Windows 7 – 4GB vs 8GB Performance

When I originally installed Windows 7 64-bit, I had 4GB in my machine. While the performance improvements I saw were noticable and appreciated, it was clear that Windows 7 was more than happy to consume all the RAM I could possibly throw at it:

windows-7-4gb-resource-monitor-standby-ram-cache

At the urging of Grant Gochanuer (happy owner of 12GB of RAM), I went ahead and upgraded the RAM in my machine from 4GB to 8GB.

After a full day of use, Windows 7 Resource Monitor looks like this:

windows-7-8gb-standby-cache-ram

While the performance difference is not night and day for me, I will say that the first thing you notice is that the more RAM you give Windows 7, the less often it seems to hit the hard drive.

I have some fairly monsterous Firefox working profiles and Java IDE configurations that by all accounts brought my old Windows XP and Vista installs to their knees on loadup. Now with 8GB in Windows 7, my disk blinks lazily along while everything stays completely responsive and whatever I’m loading fires up in half the time (give or take).

I will say one huge data point that used to drive me crazy on my old Windows install was when I fired up my working Firefox profile for blogging — I maintain 10 or so tabs at all times in this working profile, each site a Gmail account or WordPress administrative interface along with AJAX traffic analysis tools — pretty much a worst case as far as JavaScript/Memory load times go. On my old installs of Windows loading up this profile could take anywhere from 10-20 seconds depending on what my computer was currently doing. Now it seems regardless of what I’m doing (Java IDE + VMWare for example), the profile comes up in about 6-8 seconds and doesn’t seem to trash my hard drive anymore.

Windows 7 is becoming a must-have upgrade for me and anyone else willing to throw some serious memory at it. It’s a hell of a lot cheaper than an SSD and this 8GB upgrade only cost me $94.

What is great is that you can even do 12 GB for under $180 if you wanted to go even bigger.

Tags: , , , , , ,

About Riyad Kalla

Software development, video games, writing, reading and anything shiny. I ultimately just want to provide a resource that helps people and if I can't do that, then at least make them laugh.

, , , , , ,

54 Responses to “Windows 7 – 4GB vs 8GB Performance”

  1. milkfilk May 6, 2009 at 2:28 pm #

    “I will say that the first thing you notice is that the more RAM you give Windows 7, the less often it seems to hit the hard drive.”

    Yeah, there’s a filesystem cache. Anything that has been read tries to stay in RAM until something better comes along. Most OS’s do this. I don’t really know how to compare the OS’s, I’ve just tweaked/observed the Solaris version of the fs cache.

    Once Ext4 or btrfs gets stable in Linux, it’s really not going to matter. I/O seems to be the huge bottleneck these days and a copy on write filesystem has to be seen to be believed (ok maybe it’s not life changing …).

  2. Jigsaw hc May 6, 2009 at 3:33 pm #

    I can’t wait until Win7 released and I build a new system. I’m planning for an icore7 processor with 12 GB of RAM. If my budget allows.

  3. Riyad Kalla May 6, 2009 at 4:08 pm #

    Jigsaw,

    Good call, like the 920 or something? $254 or so last time I checked, the reall sink-hole is the dang motherboards… but all in all a Core i7 920, Mobo + 12GB of RAM and GPU were right around $1k which I thought was pretty reasonable for a “pretty close to the top” performing computer.

  4. Racecar 56 May 10, 2009 at 5:06 pm #

    Uh oh… If it’s going to be lagging on 4GB of RAM, it will NEVER run on my current computers, I already have trouble with Vista.
    No more Windows for me.

    • bob February 20, 2010 at 9:45 am #

      It doesnt need 4gb of ram, hell even vista can run on 2 just fine. and what a concept…new software needing new hardware? with your mentality we should all be running ms dos.

    • Anonymous April 26, 2010 at 11:07 pm #

      It does not lag at 4GB’s of ram I run it on a laptop with 1GB of ram and it runs just fine also its a Celeron M 1.6GHZ and a 40GB HDD. Runs better than XP ever did on it.

