Ram is a memory stick that slots into the motherboard and there are two or four slots available.
This memory is where progRAMs are loaded when you run them. The more RAM ( currently sized in megabytes ‘Meg’ ) you have, the more progRAMs can run without other progRAMs having to be temporarily moved out the way onto the hard drive. This ‘moving out the way’ is called page swapping and is the key reason for a slow performing system (assuming the pc is not too old).
If your running XP (or even more demanding Vista) then 256Meg of RAM is the minimum you should be using. Ideally 512Meg of RAM or more would ensure that RAM is not a hindrance to performance for the time being.
Ram comes in different sizes such as 64Meg, 128Meg, 256Meg, 512Meg 1024Meg(1Gig) 2048Meg(2 Gig) and even bigger. Any sticks smaller than 256Meg are of no use today.
You really need to make sure you have at least 512Meg total RAM for Windows XP or Vista, so bigger sticks than suggested below is always going to be better.
It is strongly advised that you use the same size and speed RAM sticks in each slot, and that 1, 2 or 4 slots are used. Just check the motherboard manual for its RAM requirements.
One stick is being used and it is less than 512Meg
remove it and put in two 256Meg sticks or at least one 512Meg stick.
Two sticks are being used and they add to less than 512Meg
remove both sticks and put in two 256Meg sticks or at least one 512Meg stick.
Two sticks are being used and one is 256Meg but the other is smaller
remove the smaller stick and replace it with another 256Meg stick or remove both sticks and put in at least one 512Meg stick.
If games being played is where the speed is a problem, such as the movement is stepping and not turning with your mouse, then the graphics card is usually the issue If the card is too old or inefficient then the game will probably refuse to install or run.
if the graphics are built into the motherboard (video slot is with the other connections at the back of the pc) then most newer 3D games will run poorly because built in graphics chips are almost always slower than dedicated ‘slot in’ cards.
if the graphics are on a dedicated ‘slot in’ card (video connection is usually lower down and on its own with maybe 2 connections) and around 3 years old or more, then newer 3D games will run poorly as these cards don’t have a powerful enough chip on them.
Most 3D games can have their graphics tweaked in their menu so turning off shadows, reducing textures and reducing game screen size will make an older graphics card run 3D games much better.
If the motherboard has an AGP slot for a ‘slot in’ graphics card then getting an up to date AGP card can make 3D gaming much faster without upgrading the whole PC.
Cards around £100 (mid-range) are ideal for current games using AGP but beware that the FSB (front side bus) speed of the motherboard needs to be 8x speed for most cards out there.
PCI-Express video cards have taken over now and most new PCs and motherboards are PCI Express designed so in this case go to the next section.
The latest way forward concerning ‘plug in’ graphics cards is to buy a PCI-Express graphics card. These are at least twice as fast as the previous AGP comparisons.
A PCI-Express slot motherboard is required, and most of these motherboards use the latest 775 socket processors or the dual core processors, so an upgrade of chip might be needed.
Bear in mind the latest motherboards now use yet another RAM slot system and that might need replacing also.
The replacement of motherboard, chip, graphics card and maybe RAM would make a great game machine but (of course) it is going to be the expensive option.