Upgrading your random access memory (RAM) is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to speed up a computer. Upgrading your memory is especially helpful if you edit photos and videos, are an intense gamer or you are noticing your computer slow as you run more than one program at a time. Computer memory upgrades can be purchased for just about every operating system and computer available. Whether your computer is five years old or five days old, purchasing a RAM upgrade is a cheap way to make your computer work faster.
There are literally thousands of different computer memory upgrades available. There are different sizes and speeds—and all the different acronyms can become overwhelming. However, it is vitally important to find the correct RAM upgrade for your computer. Before purchasing more memory, go to a manufacturer’s website to use a RAM Configurator, which will allow you to find the memory that will work best for you. Crucial has one of the best websites for finding the RAM needed to maximize your computer’s efficiency. For more help with RAM upgrades, check out our articles on computer memory upgrades.
The RAM upgrades we reviewed were all similar in speed. It is important to look at your computer’s requirements to find which speed of RAM will work. Usually there is a spectrum of available speeds, such as between 800 and 1600. The speed of the memory is measured in megatransfers per second. A megatransfer is a million data transfers.
Within the speed ratings there are a couple of different functions that can slightly affect speed. Latency is a measurement of how quickly data can be accessed. It is measured in a clock cycle, so when looking at latency ratings, there will be four numbers and the lower they are, the faster the RAM. Also look for a low voltage requirement, which measures how many volts are needed to make the module work.
All the devices we reviewed were double data rate three (DDR3) synchronous dynamic random access memory (SDRAM). DDR3 modules are quickly replacing the DDR2 models. But this is another area that you will need to find what is compatible with your computer.
There are a variety of features that you may want to consider before purchasing memory. Unbuffered RAM does not cache data and is much quicker than buffered RAM. Most servers use buffered memory. Another feature to consider is error correcting code (ECC) RAM. Most personal computers are non-ECC, also known as non-parity. ECC memory takes up more space and is much more expensive. Another route to consider is dual-channel memory. Not all motherboards are compatible with dual-channel memory, but it can double the data input of your computer.
Help and support
In this section we take a look at the customer service options offered by the manufacturers. We also look at the product’s warranty coverage.
There are so many options, features and functions with RAM it is important to get all the requirements correct before purchasing computer memory upgrades. Which is why At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don't Have To.™