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How Much RAM Should I Get in a New Laptop?

How Much RAM Should I Get in a New Laptop?

Enough for RAM is relative in a couple of ways. It depends first of all what class of laptop you're talking about and also what operating system of laptop you're talking about. There's a couple of possibilities there. You've got Chromebooks you've got regular laptops you got Macs. right? And each of those has sort of its own set of considerations.


They're kind of the easy ones, tend to be relatively inexpensive most of them. Chrome OS is very light pretty much just running a browser and apps inside of a browser. Most of the machines you're going to see out there have 2 gigs or 4 gigs of main system memory. And if you're used to buying Windows machines either desktop or laptop that sounds like not very much these days. Most Windows machines come with 8 gigs but actually, that's generally fine for a Chromebook.

The only time you're going to see Chromebooks above 4 gigs are sort of premium models that are been saved for business users. They might come at 8 gigs. And those you really only get to see an advantage to that if you do a lot of multitasking, you got tons of tabs open or doing a lot of things at the same time.

So that's Chromebooks basically 2 gigs are sort of your budget sort of pick. 4 gigs is sort of what you want to aim for and what you'll see in most of the mainstream ones and that's fine even if it doesn't sound like it relative to Windows machines.

So then Windows machines you will still see some out there with 4 gigs. Those are going to be your bare-budget models. Or maybe you might be looking at like as refurbished or something older. But 8 gigs is sort of the baseline even for budget machines under 500 Bucks at this point. And for most folks 8 gigs is fine.

What are there different RAM recommendations for Mac vs Windows machines?

I would just say it comes down to what you're doing with the machine. You're a mainstream user buying a Mac just for everyday stuff. The 8 gigs which is standard across almost all the skis at this point is fine. The thing is not everybody, of course, buy Mac is going to be running Premiere or Photoshop but a lot of people who buy Mac buy them because they want to do content creation stuff.

And if they do that's where you want to start looking at the recommendation of the software that you have. Most folks who are doing that heavy sort of content creation stuff, we want to go for 16 gigs. You will see a benefit from that going beyond 16 gigs.

For the most part, it really depends on how serious you are and what sort of software you're running. But most folks are going to be fine with 16 gigs running say like a premiere or a Photoshop as a single program or day in and day out.

Is there a point where the RAM maxes out and the operating system the application it doesn't matter how much RAM you have they're just not going to be take advantage of that extra RAM?

I mean there are only a few programs that really will take much advantage over 16 gigs on sort of a sustained basis. If you're talking for instance about like games like PC games. PC games are optimized for a certain amount of memory and other processing resources that you're going to have and you sort of have to write the software to accommodate what the mass of people are going to have.

So adding more RAM for instance beyond 8 gigs for PC gaming in most cases it's not going to gain you much of anything. Where more RAM over 8 gigs will come in is again if you have a content creation program if you do a lot of multi-tasking. So if you tend to have bazillion tabs open run a lot of programs at the same time. Your tab hygiene is bad and you don't close your tabs a lot more. More RAM will be better.

But for the most part, you're not going to see a lot of benefits beyond 16 gigs. That's one of the best parts of working from home is seeing everybody's screens and you can tell who has really bad tab hygiene when they're sharing their browser windows.

So the other reason why this is a really important question is that once you buy your laptop chances are that's the RAM that you're going to have for the life of that laptop?

I mean not in every case you will still find machines. And generally, they are of the power class machines like gaming machines or sort of high-end thick workstation power laptops. Those you might be able to open up a hatch on the bottom or actually pry off the bottom and change out the memory. But more and more especially within machines, you're seeing sort of single bottom designs that you really aren't meant to crack open.

And even if you can crack them open sometimes the RAM in the interest of keeping the system thin is soldered on to the bottom because if you have the RAM in sort of the conventional way where it's in a slot. It's sort of a short module that sort of mounts laterally to the motherboard. It still has a little bit of thickness because you have this sort of spring retracting mechanism and sort of a carrier for the memory when it's solder on the board that enables the laptop manufacturer to go that much thinner.

But then again you're also out of luck if you want to upgrade. So that's a good thing to know when you're buying a laptop is to see if the upgrade is only at the time of purchase or is something you could do later.

Another thing to think about too is there are very seldom empty slots inside of a laptop even if you can upgrade it. So you're going to be taking out the RAM that's in there and replacing it with something larger capacity to make it work. So always the advice is to get what you need upfront because you'll regret it later if you have to upgrade it both from the point of view maybe you can't or you have to buy that RAM a second time. If you've got more questions for me you can ask in the comment section below.

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