it. Yes, you can always open up the computer and add more memory later if you get just 8GB. However, that can be a pain especially if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. And, you have to consider the expense if you will have to pay someone to insert the memory module for you. Even though I built my computer myself, I’d just as soon avoid crawling under the table to disconnect cables in order to pull the case out and open the side panel to change memory modules. If you run the computer for 7 to 8 years, the cost difference is about GBP4 a year. So, it’s worth paying a little more even if the lesser amount of memory slows you down only fairly rarely.

        To answer another of your questions, that no-one seems to have answered. You have dual channel memory if memory can only be added in pairs. Desktop computers generally have 4 memory slots and run dual channel memory, meaning you must have either 2 or 4 modules installed. If the computer will run with an odd number of modules installed, you have single channel memory. Laptops normally only have 2 memory slots and run single channel so that you can insert either one or two modules. You might get negligibly faster performance from having 2 8GB modules rather than one 16GB module, but then you won’t be able to add more memory without scrapping one of the existing modules. So, if the price for a 16GB module is not much more than the price for two 8GB modules, I’d go for the single 16GB module.

        As someone else pointed out, memory needs tend to increase because programs get more complex as computing power allows more complex operations within an acceptable time. My first computer, an IBM XT clone in the late 1980s, came with 640 KB of memory–not nearly enough to run any present day operating system.

      • #2232624 Reply
        anonymous
        Guest

        I strongly suggest you pay the money for the 16 option. Especially if you’re running programs such as Microsoft Office or one of the Adobe photo processing programs. With 8gb, for example, you’d sit and wait for photographs to render. Made a world of difference on my 13″ Dell with Win-10.

        Same logic applies for those using iMacs as well.

        RAM is always a good investment. In my mind.

         

      • #2233584 Reply
        tride
        AskWoody Plus

        Just wanted to remind anyone who works with older laptops or computers (even just a year or two older than current new ones) that I have found when the type of RAM is new it costs more than it does six months later; and if you want more RAM when your machine gets older then the price starts skyrocketing into the unaffordable (in my  case I could buy a used ThinkPad for the price memory costs now for my W530s – and there’s nothing wrong with my laptops), so my advice has always been to buy whatever machine (for yourself or for others as a lot of people who work on machines do) and then keep checking or set alert for when that memory goes on sale and buy the max and sit on it until you need it to keep up with newer memory-intense software.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
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