What Is RAM, and How Much Memory Do You Need? — The Plug
RAM, also known as memory, is one of the most important components in determining your computer’s speed and overall performance. So, whether you’re looking to buy a new computer, or you want to speed up your current PC, it’s crucial to understand what RAM is, and how much memory you actually need. Here’s everything you need to know about what RAM does, and how to find out if you have enough memory you have on your Mac or Windows computer.
What Is RAM?
Random access memory (RAM) is a hardware component that is used to store temporary data for the programs running on computers, smartphones, gaming consoles, and other devices. Operating systems (like Windows and macOS) need to have a certain amount of memory installed just to boot up.
What Does RAM Do?
You can think of RAM as your computer’s short-term memory. It provides temporary storage space for data and program codes that your computer is currently using. Your computer uses memory to launch programs, process actions, load features, and more.
While your hard drive and RAM are both measured in gigabytes (GB), they do very different things. You can think of your hard drive like your computer’s long-term memory, where all your files and programs are stored when they are not in use. However, the data stored in your RAM will be erased whenever you turn off your computer.
(Image Source: Enterprise Storage)
Your computer’s RAM is faster than the best long-term storage drives today. RAM stores commonly-used data that your programs, apps, or processes need on stand-by. This way, your computer’s memory can quickly pull up information and hand it over to your central processing until (CPU).
Read More: What is a CPU and what does it do?
How Much RAM Do You Need?
You will need at least 2 GB of RAM to use basic programs like Microsoft Word or surf the web. However, you should have at least 4 GB of RAM if you want to use newer apps. You might need 8-16 GB of RAM or more if you do lots of multitasking or use intensive programs.
As a general rule, the more RAM you have, the faster your programs will run, and the more programs you can run at the same time. However, your memory is only one part of the equation, and your computer’s overall performance will also depend on your other hardware and software.
To get the best performance out of your computer, it is recommended that you always purchase memory sticks in pairs with the exact same specs. This is because most computers these days come with dual- or quad-channel memory slots, which will provide your memory with more channels of communication and increase data transfer speeds.
(Image Source: Crucial)
However, if you use two different kinds of memory cards, they will only run at the speed of the slowest module.
Is 2 GB of RAM Enough?
With 2 GB of RAM, you will have enough memory to do very basic tasks, like using Microsoft Word and Excel, opening a few tabs when browsing the web, or playing very low-end games. However, you can only run one or two programs at a time before your device starts slowing down.
Keep in mind that 2 GB of memory is the minimum you need to run the 64-bit version of Windows 10. So, if you only have 2 GB of RAM, your computer will feel very slow and sluggish. For example, we used more than 2 GB of RAM on a 64-bit Windows 10 laptop without any programs running or devices connected.
Is 4 GB of RAM Enough?
With 4 GB of RAM, you have enough memory to run a few lightweight programs at a time. You can open a handful of browser tabs, do basic image or video editing, play low-spec games, and stream music or videos online.
For example, we consistently used more than 4 GB of RAM just by opening 10 tabs in the Chrome web browser while running Microsoft Word (and the Task Manager). However, your system might be able to handle these tasks with less memory if you have better hardware, or if you enable certain settings.
Even low-budget computers and laptops come with at least 4 GB of RAM pre-installed these days. If your computer only has 2 GB of memory, upgrading to 4 GB of memory will feel like night and day. However, it is important to note that old 32-bit computers can’t handle more than 4 GB of RAM.
Is 8 GB of RAM Enough?
With 8 GB of RAM, you will have enough memory to run several programs at once. You can open lots of browser tabs at once, use photo or video editing programs, stream content, and play mid-to-high-end games.
Many Windows 10 and macOS computers or laptops come with 8 GB of memory installed these days. So, 8 GB of memory should be more than enough to run most productivity programs. It’s also the minimum amount of memory recommended by Adobe to run Creative Cloud programs like Photoshop.
While 8 GB of RAM is more than enough for most people, you can easily use it up if you have dozens of tabs open on your web browser, and you are running several programs at the same time. For example, we used up more than 8 GB of memory on a laptop by opening 50 tabs in Chrome while running Photoshop, PowerPoint, Word, and Spotify at once.
