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Will Adding Ram Speed up my computer?

Q:  Will Adding Ram Speed up my computer?

A:  It depends. Generally speaking,  the addition of RAM will make your computer faster because most consumer-level computers are sold to minimize cost, and thus come with a minimum amount of RAM.  Here are some general guidelines:

1. If you have Windows  XP or Windows Vista  and you are doing anything more than basic email and internet browsing, then I recommend running your machine with a total of 4GB of RAM.  Windows XP and Vista max out at 4GB of RAM (technically this statement is only true for the 32-bit version but if you don’t know which version of Windows XP or Vista that you have, then the odds are that you have a 32-bit version).  RAM is not that expensive these days so maxing your machine out to 4GB is cost effective and productive.  You will most likely see a difference in your machine’s performance, especially if you are doing any kind of work with digital photography, music or graphics

2. Those of you with Windows 7 face a different dilemma.  Most new consumer machines are running Windows 7 64-bit (recall Windows 7 comes in a 32-bit and a 64-bit version).

The major advantage of Windows 7 64-bit is that you can now add more RAM than the traditional 4GB Windows XP/Vista barrier (see #1 above).  The question is “do you need it?”.

If you are doing basic email or internet work it probably pays to bring your computer up to 4GB of RAM, as Windows 7 is a memory intensive operating system and certain features will perform better with more RAM (e.g. Aero — though Aero performance is also contingent on your video card, as well).  Past that you probably won’t see a difference.

Now if you are doing more than the basics — digital photography, video editing, or gaming, it pays to bring the machine up to more than 4GB or RAM.  8GB of RAM is usually a good starting point, but it makes sense to look at the software you are using to see if the program can use this extra RAM.  For example, while Photoshop is a program that will benefit from having lots of RAM, the 32-bit version of Photoshop in Windows 7 won’t be able to use this RAM — only 64-bit versions of software will be able to use the extra RAM.  So if you are going to add RAM past the 4GB mark, take the time to speak to the manufacturer of the software you are using to make sure that a) the software can take advantage of the extra RAM and 2) that you have the correct version of the software to do so.

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