Let us face it. Smartphones are doubling up on the memory match faster than personal computers ever did. Until two weeks back, I was using a smartphone that had the identical amount of RAM as my desktop. Of course that changed when I made the decision of adding yet another stick, bumping it up to 16GB.

RAM or Random Access Memory is crucial for any computer program, it’s temporary memory for your PC which stores the most often used programs and instructions to speed up the overall system. It is also the fastest medium of storage in your system when compared to state hard disk drives. RAM is also responsible for multitasking as it allows for multiple apps to load at precisely the same time.

On the PC, RAM acts as a buffer between your traditional storage and your CPU. Think about it as a temporary area for information which programs and CPU want in order to perform a job. As soon as you turn off a PC, all information stored within the RAM module is missing, which is why it takes a bit more for apps to begin when you’ve just turned on the PC versus programs that have already offloaded data into the module.

With the increase in bandwidth of internet, data and media consumption, the need of having a fast system is increasing by the day. One of the easiest means give an increase to your own computer is by getting more RAM.

Here is a simple guide on how you should select your system memory, be it an update or if you are building a new PC.

How much RAM do I need?
This isn’t a really difficult question. It is dependent on your needs. Want more performance, then you need more RAM. If you feel your existing system has slowed down on loading apps, throw in another stick. As I mentioned above, RAM is responsible for loading programs quicker than traditional storage. Upgrading will clearly lead to greater efficiency thereby improving overall performance.

A simple way to learn if you want more RAM is to begin your own workflow, then goto the Windows Task Manager (hit CTRL+ALT+DEL) and input the Performance section. About Windows 7 or 8/8.1 you will see the RAM section in the bottom. If you’re using Windows 10, there will be a RAM box on the left, hit that and you will see the statistics of your system memory. If average system RAM usage hits the 100 percent mark then you should definitely consider an update.

In case you are building a new system, 8GB of RAM is now a standard. But if you’re building a system state for gaming then 16GB to approximately 32GB of RAM ought to be ok. If you’re building a method for production work, I would suggest 32GB or even higher so that programs can load quicker.

Selecting the right RAM for the system
This is where you need to be mindful. There are a bunch of things that you want to consider prior to going into the market to get a new RAM module. For those ones who are upgrading, first and foremost, you need to check if your system allows for RAM expandability. If you’ve built a PC or bought a laptop in the previous five decades or so, then there is a high possibility that it will have an additional slot to add additional RAM. Consider checking your motherboard or laptop manual to confirm. On this note, remember that laptop RAM is not the same as desktop RAM.

Typical laptop and desktop RAM sticks

Next you want to check what version of Windows you’re using. There are two versions of nearly all Windows versions based on the system architecture. While many have moved to some 64-bit version, there are still numerous systems that operate on 32-bit. If you are running a 32-bit edition of Windows, then you are limited to only 4GB of RAM. If you are running a 64-bit edition of Windows 7, 8, 8.1 or 10 then you do possess the update capability.

There are some technicalities when it comes to buying RAM.

DDR2 SDRAM is commonly found in computers made after the calendar year 2003, DDR3 SDRAM in computers created after 2007 and finally DDR4 SDRAM is what the majority of current PC’s use and DDR5 SDRAM is what is on the horizon.

Then there are RAM speeds, similar to a processor, the RAM speeds are measured in MHz or megahertz. Today it is advised to use the fastest memory but to be honest you won’t have the ability to see the difference between a RAM running in 2133MHz and 2400MHz, unless you are benchmarking performance. While RAM speeds have topped as much as 4133MHz, chips have a RAM speed limitation, but they could still run at high speeds by making some adjustments in your system BIOS. Latency or timing is another thing to consider. It is denoted by four digits like 12-13-12-32. All you need to understand is that lower the amount means better performance.

Say you will need 32GB of DDR4 SDRAM, buying two 16GB sticks will give more optimised performance instead of one 32GB stick. Additionally, if one of the RAM’s fail, it is possible to easily swap the faulty one out, instead of buying a single stick all over again.

Keeping the above in mind, you need to be careful when adding more RAM to your system. Suppose you have 8GB of RAM in your system and you also would like to bring another 8GB. You will need to be careful regarding the variety you choose, it needs to have the same clock speed and if possible, the exact same timing as the previous stick although this may be adjusted automatically by the computer system.

If your budget permits, I would advise you to go to get a dual-kit with a appropriate heat sink. Some well known brands offering heatsink based RAM are Corsair, Kingston, Crucial and G.Skill. For laptops nevertheless you might not get all the mentioned brands, but make sure you stick to the supported size and clock speeds.

Pricing for RAM has been going up since the previous year on a global scale. It is also predicted that the rates will further increase till the year ends. So in case you’ve been planning on adding more or simply building a new system, it is probably wise to upgrade now before prices hit sky-high.

I recently went to one of India’s biggest IT market in New Delhi to receive a fair idea of how much RAM costs. DDR4 based laptop RAM cost anything about Rs 2,700 for 4GB and approximately Rs 4,700 for 8GB. DDR3 based laptop RAM is priced about Rs 2,000 for 4GB and an 8GB stick would cost around Rs 3,800.

As for desktop RAM, a excellent heat-sink equipped DDR4 RAM costs anything between Rs 4,500 to Rs 5,200 for $ 8GB and 16GB for Rs 8,500 to Rs 9,000. All the prices mentioned are exclusive of GST which is 18 percent.