How much RAM should I have to smoothly run a virtual machine?

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  1. Posts : 241
    Windows 10 Pro

    How much RAM should I have to smoothly run a virtual machine?

    I want to maybe run a virtual machine with Linux or a different WIndows version.

    I currently have 4 GB ram & i5-4200 cpu.

    Since I can't change CPU, do you think adding more RAM will make the VM run more smoothly?
    Or with these specs a VM won't run quite as fast.

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  2. Posts : 127
    Windows 10 Pro

    Adding more RAM will certainly help, Linux will use as much RAM as you can throw at it. However, most Linux will run fairly well in a VM (at least in a VirtualBox VM) with 1 GB or even 512 MB.
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  3. Posts : 1,249
    Windows 10 Pro

    8 GB RAM should be good for most situations. With 4 GB you can have a problem, depending on what you intend to do with the client OS and what else the host will be used for. Most client operating systems will need at least 1 GB RAM but that only for light use. Modern versions of Windows will want more. Give it any more and the host will run short which will also impact client performance.

    Even with no virtual machines running 4 GB RAM is required for optimum performance of a 64 bit OS with 8 GB being better.
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  4. whs
    Posts : 1,935
    Windows 7

    I would also vote for 8GB of RAM. That will allow you to run at least 1 virtual machine in parallel.
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  5. Posts : 17,636
    Windows 10 Pro

    An important factor to remember is not to give too much RAM for the virtual machines. The host needs some to function well, too.

    An example: you have 4 GB of RAM, assigning 512 MB of it to your vm. The host has enough to run smoothly but the vm might seem a bit sluggish. Increasing the vm RAM to 1 or 2 GB will make it to run a bit better still allowing the host to run OK, but increasing the vm RAM to 3 GB defies the purpose; although the vm has now enough RAM to theoretically run as a dream, the host is left too little RAM to operate well and especially run the supporting tasks for the vm, make the vm, too sluggish.

    My recommendation: never leave your host with too little RAM. If you have 4 GB on host, don't assign more than 2 GB for a vm. 8 GB or more, I would always leave at least 4 GB to host.

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  6. Posts : 11,172
    Windows / Linux : Arch Linux

    Hi folks.

    Don't make the mistake of assuming that a VM needs a 1:1 Ratio with a Real machine for RAM -- also the latest versions of VMWARE and I believe HYPER-V (Kari can confirm I hope) use Dynamic RAM which allocates RAM only when the VM needs it --previously RAM was pre-allocated when a VM was powered on -- nowadays with the VM software I've mentioned above the RAM size setting is usually the MAXIMUM RAM that a VM will grab when it's running -- often when idling the RAM usage is very small. (Note these are for the latest versions of VMware (rel 11 and above) and I think all releases of HYPER-V within W10).

    8GB should give you enough RAM to run 3 or 4 decent VM's --16GB IMO is better if you have a desktop system. These days the bottleneck is likely to be HIDEOUSLY SLOW I/O - so your best bet is to have the VM's on an SSD, a fast external USB 3 drive or a fast 6Gb/s SATA HDD.

    Of course this assumes that the VM isn't running masses of high CPU intensive processes like editing / converting huge video files etc. Running typical desk top office like applications I've had no probs running 6 concurrent Windows VM's on a 16GB system including a W2K3 R2 server VM which was serving my Audio / Video files --now going to be replaced by a dedicated CENTOS R7 system to be used as a NAS box running in an HP Gen8 Micro server and serving up video / audio via PLEX and LOGITECH MEDIA SERVER (Squeezebox).

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  7. Posts : 5,478

    jimbo45 said:
    the latest versions of VMWARE and I believe HYPER-V (Kari can confirm I hope) use Dynamic RAM which allocates RAM only when the VM needs it
    Only the paid VMware Workstation allows dynamic RAM - the free Workstation Player does not. Hyper-V does also but you need 10 Pro not home. VirtualBox doesn't.

    I use Dynamic RAM for my VMs, Windows seems to use 700MB-1.3GB idling, Arch Linux uses ~350MB so if you can't use dynamic RAM 2GB for Windows or 1GB for Linux would be OK to start with - you can always change it if it seems slow.
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  8. Posts : 2
    El Capitano

    Just one basic questions about Virtualbox:

    Is it possible to deinstall the programm without reducing RAM on your stadard system. I know while installing "virtualbox" you need to throw RAM on the new system, so I am wondering wheather this comes back when deleting "virtualbox"? Is there any risk while useing "virtual box" that could have consequences in the longterm for the whole system (I am useing 8 RAM)
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  9. whs
    Posts : 1,935
    Windows 7

    Nah, when you delete all the virtual stuff, the RAM comes back home.
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  10. Posts : 490
    Windows 10 Pro

    The biggest boost to VM and host performance is an SSD. The performance gain is often dramatic to say the least. 8GB of ram and an SSD is currently my sweetspot.
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