How Much RAM Does Windows 10 Use? PC Memory Guide

I cannot emphasize enough the significance of random-access memory (RAM) in Windows 10. RAM significantly influences your computer’s performance and should be given critical consideration when purchasing a Windows 10 computer. 

64- bit versions of Windows 10 use a minimum of 2 Gigabytes of RAM. 32-bit Windows 10 use 1 GB of RAM. Any RAM below these and your Windows 10’s performance will frustrate you so badly you will yell at your computer. But if you are on Windows 10 Home, you get an opportunity to extend your RAM capacity to 128 Gigabytes. On Windows 10 Pro, that can reach a whopping 2 Terabytes of RAM.

One thing is for sure, though. Expanding RAM size will significantly improve your Windows 10 performance. As we shall see later in this article, a PC’s RAM is crucial for high performance when handling multiple programs and resource-heavy applications. We will look at RAM usage for video games and Adobe editing software in Windows 10.

But first, is your Windows 10 running on a 32-bit or a 64-bit architecture? 

How Much RAM Does Windows 10 32- bit and 64-bit Use?

This is one of the essential considerations you need to make when choosing how much RAM you will need for Windows 10. 

Current versions of Windows 10 use 64-bit processors. Unlike the older versions that use 32-bit processors, 64-bit processors are 4 billion times more powerful at accessing the physical memory of Windows 10. 

Microsoft’s software limitations on Windows 10 operating systems also determine the amount of RAM that 32-bit and 64-bit versions can use. Therefore 64-bit Windows 10 versions can handle incredible amounts of RAM compared to 32-bit processors. 

The amount of RAM you need for a 32-bit version of Windows 10 is also limited and may make your PC relatively slower. However, 64-bit versions will allow you to use much more RAM, giving you faster processing speeds and more security.

With an extended RAM capacity, you can effectively use older software and hardware versions in Windows 10 32-bit. However, you will still be missing out a lot. Expanding the RAM capacity of a 32-bit Windows 10 may still keep you off the benefits and performance features of Windows 10 64-bit.

32-bit Windows 1064-bit Windows 10
oldernewer
slowerfaster
Less secureMore secure
Handles few processesHandles more processes
Software specific: runs only 32-bit applicationsCan run both 32-bit and 64-bit applications
Minimum RAM:1GBMaximum RAM: 4GB Minimum RAM: 2GBMaximum RAM: 2TB
Table 1.0 Differences between 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 10 processors

Does Windows 10 have a RAM limit?

As we saw before, Windows 10 comes in two architectures and several versions, limiting the amount of RAM that a user can have in Windows 10. 

All 32-bit Windows 10 versions allow a maximum of 4GB RAM. However, the RAM limit varies on Windows 10 64-bit versions as follows;

  • 64-bit Windows 10 Home has a RAM limit of 128GB.
  • 64-bit Windows 10 Pro has a RAM limit of 2TB.
  • 64-bit Windows 10 Pro for workstations has a RAM limit of 6TB.
  • 64-bit Windows 10 Education has a RAM limit of 2TB.

How Much Ram is Need to Run Windows 10 Smoothly?

Four factors affect how much RAM is required for optimal performance of Windows 10;

  • Operating system architecture (32-bit and 64-bit)
  • Windows 10 Home or Windows10 Pro
  • Double Data Rate version three (DDR3) or version four (DDR4)
  • Installed software, programs, and applications

Let us look at them.

  1. Windows 10 Operating System Architecture

1GB RAM on a 32-bit Windows 10 will be consumed by the boot process and the background programs that start automatically during bootup. The process will create memory files in the physical memory to achieve more working space in your RAM. 

But this will not be effective at giving you the optimal performance on Windows 10. If you are on a 32-bit processor, I recommend that you upgrade to 4GB RAM. 

Using 64-bit Windows 10? upgrading your computer’s RAM to 8GB is recommended for an effective system. For instance, 8GB RAM for 64-bit Windows 10 can allow you to open multiple tabs in Chrome – up to 10 tabs. 

