There was a time when the recipe for speeding up a slow PC was just adding more (or faster) RAM. However, these days, this isn̵
Do you need a RAM upgrade?
There are certain scenarios where upgrading memory is obviously a good idea. A computer for everyday use, such as surfing the Internet, streaming videos, running Microsoft Office, and playing a game or two, we think should have at least 8GB of RAM.
This might come as a surprise considering that many mid- and low-end PCs come with 4GB. However, they are not very responsive and tend to slow down once one or three background processes are running.
For this reason we recommend at least 8 GB. If you have a 4GB laptop, check the manual to see if you can upgrade the RAM yourself. On some laptops, the RAM is soldered to the motherboard. In this case a RAM upgrade is not possible.
Players looking to play the latest AAA titles will be better off with 16GB of RAM. It also really depends on what you want to do with your system. An enthusiast PC that you plan to use for 4K video editing, for example, will likely use around 32GB.
If these situations do not affect your PC, you should consider a few points below before reaching for these new RAM modules.
Check for bottlenecks
If a lack of RAM is causing your problems, you should be able to determine it by checking system performance. To do this, press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open the Windows 10 Task Manager, then click “More Details” to open the advanced view. Click the Performance tab, then click Storage.
Then use your PC as normal while keeping an eye on Task Manager.
If you notice a slowdown, check the In Use and Available sections under the graph showing RAM usage. If you often have a ton of RAM still available, RAM probably isn’t the problem. However, if it is maxed out on each slowdown, more RAM can make things better.
Is XMP enabled?
Do-it-yourselfers of desktop PCs may not maximize the efficiency of their current memory. Most people who build their own PCs have probably already done so. You can activate a so-called eXtreme Memory Profile (XMP) in the BIOS settings of the motherboard. If your PC has an AMD processor, you might see DOCP instead.
XMP is an Intel technology that is supposedly an overclocking tool. However, if you just enable it in the BIOS without changing the manual settings, the RAM will run at the speed it was designed for rather than the slower default setting.
CONNECTED: Here’s how to enable Intel XMP to make your RAM run at the specified speeds
Check your speeds
Upgrading your PC’s RAM is not as simple as changing the memory or graphics card. You need to choose the right type (the version for modern motherboards is DDR4) and its speed must be compatible with your computer’s motherboard.
If you keep one RAM module and add another, they must be at the same speeds. Even then, some people prefer to use two identical ram sticks instead of mixing and matching them just to be sure. Be sure to check your computer’s RAM speed to see how big the upgrade to a faster RAM will actually be.
If your PC’s RAM is running at a slower speed, e.g. B. 2,400 MHz, an upgrade to 3,000 MHz or higher should lead to noticeable performance improvements. However, if you’re already rocking 3,000 MHz, the performance boost from faster RAM may not be as noticeable. It depends on your PC and how you use it.
CONNECTED: How to see how much RAM is in your PC (and how fast it is)
Get an SSD instead
If the bottleneck isn’t your RAM, you have a few other options. The first option is to upgrade to a solid-state drive (SSD) if your PC still has a hard drive. Even if you increase memory, there is no better upgrade for a PC than moving it from a hard drive to an SSD.
Even an older SATA III SSD like the Samsung 860 Evo will noticeably improve response times and general performance. When the motherboard accepts NVMe drives, the performance improvements are even more noticeable.
Don’t throw that old hard drive away either – you can use it as secondary storage if your PC still has room for it. You can also put it in an external hard drive enclosure and use it that way (after copying your personal files and reformatting, of course).
CONNECTED: How to upgrade and install a new hard drive or SSD in your PC
Take a look at the CPU and GPU
If you find that RAM isn’t the problem and the SSD upgrade is already covered, it may be time to upgrade your CPU or GPU, or possibly create or buy a new system.
To get a feel for your CPU’s performance, you can follow the bottleneck checking steps above. This time take a look at the CPU usage in the Task Manager.
Is the CPU often full when multiple programs are open or during a variety of games? Make sure you try some games and see if this is consistent before blaming the CPU as some games are more processor dependent at first.
If you don’t have the money to upgrade your rig, then just be aware of your system’s limitations for now. For example, don’t use too many programs at the same time. Before playing a game, kill all possible background processes. These are just stop gap measures, but they will help.
If the CPU isn’t the problem, take a look at the GPU, especially if yours is on the low end of a game’s minimum specs. Obviously, once you get a new GPU it can lead to a CPU bottleneck and you will have to test again.
Another alternative for those on a budget is to overclock the components to get a little more performance out of them. However, doing so comes with risks, including voiding your warranty, consuming more power, and potentially shortening the life of the CPU and GPU.
For an older PC that you either want to overclock or buy something new that you can’t afford, overclocking is some kind of built-in upgrade and may be your best bet.
For more information, check out our tutorials on overclocking and overclocking your GPU or Intel CPU.
To RAM or not to RAM
RAM is a strange component in modern PCs. When you don’t have enough, adding more can have a dramatic effect on your computer’s performance. However, unless your system is regularly using all of its memory, changing it will not have the desired effect.
For those who don’t need a RAM upgrade, it may be a better choice to purchase an SSD, upgrade to a new CPU, or install a new graphics card.