RAM (random access memory) is critical in any laptop or PC. Adding more RAM means boosting system performance and improving frame rates. After CPU and GPU, RAM is the most important component to boost your PC responsiveness. Deciding the right RAM memory for your laptop or PC couldn’t be rocket science if you’re tech-savvy.
However, if this is your first time buying RAM – or upgrading an old laptop, a range of options and terminology can seem overwhelming. Even the internet is loaded with a bulk of systems, such as 8 GB RAM Laptops, 12GB RAM PCs, 16 GB RAM, 32 GB RAM, and so on. You may not be able to choose the right RAM to meet your needs.
Read on for everything you need to know about getting the right RAM for your laptop or PC.
How RAM Works
RAM stores the short-term that your laptop requires to properly operate. Unlike an SSD (solid-state drive) or hard disk drive that stores data indefinitely, RAM resets every time the system is rebooted. It is a ‘volatile type memory,’ meaning RAM only stores data when the PC is running. Programs or applications can be loaded into RAM temporarily while in use but can be uploaded permanently on a storage drive if not deleted.
Types of RAM
Typically, there are two widely used types of RAM.
1. Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM): DRAM is a type of semiconductor memory used in modern PCs and laptops. It is used for the program code needed by a computer processor to function. It requires constant power to hold on to stored data. Used in personal PCs, servers, and workstations, DRAM stores each bit of data in a memory cell.
2. Static Random Access Memory (SRAM): Unlike DRAM, SRAM does not require constant power to hold on to data. It means it can retain data bits in its memory as long as the PC is running and the power is being supplied. Faster than DRAM, SRAM uses more transistors and is thus more costly. This memory is used in small amounts as cache memory inside the CPU.
How to Choose the Right RAM Memory for Your PC or Laptop?
Buying RAM with the biggest number next to it or choosing one is not merely a case of spending as much money as possible. There are many factors to consider before purchasing RAM.
More RAM or Faster RAM: What to Choose?
People often choose the fastest RAM available without giving any thought to whether it is the best choice for their system. Given a choice between speed and size, better choose more RAM than faster RAM.
Faster RAM boosts the performance of PCs in certain scenarios. For example, if you are using an integrated GPU, it will improve your system’s visual capabilities. Similarly, it will make a more noticeable difference for a device that is frequently accessed from multiple points, like a virtual machine host or high-traffic web server. For an average number of users, going for speed rather than size is unlikely to make a noticeable difference.
In other words, if you are not sure whether you should buy an 8GB RAM Laptop of DDR4 RAM with a speed of 3200 MHz or a 16GB PC of DDR4 RAM with a speed of 2400, it will almost always make sense for you to go for the second option.
One Slot or Several: Which is Better?
Choosing multiple lower-capacity RAM units over a single high-capacity unit is a wise decision. If you fill all your vacant RAM slots, you’ll be able to create channels between the RAM and CPU. It gives better performance. So, if you are unable to make a decision and you have more free slots, opting for four lots of 4GB RAM than two 8GB units is a good decision.
What are you using your laptop for?
For many, an 8 GB RAM laptop or 16 RAM is usually sufficient. But that’s still a pretty significant variance. It is imperative to understand your own requirements before deciding on RAM for laptop.
To take an example, if you want a cost-effective gaming computer, spending money extravagantly on RAM will probably not make sense. You must decide on a limited amount of money to spend on RAM. In so far as system performance is concerned, you are better off splashing the amount on CPU or GPU by saving money from your RAM purchase to experience bigger improvements in your system.
As such, an 8GB RAM laptop should be sufficient. Keep in mind that RAM is by far the easiest segment in your system to upgrade. So the world is not going to end if you need to buy more later on.
On the other hand, in case a high-end workstation is required, especially if you are a video editor or graphic designer, spending a little more money on RAM upfront to futureproof your system can be the right bet. Ultimately, you’ll definitely use it.
Be Aware of RAM Compatibility Issues
It is worth remembering that not all RAM is compatible with every PC or laptop. Look at DDR Generation, Motherboard DIMM Slots, CPU Heatsink Clearance, and Form Factor when considering the compatibility of a memory kit.
- DDR Generation: Considering DDR generation is important as old generation DDR memory won’t work with motherboards that are designed to support newer generation DDR memory. DDR3 memory cannot be used in a motherboard that has DDR4 DIMM slots. Likewise, you cannot put DDR4 memory in a motherboard with DDR3 DIMM slots.
- Motherboard DIMM slots: Check how many slots your motherboard has. Some may have only two DIMM slots. So, you will be unable to use a 4x4GB kit of memory in them. A maximum of only two sticks of RAM can be put in that instance. So, be sure you’re not buying more memory sticks than your motherboard requires.
- CPU Heatsink Clearance: Remember that some memory kits come with compatibility issues with certain CPU heatsinks. Bulky big air CPU coolers can over DIMM slots. They can also prevent memory kids with tall heat spreaders from being installed. It is therefore good to ensure that if you are choosing a big bulky air cooler and you are choosing RAM with tall heat spreaders, then make sure that your air cooler won’t interfere with your RAM.
Which RAM You Should Choose
RAM is among the most important components to buy to enhance the performance of your laptop or computer. Your budget can determine how much RAM you should get. If you have a low budget, then go for 8GB RAM, as it can be fine until you have enough memory to add an additional 8GB RAM. Go for 16 GB or more if your budget allows. It is always good to buy RAM, depending on your specific use case.