What is Random Access Memory (RAM)?
Random Access Memory (RAM) is one of the most important components in all devices, from PCs to smartphones, to game consoles. RAM is an extremely fast component that temporarily stores all the information your device needs right now and in the near future. Accessing that information in RAM is extremely fast, unlike slower hard drives that provide longer-term storage.
Things You Need to Know About Random Access Memory
RAM is essentially your device’s short-term memory. It temporarily remembers everything that runs on your PC (such as Windows, your web browser, games, etc.). Like short-term memory, though, RAM doesn’t remember everything forever. It’s a ‘volatile’ technology which means that once it loses power, it forgets everything. RAM is perfect for handling the multitude of high-speed tasks that your system throws at it on a daily basis, however, this is why it’s also important for storage systems like hard drives and SSDs, which actually holds information when you turn the system off.
The biggest consideration when buying RAM is how much capacity you’d actually need. A minimum amount is required to run an operating system while many games and applications also have a minimum requirement. Those requirements are listed in gigabytes (GB) and are often between 1GB and 8GB, depending on the application’s hardware demands.
Having more than the minimum is important as your device runs the current application as well as other services and tasks in the background of your device. It’s also important to understand that having huge amounts of system memory doesn’t necessarily make your device faster either.
When discussing RAM speed, most users are referring to the frequency of the RAM, which is the number of commands it can process per second. RAM frequency is measured in MHz and usually immediately follows the DDR version in the RAM spec.
When buying RAM, users will see listings for timings, such as CL16-18-18-38 or CL14-14-13-34 or CL16-18-18-36. That number after the ‘CL’ represents the RAM kit’s CAS latency, sometimes called the CL. But, what does CAS latency actually mean and what implications does a RAM kit’s CAS latency have in terms of performance?
CAS latency tells a user the total number of cycles it takes for the RAM to send data, however, users should also consider the duration of each cycle to get a better idea of that RAM’s overall latency.
What Is RAM Used For?
RAM allows users to access multiple programs at once with speed and efficiency. RAM is significantly faster than a hard disk – About twenty to a hundred times faster in fact (depending on the specific hardware type and task). Because of its speed, RAM is used to process information immediately. When you want to finish a specific task, computer operating systems load data from the hard disk into RAM to process it.
How Does RAM Work?
RAM is essentially a super-fast, high-speed storage that your computer and its applications utilize to store and access temporary data. It works by storing common data that programs are in constant use of, rather than storing the data on a much slower medium like a Solid State Hard Drive (SSD). RAM doesn’t automatically have data saved on each chip though. It has a volatile memory, which means it will erase the data when power is no longer flowing through it. However, programs such as Google Chrome, Adobe Photoshop, and even Windows utilizes RAM by inputting its core files upon start up. To find out more about RAM, check out the video below:
Types of Random Access Memory
How Much Does it Cost to Buy RAM?
The cost to buy RAM varies depending on the size and type required for your specific device. Listed below are the top three RAM available in market:
Where to Buy Affordable RAM
Depending on the type of device you have and exactly how much RAM is needed, the cost will vary. Luckily, Storables has made it easy for users to find and buy affordable RAM.
How to Check RAM Space
When you don’t have enough RAM, your computer runs slowly. You’re now probably wondering: How much RAM do I have and how do I check my computer’s RAM space?
If your device is running on Windows, below are a few quick ways on how you can check your RAM space.
On Windows 10, use the Task Manager. Right-click on your taskbar and select ‘Task Manager’ or press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open it. Click on the ‘Performance’ tab and select ‘Memory in the left pane. If you don’t see any tabs, click ‘More Details’ first.
The total amount of RAM you have installed will be displayed here. The Task Manager also tells you the standard it’s using, the speed, its form factor, and how many of your system’s physical memory slots you’re using.
On Windows 7, the Task Manager isn’t this useful. Instead, you can see your total amount of RAM on the Control Panel > System and Security > System page. You can also quickly open this by opening your Start menu, right-clicking on ‘Computer’, and selecting ‘Properties’. Look to the right of ‘Installed Memory’ under System.
On macOS, you can check your RAM capacity in the top left corner of the screen. Click on the Apple icon and select ‘About This Mac’. Next to the ‘Memory’ entry, you can see your total memory usage and its specifications.
To see how much RAM is currently being consumed, in the macOS menu bar, click ‘Go’. Then, select ‘Utilities’ and double click on ‘Activity Monitor’. Click on the ‘Memory’ tab – This is where you’ll see all running processes and (near the lower part), how much memory is being used.
Why is it Important to Have Enough RAM?
The more RAM a computing device has, the faster it runs. If your device is old, you might need to upgrade the hardware. Every application that is open on your device consumes RAM. You can definitely run out of RAM and when that happens, the computer has to move things around on the hard disk which will ultimately slow down the computer.
It’s important to note that RAM is very different from storage – If you turn off your PC, the information is gone, whereas, on storage (such as SSDs, HDDs, etc.), the data will be saved.
So, how much RAM do you actually need? It all really depends on the kind of work you do, how many things you would typically do at once and how impatient you are. As with so many other parts of computing, users always want their devices to respond instantly.
