The Memory Buyer's Guide: What's the Best RAM for My System?

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Vidalakis

My computer's memory is 4GB, in general, but also enough speed.Usually just browse the web, and did not play the game.
http://www.pelletmachines.net/

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karenxiao

I am very enjoyed for this side. Its a nice topic. It help me very much to solve some problems. Its opportunity are so fantastic and working style so speedy. I think it may be help all of you. Thanks
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Trickworn

I was so excited when i have bought my personal pc's Ram . as much as i follow the instructions my pc is running As good as it could be .

 

 

ddr ram

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jackhope123

This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work

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kasmancahgadon

incredible information ...
I'll keep your site in my browser
I seem to be a frequent visitor to read other helpful information

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AKShockwave

Very informative, guide, I'd like to see more.  A guide on all the computer parts would be nice.  Especially motherboards, I know about most components of a computer with the exception of the motherboard, which I know very little about what's good and what's not.

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bautrey

YAHA!!!  I found the answer to the question ppl have been talking about here.  

According to CPU magazine Vol. 11 Iss.09 pg. 64, "... Sandy Bridge are designed to run at 1.5V rather than the 1.65V maximum voltage found on previous generation P55 and H55 Intel chipsets.  As such, you'll see phrases like "ready for Sandy Bridge" or "copatible with P67 and H67 chipsets" when shopping for new memory.  If the memory voltage is pushed too high, the memory controller built into Sandy Bridge processors could overheat, which could damage or kill your processor."

So what this means is that memory that is designed to run for Intel CPU's just says that it runs at 1.5V to be "compatible".  This means that they will work on other platforms also.

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vectorizer

I built with 6Gb on LGA1366 (triple channel) and Win7 x64. Even with 2 VMWare sessions running live OSes plus significant apps in the base OS (the most memory-intensive thing I do), the total memory used is 60% or less.

There is a lot of conflicting advice about turning off the pagefile, but decided to do it when I saw big IO reported on the pagefile while encoding video. Running without a pagefile for about 6 months with no ill effects. So, I haven't seen any advantage in having more than 4GB. It seems like the overall performance advantage to adding memory is steep at first 1-2Gb, then levels off at 4Gb. It looks like more than 6 or 8Gb (depending on channelness) is a complete waste of money. Anyone seen counter-examples?

 

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streetking

i read a comment (think it was on here) from some guy saying he had oblivion going with full draw distance and a few other settings maxed and a couple mods and he was using up 8 or 12 gigs of ram...

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QuadraQ

This statement is inaccurate: "That’s because achieving 6GB of RAM, for example, requires an odd combination of DIMMs (memory sticks). In this example, you would need three 2GB DIMMs, meaning you would not be able to run them in a Dual Channel Configuration."

My HP Pavilion that I'm replacing with my own custom built PC came with 3GB of RAM by using two 1 GB sticks and two 512MB sticks for a total of 3GB while still maintaining the Dual Channel configuration. The same can be achieved for 6GB by using two 2GB sticks with two 1GB sticks. As long as the two sticks of RAM are identical for each set of RAM slots, they can run in Dual Channel mode. Not all 4 (or 6) slots have to be identical.

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Alcasan

I also always thought that disabling the pagefile would "force" windows to use ram exclusively, if you had alot. But then I read an article by a guy--who seems to know what he's talking about--that says this really doesn't improve anything cause of the way that Windows actually uses the pagefile. He does recommend putting the pagefile on a physical disk drive different than that of the OS, if using the old mechanical drives. I read this from an article about XP, so I don't know if maybe Vista/7 treat the pagefile differently now. (He does have articles about 7, but I can't remember if he said the same thing there too. His website is tweakguides.com, and the relevant paragraph is in the (rather long) tweakguides tweaking companion. He now writes optimization guides for nvidia at geforce.com/Optimize. Interested in your thoughts on this...

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psi

Article mentions disabling the page file with loads of RAM.

I don't know about Windows 7, but I remember that was considered a bad idea on earlier NT-based Windows versions (even if the total new RAM was same as total RAM/swap of previous configuration. Is that still true?

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QuantumRand

There are a few (mostly legacy) applications that require pagefile space. Those apps wouldn't run properly with the pagefile disabled, but it's rare that you'll run into them.

