Laptop PC RAM Size and Performance Explained

Laptop RAM - Size and Performance

RAM (Random Access Memory) is also referred to as system memory. It is a computer part which temporarily carries software and files in current use. It enables the processor to access data much faster in comparison to accessing data on storage devices such as a hard drive (HDD) or solid state drive (SSD). HDDs and SSDs hold software and files in a more permanent way, until a user uninstalls or deletes them. Software and files in RAM are loaded from these storage devices and are removed from RAM when an application is closed or operating system is shut down.

The most important positive effect of having a larger RAM size in a laptop or other kind of computer is its greater multi-tasking potential. Said differently, a greater capability to run more programs simultaneously without slowing down overall computing speed or crashing the operating system. In this article we will explain how many Gigabytes (GB) of RAM you actually need and how does its size and other characteristics affect laptops’ performance.

Common Laptop RAM Sizes

The most common RAM size you can find in everyday laptop PCs nowadays is 8GB. Some lower-end models come with 4GB and in some cases only 2GB. Higher-end mainstream laptop models oftentimes feature 12GB and 16GB. You can find high-performance gaming laptops and mobile workstations with 24 or even 32 Gigabytes, too. Available laptop memory modules (SODIMM module format as opposed desktop PC-use DIMM) usually have 4GB or 8GB capacity. 16GB SODIMM modules are still a rarity and aren’t compatible with all notebook models on the market. 6GB SODIMMs don’t exist on the market. Select laptops do come with 6GB RAM, but these have a 4GB module paired with a 2GB module.

Today’s laptops usually have two RAM slots. Some small and budget models have with only one or no slots. The laptops with no RAM slots have system memory soldered onto the motherboard. On the other side, select gaming and mobile workstation notebooks have four. It’s also possible to find a laptop with soldered RAM combined with a RAM slot for expansion.

How Much RAM You Need in Laptop with Windows?

The best way to find out how much RAM you need in a laptop or any other kind of computer is to calculate it by summing RAM footprints of software you typically use. In the table below, you can see typical RAM usage of Windows 10 operating system and its background services, as well as RAM usage of some popular Windows software and game titles. Using the table, you can easily calculate what RAM capacity you need and how many programs you can run at the same time without exceeding RAM size and choking the system. For instance, if you add heavy web browsing in Chrome and 10 images opened in image editor on top of RAM used by OS itself and an antivirus running in the background (Avast for example), you will get a needed RAM amount of at least 2.64 Gigabytes. Or, if you run only the latest Call of Duty game on Windows with no additional programs opened you’ll need more than 4GB right of the bat.

Software RAM Usage in Gigabytes (GB)*
Windows 10 Home 64-bit (Latest, with Default Services Running in Background) – Idle 1.70
Avast Security Software: Idle 0.03
Avast Security Software: Antivirus Scan 0.05
Chrome: Light Web Browsing (Facebook,, Gmail and Google Search opened) 0.30
Internet Explorer: Light Web Browsing (Facebook,, Gmail and Google Search opened) 0.28
Chrome: Heavy Web Browsing (Facebook,, Gmail, Google Search, 9GAG, Reddit, Pinterest, and 10-Minute YouTube 480p video opened) 0.70
Microsoft Edge: Heavy Web Browsing  (Facebook,, Gmail, Google Search, 9GAG, Reddit, Pinterest, and 10-Minute YouTube 480p video
YouTube 10-Minute 1080p Video Playback in Chrome 0.35
YouTube 10-Minute 1080p Video Playback in Internet Explorer 0.40
VLC Media Player: 120-Minute 1080p Video Playback 0.10
Windows Media Player: 4-Minute MP3 Audio Track Playback 0.01
Windows Photo Viewier: 4928x3264px Photo Opened 0.02
Microsoft Word: 1,000-Word 1-Image Document Editing 0.10
Excel: 100-Row 10-Column Spreadsheet Editing 0.03
Adobe Reader: 100-Page PDF Document Viewing 0.09 Image Editor: 1 5MB 4928x3264px Photo Opened 0.10 Image Editor: 10 5MB 4928x3264px Photos Opened 0.71 Image Editor: Applying Blur Effect on 5MB 4928x3264px Photo 0.17
Windows Movie Maker: Importing 5-Minute 1080p Video for Editing (Transcoding) 0.16
Windows Movie Maker: Editing 1080p Video with Transition Effects 0.10
Windows Movie Maker: Exporting 1080p MOV Video to MP4 File 0.75
Windows Mail 0.11
Outlook Mail 0.10
Skype: Voice Call 0.20
uTorrent: Movie Download 0.09
Steam Game Client 0.01
League of Legends Game 0.75
Minecraft Game 0.65
Counter Strike – Global Offensive Game 1.10
Dota 2 Game 1.00
The Elder Scrolls V – Skyrim Game 0.50
Call of Duty – Advanced Warfare Game 3.70

*Values in the table are approximate.

