Windows 10 RAM Requirement Doubles

John Lister's picture

Windows 10 will officially require more memory to run on many computers this summer. It's only a minor change but is the first time the official specifications for Windows have significantly increased in the past seven years.

The biggest of the changes is the minimum memory specification for 32-bit computers, which is doubling from 1GB to 2GB. The specification for 64-bit machines was already 2GB and will remain unchanged.

The change doesn't mean machines with 1GB of RAM will stop working. Instead, it means computer manufacturers will now have to include at least 2GB of RAM to be allowed to ship Windows 10. The change will take effect with the next major update to the system, known commonly as the "Anniversary Update." (Source:

Older Machines Will Run, But Slowly

What effect the change has on existing computers remains to be seen. The increase in the specification may well mean Microsoft makes all future changes with the assumption that users have at least 2GB of memory. That could mean the system performs below expectations on machines with less than this.

The most likely effect will be more frequent use of the page file, which is where the computer puts the temporary data it needs to keep at hand on the hard drive, which usually causes a noticeable slowdown.

First Major Change Since Windows Vista

It's the first time any of the key specifications for Windows (such as memory, hard drive size or processor speed) has changed since the release of Vista in 2009. That's been a deliberate policy of Microsoft as an attempt to reduce the likelihood that users would put off getting a new edition of Windows until they bought a newer and more powerful computer. (Source:

The change is a sign that Microsoft doesn't believe it will be possible to keep the specifications the same forever, something that's relevant now that Windows 10 will likely be the last ever completely "new" edition of Windows.

The other changes to the specifications coming soon mainly affect manufacturers. There'll be a minor change to the way new Windows computers will handle cryptographic keys, such as those used to secure and license video content. There's also a change to the distinction between Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile. Previously the two systems had a distinct cut-off point of 7.9 inch screen size. Now there'll be an overlap: any device up to 9 inches can ship with Windows 10 Mobile, while anything with 7 inches or more can ship with Windows 10.

What's Your Opinion?

Are you running Windows 10 (or an earlier version) with less than 2GB of RAM? Is it reasonable for Microsoft to increase the specifications of Windows 10 after it has already been released? Do you expect further increases to the minimum specifications in the foreseeable future?

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Dennis Faas's picture

The last time I owned a machine with 2 GB of RAM (not upgradable) would have been back in the Windows XP days, about 15 years ago. I think most people running Windows 10 will have minimum 3.5 to 4GB - with 8 GB to 16 the norm.

In my opinion, anything less than 8 GB is just not realistic these days. Firefox usually eats about 1 - 1.5 GB of memory, and that is without much web surfing. I think the 2GB minimum just announced is primarily aimed at entry-level devices (tablets) that carry enough hardware specs to get by.

ConnieB's picture

Dennis, thank you for posting this! I bought a Win10 PC earlier this year. It came with only 4GB of RAM. Sometimes it runs very slowly and I've wondered if I should install more RAM. Your post is all I needed to decide that I should. THANK YOU!

Dennis Faas's picture

If you need help figuring out what kind of RAM you should buy, I can help via remote desktop. I can look at your motherboard and existing RAM modules to figure out what you can and cannot do, and the best approach you should take. Oftentimes I can find modules off ebay for 1/2 the price. I provide this service to all my clients, plus SSD upgrade recommendations that can easily make your system 2 - 4 times faster. Just send me an email with your request and I'll get back to you ASAP.

dekay929's picture

I am surprised that the min. requirement is not more. In 2009 when I purchased my Dell Studio XPS 7100 with an AMD Phenom II X6 1055T running Win 7, or it might have been Vista with an upgrade to 7 64-bit. I had what was then the max ram, or at least what I could afford 8GB = (4) 2GB sticks.

