Buying, building, or upgrading a computer can be a bit daunting. On top of all the compatibility challenges, you’re also dealing with budgets and of course performance. Windows 8 tops out at 128GB for the 64-bit version, and a whopping 512GB for the Pro and Enterprise 64-bit versions. That’s a LOT of ram, but how much do you really need?
What is RAM?
RAM, AKA Random Access Memory, is a type of temporary storage on your computer. While your hard drive stores all of your software and files, your RAM is a super fast storage location that your computer uses to store things that you’re actively working on. This is not a program that you installed 3 months ago and have only used once (that’s on the hard drive). RAM handles things like multitasking, or having many windows/programs open at the same time. So if you can only run a couple windows without your computer going all kablooey, maybe upgrade that 512 MB of RAM.
What type of RAM is there? (generations, speed, stats)
Like most technical products, RAM comes in generations. With each generation, memory gets faster, more efficient, and cheaper (in the end). While DDR3 memory is still more common in prebuilt computers, DDR4 memory is becoming more prevalent and less expensive in the marketplace. Not only does this mean faster memory for you; it also means less power consumption. This is a big deal if you are buying a laptop, since your battery will go farther then it did with DDR3 memory.
For more info on DDR4 memory, go check out the full article over at PCWorld. If you have the money, DDR4 memory seems like it takes the cake. Whether you pick DDR3 or DDR4 RAM, you need to know how much you need!
When talking about gaming, RAM isn’t quite as important as most people think. While gaming does use memory, “most” games don’t use a massive amount.
If you’re going for a more budget minded approach, 8 GB of ram will be plenty for what you need. It’ll save you a bit of money, and still be plenty for your needs. When you’re gaming, much of the work is done by the GPU and CPU on your computer. Sometime within the next few years you “may” have to upgrade your RAM, but for now, 8 GB is plenty if you’re on a budget. If you do decide to go with 8 GB, DDR3 will run you around $50, while DDR4 will run you around $100+. Shop around, at the time of writing 16gb of DDR3 can be purchased for $85 after coupon from Newegg.
You want the best of the best, and your philosophy is “it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it”. Future-proofing, right? Well in that case, you’ll want to go ahead and get 16 GB of RAM. Just know that many current games won’t need close to that much RAM. This means that the performance boost from 8 GB is going to be negligible. On the other hand, as long as everything else in your computer is just as awesome as your amount of RAM, you won’t have any problems playing the newest and greatest hits within the foreseeable future. Not to mention, that extra RAM always helps when you’re running Netflix in the next window!
For casual video editing, you’ll be fine with 8 GB. This is perfect if you’re splicing together some phone videos or editing some light video captures. Now if you’re using this for more than casual video editing, you definitely want more RAM. If you’re doing hardcore video editing, you should be looking at 32 GB at least, maybe even 64 GB. Many of the hardcore video editing programs take a ridiculous amount of your RAM, so 16 GB just isn’t enough. For a great idea of what you might be using, “HardwareCanucks” have a great video on the differences between 16, 32, and 64 GB of RAM.
When buying a business pc, the amount of RAM can be extremely varied. If you’re spending most of your day doing basic computing, and filling out spreadsheets and documents, you will be fine with 6-8 GBs of RAM. If you’re handling high memory programs instead, you are going to need more. This also helps with many programs that collectively take up a lot of ram. Especially if you’re working with memory hogs, doing web development or graphic design, you’re going to need around 12-16 GB of RAM. Not only will your large amount of RAM help you handle all the memory hogs, it’ll also allow you to juggle many more windows and programs all at once.
Purchasing a computer with more RAM vs. purchasing then upgrading
When purchasing your new computer, they may give you the option to upgrade your RAM, as most of the major manufacturers offer. Instead of paying the $100+ for an extra 4 GB of crap RAM they’ll most likely put in there, just wait! Instead, you can buy that extra 4 GB of RAM on your own, and potentially save hundreds of dollars. Upgrading your RAM is ridiculously easy, and much cheaper for you to do. For a basic guide on how to upgrade the RAM in a laptop, head on over to PCWorlds informative article. Make sure when you buy your RAM, you check both the compatibility with your system, and whether your system can even support more RAM. Some smaller systems only come with one slot, which will hinder you in larger RAM quantities. For the best new deals on RAM, head on over to our memory page!