As a side note, if you own a laptop with integrated graphics, such as the Intel HD series, it will take a certain amount of RAM for graphics processing purposes. For instance, the Intel HD in a laptop with 4GB reduces the available size to 3.9GB by default. During gaming, it can occupy up to 2GB. Discrete laptop video cards like the Nvidia GeForce series don’t use RAM for graphics, since they have their own dedicated video memory.

It’s also worth noting that 32-bit versions of operating systems can’t utilize more than 4GB of RAM, even if you physically have more in your laptop. Thankfully, most laptops on the market have 64-bit Windows pre-installed.

RAM and Laptop’s Performance

If your RAM needs exceed the amount you have in your computer and you still decide to run all the programs you wish at the same time, that doesn’t mean your system will automatically crash. Windows will use your notebook’s storage space – hard drive or solid state drive, for RAM purposes thanks to so called virtual memory technology. But that’ll slow down operation a lot, since reading and writing data on HDDs and SSDs is much slower in comparison to RAM’s read/write speeds. In the worst case scenario, the system will become completely unresponsive, so you’ll have to restart it by pressing the power button on your machine and lose unsaved documents you worked on during the session.

On the other side, having a large RAM size in cases your usage doesn’t exceed it has no significant positive impact on overall performance of the system. True, having larger RAM than needed won’t hurt. SuperFetch technology included in Windows 7, 8, and 10 operating systems will make use of it. SuperFetch monitors which applications you run often and pre-loads them into free RAM space. This enables faster loading of commonly used software, without reducing multitasking performance of already opened programs.

What can also have an effect performance-wise, but a minor one, is speed of memory. More precisely, speed of communication between RAM and the processor. In product specs sheets of laptops and their memory, RAM speed is expressed in Megahertz (MHz) values. Motherboards and processors of modern laptops usually support 2133, 1866, and 1600 MHz memory speeds. Some high-end laptops additionally support 2400 MHz.

Other RAM characteristics such as latencies and single-channel versus dual-channel RAM configurations are maybe important for PC enthusiasts who want to make use of every bit of PCs’ potential. But, these specs don’t impact performance in a meaningful way for the vast majority of laptop users. In short, if other parameters are the same, lower latency and use of dual-channel memory setups (i.e. 2 x 4GB versus 1 x 8GB) are better. As a side note, dual-channel memory can noticeably improve gaming capabilities of a laptop if it relies on integrated graphics for gaming, as opposed to dedicated video cards.

As for RAM upgrades, it’s important to know that there are different types of SODIMM memory, such as DDR4, DDR3, DDR3L, or older and discontinued DDR2 and DDR. If you plan to upgrade RAM in your laptop these differences are of a crucial importance, since RAM modules have to be compatible with the device you’re upgrading.

Note: This post was updated on 2/1/2019.

75 thoughts on “Laptop PC RAM Size and Performance Explained”

  1. If I have a 6gb ddr3 L ram memory laptop what other size could I add in the other slot, because there is not 6gb sticks and I have heard that it is better to match the size of Ram

    • Are you sure you have 6GB? Because 6GB RAM modules for laptops don’t exist as far as I know. You probably have 4GB + 2GB. In that case, you can replace the 2GB module with a higher capacity one. You have to get DDR3L RAM, but you don’t have to match sizes.

      As a side note, you should also check whether one of the RAM modules in your laptop is soldered onto the motherboard. There are laptop models with a fixed soldered RAM module and a standard RAM slot for replaceable memory.

  2. Hey Dan, great article.

    I have a gaming laptop with only 16GB Dual channel memory, is it best to purchase 2 x 16GB of the same RAM to replace the 2 x 8 GB or can I but just 1 x 16GB RAM and add it one of the 8 GB slots.
    By doing this will it improve my laptops performance?
    There is an article here on improve that, but doesn’t mention about the RAM?


  3. Hi, i have HP pavilion g6 2231 tx. laptop came with 4gb ram (2gb*2) (having speed 1600 mhz), and maximum ram is 16gb. I want to upgrade ram, what do you think is better option, [2gb(existing)+8gb] or [4gb+4gb]. please also tell how can i choose best ram for the same.

