Turn of the Century Power User

Here’s the twitter version of this article:

When buying a new computer, if you are not a “power user”, buy a minimum of 4 GB of RAM. You can add RAM later, if necessary. Seriously! BR

While pondering how I would begin this article, I searched the term, “power user” and found little help with understanding this expression. Then, I searched “power user definition” and got a lot more help. Go ahead, try it. The title of this article came from my thinking about the term “power user” and whether or not that expression was used early in the twentieth century, when power distribution was relatively new.

I was trying to determine whether or not I am a power user. Short answer is, no, I don’t think so. Backing up another step, I should tell you what I was really thinking is that although I recommend 4 GB of RAM as a bare minimum for new Windows 7 systems, here I am working on a system that I upgraded to 2 GB of RAM, then upgraded to Windows 7 and I am willing to suffer the pain of the inevitable message: “System Memory is Low.” Based on that evidence and one definition of power user, I am not a power user. So, here we go.

If you are going to buy a computer today, 4 GB of RAM will likely be enough memory to allow you to run several applications simultaneously, without Windows complaining about running out of memory. It is interesting to note that many Windows XP systems with 512 MB of RAM (often times this RAM is shared by on-board video display adapters) are overdue for replacement. These computers were probably once pretty zippy, with speed and power to spare. Consider Microsoft’s approach to releasing software that is not fully baked and missing a few ingredients, and you’ll quickly see that with every “Windows Update” released, the RAM required by Windows’ OS grows. That leaves less RAM available for the applications that are opened after Windows is up and running. In other words, Windows XP might have been happy with 256 MB of RAM, before all those updates and SP3, but now almost all of that 512 MB is used just to run the system. You could spend a couple  hundred bucks to upgrade the RAM, or put that money to better use, applying it to your new PC purchase.

Given that I am running low on RAM with 2 GB and only a few apps running, it makes sense to plan for the future (and by that I mean the growth of Windows 7 on your computer via updates) and get at least 4 GB at the outset.
You may want to add RAM in a couple of years, but it will likely be cheaper to
upgrade later, just search; “price of ram over time” to see what I mean.

We’ll not go into processor speed just yet. We can, however, celebrate the end of the Celeron era. To that end, I’ll say; if it says “Celeron” on the front of your computer, plan to hand it to a responsible recycler for scrap. Even someone who has no computer may be better off than someone with a slow processor!

Buy as much speed and power as you can afford with your next computer purchase. But do insist on at least 4 GB of RAM with whatever you buy.
That’s all for now.  Five hundred seventy-eight words later, maybe you should have been happy with the Twitter version!