Computer memory, also known as DDR RAM / DDR PC Memory, is a cheap and reliable way to increase the performance of a desktop PC or laptop. For new build PCs, we offer great deals on DDR3 and DDR4 RAM modules, along with help on choosing the best type of computer memory by using our computer memory configurators.
Begin by checking the types of RAM supported by your system’s motherboard, along with its maximum RAM capacity (usually determined by both its hardware configuration and operating system). In the case of OEM equipment, this can either be done by visiting the manufacturers’ own website, or by using our memory configurators for Kingston, Crucial, Hypertec and Integral. For DIY builds, head straight for the user manual supplied by the motherboard manufacturer (either supplied with the board, or downloadable from their website) which will contain a breakdown of memory configurations, along with instructions for installing and removing a DIMM (dual in-line memory module). By doing this, you’ll be able to ascertain your system’s maximum memory; its total number of memory sockets and accepted configurations (for example 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 8GB and 16GB of unbuffered non-ECC DDR4 memory).
At Misco we recommend at least 4 GB for Windows-based systems, where daily usage is limited to web surfing and simple productivity applications such as Microsoft Word. For business users, we suggest 4 GB is the minimum requirement, with more demanding software such as PowerPoint, Excel or Adobe Cloud products requiring at least 8 GB to work effortlessly in a multi-task environment. Unless you’re already noticing memory shortages, the performance gain you’ll receive also depends upon the CPU installed in the machine, while for anyone with sluggish application loading or slow boot times, the installation of an SSD drive is likely to be a more effective (first-step) upgrade than installing additional RAM.
For gamers, 8 GB is the standard for higher-performance machines, though the very latest gaming motherboards (such as MSI’s Godlike series) support up to 128 GB, allowing enthusiasts to configure the ultimate gaming PC.
At Misco, our customers frequently choose 1.35-volt DDR3-1600 (PC-12800) modules with CAS 9 Latency – simply because all AM3+ / FM2+ Socket CPUs from AMD and Intel’s Socket H3 (LGA 1150), and (Socket R) LGA 2011 processors support (at least) this memory speed. Being highly affordable, this module type is available as 4 and 8 GB in single, dual and triple-channel kits.
As mentioned above, start by finding out the maximum RAM capacity that your PC supports and the number of available memory slots.
Each DIMM slot of a motherboard may support varying memory sizes over different channels. For example, Channel A is set-up with a dual-channel configuration of 2 x 4 GB DDR3 modules while Channel B has a single configuration (1 x 8GB DDR 3).
It should be noted that on some desktops / laptops, the memory slot closest to the CPU - usually (often referred to as Bank 0) must be populate before any other available memory slot and/or hold the largest RAM module (if you are using modules of varying capacity). As configurations vary between manufacturers, please check your PC's documentation.
Each class of memory is mounted on one of three module types, namely: SIMM, DIMM, or RIMM.
When checking for compatibility, also confirm the number of pins used by the memory module; the voltage (often 1.35v) and MHz capability, for example DDR4 3400 MHz.
As most PCs support only one type of RAM with a single module design, mixing types is usually not possible or desirable.
Error-correcting code memory (ECC memory) gives protection against undetected memory data corruption, being typically found in hardware supporting business critical operations (such as file servers).
ECC memory carries a price premium over non-ECC memory, due to the lower production volumes associated with more specialist hardware.
Where a system supports error-correcting code (ECC) and the business case supports extra expenditure, buying ECC memory is worth the added cost. To check your type of memory, simply count the number of chips on module. If the number is divisible by three, it will be ECC or parity memory (rather than non-parity / non ECC).
It should also be noted that use of non-parity and ECC modules together is permitted, although error correction will be disabled.
CAS latency is the delay time between a memory controller instructing the memory module to access a particular memory column of RAM, to the time data from that array is available on the module's output pins.
When buying RAM, the perception is that lower CAS or CL ratings are preferable (unless you have a motherboard that requires a specific CAS rating). However, manufacturers of computer memory argue that a module's true latency is measured in nanoseconds (link to external site).
Where memory modules are mixed with different latency speeds, they'll all operate at the speed of the slowest module.
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