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Is an 8 GB RAM laptop sufficient for my needs?
RAM (which stands for Random Access Memory) is essential to keeping your laptop’s operating system and software programs running properly. It’s where your PC stores the most frequently used data so it can be accessed and modified as needed – and at lightning speed. Whether it’s a key part of your OS, the web browser or software programs you’re using, or the active data you’re working with (the contents of a document or spreadsheet, for example), it’s all stored in RAM for near-immediate processing.
This makes your decision regarding RAM a “balancing act.” You want enough RAM to meet your needs while keeping the price of your new PC affordable. Fortunately, it’s a great time for RAM buyers. Prices have been trending down as the competing demand for RAM chips for smartphones (where sales are slowing) has lessened. With this in mind, when shopping for a new laptop, don’t hesitate to look at models with the next increment of RAM – if you think you can only afford a laptop with 4 GB, be sure to look at models with 8 GB of RAM. The price difference could be less than you expect.
Deciding how much RAM you need
Here are some additional factors to consider when deciding how much RAM you need in a new laptop:
- OS-related RAM needs: Even when you’re not streaming a movie or crunching numbers, the Windows 10 OS can consume from 2-3 GB of RAM just to keep your system running. It’s easy to see, then, why a laptop with a RAM size of just 4 GB can’t match the performance of one with 8 GB or RAM or more.
- RAM speed: RAM can be fast or slow (relatively speaking), and faster RAM speed can help make up for a smaller allotment of RAM. This means that in addition to looking at the volume of RAM, you can look for today’s fastest RAM, either DDR3 or, preferably, DDR4.
- RAM to support system components: Other system components can affect how your laptop uses its RAM. For example, discrete graphics cards (GPUs) have their own memory to store the data needed to display rapidly changing on-screen imagery. Systems with integrated graphics rely on your main RAM module to store this data, reducing the memory available for other tasks.
Still not sure if 8 GB of RAM is sufficient for your new laptop? One often cited way to decide is to consider how you’ll use your new PC, list the most demanding software or game titles you expect to use, and consult the manufacturers’ websites to determine their “recommended” RAM specifications. It’s best to ignore the “minimum” system standards, which often assume you won’t be running any other programs at the same time (highly unusual for today’s multi-taskers).
What can I do with an 8 GB memory laptop?
Every PC buyer eventually faces the question “How much (or memory) should I buy?” If you’re shopping on a budget, you’ll see many models with just 4 GB – the bare minimum RAM size for most systems today. On the high end, you’ll find built-for-speed gaming rigs and workstations with large RAM allotments of 16-32 GB. Yet what about all the models you see listed with 8 GB? Is 8 GB of RAM enough to keep your new laptop running smoothly?
The short answer is yes, a laptop with 8 GB of RAM is a logical choice for everyday personal computing: business and office work, web research and word processing, family activities such as email and video streaming – even mainstream PC gaming. It won’t run the most demanding Virtual Reality and first-person combat games, and it will be slow for advanced video editing or CAD drawing. Experts will tell you that a laptop with 8 GB of RAM sits squarely in the “sweet spot” for most consumers – an ideal balance of price and performance.
If you’ve got to watch your pennies, you can buy a laptop with removable/upgradeable RAM. This may be hard to determine from the specs listed on a typical manufacturer’s webpage, so you’re best to consult with a sales representative before buying. [In general, look for removable/swappable memory modules called DIMMs. It’s not a guarantee, but at least you’ll know the RAM isn’t soldered onto the motherboard and therefore unchangeable.]