Is your computer struggling with basic tasks such as browsing the Internet, or using applications such as Adobe or AutoCAD. If so, you may be maxing out your memory, and it may be time for an upgrade. Before rushing out to replace your entire computer, you could start by upgrading the components in your existing device, one of which is RAM or memory.
Most machines come with around 4-8GB which simply isn't enough memory these days, especially if you've got 10 tabs open, watching video content, while trying to use applications. Maxing this out or even hitting 80-90% utilisation regularly can be a frustrating experience.
Upgrading the RAM is possible on nearly every device, but finding out which model you need to buy and how to install it yourself can be offputting to most, so why not call Kapiti.IT.
We offer a wide range of services including supply, install, configuration and support for RAM and memory. Additionally we offer memory tests and leak testing services. Further if you're capable of replacing the RAM yourself, we're happy to help for free including quotes for RAM supply.
We recommend clients have at least 16GB ram to avoid running into memory issues in the future, especially if you're in the market for a new computer!
Below are some common RAM and memory tasks we do for our clients to give you an idea on what we can do/help you with too.
What is RAM?
Random Access Memory (RAM) is a critical component of a computer system that allows it to store and quickly access data. Unlike hard drives and solid-state drives which hold data even when the computer is powered off, RAM is a form of volatile memory, meaning it only retains data while the computer is switched on. The data stored in RAM can be accessed almost instantly regardless of where it is in memory, which is why it is called "random access." More RAM allows a computer to work with more information at the same time, which can have a significant effect on system performance. When a computer runs out of RAM, it starts using the slower hard drive or solid-state drive for temporary storage, which can lead to a noticeable slowdown in operation.
What is the difference between SODIMM and DIMM ram?
DIMM (Dual In-line Memory Module) and SO-DIMM (Small Outline Dual In-line Memory Module) are two types of RAM, with the main difference between them being their size and application.
DIMMs are larger and primarily used in desktop computers, workstations, and servers. They have a higher maximum capacity and often come with heat spreaders or other cooling solutions because these systems have more physical space and better cooling capabilities.
On the other hand, SO-DIMMs are smaller and are typically used in laptops, small form factor PCs, and other devices where space is at a premium. They are designed to provide the same functionality as a DIMM but in a smaller package.
Both DIMMs and SO-DIMMs can come in various specifications such as DDR3, DDR4, and DDR5, which indicate the data transfer rate and power consumption of the module. It's also worth noting that these two types of memory are not interchangeable due to their size and pin configuration differences.
How do I tell what RAM my computer needs for an upgrade?
Upgrading your computer's RAM requires you to identify the type, speed, and capacity of the RAM that's compatible with your system. Here's a step-by-step guide to finding out what you need:
Identify Your System Model: If it's a pre-built computer (like a Dell or HP), the model number should be listed on the computer itself. For custom-built PCs, you'll need to identify the motherboard model.
Check Your Current RAM: You can do this by opening the Task Manager (Ctrl + Shift + Esc) in Windows, then going to the Performance tab and selecting "Memory". This will tell you the type and size of your current RAM.
Check Your System's RAM Compatibility: If you have the model number of your PC or motherboard, you can search online for its specifications. The manufacturer's website usually has this information. Look for the type of RAM supported (like DDR4), maximum capacity, number of slots, and speed (MHz).
If you're not sure or can't find this information, you can also use online tools like the Crucial System Scanner, which can automatically detect the RAM specifications compatible with your system.
Decide on Capacity: More RAM allows for more multitasking and can help with demanding applications. However, there's a limit to how much your system can use. For many general users, 8GB is sufficient. For heavier tasks like gaming, video editing, or running virtual machines, 16GB or more may be needed.
Remember, when buying RAM, try to buy in pairs (like two 4GB sticks instead of one 8GB stick) for dual-channel support, which can improve performance. Always make sure your computer is powered off and unplugged before installing new RAM.
How much RAM really is enough for modern day computing?
Gone are the days where 4GB or even 8GB is really enough for modern day applications and use. We would recommend to all customers that they buy 16GB as a minimum. It's not always possible or feasible but if you can, 16GB is definitely going to be more beneficial than 8GB, especially for business use, gaming etc.
The amount of RAM you need for modern-day use really depends on what you use your computer for. Here are some general guidelines:
Basic tasks (browsing the web, word processing, etc.): 8GB of RAM should be sufficient for basic tasks. This should allow for smooth performance when doing things like browsing the internet, sending emails, or using office applications.
Moderate tasks (multitasking, light gaming, etc.): For more demanding tasks like using multiple applications at once, light photo editing, or casual gaming, 8GB should be OK but 16GB of RAM would be more appropriate.
Heavy tasks (gaming, media creation, etc.): If you're into heavy gaming, video editing, 3D modeling, or other resource-intensive tasks, you might need 16GB to 32GB of RAM or even more.
Professional workstations (advanced computing, servers, etc.): For professional workstations used for tasks like large-scale data processing, machine learning, high-end video editing, or running virtual machines, 32GB of RAM or higher would be required. In some cases, workstations might have 64GB, 128GB, or even more RAM.
Remember, these are just general guidelines. The specific requirements might vary depending on the software you're using. Also, if you're planning to keep your computer for several years, it might be a good idea to get a bit more RAM than you currently need to account for future software becoming more resource-intensive.
Couldn't I just replace or upgrade the RAM myself?
Yes you could, and we would encourage you to try this before reaching out to us for assistance. Most computers and laptops have a quick release to take the back or side panel off, and locating the RAM module is quick and easy thanks to many Youtube videos. Insert your new memory into the additional DIM slot, or replace the old one with a single new RAM stick if you only have one DIM. The hardest part in this is finding out what RAM you need. Laptops such as HP often take universal RAM, gaming laptops/desktops and workstations may require special RAM due to your motherboard you've got.
