When it comes to computers, more is better. Well, sort of. Most users understand that a faster processor, with speed expressed in megahertz or gigahertz, is more desirable. Likewise, it’s fairly obvious that having more gigabytes of memory (aka RAM) is a good thing. But your RAM has another stat you might be confused about: speed.
So, what does that speed rating on your RAM actually mean? The answer is simple, but how it actually relates to your system performance is complex. In a nutshell: it’s probably less vital than the RAM manufacturer would like you to believe.
The speed rating of your RAM module is an expression of its data transfer rate. The faster the number, the faster your computer can store and retrieve the data stored in local memory. The formula for the exact speed rating changes slightly based on the version of DDR memory your computer is using (see below). It’s no longer simply an expression of clock speed, like a processor, but a combination of hardware factors. But in general, faster is better. Pretty simple, right?
hings start to get complicated in the nomenclature. Though the speed rating is usually expressed in straight “DDR” terms, we also have the old PC2/PC3/PC4 standard still hanging on. These numbers generally follow the speed rating corresponding to the generational standard: “DDR3 1600 RAM” is also labelled as “PC3 12800,” “DDR4 2400 RAM” is also “PC4 19200,” and so on.
This is a technicality based on the old bit and byte data expression—one byte equals eight bits. So, if the first number is DDR 1600, expressed in million bytes per second capability, the second number is PC3 12800, expressed in million bits per second. 12800 divided by eight is 1600, so it’s two ways of stating the same thing. Generally, things will be less confusing if you stick to the first “DDR2/3/4” speed rating.Read More...
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