Part 2 – Memory
Today, I will talk about the second thing to consider when you decide to buy a new laptop: Random-Access Memory (RAM), also known as main memory. The first form of RAM came about in 1947 but RAM as we know it today (as solid-state memory) was first invented in 1968. RAM serves as the working memory of the computer. You can consider RAM as short-term memory while hard drive is your long-term memory. So, the purpose of RAM is to provide quick read and write access to a storage device. When the computer shuts down, data in RAM is erased – this is why RAM is referred to as volatile memory. Operating system, application programs and data that are currently in use by the computer are stored in RAM so that they can be easily accessed by the computer’s processor. When RAM is full, the computer will make use of your hard drive to store data for processing by the processor. And when that happens, your computer will slow down because it takes more time for the processor to retrieve data from hard drive than RAM. In short, a computer uses RAM to load data because it’s much quicker than running that same data directly off of a hard drive.
I remember the days of Pentium I, II and III where having 256MB of RAM was considered something great. But in this day and age, many softwares consume a lot of memory so are the operating systems processes too. However, the amount of RAM you will need will depend on what you will be doing. If you are going to buy a laptop, for 64bit Operating System, I will recommend a minimum of 8GB, because even Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox browsers use a lot of memory, especially if you have many tabs opened. But, if you are a heavy user (user of video editing software, gamer, etc), then 16GB RAM is recommended – more is desirable. For 32bit Operating Systems, 4GB should be okay.
Finally, there are different types of RAM on the market today for PCs, so even if you want to upgrade, you need to know the type that you have to go for. In order of higher speed are: Synchronous Dynamic RAM (SDRAM), Double Data Rate Synchronous Dynamic RAM (DDR SDRAM aka DDR), DDR2, DDR3 and DDR4. If you buy a DDR3 memory for a PC that takes DDR2, then you are in trouble, because RAMs are not backward compatible. Most importantly, you can’t use a laptop RAM for a desktop RAM – so keep that in mind.
I will next talk about processor.