How Is RAM Measured?

William Warby/CC-BY 2.0

RAM, or random access memory, is measured in both size, which is typically in gigabytes, and speed, which is typically in megahertz. Computers take different sizes and types of RAM.

RAM is is often simply called “memory.” RAM consists of memory cards or chips that the computer’s processor writes information to and receives information from. The most common type of RAM is volatile, meaning that it is erased when the user shuts off the computer. There are two types of RAM:

  • Dynamic: must be refreshed frequently to keep its contents
  • Static: more reliable form that does not need to be refreshed as often as DRAM

RAM size determines how much temporary data the computer can store and how fast it runs. Generally, the computer will run faster the more RAM it has. RAM is typically measured in gigabytes. RAM speed also impacts how fast the computer can run. RAM speed is measured in megahertz (MHz).

RAM cards may be removable or soldered. Removable RAM allows users to upgrade to larger and faster cards by removing the card from the slot and replacing it with the new card. Soldered cards either cannot be upgraded or must be serviced by a technician.