Average Installed Memory – Vista vs. XP

Vista vs XP: Average Installed RAM

Back in May 2006, when Microsoft announced Vista system memory requirements of 512 MB for “Vista Capable” and 1 GB for “Vista Premium Ready” classifications, the average XP system had 833 MB and 659 MB of installed memory for Desktop and Portable systems respectively. Once Vista was released in early 2007, most users determined that “more memory was better” as the average installed desktop memory rose relatively quickly to over 2 GB on Vista systems. In recent months, it is not uncommon for PC manufacturers to market Vista systems with 3 GB of RAM. The emergence of 64-bit architecture has also likely played a role in the increase of average RAM. While 32 bit systems generally max out at 4 GB of total allowable memory, PC Pitstop is starting to see more 64 bit systems with installed memory above 4 GB. One system’s test result revealed 32 GB of RAM installed!

PC Pitstop Research analyzed the impact that Vista has had on the amount of installed memory for the PCs running our on-line diagnostic tests. As of March 2008, the average XP Desktop installed memory had grown to 1.2 GB while desktops running Vista averaged approximately twice that with 2.5 GB. Portables XP systems averaged 1.0 GB and Portable Vista systems 1.8 GB of averaged installed RAM.

Average Installed RAM – PCs with XP or Vista


Average Installed RAM – Desktops


Average Installed RAM – Portables


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13 thoughts on “Average Installed Memory – Vista vs. XP”

  1. As a developer of Javascript-heavy Web applications, I’m more interested in what minimum level of RAM I can count on at least 90 percent of XP users having. Average level is of interest mainly because it implies, in a fuzzy way, what that low end might be. Just because the average is 1.0 GB for portables doesn’t mean that there aren’t 20 or 30 percent of users running down below 500 MB. I can’t ignore that low end unless it is some suitably small amount. Since you have the raw data, a re-analysis showing a chart with increasing memory levels on the X axis and number of users having at least that level on the Y axis would be very helpful.

    1. I think you can count on 90% of XP users having 256 MB or more, because that’s how they were sold in 2005. Probably 75% of XP users are at 512 MB or more, which is an affordable upgrade and performance boost for those who initally had less.

  2. Just an added note on performance…both xp and vista set by default services that they think you will need…many can be disabled giving you a noticable performance boost. And all those icons running in the bottom right hand corner of your screen are the biggest drain on performance…less is better. On my rig Xp loads in about 40 seconds, reguardless of your computer makeup xp should load in under 80 seconds more then that means you have to many programs or services starting when you boot-up.

  3. For years PC pitstop has always said that more is better as far as ram is concerned…maxing out your system ram is one of the cheaper ways of boosting system preformance…especailly if you have onboard graphics. 4Gig of A-Data DDR2-800 for $42.00 shipping included…any 32 bit operating system that Microsoft offers will only show 3.25gigs this is normal and exceeding 4gig has minimal performance boosts. Performace can be further enhanced by using all your available memory slots to take advantage of dual channel mode. Personally Im not a big fan of vista i think XP does a better job at memory management.

  4. Vista isnt junk per say, but it’s overloaded and bloated. I have 2 gigs of ram on my hp laptop and it always runs 24% memory usage. 24% of 2048 = 492 megs. When they say 512 megs required for vista, they mean it. Thats using windows defender, avg antivirus, and the software/hardware processes necessary for the os to run. And Don, your setup could probably run NASA, so I’m not suprised Vista runs well for you. Unfortunately, I like the rest of the country cant afford to Mortgage our home to buy a pc. Im guessing you paid over 4grand for that sweet little machine.

  5. I have had my computer set up for over 2 years now, and did a fresh install with Vista Ultimate about 4 months ago. I have “never” had a problem with Vista Ultimate, before or after the SP1 update. This OS is not junk, as suggested earlier. I run a Asus 4×4 board, with 2-FX 74’s 4 gigs of DDR2, 2-8800GTX’s, and 5 Raptors in a Raid-0 array. So, I submit that the problems people are having is due to using upgrades, instead of clean installs, and not having a system that is up to running Vista!

  6. I am running two systems w/Vista 64 Ultimate. Have had very few problems. One has 8gb ram the other 4, all other components are identical. The 8gb system consistently out performs the other.

  7. I to brought an asus laptop running vista business. Iput my thumb drive in & the system picked it up as ram so yes that part is true. Why is it when i check my ram it is never over 30 or 40 persent markso why dose all the bench mark test say we need more ram. Considering vista relys more on the graphics card & not so much onthe cpu. so why dose it tell me to upgrade my ram

  8. I am your affiliate for a very long time now…
    I bought the xp pro and after seeing this report am not happy about my purchase, exspecially since this computer opens pages so slowly and your tools diagnosed many registry errors…!

  9. We recently bought a new HP laptop with Vista for my wife, but have not had time to play with it. It would be nice if your statistics showed what effect the extra ram had on benchmarks between the two systems. I have also heard that you can increase your ram with Vista by using your thumb drive. Is that true, and how does it compare to RAM installed?

  10. i have been told that vista is nothing but junk i beleive this is true i am running xp with 3.25 of ram and having no trouble with my system all though i know computer makers love to change things so that you will have to purchase another expensive type of software with the changing of the times so why don’t they offer the products at a more affordable price than trying to price everything out of sight.

  11. Maybe PC Pitstop could come up with an idea of how to disable all the version checkers (Adobe Acrobat is particularly irritating) and then when you are not doing anything, perhaps overnight on a specific day of the week, turn on the version checkers so you can choose which programs you would like to update.

  12. What would be more interesting to see would be not the total ram on the system but the amount or percent of total that is actually available on the system. I have upgraded the memory in my home system 3 times and within 60 days, the available ram is back to where it was before. It seems that everyone has to have a version checker these days the loads when you boot and never leaves memory so that it can be available if a patch might possibly be available that day.

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