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Madman777

Nice!!

I just recently installed another 4GB of RAM into my system.

I now have 16GB of Corsair Vengeance 1600Mhz.  9-9-9-24.  Can render video, fly simulations, and record fraps with other simulations all at the same time.

I love PC's!!!!!!!

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PCLinuxguy

with prices these days it is just easier when building or buying a boutique machine (like from cyberpower) it's just easier to start with 8GB minimum and if you can just max out the board with ram, atleast then it'll somewhat future proof your machine in that regard, and since ddr3 seems to be sticking around for a while it'll migrate to your next system. Not to mention gaming might see some improvements over an older system that had 2 or 4 GB of ram.

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bpstone

16GB 1600MHz 9-9-9-24 DDR3 RAM lol ";^P

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Madman777

+1

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Cy-Kill

 

"That’s because achieving 6GB of RAM, for example, requires an odd combination of DIMMs (memory sticks). In this example, you would need three 2GB DIMMs, meaning you would not be able to run them in a Dual Channel Configuration."

Are you new to computers if so, please do some research, because I've got 6GB of RAM running in triple channel, and if I upgraded to 12GB it would be the same, but now that 12GB kits of RAM are so cheap I plan on buying two of them as my mobo can handle 24GB of RAM in triple channel. 

 

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tony487

There is one exception – triple channel memory. In the case of the LGA1366 Core i7, memory can be configured into a triple channel bus using three identical DIMMs, meaning 6 and 12GB are much more practical.

 

So, in DUAL channel, he is not entirel wrong... but he mentions the triple channel option.  Also, there was mentioned that dual channel boards with 4 slots you could do 2-2GB and 2-1GB to get to 6, for example

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aaz110

I think Cy-Kill has to do some research on reading comprehension. 

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Brad Nimbus

Did you not read the rest of the article? How can you even attempt to pretend to be smarter than people who do this for a living? Next time before being an asshole finish reading the article.

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TerribleToaster

 

What the hell are you talking about? I seriously don't understand what you are trying to get at.

They are saying that having 3GB, 6GB, 12GB, require an odd number of sticks (as in, not an even number). Which is true. If you are only talking about 3GB, 6GB, and 12GB, you are using 3 sticks of memory (1GB ,2GB, or 4GB each; respectively). This means you cannot be running them in a Dual Channel Configuration because 3 is not a multiple of 2, even in Bizarro World.

 You pointing out that you are running 12GB in Triple Channel means nothing because they are talking about Dual Channel, which is (and I know this may be surprising) not the same thing as Triple Channel.

In fact, they mentioned Triple Channel right after that:

"There is one exception – triple channel memory. In the case of the LGA1366 Core i7, memory can be configured into a triple channel bus using three identical DIMMs, meaning 6 and 12GB are much more practical." 

24GB or 48GB don't matter because they can be made up to run in both Dual and Triple Channel Configuration since you are use 6 or 12 sticks of RAM (6 is a multiple of both 3 and 2). 

 

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praetor_alpha

If you can burn some cash maxing out (or half maxing out) the RAM on your mobo, go for it! The machine I built over 3 years ago has 8gb. The Sandy Bridge I built in January (before it got recalled) has 16gb. Sure wish most games would hurry up and be 64 bit, if only so levels can be preloaded into RAM before you get to them. But since everything's so ported nowadays, I don't see it happening for some time. Even Starcraft 2 runs 32 bit on my system.

In the mean time, I just program stuff in virtual machines.

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lurker

I got 16GB of DDR3 Corsair Vengeance because it's cheap... $99. Why bother going lower, I think DDR3 represents great value for money at the moment.

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Holly Golightly

Wow, this is perfect timing! I am in the process of building my current configuration. My motherboard only does Dual Channel DDR3... What is the recommended latency for gaming? I simply want to target the sweet spots like 4GB at 1600. Of course, I am aware I can overclock it making it future-proof. I am thinking of getting 16GB of RAM though... As I am tipping my current 4GB RAM at 65% with only basic programs running. I can see 4GB of RAM getting outdated rather quickly. I think the next sweet spot is either 8 or 16 for sure. I am a bit nervous on the voltages... I think I will stick to the basics with voltages.