  4. Hi Dan,
    i have a lenovo ideapad 520 laptop with 4*2 GB ram. iwas going to upgrade to 16 GB. it said that i have 2 ram slot but when i explored the inside of the laptop i only found 1 slot with a 4 GB ram. i can find the other slot. so i was going to buy a 16GB ram to rrreplace that 4GB. the other 4GB ram is from samsung & im gonna buy a 16GB crucial ram, can they work with eachother?

  5. Hi
    I had brought a Dell inspiron laptop with a 4gb ram, I5. At times when I try using Photoshop or try to download or open a 4k video file it slows down. especially copying from the sdxc uhs card to the hard disk. As the system has a space for additional memory wanted to go for a 12gb..will the combination of 4gb+12gb work or I should go for 4+4 or just a 12gb..please advice

    • Yes, you can combine 2 different RAM sizes, but 12GB RAM in a single module / stick doesn’t exist. RAM stick capacities are 4, 8, and 16GB. So, you probably want 4 + 8GB, which will work fine. Generally, it’s always better to combine two RAM modules instead of a single-module equivalent (2 x 4GB is better than 1 x 8GB).

      However, since you have a hard drive in your laptop and not a solid state drive, that can be a problem performance-wise, especially in operations like file copying, operating system start time, program opening time and similar. SSDs provide much smoother user experience than hard drives.

  6. Hi Danijel i want to upgrade RAM in my ‘Asus ROG Strix Core i5 8th Gen – (8 GB/1 TB HDD/128 SSD/4 GB Geforce GTX 1050 Ti)’.
    Current RAM frequency is 2666Mhz.
    Which is better to upgrade with (8gb + 8gb) or (8gb + 16gb).
    I do programming with multitasking and play games(not AAA titles) on it.

      • I would recommend at least 16GB for newer hardware-demanding games. 8GB and 12GB can be enough for older games and lighter games, like Minecraft, Counter Strike, League of Legends, etc.

    • Hi, the larger RAM size the better. 16GB is big enough already for most users, but if you can have 24GB instead, why not. You’ll have a plenty of multitasking headroom with 24GB. Combining different RAM sizes is not a problem.

  7. Is 32 GB RAM necessarily a quad processor?

    10th Gen Intel Quad-Core i7-1065G7 Processor (1.30GHz Base, 8MB Cache, Max turbo upto 3.90 GHz), Ultra-low-voltage platform, Quad-Core, Eight-way processing provides Maximum high-efficiency power to go. Integrated Intel Iris Plus Graphics with shared graphics memory provide everyday image quality for Internet use, basic photo editing and casual gaming.

    • With everything else being the same, 12 GB is better. 12 GB can be worse only if you have faster 8GB RAM module (MHz value) than the 12GB (8GB + 4GB) modules and you never use more than 8GB while using the laptop. If you have only one single-channel 8GB RAM stick instead of two (4GB + 4GB), 12 GB will be even better because 12 GB is always dual-channel, which is faster. Especially in games.

  8. If one ram port is affected, can I use one ram chip and even upgrade it so that I can achieve the ram size I want?

  9. Hi DANIJEL sir,

    i have asus tuf gaming FX705DT-AUO16T {17.3inch laptop,with Ryzen-7 processor and 8 gb ram and 512 gb ssd } and here my doubt is that it have an in built 8 gb ram and i want to make it 8+8 or 8+16 or 16+16 configuration. will i face hangings or slowdowns regarding these processes and i wanna expand rom from 512gb ssd to [1tb hdd+512bg ssd] please suggest me regarding these things so that it will help me a lot and the reason for asking you is that after reading your suggestions half of my doubts were solved.


    • Hi, getting more RAM, especially if you make it dual channel (2 x 8GB instead of 1 x 16GB etc), improves performance. By how much depends on your usage. If you usually don’t utilize more than 8GB you already have, the difference wont be big. As for storage upgrade, I hope you know that HDDs are much slower than SSDs, so everything stored on the HDD will run slower than on the SSD.

  10. Hey, I really need help here. I have an ACER Aspire laptop, what I called a “poor man’s gaming laptop”, and it was running pretty nice up until the day I did a factory reset. The performance significantly dropped and it is not running less than one-third of what it was before. Can anyone please help?
    Specs – i5-7200u, 8gb ddr4 ram, 256gb sad, geforce 940mx.
    The ram speeds also seem significantly low too. Does not reflect ddr4 anymore.