Some newer games will also use up to 8 GB of RAM all on their own. For example, Cyberpunk 2077 requires at least 8 GB of memory to run. That means you might experience major lag when trying to run the game if you have any other programs running in the background.
Is 16 GB of RAM Enough?
With 16 GB of RAM, you have enough memory to run as many programs as you want without slowing your computer down. This amount of memory is enough for hardcore gamers, video editors, gaming streamers, and anyone using AutoCAD or other demanding software.
For example, we were not able to use all 16 GB of memory installed on our laptop because the processor slowed everything down too much. So, if you have 16 GB of RAM, your processor is probably to blame for any bottlenecks.
Is 32 GB of RAM Worth It?
With 32 GB of RAM, you have enough memory to edit high-resolution video (4K), model 3-D environments, or work with extremely large files. It’s also worth it if your computer needs to be dual-booted or you have several virtual machines installed.
Is 64 GB of RAM Overkill?
With 64 GB of RAM, you have enough memory for machine learning, feature film editing, and 3D graphics design. However, most power users will find 32 GB of RAM to be overkill, especially if your priority is just high-end gaming or multitasking a few demanding programs.
Now that you know how much RAM you need, you might want to upgrade your memory. However, there are a few other factors that you should consider when buying new memory sticks, like speed, latency, and more.
What Is the Difference Between DDR3 and DDR4?
If you shop around for RAM, you’ll notice most of them are DDR3 and DDR4 DDR5 sticks. The main difference between them is that the new DDR4 sticks are faster, more energy-efficient, and have a higher capacity than DDR3.
DDR stands for Double Data Rate, and the numbers 3 and 4 refer to the memory chip’s version. RAM speed (also known as clock speed or frequency) is measured in megahertz (MHz). This measure tells you how many times your RAM can access its storage space per second.
As of now, DDR3 RAM can only reach a maximum speed of 2133 MHz, while DDR4 goes from 2,133 MHz to 4266 MT/s (million transfers per second). When it comes to capacity, DDR3 can only handle up to 16 GB per stick, but you can buy DDR4 modules up to 256 GB.
DDR3 and DDR4 also come in different standard sizes. A DDR3 RAM stick won’t fit into a DDR4 RAM slot. So, before you upgrade your RAM, make sure to find out what kind of RAM slots your computer has. Also, it is important to note that desktop computers use a different kind of RAM than laptops.
What About DDR5?
DDR5 is the latest evolution of PC memory that only became commercially available in 2021. Compared to DDR4, the new RAM standard is faster, has higher capacity, and is more energy-efficient. However, since the standard is still new, it does not work with many computers right now.
Does RAM Speed Matter?
Your RAM speed won’t matter if your CPU can’t keep up. However, you will see a slight boost in performance with faster RAM if your other components can handle it. But you can improve your performance much more by upgrading your CPU or GPU speeds.
Some CPUs list a recommended RAM speed in their technical specs. Using this recommended speed can also boost performance, but only slightly. For example, while you might not see a much higher frame rate while gaming with faster RAM, you might see a higher 1% and 0.1% frame rate. Also, you need to make sure that your motherboard supports higher RAM speeds. Otherwise, your RAM speed will cap out, and then it won’t matter how fast it is.
What is a Good CAS Latency For RAM?
CAS latency is the number of clock cycles a RAM stick takes to access a set of data. For RAM sticks with identical speeds and chip versions, lower latency is better. While DDR3 generally has lower latencies than DDR4, the latter compensates with much higher speeds that deliver better performance.
Once you understand what RAM capacity, speed, and latency are, here’s how to find out how much memory your current computer has:
How Much RAM Do You Have on Your Windows 10 PC?
To find out how much RAM you have on a Windows 10 computer, open the Window Search Box. Then type Task Manager into the search bar and click Open. Next, click the Performance tab, and you will see how much RAM you have in the top-right corner.
- Open the Windows Search Box. You can do this by clicking the magnifying glass icon in the bottom-left corner of your screen.
- Then type Task Manager into the search bar.
- Next, click Open. You can also hit Enter on your keyboard.
