What is RAM?

When buying computers, laptops or phones, or any kind of technology for that matter; a rather common question seems to always pop up- how much RAM? 4gb? 8gb? 16gb? 32gb? The list goes on and so do the questions. The main question for a lot of everyday consumers is what IS RAM and do I need the largest amount?   

RAM is short for Random Access Memory, and it gives computers the virtual space they need to manage information and solve problems in the moment. RAM works as the short term memory in the computer, unlike long term memory (hard drives) that store information permanently, (which we covered in our previous blog post)

RAM is basically a fast type of temporary computer memory that also happens to be one of the most important components in desktops and other devices, because without it everything works much slower. There, the computer loads information it thinks it might need right now or in the near future so it can have it on hand to load it immediately when needed. Think of RAM as a note pad that you use with a pencil. You write down temporary information and once your paper starts filling up, you erase the notes at the top that you don’t need anymore to make room for new more important notes that you need right now. Larger pieces of notepad paper allow you to write down more before having to erase old notes to make more room for new ones; same thing works with amount of RAM; larger RAM works the same way. RAM acts the same way when it needs more space to run temporary info (like running programs or software). Think of all the open apps you may have running in the background on your cellphone or tablet. There may be 20 apps open, but once RAM starts filling up, it will quietly close the apps that haven’t been used for a while to make room for new ones that are more important in the moment. 

So how much do you need? Here is a quick extremely simple breakdown: 

The extent of memory you need varies on two things: what you want to do and how much you use your device.

2gb: only basically found in budget tablets, which is fine for them but not for a desktop or a laptop. 

4gb: entry level memory that comes with inexpensive notebooks/laptops- fine for super basic windows and chrome usage.

8gb: exceptional for windows and MacOS systems and entry-level gaming.

16gb: professional work and more challenging games. With RAM prices so low, this is ideal for desktop users 

32gb and up: enthusiasts and purpose-built workstations only

Remember, purchasing more RAM than you need doesn’t give you any more performance benefits.