Computer RAM: How to choose, replace, upgrade

Let’s talk about all the nuances in the framework of today’s article.

Purpose of RAM

RAM is a computer device that is used to temporarily store data when used by the processor. The CPU works only with the information that is added to the RAM. This explains the moment when you start a program or open a file, nothing happens for a couple of seconds. At this time, the system loads them into RAM.

Accordingly, if working at a computer requires the simultaneous opening of several applications, then the amount of memory should be appropriate. The larger the amount of RAM, the higher the number of running programs and the less time it takes to switch between them. RAM is not a storage medium with a constant parameter and nothing is stored in it when the PC is turned off.

In material form, RAM is an integrated circuit bar with a standard connector of one of the types. In current home systems, it is always inserted into a slot on the motherboard.

How to choose

The choice of RAM depends on several indicators. Let’s take a closer look at each one separately.

Memory types

In practice, there are five main types of memory: DDR, DDR2, DDR3, DDR4 and DDR5. The youngest of them is DDR5.

This standard was released in 2020 and was twice as fast as the previous version of DDR4. Now we are talking only about the official frequency tables, which for DDR4 started at 1600 and ended at 3200. But a special motherboard is required to support it. Therefore, DDR5 is not compatible with lots of other types of memory.

Despite the upgraded DDR5 standard, DDR4 memory is very relevant today. Although it went into mass production more than 8 years ago – in 2104. The standard has a lower cost, high-frequency response and low supply voltage.

The DDR3 memory type runs at a high clock speed (twice that of DDR2) and consumes less power. This allows you to generate less heat and not heat the air inside the system unit.

DDR2 memory is less than optimal but is found inside some PCs. It has increased speed and low power consumption. The clock speed is twice as high, and the supply voltage is almost half as much compared to DDR.

In turn, DDR RAM modules remained only on very outdated PC models that are off the market. Accordingly, its cost is quite high, which is caused by a shortage of proposals.

All types of memory differ in speed, power consumption, and slots for connecting to the motherboard.

Memory size

As mentioned above: the more RAM, the better. On the one hand, this is true, but not always. The first thing that gets loaded into RAM is the operating system. Windows download takes about 2.5 GB. The rest of the volume is operated by user programs.

To run standard office software, 2-4 GB of memory is enough. To work in publishing applications or video games, you will need about 12-16 GB. That is, such a volume will be quite comfortable for these purposes.

Installing more than 12 GB is necessary for those who work in several programs at the same time or buy a computer for a further upgrade. But do not forget that a 32-bit operating system is not capable of using more than 3.25 GB. In other words, if the PC has 4 or more GB of memory, then you need to install only a 64-bit OS.


When choosing a RAM, it is desirable to understand the notation. The technical specifications of the device indicate the following:

  • DIMMs and SODIMMs. Form factor, that is, the type of connector. DIMM is a common computer memory stick. SODIMM – a reduced memory bar, used in laptops or very compact micro-PCs.
  • ECC. Support for the option to detect and correct errors in the data stream. Usually required in server solutions or workstations and costs much more than similar types, but without ECC support. DDR5 memory has ECC functionality, but it only works inside the chips themselves for the duration of data storage, there is no check of the integrity of the read or transmitted data.
  • registered. A parameter that distinguishes the special reliability of the memory and is also characterized by a high capacity of the strips, up to 256GB. Such a standard is required for servers.
  • CL. The number of cycles in which data is read from memory. The lower this figure, the higher the speed of the memory.
  • Clock frequency. This parameter directly determines the speed of the RAM.

How to replace RAM

It is very important to replace the RAM modules correctly in order to avoid mistakes and not harm the system. When replacing the RAM in your computer, you must do the following:

  • Power off the device;
  • Unplug the power plug from the socket;
  • Remove the side cover of the system unit;
  • Take aside the latches of the memory strip to be replaced and remove it from the connector;
  • Controlling the coincidence of the key in the slot with the notch on the new module, carefully insert it into the slot and press until the latches click (you can gently help with your fingers);
  • Check the reliability of fastening the strap in the connector;
  • Return the cover of the system unit to its place, power the system unit and turn on the device;
  • Open the “System Information” tab and make sure that the OS is fully reading the RAM.

Note that when installing two rulers with the motherboard supporting dual-channel memory operation, the brackets are inserted into the connectors of the same colour. In addition, the modules themselves must be compatible.

How to upgrade

You can also upgrade an existing device by increasing the amount of RAM.

We note that if the PC used as a whole is working properly, but the system “thinks” when opening several applications, this is a sign of insufficient RAM. If there is not enough memory, then the OS starts to exploit the hard disk memory as an extension of the RAM. Since the speeds of the RAM and the system disk are different, the entire computer slows down. In this case, you need to check whether there is space on the motherboard for an additional RAM slot. If it is, then you can purchase the same type of memory and add it to the one already in use.

If there are no noticeable drops in PC performance, but the speed of the computer is not satisfactory, you can solve the problem in another way. You need to find out from the instructions, or with the help of special programs, what is the fastest RAM supported by the motherboard. If not the fastest supported memory modules are installed on it, you need to change them to faster ones. Thus, there will be a performance increase.


Computer RAM is one of the main pieces of hardware. It is extremely important to choose the right RAM modules and, if necessary, replace and upgrade the RAM. These moments affect the performance of the system as a whole.

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