- Then click the Performance tab. You will see this at the top of the pop-up window next to Processes.
- You will see how much RAM you have in the top-right corner of the window. Then you will also see how much memory you are currently using at the bottom of the window next to In Use.
You can also access this window by right-clicking on your Taskbar at the bottom of your screen and selecting Task Manager. Or you can press the Ctrl + Shift + Esc on your keyboard at the same time.
How Much RAM Do You Have on Your Mac Computer?
To find out how much RAM you have on a Mac computer, open a Finder window, and go to the Applications folder. Then go to the Utilities folder and open the Activity Monitor app. Finally, click the Memory tab, and you will see how much memory you have next to Physical Memory.
- Open a Finder window. You can do this by clicking the half-blue, half-gray face icon in your Dock. Or you can click any empty space on your desktop and press the Command + N keys on your keyboard at the same time.
- Then go to the Applications folder. You can do this by clicking Applications in the left sidebar of the Finder window. Or you can press the Command + Shift + A keys on your keyboard at the same time.
- Next, open the Utilities folder. You can also press the Command + Shift + U keys on your keyboard and skip the previous step.
- Then open the Activity Monitor.
- Next, click the Memory tab. You will see this at the top of the window nest to CPU.
- Finally, you will see how much memory your Mac has next to Physical Memory. You will see this at the bottom-center of the window. You will also see how much memory you are currently using next to Memory Used.
Now that you know what RAM is and how much memory your computer has, check out our list of the best desktop computers if you want to upgrade.
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How Much RAM Do I Need? How to Tell and When to Upgrade
- Most users need about 8 GB of RAM, but to use several apps at once, you might need 16 GB or more.
- If you don’t have enough RAM, your computer will run slowly and apps will lag.
- VRAM is located on your graphics card and stores temporary graphical data from apps and games.
RAM, short for random access memory, is a vital component of your desktop or laptop computer, and even your smartphone or tablet.
However, nearly every device has a different amount of RAM. And despite how important it is, tech manufacturers don’t always make it easy to tell how much you’ll need.
Here’s a guide to why RAM is important, how much you’ll likely need, and whether it’s worth it to add more RAM.
RAM is an essential part of any computer
If you plan on multitasking on your computer — even if that just means having multiple apps open at once — then you’re relying heavily on your system’s RAM. Without adequate RAM, multitasking can slow your device down to a crawl.
Livestreaming, which requires you to run multiple apps at once, takes a lot of RAM space.
You can think of RAM as your device’s short term memory. When you leave a program running in the background, RAM keeps track of where you left off, so you can switch back to it without waiting for it to load again. This goes for browser tabs too, which is great if you’re the type to leave dozens of tabs open at once.
This means that if you don’t have enough RAM, your device will be frustratingly slow to respond when you try to switch tasks.
How much RAM do you need?
8 GB is the standard amount of RAM for your average desktop computer. Past that, many people go up to 16 GB, and occasionally users will go for 32 GB.
RAM is contained inside «memory sticks» in your computer. When buying RAM, you’ll see that these sticks come in various combinations — for example, if you’re getting 16 GB, you can buy it in:
- One 16 GB stick
- Two 8 GB sticks
- Four 4 GB sticks
And so on. The combination you get doesn’t really matter. You just need to make sure that it all fits into your computer case, and is compatible with the rest of your computer’s parts.
This Mac has 16 GB of RAM, split into two 8 GB sticks.
So how much RAM do you need?
8 GB RAM
If you spend most of your computer time composing Word documents and playing Solitaire, your PC probably doesn’t need a significant amount of RAM. The standard 8 GB will do fine, as it can cover most of your basic computer needs. You’ll even be able to open a couple of tabs in your browser without experiencing a huge hit on performance.
Quick tip: If you like keeping dozens of programs open at all times, more RAM is key.
If you like using design software, you might be able to get away with the less resource-demanding options like basic Blender or Photoshop projects. Your computer might struggle with something like Maya or Unreal Engine 5.
And if you’re into modern gaming, you can comfortably play a few titles, but shouldn’t expect your PC to run Cyberpunk 2077 without a hitch since the recommended RAM is 12 GB.
