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How much RAM is enough?
 
Author: Harrison T. Greene
 

A question I get asked often while working is, “How much RAM is enough RAM for me?” This is a very interesting question, as needs for RAM have changed dramatically since the introduction of computers. So in this article, I will explain what RAM is, how it is used, and how much is really enough for everyone.

So what is RAM and what does it even stand for? Well, RAM stands for Random Access Memory. RAM allows us to store instructions that are waiting to be processed by our CPU. The CPU acts as the piece of equipment that processes all our instructions. The CPU has its own set of memory called cache. The cache holds instructions, just like RAM does, but unfortunately tends to be very small. The second closest place, physically to the CPU is RAM. RAM can be much larger than the few megabytes of cache that the CPU holds. As a matter of fact, some systems can have up to 256 gigabytes of RAM.

Well, that’s dandy and all, but what does RAM actually do? Well as I said previously, RAM holds instructions waiting to be processed by the CPU. You see, in order for a computer to operate, it must be fed a continuous set of instructions in order to continue working. When your computer boots up, it loads a set of instructions into RAM that allows the Operating System (OS for short) to load. That is why you see the loading screen before you log into your computer. Once you login, another set of instructions is loaded into the RAM. At that time, all of the programs that run at startup, will load. Startup includes the initial set of instructions, followed by the following infinite set of instructions for the OS to keep running, until you shut the computer down. While the instructions for running the OS run through the RAM, all of the other instructions for the programs you are running, like E-mail, Facebook, and other things, get read into and out of RAM.

So the final question remains, “How much RAM do I actually need?” Well this actually depends on your computer, and what you really use it for. Using Windows 7 as our benchmark system, we see that it requires 2 GB of RAM for the 32 Bit version, and 4 GB of RAM for the 64 GB version. What you should know here is that 32 Bit OS’s can only use about 3 GB of RAM. Therefore, no matter what system, if it’s 32 bit, you can only ever really utilize those 3 GB of RAM. Most people are now using 64 bit operating systems, and those can handle 256 GB of RAM, sometimes even more. So how much is enough for me on a 64 Bit system? Honestly, if you are a home user, and only use your computer for checking emails, browsing the web and playing flash games online, you probably don’t need more than 4 GB of RAM. For those of you who work in an office, and depend on your computer for writing emails, filing reports, and using specific programs, 6 to 8 GB is probably best for you. So what about gamers? For base level gaming, I would recommend 8 GB and as you get more simulation intense games, I would recommend anywhere from 16 to 32 GB of RAM. If you are a graphic or video game graphics designer, I would really recommend 64, 128, 256 GB’s of memory or more depending on your job. From experience, I can tell those of you who work on high end rendering of whole levels, or movies, 512 GB’s, can sometimes not even be enough!

So as you can see, RAM provides a great amount of help to our PC’s, and depending on how you use your computer, you should adjust the amount of RAM you purchase for your PC. Ok space cowboys! I hoped you learned something from reading my article, and for more great tech and PC related advice, come check us out at: http://www.digitalsunrise.com

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