How much is too much RAM usage?

Discussion in 'Hardware Components and Aftermarket Upgrades' started by vinuneuro, Feb 14, 2014.

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  1. vinuneuro

    vinuneuro Notebook Virtuoso

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    I'm between 55-65% most of the time these days. Pagefile is enabled. When is the point I upgrade to more?
     
  2. Tsunade_Hime

    Tsunade_Hime such bacon. wow

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    I always turn pagefile to like 1 GB (I always have alot of RAM and an SSD). Are you talking about yout T440s? I think you should consider a single 8 GB DIMM.
     
  3. Jobine

    Jobine Notebook Prophet

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    As long as i don't game/run VMs/power user stuff i can manage with 2GB.
     
  4. Meaker@Sager

    Meaker@Sager Company Representative

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    Too much is when it impacts performance of your task to a level you can't tolerate.
     
  5. tilleroftheearth

    tilleroftheearth Wisdom listens quietly...

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    Too much RAM usage for me is when the Windows 8.1 desktop at idle is using more than ~12%.

    I don't have RAM installed to sit idle though: I want the remaining amount free to drive my photo, video and sound editing software optimally. This means not touching the storage subsystem except to load or save a file. It also means I can disable the pagefile.sys file which gives me a few extra cpu cycles per second too.

    The OP doesn't state how much RAM he/she has, nor which O/S we're talking about. But the minimum for any system I have or put together for most clients is 16GB DDR3 1600MHz or higher. This is paired with the best O/S right now: Windows 8.1 x64 Pro.


    When my workloads start to bring my systems to their knees, whenever the RAM usage is over ~67% for extended periods: this indicates to me that I need to double the RAM (if I can) on that particular platform. Why? Because at 67% or 87% the system is almost equally productive.

    When I had 32GB RAM platforms (desktops) and saw those percentages being hit, I wondered if spending for more RAM (a new platform, really) would be worthwhile.

    Within 10 minutes of having the new system setup it was obvious it was (but I didn't just add 4 or 8GB: I added another 32GB RAM). While the original system indicated ~80% RAM usage for a particular workflow - the new system was indicating ~65% RAM usage but the increase in productivity was at least a third more.


    The point? Going by what Windows reports for % RAM usage is not that helpful to determine if more RAM will be beneficial. More than 4GB RAM was surpassed for simply the O/S in 2009. 2011 saw 8GB being the 'base' RAM needed for those platforms. For almost 18 months 16GB RAM has proven to be the best way to maximize the latest O/S's performance - including components like SSD's, integrated graphics and of course being able to run multiple programs concurrently (or browsers with 50+ Tabs open) without forcing the system into molasses mode.


    If I'm running a single (lighter) program (like browsing) and the % RAM is over much over 25% - I can sometimes feel the system trying to keep up to me (and then I check the TM and say, 'ahh').

    If I'm running a heavier workload (editing) with a single program; that ~67 to 69% RAM usage is where I feel the performance level off. No matter what I do (even if I push the system to over 90% RAM usage) the performance/productivity of the system barely increases over that 67% mark.

    If I'm multitasking three (heavy) programs or more; the percentage drops to ~50% RAM usage before each program feels a little laggy.


    The important part to note though: no workflow feels right with less than 8GB RAM. A multitasking workflow with less than 16GB RAM is agony.

    With the new DDR4 platforms hopefully around the corner, along with 16GB RAM SoDimms, I can see 32GB being the 'base' RAM capacity for my expectations of how a system needs to run in the near future.

    Yes, I have installed Windows 7 on an ancient Core Duo (desktop) with 1GB RAM and it 'ran'. However, making a system so unbalanced should be a crime against humanity (we don't live for centuries). While 2GB RAM would be infinitely better and 4GB RAM would seem 'perfect' for that setup - the O/S and platform is what determines the most balanced cpu/ram combo and that would still see improvements with at least 8GB RAM and any modern (even 'light'), workflow.


    If you're keeping your system for at least the next 18 months or longer; maximizing the RAM capacity is the best way to make the most of your system over that time.
     
  6. Apollo13

    Apollo13 100% 16:10 Screens

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    I agree with this. At what point that is, depends on what you do and what software you have, as well as habit such as how often you leave programs up in the background.

    I disagree with tilleroftheearth that 4 GB was needed for just the OS in 2009. While that may have been true for OSX, which makes Windows Vista look svelte RAM-wise these days, it was not the case for Windows 7 or even Vista.

