Linux Mint 18 MATE (32 bit) is running fine on a 12-13 year old notebook with only 2GB or first gen DDR 2700 MHz RAM, far better than I expected.
The notebook setup for my wife has only 8GB DDR3 RAM, runs Linux Mint 17.3 MATE 64 bit, though really normally consumes less than at idle (around 650-700MB), then jumps to just over 1.2GB if several Google Chrome webpages are open. To my knowledge, never hits the Swap area, and to be honest, don't know why I bothered with creating it, other than a friendly reminder by the installer that I didn't allocate Swap space.
So Linux Mint MATE 64 bit is also an option & has lots more software installed than Xfce, and really uses no more resources. It's important if one installs Google Chrome to go into the browser's settings, go on down to 'Show Advanced Setting' & go to the bottom (same with Chromium, Vivaldi & any browsers based on Chromium), and uncheck the option 'Continue running background apps when Google Chrome is closed'. This action alone will save a ton of resources, as Google & browsers similar will by default, have several things going on behind the scenes, that can be discovered by clicking System Tools > System Monitor & then click the Processes tab. Also, when System Monitor is first opened, it'll show the current resources totalled.
Right now, am using 6.4GB of RAM, though have many (30+) Google Chrome tabs opened, and a couple of paused YouTube videos on Full 1080p HD, so that comes into play, as well as having VLC Media Player going, listening to free music. Yet if I only had the default three Web pages open only & nothing else, would be using close to 1.5GB RAM, some of this may be in part to the installed GPU, as nearly all of my 12GB of RAM is showing (11.7GB), the rest is going to the motherboard & sound. Most all computers will reserve some memory for onboard devices, to include onboard video/audio (unless disabled in the UEFI or BIOS) & still the monitor won't show the full amount available for one's use, the MB has to have a little RAM.
Just throwing that out there, that Linux Mint 18 MATE 64 bit will install & run fine on the system, adding the RAM to it's max will improve the entire system. You can purchase a matched set (recommended) on eBay for less than half the cost of new modules, and will have a full 60 day warranty, so be sure to run the built in MemTest for several hours a couple of times to ensure all is OK, When purchasing a single stick, you may have trouble finding the identical model, or the full set may not cost much more or may be less. Popular models are more expensive & pricing is based on market demand, if one tried to get it too cheap, many eBay sellers has 'shill bidders' to jack up the price.
While that is illegal at most any auction (physical building or online) & against eBay's rules, it's difficult to enforce. I've purchased quite a few sets of memory on eBay & have had to return only one set, looked like these had been overclocked, evidenced by scorching that couldn't be cleaned off, including the god plated pins & was refunded by eBay within 24 hours & told by the seller to keep the modules. Yet this was one set out of at least 20, possibly 25, so that's a good track record.
If DDR2 RAM, Amazon carries the A-Tech brand of RAM with a lifetime warranty & compatible with many computers, I have a Dell Optiplex desktop (not the same type as below) running two sets of the brand (8GB total),
Just one example out of many, 4GB will run Linux Mint effortlessly, as well as other Linux distros.
Edited by cat1092, 15 January 2017 - 06:00 AM.