How Much PC RAM Is Needed?

pc ram

When it comes to PC performance, RAM is often considered the quickest way to improve your system. But deciding how much is needed can be confusing with many different sizes, types and forms of memory.

Computer RAM is essentially the short-term storage for all information your processor needs to run programs and open files. It can also be used for other tasks like video conferencing and gaming.

Random Access Memory (RAM)

RAM is where your computer keeps its operating system, application programs and data currently in use. It processes files at lightning-fast speeds and enables near-instantaneous performance. Unlike long-term storage like hard disk drives or solid state drives, RAM can be read from or written to at any time.

When you open a file on your computer, the operating system locates it in its long-term storage and replicates it to RAM for active processing. Once the computer is finished with that work, it converts the file back to its long-term storage.

RAM is made of computer chips that are either soldered directly to the main logic board or installed in rectangular modules that go into sockets on the logic board. Most computers let you add RAM units up to a specific capacity. More RAM reduces the number of times the CPU must retrieve data from your computer’s hard drive, which takes longer than reading it from memory.

Read Only Memory (ROM)

ROM is a nonvolatile memory that stores data permanently. It is often used to store firmware, the software that instructs hardware devices on how to work. Unlike RAM, the information stored in ROM remains unchanged even when the device loses power.

There are different types of ROM, each with its own specific features and characteristics. Some ROM types can only be programmed once (one-time programmable), while others can be reprogrammed repeatedly. For example, EPROM requires UV light to erase its information while EEPROM uses a special circuit to rewrite data. There is also a type of ROM that allows both read and write access called flash memory.

ROM chips contain internal electronic fuses that can be programmed for a certain interconnection pattern, which is typically encoded in binary format. These fuses are blast with high-level programming voltage, which causes them to open or close in order to form the required patterns. ROM can store critical information for long periods of time, without losing data when the power is off.

Video RAM (VRAM)

VRAM is used to store image data that can be quickly read by the GPU. This data can include textures, detailed meshes that wrap rendered objects, positional data indicating where an object is in relation to other objects, or a variety of buffers related to color, lighting and shadowing.

While gaming demands a lot of VRAM, there are productivity and professional workloads that also need masses of the stuff. These typically involve complex visualization and rendering.

For example, ray-tracing techniques like global illumination require enormous amounts of data to be generated and stored in VRAM, which slows down the GPU’s performance. Similarly, anti-aliasing and high in-game texture detail can use up a lot of storage space.

You can check how much dedicated video memory is available on your PC by opening the Windows Start menu and typing “regedit” into the search field. From here, create a new DWORD value under the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE branch with a name of “Dedicated Video Memory” and a maximum value of 512. Then restart your computer.


The amount of RAM you need depends on what you plan to use your computer for. Typical PCs come with 4-6GB of RAM, which is sufficient for most tasks such as web browsing and writing Microsoft Office documents. However, gamers can benefit from 8GB or more.

RAM is a fast storage solution for temporary data and can work orders of magnitude faster than retrieving information from a hard disk. This makes it perfect for games, which need to quickly read and write large art assets.

When a program uses up all of your computer’s memory, the processor will have to go to the hard drive or SSD to retrieve more programs from it. This process takes time and can slow down or even freeze your computer. Having more RAM reduces this delay by allowing the OS to keep the most critical programs in RAM rather than swapping them to and from a page file on the hard drive, which takes much longer.