Posted 09 September 2012 - 06:44 PM
My take on it: Let Windows look after it. Win7 does a fine job of managing memory, and the default setting is to maximize performance for foreground applications, which is what 99% of systems need. Memory allocation will not pressure or stress the CPU in any way.
"Virtual memory" in this context is a slight misnomer on Microsoft's part. Operating systems like Windows run the CPU in what's called Protected Mode. Set this way, all memory beyond the first Megabyte is virtual memory. The CPU implements a concept of all the memory it can possibly handle (the virtual address space) and anything that can be used as memory in the computer can then be mapped somewhere into this space. That includes system RAM, memory on cards on a local bus and the contents of a file on a hard drive. It's this latter one (a swapfile) that gets labelled as "virtual memory".
If the computer has plenty of RAM, the swapfile will rarely be used as virtual memory, so the effect on performance will be minimal. Because a hard drive is slower than RAM, on occasions where it is being utilized the system will lag. The best result is having more RAM than you ever need. If your applications are sufficiently demanding that RAM is insufficient, then having the fastest possible hard drive is the next best thing.
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