Recently I watched my Resource Monitor to see that at all times I was using nearly 75% of my physical memory now that I am running Win 10 64-bit. I like to run multiple programs at once and sometimes do some photo editing and digital drawing. I ordered two 4GB sticks from Crucial that would work in my system and replaced two of the original DIMMs. The bump up to 12GB total has made quite a difference, especially in how long it takes programs to open. I think Win 10 was just hogging too much of my total resources. For a $35 investment I am almost sorry that I didn't replace all 4 DIMMS, but who knows how long this PC will last I have never kept any machine as my primary PC this long. Hey at least I got the dust bunnies cleared from my PC case for free!

dan_2160's picture

Over the years I have been astounded at how the major computer manufacturers have readily sold PCs with minimal amounts of RAM to unsuspecting and gullible customers. And they wondered why their computers ran so slowly. I've seen folks buy computers with 512 MB and 1 GB RAM going back to Windows XP -- and frankly that was not enough for a computer to handle even simply tasks without plodding through them.

The problem is that the vast majority of computer purchasers don't have a clue what they're doing -- either when buying the computer or using it. Sorry to be so cynical, but I've had to rescue too many computers from near death due to their users understanding their computers even more poorly than they understand their cars.

Microsoft has been quite conservative in estimating the minimum amount of RAM needed to run its various versions of Windows. Given that the cost of RAM is still pretty darned low, Microsoft would have done far better for PC buyers if it had set 4 GB as the minimum for RAM on computers sold with Windows 10.

rwells78's picture

Both my Dell Laptop with 6 Gb and my Dell desktop with 4 Gb of Ram periodically freeze running Win 7 Home. Unless Win 10 and current web browsers (those memory hogs) are way-way better at minimizing RAM use, a 2 Gb machine would be torture to use.

ecash's picture

Lets see...
If you strip win10 down to nothing...2 gigs might work..
but after you add, this that and everything else..

This is abit stupid.
I would never load less than 8 gigs on a machine, and only under protest would they get less then 16 gigs.
Win10 2 gigs.
Browser 2 gigs.
This 2 gigs.
that 2 gigs.
small game 2 gig.
Art program, 8+ gig.
Scanning 600dpi...32 gig.
Large, high res game...Start at 12 gig, and go up FAST..I would love an SSD on my video card, to STOP it caching on my computer.

I mentioned long ago(to friends) about the use of USB...(when it was first coming out) about HOW many devices are you going to place for 1 type of plug, and the bandwidth need for all these devices. And dont forget that these fall back to the PCI on your system, and so forth. 2 Chips do 90% of the work in your system, and over time MORE HEAT SINKS.. it would be nice to get a few more Main controllers..its the biggest bottle neck we have now.

tmcd's picture

There hasn't been a Windows machine that ran acceptably with 2G of RAM in years. Since the early XP days I always put in 4G in a 32-bit machine (Yeah, it only used 3G of it.) I think if MS is saying 2G is "required" they should do all of their testing and advertised benchmarks based on that configuration.

With 64-Bit Win 7 or Win 10 the sweet spot for most users seems to be 8GB.

matt_2058's picture

We all know an off-the-shelf computer needs a little ram, and the more the better. I'm also surprised that it took this long for

MS has always understated the requirements, in a way. The requirements are great if you ONLY run the OS with built-ins. Granted, I don't know anyone that does not install more programs.

Even though it's long overdue, it's convenient that MS is upping the requirement now, after so many have taken advantage of the upgrade from previous versions to 10. I'd bet a fortune they knew and waited until the hook was set and couldn't be spit out !

keffdoak's picture

I used to work for a CAD software company that had a ridiculously low minimum RAM requirement. But I think most professionals who use sophisticated software don't pay any attention to that.

OTOH, my neighbor once bought a "fully loaded" Dell desktop that took about five minutes to boot. I think it was running Windows 7. When he put it out on the curb, I took it apart and found that Dell had shipped it with 256K of RAM . . . or was it 125K? I don't remember, but it was laughable, especially in a $4,000 computer. I'm sure he had no idea what RAM was or how much was in his box.