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Dexterbaxter

Type of Computer?

58 posts in this topic

Hello everyone. I'm new to this site. I've done some homebrews for the Nintendo DS back in the day using my parents' pc. I'm a recent highschool graduate and I really want to get my passion going with video games. Anyways, I'm deciding to buy my very own computer that would suffice to create games. I've taken C++ and Java during highschool - just an idea for you where I'm at - and I want to start this career. However, I simply want to know what type of computers you guys are using as you develop your games. What is your processor, graphics card, ram, etc.? I'm targeting a simple 2d game, but I also want to get a bit into 3d development. Thanks!

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Really, any computer will work. I recommend:

 

2 Cores in the CPU - Concurrency will be better if you can actually see speedup. Quad core is definitely the best however.

 

A dedicated video card - Even a cheap one will be miles ahead of an integrated GPU.

 

RAM - I recommend 8 GB, simply because it can handle pretty much *anything*.

 

Any HD, except aim for a big amount of space.

 

Pretty much any OS. I recommend you get windows and learn how to Dual Boot Linux. Than you can learn how to use Linux while having another OS to use when you can't get Linux to work.

 

Display - 1920 x 1080 Pixels is ideal.

 

I recommend (for programming):

 

A quad core intel processor (I5 or I7).

 

A Nvidia graphics card (simply because so many games are made optimized for them, and I just like them). Preferably gtx 750 or above.

 

8 GB of Ram.

 

Windows 8, then Dual Boot Ubuntu onto it.

 

Keyboard / Mouse - As a programmer, you'll be typing alot. Get a good one if you have money to spare. If you think you won't need a good one, put the money into your video card. It's really a luxury.

 

Most of the other Odds and Ends don't really matter as much.

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Really, any computer will work. I recommend:

 

2 Cores in the CPU - Concurrency will be better if you can actually see speedup. Quad core is definitely the best however.

 

A dedicated video card - Even a cheap one will be miles ahead of an integrated GPU.

 

RAM - I recommend 8 GB, simply because it can handle pretty much *anything*.

 

Any HD, except aim for a big amount of space.

 

Pretty much any OS. I recommend you get windows and learn how to Dual Boot Linux. Than you can learn how to use Linux while having another OS to use when you can't get Linux to work.

 

Display - 1920 x 1080 Pixels is ideal.

 

I recommend (for programming):

 

A quad core intel processor (I5 or I7).

 

A Nvidia graphics card (simply because so many games are made optimized for them, and I just like them). Preferably gtx 750 or above.

 

8 GB of Ram.

 

Windows 8, then Dual Boot Ubuntu onto it.

 

Keyboard / Mouse - As a programmer, you'll be typing alot. Get a good one if you have money to spare. If you think you won't need a good one, put the money into your video card. It's really a luxury.

 

Most of the other Odds and Ends don't really matter as much.

Awesome! Thanks superman!

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I code both on a quad core i5 2500K, GTX 560 Ti 1Gb, 16Gb DDR3 rig.... and on an Atom N450 1.6Ghz single-core, ION2 512Mb, 2Gb DDR2 12 inch netbook.

So yeah, pretty much anything works well enough if it supports the technologies you want to develop on.

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some stats for what I am currently using...

 

main PC:

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 3.4 GHz;

RAM: 16GB DDR3

OS: Windows 7 x64

GPU: Radeon R7850 1GB

HDD: 2x 1TB + 2TB (internal) + 1TB external. so, ~ 5TB of HDD space.

 

 

newer laptop:

CPU: Pentium Dual-Core 2.0 GHz;

RAM: 4GB

OS: Windows 7 x64

GPU: Intel GMA X3100 (*1)

HDD: 500GB (upgraded)

 

*1: not very good for games...

it is ok otherwise, just its 3D performance is pretty bad.

 

old laptop:

CPU: AMD Athlon 1.2GHz

RAM: 512MB

OS: Windows XP

GPU: Mobile Radeon

HDD: 60GB

Edited by cr88192
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CPU : Core i7-3930K

RAM  16GB

OS : Windows 7

GPU : 2x Geforce GTX 680

HDD : 2x 256GB SSD + several 1TB HDDs (for less important files, backup etc)

Monitor : 27" HP @ 2560x1440

 

I have one SSD for OS / programs and another one for projects. It gives a good boost for compiling, boot etc.

