I'm not sure about methodology of these measurements. Author launched DE in a separate X instance, so we have no idea was there a shared memory omitted for e.g. libraries? Recently I tried to get a total memory usage of Debian with different DEs, so I used 32-bit VirtualBox, installed Stretch with different default DE settings, launched file manager window and terminal with htop reporting memory (without buffers). I think that in most Linux workflows there is at least one file manager window and sometimes a terminal. Results are: No desktop: 22MB LXDE: 130MB MATE:139MB XFCE: 143MB Cinnamon: 312MB GNOME: 387MB KDE: 397MB. However, they are for 32-bit Intel. For ARM architecture it may be different. For non-default configuration it will be different. It depends on many factors. From my experience: I don't have any memory problems on 512MB, 768MB or 1GB machines with LXDE, on 1GB if the screen is large I can run well MATE too. My primary notebook has 2GB and I use TDE which takes around 200MB in similar test conditions, but it's only my personal necrophilia .