PC memory upgrade

Will more RAM speed up your PC? We explain how to boost your PC's speed by increasing the installed memory.

QUESTION Would doubling the RAM from 4GB to 8GB on a computer with an Intel G630 Processor, H61 Motherboard and running Windows 8 have a material effect on performance and speed up browsing?

HELPROOM ANSWER Based on the information you've supplied, the short answer is, "maybe". First it's important to check which version of Windows 8 you're running. You'll need a 64-bit version to take advantage of more than 4GB of RAM, which is the limit for the 32-bit editions. (In fact, 32-bit Windows is limited to accessing 3.2GB of that 4GB).

Hold down the Windows key, and press the pause key to bring up the System Properties box (or navigate to "System" via the Control Panel). In the section marked "System", under "System type" it will specify either a 32-bit or 64-bit OS.

If it's 64-bit, then you should be able to increase your system RAM beyond 4GB. Note that, depending on the number of memory slots in your PC and the capacity of any installed chips, you may have to remove and replace your existing memory chips rather than simply adding to them.

If you're adding extra memory chips, then try to buy exactly the same type as the ones already installed to avoid possible issues with timing differences between sticks of RAM. If you're not sure about matching the memory, it's probably best to just replace the existing 4GB – RAM is fairly cheap these days.

Will more memory make a difference?

Whether or not the extra memory will make a noticeable difference will depend on how you use your PC and whether or not you have many applications running simultaneously. Adding extra memory will certainly allow your PC to cope much better with having multiple browser tabs open at the same time. At the time of writing we're using a PC running the Google Chrome browser, which is currently using over 3GB of RAM all by itself.

When your PC runs out of available RAM, it starts using the hard drive instead. This is much, much slower than RAM and will cause your PC to slow down. It's likely that heavy use of a web browser will push overall memory requirements beyond your available 4GB, so increasing this to 8GB will prevent such slow-downs.

However, if you're very much a one-tab-at-a-time person, you may notice less of an improvement. You may find that you start to change the way you use your PC after the upgrade as it will be able to cope with much heavier use without starting to struggle.

Bear in mind that upgrading your hard disk to an SSD is likely to provide a bigger performance increase. See install an SSD into your PC for a step-by-step guide.

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Visit Windows 7 Advisor and Windows 8 Advisor for more Windows advice. Or email our Helproom Editor for bespoke advice.