Did you know that a computer’s RAM capacity determines the number of open files and application programs that it can process concurrently? Now you know. So, how much RAM do I have? Let’s find out….
A computer’s processing capacity and speeds are determined by, among other factors, the amount of RAM installed. The more of it, the better the PC’s performance.
If your computer has less RAM, you might have to deal with frequent slow speeds, sluggishness, endless spinning wheels, and even error alerts notifying you of the computer's low memory status. Also worth noting is that the latest RAM models are considerably better than previous versions in terms of speed and overall performance.
Before we get to the specifics of knowing how much RAM your PC has, let’s begin with some basic definitions.
RAM stands for Random Access Memory, and it’s basically your PC’s physical or working memory. This hardware component acts as the speedy short-term storage for temporary data for instant access by the CPU.
Simply put, when you click to launch a computer program like you do when you want to access a video or word document, the file is transferred from the PC’s storage drive to the RAM to make it readily accessible by the central processing unit. The Random Access Memory is located between the CPU and HDD or SSD storage drives.
Here’s How to Find Out How Much RAM You Have
Details of the amount of RAM on your PC can be readily accessed via the system information. The steps for accessing that info are much easier than you imagined. However, there’s a clear difference in procedure for determining the amount of RAM across all the major operating systems; Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. We’ll cover the steps for each of these popular operating systems.
How to Check RAM on Windows
For windows users, checking the amount of RAM you have installed on your PC is pretty simple. There are a number of methods to go about it. The most common one involves using Windows inbuilt utility features such as the Task Manager and the Control Panel. Apart from using these built-in functions, you can also check the amount of RAM on your PC using third-party software such as Speccy and CPU-Z.
Note that, besides showing the amount of RAM on your PC, third-party tools will also display other system info such as clock speeds and tCRD. Of all these common methods for checking RAM, the Task Manager utility option is by far the most popular, and we strongly recommend it. In that regard, this article will mainly focus on how to check RAM on your PC using the Task Manager utility.
Checking RAM via the Task Manager
When it comes to the question of how much RAM do I have? The Task Manager utility is by far the best way to provide a comprehensive answer to that. Here’s how to check the amount of RAM on your PC via the Task Manager:
Step 1: Launch the Task Manager utility on your PC. There are two ways to do that. The first option involves using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + Esc. Be sure to press those keys together at the same time. The second option for accessing the Task Manager involves right-clicking on the taskbar, then on the pop-up menu, you select Task Manager (on Windows 10, it’s the 3rd item from the bottom).
Step 2: Once your Task Manager has popped up, click on the Performance tab, then on the left panel, select Memory. Don’t see any tabs on the Task Manager? Click on the “More Details” section to activate the tabs.
Step 3: Upon clicking “Memory”, you should be able to see, among other details, the memory size, your RAM usage, the RAM standard, form factor, memory frequency, the RAM slot in use, and the types of RAM installed.
How to Check RAM on Mac
If your Mac computer is unusually slow of late, the chances are that it’s running low on memory. You may want to check the amount of RAM. To do that, follow these steps:
Step 1: First, head over to the top left section of your screen, locate and click on the Apple icon on the upper left corner.
Step 2: In the popup menu options, select About This Mac.
Step 3: A display screen will appear with five distinct tabs. In the middle section of the Overview tab, you’ll see all your Mac system’s information, including the available MemorySize, e.g., 16 GB, Frequency, e.g., 1600 MHz, and Model Number, e.g., DDR3.
Besides showing the amount of RAM on your Mac, the Overview tab also shows a host of other system info, including version, type of Mac, type of processor, type of startup disk, the serial number, and the installed graphics.
Out of curiosity, you may wish to explore the other tabs – Displays, Storage, Support, and Service.
How to Check RAM on Linux Operating System
Checking RAM on Linux is not as straightforward as is the case with Windows or Mac operating systems. Here you’ll use commands. And there are a number of them. Some of the Linux commands you can use to access memory information include “free”, “vmstat”, “/proc/meminfo”, and “dmidecode”. In this post, we’ll only discuss how to check RAM using the “free” command. Below is a quick summary of the steps to follow:
Step 1: First, run/launch/ initiate the Terminal, which is very similar to the Windows CMD interface on your PC.
