Malice-Corp’s Basic Personal Computer Primer, part 2 the RAM

GREETINGS TO ALL FROM MALICE-CORP.  Well this is part 2 of our basic computer primer for all you pop-culture Nerds that want to be more tech nerdish.  Same thing goes as last time.  This maybe way below your level of Tech Nerdology but give it a read and maybe comment below if you have some insight you would like to share.

Lets pick up where we left off in the last article (Malice-Corp’s Basic Personal Computer Primer, part 1 the CPU) with RAM, our students notebook.

RAM – Random Access Memory (Your student’s note book)

So, RAM or random access memory is a type of volatile memory that your computer uses information that your CPU is currently accessing right now.  What ever programs, applications, or process your PC is working on at that specific moment is loaded into RAM.  RAM is faster to access then a hard drive.

Really detailed (can skip this part if you don’t want a deep dive)

RAM is a very complicated subsystem of a PC, the most important thinks to know about RAM when you are dealing with your PC are four fold; form factor, BIOS and OS limitations, speed and how much you actually have.

  1. Form factor is the specific shape and style of your RAM.  With your modern PCs there are really only two form factors you are going to run in to: DIMM and SO-DIMM.  DIMM or dual in-line memory modules are large and have normally either 168 pin SDRAM module or 184 pin DDR SDRAM module.  You are going to run into DIMM(s) in today’s Desktops with most of them being the newer 184 pin DDR SDRAM.  If you have a PC that has older SIMM(s) or SIP(s) you are in trouble.  Just count the pins and you can tell what you have.  Just don’t touch the pins with your fingers you can damage with with a static charge (ESD).  SO-DIMM or small outline dual in-line memory module are a smaller form factor for laptops. Unfortunately the have a lot more sub types with different numbers of pins on each type.  I can write an entire article on SODIMMs on their own.  So if you have questions on them just comment below.  I will try and answer them for you.
  2. BIOS and OS limitations are limitations placed upon you by the manufacture of your computer and the operating system you are using.  These limitations are set and you can’t really change them other then upgrading your BIOS which can be tricky or up grading your OS.  The most basic example of this is that Windows home versions normally only support up to 16 Gb of RAM.  You have to up grade to Windows Professional to exceed that.  You can find what your limits are by reading the documentation for your mother board and OS for details.
  3. Speed is the easiest of the four details you need to know because it is handles its self for the most part.  If you buy RAM that is the correct form factor but is too fast it will normally slow down to what your PC can handle.  It is important because faster RAM is more expensive and you don’t want to waste money on something you get no benefit for.  The other thing to know is that if you mix fast and slower RAM types, the fast will slow down to match the speed of the slower.  You are stuck at the speed of the weakest link here normally.  There are exemptions to the rule on this with some really high end motherboards but it normally holds true.
  4. The big question how much do I have? The easiest way to find out how much you have in a Windows 7, 8, or 10 PC is to right click on ‘My Computer’ or ‘This PC’ and left click on properties.  It will say on the little pop up window.

THE POINT (Basic Personal Computer Primer, part 2)

Your student (CPU) no matter how smart he is can’t remember a damn thing and has to keep notes on every thing he is doing in his notebook (RAM).  The larger (RAM size) and the better the notebook (RAM speed) the more information your student has at his finger tips and he spends less time looking stuff up in the research library (the Hard Drive).

We will cover the the research library (HDD – Hard disk drives) in the next article; Basic Personal Computer Primer, part 3 HDD.

Jack Malice, Contributor and founder


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