What is the function of 512Mb RAM on a laptop?

  amyfleur 13:23 18 Feb 2006
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I want to buy a laptop.

I understand that the 60GB is the size of storage space for programmes, files, photos, etc.

And that 2GHZ is the processor speed, ie. how fast programmes load/perform.

Can you tell me what the 512Mb Ram does/is? And what does the 128Mb graphics shared memory mean?

  spuds 13:38 18 Feb 2006

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  bremner 13:40 18 Feb 2006

The 128MB of shared graphics memory means it comes out of the 512MD of RAM.

You therefore will only have 384MB of RAM

  Superstylin 14:27 18 Feb 2006

as far as i can work out the RAM acts as a computers short term memory. it is the thing that a program needs to work efficiently.

the program looks to the ram for any info/instructions it needs. this info is put there by the processor and is taken from the hard drive (storage). the reason it is not read directly from the hard drive is that it's memory is much slower than ram.

essentially the more ram you have the more info a program has to hand and as such the faster it can work.

the general concensus is the more ram you have the better and that it is the easiest way to upgrade/speed up a computer.

  ade.h 17:16 18 Feb 2006

Don't confuse Bytes (capital B) with bits (lower case b); your post actually mentions Mbits, while Random Access Memory is measured in Mbytes or MB. A bit is 1/8th of a Byte and is used to express data transfer rates as opposed to quantities.

512MB is a sensible amount for contemporary use IF the graphics card or chip (delete as appropriate) has dedicated RAM. With shared RAM, it may not be quite enough depending entirely on your style of usage and what apps you use. I have to use 1GB of RAM even with dedicated graphics memory!

  amyfleur 16:11 20 Feb 2006

Thanks for everyone's input.

ade.h - regards your message - I will not be using the laptop for games or films or music.

Only photography. I want to load Photoshop Elements for editing / enhancing and Album for slideshows etc.

I currently have about 3,500 photos to go on - 2 years of photography that is.

So do you think 512MB (minus 128MB)is sufficient for speed of these functions and that 128MB shared graphic space will be man enough for the job?

  ade.h 16:45 20 Feb 2006

IME; 512MB less 128MB is almost certainly NOT enough for pukka photo editing. My 1GB gets used up by PhotoImpact and net Objects Fusion running all day long, and that's with a dedicated PCI-X graphics card.

If it did not have shared graphics memory, it would scrape through okay, but shared GM is a killer for performance; you get the double whammy of a basic graphics chip (which affects any 3D work) AND less RAM than you bargained for.

Note that your usage will not be impeded at all by the basic graphics, which can handle 2D applications perfectly happily. Except for Windows Vista, of course, but won't go there...

  amyfleur 09:43 22 Feb 2006

Thank you for your last advice - wonderful, just the ticket.

I had an Advent (Curry's) in mind but I am now going to search for a bigger boy for the job.

Thanks again.

  ade.h 14:51 22 Feb 2006

If you find anything that might meet your needs, you can feel free to ask for opinions on it in Consumerwatch.

Here's a tip to start you off; don't necessarily buy the cheapest that you find for any given spec. Read the fine print carefully to see where the corners may have been trimmed.

  palinka 14:50 26 Feb 2006

AS others have said 512 is not enough for lots of photographs and tweaking them about. RAM is the stuff that is used all the time your computer is working; to use a car analogy - think of the 60GB as the garage where you store it at the end of the day; the RAM is the petrol needed to drive around during the day. You may be able to fit a powerful car into a small garage; but you need more petrol to travel the same distance as a small car.
Lack of adequate RAM will make everything VERY slow; it will even grind to a halt. Go for as much RAM as possible . You can add more quite cheaply and easily but best to start with a lot anyway.

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