Certainly the more memory in a laptop system the better just like
desktops, but there are other concerns regarding memory in laptops.
Laptops are generally more restricted in the amount of memory
that can be installed into a system. Sometimes access to that
memory can also be a problem if you plan a future upgrade.
How Much is Enough?
The rule of thumb that is used for all computer systems for
determining if it has enough memory is to look at the requirements
of the software you intend to run. Pick up the boxes for each
of the applications and the OS that you intend to run and look
at both the "minimum" and "recommended"
requirements. Typically you want to have more RAM than the highest
minimum and ideally at least as much as the highest listed recommended
requirement. The following chart provides a better breakdown
of what is acceptable for different computer tasks:
||Amount of RAM
|Enough to Boot
||128 MB - 256 MB
|General Computing/Web Surfing
||256 MB - 384 MB
||384 MB - 512 MB
||512 MB and up
The ranges provided are a generalization based upon most general
computing tasks. It is best to check the requirements of the
intended software to make the final decisions. The lower part
of the scale is the minimum while the higher number is better.
This is not accurate for all computer tasks because some operating
systems use more memory than others.
Laptop computers generally have two slots available for memory
modules compared to three or four in desktop systems. This means
that they are more limited in the amount of memory that have
available. With current memory module technologies, this restriction
generally comes to either 512 MB of 1 GB of RAM in a laptop
system based on either 256 MB or 512 MB modules. Some ultra
portable systems are even fixed with one size of memory that
cannot be changed at all. So what is important to know when
you look at a laptop?
First, find out what the maximum amount of memory is. This
is generally listed by most of the manufacturers. This will
let you know what upgrade potential the system has. Second,
determine how the memory configuration is when you buy the system.
For example, a laptop that has 256 MB of memory can be configured
as either a single 256 MB module or two 128 MB modules. The
single memory module allows for better upgrade potential because
by adding another module you are gaining more memory without
sacrificing any current memory. Upgrading the two module situation
with a 256 MB upgrade would result in the loss of one 128 MB
module and a resulting memory total of 384 MB.
Most laptop systems today have a small door on the underside
of the system with access to the memory module slots. If it
does, then it is possible to just purchase a memory upgrade
and install it yourself without much trouble. A system without
an external door or panel for memory access will require installation
by a service technician. This generally will add additional
expense to the memory upgrade in the future or possibly even
the requirement that the system be sent in to a service center
which means the lack of a computer until the upgrade is completed.