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QuantumRand

8gigs will be plently (if you're using Vista or 7, that 65% is likely just SuperFetch pre-loading things). That money you'd spend on 16gigs will see better performance increases if you spend it elsewhere, like a better video card or monitor for example. When the day comes that you'll actually need 16gigs, you'll likely have already replaced your entire system (or the additional 8gigs will be a lot cheaper).

 

I agree with Hexen. Go with the RipJaws. I never used to like G.Skill, but their consistant quality and performance has won me over. Corsair makes great RAM as well, but G.Skill typically holds the better price point. Personally, I don't care for Patriot.

 

You don't necessarily need to limit yourself to 1600MHz either, especially if you're going to be overclocking. With typical 1600MHz DIMMs at stock voltages, you won't get much more than a couple hundred MHz increase before you start seeing instability. Going with a higher rated speed will give you more room for overclocking. (I'm assuming your motherboard tops out at 1600MHz)

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Holly Golightly

Okay, well maybe you can help me out in regards to the right speed. My motherboard says it supports many different speeds. "4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 1866/1800/1600/1333/1066 Hz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory. Dual Channel Memory Architecture." So I could not get 1800 and overclock it to say 2000... Unless there are no limits to what my motherboard can over clock with. This, to me is one of the hardest parts of building a system, to get the specs of RAM right. This will be my first buld. I just have not gotten my CPU, VGA, or RAM yet. Just PSU, MoBo, and case. Any help to clear the confusion is super.

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QuantumRand

It really depends on your motherboard. My last major overclocking rig I had ran a Core 2 Duo on a GA-965P-DS3 with some OCZ Platinum DDR2-800 RAM. That motherboard was limited to 800MHz with the RAM, but all that means is that the RAM multiplier goes up to 1.5 (FSB of 266MHz * 1.5 * Double Data Rate = 800MHz). When overclocking my FSB to 450MHz my RAM would have been running at 1350MHz. Since it was only DDR2-800, it was tough to get it past 950MHz (I managed to get it stable at 1125MHz by running it at 2.4V - Don't run your DDR3 at 2.4V).

 

Even though the motherboard didn't specifically support the higher RAM speeds, using DDR2-1066 would have probably let me keep the 1.5 multiplier and run it at the full 1350MHz.

 

Now some more modern motherboards allow for more dynamic RAM speed control, doing away with the whole multiplier business. You should check out forums regarding your specific mobo model to see how it treats RAM, and what kind of overclocking tollerences it has.

 

But really, unless you're planning on getting pretty serious into the overclocking scene, you probably don't need to worry about getting RAM faster than your motherboard officially supports. If I were building an AMD computer right now, I'd probably go with the G.Skill PI 1600 RAM (F3-12800CL6Q-8GBPI). Assuming you're building a gaming rig, that CL6 will be nice. Now, it's a little pricier than the RipJaw X, but those only achieve their tight timings through Intel's XMP (eXtreme Memory Profile) technology, which won't benefit you on an AMD platform.

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h e x e n

I you're building a new system, go with 8 gigs of 1600. Right now, it's dirt cheap, cheaper than DDR2 bundles. CAS latency should be at a stock 9 or 8 for DDR3. I recommend the Gskill Ripjaws X series because they come with a CAS of 8 already. Very solid memory that performs insanely well.

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Holly Golightly

I have been debating on which to choose. I am considering between 3 actually. Patriot Viper, Gskill Ripjaws, and Corsair Venegence. So you would recommend the Ripjaws over the viper and vengence for sure? Thanks so much for the help :)

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h e x e n

You're welcome.

You're looking at all three of the heavy hitters. Those are the top three brands and models, and, the ones I would recommend.

Im a real fan of Patriot memory as well. I have a friend running an 8gb Viper 1600 kit and he loves them. Patriot also comes with a stock CAS of 8. I'd still recommend the Gskill over all, but the Kingston Viper line is also awesome memory.

Gskill also makes a set that has a CAS of 7. Both are on newegg and say "Designed for Intel P67 motherboard". Trust me, they work just as good in an AMD board.

