Performance Tests Show That 16GB Of RAM Is Overkill

Performance Tests Show That 16GB Of RAM Is Overkill
To sign up for our daily newsletter covering the latest news, hacks and reviews, head HERE. For a running feed of all our stories, follow us on Twitter HERE. Or you can bookmark the Lifehacker Australia homepage to visit whenever you need a fix.

Adding more memory isn’t the performance upgrade it used to be, but how much RAM is enough? TechSpot compared application performance on a system with 4GB, 8GB, and 16GB and concludes 16GB offers little advantage over 8GB of memory — even when programs use more than 8GB of memory.

Photo by CJ Isherwood.

TechSpot tested a Windows 10 desktop machine with two browsers and over a dozen tabs open, as well as Postbox, Photoshop, Microsoft Word and Excel, Dropbox, and other programs running in the background to find the differences between using 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB of RAM. Even with demanding programs that take up 12GB of system memory, 16GB didn’t improve performance by that much.

Even playing memory-hogging games with Chrome running in the background (with 65 active tabs open!) shows little impact on performance with the higher memory, thanks to the way Windows handles system memory.

The only circumstance where 16GB was a substantial advantage over 8GB was in compressing a huge file with 7-Zip, but the authors note that compressing that much data is an extreme and unlikely scenario.

Although many of the tests show that 4GB of RAM was enough, the sweet spot these days, TechSpot says, is 8GB. 16GB of memory might not cost that much more than 8GB, but you probably won’t see substantial benefits from that minor upgrade.

How Much RAM? 4GB vs. 8GB vs. 16GB Performance [TechSpot]


  • Thanks. This article is short and to the point. I have often wondered what the real story with RAM was.

  • It’s certainly useful for 3D rendering and software development, or if you want to play Minecraft with a large modpack and texture pack.

  • More RAM is useful if you are running all these apps together. One app at a time is not a good case for the amount of RAM you need or want.
    Running Virtual machines is always going to need more RAM.

  • Guess the 32GB I have in my machine is overkill?

    Oh wait, virtual machine/3d rendering/large streaming samples.

  • going by the comments above, looks like you need to do a more thorough report on RAM usage.
    back to the drawing board with you.

  • i got 16gb and task manager says im currently using 9gb, so yeah 8gb is nowhere near enough, but 64k is more then anyone will ever need hey

  • Unfortunately I do film restoration work, and regularly run out of RAM with 64GB fitted, so it depends what you do. I have 12GB on the GPU as well and that is often 80% utilised, but haven’t managed to top it out yet.

  • Have you guys heard of of caching?

    Since upgrading my RAM from 8 to 12GB, I now have enough to cache entire levels of some games. I just tested with the Witcher 3, from clicking the icon to actually playing a loaded game(hammering skip) took aprox 56 seconds. I then quit the game and tried again, it took aprox 12 seconds.

    Often games reload the same data, some examples are: reloading after death, area transitions, and texture & asset streaming in open world games. So, having more than 8GB probably doesn’t help benchmarks, but does provide an measurable improvement for gamers who play current games like Witcher 3 or GTA V.

    • Are you sure it’s your RAM that’s doing this? Once you close the Witcher, it should have nothing left in RAM. Are you sure you didn’t install it on an SSD or something at the same time?

      • Yes. As you say, the Witcher 3 should politely remove itself from memory, and i’m sure it does. But windows uses any “spare” ram for a disk cache, and with 12GB(I want more) it’s large enough to still have all the data.

  • I use 16gb in almost all of my computers. I usually have two VMs on the go, as well the host – 4gb each for the VMs, and 8gb left for the host. Suits me perfectly. Exception is my Macbook Air, it only has 8gb – but that does me OK for Mac OS and my Windows 7 work VM.

  • I have 32gb in my system. It allows me to have 2 VMs open (1 which runs my dedicated Terraria server & 1 which runs my Mac environment for dev purposes). It also gives me the flexibility of watching the DOTA2 TI5 live via the game client on my 2nd screen & play GTA5 at max settings without needing to worry about performance loss or needing to close any VMs.

  • Definitely notice immediate improvement in machines from 4gb to 8gb, 8gb to 16gb I notice improvement in some situations, but it’s nowhere near as drastic. In most cases an SSD is a far more worthwhile upgrade. If you don’t have an SSD for your operating system, get one. If you ever thought “I spent so much on this machine and it’s so sluggish, I guess it’s time to buy a new computer”, an SSD upgrade will probably entirely change your mind.

  • These weren’t very good tests. How about a series of actions
    Open 65 tabs
    Open Word
    Open Game
    Alt+Tab back to chrome
    Cycle through 10 tabs
    Tab to Word
    Save Document
    Open Movie
    Tap to Chrome
    Open 15 Tabs

    Measure time each task takes, Then compare between setups. This is much more indicative of an actual person using a computer like an average consumer who doesn’t (and shouldn’t have to) care about memory management. Most people eventually just open every program they’ll ever use and never close it and never shut down the machine. This is where more RAM actually helps a lot.

  • On the contrary. The future in image handling is going to be terabyte images as you photograph the moon with such accuracy as to see the lunar lander sites or photograph a leaf and zoom in on a single plant cell with a hand held cccd on your tablet. Its about personal exploration.

  • This seems true for most scenarios, although lately with heavy use of compositing software, 3D and Photoshop, my pc has crashed at it’s max limit of 16gb, time to buy another 16gb!

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!