The Basics

What kind of RAM to choose for your computer

Random-access memory (RAM) – is a temporary storage of data that is needed for games and various programs. It provides the processor and video card with quick access to the requested information. Which otherwise would have to be read from a slow hard disk (HDD) or an insufficiently fast SSD-drive.

RAM differs in types and form factor, has a different volume, clock frequency and timing. It is important to select it according to the needs of the user and the capabilities of the motherboard.

Why do I need RAM

The property of RAM is that the data in it, unlike the HDD and SSD, is not stored permanently, but is constantly overwritten and updated. The memory is volatile and cannot store data if the PC is turned off, therefore, after turning off the power, it is automatically cleared.

The PC speed becomes higher, because at the time of launching a game or program, the necessary data is downloaded from the HDD or SSD to RAM and then made available to the processor. The heavier the files to store, the larger the RAM should be. For example, a large amount of memory is required by the texture of virtual objects for games in high resolution.

Memory modules

What does RAM look like?

RAM looks like narrow printed circuit boards with microcircuits called memory modules or memory slats. They are marked with the designation DRAM – Dynamic Random Access Memory. The strips can have different capacities – 4, 8, 16, 32 GB or more, as well as several other key parameters.

What are the types

Since 2012, the most current and common memory standard is DDR4. The previous DDR3 standard is outdated and is now only suitable for PCs a decade ago. DDR2 is found in very old computers assembled before 2003, and motherboards that support such memory are no longer produced.

DDR4 Straps

Why the form factor is important for RAM

Most full-size home computers use the DIMM form factor. On laptops, compact ITX systems and all-in-ones, they most often install SODIMM memory. It is less than half the DIMM by the length of the module, but the rest of the characteristics can be any and does not differ from the full format.

The rest of the form factors are not particularly interesting to a simple user – they are installed either on servers or on old PCs.

What is clock frequency

Clock frequency – the time between sending a command to the memory controller and its execution. The parameter is responsible for the speed of data processing and affects the performance of the computer as a whole, measured in ticks. The higher the frequency, the better: for example, the operating frequency of DDR4 is in the range from 2133 to 3200 MHz and higher, and for DDR3 – from 800 to 2133 MHz.

The module price directly depends on the height of the clock memory. It’s better to choose high-speed memory, especially for games and streaming on YouTube.

3200 MHz

What is timing

Timing (CAS Latency) – this is the delay time between the operations of reading, writing or copying data in RAM, one of the most important parameters.

The most important thing in timing is the first digit, which is called latency (CL). The lower the CL value, the faster the memory produces information and the higher the overall performance of the computer. For example, the frequent latency for DDR4 memory at 2133 MHz is CL 15, and with a higher frequency – CL 16. A DDR4 module with latency above these values ​​will be inferior in technical specifications.

C CL 15−16

How to choose memory for the motherboard

If you want to upgrade your computer by purchasing a more powerful RAM module, you need to make sure that it is compatible with the motherboard. The type of memory and the frequency of the modules that it supports can be found on the manufacturer’s website and in the model documents.

To add another memory module to the computer, it is important that the motherboard has a free slot. The number of brackets will also depend on the size of the motherboard: micro-ATX has only one slot for installing DRAM, mini-ITX and ATX have four and eight. In general, modern motherboards support up to 32 GB of memory, and this will be quite enough for most tasks.

An important parameter of the memory module is the voltage that is necessary for its stable operation. Before you buy the slats, you need to make sure that the motherboard supports it. Installing new modules on the old motherboard also fails.

What are the plus sets of memory

For stable operation, it is better to buy paired memory modules – two or four slats from the same manufacturer. Do not put on the motherboard a combination of two or four different memory modules.

If the system has one RAM bar, but you need more, it is better to look for the exact same module. It is often difficult to buy a similar bar in a year, so it’s better to immediately determine how much memory will be needed with a margin for the future, and buy a kit.

For example, if you need 16 GB, you can buy a set of 2 × 8 GB. If you need 32 GB of memory, the option of 4 × 8 GB or 2 × 16 GB is suitable. In the second case, there will even be a reserve of two slots on the motherboard, which may come in handy in the future.

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