Help Me Choose: Memory

Your computer’s memory is like a highway, handling the flow of data to and from the processor. The more memory you have, the more applications you can operate at once. More memory can also help ensure your computer is ready to handle the applications of tomorrow with little performance disruption.

Before you decide how much memory to add to your new computer, first consider how you plan to use your computer. If you’ll primarily be sending email and browsing the internet, then a basic memory configuration will work. But if you’ll be playing games, working with multimedia or performing other intensive tasks, you should consider adding more memory.

Your computer memory is otherwise known as RAM, which stands for random access memory. RAM serves as the temporary storehouse for the flow of data. It remembers what programs, applications and documents you use most frequently so it can access these as quickly as possible. Without sufficient RAM, a computer’s operation can slow down considerably as the computer starts using hard drive space to handle the data flow.

A system with more memory can:

  • Load web pages faster
  • Handle more open files at once
  • Open large files quickly
  • Have more programs open at once
  • Operate more efficiently overall
Use this chart to help determine how much memory you may need. Keep in mind that certain computer models, as well as different OS versions, limit the amount of RAM you can add.

If you primarily use your computer for:Consider this much memory*:

Reading websites, searching the internet, sending email, social networking, streaming music or videos from the internet, playing simple PC games, viewing photos, using CDs or DVDs, word processing, building spreadsheets and other office tasks

4 gigabytes (GB)*
All of the above, plus editing photos and videos6GB*

Run several programs at once and play low-end online and offline PC games

Working with large databases, complex photo editing and HD (high-definition) video editing can be supported12GB* 

High-end PC gaming and graphic design