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Could someone please help to correct my illiteracy as to how RAM works :)

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
More specifically, the benefit of getting more RAM.

As an anecdote, when I play Skyrim using the ultra-high res texture mod, my system's memory use still never goes past 2.7 GB (my PC has 4GB RAM)

Does this mean I have no need for additional RAM, as it never fills up? Or does it simply mean that my PC is adjusting to limit itself to the boundaries of what RAM it has? Would getting more RAM actually improve load times in my case? I have never seen my system ever crawl past 3.5GB memory use
post #2 of 6
more ram wont increase gaming performance much as of current systems since almost no game uses over 4 gb. but faster ram thats a different story.
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White Monolith
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post #3 of 6
RAM usage varies from application to application. There is no 100% spot on recommendation, however more is usually considered a plus. If you don't experience any performance issues then you most likely don't need more RAM.

The primary goal of RAM is to hold instructions until the CPU is ready to fetch them into its cache and execute them, so obviously it's a major plus to have instructions readily available (Hopefully in cache, if not then in RAM - worst case on the disk).

So if Skyrim is running fine with 4GB of RAM and you are not experiencing choppy game play which can't be pinned on the GPU then I would say you don't need to invest in more RAM.

Opening many applications at the same time and certain tasks will put more stress on available RAM, but it doesn't seem like you coming into any of these types of scenarios, but i guess you don't do much multi app work when gaming smile.gif
post #4 of 6
My basic understanding of ram is as follows.

RAM is used as an intermediary between your CPU and HDD, as data on RAM can be read much faster randomly there then it can be on a HDD. When i explain it to customers i say, "If your CPU was a fire and the HDD a lake, your RAM would be the bucket you use to carry the water."

With that said, more isnt always going to yield better results. If you have to put out a match worth of fire a 20 gallon bucket wont help you any more then a glass of water. Speed will always help tho, give the glass of water to my fat uncle or to a marathon runner and the marathon runner will be able to put out the fire more quickly.

The amount of RAM you will need will depend on your usage and OS. Windows XP requires less RAM then Win7 or 8 (it is also becoming less capable). Running VM's is going to require alot of RAM. Web browsing and checking email not much at all. Playing games is somewhere in the middle.

My personal opinion for win7/8 is that 4GB is bare min, 8GB preferable given its relatively cheap. Anything past 8GB is future proofing or needed for special usage like VM's or video/image editing.
post #5 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by TrueOptic View Post

More specifically, the benefit of getting more RAM.

As an anecdote, when I play Skyrim using the ultra-high res texture mod, my system's memory use still never goes past 2.7 GB (my PC has 4GB RAM)

Does this mean I have no need for additional RAM, as it never fills up? Or does it simply mean that my PC is adjusting to limit itself to the boundaries of what RAM it has? Would getting more RAM actually improve load times in my case? I have never seen my system ever crawl past 3.5GB memory use

VRAM, and RAM are different. When you're playing Skyrim with ultra-high res texture mods, RAM is mostly irrelevant assuming you have enough and VRAM is more likely to be the culprit.
post #6 of 6
Theoretically 4 GB is fine for all applications NOT using iGPUs. There is a great deal of argument over which programs can utilize more than 4 GB. Exceptions are some engineering and rendering programs, where more is better.
Some people using memory monitoring programs while running 8 GB or more RAM see 6-8 GB utilized. I have seen speculation on this.
At todays RAM prices unless some benefit is likely 4 GB is fine.
That said, 8GB has been semi adopted as a start point, and lately people seem to like the idea of "1866 or faster" and "16 GB."
fwiw the last computer I put together the owner is happy with 2x2 GB 1600 RAM I bought on sale (budget build for a friend). I do not see any performance hit.
otoh RAM pricing (or sales anyway) making 8 GB an easier choice, IE 2X4 GB or 1x8 GB or motherboard+RAM combo deals where 8 GB prices are within $5-15 of 2X2 GB kits

I have been watching the newegg 8GB free with motherboard ads, at the moment, the Asrock Z77 Extreme3 is $127.86 with "8 GB FREE RAM." I am not sure of a low sale price for this board but expect $90 to excellent and abut a $100 good. (I watch Asrock Z77 Extreme4 prices, not 3) At $90 shipped real world price it would still be $35 more or less for 8 GB.

Also laptops are an exception to this rule, usually more is better.
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