Slower RAM is much cheaper
RAM - how much RAM do you really need in 2021? A guide
How much RAM makes sense today? How much RAM do you need? A guide
Table of Contents
They say you can't have enough RAM. Even if there is actually a lot of truth in this statement, the practice is then a bit more complex. You can work with little RAM. Even very demanding software starts with little memory. At this point we don't want to go into the technical background and functionality of the Storage hierarchy or Memory managemententer. Instead, we will show you in as clear a form as possible which applications are suitable for which storage expansion in 2021.
We also deliberately do not go into the differences in the speed of different RAMs in this article. Of course, it does matter how fast a RAM module is in practice. For the overall speed of a system, however, the capacity of the built-in main memory is much more important. Below we have one for you counselor compiled. Hopefully this can help you to assess Which RAM capacity is recommended for which application scenarios in 2021.
Should you really only be interested in the question of how a lot of RAM for a smartphone makes sense, you can right awayhere Continue reading.
8, 16 or rather 32 GB of RAM? How much RAM do you really need?
|2 GB RAM||This amount of RAM is just enough for office work in modern applications, for research on the Internet and for your operating system. In 2021, this is an absolute minimum configuration, if at all, which is really no longer recommended.|
|4 GB of RAM||Sufficient for normal office work, the Internet and all programs with moderate memory requirements. Multiple programs can be run at the same time.|
If you don't regularly use memory-intensive applications, such as modern games or software for image processing, and can live with the fact that switching between programs can sometimes take a while, this amount of RAM may just be enough in 2021 - but we're having a hard time with it to make another recommendation.
In 32-bit operating systems (e.g. Windows XP), four gigabytes represent the maximum amount of RAM that can be managed. Any further expansion in these systems is therefore pointless.
|8 GB of RAM||This gives you enough power for most applications.|
In 2021, too, this will be the amount of RAM that will basically allow smooth work even with memory-intensive applications.
There may be limitations with modern games, as well as when using several memory-intensive programs at the same time. Even for image processing, 8 GB is now only a minimal configuration. If you want to buy a completely new computer, you should consider eight gigabytes of RAM as a basic configuration with limited future security.
|16 GB of RAM||In 2021, this will continue to be the optimal storage size. It offers more than enough performance, even for professional demands. Working smoothly, even with several memory-intensive applications at the same time, is easily possible. Modern games run optimally. |
RAM bottlenecks will only occur very rarely and if so, then usually only within a professional workflow, e.g. in the areas of DTP, CAD, video editing / video editing or audio recording.
If you buy a brand new PC that is supposed to stay up to date for ten years without upgrading later, 16 gigabytes is the minimum amount of RAM you should build in.
|32 GB RAM||This amount of main memory offers enough performance for professional development environments and also has high performance reserves for the future. Ideal for all professional workflows that benefit from a lot of RAM. Smooth work is always possible, even with a system that is under high load. |
Provided that storage prices continue to be cheap, 32 gigabytes will be the most economical choice for every new computer system in 2021. This amount also offers you sufficient security for the future.
You only need more main memory in special professional environments; a higher expansion of the main memory hardly makes sense for the private environment.
|64 GB RAM and more||Only recommended for professional development environments and corresponding software in the areas of material simulation, molecular dynamics simulation or complex database development. If you create animations and video editing at the highest professional level, the expansion to 64 GB and more is just as useful as with architecture programs such as Autodesk Revit. The same applies to complex simulation and rendering frameworks.|
Servers basically benefit from as much RAM as possible.
This RAM expansion stage is unnecessary for the private sector and is currently still a bad investment. Even if you have very high demands on your hardware.
Only if you buy a completely new PC that is supposed to stay up-to-date for ten years without upgrading the RAM later, 64 gigabytes can make sense. Because this amount of course also offers a high degree of future security. At the moment, however, you hardly benefit at all from this amount of RAM as a normal user.
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Can you install different RAM sizes?