Similarly, you can open other programs such as Excel and MS Word alongside Chrome. You will be able to work without cursing your computer’s responsiveness.

  1. Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro

Windows 10 Home is free. Its premium version is Windows 10 Pro. Apart from the cost differences, Windows 10 Home is programmed to allow your PC compatibility with up to 128 gigabytes of RAM. Because you pay for Windows 10 Pro, Microsoft will enable you to upgrade your RAM to a maximum of 2 terabytes. Who even needs that?

That depends on what you do with your computer. For example, you may be running resource-heavy applications like Adobe suite programs on Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro systems. In that case, I recommend upgrading your RAM to 16+ GB. The operating system will not utilize all the memory in your RAM, regardless of how many other programs run in the background.

However, if you are a gamer, you will need a RAM capacity of 16 GB to get the whole experience from Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro.

  1. Double Data Rate Version Three (DDR3) or Version Four (DDR4)

Another important aspect of Windows 10 computers is whether it uses the DDR3 or DDR4 RAM type. Like we have seen with 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 10, the fourth generation of Double Data Rate increases performance compared to DDR3. 

If your Windows 10 is using DDR3 RAM, then you are limited to the amount of RAM you can add to your computer. Using Windows 10 of DDR3 allows you a maximum RAM of 16GB. 

Most importantly, your Windows 10 clock speed will not go beyond 2133 MHz. The processing power of your PC will be between 800 MHz and 2133 MHz.

You need DDR4 RAM for reliable, faster, and better performance on Windows 10. DDR4 RAM provides you with unlimited memory capabilities. If your PC operates on this RAM, your Windows 10 clock speed will improve significantly. On a DDR4, your performance speeds will not go below 2133 MHz, with no defined maximum limit.

  1. Installed software and applications.

Lastly, and most importantly, we all probably know that software and applications consume RAM at different rates in Windows 10. While some programs are resource-heavy and use significant RAM, others are light and may not impact your RAM choice for Windows 10.

How responsive is your Windows 10 when you have ten tabs open in Chrome?  What about if you open Spotify, skype, MS Word, and PowerPoint alongside the ten chrome tabs? Do you have problems with your Windows 10 responsiveness? 

Well, let us look at how much RAM all these applications need for you to have a better Windows 10 experience.

  1. How Much RAM Does Google Chrome Use?

Despite being peoples’ favorite browser, Google Chrome’s biggest flaw is how much RAM it consumes. Chrome tabs take up considerable amounts of RAM in Windows 10 because the tabs ride on top of your operating system. 

Opening 10 tabs in Chrome can eat up to 1 gigabyte of RAM. Go beyond ten tabs, and we will be talking about 2 gigabytes. If your Windows 10 uses 2GB of RAM, your PC will not process any more actions.

At this point, you may want to see how much memory your chrome tabs are consuming. This is a straightforward procedure. 

Step 1: Click on the Chrome menu (the three tiny dots at the right end corner of Chrome located next to your profile picture). 

Step 2: Navigate to More tools

Step 3: Click on Task manager

A window will appear showing all your active chrome tabs and the amount of RAM associated with each one of them. If you love using keyboard shortcuts like me, you can skip all the steps by using Shift+Esc. 

RAM Usage for Normal User (Spotify, Skype, MS Word, and PowerPoint)

You might think that an app like Spotify that plays music in the background uses little to no RAM but in fact, Spotify uses so much RAM. One user on the Spotify forum even claimed that they would instead buy a separate Windows 10 PC exclusively for Spotify. When running, Spotify requires about 650 MBs of RAM. Other users have reported over 1GB of RAM consumption by Spotify in Windows 10. 

This is because Spotify uses Windows 10 memory to store cached music and podcasts, which is how it plays your music without much buffering and stuttering. Music and podcast downloads are also reserved for offline play. Hence contributing significantly to your Windows 10 RAM usage.

