A Super User’s Guide to Memory (QotW #40)

August 14, 2012 by kronos. 1 comments

Memory.  Every Super User knows that they need it, and if you’re like me, you can never get enough.  I know I somehow find ways to use up all 16 Gb of my memory on my desktop.  In fact, back in Nov 2010 Tom’s Hardware suggested that the minimum system RAM should be around 8Gb!

But what’s really frustrating is buying memory.  There are so many factors to consider that it can get overwhelming.  This is the same issue that Super User nathpilland had:

What am I looking for in RAM?

This is the one area of computer building that still has me in the dark, and I think a lot of people are with me… There are many different types of RAM, with each company having high and low end sticks. What is the difference between the high and low end? Also, what do the numbers in the latency mean? What is the speed rating (I know 1600 MHz is about normal) and how much is too much? What’s the difference between dual channel and single channel? Can you overclock/overvolt? Is there even a point to do so if this was possible? As you can see, I’m thoroughly confused here. I tried doing some research, but I can’t find this information anywhere on the internet. I’m not actually buying RAM, I’m just trying to get a better picture as to how all this works so I can be more educated on the hardware in computers.

So here we go.  This blog post is a stab at defining the basics you need to know about RAM.

A quick look over at NewEgg there were a few major categories that advertising threw at me:

  • Type (DDR, DDR2, DDR3)
  • Speed (typically in terms of 1066, 1333, 1600, etc)
  • Timings
  • CAS Latency

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