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 operating system (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 videos.6GB*
Run several programs at once, and play low-end online and offline PC games.8GB*
Working with large databases, complex photo editing and high-definition (HD) video editing can be supported.12GB*
High-end PC gaming and graphic design.16GB*

How much RAM can my computer hold?
Most editions of the Windows 7 and  Windows 8 OS are 64 bit. If you are running Starter or Home Basic, your RAM limit is 8GB. The RAM limit for Home Premium is 16GB. If you are running a 32-bit OS, such as Windows XP, Vista 32 or Windows 7 32-bit edition, you have a limit of 4GB of memory.

What is a DIMM?
A DIMM — or dual in-line memory module — is a series of random access memory chips mounted on a small circuit board. DIMMs are installed in sockets on your computer's motherboard.

What does DDR3 SDRAM mean?
DDR3 SDRAM stands for "double data rate type three synchronous dynamic random access memory." This is the current generation of RAM and it can transfer data up to twice the rate as the previous generation RAM (DDR2 SDRAM). Using DDR3 SDRAM helps you switch between applications, open documents and complete your daily tasks faster.

Some gaming laptops use XMP DDR3 memory, which is the Intel® Extreme Memory Profile memory. This type of memory is customizable, enabling you to fine-tune your system for intense gaming or high-performance applications.

Why would I need triple-channel memory?
A powerful processor only allows applications to run as fast as the computer’s memory capacity allows. If memory can’t keep up with the processor, then the processor ends up with nothing to process. With multichannel memory, each available memory channel duplicates the overall amount of available memory bandwidth. This allows the memory load to be evenly distributed between available channels, which in turn means higher processing speed. Triple-channel memory is the latest advance in multichannel memory, and as the graphics and processing demands of games and business applications continue to increase, triple-channel memory will be a vital component in a top-notch computing experience.

What does "1333MHz" mean?
The speed of the memory you purchase or add to your computer is measured in megahertz. Most computers have either 1333MHz or 1600MHz memory capacity, which is very efficient in handling modern computer applications. By upgrading your memory to 1600MHz, you will also be preparing your computer to handle future memory-intensive games. Maximum memory speed is limited by the memory speed supported by the processor. 2nd Generation Intel® Core™ processors support maximum DDR3 memory speed of 1333MHz while 3rd Generation Intel® Core™ processors support maximum DDR3 memory speed of 1600MHz.