When it comes to speed and computing performance, one of the key factors that’s considered by all gamers and numerous other computer users is RAM. Short for Random Access Memory, RAM is a temporary form of storage for your CPU processor that’s defined by capacity in Megahertz – and while higher amounts of RAM are generally considered beneficial, there are also other factors that play a role in terms of how it impacts your computer and the levels of RAM you require.
At Xidax, we’re proud to not only offer a wide range of custom gaming computers, workstation computers and numerous other computing solutions, but also expertise on a variety of different needs and themes within your machine – including your RAM needs and how they might change based on several factors. What exactly is RAM, what’s the role of RAM speed, and what are some other important considerations here for both gamers and other PC enthusiasts? Here are some basic areas to consider.
As we noted above, RAM stands for Random Access Memory, and is a temporary form of high-speed storage for your processor. When any program launches within the device, the hard drive will send the important data for that program to the RAM, where it can be accessed much more quickly than moving directly through the hard drive.
This works through the use of an integrated circuit chip, one made of millions of cells that feature a transistor and a capacitor. These cells hold charges that can write, rewrite and erase data, allowing data to change much faster than other formats. RAM is volatile, meaning data held will be lost when RAM power is lost – for this reason, RAM is never used for permanent data, and only for temporary program needs.
Role of RAM Speed
Another top area of consideration within RAM is RAM speed, which is also a bit of a complex topic to discuss. There are two major factors to consider here:
- Frequency in MHz: An area that’s frequently referred to as RAM speed, but actually is just part of the puzzle here, is RAM frequency, which is measured in megahertz, or MHz. If your RAM is rated at 3000 MHz, for instance, it will perform 3 billion cycles per second. The more cycles per second your RAM can perform at, the more data can be stored and read, and the smoother your user experience will generally be while launching programs and performing other similar tasks.
- CAS latency: Short for Column Access Strobe latency, this area refers to the delay time between the RAM receiving a command and actually carrying it out. CAS latency will be represented in four numbers, indicating how many clock cycles it takes for RAM to properly respond to the command. The way CAS latency combines with MHz frequency can be a bit tough to understand, but we’ll dig a bit deeper in our next section.
Finding RAM Speed
To find your true RAM speed, there’s actually a nice little formula we’ll give you in just a moment. The factors involve din this formula are RAM clock speed, the type of RAM and the RAM CL timing. The formula is as follows: (CAS Latency*(1/(RAM Speed/Clock Cycles)/2)) = Exact RAM Timing.
You can use this formula to find the precise speed of any RAM kit.
More RAM vs Faster RAM
While having more and faster RAM are both generally desirable, it’s important to note that they’re not always needed. For speed, in particular, it’s generally more important to consider the ideal speed range to match up with your timing, frame rate and other factors – there are many situations where simply defaulting to the fastest possible RAM will actually make your setup worse.
For most gamers, the choice between more RAM or faster RAM is simple: Go with more, especially if price is a factor at all. Speed only really becomes a major factor when you get to the very highest-end computing models, but RAM amount can show a huge difference in gaming experience even between 8GB and 16GB of RAM.
Mixing RAM Speeds
Can you mix RAM speeds within the same device? Technically yes, though there are some circumstances where this will not be possible or certainly isn’t advisable. RAM is compatible with other RAM timing or speed, but the larger the gap here, the larger the strain that will be present in your motherboard as it tries to run both at the same time.
Eventually, your machine may reach a point where this won’t be possible. And as your gaps increase, you’ll lose control over speed and timing, and may deal with risks of over- and under-clocking that arise.
RAM Bandwidth and Capacity
Finally, it’s important to also consider RAM bandwidth and capacity when looking into this area. RAM bandwidth is another somewhat complex area, but it boils down to this: The better your bandwidth, the more data you can pass through the device at any given time. Bandwidth widens the pathways available for data to pass through on a regular basis.
Then there’s memory capacity, which essentially servs as a parking location for the data that passes through bandwidth. You need to have enough space for important RAM data to be stored, at least temporarily, and without this memory, the other two areas we’ve gone over would be limited. All three of these inform each other, and all must be considered when installing ideal RAM.
For more on RAM and other processing or computing factors, or to learn about how to build your own PC or any of our custom gaming computers, speak to the staff at Xidax today.