Building a Computer Step by Step – Types of Computer Memory

Welcome back everyone, if you want to catch the beginning of this series, head on over to our intro! Last week, in our article, we discussed the brains of the computer, the CPU. The CPU is essential to your build, but memory serves just as big a purpose. Today, we will be discussing the different types of computer memory to add to your build.

Types of Computer Memory

My goal here is to make everything simple and understandable pertaining to types of computer memory. You don’t need to know the currents, voltage or any of that crap to know what RAM (Random Access Memory) is or what the difference between a SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) hard drive and an SSD(Solid State Drive) is. Let’s make it easy.

I just wanna throw in there is something known as ROM (Read Only Memory) and it is used for settings stored on your motherboard like the BIOS. You don’t have to buy this or worry about it, but wanted you to be aware it does exist and unlike RAM, it does not lose the data stored when powered off.

  • RAM
    • This is the temporary memory that holds processes like web pages, how many programs you have open, and even your video games events. When you turn your computer off, this memory is useless because it is temporary and only holds information until you close it.
  • Hard drive
    • Not so much memory but storage. Kind of an added bonus as a hard drive is written to and stores the data when the computer is off for later use instead of dumping it like RAM does.
    • SATA – Old school hard drive that is massive but slow. Utilizes a fan inside that reads/writes. Cheap. Not very durable.
    • SSD – A new hard drive that is 25% to 50% faster, and more expensive.  Durable.

RAM Time!

Now that we know what heck we are buying, let’s choose some RAM for our computer. This does get a little tricky, but with sites like pc part picker, you don’t have to really worry about buying the wrong piece. Yes, knowing that DDR3 and DD5 are different is important, but not imperative to buying a couple sticks of RAM. You should simply be able to go on Amazon and buy it with no problems after this. Let’s check out some RAM!

When looking at RAM, you have a few options. Anything before DDR3, just no. DDR3 – DDR5. DDR3 is cheaper and older than DDr4, simple. Guess which one is better? Now guess which is better, DDR4 or DDR5? That simple. Now let’s explain the differences.

  • DDR3
    • Old
    • Cheap
    • Compatible with older motherboards
    • Used in older graphics cards
  • DDR4
    • Upgrade of DDR3
    • Faster
    • More Expensive
  • DDR5
    • Used in Graphics cards
    • Can’t buy sticks of these(yet)

Simple, now you get to choose how much you need. 8GB? 16GB? Honestly, these are the only two types of computer memory you should consider unless building a server or living in 1999. 8GB is standard for basic users that surf the web or just do simple tasks. 16GB is for the more advanced user that plays video games and does video editing. I might even say 32GB but really that is overkill.

Hard Drives

This is a fun topic and a bonus I wanted to throw in as this is storage as opposed to memory.

This is a tough choice primarily since a lot of computers really only have room for 1 hard drive. Mine has room for 8 so I mix and match, but most don’t have this luxury. Why do I mix and match between SSD and SATA? Well, let’s just say an SSD with 1 TB is maybe $300. The SATA with 1 TB is $50. I can have 6 crappy hard drives and 6 TB of space for 1 TB of awesome space.

Let’s evaluate a hard drive to break the numbers down.

Seagate – Barracuda 2 TB 3.5″ 7200RPM

  • 2 TB is storage amount
  • 3.5″ just means it is well 3.5 inches, there are also 2.5″ in case that is too big for your build
  • 7200 RPM is pretty much the fastest a SATA will spin, SSDs do not have RPMs as they don’t have an internal spinning diskTypes of Computer Memory

It is really hard for me to say which is better. It truly depends on your situation as some cases will have more space for hard drives than others. If you have a tiny case and can only fit one hard drive, it’s a tough call because you can have an amazing fast computer but with limited space. I probably would say if you have a good network connection and can continually reinstall stuff, the SSD would be your bet.

Hard Choices Conclusion

My choice for the hard drive is kind of cheap. I am going with a Seagate – Barracuda 2 TB 3.5″ 7200RPM for my mass storage. Then I am going to get a Samsung – 850 EVO-Series 250GB 2.5″ SSD to store my operating system on and anything I want to have priority. I think this approach is pretty good because you get the best of both worlds.

Now that you have 90% of the essentials, we can check out power supplies and accessories in our next post!

I hope you enjoyed this post and that you learned something. Please let me know how those builds go below!!


About Pat 26 Articles
I love to play the drums, build websites, learn tech, and explore! My passion is music and technology. I want to be in the fast lane of life, not the slow lane or the sidewalk.

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