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A memo about PC memory

Confused by memory?  Don’t know your DRAM from your SRAM?  Are you new to the world of RAM?  Not a problem.  Help is at hand.

We’ve put together this brief memo to explain the ins and outs of PC memory; what it is, how it can improve your computers performance, and how you can choose the best memory for your PC.  Let’s start by going back to basics.

What is PC memory?

The concept of PC memory can cause some puzzlement with computer users confusing it with storage memory.  Understandable really.  PC memory is more easily referred to as RAM (Random Access Memory) and performs very different tasks to the storage memory which is found on a hard drive or SSD.

RAM, in the form of a memory module, is a component in your computer which enables short-term or temporary data access.  This could be anything from loading a file or editing a spreadsheet.

By contrast storage memory, for example a hard drive, allows long-term data access.  In other words it will permanently store programmes, applications, and all your data files.

DDR4 memory in heap

Data access

RAM memory determines how fast your computer accesses data.  If your PC seems sluggish, upgrading the memory, i.e. increasing the RAM capacity, could speed it up appreciably.

Because RAM and storage work together it is often best to upgrade your hard drive too.  The general rule though, is the more RAM your machine has, the faster it will access data.

So RAM, or PC memory, is a vital component which has a big impact on the performance of our computer.  So, we know we need memory.  But, just to slightly muddy the waters again, there are two types of RAM.

DRAM or SRAM?

There are two common types of PC memory; Dynamic (DRAM) and Static (SRAM).  Of the two DRAM is the more common.  It is cheaper, packs more data into a smaller space, and is the memory used in the vast majority of computers.  You can find a huge range of DRAM modules on the Ebuyer site.

SRAM, though faster, is expensive and more likely to be found in portable gadgets such as mobile phones though it can be found in cache memory (not something the average computer user needs to worry about).

memory module in persons hand

Types of DRAM

When it’s time to select a new memory module you will find different types, capacities and speeds.  Don’t worry, choosing new memory is not too complicated a task.  But first of all…..

Here comes another acronym

Memory modules will be labelled with DDR (Double Data Rate) followed by a number.  The number simply refers to the generation of the module, e.g., DDR3.  The lower the number the older the technology.  DDR3 is a common memory type however DDR4 was released in 2014 and is now the standard with most new PCs featuring this type of memory.

However, the simple rule to remember here is that any new memory must be compatible with your motherboard.  If you currently have DDR3 in your PC you cannot add DDR4 to it, you must use components from the same generation.

Memory speed

Each module of memory has a clock rating and it is this rating which determines the rate at which the PC’s CPU will process data.

The clock speed is measured in megahertz and you will see the rating displayed alongside the memory type.  As an example, on the Ebuyer site you may see

  • DDR3 1866MHz
  • DDR4 2400MHz
  • DDR4 3333MHz

And so on.  The higher the rating the faster the memory.

It should be noted here that there is no point in buying super-fast memory if your PC is unable to handle it.  You need to check whether your PC’s processor can support the memory you are thinking of buying.

For example, if your CPU supports up to 2400MHz there is little point in buying memory with a clock speed of 3333MHz.

Why you should upgrade your PC’s memory

Adding more RAM to your PC is one of the easiest and most effective upgrades you can perform.  If your computer is running slowly, or you need to have multiple applications running simultaneously, installing additional memory will make it faster and more efficient.

How much memory should I add?

It depends.  It’s a little simplistic but the general rule here is the more memory it has the quicker and more efficient the computer will be.  How much memory you can add will depend on the number of RAM slots on your motherboard. Most motherboards will have either two or four slots which are assigned to a memory channel.

a bank of memory modules

Memory modules can be purchased either singly or in kits.  Best performance is usually attained by mounting memory in multiples so, for example, two 8GB modules will perform better, albeit slightly so, than a single 16GB module.

Memory can be purchased in various capacities from 2GB right up to 64GB though for everyday use including multimedia, web browsing and word processing, 8GB to 16GB in total will usually be more than adequate.

Installing the memory

The good news is that physically adding the memory to your PC is very easy, even for those of us who have never peeked inside a computer case before.  It takes only a few moments.  Match up the notches on the bottom of the memory with those on the motherboards slot and simply push into place.

user installing memory into a pc

Manufacturers

Here at Ebuyer.com we stock a huge range of around 500 modules and kits of RAM from a selection of suppliers including:

Kingston

Manufacturers of the blisteringly fast HyperX range as well as standard memory Kingston are always developing new technology.  Their range includes modules of all specifications and capacities and are suitable for everyone from home users, to gamers, and business users.

Corsair

For high-performance and overclocking Corsair’s Vengeance series is hard to beat.  The full range of Vengeance is available from Ebuyer along with Corsair’s standard range of PC memory.

Crucial

Crucial produce both standard and high-performance RAM.  Suitable for every machine whether it be a home multimedia PC or a high-speed gamers rig, you will find all their memory modules here at Ebuyer.

 

More from the Ebuyer blog

 

Should you install an SSD

 

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Craig Ellyard

Token old guy in the office and lifelong Hull City fan with all the psychological issues that brings. To relax I enjoy walking my two Labradors, as well as running and cycling. Set in my ways I like reading, abhor social media and just don’t get Game of Thrones.

1 comment

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  1. Paul Middleton 19 June, 2017 at 08:46

    Thanks for the post – it was useful and well written.

    I would like to point out though that installing (or replacing) the RAM will not always increase the performance of a PC. It will only help if you are running more applications than your current configuration can cope with.

    It is easy to check the amount of RAM being used – simply start the task manager and click on the performance tab.
    If the memory used (when you have all your usual programs that you run at the same time are running) is more that 75% consistently use, additional memory will help IF your computer can cope the additional memory.

    In many cases with Windows 8 and Windows 10 – I see the hard drive showing 100% utilisation while memory is hovering around 20% – removing apps that are unnecessarily starting up or replacing the hard drive with an SSD would help then.

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