My processor is 1.6 GHz and RAM max capacity is 2 GB, but only 1 GB RAM is provided. Will lesser RAM delay processing speed? Am I required to purchase 2 GB DDR2 RAM and replace it in place of the present RAM? What type of speed improvement can be achieved with 2 GB RAM against 1GB RAM now?

closed as too broad by Máté Juhász, n8te, karel, James P, bertieb Feb 9 '18 at 13:26

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    It depends on operating system, programs you use... Please provide more info to get better answer. – Máté Juhász Feb 9 '18 at 5:51
  • Possible duplicate of Upgrading laptop RAM – karel Feb 9 '18 at 7:31

Will lesser [amounts of] RAM delay processing speed?

They will not directly affect the speed of the processor but, as noted in @Telecentrosorete's answer, if an insufficient amount of RAM is available to an applicantion it could affect that application's performance, as well as the operating system overall.

Am I required to purchase 2 GB DDR2 RAM and replace it in place of [the] present RAM?

No, you are not required to replace the RAM. If you do, however, as a rule you should use the same type of memory as what you have now (you should confirm any assumptions about your memory before replacing it). That is, if your current memory is DDR2 RAM, the new memory should be as well.

What type of speed improvement can be achieved with 2 GB RAM against [the] 1GB RAM [I have] now?

Unfortunately, it is hard to say what (if any) performance gain you might have without knowing the performance of the current programs on your system (which only you can likely determine). Regardless, it will not make the processor work faster.

If you have problems now, it is possible that adding more memory may help alleviate your issues. But that isn't guaranteed. However, to be clear, adding more memory (probably) won't hurt your system performance (though, as @Ruslan points out in the comments below, there can be exceptions).

One thing that may be helpful, again as @Telecentrosorete points out, is to look at memory usage with the Window's Task Manager under the "Performance" tab. You can use Ctrl+Alt+Del to bring up the Task Manager itself (you may need to select it as an option).

Anecdotally, my experience has been that modern versions of Windows seem to begin to perform poorly at about ~70% memory usage. Of you find you are using this much memory, you might benefit from upgrading your RAM.

  • Actually adding RAM can sometimes hurt your experiences with some operating systems. See e.g. The pernicious USB-stick stall problem article at LWN. (This example is about much larger amounts of RAM though.) – Ruslan Feb 9 '18 at 8:57
  • @Ruslan Updated the wording slightly, so as to allow for exceptions. Thanks for the info. =) – Anaksunaman Feb 9 '18 at 9:12

The general answer to your questions is that the performance impact of upgrading / not upgrading depends entirely on what you're doing with your computer. If you're just starting Windows and running Calculator, performing some basic maths, you won't see any noticeable speedup by adding more RAM.

If you're trying to use the modern Web, an absolute minimum of 4 GB of RAM is basically required if you want to have a good (reasonably fast) browsing experience with a modern web browser like Firefox or Chrome, taking into account how complex most popular sites are these days.

If you'd like even a little bit of breathing room, 8 GB of RAM is pretty much the bare minimum. People who do anything else in addition to basic web browsing pretty much need 8 GB or more for decent performance (where "anything else" includes: games, MS Office / productivity, image/video/sound editing, programming, etc.)

Also, that Atom processor must be pretty old (around 2010 or so, right?) -- you could also be bottlenecking significantly on the CPU itself. So the chances of your CPU being up to the task of modern websites, productivity software, etc. is low.

Overall, a system with a 7-year-old Atom processor and 1 or even 2 GB of RAM is grossly insufficient for many/most modern programs, which includes modern websites. Since you can't upgrade the RAM beyond the limit of 2 GB, and since the Atom processor is probably soldered on the board, this means you would need to get a new computer to approach reasonable levels of performance.

Basically you're dealing with a system that is pretty much never going to operate at anything resembling "good" performance unless you run DOS on it, and never access the Web, since modern websites are so demanding. If you insist on continuing to use this system, you're just going to have to accept that performance will be very, very bad, if things don't just crash outright. I wouldn't spend any additional money trying to upgrade this system, in your shoes; instead, I would save up for a new system.

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    That's a bit of a bleak outlook. Until a couple years ago i was quite happy on a 2005-era pentium something laptop with 1GB of RAM and an IDE HDD. The difference is simply that i ran a lightweight linux distribution instead of windows. Web browsing was slower than my more reasonably powerered computer now but not by much! – dn3s Feb 9 '18 at 7:39
  • "A couple years ago" -- well, a lot has changed in a couple years. Maybe sites like SE can still run on a 2005 Pentium with 1 GB of RAM, but sites like Facebook, Youtube, Twitch.tv, Netflix, Google Docs, and many others mostly can't (or they'll run but constantly use the pagefile, resulting in frustratingly poor performance). What's considered "acceptable" performance varies per user, and depends on how much you multitask and what kind of background programs/services you have, but overall 1 GB RAM is just not enough for modern workloads. 2 GB isn't much better. – allquixotic Feb 10 '18 at 5:52
  • Also, it's not so much the CPU performance that would be the bottleneck, I think. If his chipset supported 4 GB of RAM, he'd probably be more or less good to go for the modern web (even on Windows 10) for a while longer. The big showstopper is that he can't even install more than 2 GB of RAM with that chipset, and he can't upgrade his CPU or mobo. – allquixotic Feb 10 '18 at 5:53
  • Again, it depends entirely on the workload. You could browse the web with lynx on Slackware with no background programs on probably 64 MB of RAM or less. But how many sites would be supported? Of the sites that would load, how many would you be able to access all the functionality of? Outside of really old websites that haven't been updated in a decade, browsing with such a web browser is not practical. Ditto for feature-deprived "low memory" graphical web browsers like Dillo. For the modern web experience you need current FF, Chrome, Edge or Safari and way more RAM than that. – allquixotic Feb 10 '18 at 5:55
  • It's fine to try and squeeze every last drop of performance out of an old system "just for fun", but I would never recommend to anyone with a straight face that they can seriously expect a good experience out of their computer with such low RAM in 2018. I'm making some assumptions there, but not all too radical ones, like "they might want to open more than 3 tabs at a time without swapping" -- not too extreme of an assumption for most users, IMO. – allquixotic Feb 10 '18 at 5:58

RAM is where programs put their data to use it. It's way faster than reading it from the drive (HDD or SSD).

The processing speed isn't delayed because of you having a 1 GB RAM by itself. It could be delayed if there isn't enough RAM for the programs (including Windows) to use all the ram they need.

You could try it and see if the RAM is near 100%, which forces the RAM to be written to the disk (really slow) or in same cases some programs will ask for RAM and, having no more available, they'll end/crash.

The minimum system requirements to run Windows 7 are 1 GB RAM for the 32-bit version and 2 GB RAM for the 64-bit one, so take that into account.

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