For example, if you’re buying a computer for heavy gaming, then you’ll definitely want enough RAM to support a smooth gameplay. Having just 2GB of RAM available for a game that recommends at least 4GB is going to result in very slow performance if not, possibly total inability to play your games (especially if the recommendation is to have 8GB or more of RAM). On the other hand, if you use your computer for light internet browsing and no video streaming, games, memory-intensive applications, etc. you could easily get away with less memory.
Today, it would be hard to find a new desktop, laptop or even tablet that comes with less than 2 to 4GB of RAM already pre-installed. Unless you have a specific purpose for your computer apart from regular video streaming, internet browsing, and general use, you probably won’t need to buy a computer that needs to have more RAM than that.
Advantages of Having RAM
Having RAM installed on your device has plenty of advantages. The main advantage is the sole purpose of RAM to begin with, and that is to provide quick read and write access to a storage device. This means, your device needs RAM to load data as it’s a lot quicker than running that exact same data directly off your hard drive.
Sometimes a memory upgrade is suggested when computer problems arise. A memory upgrade involves adding RAM chips into a computer. Many users consider a memory upgrade for a number of reasons. The benefits of a memory upgrade depends on how you use your computer.
Another advantage of having sufficient RAM is to avoid computer slowdowns. Multitaskers generally benefit from a memory upgrade because more memory means more programs can be run simultaneously. Computers may experience significant slowdowns when running a larger number of programs at once prior to a memory upgrade. If all RAM space has been used when trying to open programs, the computer resorts to using virtual memory on the hard drive, which slows the computer down. The additional memory means that the computer doesn’t have to resort to using the hard drive for memory.
RAM vs ROM
Read-only Memory (ROM) is exactly what it stands for – A form of memory that a computer can read but not write to. Though that sounds limiting, users would actually be shocked to know that ROM is used in the form of music CDs and DVD-ROMs which was not that common only a few short years ago.
Frequently Asked Questions About Random Access Memory
1. Can RAM data be compressed?
Memory compression is a memory management technique that reduces the size of inactive data in the RAM to free up any unused space and to allow more programs to run simultaneously. It’s designed to fully use the available physical memory and thereby, increase the system’s performance. Memory compression can be applied to computers, smartphones, and embedded systems.
Most computer equipment and gadgets have limited amounts of RAM in which to run applications. Memory compression enables the efficient utilization of the entire physical memory so that several programs can run simultaneously and efficiently. In memory compression, portions of inactive applications in the memory are compressed to 50% or less of their original size. This frees up the RAM and leaves space for other programs and data. And, because the compression and decompression in the RAM are almost instant, the process saves on time that would otherwise have been used to transfer data between the memory and the computer storage.
Memory compression is available for several operating systems such as Windows, Apple OS X, Linux and others.
2. How to reload RAM
Depending on the device you’re using, there are multiple ways of reloading RAM. If you’re using a Windows 7, try the below steps:
- Right-click anywhere on the desktop and select ‘New’ > ‘Shortcut’.
- Enter the following line when asked for the location of the shortcut:…
- Select ‘Next’.
- Enter a descriptive name (such as ‘Clear Unused RAM’) and hit ‘Finish’.
- Open this newly created shortcut and you will notice a slight increase in performance.
If you’re using Windows 10, try the below steps by cleaning your computer cache with CCleaner. This is the easiest option you can use to clear the cache on your Windows 10 computer:
- Download and install CCleaner.
- Run CCleaner, then click ‘Analyze’.
- Click ‘Clean All’.
- This should remove the cached files on your Windows 10 computer.
If you’re a macOS user, try the following steps to clear RAM on your Mac:
- Open ‘Finder’. It’s located on the Dock which you can find at the bottom of the screen.
- Click the ‘Go’ menu. It’s in the menu bar at the top of the screen.
- Click ‘Utilities’. A list of app icons will appear.
- Scroll down and double-click ‘Terminal’. It’s the black computer screen icon with a white prompt at its top-left corner.
- Type ‘sudo purge’ at the prompt. This is the command that will clear the RAM and disk caches. This will not delete any of your personal data.
- Press ‘Return’. A password prompt will appear.
- Type your password and press ‘Return’. The RAM and disk caches are now cleared.
3. How do I check my RAM specs?
There are various ways of checking RAM specs on devices. If you’re running on Windows 7, you can follow the below steps on checking your RAM specs from the control panel.
- Go to the start button and select the ‘Control Panel’ menu.
- Click in front of ‘View by’ the down-arrow icon and choose the ‘Large icons’ option.
- Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find out the System Option and select ‘System’ (this is the one with the computer icon).
- A new page will open with your RAM size in Windows 7.
If you’re running on Windows 10, one of the easiest ways to check your RAM is to bring up the Microsoft System Information. This built-in tool allows you to gather some essential details about your computer – Here’s how you can open it.
- Press Windows Key+R on your keyboard. This should bring up the ‘Run’ dialog box.
- Type “msinfo32.exe” (with no quotes), then hit ‘Enter’.
- Look for the entry named ‘Installed Physical Memory (RAM)’. This should give you the information you need.
If you’re running on a Mac system, the quickest way to find out about your RAM details is to check ‘About This Mac’, which will identify the memory module type and speed, how many RAM slots there are on the Mac and which slots are in use.
- Pull down the Apple menu and go to ‘About this Mac’.
- Click the ‘More Info’ button to summon System Information.
- Look under the ‘Memory’ tab for information about your Mac RAM, including maximum capacity, used memory slots, and which type of RAM the Mac accepts.