PC memory or RAM (random access memory) is where your computer temporarily stores the data it needs to access quickly to run programs or carry out processing tasks. Since every program you have running (including the computer’s operating system) and every browser tab you have open uses memory, the more RAM you have installed, the more apps you can run and the more effective your PC will be at multitasking. Upgrading your PC’s memory is possibly the simplest and cheapest way to increase your PC’s performance.
So how much RAM do you need? It’s hard to give a definitive figure since this will depend on the type of work you’re doing and the programs you need to use on your PC but as a general guide, 8Gb should be enough for mainstream home and office use (web browsing, email, word processing, spreadsheets etc). If you’re using your PC for creative work like graphics or video editing, we’d recommend 16Gb or more. Gamers playing entry level or less demanding titles will be fine with 8Gb of RAM but for more demanding games and live streaming, ideally you’ll need at least 16Gb or even 32Gb of RAM installed. Before you go ahead and purchase more RAM though, check that the programs you’ll be using will actually use the extra capacity. Vendors will usually list the recommended system requirements in their literature.
If you’re shopping for a memory upgrade for your PC it’s important to ensure you choose RAM that is compatible with your system as there are various types of memory available. Most current PCs support either DDR4 or DDR5 memory whereas older models use DDR, DDR2 or DDR3 RAM. Check the specs of your PC processor and motherboard to establish which generation of DDR RAM you need.
Another thing to check is the size of the memory module(s) you need. Most PCs use full size DIMMs but there are some smaller units and mobile PCs that require smaller SODIMM modules. Your PC’s processor will be capable of reading and writing data with your RAM via at least two channels simultaneously. Some high end processors support quad channel RAM. With this in mind, it is advisable to install memory modules in pairs to get the best system performance. Check also that there are enough vacant slots on the motherboard for the number of modules you intend to buy.
Finally, look out for the memory module’s speed (measured in MHz) which determines how quickly the RAM responds to read and write requests. Higher speed rating therefore means improved performance. DDR4 RAM speeds Start at around 1600MHz, but these speeds are slow by today’s standards and 2133MHz is a more typical standard module speed.