While your computer undertakes thousands upon thousands of complex calculations every second it is turned on, your RAM (Random Access Memory) stores thousands of "Cheat Sheets" on its flash memory. This will enable your computer to make the same decisions in a quicker, more efficient manner.
Ensuring your RAM is up to date and capable will allow you to ensure that you get the smoothest user experience as well as quicker load screens and a faster boot-up time. RAM is especially important for those who are looking to build their own gaming laptop or desktop because RAM affects the frames per second, which is important for a smooth gaming experience.
In this article, we will discuss the importance of RAM and answer how long does RAM last?
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What Affects The Lifespan Of RAM?
Overclocking, which is the art of removing the restrictions and limiters placed upon computer parts by manufacturers to boost performance, is one way that can speed up how quickly your RAM degrades.
However, a bad overclock will mean a huge increase in temperature, and if this is handled incorrectly, you will be looking at a drastically shortened lifespan. A good overclock will be less of a problem, but you need to ensure you have a plan of action in place for cooling.
If you are planning on overclocking your rig, make sure you have done extensive research on the matter and know exactly what you are undertaking before you do so, as poor preparation could lead to catastrophic results.
The biggest cause of death and shortened lifespan in computer parts is temperature increases. This can happen externally if you leave your laptop out in the sun or next to a radiator, for example, but most commonly, they happen internally when dust build-up or fans fail.
Proper care and maintenance is the best solution here. We recommend everyone cleans out their dust fans on a regular basis using an air spray; they only cost a couple of dollars from any hardware store.
Power surges happen when electricity is sent back into the system. This happens regularly with things like air conditioning units and power tools. Occasionally, more seriously, this will occur during power cuts or when something touches an electric line or gets inside a transformer.
Power surges are particularly bad for any computer parts with microprocessors, which include your RAM, CPU, and GPU.
The best thing to do? Ensure all of the power cables and extension cords you buy have “Surge Protection” as standard.
Your RAM will always have its limits, no matter how strong or high-end you go. Over time, this upper limit will reduce, and you may start to see problems arise. One of the key culprits for maxing out your RAMs capabilities that many do not know about is the popular browser Chrome.
Unlike other browsers, Chrome allocates a percentage of your CPU and RAM to every single tab that you open. This means that if you are like me and like to have 20+ tabs running at once, you are going to see a huge spike in your RAMs memory usage. If your RAM is on its way out, your computer’s ability to handle this will reduce significantly, indicating there is a problem.
Incorrect Installation or Incompatibility
Often, people who are new to computer building will install their RAM incorrectly or will use parts that aren’t very well suited to each other. When this happens, you face two problems. The first will be that your computer simply doesn't run or turn on. This is the easiest indicator you have installed the parts incorrectly, or you are using parts that don't work in tandem.
The second problem is that your computer will run, but it won’t run smoothly. This is more serious, as it may lead to a very speedy and early death.
How Long Does RAM Last?
So how long should your RAM last naturally without any problems?
Well, this will depend entirely upon the quality of the RAM, to begin with, and the usage it gets. A high-quality DDR4 Ballistic style RAM should last for years to come, but under high strain, such as playing games or video editing and animation, it may only last 2-3 years. You might also find that lower-quality DDR3 style RAM may last for 4 years of occasional use.
You should always aim to pick parts that are the correct fit for your exact needs to begin with, as this will ensure you get adequate lifespan from your parts without worrying they are going to fail.
When Should You Replace RAM? (Common Signs Of Failing RAM)
How To Extend The Life Of RAM
The best way to extend the life of your RAM, just as with any computer component, is to ensure you keep on top of maintenance and proper care. A good place to start is with a bi-weekly or monthly dust clean.
For laptop users, a keyboard slime will help you remove clogged dust and debris from your keyboard, and canned air in aerosol form is the perfect way to clean dust vents and heating pipes. By including just these two bits of maintenance into your routine will ensure that your parts last longer.
As well as regular maintenance, you should make sure you give your parts the best fighting chance by ensuring you keep your laptop or computer away from heat sources like radiators and sunlight.
You should also avoid any drops wherever possible as they can dislodge parts and cause catastrophic failure. For laptop users, a good laptop bag and or a good laptop case is always a good idea.
If you have RAM that isn't capable enough for your usage, the best thing you can do is to install either better RAM or more of it. Underpowered RAM will quickly die under intense strain. If you are playing games or streaming then you need sufficient RAM or you are going to run into problems eventually.
More RAM equals faster load speed, better performance, and longer lifespan.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Can RAM wear out?
RAM can and will wear out eventually. All computer parts have a lifespan. How long they last will depend on two things. Their initial capabilities and quality, and what you use them for. High-intensity computing usually wears out parts quicker unless you buy high-performance parts to match the usage.
Is a RAM upgrade worth it?
Compared to other upgrade pathways, RAM upgrades are very cheap. As long as you have the space and ports for more RAM or at least 2 ports to begin with, it is relatively inexpensive to upgrade your RAM from 4 to 8gb. You can even max your RAM out at 16-32GB for around 100-150 dollars. This makes it worthwhile for the majority of users who are currently using 4-8GB. It's even possible to use two different RAM sticks together when upgrading.
Can bad RAM ruin a motherboard?
There is no such thing as "Bad RAM," simply underpowered. The only way RAM can ruin your computer is if you have a set-up that should be using, say, 16GB of RAM, and you have only installed 4GB of RAM to save money. In this situation, you could be dooming any number of your other parts due to being tight with your wallet.
Can bad RAM damage the GPU and CPU?
Both your CPU and your GPU are heavily reliant on your RAM. Without the proper support, they will likely bottleneck. This will have two effects. The first is that they will run at a lower capacity than they could run at. Depending on how lacking your RAM is, this could be 10-90% less. The second is that they will have to try and compensate, leading to more wear and, ultimately, a shorter life span.
Your RAM is the key supporting player in your computer’s starting team. While many of us know of the importance of our CPUs and GPUs, the RAM deserves a much larger slice of the glory. Making sure your RAM is up to the task is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to ensure your computer is healthy and runs smoothly for the years to come.
Andrew White is the founder of TechGearoid, a leading technology review & information website that is designed to help consumers make better decisions when it comes to their IT purchases. As a specialist tech writer (nerd) with over 10 years of experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern technology & the newest market innovations. When he isn’t providing value for his readers, he’s usually drinking coffee or at the beach. Andrew lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and family.