How Much RAM Does a Programmer Need?
Whether you call yourself a web developer or a budding programmer, you need a system with an enough amount of RAM that can comfortably let you operate while programming. RAM (random access memory) alone isn’t the only decision maker of your computer’s speed.
First, make sure that it’s the RAM what your computer needs for a better performance. Remember there are other factors can directly impact your computer’s speed as such.
- Available space on your hard drive
- RPM on your hard drive (rotation per minute)
- Built-in memory of your graphic card
- Model, brand and bus speed of your motherboard
- Your CPU make, model and usage
- Your operating system
Now, see below and compare the use cases with your daily usage. If your RAM is within the use case range documented below then you may need to optimize the other things mentioned above before upgrading your RAM for programming.
Generally speaking the programing itself does not consume too much from your RAM but it’s the other stuff you have constantly open and running during your daily computer usage.
RAM Consumption by Common Daily Tasks:
|Use Case||2GB |
|4GB (check price)||8GB (check price)||16GB (check price)||32GB (check price)|
|Basic Document Editing||YES||YES||YES||YES||YES|
|Large Documents and Multitasking||NO||NO||YES||YES||YES|
|Basic Web Browsing||NO||YES||YES||YES||YES|
|Heavy Web |
Browsing (20+ tabs)
|Full HD Video Editing||NO||NO||NO||YES||YES|
Gaming with Old GPU
|High-End Gaming with |
RAM Consumption by Programming Languages (MB):
Pascal 1.00 (c)
Go 1.05 (c)
C 1.17 (c)
Fortran 1.24 (c)
C++ 1.34 (c)
Ada 1.47 (c)
Rust 1.54 (v)
Lisp 1.92 (c)
Haskell 2.45 (i)
PHP 2.57 (c)
Swift 2.71 (i)
Python 2.80 (c)
Ocaml 2.82 (v)
C# 2.85 (i)
Hack 3.34 (v)
Racket 3.52 (i)
Ruby 3.97 (c)
Chapel 4.00 (v)
F# 4.25 (i)
TypeScript 4.69 (v)
Java 6.01 (i)
Perl 6.62 (i)
Lua 6.72 (v)
Erlang 7.20 (i)
Dart 8.64 (i)
Yet, you should know that price is not of that importance when it comes to laptops. Here are a couple of tips to take into consideration when seeking to buy a perfect laptop for your web development and programming needs:
Go for 8GB of RAM
As the amount of RAM increases, your computer will become faster and have a decent processor.
As a programmer you don’t really need to spend hundreds of dollars more on a 32GB of RAM capacity unless you often multi task by running multiple software simultaneously. So the answer is most programmers will not need more than 16GB of RAM for the major programming and development work.
Nonetheless, those game developers or programmers who tend to work with higher graphics requirements might need RAM of around 12GB. 16GB of RAM will suit better for only graphics designers and video editors as rendering videos and some high resolution graphics can be quite consuming for a system with 8GB physical memory.
Choose an SSD
Solid State Drives (SDDs) are swifter than any of the traditional hard disk drives.
HDD is also acceptable on condition that other specs are in line as well. When you’re on a budget you may not be able to afford an SSD and only be able to afford an HDD.
SSDs can truly benefit programmers, yet its only weakness is the lack of storage space. While HDDs, give you up to 1TB of storage space, and SSDs may be limited to 256GB or 512GB.
If you’re an aspiring programmer looking for the right laptop, focus on the amount of RAM for easy Multi-Tasking.
The amount of RAM is one of most important things to consider. Being a programmer means you might need to run heavy IDEs and virtual machines. Running such massive applications will take up a lot of memory. Working with them together at the same time will harm your laptop. So, for that reason you need to make sure that you choose a laptop with a lot of RAM.
Web developers may not see RAM as a major concern, because the tools they work on are not that heavy and there is little compiling to do: 4GB of RAM should be enough.
Yet, application or software developers working with virtual machines, emulators and IDEs for the compiling of massive projects will require a lot more RAM: at least 8GB of RAM will suffice.
Game development environments and level design will need stronger systems to work with: 16GB of RAM, or a bit less but with the ability for expansion to 16GB later on.
for programs and data. Also, by the operating system for disk caching.
Installing more RAM: improves transfers between the CPU and both the RAM and hard drives.