The total amount of available main memory can result from the combination of several so-called RAM bars. So if you build a bar with 2 gigabytes and a bar with 6 gigabytes, you have a total of 8 gigabytes of RAM. So it works.
Our tip: It doesn't make sense, however
RAM bars should ideally be absolutely identical (same type, same manufacturer, same size). Why? Well, the wild mix of RAM modules is always the reason for unstable and ineffective computer systems. The devil then often lies in the details. Here a crash, there a rendering error, for example during video editing ... our advice: don't do it.
A stable computer works best with two identical modules from the same manufacturer, which together make up the total amount of RAM (i.e. about 2 times 8 gigabytes = 16 gigabytes). Experiments in this regard can of course work - but one should not experiment with a component that is so important for the performance of a computer.
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How important is the RAM exactly?
In short, very important. Because the main memory (RAM) is one of the most important components of your computer / notebook alongside the processor. The higher the capacity of the main memory, the less often there are performance bottlenecks. Whether or not you can work smoothly with your computer depends largely on the RAM.
If you want to know more about the technical significance of RAM within the memory hierarchyof a computer, you canhereto do.
Is 8 GB of RAM enough? our recommendation
We at Harlander.com now recommend a memory expansion of for normal computer users at least 8 gigabytes of RAM. Users who regularly start complex computer games or regularly use modern software for video editing / image editing / DTP, we then clearly recommend double the amount of RAM for 2021. With these16 gigabytesyou will then be on the safe side for a long time to come.
But 4 gigabytes of RAM could be enough for you. This capacity is (still) sufficient to e.g. write texts, watch films on the computer, play older computer games or surf the Internet. However, the demands of new software on your hardware will continue to increase in the future. We would therefore only recommend this capacity to a very limited extent for the year 2021.
16 GB or would you prefer 32 GB of RAM?
If you want a really powerful computer, you might ask yourself whether choosing 32 gigabytes instead of 16 gigabytes is the best option. In principle, 16 gigabytes will be a more than solid amount of RAM in 2021 and this will also be sufficient for normal application scenarios. Assuming very cheap memory prices, there is a lot to be said for upgrading to 32 gigabytes of RAM.
As a general rule - if the prices for memory allow it - it is better to install too much RAM than too little. Ideally, there are always two identical RAM modules that together result in the desired memory size. So if you are aiming for 16 gigabytes of RAM, it is best to use two RAM modules, each with an 8 gigabyte capacity.
A tip: You should not mix RAM modules. This can work, but it is a potential source of error. For example, unstable systems are often the result of a wild mix of different RAM modules. Instead, install identical modules from a manufacturer of your choice - this is the ideal solution.
Should you have to decide between capacity and speed in order to save costs, then we tend to advise you to choose the slower RAM module with a higher capacity. As a rule, the total size of the main memory is significantly more relevant to the performance of a computer system than its read and write speed.
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A new PC should last ten years - is 8 or 16 gigabytes of RAM enough for that?
If we look at developments over the past twenty to thirty years, this is very unlikely. So if you decide to buy a brand new PC that you won't want to upgrade for ten years, you should even more likely for 32 gigabytes of RAM and more, as long as RAM prices are low.
Depending on the application scenario, the power reserves may still be idle in the first few years. But probably not in a few years. It should be noted, however, that upgrading later is probably cheaper than investing in a lot of RAM now, which you don't need at the moment. So it's best to analyze your usage behavior. The more demanding your applications are, the more RAM you should choose if you don't want to experience any memory bottlenecks in a few years.
Summary and tips
Assuming that the storage prices remain low, the price-performance crown will start in 2021 32 gigabytes of RAM.
The ideal configuration therefore always consists of two identical RAM bars.
Especially with modern systems that are based on processors of the Ryzen series from AMD, the importance of the speed of the RAM is increasing again significantly.
Our tip: Use as much memory as possible, but not at any price. Your RAM should already have a medium to higher speed.
