A few months back, Loyd Case answered the popular question, “Which Video Card Should I Buy?” Needless to say, his story caused a considerable lull in video card related questions from our readers, letting a new topic take the lead: RAM. How much do you need? How fast should it be? Are latencies important? Today, we’ll be covering everything you need to know to get the right RAM for your system. The Importance of RAM
Did I mention that this is going to be an all-encompassing guide on RAM? No? Well it is, so those of you who already know what RAM is for and how it works can skip ahead.
RAM stands for Random Access Memory and it stands as somewhat of a buffer between your hard drive and your CPU. There’s really nothing random about it; the CPU (generally) knows exactly what data it’s playing around with. When the CPU is processing data, it’s grabbing small bits in your systems memory, constantly jumping from place to place, reading, writing, and rewriting information. Hard drives work well when working with large blocks of data, but are extremely slow when jumping from sector to sector or switching from read to write. If your CPU had to process data directly on the hard drive, there would be a massive bottleneck.
So that’s why you need RAM. Having more RAM means you need to read from the excruciatingly slow hard drive less often, and faster RAM means your CPU can grab its bits faster. Of course, this still doesn’t answer how much RAM you need or in what circumstances faster RAM is actually useful.