All You Need to Know About Buying a Computer, Part II
Part two of our desktop buying guide is dedicated to RAM, or random access memory. Many users find this difficult to understand, so we’ll do our best to explain it and emphasize how important it is to ensure you get the best build possible for your new computer.
Our first article in this series focused on the CPU or processor for your desktop, where we covered both high-end and low-end options. We’ll do the same this time around for the amount of RAM your device should have.
Random Access Memory is more commonly referred to as simply RAM or memory. Some confuse this with the amount of data that a computer can store, but this is a far cry from the truth. RAM is used to temporarily store data so that it can be recalled without recalling it from the computer’s storage. Think of it like short-term memory pulled from a human’s brain.
How much RAM you have determines how much can happen at once. The CPU handles instructions and processes the data that the RAM holds. More RAM means the larger the amount of data that the CPU can process, and the faster a CPU is, the faster that data will be processed. In other words, the two work together to make your computing experience easier.
How Much RAM Does Your Computer Need?
Most computers these days have pretty limited options for RAM. While there are plenty of brands to choose from with their own clock speeds, PC manufacturers generally take care of this for you. If you’re building your own PC, however, it can be a little complicated. This guide will try to oversimplify it for you to determine your needs. The speed and type of RAM is determined by the manufacturer’s model, so what you need to focus on is how much RAM is included with the device.
- Skimping the Budget End: The smallest amount of RAM that you should see in a Windows 10 device will be four Gigabytes, and while you technically can get Windows 10 to run on less, you probably shouldn’t. 4GB is pretty meager, so you will only be able to handle some light document editing and Internet browsing.
- Low-End: Most reasonable budget PCs start with 8 GB of RAM, which is plenty to handle the operating system in addition to editing documents, photo browsing, surfing the Internet, and whatever else needs to be done.
- Mid-Range: 16 GB is achievable for a lot of organizations, even if on a budget. The price difference isn’t that noticeable, and the investment is sure to be worth it. 16 GB of RAM is nice because it’s also the entry point for gaming systems, and while 16 isn’t necessarily the catch-all number for anything intensive, it is certainly the way to get the most bang for your buck.
- High-End: Of course, the ceiling for RAM is quite impressive, but the cost is commensurate with it. For example, the new Mac Pro can achieve 1.5 TB of RAM--about 1500 GB--but some experts have estimated the price of such speeds could be as high as $20,000. If you’re trying to build a gaming rig, video editing system, or server, you will likely need more than 16 GB of RAM, and at that point, we recommend discussing the build with professionals.
Depending on the device, you can always try to upgrade your RAM later, but it’s more likely to be done with desktops than laptops. Overall, we recommend shooting for no less than 8 GB, but you should realistically be looking at options at 16 GB.
We hope you found this helpful. Part three is just around the corner, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for it. And remember… for any assistance with purchasing hardware, be sure to consult the experts at Nexela.