Special case - how much RAM does a smartphone need in 2020/2021?
Not least because of the technical developments of the last 10 years, we have been asked several times to also address the device class of smartphones. After all, there are now manufacturers who give their smartphone flagships 12 gigabytes of RAM and more. Curiously enough, there should already be one or the other user whose smartphone has more RAM than his PC.
The question now is: what amount of RAM is useful for a smartphone?
In fact, the main memory in the smartphone has exactly the same task as in a normal computer, but our table above cannot be transferred 1: 1 to the mobile world of smartphones. Rather, what matters is whether your smartphone comes from Apple or is a device that runs on Android.
Because smartphones from Apple require significantly less memory to run quickly and efficiently than, for example, the competition from Samsung. The values are therefore not easily comparable with one another. An iPhone with 4 gigabytes of RAM can be much faster in the overall package than an Android device with 12 gigabytes (or even more) of RAM. Therefore, we would like to give you only a few guidelines on the way:
Recommendation for devices from Apple
With 3-4 gigabytes you are still very well positioned in 2021. But even an iPhone with only 2 gigabytes is quite fast on the move.
Since the appearance of the latest iPhone generation (iPhone 12) there has been an increase in the built-in memory of up to 6 gigabytes for the top models. It remains to be seen to what extent the real performance benefits from this in practice. This expansion stage is certainly more future-proof - but a decisive advantage over 4 GB of RAM is not noticeable in practice.
Recommendation for Android devices
RAM sizes from 3-4 gigabytes are the starting point and are perfectly fine for inexpensive entry-level smartphones. With 8 gigabytes are then also well positioned, 12 gigabytes are very good.RAM sizes of 16 gigabytes are (still) a luxury and not absolutely necessary.
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RAM - a brief outline of the (development) history of RAM
- FPM DRAM
- Replaced the first classic DRAM around 1987.
- EDO RAM
- was a further development of FPM-DRAM and can hardly be distinguished from it externally. EDO-RAM was typical of the PCs of the early 1990s and was used, for example, together with the Intel Pentium 1 processor.
- Predecessor of the DDR-SDRAM standard. SDRAM is much faster than its predecessor EDO-RAM, which it began to replace around 1996. Until 2000, SDRAM was the predominant type of memory.
- Rambus RAM
- Was absolutely necessary for the use of the first Intel Pentium 4 processors. Rambus RAM, however, was very expensive with little added value and therefore could not establish itself in the long term.
- DDR SDRAM
- Introduced in 1999, this type of memory conquered the computer world in 2001 and replaced both SDRAM and, a little later, Rambus RAM. Available in specifications DDR-200, DDR-266, DDR 333, and DDR-400. The number here stands for the effective clock rate in MHz.
- DDR2 SDRAM
- A further development of the DDR-SDRAM. This type of memory could clock significantly higher and was released in 2004. Not compatible with first-generation DDR SDRAM
- DDR3 SDRAM
- Was introduced in 2007. This memory type became predominant from 2010/2011 and is not backward compatible with DDR2 SDRAM. For a long time it remained the defining type of RAM.
- DDR4 SDRAM
- Was presented in 2012 and launched in 2014. DDR4-SDRAM has been the predominant and currently the most modern memory type since around 2017. DDR4-SDRAM is also not backwards compatible with its predecessor.
- DDR5 SDRAM
- The successor to DDR4-SDRAM was specified in July 2020 and is likely to be in the starting blocks at the end of 2021. Experience has shown that it will then take another three years before DDR5 SDRAM will be the predominant RAM TYPE.
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Since then the fascination for computers has not left me and over the decades I have accumulated a broad knowledge in the IT area.
Since 2014 I have been responsible for the visual appearance and product photography of the computer retailer harlander.com across all media. And that with enthusiasm.
I also write for our blog. My focus is on questions of hardware and image processing, as well as the topic of refurbished IT.
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