Will Adding RAM Speed Up My Computer?

By Mikhail Polenin

Random Access Memory (RAM) has been around since the first personal computers, and has improved over time. It is one of the most important components to have now, aside from a CPU. In fact, RAM helps your computer allocate and store parts of a program that would be used frequently, like a warehouse of data. RAM does impact computer speed.


Your computer can be slow for a number of reasons. It could be that your computer is too old. However, if you purchased a new computer less than 6 months ago, your problem can be either the quantity of RAM or the speed of your hard drive. If you use more than 85 percent of your RAM at any given time, you should definitely consider getting a RAM upgrade. However, the quantity of RAM will not always be your problem. Perhaps the clock frequency of your RAM is struggling to keep up with the rest of your computer.

How RAM Impacts Computer Speed

RAM has certain impacts on computer performance that the average computer user is just not used to. For example, like most internal computer components, RAM has its own clock. The clock is basically there to manage how fast RAM executes instructions such as data allocation, data deletion and other I/O (Input/Output) instructions.

Adding RAM Doesn't Always Solve Problems

If, at any point, the clock frequency doesn't suffice, the RAM will struggle to perform these operations. Sometimes adding RAM will not solve your problem, but upgrading the kind of RAM you have will. For example, an old stick of PC2700 DDR RAM with a clock frequency of 333 MHz will not deliver as much speed as a stick of PC3200 DDR RAM with a clock frequency of 500 MHz. Sometimes quality counts more than quantity with computer parts.

Indirect Impact of RAM

RAM may also indirectly impact your computer speed. If you are using a very large quantity of memory at any time, your computer will start writing some of the contents of your RAM to virtual memory, which is slower. Virtual memory basically stores memory on the hard drive to act just like RAM. The operating system allocates a portion of this on your hard disk, and can dynamically increase it according to the constraints defined to it. Some operating systems call virtual memory the page file, or swap file. If your operating system is running like a clogged sink, it is probably because too much memory is going to the page file and not enough of it sits in RAM, which delivers at a higher bandwidth and velocity.

Indirect Impact Solutions

In the case where your computer is occupying the majority of your RAM and suffering under the constraints of virtual memory, you should really consider upgrading RAM. Increasing the quantity of your RAM will ease up on other resources. In fact, you can do an entire memory makeover and replace, for example, 1GB PC3200 RAM with 2-4GB PC 4000 RAM. In the long run, this makes your computer's memory setup stand the test of time.