1. DCTonkaTruck's Avatar
    What are good rules of thumb for understanding Ram? It seems like Apple products seem to have ridiculous amounts of RAM, while Windows RAM numbers seem to creep up year after year. Is 16 MB on a consumer device a starting point, or is it top-notch? What about comparisons to 'nix based machines?

    Finally, can you guys please come up with a different benchmark than gaming? Not everyone plays Gears Of War at 4k with 60FPS. That seems like a something most people won't do for a few years. How does it do watching a movie and checking email via Outlook? How does it do with with having 15 tabs open in a browser? Channel your inner Walt Mossberg and come up with a common sense benchmark we can all relate to and explain to wives and parents.
    03-07-2017 07:34 AM
  2. AbhiWindows10's Avatar
    I'll make this simple (this is my experience).
    If the PC boots up in 6-8 seconds (under 10), then it's FAST.
    If the Settings app opens up instantly with its soft animation NOT stuttering, then the PC is fast.
    My config is 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM, Core i5 and one with i7 (both Dual Core) and I've even had 20 heavy tabs in Edge (Many photos loaded up and a few with YouTube videos partially buffered).
    .
    .
    Hope this helps!! :)
    03-07-2017 10:32 AM
  3. AbhiWindows10's Avatar
    And about the RAM. Windows 10 works butter smooth with 8GB of RAM. You don't really need to go the extra bit with 16 GB unless you work on some heavy renderings in the Autodesk suite of design software's.
    03-07-2017 10:35 AM
  4. a5cent's Avatar
    What are good rules of thumb for understanding Ram? It seems like Apple products seem to have ridiculous amounts of RAM, while Windows RAM numbers seem to creep up year after year. Is 16 MB on a consumer device a starting point, or is it top-notch?
    Could it be that you're confusing RAM with storage and are actually asking about the later?

    Neither RAM nor storage is necessarily directly related to performance as the second post suggests. What constitutes enough also depends heavily on what you do, so no single answer is correct for everybody.

    I can try to help out but I'd first need a better understanding of what you do with your computing device, and whether it's PCs or phones we're discussing.
    Last edited by a5cent; 03-08-2017 at 03:31 AM. Reason: formatting
    xandros9 likes this.
    03-07-2017 12:30 PM
  5. DCTonkaTruck's Avatar
    Hey @a5cent, thanks for the reply.

    I meant RAM and I also meant GB. Wouldn't you agree that storage is much less related (particularly with regard to volume) to performance? I will say, though, that Daniel Rubino's comments about a regular hard drive vs a solid state drive have been something that has rung true with me in terms of performance now that I'm back on an HDD.

    For most of the people I know, they fall into the heavy web browsing / heavy email category. I've seen different devices sold at different price points and was really wondering what's a sucker's buy and what's overkill. I've seen orders for Macs that include memory sizes that were pretty insane by PC Standards and was just wondering where the huge differential is.
    03-07-2017 01:49 PM
  6. mtf1380's Avatar
    If you are working with Adobe (After Effects, of Premiere Pro), 3D Software, or large CAD files; and/or, a Gamer; then 16GB is about the least RAM you will want (or your program will work at a snails pace, and your games will stutter).

    If you are everyone else (the average business, home user), then 8GB is a good mark to shoot for.

    Storage (SSD/HDD): is like the computer's desk drawers (your stuff is handy for when you need to RETRIEVE it).

    RAM: is like the computer's desktop, within reach as you are using it.
    RumoredNow and a5cent like this.
    03-07-2017 03:57 PM
  7. a5cent's Avatar
    Hey @a5cent, thanks for the reply.

    I meant RAM and I also meant GB. Wouldn't you agree that storage is much less related (particularly with regard to volume) to performance? I will say, though, that Daniel Rubino's comments about a regular hard drive vs a solid state drive have been something that has rung true with me in terms of performance now that I'm back on an HDD.

    For most of the people I know, they fall into the heavy web browsing / heavy email category. I've seen different devices sold at different price points and was really wondering what's a sucker's buy and what's overkill. I've seen orders for Macs that include memory sizes that were pretty insane by PC Standards and was just wondering where the huge differential is.
    Okay. You might already understand this but first some terminology:

    RAM is an abbreviation for 'Random Access Memory'. That's why the terms 'Memory' and 'RAM' refer to the same thing. RAM is transient, that means all its contents are lost when the computer is turned off.

    Storage is persistent, that means its contents are not lost when the computer is powered off. If we'd have enough RAM to load up every program we'd ever need, and could guarantee the computer would never lose power, a computer would work just fine without storage.

    Both RAM and storage have the same basic job... to store zeros and ones. Given two HDDs, the one that can store more zeros and ones is said to have the higher capacity. For both RAM and storage, capacity is measured in bytes, megabytes or these days, in gigabytes [GB]. That's similar to the way in which a gas station's capacity to store gasoline underground is expressed in gallons.

    With this I want to make clear that the sentence "I meant RAM and I also meant GB" doesn't really make any sense. It's the same as saying "I meant Gatorade and I also meant gallons" rather than "I meant Gatorade and also meant Coke".

