What is RAM?

RAM stands for Random Access Memory and it is one of the most important components of PCs. RAM is a temporary data storage space that contains all the information your computer might need now or in the near future. Nothing would run on your computer without RAM. Your programs, files or Netflix shows would not work without RAM.

RAM plays an important role in the working of the computer which will be discussed in detail below. However, for now, it will suffice to say that a PC will be very frustrating to use without RAM.

Related: Best RAM for Gaming 2021

What is the purpose of RAM? Does RAM play a role in running games?

RAM is actually a short-term memory of your device. It temporarily stores and remembers everything that is running on your PC. It remembers all the basic services like your image editing tool, your web browser and even games so that all of them are easy to load and immediately available to play.

If your CPU had to dig through hard drive every time you open a new tab you’ll be sitting for hours in front of the screen without getting anything done.   

So when you run a game on your computer, all the required data that your computer might need to make sure the game runs smoothly without any lag is stored in the RAM. Your PC won’t be able to run games if you do not have the recommended amount of RAM for games. 

Without adequate RAM, the PC will not be able to run games at all and if the game runs it’ll lag. Not only games will lag but your PC will take a lot of time even in opening your web browser or opening your editing app etc. So RAM really helps in speeding up the work by storing adequate data required by your PC.

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What happens when you run out of RAM?

Almost all operating systems have a page file, which is also known as the swap file. This file temporarily stores data present in RAM. It stores data when the RAM module is unable to store data alone.

Hence when RAM cannot handle all the data, the least used data is sent to the page file where it becomes virtual memory. Over time the size of the page file can increase and in some cases exceed hundreds of MBs. In some cases, the page file can give you as much data storage as your RAM module. Although it is possible to limit the size of your page file. 

If you ever see a message saying that you are running low on virtual memory, it means that the space on your page file is almost at its limits. It is a signal that you should start thinking about buying new RAM.

Also, keep in mind accessing the data stored in the page file can lag and slow down your PC. It is because data drives like the page file are slower as compared to the RAM modules.

Hence you should start considering investing in a RAM instead of relying on the page file.

Related: Best RAM for Ryzen 5 2600

How to check the RAM installed on your computer? 

Well, you need to keep checking RAM so that you can know when to start looking for a new RAM module. If you want to see the RAM installed on your Windows computer, first open File Explorer then right-click on This PC and then select the option named Properties.

If you follow these steps, you will open the System page on your control panel. The control panel will reveal the capacity of your RAM.

RAM and its capacity, Frequency, and Latency 

You must have often heard about RAM capacity and frequency etc. A basic understanding of these terms can help you in making a smart consumer choice.

If you do not understand these terms then do not worry I will explain it briefly so that you can understand the specific qualities associated with RAM. The capacity of RAM refers to its storage size and it is measured in megabytes (MB), gigabytes (GB) and terabytes (TB).

For Example, if I say my computer has the capacity of 8GB RAM, I am saying that RAM installed on my computer has 8GB space.

Frequency RAM indicates how fast it can access the data stored on it. It is usually measured in MHz and RAM with higher frequency numbers indicates that they can access the stored data faster. The Latency of your RAM should be lower as it refers to the difference in time between a request and the execution of the task.  

Frequency and Latency together affect the working speed of a RAM module. You should pay attention to Frequency and Latency of a RAM module when you are buying it.

You should try to choose a RAM with higher Frequency, as higher Frequency can even compensate for higher Latency. However, the most important factor is the capacity of RAM.

When you are buying a RAM module focus more on capacity instead of frequency and latency. 

Related: Best RAM Ryzen 1700

How many RAM capacities are available?

Now that you know that you need RAM to run games, its time to learn how many RAM capacities are available. Most computers have 4, 8, or 16 GBof RAM but there also PCs with 32, 64 and 128 GB of RAM. 32 GB and higher capacity RAM are found in high tech computer. How much RAM a PC need depends upon the work required of the PC. 

4 GB :

4GB RAM is very commonly found in office and desktop computers. Few old outdated games run on it so if you like those games then you can work with 4GB RAM.

There are tons of people that like old games so it is perfect for them. However, it cannot run all the latest games of 2021. In order to make your experience worthwhile, it is better to invest a little bit more on RAM.

8 GB

8GB is considered to be the new minimum recommendation. Your PC will be able to run almost all current games with 8GB of RAM that is why its minimum recommended RAM required for gaming.

Gamers should at least invest in 8GB of RAM if they want to be able to play new games without lag. Although even with 8GB RAM your PC would have trouble loading the graphics of more complex games. 

16 GB :

There is no downside to having 16 GB of RAM as it will not only run all the current games but also the games that will be released later. You will never run out of RAM no matter how heavy are the games.

It is the optimal amount of RAM required for gaming and it is also good investment as you will be able to play future games too. You can even play 4k games on 16GB RAM.

32 GB :

People who call themselves professional gamers are investing in 32 GB RAM so that they can be prepared for future games. I mean RAM is cheap nowadays anyway so why not? 

People who edit videos or design 3D models also go for 64 or even 128 GB RAM depending upon their needs. However, if you are not a professional gamer or have no use for that much RAM then investing in anything more than 16 GB of RAM is a waste of your money.

So how much RAM should you get?

Today almost all motherboards can accommodate up to 32 GB of RAM but that does not mean you have to buy 32 GB RAM or RAM with more capacity. If you have a tight budget or you do not want to spend a lot on the RAM for the time bring then 8GB is your best option.

Almost all games run well at 8GB of RAM. However, 16GB of RAM can prove to be a great investment. Every game will run with great graphics and smoothness with 16 GB of RAM moreover you will be able to install incoming games too so it’s a great future investment.

16 GB should be the default amount of RAM in 2021, especially for gamers. But there are more things to be considered. For Example, if you should get a single module or multiple module channel memory?

Should you get a single module RAM or multiple module RAM?

Today every motherboard can support dual memory channel and some advanced one can even support quad-channel memory. It is generally recommended to have multiple RAM modules.

The main advantage of having multiple RAM modules is that it provides security against broken modules. If one RAM module breaks down, the other ones will ensure that your computer runs properly.

For Example, if you have 16 GB single module RAM and it breaks down then you will not be able to use your PC properly until you replace it. On the other hand, if you have two 8GB modules and one of the malfunctions, you will still be able to use your computer because one 8GB RAM module is still working.  

However, you are unlikely to notice any difference in your gaming experience with both single or multiple RAM modules. But multiple RAM modules are easier and cheaper to replace in case one of them malfunctions.