Skype works perfectly with Windows 10, but you will need at least 2 GB of RAM for optimal performance. Skype video calls consume a lot of memory. If you need to take a lot of Skype video calls in Windows 10, you will require up to 4GB of RAM. And that is only when you are not heavily multitasking.

Compared to the other programs, MS Word is a bit less greedy for RAM. It uses a few megabytes of ram, between 25 and 50.

The minimum recommended RAM for PowerPoint is 4GB. However, 8GB RAM will allow you to operate on these multiple applications simultaneously without lag on your Windows 10. 

RAM Usage for Gamers and Video/Photo Editors

Many video gamers, video editors, and photo editors emphasize their CPU and GPU performance, giving little attention to RAM. But whether you like it or not, Windows 10 will provide you the best performance if you focus on upgrading your RAM instead.

This video here shows the difference between Abode Photoshop, Lightroom & Premiere Pro running on 16GB and 32GB of RAM.

Fortnite

Let’s take Fortnite, which is the hottest game in the market right now. Despite being CPU-heavy, Fortnite is very RAM-intensive. Gamers have reportedly recorded 70-90% consumption of RAM with Fortnite. The more time you spend playing Fortnite in Windows 10, the more memory it consumes, even when you close the application.

Here’s a video showing the difference between running Fornite with 8GB and 16GB of RAM.

Adobe Premiere Pro and Photoshop

Adobe says that the minimum RAM requirement to run its video and photo editing software is 8GB in Windows 10. I wouldn’t go with that unless I am using either Premiere Pro CC or Photoshop but not both. Otherwise, running two or three applications simultaneously will significantly affect your production.  As with 8GB of RAM the system just doesn’t have enough bandwidth to allow for running other applications.

8GB of RAM still causes lagging and freezing in Windows 10 when using Premiere Pro. When it is running, premiere pro requires 80% of RAM. Windows 10 allocates this memory to premiere pro aftereffects. With 8GB, you will need to customize your resolution, disk space, and video effects. 

Instead of going through all the customization, an easier way would be optimizing your RAM. To run Adobe premiere pro, photoshop, and multiple programs simultaneously on Windows 10, upgrade your RAM to 16 GB and above. 

Lagging and freezing can be frustrating. However, you can reduce these occurrences by freeing up RAM in Windows

How Much RAM Do You Really Need?

Simultaneously running Chrome with ten active tabs alongside Spotify, skype, MS Word, and PowerPoint will together consume about 6GB of RAM in Windows 10. Therefore, you need to use 8GB of RAM to multitask in Windows 10 across these programs. 

If you intend to stream Fortnite on Windows 10, you will need 16 GB of RAM to escape the lagging, freezing, and crashing.

Check out the below table that we did experimenting on the ram usage using different applications.

ApplicationRam Usage
20 Chrome Tabs4GB
Spotify with an hour log podcast300MB
Skype Video Call500MB
MS Word50MB
MS Powerpoint100MB
Fortnite8GB
Adobe PS with 300MB document size15GB
Adobe Pr with 1080p 8bit project12GB

Table 2.0 RAM Usage and recommended RAM across various programs in Windows

How to Check PC’s Current RAM Usage

Checking a PC’s current RAM usage is very easy. Follow these steps;

Step 1: Right-click on the taskbar and navigate to Task manager and click on it.

Step 2: Click on More details to expand the task manager.

Step 3: Go to Performance >Memory.

How to Free Up RAM In Windows 10

There are several ways to free up RAM in Windows 10. What you might need to deal with are the many programs running at the same time. 

  1. Stop applications that are running in the background
  2. Disable unnecessary startup programs
  3. Remove the browser extensions that you don’t need
  4. Clear your cache
  5. Update software
  6. Use the Task Manager to stop all running processes
  7. Restart your computer

You should be able to feel the difference once your computer is back on. Programs will load faster, and your productivity will improve. 

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