How Much RAM Should You Install on Your PC?

pc ram

Every piece of software needs a certain amount of RAM to function. Without it, your computer will spend much of its time paging to disk instead of executing commands quickly.

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What is RAM?

Often abbreviated as RAM, random access memory is computer chips that are either soldered directly onto the motherboard or in memory modules that fit into sockets. These chips have a very fast path to the CPU, or central processing unit, which is the brains of your machine. This allows for lightning-fast data access that enables your computer to perform tasks quickly and smoothly.

Your computer uses RAM as a temporary workspace to manipulate the files and programs it’s actively working on, much like your own short-term memory stores the things you need within easy reach of your mind. Unlike long-term storage, such as a hard drive or solid-state drive (SSD), RAM is erased when you shut down your computer.

Having more RAM can make your computer run faster, but the amount of performance you get depends on other factors as well. A standard home or office computer needs at least 4 GB of RAM, while PC gamers and people that use heavy-duty editing programs may require 16+ GB.

How does RAM work?

The more RAM you have installed, the faster your computer will run. The information stored in RAM loses its data when the computer shuts down, whereas data on long-term storage devices like hard drives is retained.

When a program is accessed, its data flows from the CPU to RAM via a series of electrical lines that are etched into the chip. The RAM controller then reads the memory cells (which look like little boxes that can hold a 0, 1, or both) by counting across the columns and down the rows on the chip.

Different types of RAM have specific speed limits that correspond to the number of clock cycles it takes for a signal to travel from one end of the chip to the other. If you install a fast stick of RAM in a motherboard that only supports slower types of RAM, the system will throttle the speed to match the motherboard’s imposed limit.

What is the best RAM for my computer?

The best RAM for your PC depends on your needs and budget. If you need to do work on a PC like video editing, photo editing or 3D modeling then you should look for memory with high base speeds and low latency.

For gaming, 16GB of fast DDR4 RAM is usually enough for most gamers and you can find it for much cheaper than in previous years. Look for a speed around 3,600MHz or above, and check that it supports XMP profiles so you can set it up easily in your motherboard BIOS settings.

You should also think about whether you want RAM with or without Error Correcting Code (ECC). ECC can detect and correct errors in memory, which can improve the reliability of your system. Most modern CPUs and motherboards support up to 64GB of RAM, so be sure to search for your specific model’s compatibility requirements on the manufacturer website. This will prevent you from purchasing RAM that won’t be compatible with your computer.

What is the best RAM for my budget?

There are lots of RAM options on the market and it can be hard to know what you’re getting yourself into. Generally speaking, more RAM is better but the specifics can vary depending on what you do and how demanding it is on your computer system.

RAM capacity is the biggest specification that most people look at. Video games include the amount of RAM required in their recommended system requirements and having enough is key for the best performance.

RAM is normally pretty expensive but the latest DDR4 kits are affordable for almost any budget. Corsair’s Vengeance LED DDR4 is one of the most popular kits available with RGB lighting and robust heat spreaders for better cooling to maximise overclocking. It also comes in a range of capacities and base clock speeds to suit any build. However, it’s important to check your motherboard supports the frequency of the kit you’re buying as this will impact how fast it runs.