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Random Access Memory (RAM)

This stands for Random Access Memory (RAM), it is also known as MEMORY. This is a memory available only for instant use, while performing tasks. Any information that has been displayed on RAM is deleted when you turn off your computer. To give you an easy example, take a desk in your office where you display many items or reference materials; if the desk space is limited, then you can only display few items, but if large, it would be possible to show more items. Similarly, you could open as many files or applications as possible depending on the size of RAM available on your computer.

The size of RAM is measured in Megabytes (MB) or in Gigabytes (GB). One GB is a 1000 Megabytes. Typical RAM come in sizes of 128MB, 256MB, 512MB, 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, ...etc.

If you are within a tight-budget or planning to use your computer for basic-use, then a 512MB RAM may be enough unless you are pretty sure you want to perform lots of Memory requiring tasks (for example, imaging, movie, games and the like). However, bear in mind the computer and software technology is changing fast, and now it is common to find computers with 1 - 4 GB RAM size. By adding a small amount of money, you can buy a computer with 1 - 2 GB RAM size, that guarantees future technology changes, and it would be enough for home and personal use.

Please note, the higher the RAM size the faster your computer will perform tasks. Therefore, if you can afford it, it would be good buying a computer with a higher RAM size, but again, watch your budget! Moreover, operating systems such as Windows VISTA and many others, are now coming with more features, hence may require a minimum of 1GB RAM in order to run properly. Therefore, the higher the RAM, the better will always be, to invest for the future.

RAM size can be upgraded easily, by adding or changing the bigger RAM sizes, so you can start with 1GB RAM then at later stage if the need arises, you can expand it. If you want to follow this action, please make sure the computer you are buying has a space for upgrading (you will find this information from the specifications list).

You could go either for AGP slot or PCI slot type of Video Graphics Card. AGP slot may offer higher X rate, for example: 4x or 8x compared that of the PCI slot may be 4x. However, PCI slots may give a lot of flexibility of upgrading. PCI slots are designed to be backward and forward compatible, hence can take any version (DDR, DDR2 or DDR3) or Memory size (128 MB, 256 MB, 512 MB, 1GB or higher). For example, a computer with DDR system memory installed on the mother board can take any of the versions of Graphics card versions (i.e. DDR, DDR2 or DDR3).

I would recommend a computer with 1 - 2 GB RAM size that also has future expansion or upgrading possibilities in its specifications. This saves you budget in the meantime, while at the same time ensures keeping with fast-changing technologies.

Generally, AGP cards are long and could take-up more space, so make sure your and other cards installed on your motherboard could accommodate it.

If you plan to upgrade your computer RAM (Memory), please make sure you buy similar model to that installed in your computer. The best practice is to take a note of the spec or model of the RAM installed, and look for similar model from the Internet or computer shops.

Updated: 18 Dec 2011

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Yohannes Berhe