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What Is RAM, and How Much Memory Do You Need?

What Is RAM, and How Much Memory Do You Need?
22 September, 2021
RAM, also known as memory, is one of the most important components in determining your computer’s speed and overall performance. So, whether you’re looking to buy a new computer, or you want to speed up your current PC, it’s crucial to understand what RAM is, and how much memory you actually need. Here’s everything you need to know about what RAM does, and how to find out if you have enough memory you have on your Mac or Windows computer.

What Is RAM?

Random access memory (RAM) is a hardware component that is used to store temporary data for the programs running on computers, smartphones, gaming consoles, and other devices. Operating systems (like Windows and macOS) need to have a certain amount of memory installed just to boot up.

What Does RAM Do?

There are a handful of ways that your computer stores data. For instance, your computer’s hard drive or SSD store all of your system’s programs and files until you delete them. However, while SSDs and hard drives can store a ton of data, that data cannot be accessed by your computer’s processor very quickly.

So, computer system’s utilize RAM to serve as a buffer to help access important data from your SSD or hard drive in a much quicker manner. While RAM can’t hold nearly as much data as a standard hard drive or SSD and, the data that it does hold is only temporary (the data held in RAM is deleted when your computer is turned off), data on RAM can be accessed by your computer’s processor much faster.

While your hard drive and RAM are both measured in gigabytes (GB), they do very different things. You can think of your hard drive like your computer’s long-term memory, where all your files and programs are stored when they are not in use. However, the data stored in your RAM will be erased whenever you turn off your computer.

How Much RAM Do You Need?

The amount of RAM you need will depend on how you use your computer.

  • Are you a gamer?
  • Do you edit a lot of videos?
  • Do you run resource-intensive programs/applications?
If so, you’ll need more RAM than others.

How Much RAM for Gaming?

For gamers, depending on the types of games you play, RAM can have a big impact on your performance. As a general rule of thumb, for modern gaming, 8GB is the bare minimum. However, as games become increasingly more demanding, more RAM is necessary. And, as long as you have a moderate budget, you should aim for 16GB of memory.

How Much RAM for Professional Work?

If you’re doing professional work like video editing, graphics design, or working with large spreadsheets, the more RAM you have the better. Just like with gaming, It's recommended to have at least 16GB of RAM to start.

However, the more intensive the work you’re doing, the more you’ll benefit from adding more RAM to your system.

How Critical is Computer Memory?

To wrap it all up, computer memory, or RAM, is an integral part of your computer’s system. If every other piece of hardware in your computer (your CPU, GPU, SSD, etc.) is powerful, but you don’t have enough RAM to run your most-used applications and programs, your computer will feel slow.

So, if you’re looking to purchase a new computer, or upgrade an existing one, make sure you understand what RAM is and why it is important. In this guide, we’ve laid out the basics on what RAM does and have given you some basic guidelines that will help you determine how much RAM you need for your system.
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