16 GB RAM
To meet the demands of modern software, 16 GB of RAM is what most people will need. This amount will help strike a good balance between running standing and resource-hungry apps on your computer. So if you’re prone to opening lots of tabs in Google Chrome, you find that your computer will barely complain.
Also, gamers will find that 16 GB meets the need to run demanding games on their highest settings (although other factors like graphics card and CPU speed play a role). It’s also ideal for artists who’d work with Photoshop, Blender, and Adobe Premier professionals, but as the projects get more and more complex, they’ll eventually need more RAM.
32 GB RAM
If all you want to do is work with standard apps and on the internet and play games, then 32 GB is kind of too much. As mentioned 16 GB is more than suitable for most people and even gives some extra wiggle room to push their PC to the limit without running into significant bottlenecks.
However, if you’re a professional designer or editor whose projects tend to get complex, then 32 GB is ideal. For instance, if you’re rendering 4K resolution videos or textures in Adobe Premiere or Photoshop, you’ll need at least 32 GB RAM.
Quick tip: If you’re creating a high-quality 3D animation or game, you might even need more than 32 GB of RAM to be able to meet the demands of the software you’re using.
RAM on phones and tablets
As far as phones and tablets go, there’s been a race to the top recently when it comes to RAM.
So although you reasonably only need 4 GB of RAM on your Android or iPhone, the standard for newly released smartphones is 8 GB. And unless you’re really tech savvy, you can’t upgrade your phone’s RAM.
What to do if you need more RAM
RAM is one of the easiest parts of a PC to upgrade. It’s simply a matter of identifying how much RAM you currently have, buying more, and putting it into the correct slot inside your case. Where exactly this slot is will depend on your motherboard.
This motherboard is outfitted with four red G.SKILL RAM sticks.
That is, if you’re working with a desktop. Most modern laptops have their RAM sticks soldered in, so they can’t be replaced without tearing out all the internal parts. If you want to upgrade the RAM on your laptop, you might be better off buying a new one, or sending it into a professional repair and upgrade shop.
However, upgrading your RAM can come with diminishing returns. A jump from 8 GB to 16 GB will be pretty noticeable. Unless you’re doing very intensive work, 16 GB to 32 GB probably won’t give your system a big boost. And past 32 GB, any boost will likely be negligible.
When you should get more RAM
When your computer needs more RAM, you’ll start to notice a few signs. Here a few you should look out for:
- Your computer warns you that it’s running out of memory.
- The computer becomes sluggish or constantly crashes.
- Applications load more slowly, crash frequently, or take longer to respond.
- Installing an update takes longer than usual and hinders your productivity since you can’t use the computer.
- Opening multiple apps takes a long time or is downright impossible.
- Tabs in browsers will constantly refresh or will not load fully.
- Tying in Word or Google Docs has a delayed response – words a appear on screen a second or more after typing
What is VRAM?
In addition to RAM, you also have VRAM, which stands for video RAM. VRAM is where graphically-demanding games and applications temporarily store the graphical information needed for rendering the next frame. This includes textures, images, meshes, and shaders.
VRAM is found on your graphics card (GPU), and 8 GB is usually what you’ll need for most gaming or design use cases. But if you can get 12 GB of VRAM, you’re guaranteed to have plenty of headroom, especially if you’re fond of maxing out graphical settings.
Quick tip: Since VRAM is attached to your graphics card, you can’t remove it when you need to upgrade and have to purchase a new GPU with more VRAM altogether.
Emma Witman is an Asheville, NC-based freelance journalist with a keen interest in writing about hardware, PC gaming, politics, and personal finance. She is a former crime reporter for a daily newspaper, and has also written extensively about bartending for Insider. She may or may not judge your drink order when behind the bar.
Follow her on Twitter at @emwity.
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How to distinguish the iPad Pro 2021 with 8 GB and 16 GB of RAM
Apple, unlike its competitors, has never been particularly proud of the characteristics of its iPhone and iPad. The maximum that was made public in Cupertino was the name of the processor and the amount of internal memory. But neither the battery capacity, nor the number of processor cores, nor even the amount of RAM, the company announced. And why, if the devices work exactly as intended during development? Moreover, technical details will not give anything to most users. But this year, Apple changed its principles. At least partially.
