RAM on a computer's motherboard.
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Your computer’s RAM is the speedy short-term memory it 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.

We’ll show you how to check how fast your RAM is, too. 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.

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 you have in a variety of quick ways.

On Windows 10, use the Task Manager. Right-click your taskbar and select “Task Manager” or press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open it. Click the “Performance” tab and select “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 either Windows 10 or 7, we recommend CPU-Z. Download and install CPU-Z, launch it, and click the “Memory” tab to see this information.

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

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

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?

Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor in Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for nearly 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 more than 500 million times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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