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Desktop Memory - How RAM Can Boost Performance

Random access memory, or RAM, is an essential type of computer memory, but it is not like the permanent storage memory on your hard drive. Rather than a part that stores data long term, RAM is short term working memory that gives your operating system quick access to the files it needs to run apps and complete tasks. Specifically, the type most computers use in their motherboard is known as DRAM, or dynamic random access memory. In human terms, permanent storage is remembering what happened last year - RAM is remembering what you have to do before lunch.

Upgrading a PC’s RAM is a common way to boost performance. Adding memory modules is relatively easy, and the performance improvement from a memory upgrade can be significant. For those building a new PC, RAM is a key part for determining how your PC performs, particularly for gamers and creative professionals. Whatever you need from your RAM memory, the first step is determining which type is right for your computer system.

What RAM Is Best For My System

There are plenty of factors to look at when choosing RAM for your PC, but the most important include:

Module Type: Two main types of RAM modules are available today: DDR4 and DDR5, or double data rate 4 and 5. Basically, DDR4 is the current mainstream standard, while DDR5 is the next gen option that offers improved performance at a higher price point. Which one you need depends on which one your motherboard supports. Some support only one or the other, while other models have slots for both.

Memory Size: 8GB RAM is considered the minimum for a modern desktop computer, with 16GB recommended for gamers and users of creative software. 32GB and up is useful for those who need very powerful workstations for tasks like animation and video editing. Typically, you will want to install RAM modules in pairs, dual channel, to maximize performance, which is why it is common to split a larger amount of memory into an even number of smaller modules.

Data Speed: Each module type is rated for a different speed at which it sends data to the CPU, expressed in megahertz (MHz). Faster RAM generally means faster performance for your PC, although RAM data speed upgrades often aren’t as noticeable as upgrading the memory size. Most PC builders will want to aim for a balance of decent memory size and data speed.

Other relevant factors exist, too, so we recommend reading our expert guide to choosing the correct RAM. Once you know what you’re looking for, shop Micro Center’s complete computer RAM memory lineup for outstanding prices on top brands like G.Skill, Corsair, and more.