Apparently, you can speed up your computer by adding more RAM. Is the amount of ram to be added is directly or indirectly related to the amount of hard-disk space, processor speed, Motherboard etc... Can the memory of a RAM be compared with Virtual Memory and Cache Memory?

Note: About my PC Configuration: Intel core i5 processor, Motherboard DP55WB 4GB RAM, 700 GB Hard-disk space.

  • You will also need a 64Bit operating system to use more than 3.XX GB. 3.XX since 32 Bit OS have a upper limit of 4GB and some memory space is reserved for internal stuff (mapping hardware, video, ...) – user12889 Aug 30 '10 at 1:16

Adding RAM will in most cases speed up your computer.

Unfortunately, you didn't provide us with enough information to give you an estimate of how faster will your computer be. If your computer is limited mainly by amount of RAM, you'll see considerable speed improvement. If you have more than enough RAM, you probably won't notice any improvement.

Amount of RAM is in a very indirect way related to hard disk space. Your hard disk needs to be large enough to be able to store enough data to actually fill RAM. As long as you don't use 10 years old hard drives in brand new computer, you won't have any problems with that.

Motherboard is the main limiting factor when determining amount of RAM which can be installed. In it's manual (or BIOS release notes) it will say how much RAM can be installed.

Processor does limit amount of RAM but in an indirect way. Basically your motherboard will be made in such way that it does not support more RAM than processors compatible with it can support. In some systems with very large amounts of RAM and multiple processor sockets, there may be cases where some empty sockets need to be populated before system will accept new RAM, but that's only a problem on expensive servers. As a user, you probably won't see such systems.

I don't know what you mean by Virtual Cache Memory. There are various caches in various devices and there is virtual memory (or page file or swap space, name depends on operating system).

EDIT Since you have 4 GiB of RAM, you may get improved performance with more RAM, but the improvement will not be large. 4 GiB should be enough for all common tasks such as browsing INTERNET, watching movies, playing games and similar. If you plan to run virtual machines or do some heavy programming, you could add some more RAM.

As far as cache is concerned: It is generally not related to amount of RAM. Processors, hard disk drives, optical disk drives and similar components use cache memory to store data they need in order to decrease number of accesses to RAM. Cache memories are more expensive (especially those used on processors) and on modern computers can't be upgraded.

As for virtual memory, it takes up hard disk space on windows and uses separate partition on many unix-like systems. You'll need to have at least as much virtual memory as RAM in order for everything to work correctly. There's no need to be particularly concerned with virtual memory when buying RAM.

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    WHY ARE PEOPLE SAYING 4 GB+ IS NEEDED? I'm tired of this. I've been able to run NetBeans with profiler, my memory leaking application, Firefox, and a Windows XP VM on VirtualBox on 2 GB of RAM and experienced little to none disk thrashing from SWAP. 2GB is enough for 85% of the population. 4GB is enough for 95%. The rest are niche applications – TheLQ Aug 29 '10 at 14:55
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    @TheLQ On the other hand I have a computer with 2 GiB of RAM which is struggling to keep up with Outlook, Word, Excel, printer drivers and Cisco VPN. One time I took 4 GiB of RAM from another computer and put it there and it worked great. To directly answer your question: BLOAT! BLOAT EVERYWHERE! Especially from drivers for printers, mobile phones and similar devices. Also disk caching in windows vista and 7. But I agree that 4 GiB should be enough for vast majority right now. – AndrejaKo Aug 29 '10 at 17:41
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    @TheLQ: Caching! As Windows handles your memory in the "Memory that is not being used is useless"-way adding memory past the 4 GB limit will have a benefit... ;-) – Tamara Wijsman Sep 5 '10 at 20:04
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    Nowadays, as far as I can tell, people recommend at least 8 GB of RAM! I noticed a considerable difference when I upgraded my Dell Inspiron 620 Desktop running Windows 7 from 6 GB to 8 GB. – Andrew Sun Jun 30 '13 at 14:13
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    @qasdfdsaq Keep in mind that all of that was written a bit less than 5 years ago, when things looked differently. – AndrejaKo May 24 '15 at 9:22

Adding more RAM is generally a good idea. Considering the steadily growing requirements of the most common applications (browsers, office, etc.) you'll need it some day. Also you'll be able to run more applications side by side or let all the apps you are running at the moment use more RAM - if you really need them to.

The purpose of RAM is to let programs store and access information they need in a fast memory. If this fast memory is full, the disk is used to move unused bits of information out of the way (google for swapping, paging)and store these bits until a program needs them again. Then they have to be read from the (awfully slow!) disk into the memory again.

If you have more RAM, then this process occurs less often, so the performance of your machine should increase.

When you have a lot of programs running at the same time which use a lot of memory, then paging/swapping may occur, too. And again: Adding more RAM helps preventing these situations.

