- Memory/RAM - too little memory can cause the system to start swapping in use applications to disk, then from disk back into memory as requested, which causes noticeable lag
- CPU - older CPU's typically have less cores with less threads which means there are fewer resources to handle requests so responses are slower
- Hard drive - traditional hard drives use spinning platters to access and write information: this process is slower than solid state drives (SSDs) which access data on chipsets directly similar to RAM
RAM - What you Need to Know Beyond Size
There are different iterations of RAM that have come out over the years, increasing in number with each new version. Currently, DDR3 and DDR4 are the most common types you will find in devices. Each new version supports faster transfer rates and is often more efficient, requiring a lower voltage to operate. The higher the number, the newer the iteration.
Each iteration of RAM comes in different speeds represented by MB/s and the maximum speed supported is dependent upon the motherboard. Common speeds are 12800, 19200 and 21333 MB/s. These specifications stand for the peak transfer rate in Megabytes of data per second. The higher the speed number, the greater the amount of data that can transfer per second.
While it is possible for RAM of varying speeds to work together on the same motherboard if other specs match, the faster RAM will only operate at the speed of the slower RAM. This makes it a waste to purchase faster RAM if pairing it up with slower RAM.
The voltage required to run RAM changes with most DDR iterations, but can also be different between DIMM and SODIMM types. The amount of voltage available to memory sockets are also controlled by the motherboard. Like anything using electrical current, having compatible components is important to prevent heat issues caused by components expecting more power than the motherboard is able to give, or inconsistent behavior caused by lack of current or voltage.
There are many specifications about RAM that are important. Beyond size, the iteration and speed should be considered when purchasing a new device. If replacing or adding RAM to an existing device, the iteration, type, speed and voltage are all important to consider. It is important to get the correct RAM to ensure it will work properly with the existing RAM and motherboard. Information beyond the amount of RAM installed is difficult to find in the device interface, but can be located on the labels on the RAM.
As always, knowing what to get saves time, money, and a lot of effort! Luckily, adding RAM to a device that is running slow can be one of the easiest ways to speed up a device.