Computer Memory

Computer Memory

Overview

8gb memory cardEvery computer requires primary memory to store programs and data. There are many different types of memory: dynamic RAM, static RAM, ROM, virtual memory, flash memory and memory sticks. This buying guide will help you to distinguish what kind of memory you need to build your own computer or improve an older model which has reached its maximum memory capacity.

Computers all have a temporary and permanent storage area. The CPU has to constantly access the memory and if it was always accessing the permanent storage areas, such as the hard drive, ROM or removable drives, it would operate very slowly. Some data and programs need to be stored in temporary storage areas which are located in the RAM (random access memory) and cache so the CPU can access it more quickly. Whether data comes from the permanent storage (the hard drive) or input devices, most data primarily sits in RAM. The CPU then stores pieces of data it will need to access often in its cache. Every time a program is loaded or opened on your computer, it is temporarily placed into RAM.

Your requirements

Here is where you will need to take the time to assess how much memory you need versus what your computer or laptop is capable of running. Computers and laptops have what is called “Available Physical Memory” (the amount of RAM your computer already has) and “Total Physical Memory” (the maximum amount of RAM your computer can handle). You can check to see how much RAM your particular desktop or laptop has by checking under your 'System Tools' on a PC or going to 'About This Computer' from Apple’s main dropdown menu.

Often times, computers come pre-installed with only a limited amount of memory, 4GB for example. You will want to inspect your hardware for any expansion slots which allow you to install another 4GB of RAM bringing your total, in theory, to 8GB in total RAM. This makes upgrading your RAM much easier and cheaper as 4GBs of RAM will certainly be cheaper to purchase than 8GBs. Some retailers will offer special deals on two bundled cards giving you the total amount of RAM that you need.

Make sure you get two identical cards in pairs as they will not work if they are not the size memory size or have different chipsets.

Motherboard compatibility

Computer memory isn’t a plug-it-in-and-it-works type of component. RAM needs to be compatible with your particular motherboard in order to work. Unfortunately, there is no official list of what motherboards will work with certain types of RAM chips. Here is where you will have to do a bit of research.

The best place to start is, if you have built your own computer, with your motherboard’s owner’s manual. Here it will list the type of board you own, max capabilities and, of course, RAM compatibility. You should note that some motherboards can accept either SDRAM or DDR SDRAM, but the two types cannot be mixed together.

Assess if your motherboard is DDR, DDR2, DDR3 or DDR4 and shop around based on that. If you run into a bit of trouble, it’s best to consult the retailer directly to ask for assistance or get online and research answers and advice from the pros. Someone out there has probably run into the same snags and can help you out if you need it.

Don’t worry if you’ve bought the wrong RAM, installed it and then discovered you’ve made the wrong purchase. Worst case scenario is that your computer won’t boot up at all – it definitely won’t cause anything to explode!

Computer memory manufacturers and cost

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to the amount of manufacturers who offer computer memory. The top ones are Dell, HP, Hypertec and Apple. If you’re on a budget, you can purchase a 2GB Kingston ValueRAM chipset for well under £20.

The largest single RAM card that you can buy today is 32GB (at a cost of over £2000) that are specifically for servers and large central computers. For a home computer, that largest you could easily get away with probably is, at time of this publication, 16GB. On average, a 16GB RAM card will cost you a few hundred pounds.

Installation is easy

Installing computer memoryInstalling or replacing your own RAM is easy and doesn’t require the skills you might think. It’s probably the easiest internal upgrade that computer owners can do on their own. You only need to know where the RAM is located and must have a few tools to get your case open. Apple even provides walkthroughs on their site for installing or removing RAM on MacBooks, MacBook Pros and even old iMacs.

If you have a PC, there are a multitude of walk-throughs, guides and how-to videos online. There is a slight difference on how to install on a desktop computer or laptop, but the differences are addressed via a proper Google search.

If you have installed your RAM improperly or have purchased the wrong type of card, your computer will probably not boot up at all or will not recognise the new RAM you have added. Installing a RAM card requires a light touch and sometimes the problems are attributable to the fact that the RAM card hasn’t been inserted properly into the slot.

Because RAM is such an easy item to upgrade and install on your computer, you should feel confident enough in picking out the right component for your needs and finding it at the right price. Kelkoo can help you compare offers on RAM cards and computer memory from an array of retailers like Amazon, eBay and Dell for Home or for Business. Shop with confidence!