It’s been more than a year since Microsoft released windows 11. The release came with a big jump in the minimum system requirements. But are the minimum system specifications really enough? Is 4GB RAM sufficient? Will you have a good time working on it? Let’s take a look at how it all works out.
The Minimum Requirements for Windows 11
With the launch of Windows 11, we saw a big jump in the system requirements. We have listed the minimum system requirements below:
- 2 Core, 1 GHz CPU
- 4 GB RAM
- 64 GB or higher storage
- TPM 2.0
Scratching Beneath the Surface
Let us start by understanding what RAM does. RAM is the primary memory of the system. It stores data written by the apps while they are running. They are also volatile. Meaning, as soon as the power is turned off, the data stored in the RAM is gone. And as soon as the power is turned on, the RAM springs into action. The operating system uses a huge chunk of this RAM. Especially if you’re using an OS like Windows.
The computer will start up without any problems. However, the problems will start when you try to open up other applications that use RAM. So if you use the bare minimum recommended by the operating system, the RAM will already be jam-packed. Now, opening another application on top of that can be acceptable. But you can kiss goodbye to your chances of multitasking. So is the case for windows 11. If you use 4GB of RAM in the system, Windows will end up using more than 3GB of it. You will be left with less than a GigaByte of RAM which is far from optimal.
“Performance Boost” in Windows 11
According to Microsoft, Windows 11 does a lot of memory management to best favor the app that is running in the foreground. Also, in some Microsoft Forums, people claimed that Windows 11 comes with a “performance boost”. But, as far as we can tell, no amount of performance boosting can solve the problem of insufficient hardware.
Windows 11 VS Windows 10 RAM Consumption
You might be asking yourself, does Windows 11 consume more RAM than Windows 10 then? So far, the answer is yes. Yes, windows 11 consumes more RAM than windows 10. However, we must keep in mind that Windows 11 is still in its early years while Windows 10 has had years of optimization and fine-tuning. So, it can’t be called yet. But the general consensus so far remains that windows 11 takes up more RAM than it’s predecessor.
Is it enough? Or is it not?
If all you want to do is take a look at Windows 11 and not multitask. Yes, 4GB of RAM is enough. But we all know that most of us use laptops for multitasking primarily. So, if you’re a multitasker and like to have multiple tabs open in your browser, an 8GB RAM kit would be a worthy investment before upgrading to Windows 11. And if you are a heavy multitasker like me and have a lot more than just a few browser tabs, you might want to look at 16GB of RAM.
RAM is not the only factor; loading Windows 11 can be slow even with 8 GB of it if the graphics processing unit (GPU) and the hard disk have a low rotational speed. Therefore, in order to achieve the best possible performance, I insist on having a high-end processor with a clock speed of at least 2 GHz and an SSD.
What happens if you use 16GB or 8GB instead of 4GB in Windows 11?
Actually, whether you have 16GB or 8GB of RAM, Windows will try to load everything in RAM rather than swapping it to the hard drive to provide the greatest overall performance.
So, even if you have 32GB, Windows 11, as well as other software and browsers, will load everything in RAM, potentially resulting in excessive RAM utilization. Keep in mind that loading data from an HDD or SSD takes longer than loading data from RAM. As a result, in order to improve performance, Windows will load many things into RAM.
I went scouring the web for answers when I thought about this topic. And without much digging, I found some anecdotal evidence that 4GB is not the best option for windows 11. I’ve listed some below with appropriate links.
- In this Microsoft Forums Discussion. A user, Edi1990 states:
“According to Windows 11 system requirements, my 4 GB ram is enough to upgrade my pc from windows 10 to windows 11. And I did that, I upgraded my pc to windows 11, but since then the performance has not been so good and many software have issues running smoothly.” They have also linked a YouTube Video they made where we can clearly see the memory almost full and struggling to keep up.
- Here is another video showcasing how windows 11 works on different sizes of RAMs all the way from 512MB to 4GB. The uploader shows the performance in each test case using Task Manager and we can see that the machine takes more than 70% of RAM every time. (One thing to be noted here is that the testing is being done on a virtual machine, results may vary from machine to machine.)
How to make Windows 11 useable with 4GB RAM
While we can all agree that it’s not a good idea to use windows 11 in a 4GB system, there are ways to make it useable. Here, we have listed small changes that can help make the experience relatively smoother.
- Clean up the ROM.
- Uninstall Bloatware, use a windows Debloater
- Disable StartUp Programs
- Disable background applications
- Disable Visual Effects
- Upgrade the Hardware. Use an SSD instead of an HDD.
- Make sure that the drivers being used are of the latest generation.
- Make sure that you have the latest windows version running.
We have discussed how to perform most of the above tasks here.
From all this, we can conclude a simple fact. It takes more than 4GB of RAM to run Windows 11. In fact, you’re better off doubling that amount and using 8GB of RAM if you want to have a stable working environment. The chaos that ensues from running it on minimum spec configuration is not worth the stress it creates.