So you’ve just picked up some new memory, plugged it in and, good news! The computer starts up and nothing seems broken… but wait. Why is it running so much slower than what it says on the box?!
You may feel ripped off, but before you send that angry email, take a look at our guide to memory jargon. Soon enough, you’ll be up and running with your memory purring along at advertised speeds, and you won’t even have to shout at customer service. Everybody wins.
- Speed: This is the clockspeed that the memory runs at. For gaming, memory speed is not a massively important factor, within reasonable speeds.
- DDR (Double data rate): Transfers data twice per clock, allowing for more data to be transferred. The current most common memory standard is DDR4, although DDR3 is still common among some PCs. DDR4 offers higher frequencies, greater bandwidth, and lower power consumption than DDR3 modules.
- XMP: An Intel-supported standard that can be turned on within the BIOS of XMP-supported motherboards to allow higher frequencies than usually supported out of the box. XMP profiles are preset by the manufacturers.
- Overclocking: Memory can be overclocked to reduce latency and increase frequencies. Memory may require higher voltages to keep stable under overclocking.
- Capacity: Memory is measured in Gigabytes (GB). 8GB is the lowest ideally recommended for gaming, although for more intensive applications such as video editing, more memory capacity will be helpful.
- ECC: Server standard memory, allows for self-checking and correcting of common issues and data corruption.
- Channels: Dual-channel allows for, at least, two memory modules to utilise separate channels for increased bandwidth. These separate channels are often matching colours on a motherboard. Quad-channel allows for, at least, four memory modules to communicate on separate channels. Populating all channels allows for increased bandwidth.
- Heat spreader: Memory often utilises a heat spreader to aid in thermal transfer of heat away from the memory and disperse it within the case.
Package memory format: For PC building, most common format is DIMM. Laptops and small form factor builds may use SODIMM memory instead, which is not as long as DIMM.
- Latency: Measured by timings in a four digit format, for example: 15-15-15-36. The lower the numbers, the lower the latency.