    • Anonymous May 6, 2010 at 3:34 pm #

      well crap, i’ve run windows 7 on a test laptop with only 1gb ram and it ran perfectly fine for audio recording and powerpoint 2007 photoshop….

      Sure it likes the extra ram it has in it now…

      Specs were:
      1.73GHz Pentium Dual-Core 2080
      1GB Ram
      533 FSB
      120GB HDD…

  5. Instant May 16, 2009 at 6:34 pm #

    @RaceCar: W7 will perform better than Vista.

  6. Tim Mattison October 22, 2009 at 10:17 pm #

    I’m in the process of installing Windows 7 right now on my machine with 8GB of RAM. This will really be the first time I’ve used 64-bit Windows. Will I be in for any surprises as far as driver support is concerned? I remember that being reported as a big issue with 64-bit XP and Vista.

    • Riyad Kalla October 23, 2009 at 8:51 am #

      Tim,

      Only because I don’t know the devices you’ll try and use, go ahead and assume you *will* run into some snags, just so you aren’t surprised. That being said, I had no driver issues with 64-bit Windows 7 but I *did* with Windows 2k3 64-bit years ago and Windows Vista 64-bit oddly enough — namely with installers that would crap out with “This operating system is not supported” because the installers would do stupid checks against the 32/64 and just die.

      Oddly enough I didn’t run into any of those “technicality” type of issues in Windows 7 — everything literally just worked. So I want to prepare you for any hickups you have, but that being said, you will most likely have much better experience/luck with Windows 7 64-bit than Vista.

      This is the first time I’ve done an exclusive 64-bit OS and not regretted it, I wouldn’t go back to 32-bit Windows 7 at this point.

  7. Tim Mattison October 23, 2009 at 8:57 am #

    So far so good. The biggest problem I encountered was the fault of my slow, old RAID controller. I ditched that, used the on-board RAID, and now it flies.

    Well, America’s Army 3 doesn’t work (and only checks after it downloads and installs 4GB of data) but I never got to play it on Linux or Mac OS anyway so it’s not that big of a deal. :P

  8. Andrew Pelts January 9, 2010 at 4:46 pm #

    hahaha u suckers paid while I got mine for free … i just paid shipping and handling http://alturl.com/tgn7

  9. asdf February 18, 2010 at 5:03 pm #

    uh, 8GB is way over the top for anyone except for a hardcore gamer – you can clearly see that 2,2GB RAM is *wasted* and I strongly doubt that Windows has used at least half of the 3,7GB Standby RAM.

    for the triple channel intel CPUs (920+), 6GB is the optimum, for dual channel Lynnfield CPUs (i5, i7 860/860..) 4GB are more than enough and it does not make any sense to upgrade to 8GB NOW. Wait a year for the prices to drop – you won’t be needing 8GB so soon

    • Riyad Kalla February 18, 2010 at 6:08 pm #

      asdf, I wouldn’t disagree with that assessment. I would just expand the use of “hardcore gamer” to be “hardcore computer user” — software development, video work, heavy image manipulation, video games, etc.

      If you are just checking email, writing an occasional doc and playing Flash games, yea you are absolutely right, 4GB is fine, 6GB is great and no need to go higher.

      • asdf February 20, 2010 at 10:00 am #

        Riyad, I play a lot of *new* games and they simply don’t need more than 4GB RAM. Yet.
        I also recode a lot of videos and process my photos on my desktop with 4GB of RAM and windows 7. I AM a software developer and my business laptop has WinXP and 3GB RAM – and never had any swapping slowdowns.

        For checking email, browsing the internet and using MS Office, you do not need more than 2GB RAM.

        • Riyad Kalla February 20, 2010 at 10:36 am #

          asdf, you might be missing my point here. I’m glad you currently aren’t compelled to put more than 4GB of ram into your machine, but I will categorically disagree with your implied assessment that there is no benefit to it.

