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8GB RAM is becoming the standard in the laptop market today, but budget laptops also come with 4GB RAM. Can these computers with lower specs still do the work in 2023?
Common software applications list 4GB RAM as the minimum requirement. So, whether 4GB RAM is enough for a laptop depends on your usage.
These laptops can handle everyday tasks such as browsing and basic office work that involves MS Word, Excel, and some coding, but system performance in those tasks would be limited.
Let’s see how a laptop with 4GB RAM performs in different situations and whether it gets the job done — or not.
Table of Contents
- 4GB RAM Performance for Different Users
- 4GB RAM Limitations
- 4GB vs 8GB RAM
- How Much Should You Pay for a 4GB RAM Laptop?
4GB RAM Performance for Different Users
4GB RAM is limiting, but that doesn’t mean all is lost. Depending on the work, it might still be perfectly fine for you.
Is a 4GB RAM Laptop Good for Students?
If the coursework requires mostly reading, researching, writing, or basic coding, then yes, a 4GB laptop should be good enough. However, if you are taking classes in graphics design, filmmaking and editing, advanced coding, or you want to play newer games you’ll need to invest in more RAM.
Is 4GB RAM Enough for a Gaming Laptop?
Most games require 8GB RAM for proper gameplay. 4GB is often listed as the minimum requirement, but that only gets you to run the game. Even if you manage to start the gameplay, the experience will be no fun because of the frequent lagging and crashing.
So the answer is NO. I would not recommend getting a laptop with 4GM RAM for gaming.
Is 4GB RAM Good for Office Work?
If the office work revolves around writing, researching, and lighter tasks such as data entry, 4GB RAM should be okay. But it won’t be enough for multitasking.
With coding, it should work fine for web development and front-end design work. But not for coding tasks that require large frameworks and IDEs. For most creative work such as video editing and 3D modeling, 4GB RAM will not hold up. Those programs require laptops with 16GB of RAM.
Is 4GB RAM Enough for Windows 10 & Windows 11?
Microsoft lists 1GB RAM as the minimum requirement for 32-bit Windows 10, and 2GB RAM for the 64-bit version. Note that these are minimum requirements to only run the OS. So a 64-bit version will take up more RAM, making it difficult to run other programs with 4GB total RAM.
For Windows 11, 4GB is listed as the minimum requirement. I would not recommend running Windows 11 on a 4GB laptop as its performance would be significantly worse.
Is 4GB RAM Good for Chromebooks?
Most Chromebooks come with 4GB RAM, and the reason is that they’re meant to be budget laptops for light work. They can effectively handle some browser-based work such as emailing, reading, Google Docs, and Spreadsheets.
Multi-tasking shouldn’t be a concern — a Chromebook OS consists of only the Chrome browser, so you couldn’t run other tasks anyway. But some high-end models also come with 8 and 16GB RAM. These are more suited for graphics-related work such as drawing and image editing.
4GB RAM Limitations
Let’s take a look at the limitations in more detail. RAM is your computer’s working memory. The higher it is, the more information your system can hold readily available at any given time.
Some applications keep more data in working memory, and if too many of these applications are used at the same time, the system slows down.
Since 4GB is the very minimum these days, you have to either use less demanding applications or only run the smallest number of apps possible at any given time. In other words, your ability to multi-task will be quite limited.
For example, you won’t be able to browse with too many tabs open. If you use Google Chrome, you probably already know just how RAM-hungry it is. Microsoft Edge is a better alternative — at least in terms of RAM usage.
Larger Excel sheets could also slow down the entire system. Google Sheets might help and ease off the workload, but you’ll need to keep other apps or tabs closed.
Coding tools like Android Studio and Visual Studio can become frustrating for work due to lagging.
4GB vs 8GB RAM
4GB RAM is ok when you are on a budget and need a lightweight laptop for basic daily work such as handling spreadsheets and docs. It can’t run newer games and large programs, nor multitask.
8GB RAM, on the other hand, is preferred if you have extra bucks to spare. You can at least run more game titles and software for video editing and modeling.
4GB vs 8GB RAM for Gaming and Studying
4GB RAM is enough if you’re into older games, or simpler games like Minecraft (without shader mods). You could also play Valorant and Counter Strike.
8GB is the ideal minimum for gaming while standard gaming laptops usually go with 16GB. With 8GB RAM, you can play games like Call of Duty: Warzone, Far Cry 5, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and more.
When it comes to studying, 4GB RAM can handle simpler software. But for computer science and advanced programming assignments, 4GB is not enough.
8GB RAM on the other hand can handle nearly all study-related tasks without a hiccup. If your coursework requires heavy software programs to be installed, you’re better off with at least 8GB RAM.
How Much Should You Pay for a 4GB RAM Laptop?
Price-wise, $300-$400 is the typical range for 4GB laptops. Chromebooks and laptops like the Acer Aspire and Dell Inspiron fall in this range.
8GB laptops mostly go over $500. These include variants of Aspire and Inspiron, HP Pavilion, and ASUS VivoBook. If you have $500 or more to spend, you’re better off with an 8GB laptop. Software programs will get more demanding in time so an 8GB RAM laptop is more future-proof.
Make sure to also check the screen, battery life, processor, and anything else that might be relevant to your needs. A 4GB laptop can be better than a cheaper 8GB laptop depending on those specs. The cheapest 8GB laptops might seem like a good deal, but not all of them are actually worth the price tag.
4GB RAM is sufficient for light work and basic daily tasks, but it can’t really handle multitasking, large programs, and newer games. It is definitely a compromise.
However, the performance also relies on specs such as the processor, storage, and GPU. You can also upgrade the RAM on a cheaper 4GB laptop to match a higher-priced 8GB laptop for a small cost.
If 4GB feels limiting, check out our picks for the best gaming and school laptops.