You should check your RAM usage by having a loot into the taskmanager or installing some kind of application that helps you tracking your memory usage. If your RAM is full all the time you should upgrade.

Memory is cheap, just buy some. A quick google search tells me, that your mainboard supports up to 16GB of RAM. But please consider that you need to run an operating system (Windows, Linux, etc.), that supports more than 4 GB of RAM, too! I'm talking about 64Bit operating systems here. For an explanation please see this article, or this one on wikipedia, or this one from Microsoft.

Tip: If you are running linux, it always seems your RAM is full, because linux uses free, unused RAM as buffer for disks. Here's an explanation. Windows Vista seems to do something similar, have a look for yourself. I don't know if Win7 does the same.

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    +1 for pointing out the obvious about 64-bit. Its surprising how many times I've seen friends buy tons of RAM and then complain that their OS doesn't support it – TheLQ Aug 29 '10 at 14:56

Adding RAM can help. But only if you really need it!

In some rare cases it will even do the opposite and slow down your system. It depends on the RAM configuration and your mainboard/CPU.

You should check if you need more RAM first. The most significant speedup will occur if you already use more RAM than you've got installed in your system. In this case you will use swap which is significant slower than RAM.

RAM and harddisk space are not realted! There is no relation to cpu speed eihter!

The only relation between RAM and CPU speed is that a slow RAM slowes down your CPU - but only a little bit (<10%).


Ok it will speed up your computer, but sometimes it is not the best idea. E.g. On Windows7 32bit you can only make use up to 2.7 gb ram. On xp 32bit a little bit more, but because of the 32bit there is a limit of adressable memory at 4gb. What i have seen recently were people with notebooks with 5400rpm harddiscs, so changing the harddisc to a faster 7200rpm model brought a lot of additional speed. Changing the cpu may also improve the performance, but if the performance bottlehole is the harddisc you will not see much improvement. Check you windows performance index, it might give you an indication what hardware component to upgrade. Based on your computer hardware i will guess that most overall improvement you will get from a faster harddisk or solid state disk. If you run a lot of graphic intensive programs (e.g. games) a better graphiccard will increase performance in these applications.


Adding RAM does speed up your computer by providing more high-speed memory for it to stuff programs and data into before having to resort to the much-slower virtual memory (which is stored on the much-slower Hard Disk), but in addition to all the advice given thus far you have to consider whether or not a lack of RAM is the cause for a slow system.

I remember a while back I had a friend who wanted to try Doom 3, so he goes out and buys the game, installs it, and starts playing it but it's far slower than he expected it to be so he added more RAM, and it was still slow. I took a look at his PC and found out he was still using the video card that came with his computer! It was a really low-end one here, I think it was an integrated Radeon Xpress 200 or something like that, but in any case the RAM wasn't really the problem here...


Old thread, but the general issue recurs. A good starting point for finding out about your current system is:

  • Download and unzip "Open Hardware Monitor" from openhardwaremonitor.org
  • Run as Administrator
  • Select View, Show Plot
  • In the main window, check Generic Memory, Data, Used Memory

This displays a real-time graph showing how much of your RAM is in use.

While you have available RAM, more RAM will not help (except for dual-channel memory, in which case having your RAM split evenly into two banks is faster).

Once all your RAM is in use, systems slow down as they start swapping data between RAM (very fast access) and disk (slow access) to make room in RAM. This setup is called "virtual memory"; swapping a chunk or 'page' of memory is a "page swap".

Motherboards have limits on how much RAM they can address; check that for your current motherboard. My laptop has an 8GB limit; my new ATX motherboard 128 GB.

Once swapping starts to occur, a mechanical hard drive is MUCH slower than a SSD (Solid State Drive), though it (currently) costs quite a bit less per megabyte. Unfortunately, hard drives are much slower for random access (accessing tracks and sectors scattered around the drive, instead of sequential) and swapping tends to be random access. SSDs are MUCH faster for random access.

Mechanical drives are glacial in electronic terms; 7200 RPM = 120 revolutions / sec = 0.00833 sec / rev. If a four-core, 3GHz CPU took 10 clocks to execute each instruction, it could execute 10,000,000 instructions in that time.


It depends. On a 32-bit system, the system cannot address more than 4 gig of ram, so it will add nothing. A 64-bit system will access much more.

EDIT: After seeing "PAE" I found this page - Memory limits: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-gb/library/aa366778.aspx#physical_memory_limits_windows_xp

It covers much more than XP.

  • But accessing more RAM is not in realtion with more speed. – Andreas Rehm Aug 29 '10 at 13:50
  • This is incorrect. See PAE. – ChrisInEdmonton Aug 29 '10 at 14:14
  • What is incorrect? Some info please. – Xavierjazz Aug 29 '10 at 14:45

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