We're happy to help provide guidance if you're doing it yourself.
What are the most common RAM issues?
There are several common issues that can arise with RAM in a computer system. Here are a few:
Bad or Failing RAM: This can lead to a variety of problems, including frequent crashes, blue screens of death (BSOD), corrupted data, and random system restarts. A computer may also fail to boot if the RAM is failing.
Insufficient RAM: If your computer doesn't have enough RAM for the tasks you're trying to perform, it can become slow and unresponsive. This is because it has to use the slower hard drive or solid-state drive to compensate.
Incompatibility Issues: Not all RAM works with all motherboards. If the RAM isn't compatible with your system, the computer may not boot or it may cause stability issues. Always make sure the RAM is compatible with your specific system.
Incorrect Installation: If RAM is not properly seated in its slot, the computer may fail to recognize it or not boot up at all. It's also important not to touch the gold contacts on the RAM as oils from your skin can cause connection issues.
Mismatched RAM: While it's usually possible to use different brands and capacities of RAM together, it can sometimes cause problems. For optimal performance, it's best to use matching pairs of RAM.
Overheating: While less common, RAM can also overheat, particularly if you're overclocking it or if your system doesn't have adequate cooling.
If you're experiencing issues and suspect it's related to your RAM, you can run a memory test. Tools like MemTest86 or the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool can help you check for errors. Always remember to backup important data as troubleshooting hardware issues can sometimes lead to data loss.
How do I run a RAM memory test to check for errors?
To run a memory test for RAM errors, you can use the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool if you are using a Windows operating system. Here are the steps:
1. Save and close all open files and programs. This is important because the tool will need to restart your computer.
2. Press the Windows key and type 'Windows Memory Diagnostic' in the search bar, then press Enter. This should bring up the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool.
3. Choose between 'Restart now and check for problems' or 'Check for problems the next time I start my computer'. If you're ready to do the check right away, choose the first option. If you're in the middle of something and prefer to do it later, choose the second.
4. Your computer will restart and the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool will start checking for errors. This can take several minutes. It will automatically run a standard test, but you can also choose to run advanced tests by pressing F1.
5. Once the test is complete, your computer will restart again. To see the results of the test, you can open the Event Viewer. You can do this by pressing the Windows key, typing 'Event Viewer', and pressing Enter. In the Event Viewer, go to 'Windows Logs' -> 'System'. Look for an event with the source 'MemoryDiagnostics-Results'.
6. If the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool finds any errors, it means there's likely a problem with your RAM. You may need to replace your RAM if errors are found.
Mac: If you're using a Mac, the built-in Apple Diagnostics or Apple Hardware Test can be used instead. For Linux users, there are tools available such as MemTest86.
Remember, while these tools can detect many issues, they might not catch everything. If you're still experiencing issues and suspect it's related to your RAM, you might want to consult with a professional such as Kapiti.IT or consider replacing your RAM.
What is RAM speed and is a higher number better?
RAM speed, often referred to as memory speed, is the speed at which the RAM can read or write data. It's typically measured in megahertz (MHz) and can significantly impact the overall performance of a computer.
The speed of the RAM is determined by its clock cycle, essentially how many operations it can handle in a second. A higher MHz means more data can be transferred to the CPU per second, which generally leads to improved computer performance.
However, it's important to note that just having higher speed RAM doesn't always result in noticeable performance improvement. This is particularly true for everyday computing tasks like browsing the web or using office software, where the difference between higher and lower speed RAM may be negligible.
In cases where you're using your computer for more demanding tasks, such as gaming, video editing, 3D rendering, or other memory-intensive applications, faster RAM can provide a noticeable benefit.
Another factor to consider is that your motherboard and CPU also need to support the higher speed RAM. If your motherboard doesn't support the higher speed, the RAM will operate at the highest speed that the motherboard allows.
Lastly, RAM speed should not be confused with RAM capacity. RAM speed refers to the speed of data transfer, while RAM capacity (measured in GB) refers to the amount of data that can be stored and accessed quickly. Both can impact performance, but they address different aspects of your computer's operation.
So, while bigger (in terms of speed) is technically better, it's not always necessary depending on your usage, and there might be a limit to what your system can support. It's often a balance between cost, system compatibility, and your specific computing needs.
What is RAM capacity?
RAM capacity refers to the amount of data that your computer's RAM can store and access quickly at any given moment. It's typically measured in gigabytes (GB) and is one of the main factors that determine how many tasks your computer can handle at once.
When you open a program on your computer, it's loaded from your long-term storage (like a hard drive or SSD) into your RAM. This is because RAM is much faster than typical storage devices, so your computer can access and process the data more quickly. The more RAM your computer has, the more data it can load from storage, resulting in the ability to run more programs simultaneously without slowdown.
For example, if you're only running a single application that requires 2GB of RAM, and your computer has 8GB of RAM, then you have plenty of memory to spare. But if you start opening more applications and the combined memory usage exceeds your total RAM capacity, your computer will start to slow down. This is because your system will have to start using your much slower hard drive or SSD to compensate for the lack of RAM, a process known as paging or swapping.
So, in a nutshell, RAM capacity determines the amount of information that can be accessed instantly by your computer. The larger the RAM capacity, the more applications or larger datasets you can work with at the same time without experiencing lag or slowdowns.
However, having more RAM than your typical usage requires won't necessarily make your computer faster. If your applications and tasks only use 4GB of RAM, for instance, having 16GB won't provide a noticeable performance improvement for those tasks. That being said, more RAM does provide a form of "future-proofing", allowing your computer to handle more demanding applications and tasks that you might use in the future.
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