A Quick and Dirty Guide to RAM: What You Need to Know

MakeUseOf | 7/18/2019 | Gavin Phillips
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RAM is the short-term memory of your computer. It’s where your computer keeps track of the programs and data you’re using right now. You probably already know that more RAM is better, but maybe you’re looking to install more RAM now.

Shopping for RAM can be confusing, though. What’s the difference between DDR3 and DDR4? DIMM and SO-DIMM? Is there a difference between DRR3-1600 and PC3-12800? Is RAM latency and timing important?

Explanations - Kinds - RAM - RAM - Specifications

Read on for explanations on the different kinds of RAM, how to read RAM specifications, and exactly how RAM works.

What Is RAM?

RAM - Random - Access - Memory - Ground

RAM stands for Random Access Memory. It acts as a middle ground between the small, super-fast cache in your CPU and the large, super-slow storage of your hard drive or solid-state drive (SSD). Your system uses RAM to store working parts of the operating system temporarily, and the data your applications are using actively. RAM is not a form of permanent storage.

Think of your computer as an office. The hard drive is the filing cabinet in the corner. The RAM is like an entire office workstation, while the CPU cache is like the actual working area where you actively work on a document.

RAM - Things - Access - Time - Desk

The more RAM you have, the more things you can have quick access to at any one time. Just as having a bigger desk can hold more bits of paper on it without becoming messy and unwieldy (as well as requiring more trips back to the filing cabinet to reorganize).

Unlike an office desk, however, RAM cannot act as permanent storage. The contents of your system RAM are lost as soon as you turn the power off. Losing power is like wiping your desk clean of every document.

People - RAM - Dynamic - RAM - SDRAM

When people talk about RAM, they’re usually talking about Synchronous Dynamic RAM (SDRAM). SDRAM is what this article discusses, too. For...
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