 

Otherwise, I'd maybe look for AMD GPU (unless you need CUDA). I have noticed few times that things developed on nVidia GPU's may not work as intended on AMD graphics board, the other way yes. 

 

The machine is rather multipurpose since it is used for heavy 3d renderings and building modelling. Also, in order to make SLI compatible program a second GPU is a must. Of course, when I have little extra time I can even play something. 

 

Cheers!

Edited by kauna
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I code on a laptop

 

3GB DDR3 ram

Windows 7 64 bit

250GB hard drive

dual core AMD cpu

17 inch HD screen

 

I have no problems running my games. Lets be honest, when you're starting out,

you're not gonna be coding the next crisis that you need an uber rig to get things done.

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As much as I want to answer this with my beast machines stats, I'd rather point out that the best development machine is what makes you most productive. What I mean by that is that for development you pretty much want the biggest beast you can get your hands on. A "reasonable" beast anymore is a nice 3ghz+ quad core (I'd look for a hyper-threaded 4 core so 8 total hardware threads with AMX) with a fast hard drive, preferably an SSD as that will speed compiles up more than anything else. Memory wise 4gigs is minimum, 8gigs is preferred and 16+ is best. (Remember, you have you run your game, your tools/profilers etc at the same time, 4gigs barely cuts it most of the time.) Graphics wise, that depends on the game, but usually a nice midline graphics card (soon to be low end) is best for initial development, you don't want to be optimizing for a high end card only to realize mom's laptop can't play the game because you pushed too far. (Assuming you are not pushing for photorealistic graphics.) It is "usually" easier to add more detail on high end cards than it is to reduce it for low end cards. The only thing I suggest is a mid level card with twice the normal memory due to dev only requirements. Usually those are fairly cheap by the time they become "mid level" cards. smile.png
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As much as I want to answer this with my beast machines stats, I'd rather point out that the best development machine is what makes you most productive. What I mean by that is that for development you pretty much want the biggest beast you can get your hands on. A "reasonable" beast anymore is a nice 3ghz+ quad core (I'd look for a hyper-threaded 4 core so 8 total hardware threads with AMX) with a fast hard drive, preferably an SSD as that will speed compiles up more than anything else. Memory wise 4gigs is minimum, 8gigs is preferred and 16+ is best. (Remember, you have you run your game, your tools/profilers etc at the same time, 4gigs barely cuts it most of the time.) Graphics wise, that depends on the game, but usually a nice midline graphics card (soon to be low end) is best for initial development, you don't want to be optimizing for a high end card only to realize mom's laptop can't play the game because you pushed too far. (Assuming you are not pushing for photorealistic graphics.) It is "usually" easier to add more detail on high end cards than it is to reduce it for low end cards. The only thing I suggest is a mid level card with twice the normal memory due to dev only requirements. Usually those are fairly cheap by the time they become "mid level" cards. smile.png

 

 

well, it could always be something LOLz, like someone with a Xeon Phi and 64GB of RAM or something...

then note that the person has just spent like $3k on the CPU alone... ("but, I have 50 cores!").

 

 

but, yeah, doesn't mean it has to be high-end...

 

 

as-is, in my case I have my laptops to verify that my stuff still works on lower-end hardware.

 

though it is a bit of a stretch given how much of a difference there is (as-is, my laptops and main PC are different enough WRT stats to where I effectively need different rendering paths for each, and need to enable/disable a fair number of engine features).

 

 

I had a computer with an Athlon 64 X2 1.8 GHz and a Radeon HD 4850 (and 4GB DDR2), but as-is, it's power-supply got fried in a power-surge (including a few other random things), and I haven't got around to replacing it (such is the problem of these things, and part of the reason why having a good UPS and surge suppressors rather than often just using cheap power-strips is a good idea, but alas...).

Edited by cr88192
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As much as I want to answer this with my beast machines stats

well, it could always be something LOLz, like someone with a Xeon Phi and 64GB of RAM or something...
then note that the person has just spent like $3k on the CPU alone... ("but, I have 50 cores!").


