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Beginners Guide: How much memory is enough in Windows Vista?
Beginners Guide: How much memory is enough in Windows Vista? - PCSTATS
Abstract: Do you need as much memory when you're running office applications as you do when you're gaming? How much memory do you need in Vista to game comfortably, and spreadsheet smoothly? The answers are next!
Filed under: Memory Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Microsoft Aug 28 2009   C. Sun  
Home > Reviews > Memory > Microsoft Vista

Benchmarking Vista Memory Sizes

In order to isolate the performance differences of Microsoft Windows Vista with different amounts of system memory, we'll be testing the following PC system with 512MB, 1GB, 2GB and 4GB of memory. While Microsoft Windows Vista will technically run with as little as 256MB of memory installed, the operating system will not allow you to install it onto a computer unless it detects 512MB RAM.

Initially, PCSTATS was going to run a series of benchmarks to guage the impact of different levels of system RAM in three versions of Microsoft Windows Vista; Home Basic, Home Premium and Ultimate. However after a few quick tests we quickly found that all three versions of the operating system perform the same. For the purposes of this article, the benchmarks will be conducted on Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate.

The purpose of the benchmarks on the following pages is to illustrate how the PC system reacts to the various memory configurations under Vista, for office applications and games. Please note that when the system is installed with 512MB of memory, it is in single channel mode. A DDR2-800 512MB dual channel memory kit was not available for testing. To keep this as simple as possible, all memory was set to run with BIOS timings of 5-5-5-15 at DDR2-800 speeds. In other words, we've normalized the memory settings so each of the three different memory modules will operate at the same basic level.

Let's begin. First the test system configuration below, and then the first benchmark of the day - Vista's Windows Experience Index.

PCSTATS Test System Configurations
test system

intel Core 2 Duo E6600

Clock Speed:

9 x 266 MHz = 2.4 GHz


Asus P5N32-E Plus (NF 650i)



Memory: 512MB Corsair CM2X512-8500
1GB Kit Corsair Twin2X1024-8500
2GB Kit Corsair DOMINATOR Twin2X2048-8888C4DF
4GB Kit Mushkin XP2-6400
Hard Drive: 74GB Western Digital Raptor WD740
CDROM: AOpen Combo 52x
PowerSupply: PC Power & Cooling TurboCool 510 SLI
Heatsink: Intel Reference
Software Setup:

Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate
nVIDIA nForce 650i SLI 8.43
nVIDIA ForceWare 94.224


Business Winstone 2004
Doom 3

Windows Experience Index Source: Microsoft

The Windows Experience Index is a new feature built into Windows Vistaâ„¢. It is designed to help consumers understand how well Windows Vista and the software running on it will perform on a specific PC. The index achieves this by assessing the capability of the PC and assigning a score to it. Higher scores indicate a better Vista experience on your PC.

PCSTATS Benchmark ReportWindows Experience Index
Memory Size Configuration: Points Ranking
512MB System Memory 1.7
1GB System Memory 4.5
2GB System Memory 5.3
4GB System Memory 5.3

Microsoft Windows Vista reacts strongly between 512MB and 1GB of system memory! According to Microsoft, a rating of between 1-1.9 means the system can only provide adequate performance for basic tasks. A score this low also means Vista cannot run AeroGlass if you have a compatible videocard. It's interesting to see that Windows can also tell the difference between 1GB and 2GB of memory, going from a very good score to top end. Installing 4GB of memory does not boost the overall score any further.

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Contents of Article: Microsoft Vista
 Pg 1.  Beginners Guide: How much memory is enough in Windows Vista?
 Pg 2.  — Benchmarking Vista Memory Sizes
 Pg 3.  Memory Size Benchmarks: Office Productivity, PCMark05, Doom 3, FEAR
 Pg 4.  Magic Number is 2GB, or 1GB if you're Skint

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