How much RAM do I need? Is there a difference between memory and RAM? How much RAM is enough? If you’re not the tech-savvy type, these questions can be daunting.
Fortunately, understanding what RAM (Random Access Memory) is and learning how much RAM you need for your PC isn’t as complex as you may be led to believe.
RAM is a form of temporary computer storage that allows stored data to be received and read almost instantaneously.
When you fire up a program, it becomes temporarily stored in your computer's memory (or RAM) for easy access, as opposed to being written on the permanent hard drive.
If your CPU (Central Processing Unit) had to utilize your hard drive to perform every function and execute each program, your computer would move at a snail's pace. Enough RAM is crucial for fast performance speeds by ensuring ample space for immediate data storage.
How many GB of RAM do I need?
If you’re asking yourself, “How much memory do I need?” it’s important to realize that the RAM you’ll require for smooth performance depends on how you intend to use your PC.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to RAM. What it all boils down to is the amount of data storage your programs demand.
If you just need a basic laptop to take notes in class, write and save documents, or surf the web, you won’t need very much RAM. However, if you’re hoping to develop the next best-selling app on the market, render videos, or compress large files, you’ll need some serious data space in your rig.
Without enough RAM in your PC to retrieve and read data for advanced processing tasks, your experience will be slow, difficult, and in some cases, lead to a major system crash due to overload.
For anyone looking for the bare computing essentials, 4GB of laptop RAM should be sufficient. If you want your PC to be able to flawlessly accomplish more demanding tasks at once, such as gaming, graphic design, and programming, you should have at least 8GB of laptop RAM.
For those who want to push the boundaries of a PC’s capabilities and run several large programs at once, 12GB RAM laptops, 16GB RAM laptops, 32GB RAM laptops, or even 64GB are considerable options.
If you’re an average PC user outside of heavy data processing, you probably won’t need more than 8 to 12GB of laptop RAM.
How much RAM is needed for gaming?
Your gaming PC should come with at least 8GB of memory; however, you may end up needing more if you want to run other programs at the same time as your game, such as live streaming or audio recording.
Any big-name gaming streamer will tell you how important it is that your PC has enough RAM to juggle both recording and editing data while also running high-resolution, triple-A (AAA) titles.
Even if you’re solely focused on gameplay, most PCs run a handful of background applications that can also take up a fair amount of RAM while you’re battling opponents, so a few extra gigabytes can make the difference between debilitating lag time and flawless victory.
How much RAM do I have installed?
If you don’t know how much memory your PC has, it’s not hard to find out. You can discover how much RAM your PC has by looking up the model or serial number online.
Alternatively, you can dig into your system for the necessary information. Here’s a quick break down on how to find out:
1. Go to your startup menu.
2. Click “System Settings.”
3. Search RAM.
4. Select “View RAM info.”
After this step, you will be presented with a page that provides you with your PC’s RAM space, how much is currently being used, and how much is available. If you have any questions about your CPU, you can find that information here as well.
What types of RAM are compatible with my laptop?
How much RAM you can fit on your laptop is determined by your motherboard. What some people don’t realize is that RAM is a physical computer part, not a form of code or software, so it requires its own housing.
The motherboard holds all of the most important components of your PC, including the CPU, RAM, hard drive, and more. RAM comes shaped in physical strips. Each strip has a set amount of memory storage space ranging from 2GB to 32GB.
Most laptop’s motherboards come with 2 to 3 slots for RAM. If your laptop has 8GB of RAM, it probably uses two 4GB strips of RAM in separate slots. Because of the way memory fits into your laptop or computer, it’s actually quite easy to remove and expand.
One of the most common ways to upgrade your RAM is to replace your 4GB strips with 8GB strips, giving you a total 16GB. Do you need 16GB of memory? Probably not, but it’s a fairly inexpensive upgrade and you’ll never have to worry about programs failing or computer crashes as a result.
However, it’s important to note that your computer’s motherboard may limit the amount of RAM your computer can upgrade to, so keep that in mind before attempting to do so. While most new HP computers are designed to accept 16GB or more RAM, older models may not be able to accept as much. Do research on your device’s capabilities before purchasing higher GB strips.
How much RAM do I need for Windows 10?
If your PC has a 64-bit Windows™ 10 operating system (OS), at least 4GB of memory is a must. You can easily get by with 4GB as long as you aren’t playing advanced games and tackling large data files. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to jump up to 8GB if you want your computer to run as smoothly as possible.
Keep in mind your background tasks at hand; a 32-bit Windows™ 10 OS will take up 1GB of RAM and a 64-bit OS will occupy 2GB at all times . If your laptop has a 64-bit OS with only 4GB of memory, you’ll lose almost half of your available storage space right off the bat.
How much RAM is enough?
The only person who knows how much RAM you need is you. Whether you’re interested in purchasing a new PC or upgrading your current laptop, you should consider the type of ways you’d use your computer and the immediate memory space it’ll need to keep up.
Average users might get by with entry-level RAM, but it might not be enough to get the job done for more advanced applications. Generally speaking, 8GB of RAM should give you enough power to do just about everything shy of massive data rendering, and if you decide that you need more, it won’t be too difficult or expensive to expand your storage space alongside your PC demands.
When faced with doubt or uncertainty, bigger is always better. If you’re comparing similar models with different RAM capacities, opt for the larger GB if it’s within your budget. You’ll save yourself the hassle of upgrading later on, and you’ll have peace of mind knowing your computer will be able to stream, edit, play, and design without slow processing speeds or frustrating lag times.
 ZDNet; Windows 10: Will Your PC Run It?
About the Author
Sean Whaley is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Sean is a content creation specialist based in San Diego, California. He has a wide breadth of knowledge when it comes to computer hardware, programming, and PC gaming.