Does adding RAM improve computer speed?

Adding more random access memory (RAM) can speed up your computer, although it is not guaranteed and often depends on other factors. If a lack of RAM is the only reason for slowness on an otherwise fast system, adding more memory will usually improve operating speed. When there are issues other than a lack of RAM, adding more memory can help, but these secondary factors need to be addressed for the best possible performance. In some cases, a computer may simply be too old to run newer applications efficiently, if at all.

A RAM module.

Checking RAM

RAM usage on a computer can be checked in different ways depending on the operating system (OS). On a machine running some version of Windows™, the easiest way to see how much memory your computer has is to view the System screen in Control Panel. Task Manager shows how this memory is being used; pressing Ctrl + Alt + Del keys opens this program or the option to open it. In this tool, the Performance tab shows a graph of memory resources and how RAM is being used can be listed as “physical memory”. Activity Monitor on systems running Mac™ OS displays similar information on the System Memory tab.

A computer motherboard.

Third-party software can also be used to monitor memory and even free up RAM when needed, although this is not always the best way to speed up your computer. Releasing RAM means closing programs that are not being used but are using memory. If a system is low on memory or often requires freeing up RAM, installing more RAM can often improve your computer’s speed.

Memory problems can slow down your computer.

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adding RAM

Before purchasing additional RAM, it is important to check the motherboard. The motherboard is the circuit board where most crucial computer components are found and has a limited amount of space for new memory. The card can be maxed out for the amount of RAM it will hold, either in terms of physical sticks of RAM or their combined values. For example, a motherboard may only have three RAM slots and a maximum allowance of 12GB. If all three slots are filled with 4GB stick, no more can be added; If the motherboard has three 2GB stick, one or more can be replaced by 4GB stick to increase RAM within available space.

Installing additional RAM can help speed up your computer.

There are several different types of RAM, so it’s important for the person who wants to add more to check their computer’s user manual or online to find out what type is needed. The wrong type of memory usually doesn’t fit into the motherboard slots, and if it does, the computer will usually not boot.

RAM usage can be checked using various methods depending on the computer’s operating system.

Adding RAM to a desktop computer is typically easier than a laptop. Desktops with towers or similar cases can usually be opened and RAM can be installed directly onto the motherboard. Laptop computers have much less room and use smaller sticks of memory that can be more difficult to properly install. Prebuilt computers may also have warranties that are voided by the addition of new components, so this should be considered prior to any hardware changes.

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Defragmenting or freeing up space on a computer’s hard drive can also improve speed.

The Purpose of RAM

Within a computer system, the RAM effectively acts as part of the “brain.” There are two types of storage used in a computer — long-term and short-term memory — just like a human brain. A hard drive acts as long-term memory, storing data for later use. RAM behaves like short-term memory and is used to actually process information while running a program.

Adding RAM — or Random Access Memory — to your computer can increase its performance, but computers have a limit as to how much RAM they can process.

The numerical value of RAM is typically represented in terms of storage quantity, such as one gigabyte. The size of the RAM indicates how much memory is available to run programs and processes at any given time. With more memory to run programs, multiple pieces of software can be used at the same time without slowing the computer too much.

Other Causes of Slow Computers

For gamers and people who work with video applications, a slow graphics card might be a contributor to poor performance. A good graphics card should have its own on-board RAM and Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), otherwise it will use system RAM and Central Processing Unit (CPU) resources. The motherboard manual typically indicates what types of hardware can be used to improve performance by upgrading to a better card. If the graphics card in a computer is top notch and the RAM seems fine, then the CPU may need to be upgraded, which can drastically improve computer speed.

Maintenance issues also affect computer speed. A lack of sufficient hard disk space will slow performance, as will a fragmented drive. Upgrading to a larger disk drive can relieve that part of the issue, and hard drives should be defragmented regularly. Spyware, keyloggers, and other malicious software, also known as malware, can also slow a computer by taking up system resources. Malware can also be used to steal or damage data and personal information, so an antivirus program and/or firewall should be used to help protect the system.

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In some cases, a computer functions fine except for one specific application. Most software has minimum system requirements that must be met for it to work correctly, but more memory and processing speed is often needed for exceptional performance. If a system can only meet the minimal requirements, then it is likely to have problems running the program. Twice the recommended RAM and processing power are typically needed to ensure fast and reliable performance with a program.

The computer processor and RAM work closely together to execute data instructions.

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