I think you misunderstood, I was suggesting a favorable lower end (affordable) machine but highlighting the important bits. AVX CPU is "going" to become important but is not required yet, preferred though for longevity. 4 gigs is too low for most work anymore, 8 gigs is really minimum for a dev machines anymore. Graphics cards hardly matter anymore unless you are looking at some massive graphics quality, and for that you better have a big art team and as such your dev machine cost is not an issue since the company better be paying for it.

For effective development you want a decent CPU (say 2 steps down from the current $1K version) and the fastest hard drive you can get, SSD being preferred even if it is tiny compared to a main HD. Memory is not an option, 8Gig is virtually minimum to make any of the other items useful.

If I wanted to suggest the max, I'd just post my primary work box (and it is even a bit out of date now, snivel. smile.png). As it is, I have a collection of back to P3 SMP boxes up to the massive beast. Usable machines are going to fit somewhere between the two extremes but they need minimal specs in certain areas which is what I'm trying to cover.
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Macbook Pro  (mid 2010 I think).  Upgraded to 8 GB ram and 512GB SSD.   At work I use an iMac 27inch with quad core i7 and 16GB RAM.

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Really, any computer will work. I recommend:

 

2 Cores in the CPU - Concurrency will be better if you can actually see speedup. Quad core is definitely the best however.

 

A dedicated video card - Even a cheap one will be miles ahead of an integrated GPU.

 

RAM - I recommend 8 GB, simply because it can handle pretty much *anything*.

 

Any HD, except aim for a big amount of space.

 

Pretty much any OS. I recommend you get windows and learn how to Dual Boot Linux. Than you can learn how to use Linux while having another OS to use when you can't get Linux to work.

 

Display - 1920 x 1080 Pixels is ideal.

 

I recommend (for programming):

 

A quad core intel processor (I5 or I7).

 

A Nvidia graphics card (simply because so many games are made optimized for them, and I just like them). Preferably gtx 750 or above.

 

8 GB of Ram.

 

Windows 8, then Dual Boot Ubuntu onto it.

 

Keyboard / Mouse - As a programmer, you'll be typing alot. Get a good one if you have money to spare. If you think you won't need a good one, put the money into your video card. It's really a luxury.

 

Most of the other Odds and Ends don't really matter as much.

 

This is not true not every PC will work, it all depends on context in work a dual core machine without an SSD would not do for me, asset builds would be 1.5 hours instead of 0.5 for example. Same goes for the RAM department the more you have the better, I tend to have 20 windows open at the same time, sometimes up to 3 instances of Visual Studio and I don't turn it off for 5 days.

 

As far as GPU's go in a professional setting you should have both an AMD and NVidia card so you can test on either, any DX11 card at the moment will do.

 

Screen space is up to you but I do recommend full HD screen at least, I have 2, 24" monitors at work one for code the other for debug windows.

 

I make tripple A games so a high end machine is pretty much what you want to have in those cases, in the case of home brew I have a slightly less powerfull machine at home but not by that much if you take in how old it is.
 

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This is not true not every PC will work, it all depends on context in work a dual core machine without an SSD would not do for me, asset builds would be 1.5 hours instead of 0.5 for example. Same goes for the RAM department the more you have the better, I tend to have 20 windows open at the same time, sometimes up to 3 instances of Visual Studio and I don't turn it off for 5 days.
 
As far as GPU's go in a professional setting you should have both an AMD and NVidia card so you can test on either, any DX11 card at the moment will do.
 
Screen space is up to you but I do recommend full HD screen at least, I have 2, 24" monitors at work one for code the other for debug windows.
 
I make tripple A games so a high end machine is pretty much what you want to have in those cases, in the case of home brew I have a slightly less powerfull machine at home but not by that much if you take in how old it is.


This is the description of a hard core rendering engine person. Sorry but not much of the given items are valid for 90% of the rest of the folks not working on trip A games. Your company may supply you with a massive box, I know mine did, but the only reason it was required was to make "me", individually, more productive on a high priority item. Yup, I'm pretty good, and if they gave you such a box, they probably thought you were pretty good also. Unfortunately, we're spoiled brats and reality is about 10 steps down from what you and I expect. Any such box is about 3x the cost of the normal boxes provided to everyone else, this is exceptional and not something you should be suggesting to others.

