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I am probably going to migrate my work laptop (WinXP, ThinkPad T61) to Windows7 soon, and want to take the opportunity to upgrade to a 64bit OS and use the infinite amounts of RAM this will allow :)

Given that laptop RAM not free, how much RAM would actually make a difference to my normal dev environment - VisualStudio running in a couple of instances, Firefox with umpty tabs open, perhaps one or two other apps running as well? Will I see much difference in upgrading from 32bit XP and 2GB RAM, and if so where is the cut off point? Is 4GB enough, or will I see a noticeable improvement with 6 or 8 or whatever... Thanks!

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1  
This really needs to be qualified with the version of Visual Studio. –  Nathan DeWitt Mar 26 '12 at 12:47

4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I've used two machines, on with 4GB and one with 8GB - Couldn't tell the difference between them and I was doing things pretty similar to you. If 8GB is not that much more - it could be worth investing now otherwise 4GB should be plenty.

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Can you mention which versions you performed this test with? –  Nathan DeWitt Mar 26 '12 at 12:47
    
2008 I believe, it was while ago though mind you. Currently I'm running VS11 with 8GB (same machine) and it's fine, same with VS2010 on the same machine. –  TWith2Sugars Mar 26 '12 at 13:21

Visual Studio is only 32-bit. So anything above 3GB wont help a single instance. Running more instances should behave better (if memory usage is high per instance).

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Memory is used for more than addressable memory space. A 32 bit program may well roam around a set of files the total size of which can be way, way greater than 4GB. The more memory a system has installed the greater the chance the required pages from those files are still in memory. These pages can be dynamically swapped in and out of a 32bit application's Virtual Memory space without the need to re-read them from disk. Hence whilst it is true the VS specifically is unlikely to benefit from more than 3GB memory its not true that that is direct a result of its being a 32 bit app. –  AnthonyWJones Jul 28 '09 at 13:53

More then 4GB only makes sense if you are planning to run 2 or more Virtual Machines and Visual Studio at the same time.

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You won't see much improvement much past 3GB for what you are doing so 4GB sounds fine.

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Do you have to launch Windows with the /3GB switch to achieve this? What about PAE? –  JBRWilkinson Jan 30 '10 at 21:25

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