⌚ May 28, 2012
The Acer Aspire One 722 ships with 2GB (sometimes 4GB), which is more than enough. But why settle for a 4GB upgrade? While most people are aware that the RAM can be upgraded to 4GB, did you know 8GB of RAM will also work?
After reading rumors about the legendary working 8GB upgrade, I put this theory to the test by installing 8GB in the Acer Aspire One 722. The result is cause for jubilee!
- Part: CMSO8GX3M1A1333C9
- Corsair 1 x 8GB 204-pin SO-DIMM
- CAS 9
I chose the CMSO8GX3M1A1333C9 RAM from Corsair mainly because of its positive reviews and its reasonable price. In theory, memory matching the specifications from other manufacturers should work too.
The important thing to note about 8GB RAM is that you must use a 1 x 8GB module, not two 4GB modules. This means all 8GB must reside on one memory module. Both sell for about the same price, and the dual module package appears to be more common, so avoid buying the wrong one. The Aspire One 722 only has one SO-DIMM slot. Even though there appears to be room for a second RAM slot in the netbook below the RAM, there is no connector present.
Installing the RAM
Upgrading memory in the netbook could not be easier and only takes a minute or two. Remove the battery, unscrew the single screw, and then slide the back panel off. Spread the memory tabs apart and the RAM module pops out. Replace it with the 8GB module and gently press it in until it clicks in place. The RAM module is keyed, so there is no danger of installing the RAM the wrong way.
Aspire One 722 with Back Cover Removed. Shown with 8GB module installed.
Does it work?
Yes. The netbook powers up normally with the 8GB memory module. There are no errors or problems of any kind.
Does the Netbook Detect the Full 8GB?
Yes. Different operating systems were tested in addition to everyday performance. The Acer Aspire One 722 recognizes the full 8GB. BIOS, Linux, and Windows all recognize 8GB of RAM.
OS Usable Kernel ---------------------------------------------------------- BIOS 8192 MB Ubuntu 10.10 64-bit 7.5 GB 3.2.17 Linux Mint Debian 64-bit 7.6 GB 3.2.0-2 Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 7.73 GB Windows 7 Professional 32-bit 3.49 GB (8GB detected)
Ubuntu 10.10 64-bit
Linux Mint Debian 64-bit
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Windows 7 Professional 32-bit
System Profiler and Benchmark
Why Do I See 7.5GB?
The operating system reserves some memory for itself. BIOS shows the exact amount as 8192 MB (8192 * 1048576 = 8589934592 bytes). The operating system reports how much is available to the user after it reserves its share.
Use a 64-bit Operating System
A 64-bit operating system is required to use the full 8GB. For 64-bit Linux and Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium, this is not a problem, but Windows 7 Professional 32-bit would only access 3.5 GB even though it knew an 8GB module was present.
Due to the 32-bit addressing scheme, a 32-bit OS can only access a maximum of 4GB of RAM (2 ^ 32 = 4294967296 bytes). Using a 32-bit OS will limit the available memory to 3.5GB no matter if a 4GB or an 8GB module is installed. (The OS can access 4GB maximum, but it reserves some memory for itself, so the user can only access 3.5 GB out of the total.)
“So, how does the extra RAM perform? Is the netbook faster?”
Not really. The netbook boots and shuts down in the same amount of time. Programs open and run at the same speed they always did no matter which OS is used. Playing games in Windows 7 showed no noticeable speed improvement. For example, Fallout: New Vegas (Yes, it runs on the Aspire One 722) played with the same amount of stutter using 8GB as it did with 2GB. This is not the RAM’s fault. It’s a CPU/GPU speed issue.
What is that advantage of upgrading to 8GB?
Extra RAM reduces virtual memory swapping. In this way, the netbook is faster. Swapping causes the hard drive to grind and slows the netbook down. I rarely used up the previous 2GB, but when it was full, the netbook would lag just like any other computer whose memory was maxed out. Now, with 8GB, there is more room to breathe.
The other advantage of having extra memory involves VirtualBox. VirtualBox reserves memory for each running guest OS. With 8GB, it is possible to have a 2GB Windows 7 guest, a 1GB Xubuntu guest OS, and a third 2GB Ubuntu guest OS with memory to spare. No disk swapping. The guest operating systems run as fast as the processor will let them. This is not possible with only 2GB.
Each guest OS is placed on its own workspace. To switch to a different OS, simply rotate the desktop cube.
“Does the added RAM drain the battery faster? What is the battery life like?”
There seems to be very little difference. On battery power, the battery monitor reports about 6:30 to 7:00 hours (it varies) remaining for a fully charged battery for both the 2GB and 8GB memory modules. From normal use, the added RAM appears to have little effect on battery drain.
To better observe the battery life, I performed a test with each memory module and observed the mA power consumption using the System Profiler and Benchmark program.
1. From power off state, disconnect the power supply and all USB devices.
2. Power on and log in normally.
3. Set LCD backlight to its minimum value.
4. Open System Profiler and Benchmark, and choose Battery – System Information.
5. Close the lid for two minutes to blank the screen. (Adjust this option in the power settings.)
6. Open the lid and wait for the mA to stabilize somewhat (it alters with activity and fluctuates at idle, so any measurements are approximations at best).
The 8GB module caused the netbook to consume about 496 mA at idle, and the 2GB module caused the netbook power consumption to hover around 479 mA at idle.
8GB ~496 mA 2GB ~479 mA
Battery with 8GB Memory
Battery with 2GB Memory
Not a great difference, but the 8GB module does require a little more power, and this might reduce the battery life by as much as 30 minutes depending upon activity. However, during everyday use, the netbook with 8GB seems to last almost as long as it does with 2GB. High CPU usage, LCD brightness, and wireless activity have a far greater effect on battery life than the memory module.
Do I Need More Swap Space?
There was a common rule of thumb on Windows systems to reserve swap space on the hard drive that was 1.5x to 2x the size of the physical RAM. While this was not a problem with 1 to 4 GB, it does raise the question if this is necessary anymore with 8GB or more of RAM. Following this rule, it means that with 8GB of RAM, the swap space should be about 16GB. However, if using an expensive SSD (solid state drive) where every gigabyte is precious, this can lead to wasted space. Is this required anymore?
It will largely depend upon your usage, but in my experience, the answer is no. The purpose of virtual memory is to swap memory to the hard drive when RAM is maxed out, but 8GB rarely maxes out, and when it does, only about 2GB of swap space is used at the most. So, in practice, I find it most useful to limit the swap space to 2 to 4GB when using 8GB of RAM. There is little need to increase the swap space after installing 8GB. It’s plenty of memory. Just keep whatever swap space is already present.
If you are contemplating a netbook memory upgrade for the Acer Aspire One 722 and are wondering if the 1 x 8GB RAM is compatible, rest assured it works fine and dandy.
8GB of RAM is 8GB of RAM. It gives programs more room to breathe before resorting to disk swapping, but the netbook speed is still limited by its processor and hard drive. There will probably not be a noticeable speed increase, but there is nothing like using a netbook possessing as much RAM as a desktop computer.
It’s there if you need it.