How Much RAM Does a Chromebook Really Need?

Google PixelbookCameron Summerson

Chrome is known for its RAM memory, but most Chromebooks only have 4 GB of RAM. Chrome OS manages RAM memory differently than Windows or Mac computers, so it can do more with less.

Chromebooks do not need more RAM

First of all, the fact that Chrome is a gluttonous RAM on your Windows computer or Mac does not mean that this is a problem with Chrome. Chrome OS is very different from a traditional computer, just like its RAM management.

Without being too complicated (which is easy to do with a topic like this), let's take a closer look at how Chrome OS handles RAM. Based on Linux and using the Linux kernel, it manages RAM in a very similar way. Google has slightly modified the process to better meet the needs of Chrome OS, but the general idea is the same.

zRAM keeps things in place

Chrome OS uses something called "zRAM" to keep things brighter than a Windows machine or Mac with less RAM. This compressed virtual memory makes it possible to make the most of reduced RAM memory by creating a compressed block in the RAM memory and using it in place of the virtual memory, which is usually stored on the hard disk ( and therefore more slowly).

The data is then transferred to and from this compressed space until saturation, until the swap space (virtual RAM on the hard disk) is used. The result is a much faster and more efficient use of RAM. As compression performs on the fly in zRAM and the RAM is usually faster than the exchange, Chrome OS can do a lot more with less.

The state "double walled" low memory keeps things in order

Google also maximizes Chrome OS RAM by using a state called "dual memory." The key is that a "soft wall" is defined in the RAM, where once reached, the operating system begins to purge the older activities. It starts with tabs that are open but not yet viewed, then move to the background tabs that you did not click / tap / scroll to, then to the background tabs, and finally to the Foreground tab . In other words, he is always trying to shut down the processes that users are not interested in first, before becoming more and more aggressive.

The second wall of this "double wall" system is the "hard wall". This is when the system runs out of RAM and the kernel's low memory killer (OOM) is triggered. When this happens, Chrome usually hangs. The good news is that this does not happen infrequently: once the soft wall is touched, bleeding the background elements usually prevents the hard wall from being touched. If this happens, this is usually due to another type of error, such as a fast memory leak.

Of course, this does not mean that there is no "too little RAM" on a Chromebook, it's absolutely the case. It all depends on how you use your book.

How much RAM do you need?

Chrome OS Task Manager

Some Chromebooks only have 2GB of RAM, while others have 16GB. The standard on most systems has been 4 GB for the longest period, but we're also starting to see a slight increase in 8GB books. However, to get what's right for you, you need to consider how you plan to use your Chromebook.

For example, if you use an extra machine (something you use at the same time as your "main" computers), you may not need a basic system. If there is a coffee machine that you plan to use for light navigation, email, social networking, etc., opt for the 4GB model. C & C Is probably cheaper than something with beefier specifications anyway.

However, if you plan to use a Chromebook as the main machine for work, school, hobbies, etc., you will probably want more RAM. While 8GB is generally more than enough for almost all users, most users may want to turn to 16GB systems, which are still rare (but they exist!)

It's also useful to think about the life of your Chromebook. As more and more features are deployed in Chrome OS, such as Linux applications and virtual desktops, your applications may become heavier. As Chrome OS continues to grow and mature, you may find yourself able to start using it to lift heavier objects. If this happens, you will need more RAM!

Finally, a little anecdotal evidence. I have a Google Pixelbook with 8GB of RAM and a Core i5 processor. During the examination of the IOGEAR USB-C docking station I used my Pixelbook coupled to two external displays for a full work week. All I usually do on my Windows desktop, from photo editing to looking, I did it on my Chromebook with a multi-screen setup. This means that at any time, there were usually more than 30 tabs in multiple windows, as well as at least six or seven applications run for different tasks. Most of the time, everything went smoothly, but at the end of each working day, I could tell that it was getting a little slow and that I had to close some things that probably lasted more than 10 hours.

In other words, I thought that in rare cases, I really wanted this Chromebook has 16 GB of RAM. Nevertheless, I thought so, at least once or twice. ?

In the end, it's up to you to decide how you will use your Chromebook and how much RAM is best for you. Nowadays, the most affordable Chromebooks have 4 GB of RAM. So you can save money if you think it will work for you. However, if you need more money, you will have to pay the money to get it. Chromebooks of 8GB (and more), although they are more and more widespread, are still a bit rare, and you will have to buy cash for luxury.

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