Apple has increased the amount of RAM iPad Pro to 8 and 16 GB, depending on the model
iPad Pro versus MacBook Air M1: what to choose?
Yesterday at a presentation held under the slogan Spring Loaded, Apple for the first time in history revealed the amount of RAM in the new iPad Pro. As part of the event itself, the company announced only the maximum amount — 16 GB, which was shown on the presentation slide. However, after the end of the event, more detailed information about the amount of RAM of new tablets appeared on the website.
How much RAM is in iPad Pro 2021
Two gradations of RAM will now be available in the iPad Pro line: 8 and 16 GB. No more, no less. Exactly the same volume can offer the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. This is the maximum supported by the M1 processor, which is the basis of branded computers, and now Apple tablets. But if laptops could do with 32 GB of RAM, then here’s the iPad — even if it’s a Pro model — even 16 GB will be for the eyes.
iPad Pro 2021 RAM varies by built-in storage
In the case of the iPad Pro, users will not be able to independently assemble the desired configuration of RAM. Its volume will depend on the amount of built-in storage. The 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB models will come with 8GB of RAM, while the 1TB and 2TB models will come with 16GB of RAM. You can verify this in the section with the specifications of the new iPad Pro on the official website of the company. Just scroll through the list of parameters to the «Chip» section and read the information you are interested in.
This is the most realistic and cool concept of iPadOS 15
You might get the feeling that 16 GB is a lot for an iPad Pro. However, by increasing the amount of RAM to such limits, Apple kills several birds with a minimum number of stones:
- First, they make us understand that the iPad Pro is no longer a toy, but a full-fledged alternative to the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro. She even has the same iron.
- Secondly, this is a clear reserve for the future. Cupertino will systematically expand the number of tasks that can realize the hardware potential of the new iPad Pro.
- Thirdly, this will give Apple the opportunity not to update the line every year. Powerful hardware can provide iPad Pro 2-3 years of uninterrupted operation at the highest level.
How to load the iPad Pro 2021
There are no applications in the App Store that can load the iPad Pro
hardware. There are simply no applications in the App Store that would be able to load the M1 processor and even 8 GB of RAM, not to mention 16. But there is practically no doubt that over time their range will grow. Another thing is that, perhaps, for this, Apple will have to go beyond the App Store, opening up access for tablet users to software from outside the official catalog.
Apple suspends production of iPad and MacBook due to lack of spare parts
Sounds like something impossible. For Apple to allow iOS users (and after all, iPadOS is, whatever one may say, iOS) to download software from outside, no way. But, as for me, this is quite a likely scenario, given that the iPad Pro has now become a full-fledged analogue of the Mac, and Mac owners have always been on a special account with Apple, and they were allowed more than anyone else. So I invite you to make a virtual bet with me, because I am sure that already at WWDC 2021 we will be announced a new perk for the iPad Pro.
iPad ProiPhone memoryApple tabletsApple M1 processor
How much RAM is needed for a computer, tablet or laptop in 2022 computer. But how much is really needed?
Apple in Telegram and YouTube. Subscribe!
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In order to answer this question, we first decide on two factors: what we want to do on this device and how much we are willing to spend on it.
Of course, the amount of RAM is also very important for smartphones (for the Apple iPhone — to a lesser extent, but this factor cannot be completely ignored), but in this guide we will talk about powerful computer systems running the three most popular operating systems — Windows, macOS and ChromeOS.
In a nutshell:
- 2 and 3 GB — such a modest amount of memory has long been found only in budget tablets. On a laptop or desktop computer, of course, you need more.
- 4 GB is the minimum sufficient capacity, the base option for machines running Windows and Chrome OS.
- 8 GB is a good option for Windows and macOS. 8 gigabytes of «RAM» will be enough for the vast majority of users. Not enough for modern games.
- 16 GB and 32 GB — ideal for professional work and more demanding games.
- 64 GB and above — Exclusive to enthusiasts and dedicated workstations.
