Random-access memory, or RAM, is an essential component in all devices, from PCs and smartphones to game consoles. Without RAM, doing anything on any system would be a lot slower. On the other hand, not having enough apps or games that you are trying to run could cause things to crawl or even prevent them from running.
But what exactly is RAM? In short, it’s a high-speed component that temporarily stores all the information the device needs now and is imminent. Accessing data in RAM is extremely fast, unlike a slower hard drive but offers long term storage capacity.
If this is all semantic and you just need to know how to install some RAM or want to find out how much RAM you need, we have a guide for that too.
Short term memory
RAM is essentially the short-term memory of the device. It temporarily stores (remembers) everything currently running on the device, like all OS-specific services and whatever web browser, image editor or game you’re playing.
RAM prevents the CPU from digging through a device’s slower storage – like a hard drive or even a solid-state drive (SSD) – every time you ask for a new browser tab or load a new enemy to shoot. Storage speeds are as fast as drives of years go by, they are still much slower than RAM.
Data residing in RAM is readable from any capable component at almost the same speed. Because it has a hard-wired connection to the device, there is no real lag in the cable or connection.
However, RAM doesn’t remember everything forever. It’s a “volatile” technology, meaning that once the power goes out, it forgets everything. That makes it perfect for handling the multitude of high-speed tasks your device has to perform every day.
But that’s also why storage systems like hard drives and SSDs are needed. Unlike RAM, they keep information when the device is powered off.
Different types of RAM
RAM is a general term, like “memory,” and includes several different types.
“RAM” or “memory” generally refers to dynamic random-access memory (DRAM), or more accurately for modern systems, synchronous dynamic random-access memory (SDRAM). The term is not important outside of technology, but it is helpful to know that the relative terms are interchangeable in colloquial terms.
The most popular type of RAM sold today is DDR4, although older systems may use DDR3 or even DDR2. The numbers simply denote generation of RAM, with each successive offering faster speeds through greater bandwidth – higher megahertz (MHz) ratings. Each generation also has physical changes, so they are not interchangeable.
Another popular term, especially in the video game space, is VRAM, or video RAM. Although once a standalone technology, VRAM is now used to denote dedicated memory on the graphics card. As for the game console it can also reference the system memory, but in both cases it has to have to do with the dedicated GPU memory. Ram is very important for DDR graphics, or GDDR, often with notation generation, like GDDR6.
Most modern graphics cards use GDDR6. However, some graphics cards can use a different type of VRAM called High bandwidth memory (HBM, HBM2 and HBM2e). It has unique performance advantages, although it is often expensive and supply issues hamper widespread adoption.
Size isn’t everything
The most important consideration when buying RAM for a PC is the amount of space required. Minimum amounts are required to run the operating system, while many games and applications also have minimal requirements. Those requirements are listed in gigabytes (GB) and typically range from 1GB to 8GB, depending on the hardware needs of the application.
Having more than minimum RAM is essential. Not only does the PC run current apps, but also other services and tasks in the background. However, having a large amount of system memory doesn’t necessarily make your PC run faster.
Quantity isn’t the only important aspect of RAM. While more gigabytes can help with multitasking, faster Memory results in a better improvement in overall speed, in certain games and applications.
Like a CPU, RAM has a clock speed, which effectively controls the amount of data it can process per second when combined with a few other factors. The total speed of memory is known as bandwidth and is measured in megabytes per second (MB / s), but traditionally you’ll see memory marketed at speeds in megahertz (MHz).
Typical DDR4 memory runs in the 2,133MHz to 3,000MHz range, but some can run up to 4,866MHz for the fastest kits available. You will see these commercially marketed as DDR4-2133 or similar, and sometimes under the confusing “PC” label. The number that follows “PC” is simply the MHz rate multiplied by eight and then rounded. For example, you can see it listed as DDR4-2133 PC4-17000.
Timing is another aspect of memory that can have an impact on RAM performance, even though they are no longer important. It’s actually the time between clock cycles and as the memory speed increases, so does the time, reducing latency. Usually times are listed as a number separated by a dash, such as 15-15-15-35 or similar.
When buying memory, timing is only as important when considering high-performance memory for benchmarks or top gaming. The average consumer doesn’t really care about timing.
Finally, we have channels. Most memory cards sold today at least support dual-channel, which means there are two bus lanes between a memory slot and the CPU memory controller on the motherboard.
However, this design requires two sticks of RAM of the same type and the speed of dual channel support. High-end RAMs with three or four modules supporting the motherboard three or four-channel memory design are also available.
For practical purposes, the multi-channel design doesn’t make a big difference in day-to-day performance. if you do However, if you want to take advantage of dual-channel or more-channel memory, make sure to insert the sticks into the correct colored slots on the motherboard. Check out the manual for previous help.
How important is RAM?
RAM is substantial. Too little can lead to sluggish performance, although smaller devices like tablets and smartphones don’t need as much as high-end gaming desktops. However, installing bulk or using the highest MHz rating doesn’t mean the device will run wildly fast. Remember that RAM is only part of the overall equation.
Have enough RAM do The problem, however, is the issue and having not too slow RAM is also a good idea, especially for complex image or video editing tasks and playing CPU-limited games.
But when it comes to improve overall PC performance, considering the costs involved. A CPU is faster or graphics card Usually will have a more significant impact on overall speed than memory upgrade. However, some CPUs, like AMD’s Ryzen series, reap more significant benefits with memory upgrades.
Upgrade from hard drive to SSD is also a big step in the right direction. Movement into the SSD drive slowest storage component acceleration with a significant profit. It does a great job in making a PC more flexible.
As with any computer device, the slowest component often limits performance. That means the slow memory can hold the device back if it’s the worst part of the configuration. Unless you’re doing anything particularly intensive, things beyond the minimum should be fine. A little more than the required amount should be sufficient, as long as it’s not on the bottom of the barrel. A figure just above the bare minimum for your device should suffice.
There are a lot of things to consider when configuring speed, size, and latency for something with more power. Some also have RGB LEDs, as you can see above.
To fully understand why and what a computer is capable of, you need to understand what RAM is. First, you must have an initial idea of how much RAM your machine needs and what you need to do to install it. With this knowledge, you will save money on hardware purchases you don’t have to have to launch setup. All steps are essential for performance, but RAM is where you see its speed and the quality of its capabilities.
Let’s take a look at your complete setup first. Determine the minimum amount of RAM you need to use your hardware and make sure it matches the amount of RAM provided. Most simpler models will only have enough RAM to run your machine. When you start adding other parts like programs and data, problems quickly arise. However, if this happens to you, there are plenty of after-sales solutions to improve your memory.
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