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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Understanding gaming PC RAM or system memory

We already know how to choose our CPU and motherboard so it’s time to choose the next piece of hardware which is our RAM or system memory for our gaming computer. RAM stands for random access memory and is responsible for storing data temporarily. Every time the CPU runs an instruction the RAM or system memory stores the input and output (results) temporarily and then send it to the other hardware. Think of it as a intermediary between the CPU and the other hardware, temporary because data stored in the system memory is lost once the computer is shot down. Our gaming computer performance depends on the size and speed of the system memory. Too few will result in bad performance, but we never have too much system memory. System memory is one of the key pieces of hardware in terms of 3D performance along with the CPU, motherboard and video card. Since it’s role in it is less significant than hardware like the CPU and video card we are allowed to choose affordable and slower system memory over expensive and faster system memory without much of an impact in 3D performance. Some common brands are G. Skill, Crucial, Kingston, GeIL, Corsair, Viking and OCZ. Below we will explain the most important features to look for in our gaming computer system memory.

Features to look for when choosing the RAM for your a gaming computer

1) socket type – the RAM socket type is very important because a module with the wrong socket type will not fit in our motherboard’s memory slots. There are different types of RAM like SDRAM, DDR, DDR2 and DDR3. DDR stands for Double Data Rate and is capable to deliver two instructions per cycle over one for the SDRAM. We should choose our modules according to the sockets available in our motherboard.
2) size – it is measured in MB (megabytes) and GB (gigabytes). There are different sizes like 256 MB, 512 MB, 1 GB and 2 GB. Since we want at least 4 GB of RAM in our gaming computer we should choose at least two 2 GB memory modules.
3) speed – speed is measured in MHZ. Speeds cover from 66 to 133 MHZ for SDRAM, 266 to 400 MHZ for DDR, 533 to 1200 MHZ for DDR2 and up to 2200 MHZ for DDR3. The faster the RAM the better the 3D performance, but faster modules are considerably more expensive than slower modules at present time so we should stick to affordable ones.
Those are the most important features when choosing our RAM/system memory. Since the improvement in performance from this hardware is not so significant when installing the faster modules we should stick to affordable but yet fast modules. Memory modules between 800 and 1200 MHZ should be okay. Now is time to choose our video card which is the most crucial piece of hardware in a gaming computer in terms of 3D performance.

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