What Is PC RAM?

RAM is the short-term memory component of a computer that allows for data to be read and written almost instantaneously. It’s also the key to faster processing speeds for whatever you do on your laptop, desktop or tablet.

Whether you’re typing an essay, saving a document or playing video games, the faster your RAM can read and write data, the better your experience will be. So how much does your device need?


RAM stores the data your computer is currently using, such as apps and files. Unlike non-volatile storage (like an SSD or HDD), RAM resets each time your system reboots.

This means that RAM’s speed is important because it helps keep the computer running smoothly and quickly. Having more memory also makes it easier to open large video and photo files, or multiple applications at once.

The higher the frequency of your RAM, the faster it runs. However, it’s also important to consider latency. This is the amount of time it takes for your CPU to communicate with RAM. Having low latency is essential for high-performance applications, like video editing and gaming.

Average PC users can get by with 8GB of RAM, but 16GB is ideal for hardcore gamers and high-end media creators. You can even go up to 128GB on some motherboards for those that want the most power possible. However, higher capacity tends to be more expensive.


Memory capacity is the amount of data that can be stored in a single stick of RAM. This is an important factor for gamers and other users who need to run many applications or games simultaneously.

While the speed of the processor and the capacity of storage are also essential factors in overall computer performance, RAM is the most important component when it comes to loading programs and multitasking. Without enough RAM, a computer can feel slow and unresponsive, especially with today’s memory-hungry office software, multimedia editing programs, and graphics-intensive games.

To get the most out of your computer, you’ll want to look for a model with 16GB of RAM or more. Adding more RAM is a straightforward process and will likely improve your PC’s performance dramatically. To find compatible RAM for your computer, consult your motherboard documentation or an online memory compatibility scanner. DIMM (dual in-line memory module) sticks are designed for desktop motherboards, while SO-DIMM sticks are made for laptops and mini-ITX small form factor motherboards.


If you want to perform well on games, work, and other applications, RAM is essential. It holds the short-term data that your computer processor needs to keep moving. For example, if you click a link to visit a new website, your CPU uses a series of capacitors and transistors to translate that link into the website’s data. RAM makes this happen quickly.

In contrast, non-volatile system storage, such as an SSD or HDD, keeps data permanently until you delete it. This is why the information stored in your hard drive takes longer to retrieve when you open a program.

When you have enough RAM, your PC can run multiple programs at once without slowing down. This is because your computer doesn’t have to move files between RAM and a slower hard drive for temporary storage. This process is called swapping, and it causes the slowdown that you experience when running too many programs at once.


RAM is your computer or laptop’s short-term memory bank, where the processor stores the data it needs to perform tasks right now. Disk drives, meanwhile, hold long-term storage where files and apps sit, but require a slower process to access their contents.

If you open too many applications at once and your system runs out of RAM, it’ll ‘push’ programs out to disk and into swap (a reserved area on storage for memory that spills over from RAM). When you return to a program, the information it needs isn’t instantly available and performance suffers.

Consumer memory DIMMs are volatile, meaning that their values disappear when you shut down your computer or power it back on. However, there is a non-volatile variant called Intel Optane that can be used to store persistent data. The chips use a combination of transistors and capacitors to store one bit of value per memory cell. The data isn’t particularly useful and requires an already-loaded driver to be accessed, but it’s a cool trick for a little extra storage!