It is a fact, RAM is still one of the components what more doubts it generates and what more myths it has around it. Questions like "how much do I need?" or statements like "more RAM is always better" are a constant in the technological world, even in spite of all the information we can find today.
In MuyComputer we have published several articles dedicated to RAM. A little over a year ago we shared with you a special dedicated to explain what is it and why is it important said component, and just a couple of months ago we published another article as a guide focused on assessing how much RAM, and how much graphic memory, we were going to need to overcome the transition that will mark Xbox Series X and PS5.
Today we want to address the issue in a different, clearer, more direct and concise way, and that is why we will share with you ten questions and answers dedicated to RAM that will serve as a definitive guide to answer any questions you have about this component.
Before I begin I remind you that the comments are yours, and that you can leave them any questions you have, We will help you solve it. Now we start!
1.-What work does RAM do?
RAM has as its main function store a series of processes and instructions that have already been resolved or completed by the processor, which means that it is already you don't have to repeat them again and that it can focus on carrying out other different tasks.
If our computer does not have RAM memory, these processes, instructions and cycles of operations should be saved directly in the storage unitbut this is a lot slower that RAM and has higher latencies, so the performance we would get would not be the same.
How could you have intuited this eliminates workloads that would be redundant and prevents the processor from constantly working on certain tasks. These are resolved, they have already been completed and stored in RAM so that when the system needs to access them again it can do so directly, without having to wait for the processor to complete another work cycle.
Its importance is, as we can see, beyond any doubt, and now we can easily understand why it is such an important component for the proper functioning of a PC.
2.-How much RAM do I need?
Well it depends, and a lot, on what you plan to do with your PC. There are different levels that we can consider as optimal depending on the use you intend to give to your computer, although it is true that we can set a minimum that any Windows 10-based computer should meet today: 4 GB of RAM
With a total of 4 GB of RAM you can enjoy good performance without going into advanced multitasking and play games of the previous generation, but you will not be able to use demanding applications or new generation games, with very specific exceptions.
In general these are the scales that we can set as minimum and optimal depending on your needs:
- PC for basic office automation, navigation and less demanding games: minimum 4 GB of RAM, recommended 8 GB of RAM.
- PC for demanding games and applications: minimum 8 GB of RAM, recommended 16 GB of RAM.
- PC for demanding professional applications and tasks: minimum 16 GB of RAM, recommended 32 GB of RAM.
Keep in mind that at the last level we are referring to professionals who work with tools that make heavy use of RAM and that therefore require large quantities to function properly.
3.-Why is the total amount of RAM so important?
The total amount of RAM is important because it depends not only on the proper functioning of the equipment and the performance of other components, but also because It defines the applications, programs and games that we can run and those that we cannot.
If you have a very slow RAM it is likely that in certain games you will have a lower performance than you expected. On the other hand, if you have a very fast memory but an insufficient amount they may not work directly for you Those same games.
Therefore we must always prioritize, up to a certain point, the amount of RAM about the speed and latencies of it. It is no use to have a very fast RAM if we do not reach the recommended minimum to move the applications or games we want.
Also keep in mind that, in some cases, although we have the minimum indicated, the experience may not be good. Many current games still indicate that they work with 8 GB of RAM, but they have real consumptions of up to 12 GB, and although it is true that in the end we can move them with this amount of RAM we may find ourselves with jerks, small stops and interruptions, a direct consequence of a clear lack of RAM.
4.-Why do I have a high RAM consumption if I'm only on Windows?
Well, it's very simple, because Windows, in all its versions, needs to consume a certain amount of RAM for proper operation, and the same goes for the applications that we have installed and that are running in the background, or that have been loaded at startup.
Any computer has a consumption of RAM minimal and necessary, that's normal, the problem comes when that consumption goes off and we can't find an explanation. In most cases the reason is usually, as we said, in the applications we have in the background. For example, if we have an antivirus installed and this startup load (with PC startup) will work in the background and consume resources.
The same applies to any task we are doing, and also to those that we have completed and that we have not closed. We must not forget, in addition, that web browsers they can consume a significant amount of RAM when we have several tabs open.
I remind you that a year ago we published a simple tutorial where we saw several ways of free RAM in Windows 10, and I recommend you take a look if you have doubts.
5.-How does RAM affect the performance of the equipment?
The RAM affects the performance of the equipment in three great ways that depend on two large keys: the amount and speed of it. If we have a low amount but enough to run certain applications and games we may notice, as indicated above, pulls, interruptions and stops. This occurs because the memory we have has been filled and has to be produced. a process of emptying and filling with new instructions and processes.
When that situation occurs the processor also has to assume new work cycles that would not have occurred if we had a greater amount of RAM, and therefore there is a negative impact on the overall performance of the entire computer.
Secondly, it may be the case that we do not even have that minimum to run games and applications. It is undoubtedly the most serious consequence, since supposes a total limitation by preventing us from accessing a certain software ecosystem.
Finally we have the speed of work and latencies, two keys that, together with the data bus, determine the gross performance of the RAM. In the current motherboards of general consumption we have to install two modules to access the dual channel mode and have a 128-bit bus.