  11. Hi.. Sir
    I’ve a Compaq Presarrio CQ40 with 2GB RAM… I really face a lot of problems in multitasking and even refreshing the system as it keeps on hanging..
    I currently use Microsoft Office, Spotify but I want to use Quark Xpress, Adobe..
    How much RAM would be sufficient to do all that??

    • Hi, you’ll be maybe fine with 4GB, depending on your usage. But, to be sure, I always recommend at least 8GB nowadays. Especially if you run multiple programs and / or web browser tabs simultaneously. 4GB is a bare minimum by today’s standards.

      • I want to get a laptop.
        Here are the specifications sir;
        For your kind expert advice;

        Product;Omatek digital laptop
        Hard disk:320Gb
        Battery; 111v-4400

    • Help me sir…
      reason why Intel Core i5 which comes with 2gb or 4gb ram can not be upgraded to 64gb

  12. I bought a surface pro 7 and it is 4gb ram. Is that enough or should i change it to 8gb ram? My usage is internet browsing 5-6 tabs at time, spotify, msoffice excel word etc, emails, news, social media apps, no any editing or gaming.
    So should i change it or keep it please advise.

    • If there’s no editing or gaming in your pc then it’s good to stick with the 4 gb Ram but if it involves editing as well as gaming, you should consider more RAM

    • This article only takes the base original Skyrim without mods into account. With Skyrim Special Edition, it can use up to 1.25 to 2 GB. Throw in a decent amount of mods, and it can get up to 4 GB.

      • He’s right.
        I’m running Skyrim on this and with all the mods, my system ends up double tapping after all the ram is tapped out. I’m upgrading my ram size this week and that’ll take care of the problem.

        My Specs:

        I7 core processor
        2 Dedicated Graphics Card docks.
        NVIDIA GTX 1060 is 10GB Graphics card.
        12GB RAM ( I’m upgrading it to 32 GB this week )
        1 SSD drive to operate my windows 10 OS.

        1 terabyte HDD drive for storage extension.
        1 500GB HDD for extra storage extension.

        850 watt capacity power supply.
        5 USB 3.0 ports

        • Man do u think hp pavilion i7 9750h gtx 1650 4 gb can handel SSE with approximately 100 mods. Most of the mod i use for animation and new armor, sword.

  13. I want to upgrade my Acer Aspire E 14. Currently it has just 2GB RAM. Please what is the maximum RAM I can upgrade it to.
    Also, which Sodimm memory is compatible to my ACER E 14 laptop

  14. Hiii,i have acer aspire 5 laptop with DDR4 8gb ram bt i don’t knw the MHZ and now i want to add 1 more 8gb ram on the another slot….so will i face any problem if i add the another 8gb ram with different MHZ than the ram which is provided by the laptop ???plzz answer

  15. Pls sir, my children hp620, 4gb ram ,hdd 320, displays low memory…they run it corel draw x8,adobe photoshop,illustrator, etc. Any solution n is d ram upgradable

    • 4GB seems to be too low for the programs you mentioned. The HP 620 has two RAM slots, with 8GB maximal RAM size support in total. The 620 is a quite old laptop model so you’ll need older DDR3 SODIMM RAM if you want to upgrade.

  16. Is it possible for a laptop to have more than 2 memory slots….? Because my machine tells me I have more than 2 slots when I check the slots available….but I dont believe it.

    So kindly brief me on it….so that if possible I will upgrade the current memory of 8GB to 12GB without taking the old memory out.

  17. Hello,
    While I was looking for the specifications of an All-in-One computer (HP Pavilion 24 Desktop, 24″ Touch screen Full HD, WLED-backlit edge-to-edge display, 1 TB SSD + 10 TB HD, 32 GB RAM Ultra Performance, Intel Core i7-8700K Quad Processor 3.70 GHz Turbo to 4.70 GHz Extreme, Graphics RAM up to 6GB), I could not find any information about the Graphics Card except for a minor hint (Graphics RAM up to 6GB). What does this phrase mean? Is the piece of information about Graphics Card dropped accidentally or is it an indication of a system flaw? I would appreciate your reply. Thank you for your time.

  18. Bought laptop with 2GB ram,just really need it for browsing,printing and kids doing school coursework.In hindsight didnt really understand what GB meant.Do you think laptop will be very limited in what it can do ?

    • 2GB is quite limiting when running multiple programs at the same time. But if you don’t use multiple programs simultaneously, you can avoid slowdowns. However, it all depends on the program you use. For instance, Chrome browser under Windows 10 with a pair of opened web pages in separate tabs can easily exceed the 2GB limit. On the other hand, text editing doesn’t require much RAM, so editing a Word text document (with maybe a couple of images in it) won’t cause RAM-related slowdowns.

