Why 16 is the new 8 for Windows 10


The other day, the topic of RAM — and what’s the minimum amount needed now for a Windows 10 computer — came up in a Facebook IT consultant-based group I’m part of. Not long ago, for a nicely functioning Windows 10 machine, 4GB of RAM was fine. Then as we started to move more things to the cloud and turned to the Chrome browser to access websites, that was no longer enough. Fast forward to now, and the consensus is that the bare minimum is 16GB — primarily due to the new memory-hog de jour: Microsoft Teams.

Teams relies on the Electron platform and is actually a web-based application in the background. That means you may need to do some tweaking to get it to behave on lower-RAM machines. I recommend, among other Teams suggestions, disabling the Outlook add-in; disabling hardware acceleration; adjusting the page file settings; and, of course, adding more RAM.

As we move more applications to the cloud, the browser and its memory use becomes increasing important. (It’s been an interesting personal experiment for me to see which browser tends to behave better, and I’ve found the new Edge browser handles memory better than Chrome.)

Upgrade, or buy new?

When buying a computer, the decision about how much RAM to get can be deferred for desktops or serviceable laptops. If your computer can be opened, and can support more RAM, it can be upgraded to continue as a work horse for you. But for laptops and other devices where RAM is physically connected to the motherboard and can’t be upgraded, the price will dictate how much RAM you get.

Businesses usually have the option to lease their devices; thus, as needed, they can arrange for trade ins and upgrades. Consumers and home users don’t have the same luxury. So keep these new RAM numbers in mind when purchasing a laptop.

Several years ago, Microsoft promised that Windows 10 would be the last Windows version you’d ever buy. But it didn’t intend for us to keep running it on the same computer that ran Windows 7. I am a realist when it comes to computers: there comes a time when you need to upgrade. While you can replace an IDE hard drive with an SSD – you should – and you can attempt to add more RAM, there comes a time where other components are so old that it no longer justifies using an old system to run Windows 10.  

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.



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