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How much memory do I REALLY need for Windows XP?

I am thinking of buying a cheap computer system with a 1.8 ghz
Intel Celeron processor, 256 MB RAM, and an 80 GB hard drive. This does not
come with Windows XP. My main concern is installing Windows XP. If the computer
has 256 MB RAM will Windows XP install without using every bit of it, or will
it use only a certain amount leaving extra.

As is so often the case, “it depends”. Windows XP will work with as little
as 96 megabytes of memory – I know, because I have such a machine.

The real question is will it work well, and that … depends.

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My 96 Meg machine works ‘ok’ because I don’t ask it to do a lot. It’s an
older machine running Windows XP Pro that I’ve dedicated to being a glorified
MP3 player, and nothing else.

I wouldn’t think of installing Office on it, for example.

But I could.

And therein lies the difficulty in answering your question with absolutes:
Windows will happily pretend it has more memory than it really does by using
your hard disk as virtual memory.
Office would install and run, but it would run very slowly.

The problem is that the more you try to do, the slower Windows becomes as it
spends more and more of it’s time dealing with virtual memory and less and
less time running the application you’re attempting to run.

Now 256 Meg is a fine machine that will run most applications without much problem. Office,
for example. But I wouldn’t expect it to be able to run a lot of applications
simultaneously and still remain speedy. So if your demands aren’t too high, the
answer is certainly, go for it.

I will tell you this, however: if I were to purchase a new
, which I did recently, I would start with 1 gigabyte of
memory and make sure it was expandable to 2. Today 1 gigabyte is plenty of
room – probably more room than most people need. But applications grow.
Operating systems get bigger. Heck, most people’s own usage grows as they
discover more and more things to use their PC’s for. Making sure that you have
lots of memory and the potential for lots more is perhaps the single biggest
thing you can do to increase the usable life of your computer.

Similarly, as I’ve said before, Windows loves memory. It’s by far
the most cost effective investment to speed up a slow machine.

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29 comments on “How much memory do I REALLY need for Windows XP?”

  1. Brand: Dell Condition: Used
    Processor Speed: 366 MHz Chip Type: Intel Pentium II
    Hard Drive Capacity: 6.2 GB Memory (RAM): 128 MB
    Screen Size: 13 inches Primary Drive: CD-ROM
    Features: USB

    will this b enough 2 run windows xp smoothly while using a samsung data cable with it. fanx alot.craig

  2. As stated in the article “it depends” on what you plan to do with it. That is a fairly slow, small machine, so don’t expect it to do too much.

  3. I have a Pentium II 400 MHz with 192 M of storage , and it’s really slow. I Had a W98 and moved to XP .
    To start it takes more than 5 minutes .

    I use Office and Internet , but not simultaneosly .

    I’m thinking on returning to W98
    What do you think .??

  4. The answer is “YES” Fernando 98 runs far far better than xp with less ram and pentium 2 processor ..xp needs a minimum 512mb of ram (according to me) to run very smoothly.Whatever u do “DONT” go for windows ME cos its a crap.

  5. I am running XpHome edition on a
    Intel Pentium 2
    267MHz, 224 MB of RAM

    And it runs smooth as silk for basic web surfing/chatroom/cam and run Frontpage 2000 on it.

    Have an anti virus, firewall even on it.

    It’s pushing it, but it can be done with basic surfing, runs fine on cable modem. Dial-up may be an entire different story.

  6. No. That’s barely enough to run Windowx XP (I recommend 256meg ram MINIMUM, preferrably at least 512meg). Processor’s a tad on the slow side also.

  7. I have an ‘intel inside pentium II processor’ with 398MHz and 384MB of RAM. And I am running on Windows XP.

    My mouse jumps and ANY software being used to play audio media jumps when ever I open up simple applications such as

    FIREFOX (or any internet web browser)

    anything really.
    whenever I click on a link on the internet or a song to play or to open/close something I have this problem.

    My question is:

    Would EVERYTHING run smoothly if I added an extra 128MB of RAM (to make 512)?

    Or would I need to get a more modern:


    In order to make everything run more smoothly?

  8. Well a new motherboard would be rather expensive, especially if you’re using a laptop.

    Obviously the more RAM the better, I recently upgraded my laptop RAM from 256MB shared (with the graphics card)to 712mb??? anyway I definatly added 512mb to it, I found the improvement brilliant.

    However other factors could include, how old the computer is, if this is a old computer getting some new RAM could be an expensive option. If this is the case a new computer would be just as cheap.

    How good the processor is, if the processor is poor, which it certainly appears not to be, then getting a new motherboard is logical solution, but, again this can be VERY costly.