    So, what we're actually talking about here is RAM and storage. In addition to a capacity, both RAM and storage also have bandwidth, which expresses how quickly RAM and storage can exchange data with other computer components. Taking our gas station analogy, bandwidth would be the rate at which the pump can transfer gasoline into your truck's gas tank.

    Storage capacity [GB] generally has no influence on performance. You need enough space to store all your programs, your data, and an additional 10% - 20% space for the overhead associated with the filesystem and for tasks related to file system maintenance. If you don't have enough storage capacity, you just won't be able to save/store all your stuff. If you have more than enough storage capacity, you'll just have some reserve and empty space. Neither affects performance in any way.

    Storage bandwidth [MB/s] impacts how quickly data can be transferred between storage and RAM. This can have a huge influence on performance, but only in very specific scenarios like when you launch a program (read from storage), boot the OS (read from storage), or save a large video file (write to storage). In all those scenarios, a lot of data is transferred between storage and RAM, so improvements to bandwidth are very noticeable. These are exactly the scenarios where using an SSD results in a large performance advantage over using a HDD, because SSDs have much higher bandwidth. However, storage bandwidth has absolutely no impact on how quickly your computer can run a game, or recalculate a very complicated excel sheet. Those things don't transfer data between storage and RAM, so they aren't impacted in any way whatsoever. If they were slow before installing an SSD, they won't be any faster afterwards either.

    RAM bandwidth [MB/s] impacts how quickly data can be transferred between RAM and the computer's CPU. For the average Office, Mail, Web browsing user, this is probably almost irrelevant. In other scenarios it can make a notable difference (particularly for 3D gamers who don't have a dedicated graphics card), but when it does and does not make a notable difference can get complicated.

    RAM capacity [GB] is very poorly understood by most people. Every program that is loaded (e.g. Photoshop, Office, etc) and every file that is opened (e.g. an image and a spreadsheet) occupies space in RAM. As long as there is enough space in RAM to hold everything the user requires, there is no performance benefit to be had from upping RAM capacity further. However, as soon as a user launches more programs and/or loads more data files than can fit into memory, a computer will start swapping whatever it thinks is least important out to storage. That can make things quite a lot slower, because if the CPU ever does require something that was swapped out to storage, accessing that will be hundreds (SSD) or thousands (HDD) of times slower than if it still resided in RAM. So, not having enough RAM can slow things down. Upping RAM can then drastically improve performance, but only up to the point where RAM capacity exceeds that which is required. After that point, increasing RAM capacity further will do absolutely nothing for you. That last part is what most people get wrong. It's a widespread misconception that having more RAM will always improve performance.

    Hopefully this helps you realize that the statement someone made above (if a computer can boot in under 10 seconds then it is fast) is too simple to be accurate. Measuring how long it takes a computer to boot will tell you exactly that, but not necessarily anything more. A computer may have a very fast SSD and 2GB or RAM, which would allow it to boot Windows 10 in 5 seconds, but still have a middling CPU and not enough RAM to perform other tasks quickly.

    So, how much is enough RAM? It depends on the OS and what the user does. For Windows 10:

    2GB Only for people who never open anything more than a single browser instance with a single tab.
    4GB For people who do nothing but Office, e-Mail and browsing, there is still little reason to have more. I currently have opened 12 browser tabs in two instances of Firefox, MS Word and Outlook requiring a total of 3.1GB.
    8GB For heavy multitaskers who open a lot of programs simultaneously, or people who digitally touch up their personal photographs with something like Photoshop. A lot of computers ship with 8GB of RAM today so it's also becoming just standard (RAM is also pretty cheap). Some will want 8GB just in the interest of future-proofing, even if there is no immediate benefit over the 4GB option.
    More This starts getting more complicated. Usually only useful for professionals or pro-sumers and gamers. If you need this, you'll likely already know why.

    For Macs, I'd say there are two reasons why it makes sense to have somewhat more RAM:
    • Macs are often used for image editing, which already puts us in the 8GB bracket
    • A lot of people with Macs will run Windows in a virtual machine. So, in addition to OSX, they are also running a hypervisor and loading an entire second OS into memory along with all of its software and data files. At that point I'd say 16GB starts sounding very reasonable.
    Last edited by a5cent; 03-25-2017 at 06:17 PM. Reason: Formatting
    tgp likes this.
    03-08-2017 02:59 AM
  8. a5cent's Avatar
    Something I forgot to mention:

    As with most computing issues, there is no simple answer that works for everyone. Everything depends on how a computer is used. In my view, understanding what RAM and storage are and how they impact performance requires we understand everything I mentioned above. Anything less will leave us with an understanding that is too limited or incomplete to be correct and/or useful.

    The above is also by no means comprehensive. It ignores things like latency, overclocking and ECC memory, but I wouldn't consider those things absolutely essential.
    Last edited by a5cent; 03-25-2017 at 06:23 PM.
    tgp likes this.
    03-25-2017 02:52 AM

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