How Much RAM Do I Need for Programming?

macro shot of a computer RAM

When choosing a computer as a programmer it’s important that the specs align with the type of programming you are doing. The RAM is an important spec to consider because it affects how efficient your computer will be at running multiple programs. The question is then, how much RAM do most people need when they are using their computers for programming? 

In most cases, 4 GB of RAM should already be enough because programming is mostly about editing text files. But when you are multitasking with multiple programs open or using virtual machines, that is when you may want at least 8 GB of RAM for programming.

Each programmer may have a different objective with their computer. There are some who are content with the fact that they have entry or mid-level computers with moderate RAM but there are those who might need computers with a higher RAM. This is why you need to assess your needs first when you are looking for a computer you can use for programming.

How much RAM do programmers need?

In most cases, 4 GB should already be more than enough for a programmer who is simply starting out with his life as a programmer. That’s because basic programming only involves using text editors that don’t really require a powerful computer with the highest specs and the highest amount of RAM you can find on the market.

But, as you grow as a programmer and you begin to handle tasks that are more complicated, you will begin to understand that 4 GB probably won’t be enough for you. Now, this can be in a matter of a few years or even just a few months depending on how you progress as a programmer. Still, the fact of the matter is that you will probably outgrow 4 GB of RAM.

Therefore, the safest bet for you if you are still starting out is to get a computer with about 8 GB RAM. The good news here is that most laptops already come with 8 GB RAM especially if you have a budget for a mid-level laptop. And if you prefer desktops, you should try starting out with a laptop with 8 GB of RAM because of how you will quickly realize that 4 GB won’t be enough when you are handling different tasks on your computer.

Of course, another piece of good news is that most laptops and desktops come with motherboards with at least one extra slot for a new RAM card. And RAMs aren’t exactly the most expensive computer components.

So, if you do decide to go with a computer with 8 GB of RAM, the price difference between it and another laptop with 4 GB RAM won’t be a lot especially if all of the other specs are the same. That’s why you might want to go with the one with more RAM.

Then again, you can still start out with 4 GB instead of 8 GB if you simply don’t have the budget. Just make sure that you are getting a computer that allows you to expand its memory so that you can always upgrade to a higher RAM later on when your means permit you to do so.

Does programming require powerful computers with high amounts of RAM?

Having a good laptop with high RAM or random access memory doesn’t always mean that this computer is a powerful one considering that memory is not the only basis of what makes a computer powerful. But, is there really a need for you to have a high amount of RAM when you are using a laptop or any other computer for programming?

Similar to how you don’t need a powerful computer for programming, you also don’t need a lot of RAM when you are programming. That’s because, again, simple programming only involves editing text files which aren’t exactly more demanding than word or spreadsheet processing, which only requires a modest amount of RAM from your computer.

As such, if you are simply starting out as a programmer on a budget, there is no need for you to find a laptop or a desktop that has a high amount of RAM precisely because of how you wouldn’t need plenty of RAM at the start.

Shopping for a computer and looking at the specs that you need for your computer isn’t as easy as it might sound. Especially if you are someone who is actually on a budget. This is quite important when it comes to laptops, which come pre-built with their own specs and are also more expensive than your usual desktop computer.

If you are starting out as a programmer, one of the things you might be thinking of is getting a good laptop that you might want to use on the go when you are programming. After all, some programmers want to work remotely or on the go, and a laptop can solve that problem.

For those who are not too familiar with programming, you might think that programmers use high-tech computers with some of the best specs that you can find on the market. This might be something that television shows or movies feed us because we often see programmers, hackers, or tech-savvy people using powerful computers. And we might also have friends that have powerful computers that have the best specs.

While there might be some truth to the notion that programmers do have good laptops or desktops, whichever of the two applies, does it really mean that you need an incredibly powerful computer? Not entirely because programming only makes use of editing text files.

Is it important for you to multitask when programming?

So, while we did say that you don’t need a lot of RAM in your computer if you are starting out as a programmer, this might not be the case for those who like multitasking.

In your career as a programmer, you may encounter projects where you need a computer that can handle multitasking between programs. In this case, programming no longer only involves simple editing of text files but also involves managing multiple programs.

In this case that you might want to have more RAM in your computer. Remember that the purpose of the RAM is to act as temporary storage for programs that are open. That’s because, when you open an application, it has to take up space in the computer’s RAM for it to work.

So, when you are now opening plenty of different files, apps, programs, or even virtual machines while you are programming, there is now a need for you to have a more powerful computer that’s capable of handling all of these multiple tasks. As such, a higher amount of RAM is needed.

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