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July 17, 2002

Windows XP doesn't cut it with 128mb

Advice: if someone tells you 128mb is enough for Windows XP Professional, don't believe them.

I was quite happy last week to take possession of a new laptop at work. I had been using a Dell Latitude PII/266 running Windows 2000. When they gave me that box, it originally had 64MB. Win98 might run in 64mb, but Windows 2000 sure doesn't. So I upgraded that box to 128mb, which made it at least tolerable. (But as I noted in a previous post, the lack of power still had a major impact on my choice of tools.)

Last week I was given a new toy: a Dell Latitude 840C, which is a P4/1.6ghz box. Nice, but again they didn't order enough memory: this one came with 128mb. A box with with this kind of speed is seriously hindered by a lack of memory. That's especially true for laptops. I didn't realize until just this week that many laptops - including the Dell - have a 4200rpm disk. 5400rpm is what low-end desktop PCs have, and 7200rpm is much better. That slow disk speed is another reason you want more memory: more memory=less hitting that slow disk.

So I had a P4 with Windows 2000: much faster than the PII! But I couldn't leave well enough alone: I really wanted to try Windows XP, but I was concerned that it wouldn't perform very well in 128mb. I googled the net to see what folks were saying about Windows 2000 vs XP Professional with 128mb, but didn't find much beyond the standard advice: 128 is minimum, 256 is recommended.

You can guess what happened next. I had to upgrade, and I promptly turned my reasonably fast (given that I still had 128mb) machine into a lead-footed one. Windows XP Pro seems to have a bigger memory footprint than Windows 2000. I was hitting that little disk pretty hard, especially during boot up.

I got a reprieve today. I put an extra 256mb in, so now my P4 has a much more respectable 384mb of memory. And it runs fast. It's very nice.

The moral of the story: No matter what the hardware boys give you, the software boys will piss it away.