Does Your Computer Need More RAM? A Guide to Capacity

A document on a laptop.

Having enough RAM is important for your laptop’s fast performance and responsiveness. (Image: Kilmermedia via Dreamstime)

Having enough RAM is important for your laptop’s fast performance and responsiveness. RAM (Random Access Memory) is your computer’s temporary storage. And when you open many applications or several browser tabs, your RAM stores data that you need to retrieve quickly. 

You probably know that more intensive laptop applications need more RAM. But does your laptop need a lot of RAM? And how much is enough?

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Do you have enough RAM?

Choosing the right RAM specs for your laptop can be challenging. You don’t want to face problems in the future, but you also don’t want to spend more money for nothing. 

If you run RAM-heavy applications, you may not be enough, and you risk your laptop becoming slower. On the other hand, some tasks don’t need much. For instance, if you just use your laptop for notes, a few web tabs, or chat applications, you can do with 4GB to 8GB. 

Also, if possible, buy user-accessible RAM that allows you to add more when you need to.

Man inserts extra RAM chip into the back of a laptop computer.
If possible, buy user-accessible RAM that allows you to add more when you need to. (Image: Riopatuca via Dreamstime)

How much does your laptop need?


RAM comes in different sizes, mostly ranging from 2GB to 64GB. That said, most people don’t use a lot in their day-to-day uses. So the standard size is 8GB. 

With 8GB, you’ll have enough for everyday computing essentials. If you only use your laptop for streaming, browsing, and standard word processors, you can get away with 8GB. It will allow you to have several tabs open and retrieve them without slowing your performance. 

In your daily use, your browser tabs (Chrome, Edge, Firefox) and the operating system (OS) use most of your RAM. For instance, Windows 10 uses about 2GB without opening another application. Still, 8GB is enough for such use. And with this size, you can even do some light video editing and play several modern games.

But if you plan to use your laptop for graphic-intense games or huge spreadsheets, you need more RAM.


While 8GB can be enough for most daily uses, it’s advisable to go for 16GB. A laptop with 16GB gives you headroom for future uses. It’s also well suited for gamers and office work.

For example, most office work involves simple Excel spreadsheets that can run with 8GB. But huge spreadsheets with lots of data need you to upgrade your RAM. You also need more if you are an intensive gamer or amateur creative. Having 16GB is good for most games and can be enough for some Photoshop projects using applications like Premiere Pro or Adobe Photoshop.

Open Photoshop project with a photo of a shark swimming in the ocean.
Having 16GB is good for most games and can be enough for some Photoshop projects. (Image: Jeremy Brown via Dreamstime)

It’s usually recommended to go for a laptop that allows user upgrades. But if your laptop has soldered memory that you can’t upgrade, 16GB should be enough to take you through your computer’s lifetime. 

32GB to 64GB

With 16GB, you can have open tabs in the background while still playing graphic-intensive games like God of War. So do you need more RAM? And when do you need 32GB or more?

Most creative professionals go for 32GB memory. You need this size or more if you plan to use applications like Premier Pro or render 4K videos. In addition, the best video editing tools need more RAM, especially if you are using multiple applications at once.

Other professionals in more specialized fields like game development or 3D animation may even need 64GB. But unless you plan to do some advanced video editing, you don’t need more than 32GB.

Upgrading your system

So how much RAM does your laptop need? The best answer is that it depends on your computing uses. However, you can hedge against the future by going for more than you need — but not too much. 

For instance, if you can run on 8GB, it makes no sense to go for 32GB because it won’t increase performance and will probably be a waste of money. There is no reason to exceed 16GB if all you want is streaming, gaming, or office work.

Also, it’s easy to upgrade RAM. If your laptop eventually needs more, you can add more — unless it’s soldered memory. But you probably won’t have to upgrade beyond 16GB if you only do basic computing activities.

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