Four sticks of RAM installed in a computer's motherboard
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Your computer’s RAM (random-access memory) is the speedy short-term memory the PC uses for running applications and open files. The more RAM your computer has, the more you can do at once. Here’s how to check how much your system has installed.

In this guide, we’ll also show you how to check how fast your RAM is. Like practically all technology—except maybe batteries—RAM is getting better and faster over time. Newer computers will have faster RAM than older computers.

What Is RAM?

RAM stands for “random access memory.” This is the physical working memory that your PC uses. All your open applications, files, and other data are stored here for quick access. RAM is different from your computer’s SSD or hard drive, which are much slower than RAM. When you launch a program or open a file, it’s moved from your system’s storage to its RAM.

The more RAM you have, the more you can do at once. If you don’t have enough RAM for your open applications, your system will slow down as Windows (or another operating system) has to move data in and out of the page file on your system drive. You might even see a low memory error if there’s not enough RAM.

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How much RAM you need depends on what you do. You’ll need more RAM for playing the latest PC games, running virtual machines, and editing 4K videos.

How to Check How Much RAM You Have on Windows

You can check how much RAM your Windows PC has in a variety of quick ways.

On Windows 10 and Windows 11, use the Task Manager. Right-click your taskbar at the bottom of the screen and select “Task Manager” or press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open it. Select the “Performance” tab and choose “Memory” in the left pane. If you don’t see any tabs, click “More Details” first.

The total amount of RAM you have installed is displayed here. The Task Manager also tells you the standard it’s using, the speed, its form factor, and how many of your system’s physical memory slots you’re using. You can install more RAM if you can open your PC (not possible on some laptops) and have some spare slots.

Amount and speed of RAM displayed in Windows 10's Task Manager

The Task Manager doesn’t offer this useful information on Windows 7. Instead, you can see your total amount of RAM on the Control Panel > System and Security > System page.

You can also quickly open this by opening your Start menu, right-clicking “Computer,” and selecting “Properties.” Look to the right of “Installed Memory” under System.

Viewing how much RAM a computer has on Windows 7

To see more specific information about your RAM timings on any version of Windows, we recommend CPU-Z. Download and install CPU-Z, launch it, and click the “Memory” tab to see this information.

RELATED: How Does RAM Speed and Timing Affect My PC's Performance?

If you build your own PC, your RAM may not run at its advertised timing until you tweak the timings.

CPU-Z showing RAM timings

This information is generally displayed in your system’s UEFI firmware or BIOS, too. This is particularly helpful if you’re using a PC without a working operating system. Just boot it up, use the keyboard shortcut to enter its BIOS or UEFI firmware (it’s different on each PC), and look for information about the system’s memory or RAM.

RELATED: What Does a PC's BIOS Do, and When Should I Use It?

How to Check How Much RAM You Have on Mac

It’s much easier to see how much RAM is in your Mac. But, unlike most Windows machines, it’s nearly impossible to upgrade the RAM in Apple computers. If you own a MacBook, the RAM is soldered onto the motherboard and isn’t user accessible.

Start by clicking on the Apple icon in the top-left corner of your Mac’s display.

Next, select the “About This Mac” option from the drop-down context menu.

Select "About This Mac" from the drop-down context menu

You will now see an overview of your computer’s specs, including how much memory is in your Mac. In this example, the MacBook has 16GB of RAM.

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If you would like to see which type of RAM you have installed, first, click the “System Report” button.

You can view the memory in your Mac. Click the "System Report" button for more details

From there, choose “Memory” from the left sidebar. The amount of memory and type of RAM will be displayed on the right side of the screen.

Choose "Memory" from the left sidebar to view your Mac's RAM

RELATED: How to Check How Much RAM Is in Your Mac

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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Profile Photo for Justin Duino Justin Duino
Justin Duino is the Managing Editor at How-To Geek. He has spent the last decade writing about Android, smartphones, and other mobile technology. In addition to his written work, he has also been a regular guest commentator on CBS News and BBC World News and Radio to discuss current events in the technology industry.
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