How Much RAM Is Enough?

How much RAM does Windows 2000 Professional need? I've been asking this question for some time, and I think we finally have some answers. The Windows 2000 Magazine lab staff has been busy over the past few months conducting performance tests. Here are results from BAPCo's SYSmark 2000 benchmarking software running on Windows NT Workstation 4.0 and Win2K Pro on desktop (550MHz Pentium III) and notebook (300MHz Celeron) platforms. Higher numbers indicate better performance:

Desktop     Notebook    
64 87 80 64 58 50
128 108 103.5 128 66 58
256 111.5 106      

As you can see, NT consistently outperforms Win2K in our tests, although at 256MB of RAM on the desktop, the difference is less than 5 percent. Also, notice that you can nearly equalize performance with a memory upgrade: Win2K Pro at 128MB of RAM equals or beats NT 4.0 at 64MB of RAM on both platforms. Results vary from application to application (SYSmark uses a weighted average for a dozen applications running a variety of scripts), so your mileage might differ.

With that said, the results are consistent enough across both platforms (we also have incomplete results about a third platform) that I feel reasonably comfortable with them. As I've said before, 64MB of RAM is just not enough for Win2K Pro! Look for a complete report about our tests in an upcoming issue of Windows 2000 Magazine.

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