How Much RAM Do I Need For Programming?

Choosing the right RAM size as a programmer is important as this will determine the number of tasks that you can execute at the same time. The amount of RAM required will depend on the type of programmer you are.

On average, 8 GB of RAM is the minimum recommended for web developers. For application or software developers, at least 12 GB of RAM is ideal. And for game developers, it is recommended to find a computer with at least 16 GB of RAM.

Here, we will discuss how to estimate the amount of RAM needed for different programming situations.

RAM size for programming

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Learning about the amount of RAM recommended for programming.

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Choosing the right amount of RAM for programming

Choosing the right amount of RAM is one of the most important things as this will determine how many processes you can run at once. As a programmer, you might need to run integrated development environments (IDEs) and virtual machines. These applications are massive and require a large amount of memory RAM to run smoothly.

Running many applications at the same time can drastically affect the performance of your computer, and reduce your productivity. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you choose a computer with plenty of RAM depending on the type of developer you are.

For web developers, generally, the amount of RAM is not a major concern since there are no heavy compiling or heavy development tools to work on. These types of developers can work with as little as 4 GB of RAM, but 8 GB of RAM is recommended to be able to have multiple web browser tabs and other apps open at the same time.

Why 8 GB? During the last couple of years, most web browsers and websites have evolved significantly that they are already more RAM consuming than ever before. This also includes the latest versions of computer operating systems that need more RAM to be more efficient.

However, other programmers and developers such as application developers or software developers who work constantly with virtual machines, emulators, and IDEs compiling big projects, will need a bigger RAM size. Although 8 GB might be enough for simple application and software developments, for these types of developers, a computer with at least 12 GB of RAM is more ideal and recommended.

The RAM requirement is even higher for game developers. Game development environments generally need powerful systems to run. To be able to run these environments smoothly, it is recommended to find computers with 16 GB of RAM, at least for mid-range vanilla-based games.

The following table summarizes the recommended RAM size for the different types of developers:

Type of ProgrammerMinimum RAM Recommended
Web developer8 GB
Hardware Programmer2 GB
Software developer12 GB
Database Developer3 GB
Network System Administrator4 GB
Analyst Programmer8 GB
Application developer12 GB
Game developer16 GB

RAM requirements of additional common tasks

After thinking about the type of programmer you are, it is also important to consider the additional tasks you will be performing on your computer. Generally speaking, programming does not consume a large amount of RAM. However, the other tasks you have constantly open and running do.

In the following table, you can look at some use cases with their RAM requirement.

TaskMinimum RAM Recommended
Word Processing2 GB
Heavy word Processing and Multitasking4 GB
Basic Web Browsing4 GB
Heavy Web Browsing (20+ tabs open)8 GB
Media playing4 GB
Photo editing8 GB
HD Video editing16 GB
Game Modding16 GB

Additional hardware for programming

In addition to having an adequate amount of RAM, it is also important to consider other hardware parts to have an optimal computer for programming. Processors and SSDs have to be considered to be able to work as smoothly as possible.

For programmers, getting a computer with at least a mid-range processor (Intel Core i5 or Ryzen 5, etc.) is a requirement. This is probably as important as having an adequate amount of memory RAM given that the CPU will be performing the heavy tasks.

Additionally, if you can, go for an SSD (solid-state drive) rather than a computer with an HDD (hard disk drive). The SSD is much faster, which means that your software will load faster, and you will see an increased performance with the same amount of RAM. Moreover, SSDs are less prone to malfunctioning, which is a plus.

How to choose the right amount of RAM for programming?

After everything we have discussed, you can consider the following concrete tips to help you determine the correct amount of RAM memory:

Tips for choosing the amount of RAM

  • Based on the type of programmer you are, you can have a general idea of the amount of RAM required. Web developers will most likely be able to work without problems with 8 GB of RAM. For application and software developers, 12 GB of RAM is recommended. For game developers, 16 GB of RAM might be ideal.
  • Think about any other tasks you will be performing in addition to programming. Look at the table provided above to have a general idea of the RAM requirement of various tasks. For example, if you are a web developer, but also expect to do some photo editing with your computer, then 12 GB of RAM would be recommended.
  • Consider the processor and the type of storage. Having a mid-range processor or above, and an SSD will make your computer faster overall, which will lower the RAM requirement.