Do I really need 4GB RAM with a 32 bit OS?


Established Member

I'm thinking about my first computer build (i5 750 platform). I will be using Windows 7 Home premium for the OS and will be using it for the average Home type uses. (Not really gaming as the Xbox is good enough for that).

My question is, for an average Home User, do I really need 4GB or will 2 GB be enough. I guess I'm asking this because RAM seems to be quite expensive at the moment and I am trying to keep to a sensible budget.

An associated question is, what is the point of the 64 bit OS for the average home user? The only benefit I am aware of is that the OS can address 4GB+ of RAM, but I read somewhere that the 64 bit system needs twice as much RAM, so this sounds a bit circular - you would need 4GB to get the same benefit as 2GB under the 32 bit OS. Will I really be missing out in real world noticable performance if I stick to the 32 bit OS and install 2GB of RAM?

Thanks in advance for any advice.


Prominent Member
Someone in the know will probably correct me but I think you can't run 64 bit with less than 4GB, and you can't run 4GB+ without 64bit.

As I said this maybe very wrong but that's how I've understood it up till now.

Maybe 3GB would be a good compromise as it would be able to run under 32bit IIRC and would be speedy for general uses. Depends what you mean by general use really though.


Established Member
I didn't want to make my question too long, but I had also thought about 3GB as I have seem a good deal on 3 X 1GB sticks of Crucial memory.

3GB would need to run in single channel mode (i think). A supplemental question to my first post - would it be better to have 3 GB running in single channel mode or 2 Gb running in dual channel?


Established Member
Best to go for either 2, 4, 6gb etc. You can run 64bit o/s on less than 4GB but tbh it wouldn't be worth it. On 32bit o/s you might as well get 4gb, even though it only uses a max of 3.25gb. That way if you do decide at a later date to switch over to 64bit o/s the 4gb will be fully supported. Dual channel config would best.


Standard Member
Depends what you're gonna use it for, 2gb is plenty for average use. Unless you're doing audio, video or 3D work, i would guess you wouldnt need that 3/4gb, and I agree 2gb in dual channel would be better than 3gb single channel for the same reason.
64 bit does indeed use up more memory, but certainly nowhere near double the memory, it depends on the app but as a guess, I would say roughly 5-10% more. The only real advantage of 64 bit is being able to use more than 4gb of memory, and processing high precision numbers quicker (eg Mathematical, 3D, high-end audio, etc).
You'll probably see better performance increases by spending the money for extra ram on something else, like a fast hard drive (eg. western digital black edition).
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Established Member
Thanks NitrousUK, that's exactly what I wanted to know. I don't want to waste money on chasing tiny performance gains, but am happy to spend the cash where it really matters.

Paul Shirley

Established Member
You can run 64bit o/s on less than 4GB but tbh it wouldn't be worth it.
My wife's PC runs its 64 bit OS very happily with just 1Gb of RAM... mine did quite nicely with 2Gb before my upgrade. Of course you may be right about Win64 needing more RAM than our Linux machines :devil:

White Zenith

Established Member
Perhaps the average/below average home user can get away with less than 4gb, but then there's no point buying an i5 and pairing it with a paltry amount of RAM to be honest. 4gb for any reasonable system is optimum really I would say.

And 3gb won't run at full speed on an i5 system, as it only supports dual channel not triple like the lga1366, you'd need either 2 or 4gb

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