          Just with 6 instances of Chrome open, IntelliJ and Putty I’ve got 5GB of my 8GB of physical ram currently used.

          The point being that Windows 7 *will use* as much RAM as you throw at it and generally provide a better experience.

          The problem with this discussion we are currently having is that we aren’t defining “need”.

          need == functionally — then no, you can probably get by with 1GB in Windows 7 and it will boot.

          need == better user experience — then yes, the more the merrier. I don’t know how much of an increased user experience exists beyond 8GB right now, it depends heavily on what you do. If you have Photoshop open with a ton of heavy work going on, then you’d probably benefit.

          To clarify, I’m disagreeing with you that *you* need more, it sounds like you are fine. I’m disagreeing that there is no perceivable benefit beyond 4GB — it might depend on what you do with your PC, but there is absolutely a perceivable benefit if you are a heavy computer user.

          As for your last comment, basically an email/doc machine, definitely, 2GB would be sufficient. Sort of a classic “what would my parents do with a machine” use case there and I agree.

          • asdf February 20, 2010 at 10:55 am #

            “Just with 6 instances of Chrome open, IntelliJ and Putty I’ve got 5GB of my 8GB of physical ram currently used.”

            this is exactly the point you are not aware of – those 5GB are not really USED – windows (as well as any other modern OS) allocates loads of memory to pre-cache data from disk – to speed up loading of programs etc.
            Those remaining 3GB of RAM that you call “free” are in fact “wasted”.

            • fdsa August 14, 2010 at 1:19 am #

              You are a huge moron.

            • Kev Lomax December 4, 2010 at 9:03 am #

              You don’t seem to have a clue.
              I’d keep quiet if I was you – you’re making a fool of yourself here.

    • kootje December 2, 2010 at 2:25 am #

      Yesterday I was running 3 VMware machines at the same time to do software testing and developing.

      6GB was nearly enough, but more would be better

      • Riyad Kalla December 3, 2010 at 8:19 am #

        kootje, running VM’s is one of the best use-cases for more memory. Even if you limit the VM’s memory allocation, it can just cause more disk swapping inside the VM. And if you raise the memory allocation limit on the VM to stop that, it can just cause the host OS to memory swap more if you are running up against it’s limit as well. It’s a balancing act unless you just toss a ton of memory at it to make it all run a hell of a lot better.

        With 4GB and 2-3 Linux instances in side a VM on a 64-bit Windows host, I swapped like crazy. Going to 8GB helped a lot and I imagine you see similarly decent behavior on 6GB.

        • MD July 20, 2011 at 6:15 am #

          I have a 54″ HD TV, a 25″ HD work monitor, and a 28″ HD gaming monitor all hooked up to one AMD Phenom II 965, Windows 7 64 bit, with only 4GB of ram. The 28″ monitor is in a arcade driving/flight cabinet with steering wheel, pedals, and flight controls, and built in overhead keyboard and mouse controls as well as 5.1 surround. Add to that the regular monitor, and regular speakers out, and standard keyboard/mouse, web cam, etc, then the TV out for movies streaming though Netflix. Now, I can be running a horde of software applications, be streaming a movie on TV, and still play Need for Speed Shift 2 flawlessly at 1920×1200 resultion without a hickup…only on 4GB of OZC Dual channel DDR2!! Not even DDR3!

          So while the computer I have is not a basic model as the video card alone cost more than some systemss, the point is Windows 7 does not need or require more than 4GB. Sure, it wll like it, but eve with running everything I can, and have 20 plus interent sessions open, 22 software apps open, and stream a move and play a game, I still have over 500MB FREE!!!

          And no lag. Now unless Intel lags and AMD doesnt (which was always the case as AMD is better for windows multi-tasking on load – never go by benchmarks – real word results are by far…different) but then again I have an i7 at work with only 4GB, and no problems there either, and I produce videos and develop websites…and I have over 18 years experience with computers and have a computer degree, so I know my systems.