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Holly Golightly

Is there really a noticable difference between CAS of 7 and CAS of 8 when using all 4 channels? I have seen waaay too many companies saying "works best on intel" too, which is total B.S., and the RAM makers are just selling out. Intel and Nvidia have that thing going with almost every product maker out there. Thanks for the recommendation. As for my question, if there is a big difference... Can you say the difference is even greater when paired with CAS of 6 RAM? Gosh, soo many different versions is driving me insane. Thanks again for the help.

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h e x e n

I doubt it will be anything you'll notice unless you set up two systems side by side, but the general rule of thumb when it comes to RAM, is that the tighter (or lower) the timings, the quicker your system should run. While not entirely technically accurate, a basic explanation is that you are decreasing the number of columns (CAS = column access/address strobe) and rows (RAS = row access/address strobe) so that the memory takes less cycles to access the data stored in them. The lower the number, the less cycles the memory has to perform to fetch the data.

Games rely heavily on these numbers, so the tighter you can get the timings while remaining stable, the quicker your games will load and the faster your CPU can communicate with the RAM. It might not be anything major, but it can tack on some extra FPS and lower load times when launching programs or playing games.

I'd stick with 1600 speeds when it comes to DDR3. It's one of the most common and you're less likely to run into trouble than say, buying a higher speed with the intent to overclock.

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QuantumRand

I've found that the biggest benefit to tight timings in games comes when doing things like quick turns and jerk/reaction shots. Especially in modern games with features like tesselation, you can experience a small lag with higher latency RAM when doing a 180 degree turn or darting around a corner.

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war59312

I recommend 6 GB for i7 triple channel mother boards.

Sweet spot for most of my costumers. 12 GB just cost too much today for very little improvement beyond 6 GB.

Only supper high end users need more than 6 GB in my experience. Never gamers!

Supper high end users being users who do a lot of HD video editing and users that use virtual machines a lot.

 

 

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markstrelecki

As I will be moving to a VM-based architecture soon, I maxed out the RAM on this old MSI X58 mobo to 24GB.

I bought online and got a great deal. I like to check Pricewatch when shopping for electronic stuff.

I don't agree that 4GB is a sweetspot, though increased benefits DO come more sparingly after that point.

My mobo started life at 6GB and is now honking four times that. There is little additional speed noticed because of that.

I recently added a 60GB SSD from MicroCenter that features a Sandforce controller, and THAT really speeded things up!

And while I really like the stuff MaximumPC covers, and have been a subscriber since the boot days, I CONTINUE to be amazed at the sheer volume of proofreading errors that make it to the website.

You guys could do a LOT WORSE than hiring me to make that work for you....

 

MARK STRELECKI

Atlanta, GA.

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joeking

Nice article.  I did not know graphics card memory was included in the 4GB limitation on a 32-bit OS.  This information kinda fits into some questions I wanted to ask.

Let's say you have a motherboard that supports a maximum 4GB of DDR2 memory, and also supports dual-channel configurations.  You install 2x 2GB DDR2 DIMMS, in dual-channel configuration.  Your video card has 1GB of memory.  You're running a 32-bit OS, Windows XP Pro for example.  You boot up, Windows shows 3GB of physical memory available (correct?).  Now, is 1.5 GB available from one DIMM, and another 1.5 GB available from the other DIMM?  Or is 2GB availble from one DIMM, and only 1GB available from the other DIMM (1GB remains dormant)?  Also, will dual-channel mode still work in this situation?

And since graphics card memory is included in this limitation, how come it does not show up as physical memory in task manager?  If I have 2GB of memory installed, and a 1GB video card, shouldn't it say I have 3GB of physical memory?

Also, I'm curious.  I've read many times that if you install 4GB of memory on a Windows XP 32-bit system, it will actually show 3.5 GB of physical memory available.  Why is this?  Does this happen on 32-bit Vista/Win7?

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markstrelecki

You may be surprised if you do a search for RAM supported by all Microsoft Windows server operating systems.

You will find several 32-bit versions that do indeed support more than 4GB RAM.

 

MARK STRELECKI

Atlanta, GA.

