Wednesday 7 September 2011

2GB of RAM Just Does Not Cut It With Windows 7

Our back shop desktop machine probably gets the most work out of all of the systems in our business with the exception of my own in the front office.

For the longest while we had left 2GB of RAM in that back shop system.

Prior to Windows 7’s service pack 1 the machine performed reasonably well . . . at least until there were a few windows open, IE tabs open, and maybe Word and/or Excel.

Lately, the machine was dragging more and more with the hard drive light remaining almost constant.

So, we finally had a bit of time to pull the box apart and upgrade the RAM.


The only things open on the box after adding 4GB of RAM for a total of 6GB is this Windows Live Writer window and an RDP session into another desktop.

Notice that the OS is sitting at 2GB of RAM used!


The numbers shown above would be a lot different on just 2GB of RAM. Watching in the Resource Monitor it was possible to see when IE tabs were being swapped in and out of the page file along with almost any other application that was open on the machine.

3GB of RAM would do for most folks, but 4GB or more is a consideration for power users or users that work with Adobe and other high end apps on a regular basis.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists
Co-Author: SBS 2008 Blueprint Book

*Our original iMac was stolen (previous blog post). We now have a new MacBook Pro courtesy of Vlad Mazek, owner of OWN.

Windows Live Writer


stryqx said...

Shared memory graphics?

I've got a bunch of PCs running Windows 7 SP1 Pro 32-bit with Office 2010 on 2GB DDR2 RAM PCs with P4 3.0GHz CPUs just fine, but they do have discrete graphics cards. Windows starts up cleanly using 600-700MB RAM (which is just obscene, really). Outlook is always open, with Word/Excel making the occasional appearance, IE8 for occasional browsing and a lightweight LOB app always open. Systems will float around 1.8GB-2.4GB memory utilisation with not too much latency added by paging activity. Disks are all 5400rpm SATAs and MyDefrag is set for daily + monthly runs.

Philip Elder Cluster MVP said...


I did not even clue into that!

Now that you mention it the decrease in performance can be associated with the monitors at this station being changed from 19" 4x3 to dual 23" wide arm mounted ones.

Indeed, that probably was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back.

The box is a small form factor so descrete graphics are not the direction we would go in since the Intel DQ57TM's built-in graphics are pretty good.

Thanks for that!


Anonymous said...

Incredible they still push Windows 7 on netbooks with just 1gb RAM.

Philip Elder Cluster MVP said...


We install an 80GB Intel 320 Series SSD to compensate. :D

Seriously though, for day to day tasks a netbook with 2GB of RAM is more than enough (with SSD of course).


Doug H. said...

I notice in your screen cap it's 64-bit Windows. That uses more memory from the start. I have a home box running Win 7 32-bit (with discrete graphics) just fine, but I've never done a 64-bit system with less than 4GB yet.

Your comments got me wondering what the impact not just on performance, but on laptop run-time a 64-bit Win 7/2GB setup could be. All that swapping likely lessens run-time significantly.

Anonymous said...

Happily running a lot of DC7700 with 1 GB RAM and users very satisfied (just office and web)on x32 Win7

Josh Gay said...

My DQ57 boxes went out the door with 4gb, sometimes 8gb, the DQ67 boxes are going out with 8gb sometimes 16gb, not that the users are using it all, but the price of 8gb a couple months back was where 4gb was 12-24 months ago, remembering the price dropped again lately, it may be that 16gb is there now, and having been bitten by those old old boxes that got 512mb (2x256) as 1gb (2x512) was too much money and "more ram than needed" at the time.... I didn't go from 2gb to 4gb standard quite as fast as in hindsight I should have.....