Along with processor and motherboard, RAM is one of fundamental components of the PC. At the same time, to choose RAM is easier than the same percent or motherboard, but there are some pitfalls. Particularly complicating the situation is the widespread dissemination of inveterate myths, fables and outright nonsense about operational memory, which we will try to definitively refute in this article.
The generation of DDR memory (the oldest of the still common ones), DDR2, DDR3 and DDR4 (the newest) is really a top priority issue when buying. But no less important is the memory format: long desktop DIMMs or shortened notebook SO-DIMMs. And some motherboards for desktop PCs (see the article “Top-5 compact motherboards Mini-ITX and Mini-STX”) support a laptop memory format.
In addition, there are specific subspecies of RAM, which are knocked out of the general classification. Of the modern, it is primarily low-voltage DDR3L, which operates at 1.35 V instead of typical for DDR3 1.5 V, and is used mainly in netbooks and ultrabooks.
Unfortunately, with increasing frequency of RAM, its latency also increases, that is, delays between read and write operations. And given that the computer is much more often have to handle many small files, rather than one large, increased delays level the effect of increasing frequency. Therefore, the real speed increase is 10 percent, which is clearly demonstrated by Intel Kaby Lake processors supporting both the latest DDR4 memory and the previous DDR3.
Metal radiators of RAM modules perform a decorative rather than a cooling function. Of course, they reduce the temperature by several degrees, but without them memory will work without problems for many years. Acknowledgment to that – the server memory deprived of radiators, working twenty four hours, seven days a week.
At least some useful radiators become only with manual or automatic overclocking (XMP technology) of RAM with accompanying increase of supply voltage. That’s just in itself an increase in the frequency of memory is almost useless (see the point above). At the same time, we do not dissuade you from buying memory with heat sinks – the design is important, especially if you are assembling a PC in a case with a transparent side wall. The main thing is not to overdo the height of the radiators, otherwise the memory may prevent the installation of a tower cooler.
RAM is one of the most rarely broken computer components. Of course, the possibility of factory marriage is not excluded, but in this case the problem will manifest itself in the first days after the purchase. If initially everything was in order, then the memory will certainly outlive the disks, power supply and video card. Rather, the memory format is morally outdated, than it will physically break. Not for nothing that companies that manufacture RAM often give their products a lifetime warranty (before the removal of the model from production).
Software errors in memory read-write are most often caused by improperly installed device drivers, broken sectors on the hard disk surface, a broken graphics card (if it’s a game), or trite application dampness. Blame them RAM is at the very least. Moreover, special server-side buffered and ECC-memory is able to correct software errors, which in case of using ordinary memory would lead to failure.
The dual-channel operation mode of the RAM accelerates the processor by only 5 percent and by 30 percent the integrated graphics accelerator. Therefore, if you buy a budget motherboard with only two memory slots, it is more reasonable to buy one large module instead of two small ones, so that there remains a possibility for a future upgrade.
In addition, if you buy a lot of RAM, then a complete set of two or four bars still looks more preferable. Descended from the pipeline at about the same time, memory chips have similar characteristics (frequency potential, leakage currents), so that the modules from one set work better with each other. This is especially true for Intel LGA 2011-v3 processors with support for four-channel memory mode.
Directly memory chips now produce only three companies: Samsung, Hynix and Micron (owner of the brand Crucial). The remaining manufacturers of RAM modules buy chips from someone from the above-mentioned trinity. So, the cheapest memory without radiators is produced by Crucial, Patriot and Goodram. If the soul wants something more colorful, with radiators and lighting, then choose between HyperX (brand Kingston), Corsair and GeiL. The highest frequency memory (over 4000 MHz) is produced by G.Skill.
Now, a mandatory minimum even for an office PC is 4 GB of RAM, and then only if you use SSD as a system drive (see article “Accelerate any PC: the five best SSD-drives of 2017”). Windows alone paired with a Chrome web browser loads more than 3 GB of memory. If PC has only 4 GB, part of which is also eaten by an integrated graphics accelerator, applications begin to actively use the swap file on the disk. In the case of fast SSD, this does not affect the performance of the PC, whereas in the case of a slow HDD, everything starts to noticeably slow down.
For modern demanding games, such as The Witcher 3, Fallout 4 we recommend at least 8 GB of RAM. But if you build gaming PC with margin for the future, it’s better to buy 16 GB. Users of professional software, such as photos, video and audio editors, purchase 16 GB is mandatory, and if finances permit, then will not be superfluous and 32 GB. Moreover, the market clearly shows a trend with rising prices for RAM and devices where it is used (for example, smartphones).