Random-access memory, commonly abbreviated as RAM or simply “memory,” is one of the most critical components of any computer. Modern PCs, tablets, and phones contain memory ranging from 2GB to 32GB, with some having much more. But how much RAM do you need?
Long-term storage provided by a solid-state or mechanical hard drive is sometimes confused with memory capacity. Even retailers and manufacturers might get the terms mixed up.
Technically, RAM and Memory are the same things, yet they serve completely distinct purposes. RAM is a little quantity of incredibly rapid storage, rather than a vast amount of slow storage like you’d find on a mechanical hard drive. As you launch programs, you should use system memory to store data that they require rapidly.
Varied programs demand different amounts of RAM, but any application will almost certainly take some RAM. That adds up gradually, and if you don’t have sufficient RAM to go around, your programs will suffer greatly. You can still run them, but if your RAM runs out, the app won’t access the ultra-fast storage RAM provides to retrieve the data it requires.
It’s also possible to have too much RAM. If you only use 12GB of RAM under the most demanding conditions and have a 16GB kit, upgrading to a 32GB kit will not affect your performance (provided all other factors are equal). It’s squandered money.
As a result, it’s critical to select a capacity that slightly surpasses your requirements without going crazy. You may add more RAM to your computer without affecting performance. But that’s akin to purchasing a four-bedroom home and only using two of them.
Dedicated memory utilized by discrete graphics cards should not be confused with system RAM. Video RAM, or VRAM, is used in high-end 3D games to store picture data such as textures temporarily. The most recent graphics cards employ GDDR5, GDDR6, and GDDR6X memory.
In the meantime, you can label system RAM as DDR3 or DDR4, with the generation number indicating the generation. Although suitable equipment may not arrive in the wild for a while, the newer name DDR5 denotes the latest RAM generation. Our DDR5 guide will keep you up to date on what to expect.
DDR6 is under development; however, it is not yet available.
If all of this sounds perplexing, be rest assured that most manufacturers do an excellent job of adequately labeling RAM so that buyers understand what they’re getting.
Which Applications Use A Lot Of RAM
Although some apps and games might require more than everything combined, the operating system and web browser utilize the most RAM. You can’t do much to make Windows or macOS use less memory, but having more RAM on your computer allows you to open more browser tabs in Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and other browsers.
Furthermore, more complicated websites need more RAM than simpler ones. A simple text news piece, for example, consumes relatively little memory, whereas Gmail or Netflix use a lot.
The same is true for programs that are only available offline. A chat application or a game like Minesweeper will require almost no RAM. Yet, a massive Excel spreadsheet, Photoshop project, or graphics-intensive games like Wolfenstein Youngblood can easily use gigabytes.
Professional apps consume the most RAM, aside from gaming and regular browsing. Video editing programs like Adobe Premiere and digital audio workstations (DAWs) like Pro Tools, in particular, are memory hogs. We’ll go through specifics for tablets, laptops, and desktops later, but 16GB is usually enough for a desktop application. However, if you use software like Premiere or Pro Tools, upgrading to 32GB is an excellent option (similar applications can take advantage of that entire RAM).
What Is The Recommended Amount Of RAM For My Tablets?
Tablets’ design doesn’t handle intensive software; thus, their RAM requirements are often minimal, similar to many smartphones.
Tablet needs are growing more and more similar to laptop needs as multi-tab browsers and more complex software shift. The current RAM options typically vary from 2GB to 16GB, with other factors such as battery life and CPU speed often taking precedence.
The iPad Mini, for example, has 3GB of RAM, but its design is more focused on its bright display and extended battery life. Meanwhile, Apple’s latest 12.9-inch iPad Pro has 6GB of RAM to accommodate the 2-in-1 population, and upcoming 2021 models will have 8GB or 16GB of RAM. Because it lies somewhere between a laptop and a tablet, Microsoft’s Surface Go 2 comes with a default of 4GB with an option of 8GB.
Finally, we have a rule of thumb for selecting tablet RAM:
1. For light users, 4GB is sufficient
2. In most tablet cases, 8GB is a better fit
3. If you plan to use a tablet as your primary computer, you’ll need 16GB.
Remember that tablets usually are used to supplement your smartphone or computer. Suppose you desire to use your tablet as a laptop replacement, get one with the same amount of RAM as any other desktop or laptop.
What Is The Recommended Amount Of RAM For My Laptops?
Most laptops have 8GB of RAM, with top-tier machines having 16GB — and even 32GB for the most powerful gaming laptops. As previously said, tablet and laptop requirements are merging, but most users choose to run more complex apps on laptops, which means RAM plays a more significant role.
You won’t need much in terms of RAM for something like a Chromebook, which mainly relies on cloud-based apps and offers you very little storage space. You’ll be OK with 8GB of RAM when buying a Chromebook, especially now that you can use the Google Play Store app to download other Android apps directly to your machine.
However, for Windows and macOS, you should choose 8GB as a starting point and consider increasing it to 16GB. For a good reason, most of the best laptops have 16GB of storage. Before you even run an application, Windows 10 utilizes roughly 2GB of RAM. If you plan on performing a lot of visual design work or dabbling in some higher-end gaming, you should consider upgrading to 16GB.
You’d only need to go beyond that if you needed to do things like edit large video or photo files, which you’d ordinarily do on a desktop. Most individuals don’t use their laptops for such jobs, but if you do, making sure you have adequate RAM is critical. Compared to a desktop, upgrading RAM in a laptop is more complicated (or impossible in specific modern models), so getting what you need right now is critical.
What Is The Recommended Amount Of RAM For Desktop Computer?
All component prices, including RAM, are expected to rise in future years. That’s a shame because we’d want to be able to advise you to always go for more RAM when building new systems.
People prefer to keep desktop computers around longer than tablets or laptops, so it’s worth planning. Starting with 16GB is an excellent choice. While you may be able to get by with less, it’s worth it to invest on 16GB when you’re just saving $30 or so.
For enthusiasts and the ordinary workstation user, upgrading to 32GB is a good choice. Serious workstation users can go above 32GB but expect to pay more if you want faster performance or fancier features like RGB illumination. Anything beyond that is the domain of extreme specialty rigs capable of handling massive datasets, video files, or niche applications created for researchers, corporations, or the government.
Desktop users should also pay attention to the DIMM slots on their motherboard (the spaces where your RAM sticks snap-in). Most motherboards employ dual-channel or quad-channel memory, and they specify where you should place the sticks. The second and fourth slots are commonly used for dual-channel on a full-sized motherboard, although checking your motherboard’s instructions is wise.
What To Do If You Require Extra RAM
RAM is one of the most straightforward components of a computer to upgrade. It’s only an issue of figuring out how much RAM you have now, buying more, and installing it in the appropriate slot in your case. Your motherboard determines the location of this slot.
That is, assuming you are using a desktop computer. Most recent laptops have their RAM sticks soldered in, making it impossible to change them without taking out the entire inside. You might be better off purchasing another laptop or sending it to a professional repair and upgrade shop if you want to upgrade the RAM on your current one.
Upgrading your RAM, on the other hand, can have diminishing rewards. The difference between 8 and 16 GB will be significant. Unless you’re doing intensive work, upgrading from 16 to 32 GB won’t give your machine a considerable performance improvement. Any increase above 32 GB will most likely be inconsequential.
There’s a lot more to RAM than what we can present here. When it comes to overclocking, voltages and timings are crucial. If not, you should know better what RAM is and why it is such an essential part of your computer.