Let’s face it. Smartphones are doubling up on the memory game quicker than personal computers ever did. Until two weeks back, I had been using a smartphone that had the identical amount of RAM as my desktop. Of course that changed once I made the decision of adding another stick, bumping it up to 16GB.

RAM or Random Access Memory is crucial for any computer program, it’s temporary memory to your PC which stores the most frequently used programs and instructions to speed up the overall system. It is also the fastest medium of storage in your system when compared to state hard disk drives. RAM is also responsible for multitasking since it allows for multiple apps to load at the exact same time.

Think about it as a temporary area for information which applications and CPU need in order to execute a task. Once you turn off a PC, all information stored within the RAM module is lost, which is the reason why it requires a bit longer for programs to start up when you’ve just turned on the PC versus apps that have already offloaded data into the module.

With the increase in bandwidth of internet, information and media consumption, the requirement of having a speedy system is increasing by the day. One of the easiest means give a boost to your computer is by getting more RAM.

Here is a simple guide on how you should select your system memory, be it an upgrade or if you’re building a new PC.

How much RAM do I need?
This isn’t a really difficult question. It all depends on your needs. Want more performance, you then need more RAM. If you feel your existing system has slowed down on loading apps, throw in a different stick. As I mentioned previously, RAM is responsible for loading programs quicker than traditional storage. Upgrading will clearly lead to greater efficiency thereby improving overall performance.

A simple method to know if you want more RAM is to start your workflow, then goto the Windows Task Manager (hit CTRL+ALT+DEL) and input the Performance section. About Windows 7 or 8/8.1 you will see the RAM section at the bottom. If you’re using Windows 10, there will be a RAM box on the left, then hit that and you will see the statistics of your system memory. Now theoretically, if the available free memory is less than 20-25 percent an update could improve some performance. If average system RAM usage hits the 100 percent mark then you should definitely consider an update.

In case you’re building a new system, 8GB of RAM is now a standard. However if you’re building a system say for gaming subsequently 16GB to about 32GB of RAM should be ok. If you’re building a method for production work, I would suggest 32GB or even higher so that apps can load faster.

Selecting the right RAM for the system
This is where you will need to be mindful. There are a bunch of things which you need to consider prior to going into the market to buy a new RAM module. For those ones that are upgrading, first of all, you need to check if your system allows for RAM expandability. If you have built a PC or even bought a laptop in the previous five years or so, then there is a high possibility that it will have an extra slot to add additional RAM. On this note, bear in mind that laptop RAM is not the same as desktop RAM.

Typical laptop and desktop RAM sticks

Next you need to check what version of Windows you’re using. There are two versions of nearly all Windows versions based on the platform architecture. While many have moved to a 64-bit version, there are still numerous systems that operate on 32-bit. If you are running a 32-bit edition of Windows, then you are limited to just 4GB of RAM. If you’re running a 64-bit edition of Windows 7, 8, 8.1 or 10 then you do have the upgrade capability. For an entire list of compatibility, visit here.

There are some technicalities when it comes to buying RAM.

RAM comes in various varieties. DDR2 SDRAM is often found in computers made after the calendar year 2003, DDR3 SDRAM in computers created after 2007 and lastly DDR4 SDRAM is what the majority of current PC’s usage and DDR5 SDRAM is what’s on the horizon.

Then there are RAM speeds, similar to a processor, the RAM speeds are measured in MHz or megahertz. Now it is advised to utilize the fastest memory but to be honest you won’t be able to see the difference between a RAM running at 2133MHz and 2400MHz, unless you are benchmarking performance. While RAM speeds have topped up to 4133MHz, chips have a RAM speed limitation, but they can still run at high speeds by making some adjustments in your system BIOS. Latency or timing is another thing to consider. It is denoted by four digits like 12-13-12-32. All you need to understand is that reduced the amount means better performance.

Say you need 32GB of DDR4 SDRAM, buying two 16GB sticks will give more optimised performance instead of one 32GB stick. Plus, if one of the RAM’s fail, you can easily swap the faulty one out, instead of buying a single stick all over again.

Suppose you have 8GB of RAM in your system and you also would like to add another 8GB. You will need to be careful about the variety you choose, it has to have the same clock speed and if possible, the exact same timing as the previous stick although this can be adjusted automatically by the computer system.

If your budget allows, I would advise you to go to get a dual-kit with a appropriate heat sink. Some well known brands that offer heatsink established RAM are Corsair, Kingston, Crucial and G.Skill. For laptops nevertheless you might not receive all the mentioned brands, but make sure you stick to the supported size and clock speeds.

Pricing
Now I have a solid reason for bringing up this topic. Pricing for RAM has been going up since the last year on a global scale. It is also predicted that the rates will further increase till the year ends. So in the event you have been planning on adding more or simply building a new system, it is probably wise to upgrade now before prices hit sky-high.

I recently went to one of India’s biggest IT market in New Delhi to receive a fair idea of how much RAM prices. DDR4 based laptop RAM price anything around Rs 2,700 for 4GB and approximately Rs 4,700 for 8GB. DDR3 based laptop RAM is priced about Rs 2,000 for 4GB and an 8GB stick would cost around Rs 3,800.

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