What You Should Know Before Upgrading Your Computer's Memory

The random access memory (RAM) is a hardware that temporarily stores data in a computer when in use. This device differs from other internal storage devices such as the hard drive or solid state drives that preserve the data even after the system is shut down. RAMs come in various forms, capacities, and speeds. When upgrading to a higher memory, there are various things you should look into.

What are the types of RAM?

There are various types of RAM and these include the following:

  • Static RAM (SRAM) - Among the two basic types of memory is the SRAM. This kind requires a constant flow of power in order to function. With the continuous power, an SRAM does not need any refreshing to keep the data intact. It is typically used in CPU cache, hard drive buffer and digital-to-analog converters (DAC) on video cards.
  • Dynamic RAM (DRAM) - This is the other basic type of memory besides SRAM. DRAM requires change or action, that is, refreshing in order to function. It is for this reason that it is ideal for video graphics and system memory.
  • Synchronous dynamic RAM (SDRAM) - This is a classification of the DRAM. It responds to data input at the signal from the CPU clock. The synchronous characteristic means that the computer can receive a new instruction before the previous one has been fully resolved.
  • Single data rate synchronous dynamic RAM (SDR SDRAM) - Also referred to as SDRAM, this memory processes a single read and single write instruction per clock cycle.
  • Double data rate synchronous dynamic (DDR SDRAM) - The DDR SDRAMs came as an upgrade to the SDR SDRAMs. They operate in a similar manner but are twice as fast. They range from DDR2 to DDR4 where there is improved performance as you go higher. The DDR3 SDRAM falls into this category of RAM.

What is the difference between a buffered and unbuffered memory?

  • Buffered - This is also known as a registered memory. It has a register between the RAM modules and the system's memory controller. It is durable, stable, and reliable when compared to the unregistered one. Each read and write is however buffered for only one clock cycle. It is ideal for workstations and servers.
  • Unbuffered memory - The unregistered RAM is directly integrated to the motherboard and therefore has direct access to the memory controller. It is more efficient than the buffered memory. It is also not limited when it comes to speed. The downside to this type of RAM comes with stability and reliability.

What should I consider when buying a RAM?

  • Frequency/speed - Your computer's motherboard will only accept up to a certain frequency, which is measured in MHz or GHz. It is crucial to get the right RAM for the computer. Those with a higher frequency may fail to function while those with a lower one limit your system's performance.
  • Space - Depending on what you need to use your computer for, you could choose from a wide variety of capacities for the RAM. Higher RAMs such as 32GB are great for video gaming.
  • Latency- This is the delay before commands are executed by the computer. SDRAMs come with CAS latency ratings. The lower the latency, the higher the performance.
  • Form factor - When it comes to the form, you can have the DIMM or SO-DIMM (also SODIMM). These are both RAM modules used in the computer. A DIMM measures about twice the length of a SO-DIMM. The former is commonly used in desktops while the latter is used in notebooks.