RAM is a type of memory that offers lightning-fast access to data for your computer’s processor. It differs from your computer’s hard disk or solid-state drive, which is used for long term storage that takes longer to read from.
Most computers need at least 4 GB of RAM. However, demanding tasks like video editing or serious gaming require 8 GB or more.
What is RAM?
In short, RAM helps your computer work fast. If you’re running multiple programs at the same time and don’t have enough memory, it takes longer to open a file or access data stored on your hard disk.
Computer operating systems take data from long-term storage (like hard drives and SSDs) and copy it to RAM for immediate use, making it much faster to access. Unlike non-volatile storage, which loses its data when power is cut, RAM is always connected to electricity.
RAM can come in a variety of forms, depending on your computer needs and budget. Typically, you’ll see a four-digit number that denotes the type of RAM, such as DDR3, DDR4, or DDR5. Some thin-and-light laptops use low-power DDR3 or LPDDR# memory. For gaming, look for high-clocked DDR4 or GDDR# RAM.
How much RAM do I need?
A computer’s RAM comes in sticks, or modules, that snap into memory slots on the motherboard. They’re typically made from DDR4, although newer processors may support up to 128GB of RAM. The right amount of RAM depends on your unique use case and budget.
If you only need to browse the internet and watch videos, 8GB of RAM might be enough for you. But if you’re gaming or editing video, 16GB of RAM is a good starting point.
Unlike storage devices such as hard disks and SSDs, RAM can be read much faster. This is especially important when multitasking, as it reduces the number of times the CPU has to read data from the hard drive or SSD. There are some people who claim that more RAM makes a computer run faster, but it’s not true for most PC users. More RAM only helps the system be more efficient when working with demanding applications. That’s why it’s a must for serious gamers and demanding creatives.
How do I know if I need more RAM?
RAM is temporary computer storage, meaning that data from programs you’re using gets stored there for quick access. If your system is constantly running out of internal storage space, it may be time to upgrade.
You can easily check how much RAM your computer has by opening the operating system’s Task Manager and examining the Memory tab. If you see that the Available option is less than 25 percent of your total RAM capacity under normal use, an upgrade will likely speed up your PC.
If you’re experiencing unresponsive programs or lagging load times, low RAM is likely the culprit. Be sure to study up on the different speeds, generations, and sizes of RAM to find an appropriate upgrade for your machine. Additionally, read the specifications for each program you wish to use – sometimes they will list recommended or minimum specs that will run the software but might not give you the best experience.
What are the benefits of RAM?
Adding RAM can dramatically improve computer performance. If the system has enough memory, programs can run at full speed without having to swap data into and out of a page file on the hard drive, which operates at much slower speeds than RAM.
RAM is also faster than the hard drive at reading and writing data, which can make a noticeable difference in everyday computing. This makes upgrading RAM a cheap, easy way to improve the responsiveness of your PC.
However, RAM performance isn’t solely determined by its capacity and speed. In addition to these attributes, it’s important to consider the latency rate and timing specification of each stick of RAM. These specifications are formatted as 7-8-8-24 and determine how long it takes for RAM to handle specific computing functions, which can affect overall performance. Faster RAM typically has lower latency rates and timing specifications than older generations of RAM. However, not all RAM is equal and it’s essential to choose the right modules for your motherboard.