When you build, buy, or advise someone a Windows 10 PC, is one key factor that I always cover. Make sure you have as much RAM as your budget allows. It doesn’t matter if you have RTX 3090 or AMD Ryzen 9, if you lower your RAM, you’re having a bad time.
When building your own machine, it’s easy enough to cover. It can mean saving a little longer or it can mean sacrificing elsewhere, but most often a PC manufacturer these days uses at least 16GB of RAM. And shoot more and more if the prices aren’t too crazy.
So why then are we expected to treat only 8GB of RAM as a base point in far too many laptops? 8GB is no longer enough, and it should be the minimum you want to find on an even cheaper, mid-range laptop. The time for laptop manufacturers to stop connecting with us and become cheaper.
8GB of RAM doesn’t go very far at all
As I sit here as I write this, I have two applications that are actually open in the foreground of my computer; Firefox and telegram desktop. And according to Task Manager, I use 55% of my available memory. It is over 8GB of the 16GB available.
What really uses it all? Background processes from first and third party software and Windows 10 itself. For example, when you click a cross to close a conflict, it does not close. It runs in the background and requires the use of system resources.
Open Task Manager the next time you are on your computer and just see how much is going on. I have 62 background processes and a whopping 112 Windows processes. Since no applications in the foreground have been opened at all, I only use 6-7 GB of RAM when the computer is on.
A lot happens with Windows 10 just to keep it running, and most of it isn’t the work of ordinary users. You can use fewer third-party applications and keep tabs in your background processes, but why should you run rings to fix a problem with Microsoft and its hardware partners.
16 GB of RAM should be standard
Smartphones with at least 8GB of RAM are now common. Obviously it’s not a comparison of apples and apples, but it’s still a thing. $ 1,000 and up Surface Notebook 4 also 8GB of RAM, as well as an entry level Razer Book 13. Part of the problem is that because RAM can’t be upgraded on most thin Ultrabooks computers today, getting more is often tied to other upgrades, such as a faster processor or more storage space.
However, that is not good enough. Laptop manufacturers who buy RAM in bulk always get it cheaper than you or me, by going to Amazon. And yet we are expected to either make it through 8GB a lot of time or pay an absurd price to get more.
Windows 10 won’t become less resource-consuming overnight, and most current popular web browsers will soon start crashing your RAM the longer they are open full of tabs. Hardware manufacturers need to step up their operations and start offering a more 2021-friendly solution.
Can you do something?
For many people, not just choosing a higher RAM option when buying a laptop is a budget-based decision. I get it completely. But these people shouldn’t expect to have a worse experience, when we’re honest, they still spend a lot of money. The laptop will be an investment for years to come, and not much RAM will start to really damage the road.
You can actively monitor what you’re running at any time and completely shut down all of the underlying RAM, but it can also get boring quickly. One easy thing to try is to use Microsoft Edge Instead of Google Chrome or Firefox, because it seems to be much better optimized for Windows 10 and uses less RAM.
There’s also an entire community dedicated to deploying Windows 10, removing things that Microsoft really doesn’t want you to remove. All of this telemetry and these background processes can be reduced a lot, naturally at your own risk.
I tried something like this on Surface Go 2 and it was a really good experience. I used a guide from the source I trusted which contained some PowerShell magic and removed a crazy amount of Windows 10 that is usually unavailable. It is possible to go too far, but the results speak for themselves.
Ultimately, however, we all need laptop manufacturers to be better at configuring their machines. It is not acceptable to charge at least $ 1,000 for a laptop with only 8GB of RAM. The alternative is to stop soldering it to the motherboard so we can upgrade it ourselves, but that doesn’t happen, right?