    Something i would suggest is to try un-installing the media and then re-installing it, this, I think is the most logical solution, and the cheapest to first try, once you’ve done this try other i deas in the following order:

    1)Using task manager, under the processor tab, try cancelling the most memory consuming programs. (BE CAREFUL!!!)

    2) Try using a program called Free RAM pro, this is a gd bit of software that can utilise memory usage and optimise the current programs, this can be effective all the time and can solve alot of probllems and crashes (I use this alot)

    3) If this doesn’t work try buying some more RAM, this can be expensive or cheap. install this and, hopefully, everthing should run smoothly.

    4) Get a hammer!!! (just jokin’) perhaps consider getting a new computer.

    Something I would like to point out is if you choose to get a new computer, windows VISTA is being relaesed soon, getting this could be leave you far more technologically upto date. Although, as with all new Microsoft OS’s security will be poor, but this will surely become less of a problem as time goes on.

    Hope you have good luck.

    I really would suggest getting Free RAM pro, even if you’re not having probs with your computer, an essential tool for any computer!!!

  9. Hi,
    I would like to install Windows XP my system configuration is NS Geode GX1 300Mhz, 128MB SD RAM with 4GB CF Disk. While installation Iam getting a message “Your system is low on Virtual Memory. To ensure that windows run properly,increase the size of your virtual memory paging file.” Hence how do I increase this and when since my disk is blank and Iam doing fresh installation. Pls advise me.
    Thanking you,
    With Best Regards

  10. I have a Dell Celeron 400+ with 512mb of memory and a 50 gig hard drive. Will i be able to run xp . And if i will be able to will it run smoothly and what would it the performance be like? Will i be able to play sims or run office on it?

    Hash: SHA1

    Sounds reasonable for a basic XP box. As for the Sims, that depends more on
    your video card.

    Version: GnuPG v1.4.6 (MingW32)


  12. If I had more than sufficient ram, say 1G or even 2G, how much RAM should Windows XP Pro, Service Pack 2 use?
    My concern is that there is still room to fine tune the many settings allowed by Windows to run more efficiently. I have installed CacheManXP, turned off virtual memory, and minimized my auto-starting programs, and it still says my system is using about 575MB after booting up. My laptop runs about the same at about 530MB.
    This seem very high. If you have any suggestions on optimizing windows, specifically the speed at which programs load and switch between each other, that would be much appreciated.
    I believe I have exhausted the usual suspects (Disk Clean, Defrag, Registry Cleaner, Boot optimization, Cache management, Deleting unused fonts, Not requiring file explorer to confirm network drives, turning off many Windows Event monitors, disabling hibernate, No desktop image, etc.) but my systems, both are purchased within the last year, still feels very sluggish.

  13. I’m not too cpu smart so this is why i’m asking ….i have an older compaq presario(about 4 yo.) and whenever i surf from page to page my cpu slows down and even freeze up and i would like to know how can i prevent this and/or do i need more memory…please help!

  14. Quick question: I have 6gb or ram in my computer but the IT person at the store where I purchased said that when I go to properties in “my computer” it is normal to see that it states that I have far less than what I physically have in my computer. He also said it had to do with windows XP and it being a 32-bit system. He said even though it states 2.81gb or RAM, your computer is using all 6 gigabytes.

  15. i have a notebook pcg-8411 w win98, should i upgrade the ram and install XP, i just need it for online surf and play Mp3s, ???

  16. I have an HP Pavilion04 , I can’t even find it on any lists. It has 128 MB memory, and only6.42 mb left, I can’t defrag anymore(needs 15 mb to defrag). I’m thinking of adding more memory, but not sure if it will work? How much should I add? I use a lot and want to keep stuff I have on here.I can’t delete any more programs, with out deleting photos of things I want to keep. I can’t add Adobe(had to remove it cuz it was taken up tioo much room)Put Spybot on cuz I thought maybe I had virus or something but not much comes up – only pups from Funweb. It’s running very very slow,what do you suggest?? I can’t do much of anything any more, just e-mail mostly.. help!!

    You appear to be confusing memory (RAM) and disk space. Memory is not defragged, disk space is. It’s unclear now exactly what you have.

    – Leo
  17. hi guys i guess ibm pentium 4 would be fine if you wanna buy a good desktop this is one of the best brand iam great fan of ibm.

  18. My system looks like this: Dell desktop w/ 1.7 ghz proc., 1.5 TB storage, and 768 MB Ram. Has room for 256 MB more RAM – how much difference do you think that would make? I don’t run games but do play music and video files. I’m thinking $30 is cheap to try but would like your opinion. Thx!

  19. just want to share, I used to have a 300 MHz machine running window xp pro, forgot how much memory it has, I only use it to download bt movies and it works fine and never give me any blue screen.


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