Reality is quite a few steps down from such lofty pampering. smile.png
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Don't buy a full assembled desktop from best buy or wherever. You can get way better parts for better prices by ordering them from New Egg and putting the system together yourself. It only takes a few hours and it is really worth the effort. It may seem really cool to have the tons of cores that AMD offers, but honestly an Intel quad core is considerably better than an AMD 8 core, just from what I have seen from 3 of my friends recently building computers. Don't skimp on the fans and heat sinks. Keeping your CPU cool will help it last longer.

 

Here are my specs. This computer works fairly well, but it is getting a little old and slow.

It is a Dell Dimension E521 that I made a few upgrades to.

64 bit Athlon dual core

8gb ddr2

500gb HD

$50 evega/nvidia graphics card(spend at least $75 in this department)

windows 7/linux mint

Edited by minibutmany
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I'm using a Macbook Pro for iOS development. Everything else is on my dev desktops, which have Core i7 CPUs, 16 GB or more of memory, SSDs, and recent GPUs (GTX 470, GTX 690, GTX Titan, HD 7870, HD 7970, etc). For development pretty much any CPU will do, quad core or better ideally. My main criteria are tons of memory, and a full featured GPU from NV or AMD. No Intel chips for development -- their GL implementation is way too glitchy. NV is probably the best for multi-faceted dev work. SSD is very nice to have but not mandatory.

 

8 GB of memory on the Mac is barely enough, and I'm just doing iOS work. But OSX is an extremely memory hungry OS, and the combination of XCode and LLVM/clang also consumes unbelievable amounts of memory. Even so, memory's cheap enough that it's worth going straight to 16 on a desktop. 8 is probably ok on laptops.

 

Screens are personal preference but the more the better. I'm running dual 27 (2560x1440) or triple 23/24 (1920x1080 or 1920x1200) setups nowadays. But it's not critical to lay out tons of cash here.

 

If you're going to college/university this fall, then it's probably a good idea to go for a laptop. Otherwise, I'm a big desktop fan.

Edited by Promit
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For any computer, keeping everything (not only software!) on a good SSD drive will accelerate development because compared to an hard disk it will speed up common activities by a ridiculous factor:
 
- text search across many files (e.g. find and grep)
- software installation and reading/writing archives of many files
- access to large numbers of files in general
 
For desktop machines in particular, enough video outputs for your multiple screens, which should be two Full HD ones at a minimum. Having two or more full-screen things to watch is normal:
 
- an art/authoring tool or code editor and the game
- a debugger or realtime monitoring tools and the game
- multiple instances of the game (for comparison or multiplayer testing)
- some kind of editor and reference documents or images
- something you are concentrating on (editor, documents) and notifications to look at occasionally (chat, long-running console programs, email clients, etc.)

Edited by LorenzoGatti
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Don't forget, as well as an uber rig, to buy an older Thinkpad (X61) or Dell laptop with an integrated (possibly Intel GMA 9xx) graphics card to test your games on. Not only does this give you a feel of how your game might run on a typical tablet, it also allows you to test your game on the (admittedly lowest common denominator) of computers that people (especially in the casual market) still use!

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Really, any computer will work. I recommend:

 

2 Cores in the CPU - Concurrency will be better if you can actually see speedup. Quad core is definitely the best however.

 

A dedicated video card - Even a cheap one will be miles ahead of an integrated GPU.

 

RAM - I recommend 8 GB, simply because it can handle pretty much *anything*.

 

Any HD, except aim for a big amount of space.

 

Pretty much any OS. I recommend you get windows and learn how to Dual Boot Linux. Than you can learn how to use Linux while having another OS to use when you can't get Linux to work.

 

Display - 1920 x 1080 Pixels is ideal.

 

I recommend (for programming):

 

A quad core intel processor (I5 or I7).

 

A Nvidia graphics card (simply because so many games are made optimized for them, and I just like them). Preferably gtx 750 or above.

 

8 GB of Ram.

 

Windows 8, then Dual Boot Ubuntu onto it.

