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Surface pro 4 i5: 4gb or 8gb RAM?


New Member
Hello all,

I am planning to buy a surface pro 4 for college, but i don't know which configuration is the best for me.
I am studying civil engineer at the university of Ghent(Belgium), so I would use the surface pro 4 as my pc. I would use it for taking notes, programming in java/matlab, and calculating equations with Maple. I would go for the i5 processor then.

However, since there is a significant difference in price vs the 4gb or 8gb RAM i5 model. So, obviously i know that with 8gb your multitasking is much faster, but i don't know if that's important for me. I would only open 1 or 2 programs at a time probably.

Is the 4gb RAM a good choice then?


I would highly recommend that you upgrade to 8Gb. It is the sweet spot currently, and a lot of programs can be significantly faster.

Future proofing and resale value also need to be taken into consideration.


Super Moderator
Staff member
You can get by just fine on 4gb, but you will sometimes have to be co servative.

The above posts are right in my opinion, if the idea is to buy and keep it for the duration, then shoot for 8gb, just in case. I have recently started year 2 of university in a business and psych, and last year 4gb was fine (in talking nothing but internet tabs for research and say word, drawboard pdf, and OneNote) but this year I'm already beginning to max out the ram. If you can afford it and it's long term, do it. Else I say take the gamble and see how it is. You have a certain return period. So maybe buy a week into the teaching term, see what it is like for a week, and then return and upgrade if needed.


Super Moderator
Staff member
Partly depends on how complex you might get, Matlab and Maple both recommend 4GB. If you're running those with other things or together it might get a little slow.
Is it possible that with this new faster SSD the SP4 has, that if we go with the 4GB version, we won't notice as much if a slow down when RAM fills up? To my understanding, as RAM gets full, it starts writing to the hard drive, then takes a performance hit when pulling something off the SSD rather than the RAM.


New Member
Yeah, I think i'll go for the 4gb RAM, and that saves me 350 euros in Europe. I also noticed that I use an average of 2-3,5 GB RAM on my current pc, which is non-SSD and has 4gb RAM.


Super Moderator
Staff member
Current Operating systems are designed to use the all the RAM available under the philosophy of "empty RAM is wasted RAM".

If you look at memory in Task manager there's a "Cached" number or "Standby" in Resource Monitor. This represents memory it's using that's not required by running programs but it's either preloaded or was loaded and is hanging around in case it's needed again. However, if there's a request for memory it can be served by discarding something from the cache without having to swap it to disk. This is actually a good thing, it's very efficient.

The "In Use" statistic is what is currently actively used in the System.
AVAILABLE includes Cached.

Under XP or anything prior to Vista a lot was focused on Committed Bytes, that's old school and no longer the key indicator it once was. If you see an article retrenching Committed it's likely one that's hanging around from yesteryear.

For most cases 16GB of RAM is overkill and 4GB is more often enough RAM than many realize.
Performance Tests Show That 16GB of RAM Is Overkill for Most People

How much RAM - 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB? How Much RAM? 4GB vs. 8GB vs. 16GB Performance
So when docking a laptop and connecting to external monitors (in my case, 1440p and a 1080p), that will use up system memory, correct?

Edit: I guess to be more specific: How much extra memory does driving two monitors take up for regular MS Office type work? Especially a high res.
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