Is 8GB of RAM Enough For Programming? Everything You Need To Know

So you’re looking into your first, or next, programming laptop and you’re wondering if 8GB of RAM is enough for programming? Well, how much RAM you need for coding is a bit subjective. It really depends on what exactly you want to do with your computer. In this article, I hope to shed some light on whether or not 8GB of RAM will be enough for your coding needs.

How Much RAM Do You Need For Coding?

Is 4GB of RAM Enough For Coding

Honestly, when I first started my programming journey I was working with a 4GB RAM MacBook air. I also did freelance graphic design at the time so sometimes I would be running my code editor, 10 chrome tabs, photoshop, and Spotify all at once. In case, you didn’t know, those things absolutely eat RAM!

Let me tell you that running all of the applications I mentioned above made my laptop sound like a helicopter. The power of that fan trying to cool the computer down probably took a few months off its life. Not to mention, sometimes my computer ran incredibly slow. It was a very frustrating experience.

So if you are on a very tight budget, and you are only working with a code editor like VS Code, Sublime Text, or Atom, or okay with the terrible experience, you could make 4GB of RAM work.

You will very quickly see that 4GB is a very small amount of RAM for running multiple applications and if you want to be a professional programmer, you are going to want a lot more. However, it is possible to make it work if you are strategic about what you are running and absolutely do not have the budget.

However, 4GB RAM computers are honestly only meant for light text editing, running a few browser tabs, and streaming videos like Netflix or Youtube. Definitely not meant as a professional coding laptop.

That being said, I certainly appreciate the RAM I have now and will never take it for granted, so there’s that.

Is 8GB of RAM Enough For Coding?

So, then is 8GB of RAM good for coding? Well, it’s definitely a lot better than 4GBs. If you are on a tight budget, 8GB should be enough to do most programming tasks. You should be able to run a few applications like Spotify, have a few browser tabs open, and a lightweight text editor as mentioned above.

If you are early in your programming endeavors and still have a few years before your first job, 8GB of RAM should be enough for programming. You may feel the effects of a slow laptop from time to time, but for daily tasks, you shouldn’t see too many issues with 8GBs.

Now, that being said, I have used an 8GB laptop for running more involved IDEs such as Visual Studio and although I don’t usually have any issues, it can be slow at times. Something to keep in mind if you plan on working in an environment like this.

Is 16GB of RAM Enough For Coding?

Okay, so if you are searching if 8GB of RAM is enough for programming, you are probably on a budget and don’t want to push the budget further than it has to be. However, when I finally made the jump to a 16GB computer, I had a much better experience programming.

For myself, I like to stream music when I code. I also have to occasionally work in a full-scale IDE like Visual Studio, have numerous chrome tabs open, multiple different desktops to hop between when I don’t have my secondary laptop monitor and multiple other random apps like Zoom.

Even with all of these things open, I still wish I had a 32GB RAM laptop. However, 16GB seems like the perfect balance between maintaining a reasonable budget and still doing everything you want while programming.

Summary: Is 8GB Enough For Programming?

Although it’s possible to do basic, beginner programming tasks with a 4GB computer, I don’t recommend it for longevity. 4GB computers are generally used for light note-taking or running a few lightweight applications.

If my ideal experience seems way over the top for you, 8GBs of RAM should be totally fine. If it sounds like you use more RAM than me, maybe you will even want to push the budget for a 32GB computer. Obviously, if you use the same, 16GBs should be fine.

The golden rule is that you will never regret having more RAM. The more you have, the smoother your programming and overall computer usage experience will be, and the more you can run at once.

However, if you are on a budget, a computer with 8GB or 16GB should be more than enough for programming.

As always, happy coding!

Grant Darling

Grant is a full-stack / frontend software developer passionate about writing & coding. He has many years experience working in the tech industry both as a freelancer and as an employee.

The Code Bytes is all about providing people with honest information about programming. To learn more about Grant, read his about page!

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