          • Riyad Kalla July 22, 2011 at 7:28 am #

            No one said Windows 7 *needs* any particular amount of ram.

            Additionally, given this statement:

            Sure, it wll like it, but eve with running everything I can, and have 20 plus interent sessions open, 22 software apps open, and stream a move and play a game, I still have over 500MB FREE!!!

            I am not sure what an “internet session” is, I’m assuming you mean a browser tab or window… either way I’d like to see a screenshot of your process manager with 20 browser instances and 22 “software apps” open with NFSS2 running in the background with 500MB still free.

            Thanks.

  10. Riyad Kalla February 20, 2010 at 2:54 pm #

    asdf, I do not consider pre-cached application data wasted. It decreases load times, that is incredibly valuable to me.

    I think we have fundamentally different views on what we think is “valuable use of RAM” so this disagreement will likely go on forever.

    Let’s just say we have differing opinions on the subject and leave it at that.

    P.S.> “this is exactly the point you are not aware of” — you do know you’re making that statement on a post I wrote about Windows 7 pre-caching right? I love it!

    • asdf March 14, 2010 at 10:44 am #

      I never called memory used for pre-caching wasted – I said memory NOT USED for pre-caching is wasted.

      P.S.> your point ??? Your post makes it very clear you are merely an average computer user and not an expert on OS level memory management – otherwise you would have never written “it was clear that Windows 7 was more than happy to CONSUME all the RAM I could possibly throw at it”..

      • Wow May 15, 2010 at 11:53 pm #

        Pretty sure asdf was just upset at how you worded it. People keep bashing windows when really its the best thats out there for people that don’t want to learn how to do any type of coding/script reading. I personally never had any problems with vista, I just had to do a few workarounds which is like pulling teeth for other people.

        Perhaps if you had said “it was clear that Windows 7 actually utilizes the additional ram making it better than an already amazing experience” haha.

        • Carlos September 1, 2010 at 2:36 am #

          Fascinating to read all the to-and-fro arguing, over ram requirements, actually I found pulling teeth quite easy,but then, I’m a retired dentist!!

      • Batman May 18, 2011 at 5:56 pm #

        asdf….

        Shut The Hell Up.

        You are a raging moron.

  11. Soendoro Soetanto July 18, 2010 at 1:40 am #

    I have W7 on i5 and 4G RAM. It runs amazingly fast for my use.

    • Saeed August 7, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

      I have a VAIO F11 core i7 , 4GB , Windows 7 Pro 64Bit

      I have many heavy programs like VS2008 , SQL server Developer 2008, ARCGIS Desktop , ArcGIS Server , Photoshop CS3 , . . . .

      they runs superfast

  12. ct October 25, 2010 at 2:23 pm #

    msi E7235 6GB RAM AUTOCAD, EMAIL, INVENTOR ITS CRAP GETTING DESKTOP

    • Poncho November 26, 2010 at 2:02 pm #

      Desktop – better power, upgrades and bigger LCD for lower price.

      • Dave Homber December 4, 2010 at 1:38 pm #

        I use a lot of apps at once (I do SEO work) often have Photoshop open, with a posting software running (Xrumer or similar), 4 or 5 tabbed browsing sessions and even Party Poker to keep me occupied. Might even be compiling some code at the same time or running tests on a bot I’ve written. Listening to music as well? Yeah 100% of the time – youtube vid playing…you get the picture

        Then I also multibox Warcraft (10 characters at once) That means ten game clients running at the same time (through an ap called Keyclone – 9 of the clients will be set to minimum GFX and minimum frame rates – but it’s still needs a lot of memory)

        5+ simply will not work for me on 4 gig. (the 5th will not even start without the whole thing crashing) 10 will work just fine with 8 gig (yes more than double the number that work with 4 gig – I can do the math) – I’ve had up to 12 before now (I’ve got 21 accounts)

        To paraphrase Orwell

        4 gig fast – 8 gig faster

        If you are in one application or game that’s decently optimized you will probably notice no difference – in fact there may well be no difference what-so-ever. But with 8-10 apps open at once across 2-3 screens (I have 4) then you notice a difference all right – a REALLY big one, esspecially with app start up and close times.

