A few weeks ago we began discussing various computer components. We talked about the motherboard and processor as some of the main components of your computer. Today we’ll cover introduce memory. I’ll leave a technical discussion of memory for another time.
There are various types of memory that are contained within your computer. The most commonly discussed memory is system memory. When someone asks, “How much memory do you have in your computer,” they are usually referring to system memory. System memory is part of what determines how many applications your computer can handle at one time. Among other things, the more system memory your computer has the faster it should be able to perform.
System memory is often upgradeable and can vary in price depending on how much memory is packed onto each stick. These days, you can buy as little as 32 MB of memory or as much as 1 GB or more of memory on each stick. Your motherboard sets the limit on how much memory your computer can handle. Check with your computer or motherboard manufacturer to determine how much memory your motherboard can handle before running out and buying more. Also, you will want to check and see if you need to remove any memory from your computer before adding new memory sticks. Often, motherboards can handle only 2 sticks of memory (though 4 is becoming more common).
Often referred to as RAM (Random Access Memory), system memory is manufactured by a number of different companies. Just to be safe, you will probably want to buy from more well-known companies (who also may charge a little more) when purchasing new system memory. Off-brand companies often try to maximize profits by using cheap parts that fail easily. A more well-established company should have a reputation for consistently producing quality parts. Some of the more popular system memory makers are Crucial, Kingston, Southland Micro Systems, Viking Components.
Other types of memory are found with sound and video cards as well in printers. Unless you are trying to play the latest and greatest video games or running a printing shop out of your house, you shouldn’t have to worry about these types of memory. Video memory does become important, however, if you are doing lot of video editing. That’s a whole other topic which I’ll cover at a later date.
Some computer systems used shared memory, which takes a portion of your system memory (64 MB, for example) and dedicates it for another purpose. This means that your overall system performance could slow down if you have maxed out all of your system and shared memory at the same time. This practice is common on mainstream laptops and low-end desktops. As a result you don’t pay often don’t pay as much for a computer with shared memory.