But don’t forget — RAM is not a key component for performance, so buying 32 GB of RAM and hoping is pointless, because you won’t get perfect performance. The SSD, the processor, and the video card matter.
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What is RAM? Interestingly, sometimes they are mixed «in one cocktail» even by manufacturers.
In order not to confuse RAM with permanent memory, use the table analogy. RAM is like a table top. The longer it is, the more papers and other things you can put on it (tabletop) and, accordingly, have it at hand. And a hard drive is like a drawer under your desk that holds papers that you don’t need at the moment but will need sooner or later.
The more RAM your system has, the more programs it can run and run on at the same time. Of course, this indicator is not determined by the size of the “RAM” alone — after all, many programs need a very small amount of such memory to work. Another thing is that if you do this constantly, the system will slowly but surely begin to slow down.
Why? Let’s go back to the table analogy. If it is too small, it will quickly accumulate «deposits» of paper, which, in turn, will slow down your work, because you will have to constantly look for something.
Yes, lots of RAM is good. But why do you need a big desk if you only work with a few papers? So our task is to understand how much RAM (read: space on the table) we really need to solve problems.
And yes — RAM should also not be confused with graphics memory (video card memory). Top 3D games use video memory (VRAM), which is often referred to as «GDDR5», while «RAM» is referred to as RAM («RAM») or DDR4 / DDR5 (double-data-rate).
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What does RAM look like?
Desktop and laptop RAM is in most cases a small printed circuit board that houses the memory chips.
In smartphones and tablets, RAM is a small chip on the device’s motherboard. For example, in the latest generations of iPhone and iPad, the RAM is located under the processor.
Below is a photo of an iPhone 14 Pro Max motherboard with an A16 processor (highlighted in red), under which Samsung LPDDR5 6 GB of RAM is embedded.
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Which applications require the most RAM?
First of all, these are operating systems and browsers, games and some programs for professional work with media content. Concrete example: the more memory you have, the more tabs you can open in your favorite browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Edge, etc. ). In addition, you should be aware that there are websites that “devour” RAM resources as quickly as possible. A news article doesn’t need a lot of RAM, but pages like Gmail do.
It has been evident for years that programs tend to take up more and more RAM over time. Messenger or a simple toy like Minesweeper is undemanding to RAM — which cannot be said about giant Excel spreadsheets, a large Photoshop project, or a modern blockbuster game with incredible graphics. Professional programs and engineering software are created in order to serve the most complex projects — and they are ready to «eat» at least all the RAM on the computer without unnecessary regrets in order to solve the tasks.
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How much RAM do tablets need?
Tablet PCs were not designed to run demanding applications. Accordingly, they need no more “RAM” to work than the same smartphones. Another thing is that today tablet manufacturers really want to turn them into devices for work. And if you need such a gadget, then the RAM for it should be chosen in the same way as for a laptop.
For example, the latest basic iPad models (not Pro) have only 3 GB and 4 GB of “RAM” — but by and large, it only needs a beautiful screen and work in the browser, plus a “survivable” battery. But the hybrid laptop and tablet Microsoft Surface Book 3, even in the basic configuration, receives 16 GB of RAM — and it is able to perform tasks corresponding to such a volume of “RAM”.
3 GB is the minimum required amount of RAM on a tablet for simple tasks like surfing the web and watching videos. But if you use the tablet as the main device, it makes sense to start with at least 4 GB of RAM.
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How much RAM do laptops need?
By default, budget laptops and laptops for most users are equipped with 8 GB of RAM, and only top solutions start with 16 GB of RAM. As mentioned above, the more RAM a laptop has, the better.
In the case of a Chromebook that works primarily through the cloud and has minimal storage, 4 GB of RAM is sufficient.
For Windows and macOS, the operating system requirements are more stringent — today it makes no sense to take a computer with less than 8 GB of RAM. Well, if you seriously work with video or photos, or plan to play «heavy» games — definitely choose a PC or Mac with 16 GB of RAM, saving in this case will not be the best solution, because. running out of memory will noticeably slow down your work.
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How much RAM does a desktop computer need?
Here the alignment is the same as on laptops. For a «basic» scenario like web browsing, work in office applications and most games, 8 gigabytes of RAM is enough.