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How Much RAM is Enough RAM?

by graffixguy / September 15, 2004 7:07 AM PDT

Help. I am a graphic designer looking to expand my capabilities into video editing/animation. Looking for a new Desktop with all the bells and whistles, and mega power to run all my Adobe programs plus all the new video editing software I'll be adding on to my existing bounty of programs.

I need to run several design programs simultaneously without losing speed and without crashing. And bear in mind that programs like Adobe's Illustrator and Photoshop grab memory and drive space to run their graphic filtering programs. I've read all the articles on what a super-charged desktop requires and I have a good idea of the specs required for what I need to buy. Well...sort of. I've been looking at the Sony VAIO VGC-RA810G which is supposed to be a state-of-the-art machine made for media work(favorably reviewed here by CNET 8/3/2004) BUT it apparently has a RAM upgrade limitation of 2 gigs. Should this be a dealbreaker for me? I want the system to last me a few years. Is 2 gigs of RAM an insane amount? Will I ever need more? I have seen some systems (like the Velocity Media series) that are upgradable to 8 or 9 gigs of RAM or more. Will the video/design technology require more than 2 gigs of RAM to produce high end work? Or am I just worrying about something that will never even matter to the efficiency of my system? I am confused and need some clarity. Any advice greatly appreciated. Any other desktop recommendations for my specific needs would be welcome too. THANKS!

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My system has 512megs, and runs photoshop,
by Kiddpeat / September 15, 2004 11:03 AM PDT

Sound Forge and Vegas. A Vegas seminar speaker said you should have a gig to run Vegas in production mode. One thing seems certain. We will need more ram as time passes. One gig now sounds good. Perhaps, you should start there and see how it works. The other clear thing is that ram will be cheaper, better and faster down the road.

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Re: My system has 512megs, and runs photoshop,
by millenia_S / September 17, 2004 6:08 AM PDT

LOL, awww, well my Micron Millenia runs at 448 mhZ and has 384 mB of RAM and works just fine with XP SP 2 and Photoshop.. i feel so miniscule compared to all of you guys, haha

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I don't think I'ld try Vegas with your system. I have a
by Kiddpeat / September 21, 2004 8:00 AM PDT

200Mhz Micron in the basement which has trouble keeping up with 802.11b. It does, however, run Photoshop just fine under Win98SE.

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Re: How Much RAM is Enough RAM?
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / September 16, 2004 7:29 PM PDT

No 2 GB of Ram is not an insane amount.

I have 2GB of Ram, Happy

The PC runs like a dream.

I must admit, when I first saw the choices of RAM I had at Dell online, I thought the same as you, ie, "surely 2GB of RAM is rediculously over the top". But when I thought about it, I realised that RAM capacity has increased almost exponentially in line with CPU speed, and that applications have almost always been produced to take advantage of the spare capacity.

So I took the well known, (to me at least), view that, when buying a PC, go big, go large, go massive, go fast, because you can bet your life that within a couple of years or so, the system you buy will have become outdated.

I fully expect my 2GB of RAM and 220 GB of Hard Disk to be overshadowed within 2 or 3 years.

So, go for it I reckon.

I can't help you on video/design technology. I imagine from what you say that my knowledge of video editing is miniscule compared to yours, [g].

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Re: How Much RAM is Enough RAM?
by claytorlee / September 16, 2004 8:52 PM PDT

I do a lot of video editing as well as graphics stuff. I built my box piece by piece (on a budget) and I still do not consider it finished. I have 1 GB of DDR ram right now, and I wish I could add an extra 1 GB. I definitely could use it and plan on some day going the full 3 GB capacity of the motherboard. They don't design them with that capacity for nothin! Definitely go for the 2 GB if you can--it's truely the difference between night and day.

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Re: How Much RAM is Enough RAM?
by jezra / September 16, 2004 10:25 PM PDT

MORE! MORE! MORE! I agree with the other 2 posts on the ram issue alone. I have 1 gig DDR on a Win2K system. But ram is not enough. If your projected system includes a graphics adapter with 256 Mbs, AND, a very fast CPU!!, then, your 3 Gig PLUS system should do fine....OH, my system slows down with 1 gig because I have a guhzillian graphics programs, AND a ton of fonts!!!, and....more than a few desktop icons with wall paper. Try to think about that when you set your system up, remember to DEFRAG at least daily!!!, and scandisk (through the My Computer, right click, properties, tools) weekly!!!

One other thing, you might also want to think about a dual hard drive system, and/or, partitioning your LARGE storage device!! Set it up so that ONLY your programs and paging files, are on the "C" drive, and ALL other data files are on the 2nd Drive. DEFINATELY get a DVD burner, just for B-A-C-K-U-P alone....then again...other backup media too is a strong consideration, we 'nerds' are notarious for not following are own advice!!!

AND.......note the comments that ADOBE has regarding the SP2 role out that adversely affects the help files of its programs!!!

Wordy, aren't I....but hope this helps!!

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Re: How Much RAM is Enough RAM?
by graffixguy / September 16, 2004 11:59 PM PDT

Much thanks to all who have posted replies to my query. Your information has helped me tremendously in making a difficult decision about my new computer purchase. And the added info is icing on the cake. The results of this forum far exceeded my expectations. You guys rock. Thanks again!


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Re: How Much RAM is Enough RAM?
by Lucille4044 / September 17, 2004 7:47 AM PDT

You say to partition your hard drive, but can you explain why you think you should do that? I would appreciate your answer.