        • AnotherJames January 20, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

          It may be none of my business, but I am very curious — Why do you have 10 instances of Warcraft up at the same time? Is this World of Warcraft we’re talking about?

          I am boggled.

          • Someone February 21, 2011 at 11:30 am #

            He’s one of those scumbag WOW gold sellers, he probably uses his “SEO” business to spam gold seller sites.

            Real scum of the earth.

  13. puteraslayer32BIT February 19, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    Hello my name is putera i have a question? My system is running

    Intel core i5 650 CPU 3.20Gzh
    Kingston Value 2Gb
    Window 7 32 bit .

    my question is IF i UPGRADE my window 7 old 32 bit to 64 bit. Can all my Game’s and program will run smoothly by upgrading it?

    Thanks You

    • MASS May 19, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

      Probably yes, Since the most application is running in old x86 (32-bits mode) you wouldn´t notice that much of improvement but you might get a little bit slower computer. But as long as you don´t have 4GB or more RAM, that´s no point in upgrading to 64-bit.

      • puteraslayer May 23, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

        thanks MASS…

  14. Bryce March 1, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

    I have a new 1155 p67 running an i5 2500k at stock speeds, 4 gb ram, and windows 7 64 bit, I sometimes monitor my ram usage, I noticed to use all my 4 gb of ram, I have to be downloading a game client and patching it, having 10 tabs of Google Chrome open, be using Open Office, iTunes, Skype, and Counter Strike: Source running at the same time for it to become almost completely froze from ram being full

    • Carlos Jr June 8, 2011 at 11:22 am #

      I am about to build a new computer, I5 platform and I am thinking of purchasing 8 GB as I will keep this pc for quite a long time, I was considering 4GB but there are 2 points I’ve been thinking about: 1- If I get 2 sticks of 2GB there is a possibility of that model be discontinued later on and getting other 2 sticks of other brand wouldn’t be that nice. 2- I may get 2 sticks of 2GB now and add another 2 later on but that means 4 sticks consuming power. Perhaps a choice for 2 x 4GB seems ok.

      ps: the use for this pc will be Hardcore gamming (that includes gamming through emulators as well), Autocad stuff, occasionally VM’s and programming (Java).

      • Riyad Kalla June 8, 2011 at 8:34 pm #

        Carlos, the only requirement to have more then 3/4 is that you are running 64-bit Windows, if that is already something you planned on doing, then my recommendation is *at least* 8, especially if you plan on keeping this machine for a while (which it sounds like).

        If you are doing VM work, Java dev and gaming, at least 8. I am sure there are people that will argue that 6 will work just fine, and I’m not saying it won’t, you’ll just love not needing to shut down Eclipse or all your browsers before firing up a game. Or giving more than 512mb to one of your VMs won’t make your computer throw up.

        RAM is cheap enough that the difference between 4 and 8 should be relatively negligible, especially if this is a complete new build.

        • armiz July 31, 2011 at 11:16 am #

          hi there…
          maybe someone can help me with some win7 issue…
          month ago i installed win7 64bit on 3 years old machine with 2gigs RAM.
          now i received my new kingstones hyperx ram 4×2=8gigs… windows 7 is crashing every time i boot, but win xp 32bit works ok (although it is seeing only 2 gigs but thats ok for 32bit machine)… i cant understand why win7 64bit is not working correctly as it was with the old 2 gigs ram?
          Maybe you have some advice?
          Memory remaping in bios WAS and IS enabled!
          what can it be? please…

          • MASS July 31, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

            Have you tested a clean Win7 x64 install with your new memories ? Have you checked memory compatibility issues ?
            Regardingcompatibility issues one source could be your motherboard manufacturers forums or support.