Step 2: On the Terminal screen, type “free” to get a glimpse of the overall memory utilization on your computer.
The free command will output info about the memory (actual RAM) and virtual memory (swap). On your screen, you’ll notice that both these variables are categorized into total, used, free, and shared. Using the “free” command with “-h” makes the output much easier to read and interpret.
If you want the display to be in columns for easier comparison of the amount of RAM and swap on your system, use the “free” command with the “-t” option.
To see the system memory utilization by installed applications, use the command “top”.
Windows Memory Diagnostics: Check Your RAM for Errors
Whenever you experience frequent or random system crashes, restarts, or system freezes on your computer, it’s about time you checked the system memory to see if you’re dealing with hardware failures. Windows 7, 8, 10, and 11 all have this awesome feature called Windows Memory Diagnostics, whose main function is to check your PC’s memory for potential system problems.
The utility feature provides you a detailed breakdown of the health of your system’s RAM. If, after running the tool, some errors are detected in your Random Access Memory, consider buying a new RAM chip in order to keep your PC running at its optimum.
When to Upgrade RAM
Not sure whether or not your PC needs a RAM upgrade? Look out for these pointers: Painfully slow speeds even after system optimization, random crashes, “running low on memory” reminders, and auto-restarts. If you experience any or all of these telltale signs routinely, then you’re a candidate for a RAM upgrade.
And in case you didn’t know, RAM is super easy to install on most PCs. As long as you can comfortably open the bottom cover of your computer and have the new RAM handy, an upgrade is as easy as unplugging your old RAM and slotting in the new one.
Note, however, that some PC models and Macs have their RAMs embedded onto the motherboards. In such cases, an upgrade can be a little cumbersome. You may want to seek the services of an expert to help with the upgrade if you’re having trouble doing it on your own.
You may want to read: How to Install RAM in Your Desktop or Laptop
How to Free Up RAM
When your PC’s RAM is filling up, the computer will present with all the cardinal pointers of hardware malfunction. Usually, what happens when your RAM is packed to near capacity is that the operating system will try to compensate by extending the functions of RAM to the hard drive, a phenomenon called paging.
The whole compensatory process, though it makes up for the memory insufficiency, comes at a huge cost in terms of system performance. To remedy the low RAM problem, all you need to do is free up some memory space. Here’s how to free up memory space the easy way on Windows or Mac operating systems.
How to free up RAM on Windows
The quickest way to free up memory space on windows is to make use of the Task Manager utility.
Step 1: Launch the tool by typing “Task Manager” in the search tab, then go ahead and open the application.
Step 2: On the tool’s interface, click on the Memory tab to see the amount of memory space all the active applications on your PC are using.
Now, to max out your RAM, consider shutting down programs that are using up a lot of memory, if at all you’re not actively using them.
Note that some programs, though closed, are set to continue running in the background. Even so, you should see a considerable boost in system performance after closing most of these hog applications.
How to Free Up RAM on MacOS
Devices that are powered by the Mac operating system, such as iMac and MacBooks, can readily run out of memory. This is especially true for devices that have a RAM of 4GB or less.
Here’s how you can free up some memory space on your Mac:
Step 1: On the macOS top menu bar, click on Go. Then on the menu options, select Utilities.
Step 2: Next, double-click on the Activity Monitor. A window of all the apps that are currently active on your PC will appear.
Step 3: Click on the Memory Tab to see the amount of memory allocated to each of the running processes.
Step 4: Your next task is to identify the programs that are guzzling RAM resources and are not system-based. By “system-based” I mean those programs which the computer needs in order to function smoothly, e.g., WindowsServer, Kernel_task, etc.
You’ll notice that system-based programs are consuming a significant amount of memory. Yet you can’t close them; else, your PC won’t operate normally.
Step 5: Simply put, only close application programs that are consuming a significant amount of memory resources and that you aren’t actively using. In that regard, you might want to go for applications listed under the owner’s username.
At the very thought of the question of “how much RAM do I have?” It’s likely that you’re experiencing slow PC speeds, system crashes, among other RAM-associated computer problems. By knowing the amount of RAM installed on your PC, it’s easy to understand the root cause of system malfunctions. Moreover, understanding the functionality and size of your RAM makes it possible to know whether or not you need an upgrade of the memory chip.