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praetor_alpha

The 4gb memory limitation (and its effects) affects all 32 bit OSes running on x86, not just Windows. The upper 1-2gb that gets 'eaten' is a comprimise from way back in the day when x86 was designed. Instead of all devices living in a completely separate space for I/O addressing, they decided to simplify the architecture by putting most with the memory address space.

Here's a blog post from forever ago (6 years) that may clarify:

http://www.interact-sw.co.uk/iangblog/2005/08/05/is3gbenough

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maleficarus™

Good article! But I would like to add anything over 4GB is really usless. By the way, who in the right mind would have 116 tabs open at the same time? I mean seriously that is just stupid...

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QuantumRand

I do this often when researching for an article. There are many times when I'm actually working on several articles at a time with several browser windows open for each article, each window with numerous tabs. Yes, I could bookmark these pages and continually re-open them, but then I'd have hundreds of bookmarks to sort through and delete after every article. Nonetheless, 4gigs of memory has still been plenty for it. I can even fire up a game or two while taking a break without bothering to close the browsers.

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bautrey

I do!!!  such as when I'm downloading pictures off of 4chan.  I completely fill up two browsers of tabs (so many tabs that the plus button and x button dissapears) until my 4GB of RAM is at 97%.  Then chrome crashes...

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dakishimesan

hi,

     The hard drive is the biggest bottleneck in the memory subsystem, no matter how fast it is.  But having a page file (virtual memory) on an SSD is much, much faster than on a platter SD.  So, depending on your use patterns, it's better to have 4GB RAM and an SSD if you can, rather than 8-16GB RAM and a platter HD. 

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Supall

Would you want a pagefile on an SSD though?  Wouldn't that decrease the lifespan of the SSD even further?

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war59312

Meha Not at all.

See: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/e7/archive/2009/05/05/support-and-q-a-for-solid-state-drives-and.aspx

Should the pagefile be placed on SSDs?

Yes. Most pagefile operations are small random reads or larger sequential writes, both of which are types of operations that SSDs handle well.

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QuantumRand

SSD's are still pretty new. The biggest concern is primarily that each bit within it can only be re-written so many times before the node dies. Now, this is generally billions of re-writes, so under normal hard drive use, it wouldn't be much of an issue. But pagefiles do a LOT of re-writes.

 

If I recall correctly, Vista and Win7 use an SSD aware pagefile system which tries to avoid re-writing the same node over and over, but I seem to remember that XP lacks this feature.

 

Personally, I think the biggest reason to turn off the pagefile when using an SSD is to save space. large SSD's are still VERY expensive, so practical spenders usually go for the 64GB to 128GB drives. When space is so limited, doing away with the pagefile can be useful.

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TerribleToaster

 

I already posted something on this before, but the limited write cycles of SSD's are basically non issue. If you had a minimum standard MLC SSD Drive you'll get ~10000 writes for every node. That means that (assuming you are using a 64 GB drive) you can rewrite 640 TB's of data to the drive before it hits its rewrite limit (Of course, odds are that some nods will be used faster and die out before others but SSD use wear leveling, basically a cycling of which nodes are written to, to ensure that you are very close to this limit). So, assuming you used a 64GB SSD for solely your pagefile and that for some reason 128GB of data was rewritten daily (the whole drive twice over), it would take 10,000 days or 13.75 years for the drive to reach its limit. Even if you assume that the wear leveling can only get you to 80% of that, it would take 11 years for the drive to become read only. Assuming you have a top quality SLC 64GB SSD drive (~100000 rewrites per a node) your drive under the same stress would last 137.5 years (or taking the 80%, 110 years). Also, assuming the same stress on the minimum standard MLC SSD but with a larger capacity of 128 GB, the drive will last twice as long 27.5 years (22 years @ 80%) since the drives life cycle depends on the size of the drive.

Only those with the most high stress rewriting options (10+ whole drive rewrites per a day) will notice the limitation in the number of rewrites.

 

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chronium

or get 8GB of ram and a SSD it's not like ram is expensive especially with the forecast that the prices are going to crash.

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Hamburger

Excellent article! Thank you very much! Helps out a lot to understand the latency and voltage information.

 

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Guisano

The amount of RAM needed in your system can be determined by the equation X=2N, where N is your current amount of RAM. 

 

Itterate as necessary

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