By Gareth Ogden posted Aug 31st 2010
The launch of the new Windows 7 operating system from Microsoft presents budding enthusiasts and early adopters with some exciting opportunities to improve the way in which they use their PCs. Windows 7 has received widespread critical acclaim, and for good reason, because it offers some compelling advantages compared to previous Microsoft operating systems. And by upgrading your existing PC, or building a new Window 7-based PC, you can maximise these benefits.
One such benefit is that Windows 7 is highly efficient at making use of high-density memory kits, by which I mean kits of 8GB or larger. Combined with Windows 7’s slick new user interface, which makes it simple to use and manage multiple open applications, Windows 7 is the ideal operating system to really take advantage of the 64-bit memory addressing and multi-tasking capabilities of modern processors.
Corsair recently conducted some testing into the benefits of using 8GB and larger memory densities with Windows 7, and the results were compelling. The full results of the testing can be found in the new Windows 7 System Builder’s Guide. In summary, we found that upgrading to 8GB or more of memory significantly reduced the time taken to perform everyday functions, such as photo loading, particularly when using a 64-bit image editing application, such as Paint.NET (which is conveniently also free). Windows 7 also effectively uses free memory as a ‘cache’ to store commonly used program code and data, improving responsiveness.
Rather than delve into the specifics of why 8GB provided such notable improvements (since this is described in detail in the application note) it is the aspect of improved responsiveness and ‘feel’ that I’ll be discussing more in this post.
By ‘responsiveness’ and ‘feel’ I mean events that contribute to a sensation of increased performance, but that are actually quite hard to put your finger on, let alone or benchmark. For example, the ability to instantly switch between different Windows or applications, or to open a new application or file instantly, or simply have many different Windows and applications open without the system becoming sluggish. These aspects are difficult to convey in an analytical way, but are as important to overall performance as faster game or photo loading times, simply because many small improvements add up to a noticeably improved experience.
With 8GB or more of RAM there is basically enough space in which to store all the data the operating system needs, whereas with 4GB or less you often experience performance ‘blips’ or stutters that occur as a result of the system accessing data in the paging file on the storage drive.
The best way to experience how adding memory improves the responsiveness/feel of the computer is to actually use 8GB or more of memory for a few weeks, and then drop back to 4GB. As Joni Mitchell famously said (though probably not in relation to DDR memory), “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘till its gone.” and this is very true of more RAM. With 8GB or more you simply get used to the smoothness and responsiveness of the system, and the ability to leave all your applications running. The latter aspect is where Windows 7 really helps because, as mentioned earlier, the interface intelligently manages the different windows and applications, making it easy to navigate.
The Windows 7 interface cleverly manages multiple open applications and windows, making navigation and multi-tasking easy
Windows 7 and today’s multi-core processors, such as the AMD Phenom II series, and Intel Core i5 and Core i7 series, are designed with multi-tasking in mind. By using a high-density memory kit you can truly take advantage of these capabilities and change the way you use your PC for the better. And once you’ve gotten used to having more memory on tap, you won’t want to go back!