    • Bo your laptop will worj perfectly fine, thats general usage and really not anything that would require high ram.

  19. Sir
    I want to upgrade 8gb ram in my sony laptop VPCEG28FN
    Is this available in market ??and where I wanna search
    For NUKE app is it support to work without buffer

  20. Hello Sir.
    Please I want to buy a Laptop that I can use to give lectures to students. Could you pls recommend for me together with RAM and SSD or Os

  21. Hello Sir,

    I am in need to get 16GB RAM for HADOOP but which is like somewhat expensive. So I decided to go with 12GB(1*4GB&1*8GB) laptop with 120$ difference. Can I change the 4GB slot with 8GB???

    Is it preferable?
    Suggest me, please

    Thank you in advance

    • What laptop model is in question? Many of the modern laptops have 4GB soldered onto the motherboard and a free RAM slot for additional / removable memory. So on some models getting more than 12GB can’t be done without investing in a pricey single 16GB RAM module. If the laptop has 2 slots for removable RAM then you can have 8GB x2 configuration.

  22. Sir,
    i bought asus x540u laptop it has 4gb ram. what is the max ram capacity of it and how many slot?i want to upgrade it . thanks

    • Hi, as far as i know the X540U has on-board 4GB RAM, plus a DDR4 RAM slot for expansion. So most likely you’ll only need to get a DDR4 RAM module and insert it.

    • Yes, Windows 8 can work perfectly with 4GB RAM, but you won’t be able to run too many programs at the same time without slowdowns. Yet, for most users 4GB is enough for multi-tasking under Windows.

  23. I bought my 2 little girls hp pavilion, they come with 2 slots, 2gb ram each ,I’d like to add an 8gb ram to each laptop, u think they would run properly with 8 and 2 combination?

    • Generally, 2GB and 8GB should work together without problems if other RAM specs match system’s requirements. But, it’s hard to tell in this particular case, since we don’t know the exact model of the HP Pavilion. What model is in question?

    • It’s usually bad practice to mix RAM up and can sometimes end up slowing down the system altogether.
      If you’re looking for 8gb max then get 2x4Gb.

    • If you’re an average PC user, 8GB means you can run many programs and browser tabs simultaneously without RAM-related slowdowns. Even 4GB and 6GB are enough for most users. Only a few very demanding games might exceed 8GB limit.

    • Buenas Tardes por favor, tengo una laptop toshiba satellite E45t- B4106, I5 tiene 2 canales de 4gb cada uno, pero al utilizarlo sólo me reconoce un alto de 4 gb, que puedo hacer para que me reconozca el otro slot de 4gb, como saber si está dañado

  24. Hi Danijel i ve recently bought a lap “HP inspiron ab523TX” because it comes with only 4gb ddr3 1600mhzram i ve upgraded it to 12gb ddr3 1600mhz the same day i bought it. But i added a 8gb ddr3 ram. Does this affect my pc s performance bcoz one is 4 and other is 8? I think my pc is a bit slow for a 12gb i5 6th and crashed 3 times in a week. Fyi added ram is from adata. Plz reply asap

    • Your upgrade to 12GB makes a difference performance-wise only if your RAM usage exceeds 4GB (in situations like running many programs at the same time). If you’re below 4GB threshold all the time you won’t see a meaningful difference. Exception is gaming on the Intel HD series integrated graphics, since having two RAM modules in dual-channel memory setup improves gaming performance over single-channel / single module setups. I don’t think asymmetric RAM size in your slots makes any difference when it comes to performance. There are some other RAM specs which affect performance – like memory latencies, but they have a minor effect on overall computer performance. As for system crashes, there can be various reasons for that, like overheating due to dust in the vents or some kind of software / drivers error. If your system is stable when you use only the old RAM module, maybe the new one causes the crashes.

        • Hi, RAM latency is time it takes for the processor to retrieve data from RAM. It’s a very small delay measured in nanoseconds.
          If you want a detailed explanation, I suggest you to check out this page:
          For the average laptop user, its worth noting that RAM latency doesn’t affect performance of a laptop in a meaningful way and that laptop RAM modules available on the market generally have similar latency (also known as true latency).

          • Hi Danijel, i have hp655
            Processor: AMD E2 APU with Radeon ™ HD Graphics 1.70 GHz

            And 4 GB RAM
            its failing to play hd videos how can i cope with the problem


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