When purchasing a computer, one of the specifications to look out for is the amount of RAM it possesses. The system memory of your computer consists of two types of memory: virtual memory and physical memory (also called Random Access Memory). Unlike a hard drive, system memory is not permanent storage. The contents disappear once the computer is turned off.
When you run a program on your computer, the processor sends a command that retrieves it from the hard drive. When the program files are retrieved, the computer will need a digital countertop that will allow you to interact with, and manipulate data. The RAM is the digital countertop. By placing the programs in the RAM, they are held temporarily while you manipulate them for easier and faster access.
RAM is an umbrella term that deals with different types of memory. When people talk about memory or RAM in most cases, they are talking about DRAM (dynamic random access memory) or SDRAM (synchronous dynamic random access memory), in the case of modern systems. Currently, the most common RAM type sold is the DDR4 (Double Data Rate 4) with older ones using DDR3 or DDR2. The numbers symbolize the RAM generation used in the system. An increase in the numbers denotes faster speeds. Due to the physical changes seen by each generation, interchanging them is not possible.
In the video game scene, a common term is VRAM (video RAM). VRAM stores images displayed by the computer, acting as a buffer between the video card and the CPU. The processor reads the data of an image before it is written into the VRAM then displayed on the screen. When loading programs, RAM works great. When you need graphics power, VRAM is your go-to place.
The speed and capacity of your RAM affect the startup speed of your computer. However, these effects apply to the law of diminishing returns and are only substantial to a certain level. A fast RAM decreases the load speed and improves the communication between it and the processor. In addition, a sufficient amount of system RAM improves the load time of the entire operating system and startup programs.
Some computer processes require more memory compared to others. For example, when running Microsoft Excel, the system does not require a lot of memory footprint to generate the required documents. However, the data rates go higher if you are trying to edit a video or play games. If you run several programs simultaneously, a lot of your RAM is required.
In general, your digital footprint increases and your programs run faster the more RAM your system has. If your computer speed has reduced due to lack of RAM, do not be tempted to settle for the cheaper option of increasing the virtual memory. Instead, increase the RAM. This is because your computer processor reads data from the RAM much faster than from virtual memory. The system performance is affected by two main attributes: memory speed and memory capacity.
Memory speed is the amount of time taken by the RAM to receive processor requests and write or read data. A faster RAM equals a faster processing speed. If a RAM is fast, the speed used to transfer data to other components is also increased. This makes your computer more efficient because your processor now has a fast way of communicating with other components. The speed of RAM is measured in Megahertz and can range from 1333MHz to 2133MHz. The bus speed of the system and the processor speed limit the speed of the installed RAM.
The more storage present in your memory module, the more programs you can open at the same time:
Two things limit RAM upgrades: availability of RAM expansion slots and the capability of your computer system. Some RAM upgrades involve replacing the existing RAM with larger RAM modules. This is limited by the system’s capability too. It is good to note that many entry-level portable devices and tablets do not have RAM upgrades.
If you want to upgrade your RAM and improve your system’s performance, the first thing you need to know is your computers’ RAM capacity and whether it runs on a 32-bit or 64-bit register. This is how you find out:
Windows 10: Right-click on the Windows ‘Start Menu’ and click on ‘System’. Once the System window opens, look for the System section and view the amount of RAM in your system. It is right next to installed memory (RAM). In the same section, below installed memory, you can view your system’s register.
Windows 8: Click the desktop app on the start screen to go to the desktop. Point the mouse at the bottom left corner and right-click. An option’s list will open. Click ‘System’ on the options list to take you to the system window. Once at the system section, go to the installed memory (RAM) and view how much RAM your computer has. Under system type in the system section, check the system register used by your device.
Windows 7: Click the start button and right-click on computer. On the options list, click on ‘Properties’ to open the System menu. You can view your computer’s RAM in the system section, right next to RAM. In the same section, under system type, the register used by your system is also visible.
The easiest way to see the difference after adding RAM is to refresh the Windows display. The display refresh will lag or reappear line by line if your RAM is slow. With an increase in RAM, the display refresh speed will increase noticeably.
The amount of RAM you need is dependent on the kinds of programs you run as well as the amount of programs you plan to run simultaneously. For example, if you plan to use your PC to run your web browser and simple processing software such as Word, having a 4GB or 8GB memory can serve you quite well. In contrast, if you plan to use heavy video editing programs or play high-quality video games, adding your RAM to about 16GB is ideal.
If you are a power user, 16GB to 32GB+ is good for you. Some apps and games can use up a lot of RAM all by themselves, for example, Adobe’s creative apps, demanding games like Call of Duty and computer-aided design solutions. The same goes for productivity users who link a number of applications at once. If this is the case, 8GB will not be good for you. Moreover, you are going to cover for your next future needs.
RAM is a type of memory that stores the information needed by your PC temporarily unlike virtual memory. It works by loading the computer with the information you need so that it can access it very fast the moment you request it. It increases computer speed. Having little of it in your computer can drag your work progress. Memory speed and memory capacity are the two factors that affect system performance. The speed of your RAM also has an effect on the startup speed of your computer. Before upgrading your RAM, you need to find out if your system is capable and if it contains any expansion slots. The amount of RAM you need depends on your type of computer usage.