Types Of RAM And How To Buy For Your Needs

Choosing RAM can often be a confusing task, and there are many questions consumers are faced with;

  • Does my motherboard support DDR3 or DDR2?
  • Should I go for 4GB or do I need to opt for 8GB?
  • SIMM or DIMM? 

We’ll try and help you during the buying process by explaining the different technologies and what they could mean for your PC.

What is DDR?

DDR is a class of memory integrated circuits used in computers. The full term for DDR or sometimes known as DDR SDRAM is short for ‘double data rate synchronous dynamic random-access memory‘.

There have been various versions of DDR through the years starting with DDR1 which was introduced in the early 2000’s, all way up to DDR4 which was introduced in 2014.

DDR variations are not forwards or backwards compatible.

Specifications of the Different DDR’s?

DDR Specs


The original DDR1 RAM or as it was known at the time ‘DDR’ was very simply, exactly like the older SD RAM but with the speed at which it could transfer data doubled by transferring on both clock edges.

Crucial 1GB 200pin
Crucial 1GB 200pin DDR1, shop.bt.com


This variation of RAM added a 2x clock multiplier to the module meaning the bus clock running at the same speed would be doubled. This meant that transfer speeds would double despite the bus speed being the same.

Crucial 4GB (2x2GB KIT) 800MHz DDR2
Crucial 4GB (2x2GB KIT) 800MHz DDR2, shop.bt.com


DDR3 made progress on DDR2 by adding a 4x multiplier instead of  2x. This meant that data speeds were 4x faster than those of DDR1 despite running at the same bus speed.

Kingston 8GB (2 x 4GB) HyperX Fury Red Series 1866MHz DDR3
Kingston 8GB (2 x 4GB) HyperX Fury Red Series 1866MHz DDR3, shop.bt.com


DDR4 builds on progress made by DDR3 except the module uses a lot less power. DDR4 also runs at a higher clock speed, around 2133MHz on desktop and 1866MHz for laptops compared to 1600 and 1333MHz respectively.

Corsair 16GB (4 x 4GB) Dominator Platinum DDR4
Corsair 16GB (4 x 4GB) Dominator Platinum DDR4, shop.bt.com

Which Type of Memory Works With My PC?

So, now you know about the different types of RAM, it’s important to know which of the above works with your motherboard.

You’ll need to check with the manufacturers handbook to establish the type of RAM you’ll need. Note that if your motherboard accepts DDR4 then it will not be backwards compatible.

How Much Memory Do I Need?

We get asked this a lot but it really depends on what you’re going to be using your PC or laptop for.

If you’re going to be using your laptop for tasks such as web browsing, creating word documents or even watching films and listening to music then we’d say that 2GB’s of RAM would be more than suffice.

If you’re a gamer and want to play the latest games at the highest settings possible then we’d recommend you to install at least 8GB’s of RAM. Take a look at this RAM buying guide for gamers.

Video editors or graphic designers will often look to install as much RAM as possible in their machines due to the nature of the software they use on a daily basis. It is not unusual to find up to 64GB’s of RAM installed in their machines.

Take a look at our full range of RAM here.



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