    From my experience:
    - On my work laptop with 8 GB RAM and integrated Intel graphics, performance seems to noticeably slow down once around 7 GB of RAM is in use. It's almost like clockwork, I think, "things seem slow", open Task Manager, and 7 GB of RAM is in use. I suspect the integrated graphics have an impact on this, and that if it had a dedicated card it could go several hundred megabytes farther before it got slow.
    - On my homelaptop with 3.5 GB RAM and dedicated graphics, it's fine up till around 3.2 GB. Then it starts running into 32-bit Windows ceiling issues.
    - When my laptop had 2 GB of RAM, and when I used a desktop with 1 GB, both with dedicated graphics, the slowdown started at 2 GB/1 GB RAM usage or slightly above. A few dozen MB of paging to disk wasn't noticeable, but a few hundred MB was very noticeable.
    - I almost never use all 8 GB of RAM on my desktop, so I can't really say when it starts getting slow. XP x64 is lighter on RAM use than Vista or 7.
     
  7. tilleroftheearth

    tilleroftheearth Wisdom listens quietly...

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    2009 and 4GB RAM was enough to get some work done (on a mobile system) - but Vista? Even with 16GB RAM it was not svelte, lol... What it was, was stable and mostly reliable - but it felt like molasses compared to everything we've had before or since.

    The snappier the O/S is the more reason to give it more RAM - Win8.1x64 thrives on it. Nothing has ever felt this responsive, for so long (whether we're talking over weeks or for each grueling work 'session' of 20 hrs or more).

    Again; (two years ago I tried this?)... 1GB RAM and Windows 7 on ancient (for today) hardware was an eye opener of how far we've come (both hardware-wise and O/S wise).

    I'm sure Windows 8.1 will be even better with just as old hardware.

    That is no reason to purposely throttle and bottleneck the system you're using day in and day out for a mere couple of hundred dollars (spread over 2-3 years).


    The point of my post should have been obvious: using more than about 2/3's of your RAM (or any component, for that matter) does not increase your productivity (or help with the 'snappiness') of your system. Using 100% of your RAM is not the goal (or 'number' to indicate you need more installed).

    Having some left unused is where the performance, productivity and responsiveness of your system is at it's optimum.
     
  8. Apollo13

    Apollo13 100% 16:10 Screens

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    Eh, it is true that it's best to have some left over. The 2/3 is a ballpark figure though, not a fixed rule. Your system will be similarly as snappy with 80% RAM in use as 67%, assuming you aren't losing a lot to integrated graphics or other causes. Which is why I'd lean more towards "if you notice your computer getting slow and you tend to not have much RAM left" as a rule of thumb, not "if you often are using 2/3 of your RAM"... because if you often use 2/3, but never use more than (for example) 85% and never get slow downs because of it, you don't really need to upgrade.

    Vista is the least svelte Windows OS to date, but my Mac-using friends tell me it's actually more svelte than recent versions of OSX (10.7 and 10.8 for example. 10.9 may be better with the memory compression it has). I used Vista with 2 GB of RAM in 2007, and the RAM wasn't really an issue (though it probably would be with Vista today, what with two service packs and more resource-intensive software). I'm very much a Vista hater, but Vista with 4 GB is not unreasonable (particularly if you have 32-bit Vista), and 8 GB should be perfectly workable. It may not look like it because Vista is super-aggressive with Super Fetch, which only made Vista look even more RAM-hungry than it really was, but Vista doesn't need 16 GB of RAM for everyday tasks. I know two people personally who were using Vista with 4 GB in 2013, and didn't have RAM issues (although the one who had 2 GB in 2013 did until upgrading to 4 GB). One of them is still using Vista with 4 GB today.

    I can't believe I've actually made a pro-Vista post. This must be the first time that's happened in all the time I've been a member of NBR.
     
  9. tilleroftheearth

    tilleroftheearth Wisdom listens quietly...

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    Maybe because of the systems I use have integrated graphics that I feel this issue then? Hmm...

    I was pro Vista too when it was the only game in town (XP and XP x64 were useless to me; stability-wise).

    And OS/x? Doesn't matter what version we're talking about; that is not a real O/S. Too many limitations and compromises to consider it even today. MS Windows is the standard for a reason. I'm just used to using things that allow me to work as I want; not work as I'm told.


    I think the most important point to make is that while 4GB RAM may be enough for some people, any system sold in the last 2 or 3 years will be better with 8GB or more. Especially with the newer O/S's and even more so with SSD's installed.

    RAM is the only place other than the cpu where 'work' is done on any computer - given a fixed cpu; the more RAM you have the more productive the system as a whole will be.
     
  10. Qing Dao

    Qing Dao Notebook Deity

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    You run heavy video, photo, and sound editing but use integrated graphics????
     
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