If your computer is suddenly running slow or acting sluggish, one of the most common things you can do is to upgrade your RAM. But what is RAM, and what does it do? Here’s everything you need to know:
What is RAM, and What Does It Stand for?
RAM stands for Random Access Memory. It’s one of the most important hardware components found inside desktop computers, laptops, game consoles, smartphones, and tablets. It’s basically a type of memory space your device uses to store bits of information.
Random Access Memory typically comes in the form of computer chips, called integrated circuits. These chips are normally volatile, which means that they lose stored information once your computer is powered off.
What Does RAM Do?
The easiest way to understand RAM is to imagine your computer as a brain. Your hard drives are like long-term memory, and RAM is like short-term memory.
Your hard drive and RAM are two totally different things. While your hard drive permanently stores your files, applications, and operating system – your RAM temporarily stores all valuable information your computer needs to run programs successfully. In other words, RAM keeps all the things your computer needs on stand-by, so when the time comes, it can quickly pull the information and hand it over to your processor.
So, the more RAM you have, the faster your programs will run. However, RAM is not synonymous with your computer’s speed and performance. Your computer’s overall performance will also depend on your processor and graphics hardware.
How Much RAM Do You Need?
When you decide to upgrade your RAM or buy a new PC, one of the most important things you’ll want to consider is how much memory you need. The answer to this question will depend on how fast you want your computer to be, what types of programs you want to use, and how much you’re willing to spend.
If you only use your computer to check your email and watch YouTube videos, you won’t need more than 4GB of memory. However, if you’re looking to multi-task, use complex graphics programs, or play newer video games, you’re going to need 8GB to 16GB of RAM.
It is generally advisable to install memory sticks in pairs to get the best performance. This is because most computers these days have something called dual-channel memory, which allows your computer to use both memory sticks simultaneously. Because of this, it is recommended that you use at least two memory sticks of the same size and from the same manufacturer. So, if you want a computer with 8GB of RAM, you should use two 4GB sticks.
Is 2GB of RAM Enough?
With 2GB of RAM, these days, you’ll be able to run lightweight programs and do basic tasks. You can use a word processor like Microsoft Word to create, edit and print documents, open and send emails, or use a web browser to surf the net.
However, 2GB of RAM is only enough to do one or two of these things at a time. If you try to do more, your computer won’t be able to keep up with the demands, and it’ll start to slow down. So, 2GB of RAM may be good for today’s budget smartphones and tablets, but it won’t work well with desktops and laptops.
Is 4GB of RAM Enough?
With 4GB of RAM, you can do more than basic tasks. You can open a reasonable number of browser tabs, multi-task, and use several lightweight programs at the same time.
You can also do basic photo editing, stream music, and videos online, and play simple video games without the need for a graphics processing unit. Most computers and laptops come with at least 4GB of RAM these days. Even some tablets and smartphones come with 4GB of RAM to handle modern programs.
Is 8GB of RAM Enough?
With 8GB of RAM, you can run more programs at once, open more files in multiple programs, use simple graphics programs, edit more than 10 photos at one time, and edit spreadsheets. You can also load up more than 30 tabs as you browse the net, or play low-to-mid-end video games.
However, you will need to have a 64-bit computer to handle 8GB of RAM. So you shouldn’t install more than 4GB of RAM in an old machine. Also, most Macs come with 8GB of RAM these days. So, if you want your computer to handle as well as a Mac, you might want to go for 8GB of memory.
Is 16GB of RAM Enough?
With 16GB of RAM, you won’t have to worry about your computer’s performance. Most professional video editors, graphic designers, and hardcore gamers will be able to do anything they need with 16GB of memory.
You can run larger, more complicated and advanced programs, like Adobe Photoshop or AutoCAD, without sacrificing speed. You can also work on very large spreadsheets and databases or play the most demanding graphics-intensive games.
Or, you can multi-task as you play games, like playing music in the background, and still expect your computer to run smoothly. What’s more, you can stream 4K Ultra HD videos from streaming services like Netflix, but you’ll also need a faster internet connection.
You can get more than 16GB of RAM, but you probably won’t use it. Unless you are running several virtual machines at once, or you are a hardcore gamer, you won’t see any benefit of having more than 16GB of RAM.
What is the Difference Between DDR3 and DDR4?
DDR stands for Double Data Rate, and the number 3 or 4 refers to the version of the memory chip. DDR4 is the successor of DDR3, and the main difference between the two lies in how fast they can transfer information to and from the CPU.
Tech experts generally measure the speed of RAM in megahertz, usually abbreviated as MHz. This is a measure of how many times per second your RAM can access its memory, also known as the clock speed. The clock speed for DDR3 is between 800 and 1600 MHz, while the minimum clock speed for DDR4 is 2133 or 2400 MHz.
These RAM cards are also different sizes, so a DDR3 chip won’t fit into a DDR4 slot. So, make sure you know what kind of memory your motherboard has before you try to change or add more memory.
How Much RAM Do I Have?
If you’re using a Windows 10 PC or a Mac, finding how much RAM you have is easy. Find how much memory you have by following these simple steps below.
How to Find How Much RAM You Have in Windows 10
- Open the Start Menu. You can find this by clicking the button in the lower-left corner of your screen that’s shaped like the Windows logo.
- Then click Settings. This is the gear icon just above your power options.
- In the left sidebar, select About.
- You will find your memory details under Device Specifications and next to Installed RAM.
How to Find How Much RAM You Have on a Mac?
- Click the Apple logo in the top left corner of your screen.
- Then choose “About This Mac.”
- In the overview tab, you’ll see a list named “Memory” along with how much memory you have.
If your computer isn’t running as smoothly as it used to, there are a number of steps you can take before you decide to upgrade your memory . Check out our guide on how to reinstall Windows, or how to reset your Windows 10 computer to its factory settings.