 

Keyboard / Mouse - As a programmer, you'll be typing alot. Get a good one if you have money to spare. If you think you won't need a good one, put the money into your video card. It's really a luxury.

 

Most of the other Odds and Ends don't really matter as much.

 

This is not true not every PC will work, it all depends on context in work a dual core machine without an SSD would not do for me, asset builds would be 1.5 hours instead of 0.5 for example. Same goes for the RAM department the more you have the better, I tend to have 20 windows open at the same time, sometimes up to 3 instances of Visual Studio and I don't turn it off for 5 days.

 

As far as GPU's go in a professional setting you should have both an AMD and NVidia card so you can test on either, any DX11 card at the moment will do.

 

Screen space is up to you but I do recommend full HD screen at least, I have 2, 24" monitors at work one for code the other for debug windows.

 

I make tripple A games so a high end machine is pretty much what you want to have in those cases, in the case of home brew I have a slightly less powerfull machine at home but not by that much if you take in how old it is.
 

 

This wasn't intended for someone who Made Triple A games and will be building large codebases. I think if he ever gets to that point he will know more than enough to get a good computer.

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I'm bouncing you all to the lounge. This isn't really a relevant discussion for the For Beginners forum.

Edited by swiftcoder
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Its nearly impossible to buy a new desktop or laptop computer that would be too under powered and painful to develop on that it was a non-starter. Heck, its hard to find a machine even 2-3 years old that would be, unless you dipped down into a netbook or something.

 

My current desktop is probably 4 years old now, Its a core 2 duo with a slight overclock to 3.6Ghz, 8 Gigs DDR2, with a 256GB SSD and Radeon 6990 (which were at the time my two most expensive components), and both strictly unnecessary for game development. In every respect but graphics its actually much slower than my laptop (which is where I do most of my real work these days). But its more than comfortable for programming.

 

You can very easily build a complete desktop with very good performance for around a grand. Say, a quad-core i5, quality motherboard, 8-16GB RAM, modest SSD + sizable HDD, and a very capable GPU (I saw Radeon 6970s a week ago for $180 -- granted its a silicon generation behind, but its still DX11.1 and very powerful). Depending on component selection you might even get a keyboard, mouse, and a 1080p monitor or two without going much over budget.

 

You could scale back to even around $500 and still have an eminently capable computer, with mindful component selection.

 

Its pretty easy to get a very capable laptop with dedicated graphics for under a grand too, like this one.

Edited by Ravyne
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Mine's similar to minibutmany's.

 

An incrementally modified Dell Dimension E521:

(Added a GB of Ram, installed Win 7, got a better videocard and a second harddrive)

  • Windows 7 Home Premium 32bit
  • 64 bit Athlon dual core
  • 3 GB Ram (wish I had at least another two in here, but the 32 bit OS won't support any more)
  • One 350GB harddrive and another 500GB one (broken into four partitions).
  • AMD Radeon 4670 w/ 512 MB video ram (this has served me very well, but is somewhat outdated now)
  • Monitor res is 1680x1050, and it's ~22 inches, maybe 21", I forget.

 

Computer's getting old, but has been functional for six years now.

Edited by Servant of the Lord
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Setting aside specific components, I'll share my general strategy for buying a computer -- I've always been well-served by buying just behind the bell-curve of price/performance. Aside from a few specific components I've picked up when feeling lavish (and generally also when gainfully employed and well-compensated), I've never bought the absolute best-of-the-best. Computer components, like most other goods where a "high-end" market exists, can rather easily cost you 2-3 time more for top-tier components that are only marginally faster (typically 15%, give or take). It really doesn't make sense to buy thosoe unless you're working in a profession where time is money, where such components represent a bottle-neck in your workflow, and where freeing up that (up to) 20% of time will actually pay for the massive different in cost. This is especially true of "professional-grade" components like workstation GPUs or processors, but its even true of consumer-level components.

