Tech Guided is supported by readers. If you buy products from links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more

What Does RAM Do? (Computer Memory Explained)

What Does RAM DoIf you’re looking to build/buy a new PC, purchase a new laptop, or upgrade your existing system, you’ll need to understand what RAM is and how it affects your computer’s performance.

In this short guide, we’ll take a look at what computer memory (RAM) is, how it works, and why it’s important in your system.

What is Computer Memory (RAM)?

Computer memory or RAM (random access memory) is a temporary storage solution that allows your CPU quick access to important data.

What Does RAM Do?

There are a handful of ways that your computer stores data. For instance, your computer’s hard drive or SSD store all of your system’s programs and files until you delete them. However, while SSDs and hard drives can store a ton of data, that data cannot be accessed by your computer’s processor very quickly.

So, computer system’s utilize RAM to serve as a buffer to help access important data from your SSD or hard drive in a much quicker manner. While RAM can’t hold nearly as much data as a standard hard drive or SSD and, the data that it does hold is only temporary (the data held in RAM is deleted when your computer is turned off), data on RAM can be accessed by your computer’s processor much faster.

If your CPU was forced to read and write data directly from and to your computer’s hard drive and SSD, applications and programs would operate extremely slowly. So, when you load a program or application, that program or application’s important data is first loaded into your computer’s memory. Once loaded onto your RAM, the data that those applications and programs need can be accessed more quickly.

How Much RAM Do You Need?

The amount of RAM you need will depend on how you use your computer. Are you a gamer? Do you edit a lot of video? Do you run resource-intensive programs/applications?

If so, you’ll need more RAM than others.

How Much RAM for Casual Use?

For casual use (web browsing, sending emails, streaming content), 8GB of RAM should be enough.

How Much RAM for Gaming?

For gamers, depending on the types of games you play, RAM can have a big impact on your performance. As a general rule of thumb, for modern gaming, 8GB is the bare minimum. However, as games become increasingly more demanding, more RAM is necessary. And, as long as you have a moderate budget, you should aim for 16GB of memory.

How Much RAM for Professional Work?

If you’re doing professional work like video editing, graphics design, or working with large spreadsheets, the more RAM you have the better. Just like with gaming, I’d recommend at least 16GB of RAM to start.

However, the more intensive the work you’re doing, the more you’ll benefit from adding more RAM to your system.

How Important is Computer Memory?

To wrap it all up, computer memory, or RAM, is an integral part of your computer’s system. If every other piece of hardware in your computer (your CPU, GPU, SSD, etc.) is powerful, but you don’t have enough RAM to run your most-used applications and programs, your computer will feel slow.

So, if you’re looking to purchase a new computer, or upgrade an existing one, make sure you understand what RAM is and why it is important. In this guide, we’ve laid out the basics on what RAM does and have given you some basic guidelines that will help you determine how much RAM you need for your system.

Hey, I’m Brent. I’ve been building computers and writing about building computers for a long time. I’m an avid gamer and tech enthusiast, too. On YouTube, I build PCs, review laptops, components, and peripherals, and hold giveaways.

1 thought on “What Does RAM Do? (Computer Memory Explained)”

  1. I am using a spreadsheet in a simple but unusual way. I have over time created a massively large history timeline using cells to enter text for historical events. Column headings are Years, Left row headings for event types. So no calculations are made, no conditional definitions used, no data arrays at all. Just color-coded text, cell background colors. Some pasted graphic images used. I have turned off auto-calculation.

    But my use of available space is massive. I use all the columns available across, and hundreds of rows below.
    For my purpose, it works great. The simple ability to ‘freeze’ top and left labels while scrolling or moving freely around through the timeline is the aim. It is very useful. The file size is 4,800 KB at this point.

    Editing or entering new information was easy at first, but a simple edit or entry now bogs my system down for many minutes, like get up and go make a cup of coffee or walk the dog timescale.

    My system is a HP Pavilion 550-126 i5 Desktop PC, 64 bit OS;Intel i5-6400 CPU @ 2.70 GHz 2.71 GHz RAM: 12 GB

    Do you think upgrading to 64 GB RAM in the context of a newer, faster machine/processor help significantly? Or am I asking too much from my monster spreadsheet at this point?


Leave a Comment