            Often you could upgrade memories with no issues, but sometimes if you alter to much in the memory banks you need to do a completely reinstall.

            You should have at least 3.5GB with an x32 install.

            • armiz August 1, 2011 at 12:04 pm #

              Thanks for answer, MASS!
              No i did not try a reinstall as im looking for some solution to work without clean reinstall… i dont want to loose all my programms and settings. Thats the last option :)
              Also I have 2 gigs video card and i have read somewhere that 4 gigs is maximum for ALL kind of addressable memory in 32bit systems…
              But thanks for advice – ill try my best to find a solution in some forums…

          • Riyad Kalla August 11, 2011 at 9:12 am #

            armiz,

            Assuming your install is clean it sounds like one of your sticks of RAM is bad. You can run something like Prime95 to beat on the ram from a testing boot disk (you can find them online) and see if that causes it to restart/crash… if that does, then there is something wrong with the ram. Start pulling it a stick at a time and testing and see if you can narrow it down to a single stick of RAM.

            • armiz August 11, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

              Hi Riyad!
              Yes! You were absolutely right! I have tested all modules with MemTest86+ v4.20 and it clearly showed that one module is starting to make errors on fifth minute of testing… test #7 showed errors as it started :) … so i already sent my modules back to Kingston and now i am waiting for RMA…
              I just cant believe that kingstons super duper hyperx memory is bad… but…. never say never…
              Thanks for helping!!!

              • Riyad Kalla August 14, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

                armiz, nice find!

                A bad stick of a ram is a really nasty thing to have in a build, especially if it’s a very spurious error that doesn’t manifest all the time but only under load (e.g. during gameplay). Glad Kingston is taking care of that for you.

  15. indonesian July 19, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

    riyad kalla

    thanks for the sharing

    i believe those who disagree have not had tried the 8 G Ram as you do

    but this is the answer that i am looking for for the days

    thanks alot bro

    and one more question i am a heavy computer user also but as one pointed out that AMD perform better in first loading or multi tasking is it correct? he said never mind on pcbenchmark which usually refers to intel as champ than AMD

    but i want to add more lapy and i am looking for AMD than intel now but i am wondering on fast performance multi tasking with medium budget (not go for i7 or higher AMD i am just wondering how if AMD with medium range maybe 22xxx in cpu benchmark but with extra ram to become 8 G will this make first wndows uploading become faster then my i3 if with 8 G ram?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Windows 7 Feature: Tells You Which Program Has Locked Your Files | The "Break it Down" Blog - May 8, 2009

    [...] mentioned a few times, I’ve been on the Windows 7 RC for a bit over a week now and been pretty much thinking [...]

  2. Windows 7 and Aion - Page 2 - AionSource.com - May 12, 2009

    [...] when using 8 compared to 4gigs in win 7 64bit Which I would of figured anyhow but not this much.. Windows 7 – 4GB vs 8GB Performance | The "Break it Down" Blog [...]

  3. New rig arriving; W7 or not? - AionSource.com - May 13, 2009

    [...] newegg as we speak! Had to order after seeing this article. (that i have posted elsewhere as well) Windows 7 – 4GB vs 8GB Performance | The "Break it Down" Blog [...]

  4. New I7 PC. - Page 3 - Emuforums.com - November 25, 2009

    [...] [...]

  5. My Blog - March 1, 2011

    [...] Memory Standard DDR3 800/1066/1333/1600(OC)/1866(OC)/2000(OC) Maximum Memory Supported 16GB Here’s an article I found that might help you make your decision. [...]

  6. Need Help! Building A High - End Gaming Rig!!!!! - Page 2 - Digit Technology Discussion Forum - June 19, 2011

    [...] Posted by Geek-With-Lens 8 gb is not worth for gaming found a nice article. though to share – Windows 7 – 4GB vs 8GB Performance __________________ PC Buying Guide -http://goo.gl/RPIlt My First Review (DELL ST2220L) – [...]

Leave a Reply


5 − 3 =