Running short of RAM can be substituted by the use of hard drive as virtual memory (slow substitute).
RAM loses its contents when shutting down the computer, but magnetic storage holds data for years to come.
RAM is swifter than magnetic or SSD storage; its speed is measured in: nanoseconds which are billionths of a second; magnetic and SSD storage get measured in: milliseconds which are thousandths of a second.
More amounts of RAM are needed while the operating systems and applications become stronger and get more features added to them.
Since RAM is one of the most popular upgrades to add to any laptop or desktop system during its lifespan, you need to understand the differences between the types of RAM which exist.
5 Types of RAM
1. SRAM: Static random-access memory (SRAM)
Does not need periodical memory refreshing.
- Buffers within hard drives
- Cache memory for CPUs
- Temporary storage for LCD screens
- Automatically soldered to a printed circuit board (PCB), or quickly integrated to a chip: You won’t be replacing it.
- Faster and found in smaller quantities than DRAM.
2. SDRAM: Synchronous DRAM (SDRAM)
- First type of memory to run in sync with the processor bus.
- 168-pin DIMM modules use its memory.
- SDRAM modules contain a one-bit prefetch buffer and undergo one transfer per every clock cycle.
- PC133 modules may be used at times on systems created for PC100 modules.
3. DDR SDRAM: The second generation of systems running synchronous DRAM
- Uses double data rate SDRAM.
- Makes two transfers per clock cycle.
- Features a two-bit prefetch buffer.
- 184-pin DIMM memory modules use its chips.
Speeds for DDR SDRAM:
- PC1600 (200MHz/1600Mbps)
- PC2100 (266MHz/2100Mbps)
- PC2700 (333MHz/2700Mbps)
- PC3200 (400MHz/3200Mbps)
4. DDR2 SDRAM: Double data rate 2 SDRAM
- Successor to DDR SDRAM.
- Runs external data bus 2x the speed of DDR SDRAM.
- Features four-bit prefetch buffer, allowing for even faster performance.
- Has greater latency than DDR SDRAM memory.
- Typical latency values are: CL=5 and CL=6; in comparison to CL=2.5 and CL=3 for DDR memory.
- 240-pin memory modules use it.
- Memory clock speed x4 or the I/O bus clock speed x2
- DDR2-533 is used in PC2-4200 modules, which have a throughput of more than 4200Mbps.
5. DDR3 SDRAM: Double data rate 3 SDRAM
- Runs at lower voltages
- Twice the internal banks
- Most versions run at faster speeds than DDR2.
- Eight-bit prefetch bus. Greater latency than DDR2.
- Typical latency values: CL7 or CL9, in comparison to CL5 or CL6 for DDR2.
- The memory clock speed x4 or the I/O bus clock speed x2.
- DDR3-1333 is used in PC3-10600 modules, that contain a throughput of over 10,600MBps or 10.6GBps.
TABLE OF COMPARISON FOR RAM TYPES:
|RAM Type||Pins (DIMM)||Pins (SODIMM)||Common Type & Speed||Defining Characteristic|
|DDR SDRAM||184||200||PC3200 = 400MHz/3200Mbps||Double the transfers per clock cycle compared to regular SDRAM|
|DDR2 SDRAM||240||200||DDR2-800 (PC2-6400) = 800MHz/6400Mbps||External data bus speed (I/O bus clock) is 2x faster than DDR SDRAM|
|DDR3 SDRAM||240||204||DDR3-1333 (PC3-10600) = 1333MHz/10600Mbps
|External data bus speed (I/O bus clock) is 2x faster than DDR2 SDRAM (4x faster than DDR SDRAM)|
|DDR4 SDRAM||288||260||DDR4-2400 (PC4-19200) = 2400MHz/19200Mbps||External data bus speed (I/O bus clock) is 2x faster than DDR3 SDRAM (8x faster than DDR SDRAM)|
|UniDIMM||–||260||DDR3 or DDR4||Designed for use with Intel Skylake (6th generation Core i-series CPU); memory controller on motherboard/ processor must support both DDR3 and DDR4 memory|
Recommended RAM for programming depends on the programming language you use as well as your multi-tasking habits while programming. Remember that the RAM you will need for your programming also depends on whether or not you use your computer for coding-only.