 

A good, fast, core i7 can be had for around $300, but you can easily spend $600-$1000 for the very fastest models, or the "extreme" versions -- for that extra $300-$700, you probably get 400Mhz base clock-speed, and a few more megs of cache -- or, maybe you get two more cores (but lower clock-speeds) and the ability to host more memory. GPUs are interesting, in that performance actually scales close-to-linearly in the higher-end range (owing mostly to near-perfect SLI scaling and SLI products that are basically 2x their single-gpu conterparts) but down in the more main-stream ranges its again not difficult to find GPUs that cost half as much as another but give you 75-80 percent of the performance. RAM is different in another way -- you pay dearly for higher-clocked lower-latency modules that make almost no perceptible different in actual workloads -- in any real-world choice scenario, it's pretty much always better to take 2x slower RAM than 1x of much faster RAM.

 

In this way, you can very easily spend right around $200 per major component (CPU, Motherboard, GPU, RAM) and have a very nice system rounding up to an even $1000 for the rest of the components -- all the better if you have an old case, power-supply, or disk drives you can make use of.

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in any real-world choice scenario, it's pretty much always better to take 2x slower RAM than 1x of much faster RAM

I'm not sure I agree with this. RAM is so damn cheap these days that you can easily afford more than you can actually used.

 

I have machines at work and home equipped with 16 GB of RAM, and that tends to work out to 4 GB of useful RAM, and 12 GB of dubiously helpful disk cache...

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Here's a blurry pic!

8-core

8gig

2tb

3 monitors(2 19s and a 27)

blur.png

The forth monitor on the left is connected to a headless laptop I've been playing Cave Story on.

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in any real-world choice scenario, it's pretty much always better to take 2x slower RAM than 1x of much faster RAM

I'm not sure I agree with this. RAM is so damn cheap these days that you can easily afford more than you can actually used.

 

I have machines at work and home equipped with 16 GB of RAM, and that tends to work out to 4 GB of useful RAM, and 12 GB of dubiously helpful disk cache...

 

My main point is that the faster RAM will make literally no difference in your workflow -- It barely shows up in benchmarks that simulate workflows (2-5%) maybe -- and that's without the human factor, wherein every sip of coffee you take is on the same order of time as the difference the faster RAM will make on a job that takes a handful of minutes to process. The only caveat is if you're sharing your RAM with a modernish integrated GPU (like a Haswell CPU or AMD APU), then it can make a measurable difference to gaming or multimedia. Otherwise, faster RAM is only of use to overclockers.

 

My experience with RAM usage is quite different (its bound to be) -- My work machine has 12 gigs, and if I have one or two spartan VMs running on 3GB each, the 6-9 GB that's left over is actually quite painful to deal with. I pretty commonly have Visual Studio, MSWord, Outlook, and 1-2 dozen chrome tabs open (Chrome is a pig, frankly), alongside at least 1 VM, and Windows usually informs me that I should close some programs because I'm running low on memory at least daily.

 

In my experience, more RAM is the single best investment you can make in your computers performance up to 12-16GB (at that point, get a good SSD if you don't yet have one). 8GB is a practical minimum today, 16 is better. If you run VMs, add 4GB for each one you might need to run concurrently. My laptop actually has 32GB because I sometimes am dedicating half of that to VMs.

 

Anyhow, I wasn't really suggesting OP should go crazy and get 32gigs of RAM -- 8 is workable, 16 is more than enough, and future-proof for most. I was just saying don't go out and spend 2x as much getting the fastest 8 or 16GB you can find, because there's precious little difference between that and stuff that runs at slightly more pedestrian speeds. I'd rather not spend the money on negligible performance, and get 16GB instead of 8GB, put that money into other components, or pocket it.

 

I'm also not advocating for getting the cheapest RAM one can find. In my experience, inexpensive RAM has been the source of more of my hardware troubles than any other component. There's plenty of cheap, poor-quality RAM in the market, and there's also some less-expensive "performance" RAM that's actually just standard-grade RAM configured to tell your motherboard to clock it higher and feed it higher voltage (a factory-overclock basically, rather than actually being a more-capable part to begin with). The last three times I've purchased RAM, I've bought G.Skill and haven't had any problems -- I have had problems with Kingmax and Crucial -- RAM seems to have come back up a bit in price since a year ago when I bought my laptop, but back then I paid just a little over $200 for 4x8GB DDR3 SO-DIMMs that were actually quite fast still, but there were still higher-speed, lower-latency kits by G.Skill and others that were running $250+ for 2x8GB.

Edited by Ravyne
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