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Re: How Much RAM is Enough RAM?
by slappie / September 17, 2004 1:17 AM PDT

I currently have 1gig of ram (ddr3200) and have photoshop, illustrator, word, powerpoint, and other apps ALL OPEN at the same time. I use a nvidia 5200 128mb graphics card which is kinda low end (about $80) but if you are doing any kind of animation, I would suggest putting the money into a nice graphics card. Maybe a ATI 9600 ($200).

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Re: How Much RAM is Enough RAM?
by medicman615 / September 17, 2004 4:47 AM PDT

I'm certainly no "graffixguy" myself, but my daugter is a computer graphic designer who knows exactly what she's talking about. We discuss computer issues frequently because we're both fairly nerdy, and computers are a top nerd topic of the 21st century. I had the same question of my daughter with regards to RAM when I was shopping for my most recent computer upgrade, and her one-liner about what's needed in the graphics biz now and in the near future said it all: "I'm can't wait until they start offering RAM in Terabytes." Personally, my computer usage is tame compared to most. I don't do anything video above photographs and DVD movies with TV-out, I only network with one other computer in the house (wired), and email -internet surfing -productivity -optimization utilities -college research -VoIP is basically all I do on mine. But even with that mild use I've HAD IT with only 512MB and plan to fill mine to 2GB capacity VERY SOON. Think about it; if I feel the need, the need for speed, that comes from 2GB then you'll probably be wishing you had 8GB or more in your line within the year.

Good luck with video graphics. Make something animated that an old fart like me could appreciate!

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Re: How Much RAM is Enough RAM?
by jonasb / September 17, 2004 5:35 AM PDT

2GB RAM is really the practical physical max for the consumer PC user. Even if your hardware supports 3GB/4GB, Windows 32-bit just doesn't support beyond 2GB without some performance degradation.

My PC memory(2GB) goes virtual all the time when editing videos(12GB+ video files). It's just something you have to accept with current consumer "video-editing" PC technology.

That is, until Windows XP-64 (and accompanying 64 bit processor) and 64-bit video-editing programs become available. Or go Linux-64. But that's a story for another day.

On closing, that Sony model will do the job, just a bit pricey in my opinion.

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Already 64-bit...
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 17, 2004 6:02 AM PDT

Virtual Dub is already available for XP 64, which is free for the first year as well.


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Re: How Much RAM is Enough RAM?
by jtpaperman11 / September 17, 2004 12:50 PM PDT

To put it simply. You can never have to much RAM. However, I believe two gigs should do very well for your enterprise. I would say its more a matter of what you can afford. However, when it comes to the matter of putting bread on the table. It's what we must afford.

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Re: How Much RAM is Enough RAM?
by shelli / September 21, 2004 12:37 AM PDT

I use Photoshop, Pagemaker, and others; as well as some MicroSoft programs. The larger the files are, the slower the computer works. I have a gig of ram and it is not enough for what I do. Looking into adding more. Would not suggest a machine that limits you right off the bat, especially if you plan on keeping it for longer than a year! However, I would suggest having a custom system built for your needs. My experience is that companies like Sony, Dell, etc. build for the general public; not for the graphics industry.

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Re: How Much RAM is Enough RAM?
by jonasb / September 21, 2004 2:06 AM PDT

Samsung recently introduced 2GB DDR2 SDRAM chips. Memory Modules up to 8GB can be used for this. We're talking 16GB of main memory. Windows XP-64 with an AMD-64 Processor will support this 16GB rig. Give it about 6+ months for motherboards to come out that will support this. Of course the cost alone will be astronomical, but where performance equates to the bottom-line, cost is not an issue.

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Re: How Much RAM is Enough RAM?
by amdroid / September 22, 2004 9:37 AM PDT

Whether or not Ram is the main question or not?

For the system you are proposing to build you may also want to consider a semi pro range GFX card preferably matched to the software you are going to be using. (for system stability)
Most of the Ram requirements will be indicated on the system requirements pages of the software.
Get the requirements for each piece of software you wish to run at the same time ( check min and max ram requirments and aim middle to higher end)Add all these togther and you should be close to attaining your Ram Requirments.

Most good Video software also recommends that it is tested with certain cards.
Some of these cards contain special hardware that can render on the fly.
Also dont forget to add a very good high capacity high speed hard drive for video capture.
Some of the software will also recommend specific Firewire cards.
Folowing the above guidelines should enable you to build a very stable and fast video machine.
Hope this helps to set you on the right track

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Re: How Much RAM is Enough RAM?
by dragonlen / September 26, 2004 12:02 AM PDT

The RAM you speak of would be enough. I use 1.5 GB of DDR RAM on a unit I built for Video editing. I also use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator also Dreamweaver and have had all open with no problem. The only thing I would change is if the ATI Video card is only 128 MB mem, I would upgrade to the 256 MB model for your uses. This will allow for less dropped frames when video editing and you will notice the difference in speed. Good Luck.

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The ONLY way to go!
by jackcharon / November 30, 2005 2:37 AM PST

Having read the foregoing comments - went down to local shop and bought 2 Gigs (upgrading from 512k) fitted in five minutes and the difference blows your socks off - no contest! Thanks guys.

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Re: How Much RAM is enough
by pcdude12 / March 16, 2006 3:32 PM PST

This question is subjective. This past week, I upgraded from 1 to 2 gigs because the price was right. I now have 2 gigs of Corsair Val Sel RAM. It has had zero noticeable performance increase on my system:

Mobo:MSI 865 PE neo2
CPU:3.2e (Prescott CPU)
Vid Card:EVGA 6800GT (EVGA is simply the best!)
HD:3 WD SE EIDE Drives (Sil Image Med RAID zero)
PSU:Maddog SurePower 450 Watt
RAM: 2 Gigabytes PC3200 Corsair Val Sel

I game and edit video. Absolutely no gain. Stick to 1 Gig.

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