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How much RAM does a Chromebook really need?

  Google Pixelbook
Cameron Summerson

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

Chromebooks do not need much memory

First of all, just because Chrome is a RAM glitch on your Windows computer or Mac That does not mean it's a Chrome issue. Chrome OS is fundamentally different from traditional computers and the way RAM is handled.

Without being too complicated (which is easy to do on an issue like this), let's take a look at how Chrome OS manages RAM. Because it is Linux based and uses the Linux kernel, the memory is treated in a very similar way. Google has adjusted the process a bit to better meet the needs of Chrome OS, but the general idea is the same.

zRAM keeps things on their toes or Mac with less RAM. This compressed virtual memory does a lot to get the most out of lower RAM by creating a compressed block in RAM, instead of using the virtual memory that is generally stored on the hard disk (and thus slower).

Data Next, it will be brought in and out of this compressed space as needed until it is full. Then the swap space (virtual memory on the hard disk) is used. The result is a much faster and more efficient use of RAM. Because compression in zRAM is fast and memory is generally faster than replacement, Chrome OS can do much more with less.

The low-memory "double-wall" record also holds Google the most from RAM in Chrome OS by using a so-called "double-wall" low-memory state. The idea is that there is a "soft wall" in RAM where the operating system, once it is reached, deletes older activity. It starts with tabs that have been opened but have not yet been seen. Then the background tabs will be displayed, which have not yet been clicked / typed / scrolled, then the background tabs and finally the foreground tab. In other words, it systematically attempts to close processes that assume that users are initially uninterested before they become increasingly aggressive.

The second wall of this "double wall system" is the "hard wall" when the system runs out of RAM and the killer of the kernel's OOM (Out of Memory) is triggered. In this case, Chrome usually crashes. The good news is that this rarely happens anymore. Once the soft wall is hit, cleaning background elements will normally help to prevent the hard wall from being hit. When this happens, it is usually due to some other type of error ̵

1; such as a fast memory leak.

Of course, that does not mean that there's no "too little RAM" on a Chromebook – there's absolutely something. It's just about how you use your book.

How much RAM do you need?

 Chrome OS Task Manager

Some Chromebooks have less than 2GB of RAM, while others have up to 16GB of RAM. The default in most systems was 4GB for the longest time, but we also see an uptrend on 8GB books. But to figure out what works best for you, you'll need to take a look at how to use your Chromebook.

For example, if this is an add-on machine that you use in tandem with your "main computers," then you may not need a workhorse of a system. If this is a coffee table machine you want to use for easy browsing, email, social networking and the like, you should definitely opt for the 4GB model. It's probably cheaper than beefier specifications anyway.

However, if you plan to use a Chromebook as the main machine for work, school, games, etc., you'll probably need more RAM. While 8GB is generally more than adequate for almost all users, the heaviest users may even want to look at 16GB systems that are still few (but they are !).

You should also think about how long you want to use your Chromebook. As more and more features – such as Linux apps and virtual desktops – are transferred to Chrome OS, your use may become more and more extensive. As Chrome OS continues to grow and mature, you may be able to use it for heavy lifting. When that time comes, you want more RAM!

Finally, a little anecdote proof. I have a Google Pixelbook with 8GB of RAM and a Core i5 processor. While reviewing the IOGEAR USB-C docking station, I connected my PixelBook to two external monitors for a full work week. Everything I normally do on my Windows desktop – from photo editing to research – I did instead on my Chromebook with a multiscreen setup. This means I had more than 30 tabs in multiple windows at all times and at least six or seven apps were running for different tasks. Most of the time it was done without a single hiccup, but at the end of each working day I could say that it was slowly slowing down and I had to close some things that were likely to run for more than 10 hours. 19659006] In other words, there were only a few cases where I thought, "Man, I really wish this Chromebook had 16GB of RAM." Still, I thought at least once or twice. 😉

Ultimately, it's up to you to decide how to use your Chromebook and how much RAM is best for you. The cheapest Chromebooks today come with 4GB of RAM, so you can save some money if you think this works for you. But if you need more, you need to raise the money – 8GB Chromebooks (and higher) are more common, but still a rarity, and you need to make cash for the luxury.

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