How Much RAM Should Your PC Have?

If your computer has enough RAM, it can easily open apps and larger files. If your PC has less, it needs to swap data between the slower hard drive and RAM, which can slow down performance.

Adding more RAM can cut down on the number of times that your computer has to read data from the hard drive, which takes longer than reading it from memory.

How much memory do I need?

For the average PC user, 4GB to 8GB RAM is adequate. It’s enough to run the operating system, productivity apps, and low-end games. For those who want to push their gaming systems to the limit, 16GB is a good starting point.

When you have more RAM installed, your computer runs better and faster because all the relevant data is loaded into memory. This reduces the back and forth of pulling information from storage, which can cause delays and lag.

The best way to determine how much RAM you need is to read the software specifications. Most programs will list their minimum and recommended computer requirements. Always aim for the recommended requirements if possible as this ensures a smooth experience. If you have too little RAM, your programs will rely on the operating system to store important information and this can affect performance. It is also worth remembering that closing windows can help free up more memory.

What is RAM?

RAM, or random-access memory, works with the CPU to provide short-term storage of data. It stores information as boxes that may contain a zero or a one, and each row and column can be located with a unique address. The CPU then sends requests to the memory chips that contain the data it needs. The chips communicate with each other via small electrical wires inscribed into the chip surface.

When the computer is not operating, any stored data is stored in long-term memory devices like a hard drive or solid state disk. Accessing that data is a much slower process than accessing RAM.

Unlike ROM (read-only memory), RAM can store new information, but it gets wiped when the system is turned off. This is because it’s designed for lightning-fast data access, not permanent storage. To keep your computer running at peak performance, you can also run optimization software to clear wasteful clutter from RAM. This helps the CPU work with data more efficiently, and it also conserves energy.

How do I know if I have enough RAM?

If you experience slow processing speeds, lag when running applications, or random rebooting, you likely have insufficient RAM. In addition to the general performance impacts of insufficient RAM, low memory can also cause your operating system (OS) to crash or freeze.

You can check your computer’s memory by opening the Task Manager window in Windows. Once the window opens, choose the Performance tab to view your RAM usage and availability.

RAM is ultra-fast storage that augments the CPU’s cache by allowing it to quickly access data that would otherwise require a lengthy transfer from SSD or hard drive storage. Many common applications require a fair amount of RAM, including office programs, streaming and editing media files, and graphic-intensive video games. It is important to always aim for the recommended specifications for any programs you plan on using. This will ensure the best experience without overpaying for unnecessary features or sacrificing speed.

How do I increase my RAM?

You can keep your RAM storage free of unnecessary information by periodically checking what’s using your computer’s memory. Click the “Processes” tab in Task Manager and sort by Memory to find heavy users; then delete them from your computer to speed things up. You can also use a program that automatically clears unused files to save more space.

To add more RAM, first consult your owner’s manual to see if your computer has enough empty slots for additional modules. If so, purchase two of the same type of RAM, and install them as described in your owner’s manual. Remember that your computer can only run at the maximum speed of its slowest module.

Before you open your computer casing, make sure it’s unplugged and that any accessories are disconnected as well. Be sure to touch an anti-static wristband as you open the case, and follow your owner’s manual for specific instructions about disassembling your laptop.