Certain architectures, such as AMD Zen, have an important dependency of the speed and latency of RAM, while others, such as Intel's Core architecture, have a minor dependency. We must prioritize the quantity, as we have said, but once we have reached the optimum point it is important to take care of speed and latencies.
In the case of AMD processors we move at the optimal level from the 3,200 MHz with CL14 latencies, that is, it is not worth going from there, and in the case of Intel processors from 3,000 MHz with latencies CL14 We will also have reached an optimum level.
6.-Why does the performance of an integrated GPU depend on RAM?
Integrated GPUs have a small amount of memory, usually 128 MB, and have no choice but to turn to RAM to use it as graphic memory. This simple explanation allows us to understand why its performance depends so much on that component, but we will go deeper into this topic so that you have a clearer vision.
The bandwidth that an integrated GPU will have available will be determined by the speed of the RAM and its bus. If we have a single module of 16 GB at 3,200 MHz the performance will be worse compared to what we would have with two modules of 8 GB at 3,200 MHz. The reason is very simple, the first one works in a single channel with a 64 bit bus and the second in double channel with a 128 bit bus
Speed and bus matter, and a lot, when taking advantage of an integrated GPU, especially in the case of powerful solutions They can offer a fairly decent experience even with current games.
It is also important to keep in mind that when using a part of RAM as graphic memory the total amount available for system and applications is reduced. If you have a PC with 8 GB of RAM and an integrated graphics and want to run a current game that requires 8 GB of RAM you may have significant performance problems, since the system will have consumed a portion of that memory and the integrated GPU will have taken for itself a minimum of 1 or 2 GB of RAM.
7.-More RAM is not always better, but why?
The difference between reaching the minimum of RAM that an application or a game requires and not arriving can make a world of difference, so much that, as we said, it is likely that it will not even boot. Therefore we must prioritize the amount, as we have indicated.
With that in mind it is easy to ask why we say then that more RAM is not always better, and the answer is simple: because there are applications and games that, once a certain threshold is exceeded, they no longer need to consume more RAM to work.
For example, if you are only going to use your PC to browse the web and for simple office tasks and you have 8 GB of RAM expand to 16 GB of RAM it won't make your team work better, the user experience you will have will be the same. This also applies to gaming equipment that is configured with 16 GB of RAM and extends to 32 GB of RAM, the experience will remain the same.
The reason is that the applications we use do not require more RAM when we reach a certain level. For example, if you run a game that consume 10 GB of RAM the experience it will be the same on a PC equipped with 16 GB or 32 GB of RAM. There will be no changes in performance.
Yes, a computer with more RAM will have a longer lifespan, but it may end up being a resource that we will not take advantage of until after several years.
8.-Can I use different RAM modules?
Yes, it is possible to use different RAM modules, but we must bear in mind that we run the risk of having stability problems and incompatibilities.
By this I mean that in principle there is nothing that prevents you from combining two or more different RAM modules in capacity and speed, than in type, that is, you cannot combine a DDR4 module and a DDR2 module, for example, but be clear that you are assuming a significant risk in everything that concerns its proper functioning.
To this we must add an important detail, and if you combine two modules at different working speeds, both will work at the speed of the slowest. If you have no choice but to mount different RAM memory in speed and ability to get out of the quiet path, your computer will not be harmed, but it is not a good idea.
9.-Why are there computers that do not allow to expand the RAM?
The evolution of designs in portable computers and the rise of compact formats have contributed to the popularization of equipment with "expiration date". These are those that cannot be extended, either totally or partially, and therefore have a low rate of reparability and that also cannot be improved to extend their useful life.
Welding the components is a way to reduce the space they need. Thanks to this, it is possible to create lighter and smaller-sized equipment, but in return the user sacrifices its capacity to expand. For example, Microsoft's Surface devices and Apple's MacBook are very light and thin, but they come with soldered RAM.
In case you are going to buy a device with RAM memory soldered to the board it is recommended buy a configuration higher than what we will need Currently, since we cannot expand it and it is the only way to guarantee a long service life. For example, if a device is sold with a base configuration of 8 GB of soldered RAM, it would be a good idea to buy the version with 16 GB.
Microsoft's Surface Pro 7, for example, is virtually impossible to repair and even comes with the storage unit welded to the plate.
10.-Should I empty the RAM constantly?
It is a mistake, and one of the most important. The empty RAM is useless, since it is not working and is not adding value to the computer. This means that it makes no sense to be emptying it constantly, we have to let the system fill it with the applications and programs that we normally use.
Emptying the RAM will cause processes and operations that had already been performed by the processor to be lost. If these were linked to applications we will use our action in a few minutes it will have been absurd, since the processor will have to reload them, something that would not have been necessary if we had not emptied the RAM.
We must let the computer use the RAM as it needs it. If we find applications or processes that we do not need, and that we will not need in the short or medium term, it may be a good idea to close them to free RAM. The same can be said of the applications that start up with the equipment and that we really do not need, we can disable them through the «Task Manager», in the «Start» tab.
However, there are specific moments when it may make sense to empty the RAM and try to free as much as possible, and that is when we need to run a demanding application or a game that requires an amount of memory equal to or slightly greater than what we have installed.
For example, some games that require 8 GB of RAM may work acceptably on computers with 6 GB of RAM if we do a boot as clean as possible, that is, with a minimum consumption of RAM in the background.