Article Number: 000129805
This article describes how system memory (Random Access Memory - RAM) affects system performance.
Your computer's system memory is made up of physical memory, called Random Access Memory (RAM), and virtual memory. System memory is not permanent storage, like a hard disk drive that saves its contents when you turn off your system.
When you start a program, your processor gives a command to retrieve the program from the hard drive. Once the files are retrieved, the system needs a workspace to manipulate the data and allow you to interact with it. This digital countertop is your RAM. Your system places your programs in RAM, or the digital countertop, temporarily while you're working with them so that the processor can access that information faster and more easily.
Generally, the more RAM your system has, the larger the digital countertop you have to work on and the faster your programs will run. If your system is running slowly due to a lack of RAM, you might be tempted to increase virtual memory because it's less expensive. However, adding RAM is a better solution because your processor can read data from RAM much faster than from a hard drive.
RAM has two main attributes that affect your system's performance: memory capacity and memory speed.
Today, most systems are equipped with a 64-bit operating system. Some systems have older designs and utilize a 32-bit (X86) operating system. Before you upgrade your RAM, ensure that your operating system will support the new amount of memory. Microsoft has an excellent listing in the hyperlink below listing Windows versions and the amount of RAM supported: Memory Limits for Windows and Windows Server Releases
Memory capacity: The more gigabytes (GB) your memory module has, the more programs you can have open at once.
Memory Speed: The amount of time that it takes RAM to receive a request from the processor and then read or write data. Generally, the faster the RAM, the faster the processing speed.
With faster RAM, you increase the speed at which memory transfers information to other components. Meaning, your fast processor now has an equally fast way of talking to the other components, making your computer much more efficient.
RAM speed is measured in Megahertz (MHz), millions of cycles per second so that it can be compared to your processor's clock speed. For Dell desktops and laptops, memory speed can range from the standard 1333MHz all the way up to speeds of 2133MHz. The speed of your processor and the bus speed of the system motherboard are the limiting factors on the speed of RAM installed in your system. RAM upgrades are limited by the capability of the system and the availability of expansion slots for adding RAM. In many cases, upgrading RAM may involve replacing existing RAM modules with larger modules again limited by the capability of the system.
Many tablets, and some entry-level portable systems do not have upgradable RAM. Look up your system at the Dell Support Website and check the specifications of the system before purchasing expansion RAM memory.
If you're considering upgrading your RAM to improve your computer's performance, first determine how much RAM your system has and whether the processor uses a 32-bit (X86) or 64-bit register.
Remember, it's important to plan how you'd like to use your Dell system both now and in the future. When you're ready to upgrade, choose Dell Certified Memory for easy installation and to ensure the memory module is compatible with your system.
Desktops & All-in-Ones, Laptops
20 Feb 2021